Like Tower of Terror before it, Toy Story Midway Mania did not bring in the bump in attendance the suits were looking for at California Adventure. In some ways, this disappointment was exactly what was needed to put the one billion dollar expansion plan into effect.
Early signs have suggested that budget cuts have already affected the project. Paradise Pier remains a half-baked job with one side boasting the beautiful housing for Toy Story Midway Mania and the renewed Games of the Boardwalk, but the side closest to the Maliboomer remains as ugly as at opening. That equally ugly Orange Stinger is giving way to another version of the same ride, and Mickey's Fun Wheel is no more attractive than its earlier incarnation.
Once World of Color starts thrilling guests, Ariel and friends will open a year later and then the crew from Pixar's Cars joins the California Adventure lineup. Along with the enhanced entryway, this set of new additions and changes will bring Disney's plan of Phase One to completion.
What's up next? A holding pattern. The wait and see game begins.
Think about Disneyland after the opening of Indiana Jones Adventure. After the debut in the mid-90s, Disney opened very little until the new Tomorrowland. Even that project was mostly a paint/snow job with not much of interest other than retro touches that made the area look interesting but the substance was hollow. This same playbook will be used with California Adventure. You can almost bet on it.
What about the famous Phase Two for the second Anaheim park? Whatever has been speculated for Phase Two of this park's revitalization has been quietly downplayed. Even sharp eared, well informed folks like Al Lutz over at MiceAge have nothing to share. Could it be that success for the first phase will mean minimal future effort and cash for the future? Will it take a resounding lack of consumer confidence in the park- similar to the "ho-hum" response to Tower of Terror- to make the suits cough up the cash for an additional expansion? Or will Disney throw up its hands and allow DCA to remain a poor second option at the Disneyland Resort?
My money is on the latter. Turnstiles will certainly spin for rides on Mermaid and Radiator Springs Racers, but resort guests will most likely return quickly back to "Walt's park" for the classics. Could I be wrong? I hope I am- but one thing is for certain. Disney has learned a hard lesson with California Adventure. Their fans won't let the company rest on past glories.