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Grizzly Peak / Condor Flats area


(MAP #2 - middle of map, between 3 & 1)

GRIZZLY PEAK - Grizzly Peak Recreation Area is a 10-acre faux California wilderness planted with redwoods and other native vegetation.

The centerpiece of this section is Grizzly River Run, a Disney-engineered water ride about a creaky old gold mine that the owners have turned into a river-rapids expedition outfit.

"We paid a lot of attention to the rockwork, the logs and the plants so that the attraction will depict a very accurate California riverscape," Braverman said.

Grizzly River Run will include a 45-foot climb and two drops. The larger drop, at 22 feet, will be the biggest of any rapids ride. "It spins you 360 degrees as you drop at a 30-degree angle," Braverman said.

We now have a ride review up for this - and, to be kind here, it isn't pretty.  It's below, and originally ran in the D-I-G [Disneyland Information Guide] update from 2/21/00.

Da Bear - Da Bore?

Here's the first review of the new Raft ride at Disney's California Adventure [DCA for short] that someone was kind enough to send to me.  

Sadly it seems to be a heck of a lot more Paul Pressler in what it offers than Walt Disney as far as show quality goes...

Yes, there is now water in the flume and they have been testing the station and developing operating guides for the future CM's. 

The ride is extremely basic, pretty much what we've assumed it was going to be all along. It is a re-themed version of Kali River, [the poorly received new ride at Animal Kingdom] but without even Kali's very basic animation or "burning rain forest" show effects.

The ride is roughly four minutes long, give or take ten to fifteen seconds. The first twenty seconds after the raft has been dispatched from the loading station is spent drifting around a bend in the flume and towards the very long lift hill. The lift hill takes about fifty seconds for the raft to make it to the top. Then the raft begins it's very fast moving journey around and down the sides of Grizzly Mountain. 

There are two tunnel sections along the flume. There are no show effects, with the exception of growling bear sound effects and some basic lighting, inside these two tunnels. [Just like the Rocket Rods eh?]

There is one drop that sets the raft spinning as it heads down. The thrill in the drop comes not so much from it's modest height, but rather from the spinning effect of the raft. 

Roughly two minutes and thirty seconds after the raft has left the lift hill, the raft is again at the base of the mountain and has twenty to thirty seconds of free floating time before docking back at the unloading area of the station.

So you've got roughly a minute a fifteen seconds spent leaving the station and ascending the lift hill, roughly two-and-half minutes spent splashing thru the flume down and around back to the base of the mountain, and finally an estimated twenty to thirty final seconds of slow moving flume as the raft floats back into the loading area for disembarking. 

There are no animatronics at all in this attraction. There are a few lumber mill-type set pieces around the boarding area, much like the Cider Mill on Tom Sawyer's Island. A few of these set pieces turn and move, and they are the only moving show effects on the whole ride. 

Of course there are some nearby merchandise locations themed like an old lumber mill which match the attraction boarding area buildings. There are no conventional Disney show effects alongside the flume

They have planned to have a geyser area of the flume at the base of the mountain where visitors can insert tokens into machines that set the geysers off, thus soaking the raft passengers. Sea World's new raft ride also has these types of coin operated geysers. They make a lot of money.

There is an allusion to some "bears" in the tunnels thru the use of growling sound effects. But there are no grizzly bears, stuffed, animatronic, or otherwise, to be seen anywhere on this ride. The scenery along the flume consists simply of ponderosa pines, shrubs, and convincingly fake rockwork. 

The three real selling points for this ride are simply the picturesque bears head rockwork at the top of the mountain, the flume drop that sets the rafts into a short spin, and the chance to get very wet. That's it. Your basic, four minute long amusement park raft ride

This attraction will have Fastpass on opening day. The rafts, originally designed to seat six, have had the seating rearranged so that eight seats are now squeezed in each raft. This helps increase capacity at what will be marketed as one of DCA's few "Big Rides" that people from around the western USA will be expected to flock to in 2001.

Basically, they took Kali River Rapids and cut out the "Save the Rainforest" storyline and it's modest burning forest show effects. This is a splashy four minute flume ride around a nicely landscaped fake mountain. 

You weren't expecting anything more I hope.

Sadly it fits right into what I had been hearing from day one about entire new park - it truly will be a bare bones effort banking solely on the Disney name to draw them in.

Reading that review, which I am sad to say will probably only be the first of many similar ones, it brings to mind an e-mail that was sent me by reader Greg O., which shows up just what a hypocrite Michael Eisner, who approved and has supported Pressler's vision of this new park, can be nowadays.  Greg writes:

Just by chance I have been rereading the book The Man Behind the Magic - The Story of Walt Disney by Katherine and Richard Greene... ...there is a very interesting quote by Mr. Eisner and I would hope someone would remind him of it. From page 176:

Although Michael Eisner never met Walt, he grew up watching the man on television and yearning to see Disneyland. His background, he says, is about as different from Walt's as anyone's can be. But he shares the founder's respect for quality and his aversion to cutting corners. Does he think about Walt much? "I use him", he said. "If someone wants to make a shortcut or save a little money on this or the other thing, I remind everybody of what our mission is here."

Thank goodness Eisner doesn't have Pinocchio's schnoz problem... he wouldn't be able to turn his head without knocking whole crowds over. 

The second attraction in Grizzly Peak is the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, a large children's play area themed like a Scout camp. Visitors can climb rocks, ride zip lines and traverse cargo nets and suspension bridges.

Another Tom Sawyer Island it seems.

Plans also originally called for a geyser type of area here - basically the technology used over in Tomorrowland for the Cosmic Waves fountain. I wonder if they backed off on that after the problems in the other park?

Note that the Grand Californian Hotel also borders this portion of the park. This hotel will be a top line effort - with room rates starting at around $300 a night. As much as they claim it is "in the park" - the truth is that only one corner actually borders the park. The hotel does not sit in the actual park.

The biggest success Disney has had in Paris has been the hotel at the entry overlooking the park there, they want to duplicate this now here in Anaheim. [Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World has lodge overlooking a good portion of the park too.]

The monorail will pass through the hotel, but will not stop at it, it has been designed to feed all three hotel complexes.


(MAP #1 - top of map, near #8)

CONDOR FLATS - "The story here is that this is a high-desert Air Force test facility of the 1940s," Braverman said. The buildings will look like old aircraft hangars, and the streets will be marked as runways.

Soarin' Over California, a Disney-exclusive attraction, is the big show here. Guests enter a giant hangar to find themselves viewing an air show. Overhead projection and surround-sound acoustics make it seem as if famous aircraft from California's history are flying overhead.

"We will use computer-generated graphics to show everything from the Spruce Goose to the space shuttle," Braverman said.

Visitors then move to the main ride where they sit on an 87-person suspended theater that floats above an Imax-style screen to simulate hang gliding over scenic California.

"We can move you, changing the pitch and dropping you to give you the sense of flying," Braverman said. The five-minute flight will take place over 10 to 12 different locales, and will be filmed 48 frames per second, almost double the typical movie.

This basically is the only new Disney / original attraction in the entire park. Think Universal's "Back to the Future" ride with some "Peter Pan" ideas here.

The 48 frame speed creates a more realistic illusion for viewers, some may have trouble distinguishing what is real and what isn't with the "Showscan" process.

The preshow "Air Show" described above has been scrapped - due to FastPass.



Theme: Sierra Nevada mountains

Rides & Attractions: Grizzly River Run rapids ride, Redwood Creek Challenge Trail play area

Show: Campfire area for storytelling and small shows

Shop: Rushin' River Outfitters

Hotel: Grand Californian


Theme: Aviation, desert air force base

Rides & Attractions: Soarin' Over California hang- glider ride

Shop: Fly 'N Buy aviation souvenirs

Restaurant: Earbourne Popcorn / Taste Pilot's Grill


October 14, 1998

The article quoted on this page, along with the map graphic is copyright 1998 by The Orange County Register.

It is reproduced on this site by kind permission of the author.

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