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Al Lutz
Ask Al!™
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 you've submitted.

Q.

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 appreciated.
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A.

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.

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Q.

Emily writesHello, 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 it.

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! Thank You!

Hollyann writesWe 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 days. :-).
 

A.

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 mentioned?

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 this case.

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.

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Q.

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 much appreciated.

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?
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A.

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.

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Q.

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
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??
 

A.

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.

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Q.

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. thanks.

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.
 

A.

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 day.

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.

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Q.

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!
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A.

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?

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Q.

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?.
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A.

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.

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Q.

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 somewhere.

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?
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A.

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.

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Q.

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!.
 

A.

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 come on.

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Q.

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 gate.

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.
 

A.

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 section.

Ask Al™:

Submitting a question is easy, just write to me at al@mouseplanet.com and put the following in the subject header: Ask Al!  That way I know to be on the lookout for them.

When making a submission, try to keep in mind what other readers may find of interest, and also see if you can keep it to subject matter of Disneyland. The questions / letters with the broadest appeal and best relation to this site's subject matter will be the ones highest on the list to answer.  Do also read though the questions already submitted, so you won't repeat anything.

Not all questions may be responded to, but all will be read [as I always have in the past] so I can have an idea of what you all think out there.

Keep in mind all questions submitted to the Ask Al! column become property of this site. They may be edited for length or style and for a family readership. Questions may also be quoted on other parts of the site too.

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