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Al Lutz
Archived D-I-G Update
7/8 UPDATE - A Light 4th | Bad Park, No Fireworks for You! | Bad Park, No Shade for You! | Cheap rides = Expensive upkeep | Bad Park, No Lights for You! | Flik Fotos | Happy Birthday at Disneyland - finally! | Carrousel Update... more!

 

A Light 4th

A Light 4th

Yes, it was most definitely "light" attendance at the Disneyland Resort on the 4th especially at California Adventure (DCA), as you can see by the photos above and below. The totals were around 14k for DCA and 56k for Disneyland.

A Light 4th

Disneyland used to get 65k easily on the 4th, but DCA's numbers were the most sub-par. The original projection for DCA was 24k, and they didn't get anywhere near it. DCA was busier Friday however, with attendance coming in at about 18k. (The original projection was 20k.) Attendance continued level at DCA Saturday at almost 18k.

If Disneyland appeared to have a lesser crowd on the 4th, (I had figured about 35k) it was because a great deal of park hoppers were at DCA during the afternoon. At around 7 pm, DCA began to empty quickly as everyone headed over to Disneyland for the fireworks. By 9 pm DCA was VERY empty. This was especially bad for all the dining locations they finally opened up - which had been closed since just about the first month or so of the park's original opening.

A Light 4th

As the lovely and charming MousePad regular Disney1Mom (Beverly, who was in Anaheim visiting for the week) said, "You could fire a cannon down the DCA walkways and not hit anyone!" The above picture proved that was possible at around 3:30 that afternoon.

Well, at least that meant there were plenty of flag pins to keep handing out all day for everyone - which by the way I've always considered to be a very classy Disneyland touch.

 

Security was very visible all over the Disneyland Resort on the 4th, including parking squad cars in the esplanade
Security was very visible all over the Disneyland Resort on the 4th, including parked squad cars in the esplanade

 

Bad Park, No Fireworks for You!

By the way, DCA's Guest Relations and the front desks of the Disney Resort Hotels got more than a few complaints from visitors who were upset that DCA did not have any sort of Independence Day celebration. There were no fireworks or any special entertainment offered to celebrate America's birthday inside DCA. They also don't pipe the music for the Disneyland fireworks into DCA, even on the 4th of July, although the fireworks are clearly visible from many areas of the new Park.

As you all well know, DCA was not planned in the late 1990's with any type of lagoon show or major evening entertainment in mind, and they simply have no infrastructure in place to stage an Independence Day celebration. It's one of the park's most glaring flaws really, and it speaks clearly to how out of touch the executives who designed and budgeted it were. They honestly thought people wouldn't mind that there was no night entertainment, and the word "Disney" in the Park title would pack them in for at least several years without any major changes.

So large numbers of people exiting DCA after the Electrical Parade stopped in their tracks in the DCA "Sun Plaza" area to watch the 4th of July Disneyland fireworks spectacular. However, they viewed the extra-long patriotic finale' while listening Dionne Warwick's "Do You Know The Way To San Jose?", rather than the stirring rendition of "God Bless America" that the visitors inside Disneyland got.

Bad Park, No Fireworks for You!

There were also a few Disney Resort Hotel customers who were upset that they left DCA and moved out past the huge CALIFORNIA letters but still could not hear any fireworks soundtrack in the Esplanade area on the 4th. The Esplanade section of the Resort was playing the theme from the Muppet Show and a muzak version of the Tiki Room theme song while the patriotic fireworks burst overhead, even though over a thousand people were standing in that area watching the patriotic fireworks spectacle in the skies above Anaheim. (The Downtown Disney mall area was packed with locals - apparently the resort did not want to give them a free show.)

It seems that on the 4th of July only those Disneyland Resort visitors who were smart enough (and willing to pay the full ticket price of $45) to get inside Disneyland for the night were eligible to celebrate Independence Day. Those who chose to visit DCA for the 4th, lured by the discount adult admission and free children's tickets, weren't given anything special to celebrate. And that simply rubbed many visitors the wrong way - which is increasingly a common refrain with this mess of a park. Even Sea World, a San Diego theme park dedicated to fish and sea mammals, pulls out all the stops and puts on a big patriotic fireworks show for its visitors on the 4th.

 

For some strange reason on the 4th Pinocchio decided to crawl through the planter at Disneyland's hub and enjoy a sitting spell with Walt & Mickey.
For some strange reason on the 4th Pinocchio decided to crawl through the planter at Disneyland's hub and enjoy a sitting spell with Walt & Mickey. While this was a most unusual photo opportunity, I have to wonder if this might have also encouraged other visitors (in particular kids) to climb up on the statue themselves.

 

Bad Park, No Shade for You!

Meanwhile, the DCA concert series dates have all been filled in, and it looks even more sad and slapped together. Below is the final lineup, the bands will perform two 45 minute sets, at 3:30 and 5:45 p.m. (The latest announcements are in bold.):

July 13th - 14th: The Beach Boys
July 15th - 17th: The Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards
July 18th - 19th: David Clayton Thomas with Blood, Sweat & Tears
July 20th: The Commodores
July 21st - 22nd: Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone
July 23rd - 25th: Starship featuring Mickey Thomas
July 26th - 28th: The 5th Dimension
July 29th - 31st: Paul Revere and the Raiders
August 1st: Chubby Checker and the Wildcats
August 2nd: The Bangles
August 3rd: Three Dog Night
August 4th - 6th: The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie
August 7th - 8th: The Buckinghams
August 9th - 11th: The Village People
August 12th - 14th: Kool & the Gang
August 15th - 17th: The Four Tops
August 18th - 20th: America
August 21st - 23rd: The Monkees starring Davy Jones & Micky Dolenz

If a few of the new additions look awfully familiar to you Hollywood Bowl fans, yes - you've already seen the Village People and Kool & the Gang at K-BIG's Disco night the week before last. I can report after attending that concert that the Village People perform to a tape.

While I enjoyed the concert under the stars (with disco band Chic also on the bill - don't ask about the Montel Williams solo) I somehow think the Bowl's lower cost per ticket (starting at $3 and $5), the K-BIG announcers and Saturday Night Fever video bits between the acts, plus the lovely atmosphere a picnic dinner and a bottle of wine brought from home added, made for a whole different experience than DCA's visitors will get out in the hot sun.

Bad Park, No Shade for You!

Speaking of the hot sun by the way - there is supposed to be a shade cover for the stage (that's the stage in the photo above) - but there will be no cover for the viewing area and the bleachers have now been nixed. So get ready to fry like an egg on a griddle at those afternoon shows. The Fab Four will play a concert on that stage before the 13th, as a "soft opening" to see how the audience flow (and fry) works out before The Beach Boys (expected to be the largest draw of the series) show up. The pictures below show just how temporary this set up is - scaffold city.

Bad Park, No Shade for You!

In preparation for the series, the Cast (employee) Communications department has put out big flyers backstage with all the bands and their dates on them. Underneath each act, there is a short list of their most popular hits to hopefully jog someone's memory. For instance, "The Buckinghams - Kind of a Drag, They're Playing our Song, Don't You Care." Again, this doesn't change the fact that the average nineteen-year-old Cast Member views The Bangles as ancient musical history from when they were in Kindergarten. So the thought of a band from the '60s is the equivalent of watching a Mozart impersonator to them.

Bad Park, No Shade for You!

Remember back when this park was announced the pages upon pages of press hype about how trendy and hip all the entertainment (as well as the park itself) was supposed to be?

Guess that was only one of the things they so painfully lost their way on in former Disneyland parking lot...

Plus I wonder what House of Blues in the Downtown Disney mall has to say about any of this...

 

Cheap rides = Expensive upkeep

The Orange Stinger likely won't reopen until Tuesday or Wednesday of this week. (It was closed Saturday.) Apparently they have discovered a problem with the bolts that hold the seat cables in place up near the top of the structure. Over time the bolts have worn and warped much faster than originally thought and the Facilities inspectors insisted that the attraction be closed immediately until new bolts can be manufactured.

This chain bucket spinner is a perfect example of a basic carnival ride bought off the shelf that has been in constant use for over 18 months now. These rides are usually operated by traveling carnivals or seasonal theme parks that are either closed six months out of the year or only operate on weekends outside of summer. The Orange Stinger is simply wearing out from intense and sustained wear and tear that the average carnival swing ride is not subjected to. Good thing they still hadn't upped the rider's weight limit as they had planned to do this summer, right? (And have you also noticed that the plywood bee decorations are fading away into shades of gray? They used to be so vibrantly colored.)

 

The Country Bears movie is now being promoted at the DCA raft ride - anyone wanna bet that if the thing is a hit the ride gets a new theme?  ;)
The Country Bears movie is now being promoted at the DCA raft ride - anyone wanna bet that if the thing is a hit the ride gets a new theme?  ;)

 

Bad Park, No Lights for you!

Speaking of neglect, if you get over to DCA some evening I would encourage you to check out the rim lights on the Avalon Cove restaurant. About one third of them are burned out. It's most noticeable from the boardwalk in front of the Carousel. The rim lights on the California Screamin' station building also have a lot of burned out bulbs, and they even turned off a long strip of them because there were too many of them out. The Golden Zephyr is also suffering from way too many burned out light bulbs.

Remember when I first reviewed this park that I noted this would be a problem (among so many others)? Paul Pressler (head parks honcho) simply does not care nor believe in this type of upkeep - he's too busy (along with Tom Fitzgerald) dreaming up other parks and attractions no one will go to. Eisner apparently agrees with him. Why they draped Paradise Pier with light bulbs they never intended to replace as they burned out was a mystery to me.

I learned that there are now only five "lampers" (the guys who replace light bulbs overnight) for both parks. As early as ten years ago Disneyland Park had nine full time lampers that worked exclusively on replacing the decorative lighting in Disneyland. Now there are two Parks, but four fewer "lampers" to handle the task of replacing light bulbs in both Disneyland and DCA. Their first priority (understandably) is to replace burned out street lamps or any other area lighting that would affect visitor safety. Then the task of replacing all the decorative lighting around both Parks is tackled only if there is time once the major stuff has been corrected.

(And this crew has been given the directive to focus on the Disneyland Main Street U.S.A. decorative lights along the edges of all the buildings, since that very high profile area has shown up on "the Internet" before. "The Internet" is what Disneyland executives [holed up in the Team Disney Anaheim building - TDA for short] scornfully refer to Disneyland fan websites as. And that goes for all of them I was told. I guess that even applies to us, even though we are not a fan site.)

So areas in DCA are now being pushed to the bottom of the list since that park has not been seeing large crowds, and many of its paying visitors entered on cheap tickets offered by the resident discounts and free child admission offers. What little attention can now be paid to replacing decorative lighting is being focused on Disneyland - the park that brings in the cash you know.

 

Lilo & Stitch at DCA

A few of you asked just what was being done for Lilo & Stitch at DCA, here are some photos of the setup.

First there's another show (in what now seems to be a trademark style for DCA) where a performer yells at the audience and tells them what is supposed to be going on, while a mostly mute character rubberhead nods like crazy.

Lilo & Stitch at DCA

It's almost kind of depressing just how awful Disneyland Resort entertainment is getting lately - there is no imagination or wit in anything they do anymore. (I blame entertainment honcho Anne Hamburger for this - she apparently must think all children are utterly and completely stupid, not to mention their parents.)

Nearby is an "Aloha Crafts" area...

Lilo & Stitch at DCA

...why anyone would try to be creative out in the hot sun is beyond my understanding. Note how busy it was.

And of course the required merchandise stand is nearby with a photo backdrop...

Lilo & Stitch at DCA

...as you can see, all of this area was sparsely attended on the 4th.

After finally having seen the fine job the studio folks have done at the El Capitan theater for the film's run - I have to wonder if the movie is not a priority for the parks? The quality behind the El Capitan setup is what I would also expect from the resort - but it seems only the studio clearly understands the level of creativity and showmanship required. Maybe it has gone over Paul Pressler's head just how important this movie is to the company?

Also many of you are justifiably wondering and complaining about limiting this to just the unpopular DCA park. While the scaled back Lilo & Stitch Emporium windows on Disneyland's Main St. are nice (there are fewer windows for the movie this time around, as they are also promoting the upcoming Treasure Planet in two of them), something should have also been done in the Tiki Room waiting area - that's an attraction that could have used some special attention. Apparently even entertainment guru Steve Davison had suggested a makeover.

People are not going to buy a DCA ticket for the meager L&S offerings now there, so why anger them by not staging a L&S parade at Disneyland, like the park used to do?

 

Flik Fotos

Construction is coming along at Flik's Fun Fair addition to DCA. Below you can see where the construction wall has been pushed back, and windows have been added to it so visitors can view how it is coming along. If I am right, the beige building you see towards the back of the photo is the rear of the Animation building in the Hollywood area.

Flik Fotos

A closer look at the entry arch for the area reveals a Toy Story 2 in-joke...

Flik Fotos

...note the giant leaves poking up above the entryway.

If you look at the sign artwork in the photo below you can see the attractions that will be added to this area.

Flik Fotos

DCA finally gets a Fantasyland - which was left out of the original design. Hopefully this will be less junky than what was done for Animal Kingdom in Orlando.

 

Happy Birthday at Disneyland - finally!

Happy Birthday at Disneyland - finally!

Good news folks, the Disneyland Resort finally has a birthday program in place, which began July 4th. Since so many people visit the park to celebrate their special day, it was always a mystery why the park never offered anything visitors could do.

Kind reader Carrie sent me a note reporting on one of the offerings:

Hi Al, =) I just got back from a weekend at the resort to celebrate my son's 4th birthday. We happened to be invited to the inaugural "My Disneyland Birthday Party" at the Plaza Inn. It was sweet and at $10 per person, a deal IMO. Just thought I would let you know about this... although, you probably already have the scoop on it.

Happy Birthday at Disneyland - finally!

It's like a little birthday party. Each person gets an individual cake to decorate with colored frostings, jelly beans, M's and Mickey sprinkles. It comes in the little Mickey Mouse shape plates they often put Mousekemeals in (a child's souvenir for us). There is a drink in a souvenir sipper cup! Also a birthday hat, sticker and a chance for photo ops and dancing with Mickey and Minnie. A great deal I thought. Souvenir photos can be purchased, of course. ;)

If you do this, OR if you are just going by the cart outside LOOK at the 8x10 promo photo of "Bennett". They used his picture as a sample - proud Mom here! =) (Also we happened to do the Fantasmic Dessert Buffet on my son's birthday and they passed out beaded necklaces to the birthday kids and sung them Happy Birthday.)

On the 4th all of these new trees appeared - blocking off the view of the hub from the Plaza Inn terrace.
On the 4th all of these new trees appeared - blocking off the view of the hub from the Plaza Inn terrace. If this was temporary - to keep people from hogging tables for fireworks, that's a good idea. If this is permanent, to keep areas blocked off for birthday parties, it is not a good idea.

Thanks for the mini review Carrie! I'm so glad they finally woke up to this. The resort also has several other Birthday offerings including:

A Sorcerer Mickey Birthday Bucket ($20) at all full service restaurants at the hotels or the parks (but not the Downtown Disney restaurants) - topped with an individual sized birthday cake. Included inside are stickers, a collectible toy and a birthday cloisonné pin. You can order the bucket and also arrange priority seating at those locations by calling the number at the end of this section.

Goofy's Kitchen Birthday Bags, which include a balloon, party hat, souvenir Goofy pin, toy maraca and puzzle, plus a birthday cupcake. Certain restrictions apply on this one, but apparently it is included with the regular Goofy's Kitchen price. Again, you need to call the number at the end of this section to arrange for this.

A Redd Rockett's Pizza Port Birthday Party includes a entree meal, reserved table, party hats, balloons, party favors, individual cupcakes topped with a character toy and a birthday button for the honored guest. These need to be booked for groups of 6 to 20 people. Price is $20 a head for kids 1 to 9, and $29 for visitors 10 and older. (Of course paid park admission is also required.) As before, you need to call the number at the end of this section to arrange for this.

Finally there is now a system for ordering birthday cakes at any Disneyland Resort restaurant at the hotels or parks. Prices vary, cakes are baked and designed to suit your needs, a 48 hour notice is required. Again, you need to call the number at the end of this section to arrange for this and lock down all the details.

All of the above prices do not include tax, and if items are requested for in the parks, do not include your admission into them. Arrangements for any of the above can be made by calling the Disneyland Resort Dining Reservations number at (714) 781-D-I-N-E (3-4-6-3).

Kudos to the folks who came up with this.

 

Carrousel Update

They have added some signs explaining the story of the Fantasyland King Arthur Carrousel at Disneyland...

Carrousel Update

...of particular note is the date for the return...

Carrousel Update

...let's hope they are doing a good job on it. Meanwhile they have set up a small Carrousel area nearby...

Carrousel Update

...kids can make Carrousel crafts and a few horses are on display for photo opportunities. A nice, and very thoughtful, job.

Finally speaking of rehabs, work continues on the new Splash Mt. Fastpass station (shown below) - located between the ride and the Haunted Mansion...

Update

And before I forget, apparently the Observatron (that weird spinning thing in Tomorrowland where the Rocket Jets used to be) is now working again. Looks like it's been fixed Mr. Issac.  :)

 

We'll have another D-I-G update for you soon.

 

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Al Lutz may be e-mailed at al@mouseplanet.com - Keep in mind the volume of e-mail he receives may not allow for a personal response.

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7/8 UPDATE

7/8 UPDATE - A Light 4th | Bad Park, No Fireworks for You! | Bad Park, No Shade for You! | Cheap rides = Expensive upkeep | Bad Park, No Lights for You! | Flik Fotos | Happy Birthday at Disneyland - finally! | Carrousel Update... more!

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