Monday, June 11, 2012

Disney's California Adventure: A look back

     Well, as the biggest theme park expansion in Disney history comes to a close, I think it is only fitting that we look back on what has gone on these past five years. So in this post we will go through the areas in order of changes.

Paradise Pier

The first area of DCA to get work done was Paradise Pier. In 2001, Paradise Pier was supposed to resemble the Santa Monica Pier. However, they took it too literal and putt in the bad characteristics as well as the good. So, as a result, what we got was a cheesy, tacky, stucco filled pier that had no real personality. It was bland and almost all the rides were taken "off the shelf." A few good things came out of it, such as California Screamin', which is a steel coaster dressed up as a wooden coaster. In 2008, the first product of this expansion was completed. Toy Story Midway Mania. This replaced Malibu-Ritos as the second ride based off the Toy Story movies. This attraction harps back to the classic carnival games such as darts, ring toss, pie throw, and others. You put on your 3-d glasses and went inside where you played games on screens based on Toy Story Characters. This attraction brought crowds to DCA that it had never seen before. This expantion was clearly off to a good start. 

                  The second addition came in 2010, as Word of Color opened. World of Color is a nighttime water show where Disney films are brought to life in vibrant color and light. It requires a base twice the size of a football field that is filled with fountains hooked to LED lights that light up different colors to bring the full spectrum into the water. This show is extremely popular since the day it opened. Another smaller addition was Silly Symphony Swings. This replaced another swing ride, the Orange Stinger, where guests swung in a giant orange peal for some reason. This was based on the Band Concert cartoon staring Mickey Mouse. Guest were lifted into the air as the tornado hits at the band concert and you are swirled in the tornado was the William Tell Overture plays.

                    In 2011 the final additions to Paradise Pier opened. The first was The Little Mermaid: Arial's Undersea Adventure. This is a dark ride where guest ride in clam shells and go through The Little Mermaid. The second was Goofy's Sky School. This replaced Maholland Madness, an off the shelf wild mouse coaster. This is themed to the Goofy "how-to" cartoons where Goofy plays the "every-man." In this ride you are taught how to fly, in a very goofy way. The last thing to happen is the transformation of Paradise Piers restaurant district from a  tacky place to eat, to an elegant Victorian hang out area.

Paradise Pier was the land that got the most work done without completely getting rid of it. So the rest of the sections will have alot less to talk about.

Sunshine Plaza/ Bunea Vista Street

When DCA opened, most of the complaints were aimed at Sunshine Plaza, DCA's entrance plaza. It lacked the charm of Main Street just across the way, and it lacked a "Wienie" or a large object meant to attract people in. With all the complaints, I agree. My local mall has more theming than Sunshine Plaza. Fortunately, Disney saw this problem and decided instead of trying to refit it, they will bulldoze it and start from scratch.They decided to recreate LA as Walt Disney would have seen getting off the train in the '20's. What came out of this is Bunea Vista street. I wont go into details in this post, because I plan on doing posts for both this and Cars Land when they open. 

Cars Land

Another goal of this expansion was to create an E-ticket experience. This came with Cars Land. They didn't want to just create a ride. They went ahead and totally recreated the iconic town of Radiator Springs from the movie Cars. I will create a new post on this as well when DCA reopens.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lost Disneyland: Carousel of Progress

“Welcome to the General Electric Carousel of Progress. Now most carousels just go ’round and ’round, without getting anywhere. But on this one, at every turn, we’ll be making progress.”
The Carousel of Progress was one of four attractions that came out of the 1964-1965 New York Worlds Fair. This attraction was sponsored by General Electric and took you through a tour of technology in America starting just before the turn of the century. It followed a family through each time period and how they progressed, and this was all done in a true carousel style, each show scene was a section of a round stage that the seating area turned around. The best part of this attraction was the great Sherman Brothers song "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow."
Most people don't know this but this attraction actually got its concept years before the fair was even thought of. It started as the main attraction on an extension of Main Street called Edison Square. This would have Main Street progress from pre-electricity to after electricity caught on. At the end would be an attraction where you would walk from scene to scene to show you the progress of technology. This was never built, but as they say in WDI, good ideas never die. When General Electric asked if Walt could create an attraction that GE would sponsor, Walt decided it was time to bring back this walk through, but he knew he needed something better to draw people in. He turned to WED and they came up with the moving theater. Not only would it have more capacity, but it would eliminate the need to redress each scene. Not only was there a show on the bottom floor, but then the audience would go upstairs as Mother and Father would show you Progress City, Walt Disney's vision for E.P.C.O.T, the Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow. It was indeed a true Community, a city if the future. After the fair ended, They brought the attraction back to Disneyland and was installed in the New Tomorrowland of 1967. In 1973, it was moved to Disney World to bring more guests. People still want to see this attraction back in its home. At this time, there is no plans to bring it back.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lost Disneyland: Mine Train Through Natures Wonderland

"Howdy, folks! Welcome to the little minin’ town of Rainbow Ridge, the gateway to Nature’s Wonderland"
That was the greeting from a friendly old miner when you boarded your mine train to natures wonderland. Natures Wonderland was a classic Disneyland attraction that ran from 1960-1979 and took up the entirety of the backwoods of Frontierland. It took you through scenes that showed Americas great wilderness. Your first stop was Beaver Valley. Here you could see beavers that were working on a dam. After Beaver Valley, you went by Big Thunder "The biggest waterfall in all these here parts."  After that you passes the Twin Sisters "You recognize 'cause they're always babilin." After that you went into Bear Country. You passed by bears fishing, scratching, and just laying around. After that was The Living Desert which took up most of the room. Here you saw geysers, the devils paint pots, and cactus that took on the shapes of people. After that was the last stop: Rainbow Caverns. You saw stalactites stalagmites and colorful waterfalls. After that you got back to Rainbow Ridge.
You can still see remains of Natures Wonderland. As you go along Big Thunder Trail, you can see Bear Country when you go past the lake. In fact when you walk along there, you are in the Living Desert. Up until a while ago you could see Big Thunder on Tom Sawyers Island. Today you can see parts of the track when you go through the Rivers of America. The old mine town at Big Thunder Mountain is actually Rainbow Ridge. So next time you are in that area, look for the tributes to this great ride.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

New Orleans Square Proposed Mega Theme

If you have been to Disneyland in the past decade you might have noticed in the lower area in front of the Haunted Mansion, there is an arch labeled 1764 that could have been used as a gutter, but it is bricked up now. If you are like most people you probably pass it by, but this arch is the last remnant of a proposed mega theme of New Orleans Square.
Here is a part of Keven Lee's book "101 Things You Never Knew About Disneyland":
A canal in New Orleans Square, labeled "1764," is all that remains of a plan to unify several themes in the land.The plan called for a crypt next to the Mansion that led into an underground catacomb of treasure and dead pirates, culminating in a pirate-themed hideout on Tom Sawyer Island. The pirate theme would have focused on Jean Laffite, a real-life pirate from the early 1800s in New Orleans. Laffite’s name might be familiar to frequent Disneyland visitors from the Pirates of the Caribbean loading zone, where a sign reads "Laffite’s Landing." The date 1764 was derived by subtracting 200 years from the birth date of one Imagineer who worked on the project. [Editor's note: this was Matt McKim, son of legendary Imagineer Sam McKim.] FURTHERMORE: Before its replacement with La Petite Patisserie, there was also a Laffite’s Silver Shop in New Orleans Square. Having a Jean Laffite identified as the "owner" of the Haunted Mansion would have united Pirates of the Caribbean with the Mansion and the island into one underlying theme, an unusual feat for an entire land. Though unrealized, the plan lives on in the form of this barricaded "crypt."
You would of entered in a crypt next to the Haunted Mansion and went down a stairway and entered the catacombs (which would be under Tom Sawyer's Island) where Laffite held his stolen treasure. You went back up to find yourself in a ship on Tom Sawyer's Island. This area would be themed to Laffite's secret hideout. It would have a lot of different things for kids to do. This idea was voted down, of coarse, but next time you go past that area with the arch, take a look at it and think about what might had been

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Relive the Nostalgia at Paradise Pier

When Disney's California Adventure opened, the land that had the most complaints was "Paradise Pier." The biggest complaint was the fact that Disney was trying to recreate the sea side amusement park, which meant they could go cheap and put in off of the shelf rides. Since then, WDI has healed DCA's wound with the latest changes to the Pier. The first addition was of "Toy Story Midway Mania." This is a midway themed ride that incorporates the characters from Disney*Pixar's Toy Story. You went through various midway games such as: ring toss, pie throw, and darts. The next change was the transformation of the Sun Wheel to Mickeys Fun Wheel. This was a simple change that took out the sun face and put in a pie-eyed Mickey face. Also, they added a new color scheme, replacing the metallic gold with a sleek black, as well as the addition of LED light that change pattern through the night. The next change was the transformation of the Orange Stinger, a typical swing ride, to The Silly Symphony Swings. This is based on the classic Mickey Mouse cartoon "The Band Concert" which showed Mickeys orchestra that gets blown into a tornado while playing "William Tell Overture." This attraction lets you relive this tornado. As you start to rise and swing, you can see a mural of the tornado with various character blowing along with you. The next change was the bulldozing of the MaliBOOMer. This was a cheap off the shelf launch ride. This will be part of the new "Paradise Park" area. In two weeks, a new attraction will open up called "The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure." This will let you go through the famous parts  from the movie of the same title. Finaly, in July, the last attraction to be added will be "Goofy's Sky School." This will be based on the Goofy how-to shorts where, in this one, Goofy will show you how to fly a plane. This will be a re-theme of Mulholland Madness, the wild mouse coaster. After all this is done, this land will turn from a mess into a nostalgic area

Monday, May 2, 2011

Disney and T.V

      Disney has been in the business of television even at its release to homes. Family's all over America knew that every week they could turn on the ABC network and visit their "Uncle Walt" and see what he has to offer. Alot of people don't know that Disneyland and Disneys history with TV are connected. When Walt first thought of an idea for a theme park in Anahiem, he knew he couldn't afford it on his own. So he went to a new TV station, ABC ans asked for sponsorship for Disneyland, and in return, he would host an hour long show each week. That show was called "Walt Disney's Disneyland." The first show aired in 1954. His first show was named "The Disneyland Story." The show was based around the four lands of Disneyland: Adventureland, Tommorowland, Fantasyland, and Frontierland. Each week was themed around one of these four themes.ABC was even host to the opening of Disneyland, which was one of the first live television broadcasts. 
    In the 1960's, color television developed. So Walt decided to change the name of the show to "The Wonderful World of Color" and move to NBC, which was one of the first television stations to have color. The new show showed off Walts new movies, that he would cut down and show in parts on the show. Also, it would show cartoons. There were also specials at Disneyland, such as "Disneyland's 10th Anniversary" and "Disneyland After Dark." This show also got the catchy theme song by the Sherman brothers. In the 1980's, CBS took the show and changed the title to just "Walt Disney." The show itself went unchanged.
      Then, in the 1980's, ABC aired the "Disney Sunday Night Movie" which was hosted by Michael Eisener. This showed straight to TV movies.
           Then in the 2000's, the show was changed to "The Wonderful World of Disney." It stayed that way until 2008 when it officaly went off the air for good. Disney is split between ABC, NBC, ABC Family, and The Disney Channel.