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- will it flop or fly?
reViewing continues with the readers!
|Reader reViews for 5/23/00
let me praise you two for this interesting take
on editorializing. Very nifty. I've been very
keen on the debate of DCA.
It's a very interesting situation which no
one is really commenting on: this is the first
time anyone's been able to have this much info on
a new Disney Park as it's being built. Everyone
is judging it as it's being built. We are
watching it come into being. This to me is VERY
EXCITING regardless of how it turns out.
I wish I lived in southern CA just so I
could check it's progress in person. It's almost
a shame that this is happening because the park
is getting bad word of mouth before anyone's
REALLY seen it. From what I've seen, it looks
like a bunch of UGLY buildings. But that's before
the landscaping (which will make a HUGE difference)
and any of the theming (small as it will be, it
will STILL be better than any SIX FLAGS)
biggest concern was echoed by the two of you.
Will my visit to DL be harmed by unwanted views
of DCA? The one view I'm NOT looking forward to
is seeing the Roller Coaster and such as I enter
by car. That view being the first view of the
resort taints it terribly. I hope the landscaping
somehow hides it from view. And I LOVE the sight
of a roller coaster normally. I am definitely one
who believes the Paradise Pier section will be
fun. I love that atmosphere and from what I can
see, Disney is producing a glorified nostalgic
version of the seaside parks. Minus the seediness
and cheapness. (Except for the WILD MOUSE which
is SO UGLY. Hopefully something will obscure it
And what's great is I can enjoy that and
then move on to OTHER areas that are totally
different. Being a huge fan of Coney Island's
Wonder Wheel, can tell you that it will be great.
Plus, you'll get a GREAT view. I wish we got
better views of some of the other areas. The
Grizzly mountain looks nice, but we still
can't really see much of the other areas. I'm assuming
the farm and winery area will attain their look
COMPLETELY through landscaping.
As I watch the
park getting more complete, I am more encouraged
that it will be a nice park. Not as nice as DL,
but then NO PARK is as nice as DL. Not even WDW's
MK. Financially, I think the park will do okay.
It's going to definitely require FULL HOTELS. And
at the prices Disney is charging that may be
problem. I'd love to stay there, but not at $300.
I think we're all hoping to be pleasantly
surprised when the gates open. And I'm hoping al
the crabbing online is making a difference at the
DISNEY EXECUTIVE level and forcing some changing
for the better at the park. More animatronics
maybe? I look forward to your next debate.
I agree with you on a
lot of different levels here. You'll get no
argument from me about hotel costs, or the
inherent beauty of Disneyland. And you're quite
right that the public has never had a chance to
watch a Disney park being built like this, so we're
both more hopeful and more critical than we'd
otherwise be. Thanks for the note!
Love reading these debates...
I, for one, am not impressed with DCA, but
I am trying to keep an open mind. I love the
deeply themed rides- the classics and even the
ones like Alien Encounter. I have even been to DL
Paris- the best Magic Kingdom (and Space Mtn!) of
all. Had I not even heard of Disney Seas or
Westcot, I'd view DCA differently.
I think DCA
will be 'somewhat' on par w/Disney's America. I
guess I just keep thinking- in 30 years will we
be celebrating the anniversary of Grizzly River
Rapids? Of course not. There is nothing lavish
about DCA. Where are the signature attractions?
Animal Kingdom at least got "Countdown".
If "Soaring" is it or GRR, we may be in
I remember the opening of Haunted
Mansion in '69. It was groundbreaking. Even Soarin'
can be compared to Back to the Future at Universal.
Yeah, DCA has large elements of MGM
Studios and Tough to be a Bug (a great show!) but
so what. What is special and noteworthy about DCA
except Disney proved they could squeeze a park
and a mall in the Dland parking lot! I am keeping
my hopes on Phase Two. Some think it is a red
herring by Pressler. I hope not.
A friend of mine, a high level VP for a
large investment firm says Eisner is on his way
out. I hope so- maybe Imagineering and the parks
could restore its weakened reputation. Maybe this
should be your next debate- the benefits or not
of replacing Eisner....
Thanks and have fun,
I hear what you're saying
about the lack of a lavish approach here. Not
every ride can be an Audio-Animatronics
extravaganza along the lines of Pirates of the
Caribbean, but you're right it would be nice to
have at least one. Still, there's this to
consider: isn't a park full of nice but not
overwhelming detail better than a parking lot,
which was here before? I'd rather have re-used
WDW rides than nothing at all.
Hey Mark -
One comment you made really struck me as
something important for us to remember. "Had
I not even heard of Disney Seas or Westcot, I'd
view DCA differently." What we need to
remember is that most people haven't
heard of Disney Seas or Westcot. Most people will
not be trying to place DCA into some greater
I've been to a Disney park six times so far
this year. The average guest probably doesn't
visit more than two or three times per decade, if
that. I think that Disney is going to find that
for the average guest, DCA is a wonderful
experience. It could be that Disney has finally
built a park that aims for the average guest.
with many of the points both of you brought out.
I have been following the construction since its
beginning, and formed my own opinion before even
reading the negative reviews about DCA.
problem I see is that Disney's main concern is
not about pleasing and wowing guests, like Walt's
main objective. Their goal is simply to make
money! Nothing more, nothing less.
Eisner couldn't be more different that Walt!
Ever since he has been in charge, the changes
that have occurred over the years point to the
fact that he is out-of-touch and only concerned
with making money. Unfortunately, DCA may well be
the straw that broke the camel's back. Look at
all the great Imagineers that have left the
company lately! Did they "really" leave
to make more money elsewhere? To have a better
opportunity? Perhaps they left because they
simply had enough with seeing Disney diverting
from its original goal: To entertain guests in a
way that lets them forget about the "real"
world and allows them to live in a fantasy world
for a day.
Think about it...if you were an Imagineer,
and your talents and creative ideas
were always under the scrutiny of costs and
pinching pennies to the point where the final
product was a completely watered down version of
what you originally intended, wouldn't you be
"embarrassed" to even claim you had any
real part in the making? Not to mention the fact
that your ideas are being shot down by people who
DO NOT have anywhere NEAR the creative mind that
you and your fellow Imagineers have and therefore
are OUT-OF-TOUCH with what would please the
general public and amaze them to the point of
wanting to return again and again.
This is exactly what we are seeing lately:
First with the so-called "new"
Tomorrowland, and now DCA. And this is just
considering California. The original Disneyland
was a huge success because the man in charge,
Walt, was himself an Imagineer. He had a creative
mind's eye that new exactly what would bring
smiles to peoples faces, and his main goal WAS
NOT about making money hand-over-fist.
DCA will draw crowds when it first opens
because of all the hype behind it...people want
to see whether it is a successful project or a
flop. But after 2 years, the real light will
shine through, and a book will arrive on the best-sellers
book shelves entitled "Disney's California
Adventure: Why it failed!"
Ohhh, it is very tempting to
just agree with you across the board. And for the
most part, I do agree. But playing devil's
advocate here, what if this whole "Money
Second" attitude we all associate with Walt
was just well-tuned propaganda?
Disney sells a
brand, an image. Maybe Walt was just better at
selling without it FEELING like commercialization,
which is a critical difference. Still, there is
much wisdom in what you say here.
Hi Tom -
You may be right, and
in a couple of years we will all be wondering if
Disney's one year schedule to return DCA back
into a pristine parking lot is too aggressive.
But I would be amazed if DCA will ever be viewed
as a complete failure. Most people just don't
expect as much out of Disney.
I was on a plane
recently sitting with a mother and her daughter.
They were obviously returning home from
Disneyland and we talked a bit. They both said
that their favorite ride was - gasp! - Rocket
Rods. They'd ridden it several times and had
never noticed the cinder block theming.
I'm not saying that
we are wrong to place the highest expectations on
Disney but rather that not meeting our
expectations does not mean that Disney will
It was real interesting reading your
thoughts on DCA... but is it possible to get this
into a three-way dual? This is a topic that I, as
a Disneyland cast member and big fan, would really
like to discuss in a forum such as this. I'm sure
you all probably have received a lot of mail
regarding this issue, but there are many topics
that the two of you may have left out of or
pointed out lightly in discussion. I have to
think of DCA in two separate ways: 1) local
frequent Disney visitor and worker, and 2) Disney
fan living in either northwest or northeast
Now looking from a frequent visitor
standpoint, DCA looks very disappointing. The
attractions look no different than those found at
Six Flags or Knott's... just a little fancier.
Now that is what Disney is known for doing,
taking something and making it a lot better, but
is there anything in DCA that will really knock
the socks off of us?
Kevin, you mentioned the
simulator attraction, that I admit sounds
interesting, but is there anything else that is
screaming for us to ride (maybe California
Screamin' coaster, no pun intended). Sure it will
be a fun coaster but it isn't even close to what
the Disneyland coasters offer in terms of
creativity. The rapids ride had potential of
being the NEW mountain that CA needed but from
what I read about it, it's nothing more than a
mountain rapids ride. No animatronics, no
characters, no story, nothing. That's
disappointing. At least the rapids ride at Animal
Kingdom had a "save the forests" theme.
Now, everything else offered in this new park is
very low scale (such as those carnival
attractions found in Paradise Pier) or could be
found at another existing Disney park (Muppet
Vision, It's Tough to be a Bug 3-D). Also from
what I heard, the Imagineers had little to do
with many of the attractions, another method of
cutting corners, no doubt. On a final note on
this point of view, a frequent visitor probably
wouldn't want to fork out $40+ on this theme park
unless there was something that could not be
offered anywhere else. Hopefully that will be the
"Disney Magic", that could be found
nowhere else. This would be mainly the case if
Disney charged separate admission to the parks.
If both parks combined cost someone under $50, it
would not be that bad... unless DCA was so horrid
that nobody wanted to pay extra for it and not go.
Now on the view point of an out of state
Disney fan, it 'would' definitely give me more
incentive to visit Walt's original playground and
also take a look at Disney's latest. But I would
also be even more disappointed if it were not to
my full expectations. A theme park opposite of
Disneyland from the same company has to be up to
par at least, right? One would assume so, but DCA
simply isn't going to be. At least not yet.
I remember how disappointed I was at Walt Disney
World when each theme park didn't feel as "full"
as Disneyland alone was. But since I'm not really
an out of state Disney fan, I couldn't honestly
say if I would choose to visit Disneyland or Walt
Disney World. I suppose it would depend on which
one was closer and if you had relatives there or
not. But either way, I would have very high
expectations of DCA if I were out of state. So
high that DCA couldn't' help but be a
disappointment. Imagine camping outside a theater
for Episode I and getting Battlefield Earth
instead. Not a happy camper...
So to wrap it all up, I'm looking forward
to DCA's opening, but my expectations are very
low right now. I don't think it will be the money
maker that Eisner and Co. were hoping for...
since you need to put in $$$ to make $$$$. To me,
it's just a hodgepodge of Universal, Six Flags,
and Knott's rolled into one, with a Disney name.
I guess I have the same mentality that Alex has...
I find it difficult to get excited about the park
but would love to be proven wrong.
You have continued the
tradition begun by our other readers with your
thoughtful insight here. I'd put out the caution
I did with the last letter - any park is better
than none at all - but you're quite right that
this is not up to Disney's usual standards.
PROBABLY. And that "probably" needs to
be said; after all, it's not open yet.
have enough info to have an idea, and I think you're
on the right track. You're also correct to point
out the issue of cost. This may be "better
than nothing" but is it worth $42 for a day's
visit? Probably once, yes. But for repeat visits?
|Kevin and Alex,
Well done, interesting views on DCA. First
of all Paradise Pier is supposed to invoke the
history and culture of what California is. It
would be like Paris without the Eiffel Tower (the
Parisians hated it when it was built). I think
the Disney fans will embrace Paradise Pier when
On the economic side of DCA, this was a
good idea. How do you both define profits? Or
going bust? I define it from the onset of
building. How much does it cost. How long does it
take to recoop the costs. Westcot (even though it
looked good in drawings) was overdone (no room to
expand) and too expensive. Disney would have
spent well over 2 billion on Westcot alone (not
including Anaheim's 1 billion for infrastructure)
opposed to DCA which cost less than 1 billion.
DCA was not built to compete with Disneyland but
to supplement it providing an extra day for
The quality is there with Ca. Soaring,
Muppet Vision, It's Tough to be a Bug and
Superstar Limo. As far as Disney is concerned,
they are up one billion which allows them to
quickly start phase II of DCA (which most likely
will include Rock and Roll Coaster, the
Armageddon Show and hopefully, Tower of Terror)
and phase III and IV thereafter. Just today, the
O.C. Register reported Disney having preliminary
expansion talks with Anaheim officials for a
third park on the 80 acres one block from DCA (the
Fujishige property bought in 1999 and earlier
land Disney bought in 1997 which is a cast mamber
parking lot). Disney continues to purchase land
around this area hoping to bring the 80 acres to
100 (wouldn't a lean and compact Disney Seas be
nice). With the one billion saved, it's practical
and doable. No dates have been set on the third
The Block: I live in O.C. and I have to
respectfully disagree with your idea that The
Block does not have a teenager problem. They do
and this has been their problem from the onset.
Many adults will tell you that they keep away
precisely because of this. We in O.C. are
counting down the days until a quality
entertainment/dining/retail district opens up.
The Irvine Spectrum is nice but Downtown Disney
You weren't the only one to
call me on the issue of teens at the Block in
Orange, but I honestly don't see it as a problem.
Oh well. It's nice to see some people are still
optimistic about DCA, and you're right that
Westcot would have cost quite a bit of money.
Rather than refute that, I'd prefer to ask a
pointed question: couldn't Disney exist with a
slightly less profitable bottom line in the short
term if it meant long-term health and interest in
the theme parks?
I worry that short-term thinking
dominates the corporate culture now, and some of
this is stock-price related (more to the point,
related to Eisner's stock option bonuses).
"How do you both
define profits?" From the corporate
perspective Disney will define profits by asking
themselves whether over the lifetime of the park
the company has made more money than if they had
just left the money in the bank. Disney isn't
going to close the park unless it experiences at
a net operational loss, and does so for a long
time, but they aren't going to be really happy
unless it provides a good return on investment (ROI).
I do like your idea
that Disney is up a billion dollars just because
it decided not to spend $2 billion on the new
park. If that thinking were good then Disney
could just not build any
park and put a big $2 billion profit in their
next annual report. Just remember, when it is so
important how much money you spend, but rather
how much you get back for it.
just like to comment on the success of DD by
comparing it to a similar project, Universal's
City Walk in Orlando. CW has been doing very well
since it opened and is really pulling in crowds
from all sectors (tourists,locals etc..) It also
has only two parks backing it and one hotel (soon
three). So if this is any indicator DD should be
doing fairly well.
This comparison could also be
expanded to include all of Universal Orlando with
them also having one major themed park with
immerse environments (IOA) and one with nice
rides but no unifying theme (USF) but I won't go
there right now.
- Jeremy -
Penetrating remarks, my friend,
if indeed CityWalk Orlando is doing well (and I
have no reason to doubt you here).
caution that the situation is not perfectly analogous
for two reasons. First, Universal
Escape is off the beaten path a bit so the
audience is captive in a way (something that's
not true of Anaheim).
Second, at Universal the
new park is an excitingly detailed theme park,
whereas at California the new park is the less
themed counterpart. Whether the analogy holds
true is something only time will tell.
I just discovered this site and I enjoyed
your dual review.
I am too a Northern California Disneyland
fan and I have been following the development of
DCA with some interest. As a life-long Disneyland
fan (WDW is just a weak Disneyland with lots of
room for people) I agree that the beauty of
Disneyland has always been the total experience;
entertaining rides, fun shows, great fireworks,
beautiful landscaping, (generally) polite guests
and great cast members. To even speak of Great
America in the same breath as Disneyland is
I think that there will be some
disappointment in the new park (a whole lot based
on a lot of internet posts) but I think these
same people who love Disneyland now would have
been disappointed with the park when it opened in
1955. There was no POC or HM or Matterhorn when
the park opened. Lines were long, landscaping was
no where near "mature." But the park
has evolved. Attractions have come and gone. It
improves with age (despite missteps such as
With the incredible growth in the amusement
park industry primarily focused on building
bigger and faster roller coasters, I'm sure
Disney is feeling a little pressure to also build.
I also think that the guests that are putting the
most of this pressure are local annual
passholders. I think ultimately the Paradise Pier
section of the park will fulfill its job as
providing some bigger thrill rides. Clearly the
difficulty with this section of the park is
theming the queue as this is supposed to be an
interpretation of the coastal amusement park.
Without themed queue's there will be long
switchback lines (Does Dumbo come to mind - that
line just always looks bad.)
I think there will be some fondness for the
themed area as there are a lot of Baby Boomers
who remember a beach side amusement park from
their childhood. SF's "Playland at the Beach"
comes to mind; long since gone but many adults
who went there as a kid often wish it was still
there. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk still draws
many from Nor Cal (I prefer it to Great America
or Six Flags Marine World) and I think Paradise
Pier will represent the fond memories for the
adults bringing their kids or grandchildren.
Will the park compare with Disneyland? No
way - but I don't think any park ever will. It is
the granddaddy of them all and it has look and
feel that can never be duplicated. However DCA
does look like it will have some fun and
interesting attractions (even for many of them
being off-the-shelf rides.) I think in many ways
it will be a nice contrast and a nice way to
spend a day. On a nostalgic basis, I am excited
to see the Wild Mouse coaster which is similar to
a ride that used to exist at the Santa Cruz
Boardwalk. At this point, that is my first
destination when I hit the park.
I'm looking forward to the
Wild Mouse, as I've never ridden one despite my
trips to several coaster parks, some of them
traditional parks. Ditto the Wonder Wheel. I
understand your stance here, and it's a mature
one. DCA cannot be DL.
But I disagree that Disney
should point to current trends and proclaim that
thrill rides are what people want. It's a cliché,
but Walt really did make his theme parks great by
appealing to the entire family. Lest we forget,
there were many more coasters in the United
States in the 1920s than there are now. The
thrill movement waxes and wanes, in other words,
while immersive story-driven narratives will age
much better. I could picture DL without Space
Mountain, if it came to that, but I could not
imagine DL without Pirates of the Caribbean.
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