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"Half Park, Full Price" - MORE Readers respond to the series

Wow - the e-mail kept coming and I continue to be so very impressed with the thought and care that went into most of your notes.

I've gone ahead for this second installment and selected a representative sample of your comments for this page. Do note some notes may have been edited a bit only for space or clarity. In the boxes below, "R" indicates "Reader" - "A" indicates Al's comment.


R.

"D" writes: I have been reading your DCA coverage and have been enjoying it. I especially liked the comment from that one former parking lot employee who said that there were 3.68 people per car (a figure that I would trust as opposed to the other numbers forced upon the folks at Disney).

That possible fact with the lack of adequate parking means that Disneyland's attendance is being affected immediately and will suffer this Summer (it's most important quarter). So that while the company will be able to claim that paid admissions are up for the "Disneyland Resort" they will have dropped for Disneyland and come in below projections for DCA. Hence the company will start to lump the two operations together and that lowered capacity will keep DCA from paying for itself.

Besides the parking situation, the more important problem is the lowered attendance cap which will result in DCA selling out, at least, until the end of Summer (as you have already alluded to). Disney will be able to save some money by cutting back on advertising as there (soon) should be no real need to promote the park.

But (and here is the crux of the dilemma), "improving the park" as you and others seem to want will not allow a higher attendance cap. Instead, what will be proposed (you maybe reading this before Pressler) are fast, cheap ways to allow more bodies past the gates. I don't know exactly which avenue this will take but it may not be pretty. I would guess that a large outdoor show (perhaps around that lake) should end up at the top of the list.

All of these events run contrary to what Mr. Eisner currently seeks for the company. Another parking structure plus improving the attendance cap will cost money.

Of temporary benefit will be the anticipated WGA & SAG strike. (IATSE may or may not strike as well.) The strike will significantly free up Disney's cash flow. Further, Disney stands a lot to gain from the strike as the animators local (839) came to an agreement with us AMPTP members months ago. So while other studios 2002 theatrical grosses maybe affected, Disney's will be less so. I imagine that Disney is doing what other studios are--getting all the SAG recordings they can & completing scripts with WGA members. (Storyboard artists, however, are with 839 and not with the WGA.)

But it should be expected that no additional funds will go to improving Disneyland until the parking situation gets solved. The last thing the company needs is anything which would detract from DCA selling out everyday. Anyone who parks in a Disneyland Resort lot must first attempt to get into DCA. Which leads me to offer Mr. Eisner the following free idea. (Your readers are not going to like it but it's the way to go.) Raise the price for parking but then give a discount for cars with 5 or more people inside. Why 5? Because 6 or more may cause more locals to try DCA right now which would fill up that park even faster. A discount at 4 may not have enough of an effect. You want to cause just enough car pooling for Disneyland and nothing more. Other promotions could help as well.

And now perhaps I can finally say something which I have been wanting to say ever since I heard (was it almost 2 decades ago?) of putting something into the parking lot. Maybe now it'll really make sense to Mr. Eisner. I wish they would have increased Disneyland's capacity instead. The idea of moving the Jungle Cruise into the parking lot (you would have boarded your boat just inside the berm) would have provided a significant increase in Adventureland. That, along with old proposals of getting rid of the Main Street / Tomorrowland Backstage area and allowing it (and other lands) to add attractions (Show Buildings) outside the berm (ala Splash Mountain, the Haunted Mansion, Pirates & Small World) would have easily increased the cap to Disneyland.

Such actions in conjunction with keeping some (but not all) of the discontinued attractions operating would have pushed Disneyland's cap up another 30,000 paid admissions per day and at considerable less expense than DCA. It's true that Disneyland doesn't reach its current cap for most of the year but with such improvements it would have done so a lot more often and be more guest friendly.

And yes, I would have to admit that for years the conventional wisdom was that 2 gates can net twice as much money as 1. But what we are about to witness is how 2 gates can only net .95. A fascinating predicament and one that I will be watching closely.

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A.

I've met the author of the above note - and I can say without reservation the observations made here are astute and well grounded. I'm willing to bet they end up playing out somewhat.

And no, don't ask me who the person is. ;)

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R.

Jaguar writes You say that DCA is only worth about 20.00 and I agree! Although I have never seen this done at MousePlanet or DIG, but I REALLY think you should have a poll done. I also noticed a couple of things about DCA. Disneyland was built on a constrained budget, but if Walt had the money... Oh boy. When New Orleans Square was built (My fav land by the way), a budget was put into place that almost matched the budget for building the entire park! You know that though.

You also know that NOS has basements, similar to WDW's. All built to improve service and speed of service. WDW had them built, but why not DCA? Don't they want to restock those shops with plush, overpriced, authentic Disney trademarked crap? I think I have pointed out something that hasn't been brought up yet. I agree that Disney made some MAJOR mistakes here, and I hope to join the world in laughing in Eisner's face. Keep up the comments and good work!.
 

A.

I, too, wondered why they went cheap on basements and such at DCA. There are some facilities hidden away, but they really could have done so much more.

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R.

JS writes: Hi Al -- I wonder of we visited the same park? I think maybe your earlier articles on DCA had so lowered my expectations that when I recently had the privilege to attend a sneak preview visit, I couldn't help but be pleasantly surprised! I found DCA to be larger than I thought it would be, a lot of Disney details (the music at Jumping Jellyfish has a "bubbly" sound, and a "buzzy" sound by Orange Stinger.

Be patient. I went to WDW in 1972. Except for the outside of the Haunted Mansion and the Castle, I thought it was a cheap imitation of Disneyland. At that time, there was really nothing new or imaginative, and I felt they had cheeped out on Fantasyland in particular (the small world entrance there vs. here just didn't compare.)

Obviously, over the past couple of decades, WDW has grown by leaps and bounds. And I think the same will hold true at DCA. I think it is good now, and has the possibility of being great in time (Mission Tortilla must go, or else add some entertainment value -- I can see a tortilla machine at Chevy's).

Disney parks ae as much about what we bring to them as they are about what they present to us. Disneyland has a 45 year head start on the new kid on the block. That's a lot of memories. Give the new park a chance to open the doors for real, and go back on a high capacity day. I think you'll hear a LOT of satisfied guests, if you'll be open to listening to positive comments as well as negative ones.

I STRONGLY agree with you regarding Mickey, Minnie, etc., missing in action at DCA. I think this will change quickly. I must hasten to add that one of the best memories I'll take with me from our sneak preview is meeting up with Cruella, who chatted with my kids and was VERY intrigued that our dog back home had a gold coat. She grinned wickedly, stroking her chin and imagining the fashion possibilities!

For the future, I think a great addition would be a musical gold rush "Pirates" style ride, a rags-to-riches story of a 49er and his pack mule. Also, a huge humpback whale (animatronic, of course) breeching every 15 minutes or so in the Paradise Pier "ocean" would be kinda cool, no? And how about a runaway San Francisco Cable Car coaster? The park needs some San Francisco hills anyway.

Thanks for your Disney passion, even though we differ on a lot of our experience with the new park. I honestly enjoyed myself throughout. And thanks for making a point of Cast Member hospitality. As always, it was outstanding. In my humble opinion, Disney's California Adventure is a hit, and I look forward to coming back again soon.

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A.

The characters are now in - and I think that was a wise move. I do agree with you wholeheartedly about needing a major crowd soaker type of ride such as Pirates in DCA - they are expensive (hence we didn't get one) but incredibly efficient at moving people through.

Capacity will be the big issue though. For me the attractions aren't much, and disappointments will be likely if you have to wait forever to get onto them on top of that. I can't wait to hear the public reaction.

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R.

HB writes: al, your right and your wrong about DCA, when I first saw it, all of my low expectations were blown out of the water, but there are problems, the main one being capacity, which there is no easy fix for, one of the other ones, is for the price, the park isn't worth it, but it is a good, park and I fully enjoyed it, both at work and as a guest, albeit, I didn't transfer, and I probably wont, and from the rumblings that hear characters will be over at  DCA, almost all of the characters, they have learned from Epcot, overall I think that the park is good, not great, just good, and that's judged on Disney standards, on other standards, it would be considered excellent, just wait and see, it should get better (I hope) .
 
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A.

Yes, they did fix the character thing - but capacity is still the main problem here. And it's an expensive thing to fix at this stage.

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R.

"J" writes: Thoroughly wonderful site, Al and company! First up I would like to make a statement about alcohol in a Disney park. It's amazing how a single glass of Merlot can take the edge of a couple of 5 year olds enforcing the Disney magic. I can see a problem with people overdoing this and think there is a way around it. When you enter the park you present a valid id and get an adult beverage fast pass. Allow 1 every couple of hours and I think everyone will be content.

I can almost see the reasoning for keeping the characters out of DCA. If they are trying to make this the Touchstone brand of theme park then mixing in the regular Disney characters would take away from this. Plus they are probably trying to attract the people who normally would not visit a "Disney" park. Building it across the original park kind of negates this but nice try.

I find the comments on the difference in the level of detail in the areas of the park interesting. I thought originally each land belonged to an imagineering group and each was given a specific amount of money and told to go to town. Could you see any correlation between the theming of an area and the number of attractions?

Well, if there is any skimping on money in DCA it must be due to adoption of my plan for the 3rd gate. Take the World Showcase concept from Epcot with some Animal Kingdom but make it heavily a Disneyfied version...a couple of blocks of London featuring the Mary Poppins Jolly Holladay dark ride and the Portabello Road market with the top of a mini Big Ben peeking over the roof tops. And if you go around the corner, the back of the clock tower is the rear of the Notre Dame cathedral. The Beast's mansion looms in the distance. The other side of the park features the dense forests of Africa and India with a Tarzan vine coaster rushing through the tree tops and a river ride through the Jungle Book. Some of the old and some of the new. Well I can dream, can't I?.
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A.

I like your third gate plan, but only if I can get in for $45, not $300 plus like they are currently thinking about. It would certainly be a Jolly Holiday. :)

I only saw correlations in budgets as far as shops and restaurants - since basically they got the budgets.

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R.

Me writes: Al, I can say FOR A FACT that construction is to begin fairly soon on a new attraction "inside" the California Screamin' track (the looping area where the pictures are taken, called "the Coliseum"). It will be an Ursula-themed spinning ride, similar to Dumbo. I'm not sure about specifics, but the riders will have some amount of control over how their vehicles move.

Also, next to Maliburritos, construction is still being done on what is to become an arcade. However, I've been told that it will eventually serve as the entrance to a Monsters Inc. dark ride that will use the Peter Pan ride system. I'm not sure how it will fit back there (both in size and theming), but it was a reliable source I heard from.

I always enjoy reading your work and would definitely enjoy another installment of reader feedback. Thanks.
...
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A.

You've heard what I heard too.

Let's see what the reaction from the public will be - I bet if it's better than they expect the lower cost stuff goes in first. If they get slammed, they may pop for something more expensive, like Armageddon or Tower of Terror instead.

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R.

Jeffery writes: Thanks for posting my letter. By the way, I keep thinking what I didn't like about Paradise Pier so much. It was the fact that the queues were not themed at all and that they looked just like any Six Flags amusement park (A roof overhead and that's all).

Shouldn't a Disney queue be really ornate and themed? Don't tell me you can't theme a roller coaster queue that has a California ocean theme! There is a definite difference between the Space Mountain, Matterhorn, Big Thunder, and Splash queues compared to California Screamin'

And, I too, agree, that California Screamin is a great coaster to take my grandmother on.
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A.

Jeffery, your letter which ran last time with the parking figures was simply amazing. I understand the City of Anaheim also found it of great interest. ;)

I agree with you on your observation - the theming is just really poor in Paradise Pier. But I'll tell you what really amazes me. All the damn light bulbs they put in.

We all remember what problems Disneyland encountered with burned out bulbs under Pressler's watchful eye - can you imagine what this area of the new park will look like in a year or two from now under the way he runs things? Ouch.

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R.

Joel writes: Your series on DCA and your web-site, in general, are quite informative. My wife and I log onto it nearly every day.

A point from one of your readers really struck home with me: "Sounds like DCA is not only an unusual theme to follow DL, but has NO theme. Lets just put a carnival and a lot of shops in a parking lot and put a gate around it.... sounds like a touring carnival..."where are the bunk trailers and porta pottys"...."

This is a good point. There is a theme to Disneyland / Magic Kingdom (nostalgia + fantasy - bringing adults back to their childhoods, and letting children experience theirs), and even to MGM-Studios (nostalgia + love of celebrity + mystique of how movies are made - consider the successful attractions based on sound, special effects, and so on). Animal Kingdom has the "we are part of a circle of life" theme that permeates much of what is shown.

Epcot does not have this as much, and only really seems to hit its stride when it makes its "world's fair" theme explicit.

I would suggest, spending the same $$$ that they had, if they had focused on a "nostalgic look back at the old-fashioned seaside amusement park - done BETTER - as it what would WED have done if he suddenly woke up and found he was responsible for running one of these" - in other words, nice special things for families, friendlier people, rides with just a BIT more theming, etc. do what WED would have done if he had taken one of these over" - well, that would have kept the "nostalgia" factor of the better parks. From what I understand, It wasn't that Disney hated the seaside parks - he hated how they were maintained and operated, and how the crew running the parks treated the guests, and what was available.

Thoughts? - and thanks again for a great web-site!
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A.

Thanks for your note Joel - I think you hit some real nails on the head there. If they really did want to do a carnival, it should have been one unique to Disney, not a duplicate.

New Orleans Square in Disneyland is wonderful - because it evokes, yet improves on the original I think. Yes, it's basically just a collection of shops and restaurants (like so much of DCA) - but it's really detailed to a wonderful level. The Paradise Pier theming just does not compare.

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R.

Paul writes: Al, remembers me? I wrote to you about my comments about DCA, including how I loved the California Screamin' Coaster and the Golden Zephyr. However, even if I did enjoy these rides better than you did, I wouldn't have you change your reviewing style one ioata. I'm tired of Disney lying to us (hey, is a hotel that is on the outside of a theme park "within" it?) and I think its GREAT that someone finally tells the truth. Keep it up!!
 

A.

Thanks for the support Paul. I don't think some of my most vocal critics understand that I can have an opinion that differs from theirs. But the subject of Disney can really inflame passions can't it?

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R.

Eric writes: First of all, thanks for the 411 on the new Disney park. I've been waiting for the opening since the days that Disney was talking of opening a west coast version of EPCOT. At the time I hadn't visited EPCOT, but since then I have (1994). I loved everything about EPCOT and I so wanted that to come to the west coast. But, then the plans changed, money issues I guess, I don't know for sure.

Then came the news that Disney was going to build a new park where my beloved parking lot once stood. I know what your saying, how can anyone love a huge slab of concrete? But, I did. There was something about driving into that huge lot and seeing the entrance from afar. To me it was always like coming up on Xanadu and seeing it just beyond, and yet within my reach. The anticipation grew inside me every time I visited the park. It was all there, the Entrance, the Matterhorn, Space Mountain... I loved it.

Then came the ground breaking and soon enough they were at work on this new park. My park, Disneyland, was soon to have a new neighbor. A couple of years before I bought myself an annual pass, and made the trip from the San Fernando Valley about six to ten times a year. It was great to play hooky from work and spend a few hours at Disneyland. But, I think that those days are over. Not so much because the new park is there, but because that feeling of magic seems to have been lifted and carried away.

It used to be so simple, drive up, get a parking spot and walk to the park. Once in the park, it was like visiting an old friend, I knew where everything was, and how things worked. So many times I was asked were something was, and I loved answering the question. But, it's getting to be less and less my little park, the park that Walt walked and loved, and created. It's more the park of get your wallet out and empty it here. Still, I love Disneyland, though I have cut my visits to about two in the last year and a half.

The new park idea is great, and I loved your reporting. It really gave me an idea of what to expect. I'm planning on making a visit to my park in the next few weeks. I'll pass by the entrance to DCA and may get curious enough to go in. Who knows. All I know is that the money watching is killing the magic of Disneyland. I don't want Disney to not make money on the parks. On the contrary, I want them to so they can spend it on new attractions. Nevertheless, nowadays it seems that less and less of what I pay is making it back to the parks.

The new Tomorrowland is a bust. They took away my favorite attraction, the People Mover, and replaced it with a ride that isn't even open now. America sings was a great place to just tap your toe, and the replace it with Innoventions, a sorry excuse for an attraction. A new paint job and a fountain does not constitute a new Tomorrowland for me. The penny pinching has to stop, but I know that it won't any time soon.

Life runs in cycles. There are times when things can't go wrong, and the pieces fall into place to create a moment of harmony. Then there are times when the wrong people are in the right places (example, George W. Bush and Paul Pressler). All I can do is hold out hope that this cycle will end soon and we can return to the days that Disneyland was my park, the only park that truly reflected who Walt Disney was. The only one that he created, walked in, and loved. I loved that park. I only wish I could find it again. You can't go home again, it's true. But, if home is in your heart then you never really left it.

Again, thanks for the great work, keep it up. I look forward to reading more. And thanks for putting up with my ramblings
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A.

Thanks for the note Eric. It isn't the same place anymore - and it isn't even up to the standards we so took for granted either. Let's hope the cycle eventually changes.

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R.

Paul writes: Hi, Al. I always look forward to your articles on MousePlanet as I have been reading your comments for many years and am always left with the thought of having gleamed full knowledge of what is going on at Disneyland and DCA. Keep up the good phenomenal work.

About DCA, is the Paradise Pier Hotel going to be linked to the Paradise Pier area of DCA in Phase 2? The Hotel's adjacent parking lot could be the site of DCA expansion that could completely surround the hotel. A raised portion of DCA's Paradise Pier could bridge Disneyland Drive like the many streets of the old Pacific Ocean Park did. Even Ghost Rider at Knott's Berry Farm bridges a street.

Also, the area of DCA that borders Katella Avenue could have a backdrop erected that simulated the Hollwood Hills with the Hollywood Sign mounted and lighted on it. This would block the view of the Convention Center from inside DCA. Now great care must be taken to ensure that the view from the Convention Center side is not marred by an ugly rear view of these same backdrops. This would mean that WDI should design a pleasing frontage wall along Katella Avenue facing the Convention Center consisting of landscaping, California Architecture facades, and maybe some animated displays (cable cars moving up and down some hills, Angels Flight, Search lights waving around, etc.).

This would be a great attractive "cookie" that will lead the eye towards what's inside. It would also go a long ways towards beautifying what is currently just a low fence with carnival rides and building tops sticking out above it. With a lot of thought, this artificial berm could be used for both inside and outside park enhancements. Then guests would feel like they are in their own world away from the sites of the city outside.

Speaking of cable cars, DCA is lacking transportation. Why not have San Francisco cable cars connecting the various lands? Just a thought. Thanks Al.

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A.

You need to be working at Imagineering! Then you could tag team with all the other great folks there and wear down Pressler and Eisner until they do nice things like you suggest.

The Paradise Pier Hotel entrance to DCA is located right between Corn Dog Castle and the Souvenir 66 stand, you access it by crossing the street (Disneyland Dr.) then walking backstage a bit.

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R.

The other Al writes Isn't it interesting that so many people panning the park (and who expected to hate it) have already paid to see it four times, yet the park isn't even open yet?

Maybe Disney does have a hit on its hands after all.

 

A.

Hmmm, people also stare at accidents too. That doesn't mean they like them...  ;)

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R.

Paul writes: Dear Al, You have consistently referred to Mulholland Madness as a Mad Mouse. Perhaps you aren't really aware of the history of the ride, but I believe a little respect is due. In the fifties and early sixties, the ride generically known as Wild Mouse arrived in the US from Europe at a time when many traditional parks were going down the tubes. The Wild Mouse was a low cost investment- but provided a large thrill for its size- allowing floundering parks to add what amounted to a new coaster (everyone's favorite ride,) at a fraction of the price. This gave parks a new boost and lease on life that allowed some parks that might not have to survive. The ride was copied by other manufacturers, so the original Ben Schiff Wild Mouse was joined by the Miler Mouse, and the Herschel Monster Mouse, among others.

Schiff began offering a smaller(20' tall instead of 30', 700 ' of track compared to 1200',) version of the ride, so Herschel debuted its smaller "Mad" Mouse. These smaller rides were generally used in traveling carnivals, and had just a fraction of the thrill.

The Wild Mouse concept was so strong that it never disappeared, and has reappeared in slightly larger, higher capacity versions (from numerous manufacturers) at parks worldwide, still allowing parks to add what amounts to a major ride experience at a
fraction of the price.

Mulholland Madness is definitely a Wild Mouse, not a Mad Mouse layout- which is characterized by the section of switchback turns following the lifthill, followed by several circuits of the layout containing several small steep hills, slammer turns, and a few rabbit hops. The Wild Mouse has a proud tradition that deserves inclusion in DCA's tribute to the American amusement pier.

It is an off the shelf ride however that has questionable business being in a Disney Park I agree, but please call it the name it deserves-"Wild," not "Mad" Mouse. When the Matterhorn Bobsleds first appeared, it was at the height of the Wild Mice popularity, and I believe it copied the single car, sharp turns aspect of the popular Mice.

I have an original Schiff Wild Mouse stacked in my backyard, but I'm not sure I'll ever have the cash I need to refurbish the thing, so please, at least give the smash hit concept called Wild Mouse the credit it deserves, even if it is just a name:-).
!
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A.

One of the reasons I enjoy working on MousePlanet so much is the wonderful letters we get - and yours Paul is just terrific. Thank you for giving us some insight into this ride, and what the names really are for it.

Keep in mind I called it a Mad Mouse only because while the park was being built, WDI had a sign saying just that where it was located. I guess maybe they can learn something from your note also. :)

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R.

Tom writes: Al, I have been critical of you in the past, but this multi-part article was the most honest and upfront as they come. I am a lifelong Disneyland lover. As many I grew up with the park and as my wife puts it, "I miss our little park."

After going on the cast member preview day (which also included hotel guests, annual passholders and some of the paying public.. thanks for the special day Disney!), I can honestly say the park is a major miss.

Hollywood is boring (ever notice there are no seats to eat your $12 burger?), Farmland is uneventful, Paradise Pier's rides are so tame even kids won't ride on them, Condor Flats is okay, but none of it is worth $43. Disney WILL have to spend millions to fix it and they probably still won't get it right.

Downtown Disney is overprice for almost every family I know which why the lines for pretzels and ice cream were so long.

But the big problem is the parking. Disney is estimating only a small drop in attendance at Disneyland. Disneyland is their bread and butter. However, if people can't park they won't visit the park. It is that simple. Walt would have built a 20,000 parking structure with a multitude of devices (elevators, escalators, peoplemover, monorail) do get you in and out quickly so you can experience Disney.

We waited one and half hours to enter the structure and it took us another 30 minutes to get to the entrance of DCA. I was exhausted and I am sure my 1 year old was tired too. I could tell he didn't like DCA as much as Disneyland!

What were they thinking before they screwed it up for everyone? If all they were concerned about was money.... get ready Disney because the people will react in a very negative way before summer arrives.

I can't find many cast members that like DCA. Everyone of them says it was a let down even if they didn't have to pay. Nobody I met would pay even half to visit again.

Not a good sign.

Keep up the good work and keep Disney honest by your honest assessment and your emotional attachment to the Disneyland spirit. Cheers!

 
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A.

Tom, there's not much I can say to add to your note. Let's hope they do find a way to make this thing work better. I think Disneyland (as well as the public) deserves more.

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R.

"J" writes: It was Shakespeare's Richard III who called himself "......Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time into this breathing world scarce half made up........" I imagine that sums up DCA and could half imagine the Grizzly Peak bear coming to life and lamenting itself in the same way as it stares at Superstar Limo and Paradise Pier, wishing they could could live up to the detail the rest of the park enjoys.
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A.

The bear does come alive in one of the ads for the park I've seen, but he's just roaring his head off.

Maybe he has a raft stuck somewhere? ;)

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R.

Ghost Host writes: Thank you for the good articles on DCA (Half Park, Full Price / Visiting the Park / Parenting... What is the target audience..)

I didn't renew my AP last year as I didn't want to fight the crowds who will be going to DCA. It is not my type of attractions nor do I have an interest in a mini-California. Figure in the money I had been saving on MKC and it simply wasn't worth it anymore. Therefore, I rely on first person accounts like yours to 'see' the new park. Thank you for sharing.

One quick question - It seemed from the articles on MousePlanet that unless I wanted to eat I lose 1/3 of the experience or more. Would you agree with this?
).
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A.

Thank you for the kind words. Yes, you could say you would be losing one third of the experience if you didn't eat there. I'd say another third would be lost if you didn't shop there.

Funny, to me it seems that you can't say that about Disneyland itself can you?  ;)

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R.

Steve writes: Al, You did a tremendous job on clearly documenting DCA. You also should be commended for making clear delineations between observation and opinion.

I went through DCA on Monday. I did my first visit solo without my family, and will be returning on Sunday with my wife and two sons (age 6 & 8). The experience was reminiscent of the first time I visited MGM in Orlando. My wife and I visited MGM about 6 months after it had opened, and we were gravely disappointed. We found the park too small and oddly laid out. After spending the morning there, having what we considered an overpriced meal at the Brown Derby, and watching the stunt show, we quickly returned to Epcot where we had been the previous day.

I believe DCA will be successful in it's first year simply based on Disney Hype and momentum. The missing piece seems to be the park hopper passport. It's very easy to envision DCA being uncomfortably crowded, while the Magic Kingdom sits with a reasonable crowd across the walkway.

After all the buildup, I was mildly disappointed in Soaring. With no narration, or indication as to where you are over California, it seems that many guests, especially foreign guests will find the attraction a really neat demonstration of a new technology and ride system, but wonder when a full attraction will be built around it. (And yes the dirt on the film is REALLY distracting!)

In difference to your review on California Screamin, I liked the roller coaster. It is the first "full" coaster I've been on that uses linear induction through the electro magnets to propel the train. One of the best things is how smoothly the train "engages" the lift hill in mid-ride, vs. the horrible jerks you frequently get on Big Thunder. The Carnival music theme fit the tacky facade of Paradise Pier, but what I thought was most unusual was when down on the ground when a train passes the roller coaster sound track is so loud it can drown out the area theme music. Some of the music co-ordination on the coaster just has to make you chuckle, such as when on the lift hill, or in the final dips.

My personal plans are to let my families annual passports expire this year, and perhaps get passes to Knott's for a couple of years until the Anaheim Resort stabilizes. I will still be a member of the Carolwood Pacific to enjoy the Disney Legacy, and may take my family to Orlando, but I wonder if Disneyland will miss the $2,000-$3,000 or so I've been dropping there each year? Naaaa!
!
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A.

Steve, thank you for the kind note - I think Disney will always miss your money! Sometimes we wonder if they have installed magnetic strip readers in the pavement at Disneyland, where they can read your credit cards in your wallets, find out how much you have left, and then add an extra Fantasmic or keep the park open another hour or two for "your shopping convenience."

I didn't mind (and still don't for the most part) paying what I do at Disneyland, there is value in the place for me. At DCA all I could think about was "this thing will add a hundred dollars to my AP cost."

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Chuck writes: I have really enjoyed your last few articles about the new Disney park. Your article confirmed what I already believed, that Disney is going after high end resort dollar. The people that will go to DCA will not be the diaper bag, stroller crowd that are just getting started in life. These people have simply been priced out of the park, and there is absolutely nothing to interest the younger child. Those young families that make the mistake of going to DCA will not return for a long time. The sticker shock for the food and merchandise will stick in their minds for years to come, and after putting up with the parking fiasco, they simple will not return.

I can remember going to Sea World in San Diego when it first opened, walking up to the gates with my family, and turning around and going back to the car when my Dad saw how much the tickets were. He said that he knew how to have a lot more fun for a lot less money and took us to the Zoo instead. Disney doesn't want to build a park for everyone to go to. They just want to cater to the people that don't know the value of a dollar. (Like Eisner's kids)
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Chuck, when I was a kid I lived in San Diego also. My dad did the exact same thing with Sea World, we went to the zoo instead.

I agree with you on the DCA pricing - they really don't seem to care about that young family segment at all.

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Ed writes: Hello Al, I have been following your series regarding the new Disney park with much anticipation. You have done an outstanding job. I last visited Disneyland in Dec. 98 and they had broken ground on DCA already. With their preview center I was treated to some fabulous artwork depicting all the wonderful adventures I was to soon be having there. Thankfully you and your wonderful co-writers have removed the wrapper and exposed the truth about DCA.

I have studied the building of Disneyland for many years and like yourself have very high expectations regarding ANY theme park the Disney company is associated with. As your articles over the last year exposed more and more of the DCA park I found myself wondering, "Did anyone ever read why Walt built Disneyland ?" "Wasn't the whole point to be able to spend a day away from the real world and immerse yourself in a place full of happiness and laughter ?" From what you have shown us, DCA looks to be a place where I would need a loan to handle the cost of this new found happiness and laughter. As much as I would love to visit the new park, it holds practically nothing of interest for me.

I live in Vancouver Canada and we have our own theme park / amusement place up here. We have a classic wooden roller coaster that is regarded as one of the best in North America. We also have a sling-shot ride that shoots you up real fast. We have a log ride and a mad-mouse ride, a carousel, a chair-spinning around ride and a Ferris wheel. Although we don't have a tortilla factory, I'm sure I could find a bakery somewhere that would allow me to witness the miracle of bread-making. Furthermore we also have those wonderfully over-priced carnival games that are just designed to remove the money from your wallet. So DCA has nothing that I don't already have up here and I don't have to spend more on airfare, hotels, and the big one, the American-Canadian dollar exchange.

If I did visit Disneyland again anytime soon, it would be a one-day visit and I would skip DCA altogether. If I spent more then one day in the area, I would go to Disneyland again before DCA. I like your idea regarding the DCA $20 add-on ticket. Too bad you're not the one in charge.

Again I would like to thank you for all the extremely valuable information you have supplied on this new park. If I don't visit your site MousePlanet at least once a day, I just haven't surfed the net properly.

Keep up all the great work and I'm looking forward to all the amazing articles and photos that will appear on your site in the future.

An avid reader and Disneyland fan..

 

A.

Ed, thank you for the kind words. You brought up a good point about the duplication of a carnival in DCA. The AAA Via Magazine for Northern California had a review of the new park, and frankly as I read it I expected a cream puff piece (since AAA is a Disney sponsor).

I saw the writer did the typical PR riff on much of the park, until she came to the section on Paradise Pier:

The most un-Disney part of the park is Paradise Pier, built to resemble an old-fashioned seaside amusement park with a huge Ferris wheel, a carousel, and a classic-looking but very fast roller coaster that goes upside down. The area will be fun for the kids but lacks the inventiveness visitors expect from Disney. Disney re-creating an old-time amusement park is like Wolfgang Puck re-creating an authentic grilled cheese sandwich.

Along those lines, some might balk at the cost of California Adventure, which will be comparable to Disneyland's $43 adult admission price. California Adventure is 40 percent smaller than Disneyland and features one-third as many attractions and shows. Even so, Disney expects about 7 million visitors a year to the new park.

It's not just you who feels that way...

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Marla writes: I loved your series on DCA. Having gone for the first time yesterday I agreed with most of your reviews to the point I can't find anything to really disagree with. Superstar Limo was just awful, you could see the hinges on the back side of the doors and the things that hold up the cardboard cutouts are not hidden at all.

I did notice that you said the lockers by GRR (grizzly river rapids) were available for a fee, when I went they were available for free for the first 2 hours with no minimum wait. Just don't lose your code on the printout, I don't know how you could get back into it.
 

A.

Thanks for the kind words and the tip on the lockers Marla! A reader mentioned it in the last column, and I just want to mention it again. The free lockers were a nice thing for Disney to do for folks.

 

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Yavin writes: Unlike most of your readers, I've been lucky enough to have been to DCA 3 times so far. Each trip has been under different conditions, from almost empty, to quite busy, so I think I have a good bearing on the park. I walked through every inch, looked through every shop, and tried quite a bit of food.

I also understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. No matter how perfect something may be, someone else will think it's crap. After reading you site for a while, it seems that you come across quite negative regarding Disneyland. After 45 years of tuning, adjustments, and hands on development from Walt, you are still not happy. By this standard, how can DCA in any way measure up to your expectations?

Yes, I agree with some of your comments, but most of your article seems far more like nit picking then anything else. For the last 6 months you have come across ready to hate DCA. Is it possible for you to truly have an open mind? I don't wish to get into specifics on what I like versus what you dislike, that is nothing more then a shouting match, I just want to know that you were fair to the new park.

Ask yourself this, would you rather have this DCA flaws and all or have nothing at all?

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Was I fair? I'm sure of it - I wouldn't have detailed in my review what I liked as well as I did if I was only going to hate everything.

As far as Disneyland's standards - I've been visiting the park on a regular basis since the early sixties. I think I have some good perspectives on how well the place can be run. I was a pretty happy camper until the 40th anniversary of the park, when I started seeing the many problems and then began to ask around as to why they were creeping up. The name Paul Pressler started coming up on a regular basis then.

Would I rather have DCA flaws and all or nothing at all? If I had my druthers I would have preferred a Disney-quality theme park such as Disney TokyoSeas out there in the parking lot between the Winnie the Pooh and Tinker Bell sections. Not a "Universal Berry Farm" (as some of the old timer Imagineers like to call it.)

But they didn't ask me did they?  ;)

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Dave writesHi Al: Love the MousePlanet updates. A comment about cellular phone coverage. I doubt Disney will try to do anything to help coverage inside the Grand Californian.

When I travel, I always bring my cell phone and charger with me to avoid Hotel Phone System Surcharges. Being that Disney has the policy of squeezing every possible cent out of you, it's not likely that they will allow cellular system expansion on their property, lest they lose revenue from guests making chargeable calls from their hotel phones.

 

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This gives me an idea Dave, we'll look into doing some kind of cell map of the resort for folks I think.

Nothing gets me more than those hotel surcharges.

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Jon writes: Thank you for your critique of DCA. I felt that you gave a concise and fair view of the new park. Thank you, also, for the hard work and sleepless nights that you put into this.

Here is a little background on me; I did my teenage years, in the Redondo Beach area, in the 1980's and I went to D-land (as I call it) about once every month or every other month (when it was "only" $14 to get in). I've seen the "new Fantasyland" and Splash Mountain open and Adventure Through Inner Space and Mission to Mars close. I've went to Grad Night and the 30th Anniversary party, so I've seen things come and go and been to a few special functions. I've, also, been to D-land 3 times since I've moved to Phoenix, AZ because it was (and still is) a special place for me to visit.

A question for you, how do you compare this new park to Knott's or Magic Mountain? Again, thanks for your hard work on this expose and on your website, I will keep reading daily.
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I've sort of felt from the first visit on that if this park had been built by Knott's or Magic Mountain it would be a terrific effort. The problem for me is attaching the Disney name to it - and again as I've said before, then locating it next to the crown jewel of theme parks, Disneyland itself.

If you're looking at a ride comparison - the other two parks (Knott's and Magic Mountain) beat it hands down. As far as theming, I don't think DCA's is outstanding or unique enough to set it apart. It doesn't even have a castle type icon you can dream about.

Now if you are looking for astounding shopping and dining... well DCA wins hands down. ;)

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Frank writes: Hi Al, Enjoy the site and have especially liked your thoughts on DCA. For the most part, I agree completely with your thoughts having just been to a preview last Friday.

I just finished writing the Terrace Cafe Restaurant in the Mondavi Wine Center. My party of four ate dinner there and thought it was a total rip off. And that was even with $10 in Disney Dollars the Hotel Sales Division provided us towards food purchases.

Stingy servings were especially annoying and some dishes were nearly inedible due to heavy salt content
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Thanks for the kind note Frank. I've heard both good and bad (like your note) about the Mondavi restaurant. Some foodies I know loved it - but cautioned me it was a different kind of meal. "If you've had tastings or meals in a real winery, they have duplicated that" they told me. "It's not like a regular restaurant that you may be accustomed to." They seemed to be referring to the smaller portions and the way they were seasoned and presented, due to the primary focus on the wine.

I'm not an expert by any means, but I'm sure we'll have more than a few write in about this, and maybe I can share their views with everyone.

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Joey writes: Great title by the way! I loved the review. I have to say that I doubted this park from the very minute Westcot was cut. Although I think the Imagineers (what very few there are left) did a great job, the park is a wreck. I think the concept is a great one (minus the carnival of course).

The most outrageous thing in my opinion, is the price of food. All of it, some complete crap available at any local burger joint priced as high as quality maybe even healthy appetizing food.

One thing I was sure of about this park though, Grizzly River Run would be great. But really it wouldnāt be too difficult to theme it, just borrow some concept art from Big Thunder or Mine Train through Natureās Wonderland. I really think it was a great idea (whoever on your site suggested, too bad it never came to being) was to fill the shores with Marc Davisā scenes from Mine Train through Nature Wonderland.

You really did a great job with the review. I will visit the park within the next year, but (even though I swore I would never do it because I love the food at Disneyland) will bring outside food and drink into the park (DCA). Those prices are way too damn high! Letās hope riots donāt break out from upset customers.

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The price of food is what really stuck out in almost every single e-mail I got. Sadly Joey, I think they really don't even care to reconsider it at this point. We'll see what the public thinks once it is opened up to them.

You may want to consider bringing your own food, storing it in an outside locker, and then using the newly rebuilt picnic area between the two parks. They did a nice job with it, more than they had to, really, and it avoids you having to sneak anything in.

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Kent writes: I loved your review. you bought out the good and the bad. I am depressed at how Disney build the new park. As I have read your reviews as was being built I couldn't help but think of Animal Kingdom, which you used to compare DCA with. My first visit to Animal Kingdom was at first "that's it? Is this all there is?" I went on that day and enjoyed my visit there, but I was disappointed in the amount of shows and lack of rides. We did manage to see all of the park in one day and see a few things twice. The test came next year when we came back to Disney World. We went to Animal Kingdom only because Africa had opened, or we may have skipped it all together.

We only repeated on the safari and CTX and "tough to be a bug", saw Africa and left after about three hours (thank god for a hopper pass). There was no reason to see the shows again (we saw them once and the was enough) and there were no rides that we didn't get to ride in that time. Last year we didn't go at all to Animal Kingdom. We had no desire to see it again. There is to little to see.

I see the same thing happening there to DCA. Where is the repeat value. I've only been to Disneyland once and that was last year (thanks to your guide I had a perfect day thanks) and saw for myself DCA and was disappointed. I do plan to come and visit Disneyland again and yes I probably visit DCA and I'll probably have fun there, but I don't see myself having a strong desire to see it again. Just like Animal Kingdom.

I see the same problem with Disney / MGM studios not enough to do (but I do go back there for certain rides I love). I feel that Disneyland deserves better then DCA and I feel we all deserve better then DCA. Sorry so long.
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That's interesting how you only see the value in Animal Kingdom due to your hopper pass. I'm willing to bet (from what I can gather as feedback) we'll have many similar reactions here.

I just don't see the park, as currently built, being anything other than just a one time visit for most folks from out of town.

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Nicholas writes: I was wondering if you think that Disney's California Adventure will have an opening such as Disneyland's opening in 1955. Will this be the second Black Sunday?
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I predict that on the ABC television network this will be the most stupendous Disney theme park opening ever - if not just the second coming as a matter of fact. I can just about hear Sam Donaldson and Diane Sawyer discussing on air how they adored Superstar Limo. ;)

Everywhere else? Disney has made sure lots more local TV weatherpeople will be in attendance rather than serious journalists. I'm sure most of the coverage will be along the lines of "Sunny tomorrow, with a slight breeze. By the way, isn't the Paradise Pier area behind me in this shot just lovely?"

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Nathan writes: Hey Al, Great report on California Adventure. Personally, although it shares the same general budget constraints as California Adventure, I don't consider Animal Kingdom to be nearly as repulsive in spirit than California Adventure.

With Animal Kingdom at least you get consistent theming, affordable food options, and some semblance of quality, granted there's not much to do. I would rather have a quality half day park (at least at Disney World where there are other park options to go to) than the dreck going on next to
Disneyland.

On another topic, do you really think Disney will bring over some of the stuff they've developed for Tokyo DisneySea, and if so, does the public reaction to California Adventure play into this possibility? What are the chances of them bringing that stuff over to the east coast?
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I think in the future, under current management's guidance, you'll see more and more things duplicated in all the parks. It's something that has always happened, but you will see a definite acceleration of it now.

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Jeff writes: I just noticed that Disney has billed something as a exhibit. According to the official Disneyland map the NASA exhibit in Tomorrowland is a exhibit. Disney probably had a tough time deciding on that but it was done. I guess it was a one time thing and the current lack of attractions in DCA has killed the bread and tortilla making from being exhibits.
 

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Sadly you may be right - great observation about the NASA thing across the way. 

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"K" writes: Thanks for the nice review on It's Tough to be a Bug! on your website. As [someone involved with the show], I'd like to correct, if I may, your comment that this is "Pixar's lone attraction..."

Although John Lasseter and Pixar did jump in and provide us with the film animation and talent direction for Flik and Hopper (those segments only), Walt Disney Imagineering and our Theme Park Productions division created and produced everything else. Glad you liked the show!.
 

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Thanks for clearing that up! I know the readers appreciate your note!

I went back to take another look at it the last time I visited, and continue to be amazed with the quality of the animatronics in it. Hopper, in particular, is just terrific.

As the park is expanded, (and I am still fascinated by the Disney animatronics) I only have one request (which I steal from the musical Oliver! here)... "Please sir, can I have some more?"

 

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Kevin writes: First I wanted to say that since there was a dearth of useable information about Disneyland on the web, I thought of creating my own site (since I design web sites such as my "dontgetsued.com" etc) but I guess its a good idea that I didn't since I think your site is FANTASTIC. I love reading your columns, and whether I agree or disagree (for example, I think Fantasmic is very "Disney qua Disney" and should run forever) I find your information accurate and your analysis intelligent.

I have been to DCA and agree that the theming in the shops and restaurants exceeds that in the attractions. What a disappointment. I feel like I spent the whole day staring at power lines and the Anaheim Convention Center: is this any way to design a new theme park? You have hit the nail on the head: PEOPLE WHO ARE USED TO RUNNING STORES SHOULDN'T BE RUNNING THEME PARKS; PEOPLE WITH AN ARTISTIC OR CINEMATIC BACKGROUND SHOULD BE RUNNING THEM INSTEAD BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT MALLS, THEY ARE ENTERTAINMENT VENUES!

I have one quibble about your review of DCA and that is that there were a few rides / attractions I DID enjoy. There may be no new "E" tickets but there were some definite C and D ticket attractions I enjoyed. The roller coaster was perfect... fast enough to be exciting but very smooth. C'mon Al, the coaster at DCA goes THREE TIMES as fast as the Jaguar at Knott's. I rate the coaster as "fun" but must agree that it is not the same as Space Mountain in Disneyland Paris -- or even Space Mountain at Disneyland.

I also thought you might note that I LOVED the Golden Zephyr. It looks very Sci-Fi and it has a great VIEW of the lagoon. This was a nice surprise.. In fact, that's the one thing I DID like about DCA: the view around the lagoon is pretty (as long as you try to ignore the power lines and convention center!) and I really enjoyed the the views from the Sun Wheel, the Orange Stinger, the Zephyr, etc, are great.

Finally, your comment about the Mulholland Madness ride being somewhat tame was, well, strange to me. My friends SCREAMED AT THE TOP OF THEIR LUNGS and complained all day about whiplash! That little coaster kicked our butts, to put it mildly, and we were surprised how intense it was. Maybe not quite as intense as Viper at Magic Mountain or Ghost Rider at Knott's, but if people are expecting a little kiddy ride they will get a lot more g forces than they can handle.

At any rate, keep up the good work on your site. To my friends and I you are something of a "hero" because of your excellent columns. We look forward to logging on every day!
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You are very kind Kevin, thank you for your note. Keep in mind I'm only one part of the team that brings you MousePlanet every day - we have a staff of about thirty people now working on new content for you Monday through Friday, plus our weekend surprise items should they be warranted. Without all those folks, you wouldn't have anything popping up on your screen every morning. :)

It's interesting to me that you did enjoy the Mad Mouse type coaster - Mulholland Madness. For me the big thrill with these types of rides, at least in all the K-mart parking lot carnivals I went to (and the Santa Barbara County Fair, which I used to live next door to the fairgrounds in Santa Maria as a kid), was how rickety they were. Every turn used to sway the whole thing and scare the heck out of me.

Who knows, maybe in a few years the one in DCA will also be rickety and swaying...  ;)

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Tracey writesAl, I really enjoyed reading your DCA series. Not to belittle your co-MousePlaneteers in any way, but I found yours the most honest of the bunch. The others sounded like they were paid advertisements.

Keep up the good work. Many of us appreciate your realistic view of the current Disney operations.

 

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Thank you for the kind words Tracey, they mean a lot. Believe me it would have been very easy to walk through DCA and hate it all. I was glad to find some good things in it, I just wish there were more of them to talk about. I have such admiration for what the company has done in the past, it's heartbreaking to see what the current mindset is there now.

We really only have one hard and fast rule here at MousePlanet - you really gotta believe in what you write about. So basically, if a columnist offers an opinion here, it has to be an honest one and they have to be speaking from their heart.

Our strength as a site, and our value to you the reader, is in our ability to offer you all sorts of opinions. I'm glad we talk about both the good and bad here, this way you get to make an informed decision.

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Michelle writes: What gets me about the decision to emphasize the dining and shops in DCA over the Attractions is how far they've strayed from the basic concepts of why someone visits a theme park. If you want the "theme" to be shopping, do me the favor of not charging me for access to your mall. I'll visit DCA for a short time on my next trip, but why would I want to spend time there when I could be in Disneyland just across the way? And the appeal of the Grand Californian is its proximity to Disneyland, not to DCA.

California Adventure is ostensibly supposed to be about teaching people about the glories of being in California... do they really want to support the cynical picture that California is all about conspicuous consumption?!.
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Well, we do seem to lead the nation in conspicuous consumption don't we? I don't think anyone ever thought of building a theme park to commemorate it (or charge admission for a mall), though, until Pressler came along...

Now here's a thought: what if Disney HAD built the park in Virginia they got railroaded out of? How much of California Adventure would have also been a part of Disney's America?

I can just see Whoopi Goldberg whispering the first words of the Gettysburg Address to Lincoln in a big history movie... ;)

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Brian writes: As a neighbor of the park, annual passholder and preview attendee, I applaud you on your series on the new park. You took the words right out of my mouth - literally... I wanted to add a couple of points:

1. All the "Scream Guards" and tunnels that were added to the pier rides.... they might as well remove them. Geez, it's bad enough that we were subjected to a whole year of fireworks..... Now we have the pleasure of incessant screams, along with a muted version of the bill of fare at the House of Blues as well. The buzz from my immediate neighbors is legal action....we'll see how it plays out.

2. Parking is horrendous! Let me rephrase that. Driving anywhere near the resort is impossible. We have found it impossible to travel on West from Chapman to Katella, DL Drive is just avoided, and Ball is a mess. Expect some resistance from the locals on that as well. Plus, to add insult to injury, Anaheim Police, at strategic times kill the traffic signals and direct traffic by hand. This only slows things down further.

3. Bit of news to share: Stayed at the Grand Calif. (Wonderful Experience), and ate at the Storyteller's Cafe. Worst dining experience I have ever had. We waited over three hours for the meal, which was inedible. We demanded that it be comped... which it was, and I wrote off the experience to just being "New". I revisited the restaurant recently and had lunch, which was fantastic - (The place was empty), and spoke with the manager, who explained that try as they might, they can't pull things together for dinner. Most guests complained about 2-3 hour waits. She explained that they are switching to a "Buffet Style" dinner (ala Goofy's Kitchen?). Too bad, nice ambience... The White Water Snack Shop, however, has the best burger in the resort!!!!

4. Has anyone complained about the temperature of the Grand Californian? They keep the heat up 24-7. The whole complex is an oven. I spent some time in the arcade with my kids, had to leave because I was sweating so badly.

I'd love a response if you've got the time...
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Brian you observed a LOT of things I simply could not cram into the report I'd written, thank you for noting them.

1. I also think all the scream guards are a joke - the Space Shot (Maliboomer) especially. All that height only to have to look out a window!

2. Parking will get worse once they kick in regular operation schedules. As I mentioned in my update - they are way too short on spaces - and none seem to be on the way anytime soon.

3. Shhhh about the White Water Snack Shop! People will find out about it, it will get packed, and then they will raise the prices! Everyone forget they read that, OK? (Why can't they make those kinds of burgers IN the parks?)

4. I didn't notice the temp problems at the new hotel, but I always keep moving while I'm there. It does get hot around that fireplace though - the storytellers try to stay as far as they can from it.

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Another Brian writes: Hi there Al, My wife and I just moved from Phoenix (5 hours from the park) to New York City (too many hours to mention from the park). All I can say is THANK YOU for helping me still feel close to Disneyland! This is the most addictive sight I've ever found on the web! And keep those amazing Jim Hill segments coming!

As for DCA, I'm not surprised. I've been frustrated for years that they decided to do this park. With all the creativity in the world, this is what they decide to build as the theme to their second gate? I don't get it.

A couple of quick comments:

1) Superstar Limo sounds EXACTLY like the redo of Journey Into YOUR Imagination from EPCOT. First off, I'm offended that they would think my imagination is that screwed up! :) My family and I were DUMB FOUNDED as it ended. I had no idea what I had just rode. Since when is a gravity demonstration a use of imagination???

2) I couldn't agree MORE with you that attractions are attractions and exhibits are exhibits. That is a 'must' change for the company.

3) The lack of themeing and concealing of the outside world MAKES ME SICK! I couldn't believe your shots from the CA Screamin' coaster. It is a slap in the face not only to those who expect the Disney quality but also to the company itself. It simply says, "We don't care anymore."

Basically put, we'll never see another Disneyland. Those days are over. (Though, I am holding my breath for DisneySea in Tokyo. Let's hope it has SOME affect on the state parks. We'll see.)

Thanks again for the amazing sight and updates on the company's true "Disney's Folly" better known as DCA. And let's keep our fingers crossed for the DisneySea attractions for the third park!!! (of course, let's also keep our fingers crossed for a NORMAL admission price... I guess time will tell...)
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I hope I can afford that third park too! It sure will have more Disneyland quality stuff in it, if they bring most of the Disney Tokyo Seas attractions here.

We get recycled rides and a carnival section, Tokyo got a volcano with two rides in it, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth. Sigh.

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Toni writes: Dear Al: Your adventure through DCA was very interesting reading and very informative. As always you provide great insight and are balanced in your fairness. One question though, will Disneyland keep the parking structure open on the night of Feb 7th for parking for those who will be staying the night at the park? And will any trams be running during those wee hours or will it be a long walk to the main gate. Thanks for any info you can find.
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I'm hoping by the end of this week that all those things will be decided. My guess is that they will open the structure (where else would people park?) but probably make you walk from it to the holding areas. We'll see what develops.

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Doug writes: I wanted to write and say what a great piece you wrote on DCA. I was there on January 8th for the cast member preview day and I had the same experience as you did. Even though food and drink prices were 50% off for the cast member, I was still complaining to people that these prices were way too steep for the average family.

The Burger Invasion in my book was the biggest disappointment of all the dining possibilities. If Eisner wanted a recreation of the old boardwalks then they should have just created a regular hamburger stand. McDonalds was no where to be found in the days of the old boardwalks. Not only that, I would like to see the outside world out of the park. I also resent the McDonalds fries wagon in Frontierland in Disneyland.

After seeing this park I have many reservations in upgrading my Annual Pass. I do not believe the extra cost is worth it. I would probably renew after the second phase is complete, when that is who knows.

I was really hoping for something new and unique and I was very disappointed. When I see what DisneySea is turning into I am very angry at Disney management. I can not wait until the stockholder meetings to voice my opinions on this matter.

Thank for listening and thanks for allowing me a place to voice my opinions.

An annual Passholder and Disney Stock Holder
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Thanks for the kind words Doug. Right now reader e-mail (from people who've visited the new park in previews) is going about 90% unhappy, 10% OK or liking it. The negative comments dramatically increased as the capacity was increased on the passholder days.

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Don and Stephanie were kind enough to write at various points during the series: As I read part 4 one thing jumped out at me. Did I understand correctly? Disney may not offer single park annual passes in the future? What kind of idiots are they??? If they want a local backlash, after people see DCA for the joke that it really is, well, that will do it. Moronic, short-sighted and greedy. What's next then, preventing us from visiting Disneyland unless we can prove we went to DCA first? What a joke. Okay, I've vented..
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They keep conforming us to the Florida model in everything they do now. Pressler does not understand there may be a different market here, and is very fixated on the cost savings doing something like this gets him.

I'd LOVE to see the renewal numbers once they switch over - Disneyland (although they don't treat them very well) has found out how very valuable the Annual Passes are for them. Once they start to decline in sales, they may change their policy.

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Patrick writes: Kali River Rapids' waterguns are NOT coin operated. You can press the button for free. The theming is phenomenal in both the queue and the ride itself. The ride is just too short.
 

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Thanks Patrick - no wonder people get so soaked with those water guns, they are free! I'm glad we got a longer ride here! 

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R.

Ed writes: Since I was a kid and living most of my life in Los Angeles, I always thought of the idea of "wouldn't it be neat to live at Disneyland" now that the Grand Californian is open I have to say Wow.... That's a pretty cool hotel.

But as for what is behind it ... or rather beside it is a whole different other story. This DD (Downtown Disney) was in my opinion a major disappointment. I would have expected Disney to knock the hell out of Universals City walk... But I guess not. The only thing that really caught my eye was the Rainforest Cafe. I ate there and I have to say it's by far the only best quality place in the all of DD (funny the only cool thing I liked in DD is not even Disney).

Now what am trying to figure out is that if they are building this place the hard working average citizen or the rich? How would a hard working average family be able to afford DD stores or for that matter a single person making minimum wage? I mean after visiting most of the shops I honestly felt that I was at the Beverly center. They have got to be kidding if they think people from all walks of life are going travel so many miles to pay overprice non- Disney merchandise. Heck I would be better off at the Costa Mesa mall (Prices being a bit kinder and parking not being a big issue) . I think this is really sad from such a great company Disney was and that it's now come to this! My whole admiration for the Disney company has gone slim to almost none. I had the feeling last year that Disneyland's prices where going to go up which is why I did what I could to go in 2000.

I have seen the new park and I had the opportunity to go this month... I'll be honest it's lame and cheap and really didn't catch my interest one bit (The price of admission is a joke for a half-ass park that it is ... sorry for the language!). I thought that by the time the park opens my mind would change... I can already say it has not. I have seen the commercials and the billboard ads and all I could think is UnclePaulsland or better yet Eisnersadventure. This reflects nothing Disney and I think that all together this was a waste of time and money. I don't think that we will ever hear the end of "what could have been" and it seems that the competition will always be better in bringing a new product.

All in all I am like you, giving credit to the Imagineers that had to endure the crap Paul and Eisner put in with DCA. I don't know when I will ever return to Disneyland, but I bet it wont be anytime soon. With talks of only focus on DCA I think I'll wait for a couple of years before I head back down to Anaheim... .
 

A.

Thanks for the note Ed - let's hope they do fix the problems.

Again, thank you everyone for your comments - we may do a third installment depending on how well this one does hit-wise.

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THE SERIES:

Part One - Entering the park and the Hollywood Backlot area

Part Two - Middling, i.e. Condor flats, the farm, and wharf areas

Part Three - Paradise Pier carnival area

Part Four - The Whoopi movie, Raft ride and other details such as parking, the hotel and mall

Readers Respond

ALSO ON THIS SITE:

Take a photo tour of the park

Take a photo tour of the Grand Californian hotel

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