MousePlanet Mailbag for October 13, 2005
Compiled by Stephanie Wien, Mailbag editor
We receive considerable feedback regarding our site. Although we cannot
publish them all, the following may be of interest to our readers. If
you have any general thoughts, questions, or comments, contact us at
our Mailbag here.
Feedback for David Koenig (Mouse Tales)
MouseTales author David Koenig received a lot of feedback on his article
about how Disney can keep the 50th Anniversary momentum and breathe some
life into the ailing Disney's California Adventure park (DCA) (link).
Ed De Leonardis writes:
Appreciate & enjoy your commentary on Disneyland's 50th and DCA's poor
performance. I'm a long time Disney fan, now living near Pismo Beach.
I closely followed earlier expansions, and Walt Disney World. Although
I enjoy parts of DCA and the Grand Californian Hotel is a masterpiece,
it took me a while to figure out why DCA doesn't work. Walt knew it
over 50 years ago, and the DCA planners/designers overlooked his philosophy,
I just want it to look like nothing else in the world, and I want
it surrounded by a train. Unfortunately, as you noted, DCA looks
like everything (Magic Mountain, Universal and Knott's) else.
Kim Goldsworthy tries to decode Disney Geek speak,
You wrote: Certainly concern must be growing that DCA will never
be able to stand on its own‹a necessity before Disney will ever invest
in a third gate on the strawberry fields.
I must ask, Third gate? Strawberry fields? Please translate
Hi Kim About five years ago Disney acquired acres and acres of
strawberry fields kitty-corner from DCA across Harbor & Katella and adjacent
to a large cast member parking lot. Disney's hope was, once DCA is a success,
that they'd build a third theme park on the strawberry fields. They're
still waiting and, unless DCA suddenly takes off, nothing will happen
to Site Three, or they'll turn it into something less ambitious, such
as hotels and a water park. That would be a shame, since they'll never
have enough contiguous land to build a third gate elsewhere in Anaheim.
David Lieberman writes:
I found your article about why people don't go to DCA interesting.
And while I agree that certainly as far as size and number of attractions
and not as much themeing are a reason it isn't as good, I think some
of these people who haven't actually visited have some misconceptions
and are missing a number of great attractions that aren't carnival
rides or thrill rides.
As a seasonal Walt Disney World cast member (did the College Program)
and one who lives on the West Coast the rest of the year, I know both
Disneyland and Walt Disney World well.
Soarin' Over California obviously is just a big Disney hit. At Epcot
it has ridiculously long lines now. Muppet Vision 3D and It's Tough
to be a Bug are 3D movies of great Disney quality. Almost up there with
Philharmagic. Unfortunately a lot of people skip over these shows not
Tower of Terror would have done much better if they kept the full design
of the Disney-MGM studios version where it is an insanely huge hit.
Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular I think is one of the best theme park
shows Disney has, and probably the best theater too. Totally worth seeing.
And the tortilla factory and bread factory are kind of nice cultural
things, sort of Epcotish.
The animation building is just stunning. The lobby is amazing. The
interactive area is lots of fun, and now that they have Turtle Talk
with Crush, that whole place to me is an excellent Disney attraction.
I also trust Monsters Inc. will be good. The problem is that these parts
of the park aren't as visible as say, California Screamin' (which is
a great smooth roller coaster, and nice when the music works) and everything
else in Paradise Pier.
I think all they need to do to fix DCA is throw out Paradise Pier and
start over with that. And add something behind Tower of Terror. Also,
these true Disneyland lovers who never visit need to at least give it
a try. It's better than the parking lot that used to be there... but
just not a full day's worth like Disneyland is. When I spend a full
16 hour day visiting disneyland... only about 4 hours are spent at DCA...
but let me tell you... I enjoy those 4 hours and wouldn't ever want
to miss it. So basically DCA isn't worth throwing out... it just needs
improvements in certain areas. It's worth visiting if you're a frequent
Disneyland visitor. It's a great supplement to the park...it just doesn't
stand on its own... yet.
And I totally agree that the Universal and Six Flags market is completely
different than Disneyland's market and that Disney needs to stop trying
so hard to reach out that audience and reach into the audience that
is into what disneyland is.
Hi David I agree with everything you say. I enjoy most every individual
component of DCA, yet they don't add up to an appealing whole for an awful
lot of people. And it sounds like a lot of that are the fault of the carnival
rides; they do overpower the rest of the park. I can't imagine, however,
Disney ever pulling out California Screamin'.
I don't get why nobody likes California Adventure? When I first heard
about it, I couldn't wait to be there to try it out and see. I was online
many times a week checking out previews and videos of the park. We knew
about it being built from a previous visit. Seeing the whole parking
lot gone, seeing new mountains and coaster building slowly. It is a
whole new addition. People complained of lack of rides. Hey, it opened
with the same number of rides that Disneyland originally started with.
Look at the parks in Florida. Smaller and they work great.
I love Grizzly River Run, Soarin Over California, California Screamin,
Muppets, and at that time, SuperStar Limo, Mulholland Madness, and more.
It was also great to finally get a chance to see the famous Electric
Parade for the first time. Since our last visit, many new things have
been added and wish had money for trip during the 50th celebration to
see all the new things. My god, there is more there in Disney California
Adventure now then when it first opened when we were there, so why still
all the complaints?
I also am looking forward to seeing the Monsters Inc. which replaced
SuperStar Limo. Disneyland itself has also added so much more with more
being built. Too bad they couldn't bring back the Rocket Rods, remember
Hi Matthew I don't think adding attractions will solve DCA's problem.
It's already made a believer out of you and me. It has to convince people
who have never been there to give it a try.
Larry Spinak writes:
In your examples in the article, the disinterested people either knew
nothing of their own about the place, or had heard negative things about
it from others. You said yourself that the marketing department seems
to have forgotten DCA altogether. What Disney needs is an active effort
to show DCA in its best light, and for those people who appreciate the
park to be more vocal about it.
I think there's also an element of Mouse Guilt. The subconscious
thinking is that if you admit to liking DCA, you're somehow being disloyal
to Disneyland. Even when people have nice things to say about DCA, they
often preface it, Well, it's no Disneyland, but...
Much of the same care and thought and creativity went into creating
the rides and environments in DCA. There's so much to enjoy and appreciate.
It's like a hidden gem parked directly in front of Disneyland. The fact
that the park is usually empty is a strange bonus. Strolling along,
you feel like the park has been opened especially for you. While we're
on that topic, the uniform high level of friendliness and service we've
come to expect from Disney Cast Members is abundant at DCA.
Hi Larry I also enjoy DCA, but for reasons deserved or not, it
has a black mark over it for many people who have never visited
it before. I fear DCA can add E-ticket rides infinitum, but it won't do
any good unless there's some fundamental shift in how the park is perceived
by the casual Disney fan.
Stewart J Dimon writes:
As always, another wonderful article. We are a NorCal family that likes
to visit the Magic Kingdom 1 or 2 times per year. Since DCA opened,
and since we always have a Park Hopper or APwe always visit DCA
(albeit not on the first or last day)!
It's a fun place; one of the nice things is that it is not as crowded
as Disneyland. It has some things that Disneyland doesn'tTaste
Pilot's Grille has a Topping Barnone of the burger
places in DL have that. I am not a thrill ride personheck, I don't
even like Soarin'(!)but the family does.
DCA is a nice place to sit and relax while on vacation. I do like the
ambiance of the Golden State and Hollywood Backlot
areasplus there are things for ride wimps like me
to do (movies, wine tasting, shows, eat!). I still say that one of the
biggest problems that DCA has is that it is right across the esplanade
from the greatest single theme park on the planet (in my opinion)Disneyland.
Put DCA up here in the Bay Areathe place would be packed!
I am 47 and the mother of 10 kids and 5 grandkids. We have been coming
to Disneyland for the past 10 years, 11 counting our November trip coming
up. Our grown kids and younger ones love DCA. You make it sound so bad.
We go for 5-6 days and spend at least 1-2 in DCA. It has more wide open
space. Soaring over California and the Grizzly River Run are great rides.
My kids love Jumping Jelly Fish, Tower of Terror became another great.
It's a nice relaxing park to see things and relax. No, it's no Disneyland
with the class it has but its not as bad as you make it.
Hi Gina My only question: How do I personally make DCA sound so
bad? Myself, I enjoy DCA, but financially, objectively it has been a bust.
People are staying away in droves (evidenced by your own perception that,
despite DCA being a fraction of the size of Disneyland, it has more
wide open spaces ). So I decided to ask these people why. If more
people had the passion for DCA that you and your family have, Disney wouldn't
be in the pickle it's in now.
Mike Phillips writes:
From your article on 9/13/05: Chuck's favorite activity had been
to just walk around. ŚWe wouldn't go to ride rides. We'd mostly go to
look at stuff and people watch. But it's so crowded now, that's no fun
anymore.' Instead, he finds it much more comfortable (and affordable)
to hang out at entertainment-themed malls similar to the Irvine Spectrum.
So he wants it more affordable and less crowded? Me too but, how can
you have both? Great article as always!
Hi Mike The answer is, at Disneyland at least, you can't have
both with the current AP-centric model. Disneyland has only been able
to raise its admission price to $56 because it makes up the difference
in turnstile clicks with cheap AP's. The park is now artificially crowded,
so once-a-year visitors are, in a sense, getting less enjoyment out of
Disneyland today for $56 than they did 10 years ago for $34. So, why would
someone like Chuck, who thinks Disneyland has become a poor value, want
to pay the same amount of money for a park that offers even less?
Stanley Schwarz writes:
I agree that Disney's California Adventure is a complex matter. Some
have suggested making DCA a part of Disneyland Park, thus reducing the
worry about paying for tickets. Still others maintain that DCA needs
an attraction like Pirates or Haunted Mansion. An attraction with plentiful
Hi Stanley DCA will never become part of Disneyland; your operating
costs would remain about the same, while eliminating your greatest source
of potential revenue.
And what I got out of talking to these people who have never visited
DCA is that you can add all the new attractions you like and it won't
help. People's entire perception of DCA must be drastically changed, and
10 Haunted Mansions won't accomplish that.
Ismael Flores writes:
I found your article interesting, but I could not help notice that
none of the people you spoke about when talking about DCA are the age
target for the park. If you do a bit more research you would find that
younger people or better yet tourists feel much different about DCA.
I recently met some people while visiting a heavily packed park this
past three day weekend. These two groups of people one from the Netherlands
and one from Tokyo had a very different opinion about DCA. This group
actually felt that the park was very enjoyable and had many Disney qualities.
After questioning them about the obvious views of the outside world
that people comaplained about, they said it did not deter from some
of the great qualities of the park. They also explained that several
parts of Tokyo Disneyland are very visible from outside the park and
that the outside is also visble from inside the park. Tokyo Disney Sea
was described as being very beautiful but extremely lacking of things
to do and said that not until something more is built that they would
not attend again.
I was surprised to hear similiar comments from the group from the Netherlands.
This group spent eight days at the Disneyland resort here in Anaheim.
This was the first time they had ever spent that much time. They mentioned
that normally they were going to spend only three days at the resort
then would have have gone to Universal and Sea World but actually changed
their agenda after having an enjoyable stay.
I was suprised to hear that the things they enjoyed the most was the
small things like the tortilla tour and the simple but yet enjoyable
movie about wine making.
So could we say that DCA is a failure if it is adding stays? Is it
fair to quote people that do not fit the intended target of the new
park? Has this park really struggled this past summer or is it doing
Hi Ismael DCA's problem, for the most part, does not seem to be
people who visit the park and often enjoy it. It appears to be the people,
thousands upon thousands of them, who (for various reasons mentioned)
haven't been or otherwise have no interest in ever going to DCA.
To answer your directly:
1. Yes, we can say DCA is a failure if it's not adding enough stays.
Certainly there are people spending an extra day on Disney property to
see DCA, but not as many as Disney would like.
2. What is the target market of the new park? Based on how it was initially
designed (lots of full-service restaurants, alcohol, few characters, nothing
for small children, wine-making movie, factory tours, lots of movie-based
attractions, Six Flags-type thrill rides), the park seems to have been
intended for middle-aged Disney fans possibly with teenage children, pretty
much the people I spoke with. Granted, the park has shifted directions
a couple three times over the years, and it would have been nice to hear
from someone in their 20s or 30s.
3. Yes, the park has struggled this summer. The lack of crowds make this
Normally, I enjoy your reports and thoughts on Disneyland and DCA,
but I have to object to your recent article about DCA. My objection
with your article is the fact that you acknowledge that Disney intentionally
went after the competition, yet you don't talk to anyone representing
the competition's demographics in your article. Especially Magic Mountain,
which is aimed at thrill-ride enthusiasts, who tend to be younger. Your
article doesn't talk to anyone under 40. I know it's hard for some of
you to believe, but there are those of us who genuinely enjoy DCAeverything
from the thrill rides, to the themed areas like Bug's Land and Redwood
Adventure area, to the more adult options like the napa wine region.
Granted, it could use work, but the rides are fun, the park has some
nicely developed corners, and it's a nice change of pace from Disneyland.
I would love Disney to put more into the park to draw more people, because
the place deserves more. It's not a perfect park, but it is fun.
Hi Garth That Disney intentionally went after the competition's
audience has been discussed and documented by me and others for the last
five years. Now you don't really believe that anyone at Disney would go
on the record as saying they purposely targeted the competition's customers,
That there are hundreds if not thousands of people who enjoy DCA, myself
included, was not the point of the article. It's that there aren't enough
of us. If your favorite TV show has poor ratings, you don't need to interview
the minority of people who love it; you need to talk to the majority of
people who aren't watching and find out why.
Kirk Reynolds writes:
Thank you for your article on Disneyland's end of summer second
wind. I have to say that you are right on the money with many
of your observations. I will be visiting Disneyland next week (Sept
20-23) for my late summer vacation and small family reunion. It has
been 3 years since I visited Disneyland after leaving Southern California
behind for home ownership in Las Vegas. I have not visited Disney, one
of my favorite places, during this time because of all the neglect under
Pressler and the sea of construction walls from last year.
I purposely scheduled my vacation around the 50th anniversary and chose
September, in part, because of my eligibility for vacation at my new
job, and the fact that once the kids are back in school, the crowds
are lighter. I was also waiting for everything to be neat and tidy once
more. In the past, during Disney's 5-year anniversary years
(25, 30, 35, etc.) the party did, in fact, chug along for an entire
I am now learning that during my 3 day visit next week, that the fireworks
show I have heard so much about will not be offered (I am there Tues-Thurs),
as well as the Haunted Mansion closure for Nightmare makeovers. The
park is also only open until 8PM. The weather is still rather delightful
this time of year and I expected at least 9 or 10 PM. Once again, certain
Main Street locations are also under tarps. I can't help but feel that
what was touted as an 18 month long celebration was really only in full
swing for 3-4 months. Have I missed the party already only 4 months
into it? I recall visiting Walt Disney World in 2000 for their year
long Millennium celebration, which did manage to keep attractions open
year long, and I visted in late April! Surely our family will still
have a pleasant visit, but I feel at this point it will be just for
the sake of visiting Disneyland and not especially for any 50th activities.
I looked into adjusting my hotel reservations from Tuesday to Thursday
to Wednesday through Friday to catch the fireworks Friday, but the hotel
is now sold out (I made these reservations months ago, when I assumed
the fireworks would be a regular birthday gift to guests). Walt understood
that families spent a lot of money and planning on their trips and never
wanted to disappoint them. I think they dropped the ball on this with
all these after summer shut-downs and cutbacks. Is this a celebration
or a renovation?
I also wanted to address the problem of DCA. In many ways, California
Adventure suffers from the same lackluster problems that plagued Las
Vegas's own MGM Grand Adventures park, now defunct. Both parks were
grossly under designed for the context in which they were placed. DCA
was miles away in themeing from its magical neighbor Disneyland, while
MGM Grand was severely simple compared to the immersive theatrical endeavors
just down the street at Treasure Island, Mandalay Bay and Star
Trek: The Experience (A truly wonderful piece of themed design).
So what was the solution to an under-designed park in Vegas? Close
it down and build on top of it... a hotel guests-only water park...
replaced the original park entrance... one of the only remnants is the
monorail, which can still be seen to the left of the property. This
just goes to show, that we are not stuck with DCA, nor do we have to
remodel it. It can in fact be destroyed, at cost of course, and re-shaped
into something useful.
Jake Taylor writes:
First of all, huge fan of your books! Got all three of them and can
not put them down. What amazes me is that Disney has gone this far working
the way it has. It angers me to see how the employees were treated 50
years ago and how they are treated now. I know a couple of Disney employees,
you either hate it or love it. There really is no in between.
DCA, that place is terrible. I have been there 3 times, all times I
have never paid for. I think I either won tickets from a local radio
station, or I recieved them from work. (Ex-ABC radio employee). I don't
believe it's worth $56 to get into that roadside carnival. Soarin' Over
California is by far the best ride they have there!
Second will have to be the Hollywood Tower of Terror. From the get
go, California Adventure should have been just an added land. That would
certainly justify a price hike to Disneyland, which is already 2 arms
and 2 legs to get in, plus a house mortgage to pay for the food. Those
are my thoughts... when are you coming out with even more mouse
Thanks, Jake! This year I came out with a completely revised, thoroughly
expanded version of the original Mouse Tales. It has about
70 entirely new pages of crazy stories, more photos, and an hour-long
audio CD. Andif you act today!you can get a nice discount
at Amazon.com or a personally autographed copy at MouseShoppe.com.
My next book, a Mouse Tales-type book about Walt Disney World,
should (hopefully!) be out by the end of next year.
Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact David here.
Do you have specific questions about an upcoming trip
to Disneyland, Walt Disney World or another park, or do you need help with
your trip planning? While you can contact one of the columnists, we encourage
you to join our special MousePlanet community on our MousePad
discussion board. There, you will find like-minded Disney park fans who
can try to help answer your questions.
Did you read something interesting (good or bad) on MousePlanet, or here in the Mailbag? We'd love to hear from you! Send your comments to the Mailbag here.
We welcome your questions and comments, but keep in mind
that all questions submitted to MousePlanet become property of this Web site.
Letters of interest to the readership may be published, and may include your
full name unless you specifically request that your last name not be published.
They may be edited for length or style and in consideration of a family readership.
Questions may also be quoted on other parts of the site as well.
January: 6, 13, 20, 27
February: 3, 10, 17
March: 10, 17, 31
April: 14, 21, 28
June: 2, 9, 30
July: 7, 28
August: 4, 11, 18, 25
September: 4, 15, 22, 29
January: 8, 15, 22
Febuary: 12, 19, 26
March: 18, 25
April: 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
May: 13, 20
June: 3, 17, 24
July: 1, 22, 29
August: 5, 26
September: 9, 23,
October: 14, 21, 28
November: 4, 18
December: 2, 9
September: 4, 18
August: 21, 28
July: 10, 17, 24, 31
May: 22, 29
April: 10, 24
March: 6, 13, 27
February: 13, 20
January: 9, 16, 30
December: 5, 12,
Help us continue to bring you fresh daily news about Disney
and its theme parks.