January 16, 2012

Disneyland's Main Street Hub Transformation Debate

Seems as if the Disneyland Resort is getting so much love and care these days. By now, everyone that follows the Disney World knows about California Adventure's amazing transformation. The Disneyland Hotel has almost completed its update, bringing a whole new retro 50s meets 70s design aesthetic. Downtown Disney is a constant kaleidoscope, as stores rotate in and out. (I'll miss Island Charters!)

In Walt's original kingdom, changes abound as well. They're not as splashy but perhaps equally significant from historical perspective. Sure, the grand old gal needs some work, but maybe these changes on Main Street U.S.A. are not the places to be looking at just yet.

From this writer's perspective, the newly opened Jolly Holiday Bakery is a mixed bag. I love Mary Poppins from anyway you slice it, and the sequence referenced in the new restaurant's theme is my absolutely favorite piece of the film. In fact, I'm humming along the song in my head as I write! However, its out of time and place in an American small town of 100 or so years ago. On the plus side, the theming involves subtle, very subtle, references to the film or its time frame- and it is certainly a wonderful return to its original intent than a Passport Processing Center. With its gorgeous stained glass accents and delightful weather vane, it's a stunning building, a creative success, and an overall "neutral" in the larger scheme of things.

The jury is still out regarding the changeover from Walt's beloved Carnation Plaza Gardens and its bandstand into a Fantasyland/Tangled inspired performance area and meet and greet. Again, there are pros and cons, but this might be the time the cons are most weighty.

From the Walt Disney Company's perspective, this piece of land represents an under utilized opportunity for effective guest use. Perhaps it is even in keeping with the theme of the plaza. After all, the elegant- stunning actually- Plaza Inn on one end of the street and the Jolly Holiday Bakery on the other, one half of the hub is even divided between Main Street U.S.A. and access points to the various Disney lands. This makes the lovely Gardens primed for appropriate thematic transformation as it becomes part of the Sleeping Beauty Castle complex.

From those of you perhaps belonging to the Disneyland Historical Preservation Society,
(you can read my piece on The Disneyland Historical Preservation Society here), this loss of the look and feel of the area is a major one.

The history of this place sings and swings. If there is any great musical jazz or big band artist of the time of its debut, mid century into the 60s and 70s, they probably played at the place. Google it yourself and find an exhaustive list. It is quite an impressive lineup. Perhaps most importantly, there is no question Walt loved this area, and for that fact alone, die hard fans find it untouchable.

Certainly, as it stands now, the Gardens' days are numbered. I would think winter would be a great time to begin and complete the project, particularly before the relaunch of California Adventure brings many first time westcoasters to the resort. It's only a matter of time before we see the end result and the lengthy debates begin.

Where do you stand on what's happening over there in Walt's Kingdom?

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

No comments: