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Al Lutz
Archived D-I-G Update
2/6/01 QUICK UPDATE: Camping out at Disneyland for the opening of California Adventure? Here's the scoop.


Camping out at Disneyland for the opening of California Adventure? Here's the scoop:

The plan for visitors staying overnight at Disneyland is to keep them up and awake with games, activities, high sugar outdoor vending (ODV) foods and loud music piped through the Park. They have decided to ditch the low-key approach and instead go for a pep rally style all-night event. Expect lots of cheering contests, cast members (CMs) encouraging Guests to do "the wave", and pop music and snappy Disney tunes played over the PA systems at louder than normal levels. They don't want anyone to be able to nap or sleep or feel relaxed all night. They want the atmosphere to be frenetic and loud for hours on end, so that no one can sleep.

The hope is that the people who spent the night at Disneyland will rush into DCA first thing in the morning and then crash by mid-day because they have been up all night drinking Cokes and doing The Macarena. That way, the majority of people who stayed overnight on the 7th will be leaving by early afternoon, and Disney can begin letting in more people who didn't show up until after the sun rose on the 8th. This will also free up more parking that can be opened in the afternoon hours for later arriving Guests. Sneaky, but true.

People planning on spending the night on the 7th may want to bring earplugs and eyeshades to block out the noise and pep-rally style antics led by perky CM's. And don't expect to be able to purchase anything that isn't loaded with sugar or caffeine. Visitors arriving on the evening of the 7th and early on the 8th will be given wristbands of differing colors that will determine where in the queue they get to wait.

KEEP IN MIND - people waiting in line in Disneyland overnight will not be able to see the opening ceremony, and the queue will begin to cycle through Disneyland and across the Esplanade at 8:00 am AFTER the ceremony, according to your wristband color. Once in, you cannot leave and come back - once out you lose your chance to get in early.

And in case you wanted to the first in, you won't be able to, as a local family has already been selected to be the "First Guests" into DCA on the 8th. Your wristband, and your ticket, will get you into the park on Thursday, but do not guarantee you a place in line.

If it's important to you that you're among the first in the park, you'll have to hold your spot in line all night. But if you just want to make sure you CAN get into DCA on Thursday, get your wristband Wednesday, go home, and don't come back until noon Thursday!

I've gotten more than a few questions from readers, which pretty much duplicate the ones in this note from Robert below. I'll attempt to answer them as best I can from the knowledge I have at this time:

1) Will Disney be allowing parking in the structure overnight and how late can you arrive?

They will allow lining up to start at 5 PM today, which indicates to lots of folks involved that the structure will remain open all night.

2) Following that, how late on Wednesday night will they be admitting people to wait for the opening.

They are expecting 20,000 for the sleepover, they have planned for a 50,000 day total in the new park. My guess (again) is that they will allow people to keep queuing up at least until about 6 or 7 AM - and probably stop queues into Disneyland (and the trams in) during the ceremony, which runs from 7 AM until 8 AM.

People arriving in the early morning (5 to 6 AM) after the first 20,000 have been let in, may find themselves waiting out in the Pinocchio lot until 8 AM. Again folks, this is an educated guess from what little we can find out. The area between the parks promises to be a zoo during that opening ceremony.

3) If late overnight parking is available, Will there be tram service and how late?

Trams may or may not be available during the sleepover, depending on the crowd size. After groups are gathered, and Disneyland officially closes, they may just go ahead and have you walk over to the park, via the walkways through the Pinocchio lot, crossing Disneyland Dr. / West St. and through the Downtown Disney mall. The mall may also be used as a staging area too, but that's only if the overnight crowd is less than 5,000.

Greg asked:

Any word on the expected turnout for the original Disneyland on the 8th and 9th? I'm fearing big overflow crowds, but today I noticed on your site that Disneyland attendance may be lower (?).

The problem in answering this is that passholder attendance situation is unknown - chances are many of them will come to see the new park (since passes have been on sale since December). If they can't get in (due to crowds) they may end up waiting at Disneyland instead until they can start readmitting folks.

My guess is that there will be light attendance at Disneyland during the weekend - even if passholders show up in droves. Keep in mind they don't use the park in the same way the regular day visitors do either.

Be aware if you do plan to try the sleepover - um, wakeover... ;) - that the local weather folks have been forecasting some light showers that night, along with a cooling trend. Dress in layers, and you should be fine.


Up for it? Better be!

2/6/01 SPECIAL UPDATE: 50,000 from 28,000 - California Adventure (DCA) opening weekend capacity set / More DCA merchandise / Lincoln Encounter / Electrical Parade date in flux / Readers write about Florida Adventure (DFA)


50,000 from 28,000 - California Adventure opening weekend capacity set

"They said it would be done to accommodate the crowds for the opening weekend only," the source said, "but it smells like greed to me." Another source was more blunt: "It will be truly awful all weekend, the park can't even handle the 28,000 head count limit they had settled on, which was already lowered from 30,000."

What's it going to be like? Well, keep in mind that the park still has massive problems with ride capacity. "Soarin' Over California" (the IMAX hang glider ride film) is still recovering from the emergency they had on Saturday, which the word is now was much more serious than Disney had let on. (The copy of the film for one theater was destroyed, and there's been some other damage too. Yesterday it was still operating with only one theater - halving capacity.) Also keep in mind they are still running local ads announcing Thursday's DCA opening date - as I type this up they've been on all night on NBC.

Now how does the park think they will help handle the crowds? The atmosphere entertainment budget has been reinstated, and doubled. They keep hoping the extra mimes / bands / characters out and around the park will help. But honestly, do you go to Disneyland for the mime? And they probably won't be able to do much for this opening weekend is my guess.

My advice? Unless you have an annual pass - which means you can come back on a later day to do the attractions - you will have a difficult time doing anything in the new park except shop and dine if you are planning a visit this upcoming weekend.

And even dining will be a problem it seems, since none of the fast food facilities are ready yet to handle the crowds. Surveys taken the past few days have pointed out the long lines for food are up there with myriad complaints for the huge queues for the attractions.

What are the major complaints about the queues? Little or no shade, in particular for the slowest movers such as Soarin, the Sun Wheel and Superstar Limo. The company isn't much interested in this problem area either at this time. No fixes are even being considered.

On each day this past week, as they have ramped up capacity to 30,000 daily during these final previews, the complaints have soared. The unseasonable heat only served to remind people what it may be like this summer. You'd think they'd want to put the best possible face on things - but apparently they aren't all that worried about the problems they will encounter.

Things got really bad during this weekend's previews as this one note I got detailed:

Hey there. DCA kicked a lot of employee's ass today. Disneyland Managers were suddenly deployed over to DCA for the weekend to help out, leaving Disneyland to be run by one or two managers and the Leads. This will continue indefinitely, with the 8th and weekends in particular leaving Disneyland with an extremely limited Operations management crew.

A Cast Member (CM) was at one unnamed attraction all day, and it was hell. The Standby wait swelled to over 2 hours by mid-day, and the Fastpass line was close to 45 minutes. Disneyland CMs have not had such an intense day since some of the busy Saturday nights of Light Magic.

Most of the visitor complaints dealt with involved overcrowding and the fact that there are so few attractions for children under 42 inches to do. Grizzly, Soarin', Screamin', Paradise Pier, all preclude shorter children from experiencing the attractions, and that doesn't leave much left.

One CM talked to one nice grandma with her kindergarten aged granddaughter who had only been able to go on the Carousel and see MuppetVision, due to height requirements and the scariness of Bugs Life.

The CM was standing there trying to come up with things they could do together, and actually said to the woman "Well, does she like tortillas?" Once the employee realized what they said and how stupid they must have sounded, it hit them as to how limiting DCA can be for visitors with small children!

The crowds were maddening, the winter heat wave didn't help, and by early afternoon the mood of visitors took a noticeable turn for the worse. The CMs don't blame them, and tried to stay compassionate. But, as soon as their time was up, they jetted out of there and didn't look back.

The complaints about kids having very little to do have been so numerous, that they now have a flyer they hand out "California KIDventures" that details "BIG thrills for little kids!" Basically your child admission price gives you (from the front page listing) two play areas (S. S. rustworthy, Redwood Creek Challenge Trail), two rides (Golden Zephyr, King Triton's Carousel) and one movie (MuppetVision).

On the back they repeat all the same stuff, then add the Eureka Parade, Superstar Limo and the Animation exhibit. They even push the food - Tortillas, Bread, McDonalds, Corn Dogs, and the Pizza place.

Hate to break it to them, but exhibits and food places are not rides. Compared to how many rides small kids can enjoy at Disneyland, maybe they should consider removing the "Disney's" tag from the California Adventure logo?

They are working to remedy the kids situation inexpensively, with a cheap carnival ride or two at Paradise Pier, but it will still be at least six months to maybe a year before anything is added.

By the way, all plans listed below for the Disneyland night before DCA opens sleepover are still in effect. Plan to get there early if this is what you really want to do.

With 20,000 people estimated in along with you at the sleepover, there are going to be some long lines once the other 30,000 join you that day.

Meanwhile across the way, estimates for Disneyland itself have been reduced, some days under 20,000, even under 15,000 for one day. Maybe THIS is the weekend you get there early and visit "the original - where the magic began" with smaller crowds.


More DCA merchandise

For you collectors out there - besides the bean bag item, and pin I mentioned in the last update, I was told they will also have a litho, a poster, two types of t-shirts, a mug, watch, and a coin to commemorate California Adventure's opening.


Lincoln Encounter

Looks like they are going ahead with the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln Alien Encounter- like make over at Disneyland's Opera House - I got a second confirmation that they are going to make the new show a headset wearing affair.

In one scene that was proposed, you'll be sitting in the theater looking at the White House office Lincoln used up on stage. With your headsets on, the soundtrack you hear puts you in his place as he gets a haircut, hearing all the presidential advisors around you in 3-D sound chatting about the war.

Looks like resorts and Imagineering head Paul Pressler just fell in love with the idea despite the rather obvious mis-match of technology and show concept. What's next? Re-enacting civil war battle scenes with digitally rendered lasers by Lucasfilm's Industrial Light and Magic special effects unit? Or will General Lee lose the South to Jar Jar's outrageous antics with a photon cannon?

I'm delighted they are trying to save the show. I'm disappointed they seem to have forgotten that the technology should serve the presentation in its proper context, not overwhelm it.

They still appear to be on track for a return on July 4th. No word yet if John Wilkes Booth makes a cameo as Darth Vader. ;)

(And it looks like we lose the Walt Disney exhibit / mementos / offices too, from what I hear.)


Electrical Parade date in flux

Yes, the Electrical Parade will return - but now the date seems to be bouncing around a bit. The holiday return I mentioned last update is still what some departments want to do.

You may remember from a past update that I had mentioned they had sort of "found a way" to get around the "glowing away forever" promise they had made. Basically they would bring back the Electrical Parade for Christmas "as a special gift to Disneyland visitors," then "due to the overwhelming demand" bring it back in a few weeks, probably around the time of spring break, permanently.

Depending on which approach they take (which I have people swearing each will happen) we'll either see it for the holidays or spring break. Let's do hope it gets revamped a bit.


Readers write about Florida Adventure (DFA)

In the last update I had passed on that low and behold, the inexpensive California Adventure park idea is being considered for Florida - a cheap way to add another park to the Orlando complex. I threw around some gag ideas, and wondered what you folks would come up with.

The e-mail was amazing, and again reminded me just how terrifically creative MousePlanet's readers are. We're all blessed to have such a great audience out there. So I've gone ahead and included two of them below for you to enjoy:

Tim wrote: Dear Al, Regarding Six Flags over Florida - Er, DFA, you wrote:

"Readers are invited to submit their own ideas for "Disney's Florida Adventure" - myself I can just see the alligator mountain with a swamp raft ride replacing the bear, and Miami's South Beach district serving as the theme (what little is needed of it) for the Paradise Pier carnival section."

As a longtime Florida resident (i.e. before WDW) your invitation has up early with thoughts on this subject. I suspect, as one who actually works in swamps that a swamp raft ride is going to be rather boring, not to mention that Florida's only mountains are named Space, Splash, and Big Thunder.

Rather I'm hoping for a conquistador themed raft ride - the link should give a hint as to why. Although South Beach certainly is a carnival in its own right, there are a couple of other historical antecedents in Florida that may work even better, as I shall explain later.

Entry into Disney's Florida Adventure:

After passing through the turnstiles the visitor crosses a broad causeway , with water on either side. Sloping upward is a pristine white beach a dense tangle of growth on the dune line. The masts of a sixteenth century Spanish ship can be seen just around the bend sticking up above the tree line. A pair of landing boats are on wither side of the path leading off the beach. You're seeing Florida as Ponce de Leon did in 1513. This forest gives way to native thatched buildings and thence into coquina structures of the Spanish Colonial Period.

...Then again you can enter right through Ye Olde Tee-shirte and souvenire shopee under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge replica.

DCA = DFA equivalents

Paradise Pier. There are a couple of possibilities here that can be combined into one. Before there was the Magic Kingdom we had Pirates World. Now home a condominium project in Dania, Florida, instead of Carnival rides. As my first amusement park I have fond memories. It even had a wild mouse type coaster along with a steeplechase (a risk management nightmare to be sure-this one was a salvage from Coney Island - it was literally a hang on or die kinda ride- which I though was just a faulty memory from when I was 8 until I saw footage of the original ride on PBS, but I digress), and the spin and puke type rides.

It also had a walk through exhibit... er attraction, dungeon / treasure room. I'm thinking poorly animated, and thinly disguised Eisner & Pressler animatronics chained to the wall in a roomful of treasure. If the name "Pirates World" hasn't reverted back to the public domain I'm sure they could pick up the rights for $200. Just think, they can use all of that existing POC merchandise too!

The other Florida carnival connection is a little known place called Gibsonton, just south of Tampa. It's the winter home of most of the traveling carnivals. In fact there is even special zoning residential / amusement, so that you can have your house and say a globe of death, or a cotton candy truck or an elephant in the front yard. It's a charming place, probably an excellent recruiting spot if Pressler only knew the kind of bucks real Carnys could rake in.

Mulholland Madness & superstar limo = Miami Madness (two attractions for the price of one Paul).

South Beach, art Deco style for the shops and restaurants. Same track & layout and speed as limo, except that the car in front has Michigan plates and the left turn signal is always blinking. If that's not exciting enough that maybe we can have a Miami Vice Cocaine Cowboy type shoot out too.

Condor Flats=Cape Canaveral

We stick a Space Shot and a Gravitron ride in here as "Astronaut Training." Instead of Soaring over California we're Flying Through Space. Something along the lines of launch from a space station , our feet dangling over the Earth below us... pass by a interstellar transport under construction then off to the moon... flyover and descent to the Luna surface... hover over Tranquility base for a moment, see the LM landing pad, the American Flag still standing, Armstong and Aldrin's footprints... then over the horizon to the Lunar base to a landing at the Lunar base gift shop... buy "authentic moon rocks and space dust" not to mention pieces of crashed space craft. Theming is real easy at "The Cape," government warehouse and hanger type buildings, a few surplus rocket nozzles from NASA scattered around and you are set.

The farm, and wharf areas = Tampa Bay & Orange Grove

Well its going to be hard to beat tortilla making and bread baking, but lets see what Florida can do. Tampa was once the home (and still is to some extent) of cigar making. Most of the old cigar factories have become bars and restaurants in Ybor city ( Pressler = J ) . So we've got red brick factory buildings converted to shops and food, one cigar
rolling exhibit. Next door in the orange grove you can watch orange juice being made, Dixie cup sized free samples courtesy of the Florida Orange Juice board. Busch doesn't even make beer in Tampa anymore. We don't have much wine making in these parts so we had better put Key West and the Margaritas nearby.

Hollywood pictures backlot. = ?

Try as they might neither Disney/MGM or Universal can claim much real movie making in these parts. But we still need a song and dance area, and if Florida is home to one thing it's the makers of lots... yes developers. We could call it oh say... the Reedy Creek Improvement District... or better yet... how about Celebration?

Oh lets not forget the most important part of the theme park experience - the hotels over looking the park:

Grand Californian = ...

Well Grand Floridian has already been taken, so we'll have two over priced hotels. One overlooks the Spanish Colonial / St. Augutine area. Its based on the Flagler Hotel and other Mizner Mediterranean revival types. The other is a Fontainebleau art deco inspired edifice overlooking the Southbeach section.

BTW. If you are not familiar with it check out "Native Tongue" by Carl Hiaasen. The book's Amazing Kingdom of Thrills, a cheaply built version of Disney is quite amusing.

MZT wrote: Mr. Lutz, After reading your last update (the one that mentioned a Florida Adventure park being considered) I was plagued half the night with a horrific dream about sometime in the future reading a press release describing in detail Disney's Florida Adventure. The only way I could get rid of the dream was to write down the press release I kept seeing in my dream. Here it is...

Coming soon to the Walt Disney World™ Resort, a brand-new theme park celebrating the fun, diversity, and beauty of Florida, America’s Sunshine State. “Disney’s Florida Adventure” will be the fifth theme park located in the Walt Disney World™ Resort, and will amuse and inspire guests with its realistic look at Florida on a sprawling 55 acres of land formerly occupied by marsh and native wildlife.

“Disney’s Florida Adventure is really about telling the story of Florida,” explains Paul Pressler, Chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts. “With it’s fresh and somewhat irreverent perspective on the Floridian way of life, Disney’s Florida Adventure is sure to be an instant hit with guests.”

Disney’s Florida Adventure will be comprised of three themed “districts”: Miami Boulevard, Sunshine State, and Golden Gulf, along with the Orange Plaza entry court.

At the entrance to Disney’s Florida Adventure guests will marvel at a scaled replica of a Walt Disney World™ suspended monorail track, a nostalgic tribute to the original “magic” of Disney’s Florida resort. Inside the gates guests will enter Orange Plaza, the focal point of which will be an awe-inspiring orange icon, representing Florida’s most-beloved gift to the world, the orange. Orange Plaza will serve as a portal into the park’s three delightfully entertaining districts.

Miami Boulevard will transport guests into a thrilling and entertaining version of Florida’s southernmost metropolis. Streets filled with neon lights, palm trees, and art deco architecture will be found in the district, home of several sure-to-be-favorite attractions. In SuperSpeed Patrol, guests will experience the thrill of a mock drug chase in “patrol cars” as they pass through a “tounge-in-cheek” version of Miami, where animatronic versions of favorite celebrities such as Don Johnson and Gloria Estefan make special appearances.

Elsewhere in Miami Boulevard, StormRider, the smash-hit attraction from Tokyo DisneySea™, will take guests on a wild ride through a simulated Florida hurricane. In the Buena Vista Theatre, guests will be dazzled by one-of-a-kind stage shows and musicals featuring hot and spicy Latin rhythms sure to enchant audiences of all ages.

The largest district in Disney Florida’s Adventure, Sunshine State, will actually contain five areas of themed fun. In Bountiful Citrus Grove, visitors will get an up-close look at Florida crops as they are actually raised. Gator Dune Recreation Area will feature the centerpiece of Disney’s Florida Adventure, a gigantic “sand dune” featuring a protruding sculpted alligator head. Around the dune guests will have a splashing good time on the Gator Dune Flume, a thrilling raft ride down Disney’s own Swanee Ribber, where surprises abound at every twist and turn, including a final splashdown into a marsh.

Port Jay Air Base will salute Florida’s famed aeronautical industry, with Soarin’ Over Florida, a simulated Blue Angels flight over the scenic wonders of the Sunshine State. Palm Beach will serve as an informative yet entertaining showcase of the Florida retirement community. Here guests will be able to learn about democracy in action by participating in a mock presidential election with Florida Adventure’s new character mascot, Chad Dimple, as well as view the residential set from Touchstone Television’s wildly-popular series, “The Golden Girls”, formerly “housed” at the Disney-MGM Studios. Key West will delight visitors with its two deliciously entertaining attractions: an operating turtle cannery, and a bakery where key lime pie is made right before hungry guest’s eyes.

The third district in Disney’s Florida Adventure, Golden Gulf, will be a “hip” yet nostalgic re-creation of a Florida seaside carnival and beachside tourist town. Here guests will be able to wander into shops created in the famed spirit of Florida’s “tacky tourist traps,” as well as experience the timeless thrill of an “ocean swim” along the sandy beach of an expansive “imagineered” lagoon, complete with crashing waves!

Among the attractions found in Golden Gulf will be Disneyland™ favorite Orange Stinger, and the Space Shuttle Shot, where the sky’s the limit for thrill-seeking “astronauts” in a nod to Florida’s renowned involvement in space exploration. A “wintering circus” will offer an entire big top of fun, including clowns and incredible side show acts. Explains Barry Braverman, designer of Disney’s Florida Adventure, “In the grand tradition of Disney storytelling, Golden Gulf will offer guests a nostalgic look at a Florida that never was, along with various representations of Florida’s rich and diverse culture and heritage."

Three words Paul Pressler, just three little words that will be key to your new Florida adventure park...

Astronaut Ice Cream


See you at Disneyland, I hear the crowds are smaller there this weekend...  ;)

2/2/01 SPECIAL UPDATE: Electrical Christmas -  Mansion's Nightmare / Details on Disneyland sleepover for California Adventure's Grand Opening / Oh no, Disney's Florida Adventure? / DCA staffing problems continue - the saga of the Tortilla


Electrical Christmas - Mansion's Nightmare

Hello there again!
Hello there again!

It's a lock now - the Main Street Electrical Parade will return for Christmas. Hopefully we'll get an updated edition (I'd give anything for a revamped soundtrack) - but knowing current budget trends, we shouldn't hold our collective breath for it.

They also have firmed up and given the go-ahead for the Haunted Mansion "Nightmare Before Christmas" overlay - which should start the first week of October, probably the 5th. The hope here is that they would use this break to also overhaul and rehab the Mansion interior / exterior, which along with the Tiki Room is among the most neglected at the park. Knowing how they keep blowing off any such rehabs (which keep getting promised yearly) at the small world attraction - I would doubt they are going to do any of the badly needed work.

My guess here for timing of all this is to bring the Mansion up for October (keep asking yourself who may be a special guest here to help launch the thing, it won't take you too long to figure out) - and then the Electrical Parade should return sometime after Thanksgiving (when they may need an attendance boost). Expect the return of the "Believe" holiday fireworks show also. No word yet if the "Christmas Fantasy" parade will creak back - as this past year it was already running way past its scheduled demise.

Now WHY Disney keeps these things under wraps now, I don't know. Our readers are already booking trips though our site for that time period. Best to let folks know now don't you think?

Special thanks to a reader from way back in my AOL days who was kind enough to tip me off to the MSEP return.


Details on Disneyland sleepover for California Adventure's Grand Opening

Ok, it's been my biggest request item via e-mails since we broke the news here on the site - here is the info on this that we just got, keep in mind they may yet change one or two details.

Line-ups for California Adventure's opening day will start Wed. the 7th at 5 PM in the Pinocchio lot. You will probably also be given a wristband - which may or may not be color coded to the staging area you will be asked to wait in. You may either be asked to go home or stay in a holding area there until Midnight. Disney will be requesting via the media that people PLEASE carpool to conserve parking spaces.

At 8 PM Disneyland will close for the night, with the usual one hour for shopping allowed. At Midnight the park will start allowing people over from the Pinocchio lot with wristbands to Disneyland's gate. At that time, if you don't have an annual two park pass yet - you will be asked to buy your ticket for admission into the new park.

Then groups of about 50 at a time will be admitted to Disneyland to then be placed in staging areas, as opposed to lining up. The reason for this is to keep folks away from the normal nighttime activities that take place at Disneyland - cleaning, replenishing the shops, delivery of food, etc.

The staging areas include Fantasyland Theater, the Festival Arena (where Hunchback was), the Fantasmic viewing area... etc. More may be added depending on how many people show up. At this time there is no word yet about any possible entertainment being offered, although the staging areas selected do offer opportunities for it. Right now they are estimating about 20,000 people will be showing up.

There will be limited outdoor vending carts available - and you will be asked NOT to bring anything in, such as chairs, sleeping bags, coolers, etc. The reason for this is that security would like to be able to see everything out in the open so they can watch over the crowds safely. The other reason is that they will NOT offer lockers that night. Strangely though, they will offer package pick up - so that implies that there will be some shopping available that night.

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the new park will take place after 7 AM, with the gates opening at 8 AM.

Now if you think getting in line all night will allow you first pick of the limited edition "bound for ebay" opening day California Adventure merchandise... well think again.

Right now they will at least be offering two items - a pin and a bean bag plush (there may be more) - which will be rationed out in limited quantities EACH day of the opening weekend (Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday). This is to help spread the merchandise out a bit away from the die-hard collectors. (A good idea I think.)

Now keep in mind the following things if for some reason you decide you want to be involved in this overnight event:

Sales for the two park annual passes have been huge - much better than Disney had planned for, and right now we are hearing still that they want to limit the crowds to 28,000.

Chances are that if you do NOT arrive early enough, the annual passholders could take up a significant amount of capacity in the new park over the whole opening weekend.

If you want to attend on any of the other days that weekend - get there at 7 AM to insure you get parking for the day. Arriving anytime after 9 AM could mean you end up in a far flung lot like Pumbaa or the Convention Center, IF they have the room for you.

You should also expect Disneyland itself to be crowded that day, what with overflow and annual passholders hopping between the two parks.

Make sure you bundle up for the night - Disneyland gets awfully cold after midnight and you will suffer if you do not prepare.

As I mentioned before - if any of this changes, we'll update later. Keep checking this column to find out the latest on this event.


Oh no, Disney's Florida Adventure?

From deep within the buildings at Flower Street come the following ruminations, which I can share with you:

Apparently they had the DCA wrap party at Downtown Disney the other afternoon. And guess what, "Because it was so cheap, California Adventure is being proposed as a model for a new park in Orlando." came the word. I guess that they figure that they can just take all those Imagineers returning from DCA to no work and put them right on it.

Imagineers are joking that DCA has neglected to identify a whole bunch of other "attractions" in the park. As part of the Workplace Attractions, they should have also included the likes of: The Back Stage Diner, Burger Invasion, Corn Dog Castle, etc., – Watch as fast food servers do their work. Point Mugu Tattoo – Watch a "tattoo" artist apply fake tattoos. In other words, every aspect of DCA contains an example of a workplace. So, they missed the chance to add all of them to their attractions list.

One thing people have noted concerning DCA is that there seems to be little recognition of Chris Tietz for his job on Grizzly River Rapids. He was the overall producer for that project and no one has seen any acknowledgment of that anywhere. Since, in the minds of many, that is one of the most outstanding areas in the new park, he should be getting more recognition (at least as much as Tim Delaney).

Al, the lack of any sort of theming of the structure for Soarin’ is an indication of the change in the way Disney feels about their attractions. In the past, as with Star Tours, Imagineering would have provided some sort of theming for the soaring structure. Something along the lines of the guests are boarding some sort of aircraft, then it "magically" transforms into the gliders. Their abandoning of the "magical" element appears to be their current direction of choice. It’s the "magical" elements that make Disney attractions.

ANYONE could (and probably will) stick moving seats in front of a screen. Disney’s forte was making the experience more than just a rudimentary experience. (Such as entering a galactic spaceport to be transported to Endor.) If The Star Trek Experience had just taken the guests in an elevator in Vegas and dumped them out of an elevator on the Enterprise, the experience would have been just OK. But their ability to "magically" turn the elevator into the teleportation room made it a truly amazing experience.

Disney needs to refocus on the Magical.

Sadly, kind contributor, if DCA is cloned into DFA - I think the future of the company will be in mall development.

Readers are invited to submit their own ideas for "Disney's Florida Adventure" - myself I can just see the alligator mountain with a swamp raft ride replacing the bear, and Miami's South Beach district serving as the theme (what little is needed of it) for the Paradise Pier carnival section.

Maybe Whoopi Goldberg can do a movie that ends with montage featuring both Jeb Bush and Anita Bryant - and the Hollywood section can be replaced with little Cuba a restaurant run by Gloria Estafan. All with stupendous shopping and dining experiences, the rides aren't all that important you know...

...why they could even build fifty two more of these cheap parks, one for each state along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

I knew not to take Barry Braverman's word at the DCA panel event seriously - he said something along the lines of "California being unique" in its myth - and that they wouldn't be building "Disney's Kansas Adventure."

Honey! Look, they have corn growing!

The mind reels...


DCA staffing problems continue - the saga of the Tortilla

As you may have seen in fellow MousePlaneteer David Koenig's column today (about the recent visitor injuries at the Pirates attraction) - the huge influx of new people hired for both parks and overall the expansion of the resort is creating all sorts of cast member havoc.

Here's one note I got that took me a bit to confirm - but tells a lot about how they are really trying to deal with the major problems they now have:

Al. I would like to begin by saying that I have been a reader of MousePlanet / DIG for about three years now and everyone there at MousePlanet is doing a great job. However I am sorry to say that is not the reason why I am taking the time to write you today.

As I'm sure most of your email is about recently, this one is about DCA and the problems with it. I have been a Cast Member in ODV for about seven months and I enjoy working in the department very much. But in the past seven months I have seen a lot of changes going on at the resort, which is to be expected with such a huge undertaking going on that DCA is. But I wish that the changes that I have been seeing are for the better. As you have mentioned on your site in the past cast parking, shuttle delays, costuming delays, costuming shortages, etc... have made it less enjoyable to work for the mouse.

Recently though all these issues, except for parking, have seemed to die down with the exception of a few bad days at costuming (however they have recently added a greeter position and the use of FRS radios to run things more smoothly).

However there also has been major problems with scheduling recently, as schedules are taking up to three or four days extra to be printed up which is tough to let slide by when you need to know when you are working next week.

Also recently there have been many Disneyland CMs from ODV and I can only presume other restaurants in Disneyland that have been transferred to DCA for a day or a week at a time to help out over there. This is happening only a few days after the newspapers printed stories about how Disney had hired the 8,500 needed to run both parks.

Cocina Cucamonga
Cocina Cucamonga

I found myself one day ready to go to work at Disneyland only to be transferred to the Cocina Cucamonga at DCA. They couldn't even transfer me to ODV over at DCA where I would have knowledge of what I was doing. When I arrived at the Cocina Cucamonga (after a half hour of trying to find the place) due to my complete lack of restaurant experience I was totally lost as to what was doing... after seven months of working at the resort I felt like I was a new-hire again.

I did everything imaginable that day from washing dishes to preparing food to filling orders (did I mention that I can't tell a fish taco apart from cheese nachos). I even finished out the day helping run tours through the Mission Tortilla Factory. And then after five minutes of learning the spiels, I was giving the tours myself when the regular tour guide went on lunch... I had no clue what I was saying once I was on my own and probably gave the worst tours in Disney history.

After my day in hell ended I talked to scheduling about it and they told me to be expecting this to be happening more often and there is nothing that I can do about it. When I said that this is far from what I hired in to do seven months ago they said that it was in my contract that I had to work DCA when they were in a bind.

If this is true what was the point of scheduling meetings four or five months ago with each CM to talk about where they wanted to work in the expansion. I would love to take a look at this "contract" that I signed, I think I would remember it if there were something about having to work in a place where I have no experience and training in a park that is a far cry from Disneyland.

To make the situation worse I found out later that there were people that have less seniority than I do getting shifts that day at Disneyland that were just as good as the one I lost. Yesterday was definitely the day that I will mark down as the worst day in my Disneyland career.

I suspect that with the continuing problems they have with keeping employees on at the resort, we'll see more and more situations like the one above.

Meanwhile, speaking about the Tortilla attraction (really, an exhibit)... I got the following note from reader Elvis that was just too funny and had to share with you, which oddly enough relates to the above story:

It's clear that directly across from the "Happiest Place on Earth" is the "Crappiest Place on Earth".

I went, and I was disappointed... but I knew going in that DCA sucked so I'm not angry.... what I am is AMUSED. DCA is gonna crash and burn and I'm gonna love watchin Paul Pressler go down in flames with it.

I did manage to find 3 GREAT things in DCA, however. I probably had more fun in the MISSION TORTILLA ATTRACTION than anywhere else in the park...

I stepped up to the line which had about 6 people in it, so I politely asked the cast member where I might get a FASTPASS and he asked me if I had "ridden this ride before"...

I kid you not, he asked me if I'd RIDDEN the Tortilla Ride.

I told him I hadn't, so he explained that they were cueing us up in small groups so we could hear our young female guide's introductory speech. Now, she spoke for about 3 mins, I picked out the word "Mayan" and possibly the word "corn", but other than that, none of us understood a single word this poor girl said.

She had a bery thick assent and I'm sorry but we all cringed and tried very hard not to laugh because she was very sweet. Then she says... clear as a bell, "do jou habb any quessions?". Another guy in line says, "I'm sorry but I didn't really understand what you said." Well she apologizes and tells us the whole thing again... and this time she was every bit as unintelligible as the first time...

Now, everybody there is biting their tongues and girlfriends are hiding behind their boyfriend's backs... it was CLASSIC! They should NEVER EVER fire this girl or move her to another "attraction"... SHE WAS GREAT! The ABSURDITY of choosing this UNINTELLIGIBLE young girl to describe this completely LUDICROUS EXCUSE for an "attraction" to us is nothing short of SUPER GENIUS!

There needs to be an animatronic of her when she dies.

So we continued to follow her through the preshow, not understanding a single word until finally she flung the door open to the Willy Wonka- esque fantasyland of the Mission Tortilla- making room.

10 steps later we were through it.

Well I tell you, I wanted to run around to the front and RIDE THE TORTILLAS again, but the line had grown to at least 15 people and we decided not to wait that long.

I suggest you view this attraction at night, WHEN IT'S ALL LIT UP...

Tortilla making
Tortilla making

The other two great things in DCA are in fact the only two things that look like they were IMAGINEERED at all: CALIFORNIA SOARIN and the ANIMATION EXHIBIT.

I hated California Soarin's show building but the ride itself, which I'd describe as America the Beautiful: the Ride is great. It's a very engaging movie as well as a very effective motion ride. Everyone applauded at the end and at least 3 people congratulated the cast member saying, "THAT was a good ride!". Don't miss it if you visit DCA, but get your Fastpass early, cuz the wait was 200 minutes at 6 pm and all the Fastpasses were handed out by noon.

Did you know that 200 minutes is 3 hours and 20 minutes?

I also thought the Animation Exhibit was entirely GORGEOUS... you wanna hump the building it's so beautiful. It's not only the best thing in DCA, it's better than half the stuff in Disneyland. It's beautifully themed and I loved the exhibits...the Mushu part was a standout, I loved that animator's office with the big monitor propped up by the crooked stacks of books... what a DELIGHTFUL DETAIL...and it was an ACES presentation.

It seems the IMAGINEERS were actually only allowed to CREATE these two attractions. Imagine if the whole DCA park was this CREATIVELY and LUSHLY themed... and this SATISFYING!

Imagine that. I M A G I N E E R

I could nitpick about most everything in the park, and I will if Al would like me to, but putting it simply I thought, on a whole, the theming of DCA was simply FANTASTIC... truly... it was so IMMERSIVE... I felt like I had magically stepped out of Disneyland and stepped right into Magic Mountain...

Truly the Crappiest Place on Earth.

Elvis, I think I would LOVE for you to write up the park for us - if only because of your descriptive style and verve. Not to mention your irrepressible élan. Just keep in mind all the hate mail you'll get from about six people if you do speak up. ;)

By the way, before I forget - here are a few other tidbits about the new park. It looks like they are going to tweak the "Golden Dreams" movie a bit more, we may lose the death scene, and the new show in the Hyperion Theater should be ready early this week.


Are you going to spend the night at Disneyland? Better start planning soon... see you there, maybe... ;)

1/29/01 SPECIAL UPDATE: Disney's Parking Adventure / California Adventure (DCA) at capacity - wait times you can expect / Disneyland Resort shuttle busses


Disney's Parking Adventure

It's going to be a long and very crowded year at the Disneyland Resort - and all because they wanted to slash budgets.

Sunday (the 28th) was one of the first days they operated both Disneyland and California Adventure at capacity - and it was a royal traffic mess. From early on in the morning, when cars backed up onto the freeway - to jammed parking lot trams - the acute shortage of parking made for a heck of a trek to the main gate. And this was just on an off season January day. I don't even want to imagine what will happen on opening day.

Here are some photos of what it was like at peak arrival time - this first shot shows the slowly crawling traffic into the structure.


What is it that slows things down? Digging out cash - having to print out tickets for each car - people asking questions of the attendants. Would it be that hard to send Cast members (CMs) on down the line of cars to advise people to get their money out, answer quick questions and once they get to the parking toll booths make sure tickets are pre- printed so they can zip on through?

Once you finally get inside and parked, the following view greets you as you come onto the escalators... 


The above is the jammed tram area - clogged with people waiting for trams.

It became easier to just walk to the Downtown Disney mall, and then to the park gates - below you can see the crowds crossing Disneyland Dr. (formerly West St.) since there was literally no room left to wait for a tram to take you in...


As the parking structure filled up - then began the round robin tour of the resort area - as CMs sent people out on a wild goose chase trying to find a space.

Here's an e-mail sent by reader Stuart about the problems he had in trying to park:

Hey Al! I wanted write a quick note in hopes that you can somehow get this into the hands of someone in Disney management.

Having always been fans of the park, my wife and I got annual passes for the first time last July. We had both worked in the park in the 80’s and thought the premium passes would be a great way to spend some time together during the upcoming year even though the price at $400 for the two seemed a bit steep.

Between July and December we’ve had a great time at the park. I can’t think of one negative experience we’ve had during our recent trips and we both really look forward to going to the park as an escape from our hectic workweeks. We’ve often talked about how great the annual passes were and commented on how we’d definitely renew them this coming July.

That was until we visited the park today...

Sunday was the first time we’ve visited the park since December, and thus we didn’t really know what type of impact Downtown Disney and DCA were going to have on the park now that they are in full swing.

We got off the freeway at Ball Road at about 3 this afternoon and sat in traffic for over 30 minutes trying to get to the Mickey and Friends parking structure. Only once we got close did we realize that the structure was closed, apparently due to it being filled to capacity.

Signs near the structure directed traffic to turn left at Katella. A breakdown in one lane in front of the Disneyland Hotel caused the traffic between Ball and Katella to grind to a halt and it took us another 20 minutes to turn onto Katella.

Photo taken at about 3 PM looking north on Disneyland Dr. towards the new mall - the broken down car has been pulled into the Grand Californian turn lane, center right of photo
Photo taken at about 3 PM looking north on Disneyland Dr. towards the new mall - the broken down car has been pulled into the Grand Californian turn lane, center right of photo. Cars turning into the hotel parking lots are being turned away

Once we turned on Katella, there were absolutely no signs directing traffic where to turn. Taking a guess, we turned onto Harbor where we found the DCA parking entrance to be closed as well (presumably it was full too).

A few cars pulled up to the closed Harbor gate and we overheard cast members directing people back to the closed parking structure on the other side of the park!

Mass confusion, mass hysteria, and lots of frustrated and angry people just trying to find a place to park.

We turned back to the other side of the park again and eventually parked in the Downtown Disney lot, as for the life of me, I could not figure out where they expected people to go.

By the way, that broken down car was still blocking one lane when we got back to the west side of the park, you’d think someone working parking would have taken note and called some help.

I guess I’ve been spoiled these past months cruising into the Mickey and Friends structure from the Harbor exit of the 405N, but I don’t think I’m being unreasonable when I say that spending nearly an hour and a half trying to park after exiting the freeway is totally ridiculous.

I’m sure Disney is abundantly aware of the parking problems, but just in case they’re not, they better come up with a solution quick or else people like myself aren’t going to be so anxious to plop down another $400 bucks for the annual passes this coming year.

I could have handled the fact that the parking structure was full if the parking crew had at least been organized enough to direct traffic to an alternate lot efficiently, but today proved that the parking lots and parking staff are still ill prepared for the opening of the new park.

I hope they come up with a solution to this mess quick.

My wife and I have annual passholder preview tickets to DCA this coming weekend and after today are just dreading going back to the park again.

Thanks for a place to vent Al, I would have written a complaint at City Hall, but the line there looked at least 15 minutes long as well. :)


Stuart, if you only knew just how many e-mails I got just like yours.

I wish I could tell you they will fix things, but apparently it seems these problems are hard wired into the plan. No matter how efficient they are at getting the structure filled up, they still do NOT have enough spaces for both parks. The estimates I hear are that the resort is short anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 spaces for normal high season operation, up to 15,000 spaces short for holiday peak periods.

Penny-wise, pound foolish...

And Stuart, you mentioned how bad you felt it may be for your California Adventure preview date? Read on...


California Adventure (DCA) at capacity - here are some wait times you can expect

Fellow MousePlaneteer Todd Regan got the chance to visit DCA this Sunday with capacity crowds packed in - and the picture he paints below is not a pretty one...

Al, here's a photo of the line for Soaring Over California:


What it doesn't show is that the line continues all the way around the side of the building by the gate next to the World of Disney Store (in the Downtown Disney mall). The ride was averaging 110 to 100 min waits all day (and this was a preview).

As you've probably already heard, there are many problems with the ride. The film keeps breaking down, lots of dirt of the projection, film is skipping and shaking (already!).

Also, the park opened today at 7 am and by 8 am they were giving out Fast Passes for 1:30 pm on this ride. A few hours later all the Fast Passes for the entire day had been handed out!!!

This should be a major warning to our readers. Since the ride system has been having difficulties, I'd hate to wait almost two hours only to see dirt and a jumping movie screen. Get a Fast Pass and get one early.

From what I was told, the new park had between 27 and 28 thousand today. Expect up to 32 later this week and until the official opening.

Waits posted Sunday on the various rides:

Superstar Limo: up to 60 min
Sun (Ferris) Wheel: 60+ min
California Screaming (big coaster): 60+ min
Soarin' Over California (IMAX ride film): 110+ min
Mulholland Madness (Mad Mouse): 60+ min

Also they have renamed the "Get A Grip" show in the California Adventure Hollywood Pictures Backlot area to "Lights, Camera and Chaos."

And it looks like Mickey, Minnie and the gang are now in the new park too.

Thanks Todd! We'll continue to monitor the situation and tell the readers just what they may expect.

To see Todd's photos of the DCA outfitted Disney Characters - and also read Jim Hill's latest column where he finds out they did go ahead and put Minnie, Mickey and the gang into California Adventure, use this LINK.

By the way, a kind reader sent me a note after he took a look at the long range weather forecast for the area for February 8th, DCA's opening day.

Looks like rain!

THAT should be - fun. ;)


Disneyland Resort shuttle busses

So they advertise that the Disney Hotels have shuttle service to the Downtown Disney mall - and now below you can see how they back that up. Starting soon, they will have double decker shuttle buses running the route (green broken line) you see in the center photo below:

Map art © Disney
Map art © Disney

Here's a photo (kindly provided by David Lane) of the buses that will be used:

Resort bus

We're keeping this update short for today - but should have more later on this week.


See you at Disneyland, if you can get in that is...

1/22/01 SPECIAL UPDATE: Flex-Pass tickets get you in early to California Adventure (DCA) / DCA Opening Day Plans - sleeping over anyone? / Auto parking has been apparently vastly underestimated / Space Mt. photos being put in / Hippos happy - no more guns / Main St. News


Flex-Pass tickets get you in early to California Adventure (DCA)

Any FLEXpass holder can preview DCA January 25 - 30 and Feb 1. I assume this "eats" up one of the pass days.


DCA Opening Day Plans - sleeping over anyone?

If you ever wanted to spend a night INSIDE Disneyland, here's your chance...

All lines of business for Disneyland (Attractions, Merchandise, Foods, Custodial, Security, etc.) are quickly drafting plans to hold up to 28,000 people inside Disneyland overnight on February 7th, before DCA officially opens on the morning of the 8th. There will be an Opening Ceremony at 7:45 am in front of the DCA Main Entrance, before the Park opens officially at 8 am. The Main Entrance Esplanade area will be full of grandstand risers for media and invited Disney guests. The area will be very congested, due to all the extra equipment and seating in that large plaza.

Since there will be no real place for large groups of people to wait before the Park opens, they will be opening up Disneyland as a waiting area for those die-hard fans who plan on spending the night or arriving very early in the morning before DCA opens. There will undoubtedly be at least a few thousand people who will arrive sometime during the evening of the 7th, or the early morning of the 8th, in order to ensure that they can be among the first official Guests to enter DCA. But, the number of early bird DCA visitors could reach into the tens of thousands by the morning of the 8th. So, Disneyland will be used as the staging area for these early arrivals.

Right now the plans are still tentative, but Disneyland will close at 8:00 pm on the 7th. After the Park is cleared, they will begin letting early bird DCA first day visitors into Disneyland to spend the night in the original Magic Kingdom so that the Esplanade area can be kept clear for Opening Ceremony set up. There will most likely be a very basic Food and Merchandise offering, in order to keep everyone from starving or freezing to death. It is still being decided at this time if any Attractions will operate, or any hospitality services will be offered, or if this will simply be a "containment" procedure to keep the early Guests out of the way of the set up crews and working media.

But, they are making plans based on a worst (best?) case scenario of 28,000 people either spending the night, or arriving in the very early morning hours before DCA officially opens. If they thought that only 5,000 would show up early, Downtown Disney could be used as a holding pen. But there is a possibility that the numbers could swell to beyond that so a pajama party in Disneyland will have to be the "pre- show" to DCA on February 8th. The In-Park maximum for DCA has been lowered to 28,000 (see below). So, it's entirely possible that anyone who arrives after 9:00 am on opening day won't be getting in.

The plan is to form a long "queue" through Disneyland after the Park closes on the 7th. The queue will start in the Town Square and stretch down Main Street. As the evening turns into late night and early morning, the queue will be directed up Matterhorn Way, through Fantasyland, down the Big Thunder Trail into Frontierland, along the Rivers of America towards the Haunted Mansion, and then finally back over the bridge in front of Pirates of the Caribbean and into Adventureland. As more people arrive, they will be directed to wherever the end of the queue is at that time. It should be possible to hold up to 30,000 bodies this way, if that many really show up before 7:00 am on the 8th.

Right now, there will be no Attractions offered. There will be no Characters or Entertainment offered. There will be some bathrooms open, and a basic offering of Food and Drinks. Perhaps roving ODV carts? The food that will be available is uncertain at this time. This will be a simple "control and contain" strategy. All the resources of the Resort had really been planned to have been focused on DCA that week, and especially during the 36 hours of the 7th and 8th in preparation of the Grand Opening. This giant queue and crowd staging strategy is a last minute realization, and there isn't a lot of time left to plan a separate "event" other than the DCA opening. If the mood turns festive and party- like, it will be up to the people waiting in line overnight in a darkened Disneyland.

For at least the past year, the DCA attendance levels thrown about by Operations managers and TDA execs have been a "Total Paid Attendance" for the day of 38,000, and a maximum In-Park capacity of 30,000. However, after the past week of preview days with attendance near 15,000, the In-Park capacity has just been dropped to 28,000. DCA simply gets crowded after about 12,000 people click through the turnstiles. The In-Park capacity is something that no one really knows until they can get at least 25,000 in DCA. Expect further revisions in February. But, right now the In-Park capacity is being pegged at 28,000 maximum, instead of the previous 30,000. When there are 25,000+ people inside DCA, it will feel like New Years Eve at Disneyland. Very, very crowded.

After the last couple weeks of DCA previews, the In-Park capacity for the park has been lowered. For the past few years, the planned In-Park DCA capacity has been 30K. About 12 months ago, that number was even fine tuned to 30,100 exactly. But after the recent preview dates, the In-Park capacity has been dropped by Operations Vice Presidents' to 28K, in order to prevent overcrowding. However, the highest attendance DCA has experienced so far was this weekend with total attendance for the day of 22K and a peak In-Park attendance of 17K. And DCA seemed fairly busy this weekend with 17K inside by late afternoon. 28K inside DCA will be very busy.

So, if tens of thousands of people do show up before DCA opens on the 8th, there is not a guarantee that all of them are going to get in right away. DCA could fill up within the first one or two hours on the 8th, and some of the people who had been queued up and waiting all morning inside Disneyland may not be admitted until the attendance hopefully reduces a bit later in the afternoon or evening.

Expect the same type of crowds throughout the rest of the opening weekend, except without the overnight Disneyland staging for the Grand Opening. The attendance estimates for the first 3 days of DCA's opening are planned at 38,000 total (in and out) for the day. That's the maximum number that the planning folks will allow to be planned for. Anything over 38,000 in one day is simply impossible to plan for.

If you really want to ensure that they can get into DCA on opening day, you may need to commit to spending all night at Disneyland.


Auto parking has been apparently vastly underestimated

On this past Saturday (Jan. 20th), the estimate for Disneyland was 38K, and the total for the day only reached 36K. Over at DCA, their estimate was 22K, and they reached that exactly. But despite the relatively low attendance for Disneyland and the relatively moderate attendance for DCA, parking was a nightmare.

DCA opened at 8:00 am for a preview day, and Disneyland opened at 9:00am. By late morning, the parking lots were filling up very fast, and the Harbor Blvd. entrance was closed. The parking structure filled up, the Downtown Disney lots filled up, and they began parking some DCA and Disneyland bound guests over at the Disneyland Hotel lots.

The Convention Center parking lots across Katella, which have been used in the past as overflow lots, were closed due to a large convention. Now that the Anaheim Convention Center has completed it's lush refurbishment and massive expansion, there are many large conventions coming to town again.

During midday, arriving visitors were complaining at City Hall that it had taken them between 45 minutes and 1 hour to find a place to park by being detoured and delayed around the entire Resort after they exited the freeway. At 3:30 pm, the Resort Duty Managers were alerted that all Resort parking lots were full and had been officially closed.

As late afternoon arrived, and a busy Saturday "date night" began at the new Disneyland Resort, there was nowhere for arriving visitors to park. They were turned away at the toll booths and directed back onto the freeways. The parking structure was reopened at 6:00 pm, as some of the day crowd from Disneyland and DCA began leaving.

At that time however, the parking crunch shifted to Downtown Disney. The self park lots filled up, and Downtown Disney visitors were sent to the structure, where they then had to walk all the way south to Downtown Disney. The Valet driveway for Downtown Disney came close to gridlock around 8:00 pm, and waits for the Valet service exceeded 30 minutes in mid evening.

This was a warning shot across the bow that parking for Disneyland has been underestimated by the Resort planners who locked in the final parking strategy a couple years ago.

President's Day Weekend is approaching and the estimates for Disneyland are around 55K for the holiday weekend. The estimates for DCA's first holiday weekend are around 38K. (There are no published estimates above 38K in any planning calendars.) That is roughly 30K more than experienced this past Saturday.

In addition, Y Arriba Y Arriba will be open by that time at Downtown Disney, DCA will have full and complete staffing levels instead of the lessened preview staffing, and all of the rooms at the Grand Californian will be available to visitors, adding a few more cars to the mix.

Going to the Disneyland Resort on a weekend or holiday? Get there early and stake out your parking spot before they are all gone. Any complaints about this? Blame Michael Eisner - he's the self-proclaimed parking guru.


Space Mt. photos being put in

During the Space Mountain rehab this month they will be adding an "Image Capture" system. In plain English, they are adding a camera to take your picture so that Disneyland can sell it to you at the exit. Space Mountain will be the third attraction that sells pictures of riders at the Disneyland Resort, along with Splash Mountain and California Screamin'.

Too bad they don't offer to sell the pictures taken of riders on Superstar Limo. When people see themselves on the screen at the end of that ride looking completely dumbfounded during the midpoint of the attraction, they almost always break into laughter. Many preview Guests have been immediately asking the Superstar CM at the unloading area "Where can we buy that hilarious picture?!?"


Hippos happy - no more guns

Disneyland no longer sells guns that have any sense of realism. All the pistols and rifles and muskets have been taken off the store shelves in Frontierland and New Orleans Square. The only exception are the rayguns sold in Tomorrowland, because they are made of orange and green plastic and could never be mistaken for a real gun.

Also being taken away this week are the guns used by the Skippers on the Jungle Cruise. They will no longer be shooting a pistol in the Hippo Pool scene. It is unclear at this time what the Skippers are supposed to say in that section of the ride. Perhaps a new round of hippo jokes will need to be drafted?

They got rid of the guns on the Jungle Cruise at Walt Disney World (WDW) when Animal Kingdom opened, so as not to clash with that Park's message of caring for animals. The most often used spiel during a trip through the Hippo Pool at WDW is "Ooh, look folks! Hippo's!"


Main St. News

Also, the Main St. Cinema has been removed from the rehab list yet again. No idea why. Mr. Lincoln has left the building as work begin on revamping the attraction.


See you at the resort - IF I can find a parking place...


2/6/01 SPECIAL UPDATE: 50,000 from 28,000 - California Adventure (DCA) opening weekend capacity set / More DCA merchandise / Lincoln Encounter / Electrical Parade date in flux / Readers write about Florida Adventure (DFA)

2/2/01 SPECIAL UPDATE: Electrical Christmas -  Mansion's Nightmare / Details on Disneyland sleepover for California Adventure's Grand Opening / Oh no, Disney's Florida Adventure? / DCA staffing problems continue - the saga of the Tortilla

1/29/01 SPECIAL UPDATE: Disney's Parking Adventure / California Adventure (DCA) at capacity - wait times you can expect / Disneyland Resort shuttle busses

1/22/01 SPECIAL UPDATE: Flex-Pass tickets get you in early to California Adventure (DCA) / DCA Opening Day Plans - sleeping over anyone? / Auto parking has been apparently vastly underestimated / Space Mt. photos being put in / Hippos happy - no more guns / Main St. News

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