January 18, 2010

Holding Pattern

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.


Eric Scales said...

Well if Carsland and the Mermaid attraction and the new Buena Vista street are as spectacularly executed as they should be, a large part of DCA will be very impressive. Even without a Phase 2, I don't know that anyone would look at DCA and say that it was still a poorly done park. Even DL has areas that are very very ho hum, and not just recent TL98 things. A park doesn't have to be 100% detail upon detail. With the exception of TDS (and DLP runs a close second) I don't think any park will be. THere will always be corners and paths, and attractions that didn't benefit from the last makeover and are simply new paint over 30 year old buildings. I agree that Tower and Toy Story Mania both felt like a band aid on a burn victim, but Phase one certainly does not feel that way to me. If I look close I guess I'll be able to see what's left of the original DCA, but I don't think it will matter to me too much.

Mark Taft said...

I think Phase One's completion will bring it up to par with Disney's Hollywood Studios- but will still offer an insufficient line-up of attractions. Just one man's opinion...

SamLand said...

I am going to have to agree with Mark. When they decided to rehab the carrousel but not replace the canopy then I knew the "Value Engineering" was already taking place.