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Al Lutz
Archived D-I-G Update
9/3 UPDATE - Buh-Bye Paradise Pier | Cramming the characters into DCA - the new lagoon show | It's a bug's land? | Tower of Terror construction photos | Tom Sawyer Island photos | Dangerous ODV eyesores | Speaking of safety | Monkees go home - please | Why painting matters Paul | Before I forget

Lots to read in this update, so go get that cup of java and smear that cream cheese on that bagel before you sit down today... :)


Buh-Bye Paradise Pier

From a very kind (and accurate) source:

A very detailed model and some drawings have been the talk of WDI's offices recently. The model is interesting because it has part of the Paradise Pier section completely ripped out and made over as an all-new area. The proposal that is being seriously considered by both Team Disney Anaheim (TDA) and Burbank executives believe it or not, scraps the entire "Route 66" area of Paradise Pier.

That section of DCA currently is home to the tacky roadside carnival area that features the problematic Golden Zephyr spinner ride, the ugly Mullholland Madness roller coaster, the Jumpin' Jellyfish kiddy ride, as well as the McDonalds and the giant pink dinosaur souvenir shop.

That half of Paradise Pier from the Golden Dreams building all the way to the Orange Stinger swing ride would be replaced with a more lushly themed extension of the San Francisco area. A cable car family dark ride, as well as San Francisco themed stores and restaurants, would be included.

The WDI folks would like to make this new San Francisco section DCA's version of New Orleans Square, the lushly detailed facades hiding all new stores and unique attractions that would celebrate California's city by the bay. It would cost a heck of a lot more than the simple carnival rides and McDonalds that currently occupy that space. But it's hoped that this change to DCA would boost the Park's struggling image, and fix the embarrassing oversight of having San Francisco almost completely absent from the DCA themed experience.

Now we'll just have to see if this new plan gets approved and budgeted for the near future, as they try and figure out how much they are going to spend on Disneyland for it's 50th Anniversary in '05. I've said this before, but why doesn't Disney contact the Rice-A-Roni people to see if they'd like to sponsor something like this?

First of all, I want to thank the source for all of the details above, this person cares a great deal about the park, and does want to see something good happen there.

But in looking at that proposal, to me it just seems like yet another problem in the making. And a big one at that.

9/3 Update

Let's open some executive eyes here, ok? The last thing California Adventure (DCA) needs is more shops and restaurants - even the lush New Orleans Square area of Disneyland actually hosts an E-ticket attraction.

In looking at how barren this area of the DCA park is, it is clear to see that they've picked it to upgrade only because there is so little there in the first place to tear out. And replacing all those cheap rides with an inexpensive dark ride isn't going to address the real problem here - the breathtaking lack overall of E-ticket (top notch) attractions.

While the elimination of half of the carnival area would be a good start - only someone like Pressler (and the current people he now has in charge, such as Tom Fitzgerald and Barry Braverman) could try to solve the lack of major attractions by closing rides (even poor ones, thereby still cutting rider capacity) and adding, um... shopping.

This is why you cannot have the people who made the mistakes in the first place try to fix them. Pressler / Braverman / Fitzgerald / Eisner didn't see the problems in the first place - they still deny there are headaches now - and their proposed fixes are only adding even more of what people dislike so much about this park.

What makes this proposal even more obtuse is the rest of what is now going on at DCA - mostly involving the cramming in of Disney characters into a park setting that doesn't really welcome them thematically...

You all know about the Aladdin musical that is going into the Hyperion, now get ready for the following:


Cramming the characters into DCA - the new lagoon show

With the recent Disney press release detailing all of the upcoming Holiday offerings at the Disneyland Resort, it's finally official that LuminAria will not be returning to DCA's Paradise Bay lagoon this Christmas season.

There were some late night tests last May and June of possible new LuminAria effects for this year, but they were unimpressive enough to the TDA executives assembled at the edge of the lagoon that LuminAria's candle has been snuffed out. A show called "LuminAria" may return for Christmas '03, but it will likely look nothing like the show from 2001. Or, the Holiday show that appears in 2003 may debut with an entirely new name altogether.

The DCA lagoon will have water and lighting effects operating this November and December, but they will only be turned on late at night after the Park has closed and all the visitors are gone. It seems the Entertainment folks have been tasked with coming up with an all new show for DCA, and the mandate from TDA is that it be ready to go for the Easter Vacation period this upcoming spring.

Over the next few months they will be testing some of the effects and concepts that may, or may not, be used as part of this upcoming lagoon show. As of now, the show concept is based on Ariel from The Little Mermaid acting as the official hostess of the show, with cameo appearances from other Disney Characters. The Entertainment folks have been talking with the same people who designed the water fountain show at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, as well as coming up with a few new effects of their own.

The plans now call for the new show to have improved versions of the mist screens used in Fantasmic!. But rather than having just a few large screens that remain static in the lagoon, they are toying with the idea of numerous water screens that appear and disappear in many places around the lagoon. The water screens would allow images to be displayed on them that could "interact" with each other, with Ariel speaking and acting with other Disney Characters and images on the other screens. There are several other water and fountain effects that are being considered, as well as very limited use of low level pyrotechnics.

9/3 Update

The huge amounts of acrid smoke that the LuminAria pyro generated (shown above) helped doom that show from the start, and the Entertainment folks are going to use pyro sparingly in any future DCA lagoon shows, if they use it at all. Since the evening breeze in Anaheim blows from south to north 85% of the time, the pyro used in Fantasmic! almost always drifts north in to the unpopulated backwoods of Frontierland.

But in DCA, the huge clouds of pyro smoke would regularly drift north right into the amphitheater viewing area, and then on to the Golden State section of DCA, as well as on to the pricey rooms of the Grand Californian and through Downtown Disney's outdoor shopping and dining areas. From now on, small amounts of pyro in DCA lagoon shows will be used only when absolutely necessary to help tell the story.

However, the need to limit the use of fireworks also makes it much tougher to keep people entertained for 20 minutes with just water effects alone. What is also turning into a challenge is that the future DCA lagoon show starring The Little Mermaid does not have the budget to actually employ any human performers or actors.

Unlike Fantasmic!, which requires over 90 people to operate floating watercraft as well as appear as pirates, snakes, flowers, and dozens of live Disney Characters, the DCA lagoon show will be without visible performers. There may be a few unseen techs that drive floating barges or boats into position during the DCA show, but the rest of the performance will be handled by automatic fountains, lights, and video effects run by computers.

Some of the effects under consideration are said to be very impressive and unlike anything attempted in other Disney water shows. But there are grumbles coming from the Entertainment department that without human actors or live Disney Characters the show will bore audiences within 5 or 10 minutes. The fear of some Entertainment department folks is that TDA is dooming this new DCA show right from the start by not spending the money to do it right and create something that can compare favorably to Fantasmic! next door at Disneyland. It is almost like this park is cursed, right?

Stay tuned as this develops, and they begin testing the water effects later this Fall. Right now they hope to have the effects tested and perfected by the end of December, so that work can begin on the installation of the show's lagoon infrastructure in January. The infrastructure installed this winter will then be used to stage a Christmas themed show for the Holiday season of 2003. And again, that future Holiday show may look nothing like last year's LuminAria when it finally appears 15 months from now.

For this Christmas at DCA however, they will place the large Christmas tree that sat in the Hollywood area last year in the amphitheater next to the lagoon since that area won't be needed for LuminAria viewing. Obviously, all of the Holiday themed entertainment and attractions will be taking place in Disneyland this year. The TDA execs feel that this fall's opening of Flik's Fun Fair, as well as the early December debut of the new Aladdin show in the Hyperion Theater, will provide enough visitor interest to get DCA through the Christmas season and keep DCA on stable attendance ground for the next six months.

Getting the message here folks? Again there is the thematic question of "What does The Little Mermaid have to do with California?" The Little Mermaid was set in classic Europe rather than Malibu, and even the ocean isn't something exclusive to the state of California. As of now, the exact story line is still in flux, and the Disney Characters may be making reference to the California beach culture in the show. (Ariel as Gidget?) Or it may be a completely fantasy based plot line that makes no reference to the California theme of the park.

Now that you took all that in, let's take a look at some very revealing wording on some new signs that went up in the former farm area of DCA...


It's a bug's land?

Take a look at the wording used on the new sign shown below:

9/3 Update

The three leaves hanging below the main sign indicate the bug 3-D movie, the fun fair playground area, and finally mention the Bountiful Valley Farm area. Looks like the emphasis here has shifted, eh?

The horrible Mickey Mouse farmer show that is adjacent is also being replaced:

9/3 Update

Below is a picture of the new stage setting built for it:

9/3 Update

So if Aladdin is moving into the Hyperion, while the Lagoon will host a Little Mermaid show (not to mention she already is linked to the carousel and Avalon Cove restaurant), and the farm area is now "a bug's land," why do they still insist (almost pathologically) on keeping the customer hostile California theme?

Make it Disney's Movie Backlot and help solve the problem no?

Meanwhile we keep getting more things to only look at in this park (such as movies and shows), rather than things to ride (the Tower of Terror being an exception - but even that one may be compromised). DisneySea in Tokyo has rides. Here DCA has movies and shows, and a couple of rides, soon to be fewer.

No wonder people stay away in droves - they don't understand what is going on here, nor are they impressed by what they see.


Tower of Terror construction photos

9/3 Update

David Lane kindly sent in a picture from two weeks ago (above)...

9/3 Update

...and last Sunday I took the above shot, just before I had to leave due to the excessive heat at DCA. (All Labor Day weekend had 90 to 100 degree heat, and non stop Paramedic runs. DCA in particular with its severe lack of shade was responsible for seven emergency runs in one hour on one day.)

Below are two other shots of interest... the first picture shows the signs for the entry to the fun fair area...

9/3 Update

And this second shot shows the back of the bugs land area sign...


Tom Sawyer Island photos

As you well know by reading this site, the lawyers have been swarming all over Tom Sawyer's Island in Disneyland desperate to make sure there isn't anything anyone can hurt themselves on.

Below is a montage of photos by David Lane showing what they will be working on when it comes to the rockwork on the Island...

9/3 Update


Dangerous ODV Eyesores

Meanwhile Pressler's gutting of Imagineering's oversight of park design and upkeep guidelines is really showing now.

It seems that outdoor vending (ODV) not only can't junk up the park enough with more and more carts everywhere at Disneyland, but they now have to put in huge metal signs in adjacent walkways drawing attention to them...

9/3 Update 9/3 Update

...and DCA also is sprouting these eyesores like weeds...

9/3 Update

I saw more than a few kids run into them over the past few weeks, as well as adults. Visitors are not looking out for these signs, they are looking at the castle, or for a ride, and then they plow right into them.

So why are the lawyers idiot-proofing Tom Sawyer's Island in the most inane way, even reflective tape striping water fountains left and right, and ODV gets to put these sharp-edged metal poles out in the middle of walkways to try and cram even more turkey legs down people's throats?

See what I mean about people who don't understand the theme park business running the division?


Speaking of safety

The following very sincere note arrived in my e-mail box - and I did observe some of the behavior noted in it upon my last visit. Maybe the Disney safety lawyers need to look at this too?

In light of recent lawsuits and public awareness re: incidents at the parks which bear Disney's name in the press, whether they are being currently settled in court or have been settled (in or out) of court, I would think that Disney would be in a heightened state of awareness and ready to take quick steps in order to prevent any future mishaps.

Unfortunately that is not always the case. As much as one may try to point things out in the best interest of the park it seems to fall on deaf ears. It is almost as if an incident must happen before any action is deemed necessary to be taken.

A pet peeve of mine has been seeing the gas powered golf carts driven by Disney cast members show complete disregard for public safety. I am speaking of a stretch of public access that visitors travel between the Paradise Pier parking lot and the Downtown Disney area. There are stop signs posted on this route that are ignored by all drivers and Security personnel.

I have seen cast members and operating participants stopped and reprimanded for numerous disregards of rules and regulations. Incidents including such things as having a shirt untucked or talking on a cell phone to riding a scooter or skateboard. These are all things, we are told, that reflect poorly on the image that Disney is trying to project.

Yet, somehow, driving a motor vehicle and zipping right through the numerous visitors traversing this street on their way to the park or Downtown shopping area is allowed. No one seems bothered that [Disney employees] are speeding through the posted STOP signs with absolutely no second thought about a potential reprimand let alone an accident involving a family trying to cross a street on their way to a not-so-happy vacation memory.

It irks me to see the flagrant disrespect for posted signs that contribute to everyone's safety. There are cameras everywhere on the hotel roof that are witnessing this activity countless times each day and yet no one cares to do anything about this.

I only write to inform you of this since I feel that MousePlanet cares more about Disney than Disney does sometimes. It may not be 'inside' the park but, I feel that this is a part of the resort that should not be overlooked. I hope that by bringing it to light on your site that maybe a healthy dose of mild public embarrassment might turn a few heads in the right direction. Perhaps action might be taken to ensure that visitor safety is honored as highly as they would try and lead us to believe.

That's all I have left to say to anyone about the matter. If no one cares about this but me I just hope that I'm not around when someone finally gets injured because it would make me sick to my stomach knowing that it might have been prevented if proper action had just been taken any earlier.

Let's see if they follow up on this - and thank you for your note.


Monkees go home - please

I guess they had to kowtow to the Monkee management when they made their appearance at the DCA Summer concert, err, music series a few weeks ago. Below you can see the junky t-shirt booth they were allowed to set up to hawk their trinkets near the stage area.

9/3 Update

Personally I cannot wait for the fake Rolex and counterfeit Gucci purse sidewalk vendors. ;)


Why paint matters Paul

Here are before and after pictures of Gadget's GoCoaster from a similar vantage point and at about the same time of day.

First before...

9/3 Update

...and now after the rehab and paint job...

9/3 Update

It does make a difference when you paint Mr. Pressler - no matter how much you may insist to others that no one cares or notices.

Let's see more of it please.


Before I forget...

It looks like the Disneyland rehab schedule I detailed last time has already been changed. I got the following note filling me in on what may be happening:

Well, that twelve week Space Mt. rehab to add the station gates is no more... it is no longer scheduled. Of course someone did point out that some attractions get rehabs canceled all the time... i.e. Matterhorn two years ago.

I'm surprised Autopia hasn't had one scheduled for the upcoming year... there are countless safety features to be added, however I guess this rehab comes in the form of working on two of the tracks while running the attraction with the other two.

As always with anything having to do with Disneyland, remember they change their minds at the drop of a hat.  :)


We'll have another D-I-G update for you soon. See you at Disneyland!


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


9/3 UPDATE - Buh-Bye Paradise Pier | Cramming the characters into DCA - the new lagoon show | It's a bug's land? | Tower of Terror construction photos | Tom Sawyer Island photos | Dangerous ODV eyesores | Speaking of safety | Monkees go home - please | Why painting matters Paul | Before I forget

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