Saturday, August 4, 2007
Blue Sky Alert-America (Anaheim): The Mother Road...
Time for another report on the park that started it all... the Mother Park, so to speak. Just like Route 66 was the Mother Road to the interstate highways that came after it, so is Disneyland to all those theme parks that have sprung up over the last half-century.
Things are really heating up at the Disneyland Resort right now. Can you feel the buzz? I know that a lot of gossip is circulating around the web right now. Everyone knows that something is going to happen. Nobody knows exactly what to expect. Except maybe those sneaky Bothans...
Come October, the area will start to become a hive of activity. Right now they're still working out the construction schedules for the park, but that won't be the only thing to have construction crews busy come Fall.
The plans for the expansion of Downtown Disney are still on, but I don't know if we'll start to see much work on that for a while. The plan for DCA and the rest of the Resort is a decade long plan, but with a large infusion of cash and construction in the first five years of the plan. Everything in the second half of the plan is related to how well the first parts of the expansion are received. There are the plans for the four new hotels that Disney is drawing up. Wing Chao is leading a team of designers to create some truly "Disney" hotels that make the current Paradise Pier Hotel and Disneyland Hotel pale in comparison. Come the turn of the next decade at least one, but possibly two of those will be done. Expect one of those to be set up next to the PP Hotel. This will make the Pier Hotel look that much less attractive. The small group of Imagineers that want to redress this hotel will have much more ammo when you have these hotels side by side. As of yet, no plan to renovate the PP Hotel have been approved though.
In October work will begin on the renovation of the Disneyland Hotel. Basic stuff, nothing that will make most people take a second look... once the holidays are over it will pick up full speed and the construction will be going tower to tower to update/renovate/expand the original Disneyland Hotel. By Fall 2008, we'll start to get an idea as to what the DL Hotel will look like. The "fantasy" renovation will definitely start to take hold next year and the excitement of staying in the Disneyland Hotel will take on a whole new experience. As many have heard, the towers names are the first thing to change. The new towers names are "Dreams", "Wonder" and "Magic". Maybe there'll be a tie-in to those tower names when the Disney Cruise Line comes to Southern California around the beginning of next decade. Did I say that? "You don't want these droids" He says, waving his hand...
Late this year the construction crews will begin work on the Grand Californian Hotel's first DVC units. The nice, little grassy field will finally be used for something that we can all enjoy. Expect this expansion to blend in with the current "Arts & Crafts" architecture, but be slightly different. These may be the first DVC units, but they will not be the last... Disney has big expansion plans for California over the next decade.
The original park will not be neglected just because its little sister is getting dressed up for the prom. Now, since DL is 52 years old, it is what it is and certain things won't/can't really change. It has many areas that don't really need change. One area that doesn't fall under this is Tommorland. This land is the one most primed for an expansion by the beginning of the new decade. There will be an "E" Ticket for the area that will most likely go into what is today Innoventions. Several proposals were pitched in the blue sky phase, but there are now maybe two that are being taken seriously. Some in Glendale are working on a makeover of the area since the Tommorland 98 theming really fell flat. If the good times keep rolling expect Uncle John to push for a new layering that will let Tony Baxter do to TL that he was deprived of back in the 90's.
Now there is a good chance that the TL "E" Ticket won't be the only "E" Ticket Disneyland gets. Work is progressing on another attraction for Frontierland based on a certain Jerry Bruckheimer production that might be out in a few years. That's all I can say about that, Kemo Sabe.
There are plans in the work to expand out the "Halloween Time" theming this Fall and the decoration plans for Christmas will be stunning if the plans are implemented as designed. Let the great tidings keep coming...
Much is ahead for the Second Gate that couldn't get a date. There's a massive amount of work for Bob Weiss to get to. Over the next decade DCA is going to be a busy construction zone. A good deal of it will come during the first five years of the expansion. Most of the plans for the first part of the changes are pretty set, but as goes the rest of the Resort, the second half are more in flux depending on the public acceptance, economy and business environment at the time. That being said, DCA will be a surprisingly different place come its 10th birthday. Not all the projects will be done by 2011-2012, but enough will be completed or under construction to give visitors a greatly enhanced experience walking through the park.
Now a bunch has been made about the "Cars" "E"Ticket that the park is supposed to be getting. That ride is a few years away. There will probably be at least one "E" Ticket before they start building that part of the park.
At least one?
Just how many E-Tickets will DCA be getting?
Well, remember this is a ten year plan. Now over that time period you can look forward to a new "E" Ticket at about the same frequency as the timeframe we get new James Bond films... give or take about six months. Most of you film geeks will understand what I mean.
The new entrance to the place will be a late 20's/early 30's Los Angeles that provides a perfect balance to the entrance across the Esplanade. While Disneyland's Main Street U.S.A. represents a Mictorian Missouri, circa 1900 that Walt knew as a child, DCA's entrance will reflect the Los Angeles that he stepped into as a young man full of dreams and empty of pockets. On a related note, the newly designed revisions will follow a much stronger narrative theme in relation to the parks California roots.
Some of you have noted the Screamin' ride and the proposal to change it to a Disney Villains theme. The verdict's still out as to wether Bob Weiss will choose this plan which will cost close to half what Midway Mania is going to cost. Many Imagineers in Glendale would simply rather spend lavishly on retheming the queue area and leave the ride alone. This would free up money to use on another "D" Ticket or a couple "C" Tickets. With all the construction that will be going on, my bet is on this plan since Screamin' is already popular enough and making the area around it an elaborate Fun House area would be enough for right now. If they wanted to do the Villains overly they they could wait until after other projects are done and attendance would justify spending that amount of money.
The new water show "Disney's Wonderful World of Color" got it's testing a couple weeks ago when they used some of the shows technology in Paradise Bay to see how it would look. Those familiar with the 20 ft. or so plumes of water that they use to project scenes from movies on will be interested to find that they demonstrated the new shows effect by running "Finding Nemo" to gauge the 50 ft. plumes that "Color" will have. Certain elements of this extravagant show will be as tall as the Sun Wheel. It's definitely going to be a crowd drawer... for a change people may be leaving Disneyland to attend something over in DCA instead of the reverse.
Many have wondered if the show will be delayed because of the construction that will be going on in Paradise Pier. My Bothans have told me this will likely not be the case. The show will go on and most people will not be looking at the walled off areas of the Pier simply because of the beautiful show they'll be watching with mouths agape. The draining of the Bay and lighting effects will be done and the water will be refilled in time for TSMM's opening in June/July next year. The new Pixar parade may be delayed or kept dark during some parts of the construction though...
All in all, the park is going to be a wonderful place come a few years and a really different place in a decade. Many more rides and much more theming than it had when it opened back on that dreary day in February 2001. Will it beat Disneyland? No. That's a hard act to follow... but it could be one of the best Second Gates. I'd say it could tie with Epcot for second best Second Gate. Tokyo DisneySEA will still take the prize there... but with all the new stuff that Lasseter, Baxter and Weiss have planned for the next decade, the original Resort will start to compete with the Oriental Land Company in terms of Disney quality. Imagine that, Disney making something that is of the same quality as a foreign company that makes things about Disney? Was that understandable? Oh well...
That's it for this update. Hope it was fun and enjoyable for you. I know, I know, before you ask... yes I do have more updates about other Disney parks coming. I should have another Paris or Hong Kong update by the end of August. It's much easier to get recon on Anaheim because most of the Bothans I know are there. The reports tend to come in more slowly on the international parks and even WDW. But slowly, I'm receiving info for my coming alerts. You wouldn't want a "Blue Sky Alert" that was only a couple lines, would you?
Be patient... stay calm.
Help is on the way.
See you next time...