You all responded so favorably to the small Ask Al! section I'd added
to the update, that I thought it would warrant a page of its own.
First, a little background: As you all can imagine, I get so much
e-mail about the site, that it's gotten to the point where I can't
really respond to it all personally. But questions keep coming in,
and so many of them keep proving interesting, that I thought I'd try
this column so I could respond at least to the ones I feel will have the
broadest appeal for the D-I-G readership.
I'll try and update this page about once a week or so - but be
patient if I fall behind a bit.
The following ten questions were posted on 11/8/01
and again thank you all for your terrific feedback and the many queries
Barbra writes: Here I am sitting in
my home in PA wondering whether to visit DCA on our trip to CA at
the end of December. We've done WDW several times, and visited
Disneyland last year, though just for a day.
After reading your less than stellar
reviews, I'm wondering if we should save our money. Has anything
improved since you wrote your reviews early on? We have 2 kids, 10
and 13, so I don't want kiddy stuff, really. Any info would be
The key to enjoying what little this new park has to offer lies
in how much you will pay to visit it, and how long you plan to stay
at the Disneyland Resort.
If you plan to pay full admission price ($43 adult, the same as
Disneyland across the way) for one day at California Adventure, you
will find this park a disappointment.
If on the other hand you plan to visit Disneyland for at least
three or so days, and plan on purchasing multi day tickets (which
are all now parkhoppers) then DCA can be enjoyed as a modest
addition to the vastly superior experience that Disneyland offers
you. The ability to hop between parks insures you will enjoy all
Disneyland has to offer, and that you will not be trapped for the
day in just the one newer park with its carnival quality rides and
not enough to see and do.
The mistake they made with this park was to cut back on all the
things that made Disney parks unique, by putting in off the shelf
rides and too many movies masquerading as attractions. They
assumed the Disney name would bring them in by the droves, and that
people wouldn't care / notice how much they cut back in building
it. The new resident salute discount (a $49 adult admission -
six dollars over the base admission - gets you two days with a
choice of either park on each day, or you can use the ticket all up
in one day by visiting both parks) is a monument to how disastrously
they handled this expansion.
Emily writes: Hello, my family
and I love Disneyland... especially during the holidays. The main
reason we love Disneyland during the holidays is a wonderful
performance called the Candlelight procession. It just sets the
perfect mood for Christmas. My family and I cry every time we see
Unfortunately, just recently they decided to start giving the
tickets away really early in the morning. We live about an hour and
15 mins away, and to get dressed, pick up family members, and get to
Disneyland before 6 in the morning is extremely difficult.....
especially with young children!
Since I love the MOUSEPLANET website, visit it every single day,
love the latest news from D-Land articles, the pictures on the
website are fabulous, and you all seem like such wonderful experts
about Disneyland... I was wondering if you know of any secrete or
special tips on how to get a hold of Candlelight tickets without
having to get there so early.
We know that there is a Standby line for one of the performances at
night, but isn't that kind of taking a chance waiting in a line like
that? If you know of any information that could help, please send
that to me as soon as possible. I would be so grateful! We are
starting to plan our trip to Disneyland on the December 8th, so we
are trying to get everything under control. It would be so great not
to have to worry about anything. Any info would be appreciated!
Hollyann writes: We are
planning a trip for the middle of November. From reading your
columns, it appears that you are in the park(s) most Sundays - is
there a time and place that we can stop by to say hello and offer
our thanks for your hard work? I'm leaving for Disneyland in 10
|Emily: The Candlelight Ceremony will be performed at
the Fantasyland Theatre Fri & Sat, Dec 8 & 9 at 5:30 and
then 7:45 pm.
Since you twisted our arms so much (and you are TOO kind with
your compliments) here's our tip for getting in: Simply pop into
line for the second show at the end of the line for the first
performance (at about 5 PM). The second show for some reason never
fills up, and they usually can pretty much accommodate the people
waiting in standby as of the previous performance for it. If
the number of no-shows is really high, you may even get into the
first performance that way. In the last few years I myself have been
going, this has worked each time for me.
Now, you should be aware of a major change - notice that
Disneyland is now calling this simply "The Candlelight
Ceremony?" And that the word "Procession" is not
The reason for the name change is that they are no longer doing
the procession down Main St. to the theater - the choirs will simply
enter from the adjacent Fantasyland backstage gate for both shows
each night. Another Disneyland tradition bites the dust I guess.
We should be thankful though - people last year that were
involved with the project were insisting that this year the show was
going to be moved to California Adventure to try and boost
attendance there. My guess is that more sensible heads prevailed in
Hollyann: Thank you for the kind words. Generally some of the
MousePlanet folks meet up on noon Sundays at the hub, either by the
Goofy or Dumbo brass statues, depending on where a bench to sit on
is placed and where the shade covers us.
The holiday schedules have us all in a mess right now - so not
everyone may be there each Sunday, but it been pretty much my
experience that someone usually does pop up. My schedule is always
changing, but I look forward to saying hello if time permits for
either of us. It's always fun meeting readers of the site.
Greg writes: Love your site. Its
been extremely valuable as I plan my trip down on Nov. 15 - 19th.
One quick question. Are Peter Pan, Mr. Toad and the Castle all being
refurbished? You said not to trust the official site, but that's
what it says. It would be awfully disappointing.. Any info would be
Margot writes: I just got back from
Disneyland and the castle was open. When did they decide to close it
and what changed to cause this to happen?
|Greg: Thank you for the compliment. At this time that
schedule is holding, although it may (as always) be subject to
change. This is most likely due to the repaving project going on in
Fantasyland at this time - plus they are really trying to do some
more substantial rehabs than in the past. (They need to do them
since they have neglected things for so long now.)
Margot: The castle is considered a major target for problems in
the troubled time we live in right now. I'll keep checking the
status of it, but the walk through has been closed, and should
remain closed for the foreseeable future.
David writes: You may want to check
out this link - It's a story about the discount plan that
you mentioned in your last update. They comment on DCA attendance
stating "attendance at California Adventure was dramatically
below projections, rarely topping 20,000 visitors a day." They
don't go into reasons for the low attendance, but anyone reading
your updates knows the story. Keep up the good work Al.
Andy writes: Hey Al! Love the site!
With the humongous opening of Monsters, Inc. don't you think the
higher-ups should green light a Monsters, Inc. attraction at DCA
pronto!! I mean... this is a NO-BRAINER!!
Promotional art © Disney / Pixar
In fact, the action-packed scene where it
almost looks like the characters are on a suspended / inverted
roller-coaster would make a FANTASTIC coaster / dark ride
combination. Even though I'm an extreme thrill-ride junkie, If I was
in charge, I would take the same type of ride system as the tame
Pteranadon Flyers at Islands of Adventure (but possibly increase the
train-size for capacity...), enclose it, and create a coaster /
Peter Pan type of adventure.... I'm not sure where you would place
it.... (Hollywood Backlot might be a better fit than Paradise
Pier.... maybe get rid of Superstar Limo??) But the building, queue,
etc. could be HEAVILY themed to Monsters, Inc. factory, etc....
I would predict this to be a hugely
successful family attraction that would no doubt be a nicely themed
addition to a park that is in desperate need of good theming. Al, I
know that a Monsters, Inc. dark ride was on the drawing boards at
one point with WDI... do you know its status??
|Thanks for the heads up David. The story about the
problems with this park will be a continuing one. They really
dropped the ball with it, and it will not be easy to fix under its
current theme and design.
Andy, they did have a very low budget Monsters dark ride type of
attraction planned for Paradise Pier - but nothing has come of that.
They are putting in a Monsters show into DCA from what I understand.
They are still trying to figure out how to work in a California
theme into it.
Oleg writes: Al - in your 11/6 DIG
update you mentioned the new SoCal discount program - and it
states... "Once you purchase these two-day tickets, you will be
eligible to attend one park on the day of purchase, and either the
same park or the other on any day you wish (including same day), up
until the December 19 expiration date." This seems to imply
that you are NOT authorized to park hop - correct? please inform us.
DVD writes: Al, is that $49 DL &
DCA 2 park deal good on Thanksgiving Just wanted to know. I haven't
heard any info on that. Thanks.
Tari writes: When I was reading your
latest Disneyland info guide I saw that Disney is offering a
discount of tickets to both parks. My family is going to Disneyland
resort for Christmas and we want to go to both parks but couldn't
afford it and with this special (we are in the zip code) we can go
to both. That is great thanks for reporting that, if have any more
info can you email it to me.
|Oleg & Tari: I got a LOT of mail about this - and
the information Disney is providing is (in my opinion) purposely
vague. Here is their copy from the press release:
Once guests purchase these two-day tickets, they will be
eligible to attend one park on the day of purchase, and either
the same park or the other on any day they wish, up until the
December 19 expiration date. Guests will be limited to five
tickets per person with proper identification, and have to show
proof of Southern California residency.
That first bold wording implies park hopping is not allowed - but
the second bolded set of words implies that you can use the other
day of the ticket any day you wish - which could include that same
Here's the scoop (just updated) - you can utilize
the ticket on one day to visit both parks (using it all up on
a single day), or you can use it to visit one park one day, and
then come back another day (before the expiration date) to
visit another or the same park.
Finally! And at a price that really is a value to the
visitor. I would recommend you use this discounted ticket to visit
both parks on the same day to get the best use out of it - it opens
up the new park to you, and once you see it allows you to visit
either park as you choose.
DVD: Thanksgiving weekend is included on the discount.
|Ginny writes: The cove
bar (at California Adventure) is no longer there (Boo hoo hoo!)
Closed down. No word about its fate or ownership, just a public
notice of an application to transfer ownership.
What gives? Have we lost our favorite
hangout forever? How could they close the bar and leave the limo
ride open??? Please post any info you have. Thanks!
|The bar will be back - so you can enjoy the billowing
smoke, and the fireworks that produce it during the new evening
Luminaria lagoon show. No word yet if the bar will serve earlier in
the day, during the planned Little Mermaid character breakfast or
lunch that is now planned for the location.
Which makes me wonder, what do you name a bar in a restaurant
themed to the Little Mermaid?
King Triton's Bar? Sebastian's Hideaway? Ursula's Love Lounge?
Ariel's Juke Joint?
I guess when you are throwing out the California theming hand
over fist to cram in more movie based characters and attractions it
really doesn't matter does it?
Bryan writes: I enjoyed reading your
latest update, as always. Let's hope Cynthia gets her way with a
third gate. What did you mean by the cryptic comment that
"Millionaire has been apparently been thrown aside"? Has
the show been cancelled?.
|The Millionaire show's big promotional press party was
cancelled due to the attacks, and will now be combined in an
upcoming press junket for Lumniaria.
They had high hopes this was going to address some of the
problems with the new park - and as much as audiences who do attend
enjoy it - it is not turning out to be the savior they had hoped
for. They are moving onto other things.
Ken writes: In your last update
(great job!) you talked about taking out Mondavi with something to
do with the Bears going in if the movie is a hit. How about putting
in a lunch / dinner place using the Country Bears much like was
talked about for the original Tiki Room?
I'm glad to hear that at least some people (Cynthia Harris) in
Disney are talking about a high end park for the third gate.
Hopefully that view will prevail.
Regarding expanding DCA into Downtown Disney. I recall someone
(you?) speculating that they could open up DCA and just charge
people to go on rides with a coupon book.
Lastly, redoing the Rivers of America to American Legends is a great
idea. One interesting thing about Johnny Appleseed I read recently
however is that you can't plant seeds to get good tasting apples.
You have to graft them. Most apples taste terrible. All Red
delicious apple trees come from a single tree found in the Midwest
Jonathan writes: Thanks again for
another fine update. You must already know how much your efforts are
appreciated, so I'll keep the praise to a minimum. In the
"Other Quik Quotes" section of the 11/6 update, you
mention Tony Baxter's "American Legends" concept. Could
you please elaborate on this or tell me where I might find
information already posted on the site?
|Thanks for the kind word Ken. In order:
I suspect the Country Bears will end up somewhere up on the
Grizzly River Run if anyplace in the new park - but it will depend
on how the movie does. People are still amazed they closed the
attraction what with the movie coming down the pike so soon.
Cynthia Harriss has her heart in the right place. I and a lot of
people are wondering though just when we will see some serious
upkeep and painting around the park though. ;)
They are still trying to make DCA over into a park worth visiting
on its own - but until they dump the theme and get serious with the
money - it will continue to be a failure. You have to really wonder
just how wrong they were with the concept when not a SINGLE new
addition since opening has anything to do with the core theme of the
park. They pretty much blew off the California motif.
Finally, I think Tony Baxter's American Legends idea is an
excellent one. It really fits into the Frontierland theme, and
introduces children today to some of the stories we grew up with as
kids. The problem is his boss Paul Pressler - whose imagination is
limited in ways only known currently by rock- like objects.
Interesting about the apples though. :)
Jonathan: The American Legends / Rivers of America concept is
very simple. Basically the trip around the river would now show you
these animatronic American Legends up off on the banks of the
waterway somewhere. You'd drift on by Paul Bunyan chopping a tree
down along with his blue ox, while next up would be Johnny Appleseed
working away. The Mark Twain and Columbia's spiels would be redone
to tell their stories. Animatronics would be reused and
redistributed from what is currently seen around the river. The boat
landing would be rethemed with banners describing the legends you
would see on your voyage.
This could turn the river into a "C" ticket type of
attraction, give visitors something new to see (and a reason to ride
again) and it fits in beautifully with the Frontierland theme. Not
to mention it brings back classic Disney characters into the park.
And mind you - it would be rather inexpensive to do, compared to a
lot of other things.
Again the problem is Pressler. He just doesn't understand this
kind of stuff.
Travis writes: We recently relocated
to southern California from the east coast. My dad is coming to
visit over Thanksgiving and has never been to Disneyland - or
California for that matter.
Obviously, I don't want his first visit to Disneyland to be marred
by horribly thick crowds. He's here Wednesday, Nov 21 through
Sunday, November 25. Historically speaking, which of these days over
Thanksgiving might be the least attended? (the day before, the day
of, the day after, saturday or sunday?)
Not having lived in CA during a holiday season, I have no idea which
might be the best or worst days to go. I imagine they're all pretty
busy. Any thoughts or suggestions would certainly be appreciated!.
|Sunday is your best bet Travis. Start your day early,
when the park is relatively empty. Head right for the Holiday
Mansion, since long lines form pretty quickly for it. Do all the
other attractions on that side of the park that morning (Pirates,
Big Thunder etc.) - if you don't do Indy right away, get a Fastpass
for it at that time.
Spend a nice lunch watching the crowds amble in (the bulk of
visitors come in at noon) then spend the afternoon doing the rest of
the park, always using Fastpass for the major rides, and taking
advantage of the time until you use the passes for taking in the
smaller rides. Plan an early dinner, then head on over to Main
Street for the Fireworks and snowfall. That's the best place
to see them.
And before I forget, try to do small world holiday during the day
if possible - it really gets jammed at night once the lights all
Peter writes: First I wanted to
thank you so much for your insight into the workings of Disneyland.
Your site is the first one I go to every morning.
Now the question: Last time I was at
Disneyland, I visited the new Mr. Lincoln exhibit. It was great, the
stereo effects were great, anyway in the exit is a map of the
resort, with Disneyland, DCA, and the proposed site for the third
The interesting part is there is also a
proposed expansion to DCA in what is now the parking lot behind
Hollywood backlot. I was wondering if you knew anything about it or
if that was a dumb question already covered by somebody. Again
thanks for your time and the site.
|Peter no question is dumb. We just get so many of them
here, we may not get to as many as we would like.
Right now two things are penciled in right now for DCA's
expansion. First up is Bug Town (a cheap - let me repeat that, CHEAP
- Bug's Life themed kiddy area to address the many complaints about
nothing for kids to do there). Second is Tower of Terror,
which is being promised, but like all things Disney we await
something to actually to happen before confirming it going in.
The other possibilities for the area you saw include another
hotel bordering the park, (themed to the Hollywood Backlot area and
tied into Tower of Terror) and a possible expansion out of the wharf
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