September 9, 2008

Mess in the Backlot

Only the most die hard, stars-in-their-eyes Disney park fan would think that California Adventure is a wonderfully executed idea for a theme park. Sure, there is some fun to be had, and things will be getting better, but at opening. the park was abysmal at best.

The worst of the mess was the Hollywood Pictures Backlot. Under the guise of reflecting "reality", this area screamed bland, boring, and useless. If the backlot was to be a slice of Disney's Studio park in Florida, well someone forget to take a good look at what makes that park slightly successful! A decade old rehashing of Muppets 3D, an improved copy of the Animation exhibit, and the amazingly foolish Superstar Limo were all set in a concrete jungle or placed behind cheaply built and blatantly exposed fascades. The live entertainment fared better, but let's not be fooled. Guests come to Disney theme parks for grand adventures like Tower of Terror (which was sorely missed at opening), or Pirates of the Caribbean. In other words, attractions that make Disney unique.

The excellent Aladdin musical and the Monsters Inc: Mike and Sulley to the Rescue dark ride were great beginnings to transforming the area. Extra theming and greenery look great and bring a bit of warmth and charm. Turtle Talk with Crush is terrific but the numbers haven't grown to what Disney wants. New plans were formed.

With all the planning to bring the park guests in, emphasis is being placed on new lands, nighttime shows, and the first true "E" ticket attraction, Voyage of the Little Mermaid. Embellishing the weak and ugly Paradise Pier was a very good move as well. One day soon, the park's mall like entry will be gone as well. In all these plans, let's hope Disney doesn't forget the Backlot. This area holds great potential. Here's hoping Disney delivers.

(Artwork copyright The Walt Disney Company)

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