“From what I saw,” says one Hollywood Attractions cast member, Superstar Limo “could be reopened any day now.”

What he saw was a group of Imagineers and Hollywood Pictures Backlot cast members once again test-running the vehicles through the long-shuttered Disney's California Adventures dark ride.


“The Imagineers have been there a lot lately and have been doing some queue improvements, and have also torn up some concrete where they are installing a wheelchair ramp,” he said. “Creepily you can see in the video monitors on the load console the characters wrapped in plastic, as they stand in the dark while empty limos drive by.”

Could Whoopi have her gig back? Photo by Al Lutz.

Still, don't get your hopes up — or down, depending on your opinion of the unique attraction. Disney has almost reopened the ride several times since its closure in early January 2002 (meaning the ride operated for less than a year and has been down for nearly a year and a half). The original downtime was to retrofit to the vehicles.

“Just before we shut it down,” said one operator, “they installed a couple new cars with the safety skirts like you see now on Roger Rabbit's CarToon Spin in Disneyland), which we tested for quite a while. When they gave the go-ahead for Pooh (at Disneyland), resources were pulled to get that system built and tested in Glendale. Now they have a full set of new cars with doors and skirts. In addition, load, unload, and some scenery elements have been modified to provide clearance for the new vehicles.”

Ever since, the reopening has been continually postponed as Imagineers proposed new themes for the not-entirely-popular attraction. The first proposal was replacing Cher and her fellow “superstars” with Goofy and friends. The latest proposal was using characters from Monsters, Inc. In fact, the park was so convinced that Mike and Sully would move for a December rechristening that this past January they began casting interviews for lead positions — only to pull the idea for monetary reasons.

The current plan is to reopen Limo as was (with the safety enhancements), as soon as possible, to help soak up the anticipated summer crowds. “So,” said another DCA cast member, “you might be seeing the purple outfits very soon...”

Indy Delay

Disneyland's Indiana Jones Adventure will not be going down for rehab this September, as cast members previously believed.

Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.

“It has been decided to push (the rehab) back until January of 2004 due to time restraints,” said an Indy ride operator. “There was concern among all parties involved with the refurbishment, that there simply was not going to be enough time to install station gates and the equipment that goes along with them.”

She said WDI and Scientific Systems continue working on new control consoles for the ride, as well as looking into installing a P.A. system for use by the “belt-check ” cast members. Imagineers are also considering altering and adding to the software that controls the ride.

The rehab should last six to seven weeks, and management doesn't want to lose the E ticket attraction — or its large capacity — until after the Christmas/ New Years rush.

Second Death at Structure

Unfortunately, the Mickey & Friends parking structure seems to be replacing the upper floors of the Disneyland Hotel as the departing place of choice for the distraught.

Early last Friday morning May 30, “employees of a custodial company that cleans the parking structure found the body of a man lying face down in one of the planters,” related a security officer. “It appeared he jumped off the upper level of the parking structure. APD was called in for this (suspected) suicide.”

“The police think he jumped from the stairwell between the fifth and sixth floors,” said a parking lot cast member on the scene. “He landed in the bushes near Gate 29 in the northwest corner of the structure. His car was parked in the BCML cast parking lot, which led to rumors that he was a cast member. Turns out he was an outside contracter hired by the company.”

This would be the second suicide at the six-level structure. On August 2, 2002, a man — rumored to be an annual passholder — died in his car of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Sad, sad events that seem even more tragic when they happen at the Happiest Place on Earth.

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(Send an email to David Koenig)

David Koenig is the senior editor of the 80-year-old business journal, The Merchant Magazine.

After receiving his degree in journalism from California State University, Fullerton (aka Cal State Disneyland), he began years of research for his first book, Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-Ears Look at Disneyland (1994), which he followed with Mouse Under Glass: Secrets of Disney Animation & Theme Parks (1997, revised 2001) and More Mouse Tales: A Closer Peek Backstage at Disneyland (1999) (All titles published by Bonaventure Press).

He lives in Aliso Viejo, California, with his lovely wife, Laura, their wonderful son, Zachary, and their adorable daughter, Rebecca.