Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Blue Sky Alert-America (Anaheim): Battle Plans...
A lot of things have happened since our last official Anaheim BSA hasn't it? We're probably going to have to deal with the Second Gate a little differently now that we have an idea of the Mouse's plans. Much, much, much is planned over Walt's original kingdom over the next decade. These first five years will be a turning point though... this won't be the small expansion that was envisioned in the late 90's. Yes, that's right. I said "small" expansion. Because when 2012 comes around, the resort that Eisner and his crew planned to open in 2001 will look astonishingly different than what they planned on opening. Yes, they did fork over 1.4 billion for the resort and that ain't nothing to sneeze at, but consider it just a warming up for what is planned over the next decade. Let us pray that America and the world as well, doesn't go through a recession or we have some major disaster happen. Keep those fingers crossed cause if the good times keep rolling, we're gonna be steam rolled by a wave of Disney goodness.
So what is happening to the Resort in general?
Plenty. First all we've got the makeover of the Disneyland Hotel that begins early next year. Expect a big press event just like the one that happened for the Grand Californian, complete with Ed Grier and others. The final construction dates are just being finalized but you can expect some sort of movement by February of 2008. There should be an announcement later that year regarding the expansion of Downtown Disney. Most of these events will keep beating like Chinese water torture(more on HKDL later this month) on the voters of Anaheim before the vote next fall. Disney is banking on that vote as a preservation of the Resort District that the Anaheim City Council promised and then decided it didn't want to keep.
What's not going to be announced is the other hotels that Disneyland has planned for the next decade. The DLH renovation/makeover should be done by DCA's tenth anniversary, but another hotel could be announced by then. The rest will have to wait for a later press event near the end of the decade. Others, you say? Yup. The Disneyland Hotel changes are in addition to the four hotels that Iger and his Suits have planned over the next decade. Four? Yeah, you already know about the one that is being planned in the Simba lot, possibly for the beginning of the decade and you've also heard about the proposed "boutique" hotel and "economy" hotel that is in the early stages of being negotiated with the GardenWalk officials. But that's only three right? Where is the forth one proposed? You know that little area next the new Cars Land? Well, the remaining land next to that new land is currently being worked over for a proposed new hotel. You may wonder why they don't save that for future expansion of DCA and buy the land where the 7-Eleven and those other hotels are. Well, you have to get them to sell first. And try as they might, some of those hotel owners just flat out won't sell what they consider a gold mine to the Mouse just yet. Maybe someday in the future if the land changes hands or minds change they can buy it, but right now it's not happening. Not in the next few years... certainly not till the first phase of the DCA expansion is over.
Time will tell.
Now, over at the Happiest Place On Earth(you remember that phrase, Jay? You might want to use it sometime.) plans move forward on it's own five year plan. When DCA opens it's doors five years from now to show it's new look, Disneyland will have a few jewels to show off as well.
As we said earlier, the main focus of noticeable expansion over the next few years will be Tommowland. It should all get started late next year when the work begins on Star Tours. If current schedule is kept, the area will under tarps by this time next year. George Lucas is working with Disney on some very interesting designs for the sequel to the original ride. Hopefully it won't end up like watching the Phantom Menace when we see it though. There should be a great deal of Star Wars Galaxy promoting starting next year... scratch that. I should say a lot of Lucasfilm promotion throughout the park, but by the end of the decade you can expect to see that Galaxy far, far away quite often when you come to Anaheim. Even more so if ABC is able to land the rights to the Clone Wars animated show. This is far from a done deal, but Disney really wants to show Mr. Lucas that it more than Fox is the place he should park his little show. As well as the makeover of Star Tours, expect several dining and retail concepts that have been floating around to adorn the area around the new ST ride. As for when it'll be finished, I'm not privy to exact dates, but the Bothans seem to suggest that it'll be between a twelve and eighteen month renovation. The exact dates and duration should become clearer in the early part of next year.
Right next to ST is the HISTK ride. The plans right now are to replace this fun, but dated attraction by the beginning of the decade with a proposed E-Ticket. There are a couple concepts being pitched in the blue sky phase right now. One has a familiar Disney character and the other is a completely different concept. We won't know which one Tony Baxter goes with for a while as the ST work will take a priority for the next year or so.
That huge waste of space known as Innoventions is due for a makeover there as well. Right now the area is under sponsorship for another couple years to some big corporations. That hasn't stopped Tony from having WDI come up with several concepts for an E-Ticket ride. When the sponsorship of this building is done, don't expect it to be renewed. Once that's over the area will be made over into a completely new attraction that will tentatively have a debut sometime in late 2011/early 2012. It will most likely be done before Cars Land is. WDI doesn't want to have both parks competing for attention with big attractions so the dates should be separated by at least a six month window. What will it be? That, even my Bothans can't tell me. They have told me they've seen basic ideas and heard Tony talk about what he's looking for in the design and say it's going to be a really well layered attraction whatever Iger signs off on. With Uncle John there now, Disneyland will not be having any of those underwhelmingly bland attractions like Pooh. If "Ratatouille" is an example of John Lasseter's clout then the budgets of the new attractions will be far north of what we got in the late 90's and early part of this century. Expect OLC type attraction budgets or at least close to that.
There will be a proposal for a new People Mover to be completed by the end of the decade, but it's not known yet if the concept of the Incredipods will be used or not. Since there is still plans for Brad Bird's hero family across the Esplanade some don't feel it'd be right to have competing attractions over here. But the plans for a new redesigned People Mover are in the cards and by the beginning of the next decade we may all be riding in them in a Tomorrowland that will look quite a bit different that it does today.
Over in New Orleans Square, I've been told that plans for the second phase of TSI has been moving forward. Several of the plans for this have quietly gotten the go-ahead from the Suits and higher ups at WDI. I've not seen the plans, but according to a Bothan, some of the attractions that were planned as C and D tickets for HKDL's expansion area may find their way onto the backside of the island.
Expect a big promotion for the new Indy film to begin in late March/early April. The area will start off with modest references to the new film and several promotional events should start to appear by May. The park that really gets to take advantage of Mr. Jones is TDS, being as it's name is almost that of the movie, the OLC is going to want a great deal of cross-promotion with the film. Disney and Lucas seem only too happy to help out...
Ok, that's gonna be it for this side of the Resort. What about across the Esplanade?
In the "Park Formerly(soon enough) know as DCA" we all now have a pretty clear picture as to what is happening over the next five years. I mean, the small details will come into play and crystalize over the next couple years, but for the most part we know what will be ahead for Disney Geeks/Fans when they walk through that new front entrance.
But what about after?
What if "Phase One" is a big success and the Park has a dramatic upturn in attendance? A very likely happening, I might say... well, then a "Phase Two" will kick in from 2013 to 2017. This phase is still much more in the blue sky right now. There are several things that are moving through the halls of WDI that have a greater chance of making it on stage in P2, but most of what is being talked about is just that. Talk. Oh, and some concept art and a few designs... but that's it for now. After all, they have a great deal of work ahead of them just on this part.
But what we will focus on mainly is that second phase and what Imagineers want to add to a wonderfully fun and lavishly themed Second Gate at the Disneyland Resort.
So once the work is done on Walt Disney Plaza, Hollywood Pictures Backlot, Golden State, Paradise Pier and the new Cars Land what is there to do? Plenty. Thank you very much, Mr. Pressler. Granted, most entering the park come 2012 will have only a vague recollection of what it was before. This swan will be beautiful... all the complaining about theming that Disney Geeks did over the past few years will be remarkably silent as they walk through this new park. Those that have never bothered to come to DCA will ask themselves "Why didn't I come here before?"...
But there will still be places that need a little work or for the most part could use a little more layering of the theming. Now there is talk of using at least one of those two stages that don't have rides in them for a new attraction. P2 will see the addition of a new E-Ticket to HPB, most likely in the old Millionaire stage. The other stage will await a future use once there is a need to add because of traffic flow. There are a few blue sky pitches going around Bob Weis, Lasseter and crews right now, all of them film related and one, ehem... one that seems to be catching everyone's eye happens to fit the Hollywood area very much. If Uncle John's work at WDAS is successful, one of the early parts of Phase Two will involve some of his first tinkering with Disney animation. Let's just say that this attraction will be like capturing lightning in a bottle... enough hints guys. We'll have to wait and see the box office to know for sure if this happens.
Over in the Golden State, Condor Flats will have supposedly disappeared in the First Phase, so what will happen here is one of the proposed projects that was planned for this phase, but cut because of limited budget will finally get going. The retheming of the area to a turn of the century Yosemite National Park type land was supposed to happen over the next five years, but it's surprising how quickly you can spend a hundred million dollars here and there. Before you know it, you're out of money. Somethings have to be postponed... not cancelled. So I don't want to hear a bunch of whining about Goofy's Sky School, ok? Anyway, if plans go as they are right now the GS will look like a place that Teddy Roosevelt would have gone by the end of P2. Now there have been several ideas floated around for another E-Ticket to grace this area and one of them that was also talked about for completion right now could very well be green-lit for the next part. Remember the ideas for a train/mine car type ride? Well, it's not dead either. It and one other idea are competing for the right to be the second E-Ticket added to the Golden State. Where it's planned on going is the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail area. Now, I happen to like this area and feel it's akin to Tom Sawyer Island over at DL, but land is precious and Imagineers figure that a nice E-Ticket would attract guest far more than a little nature trail, no matter how well it's themed.
As I mentioned earlier, a lot of people have whined about Goofy's Sky School, but a dollar don't stretch as far as it used to. The Creatives over at WDI knew they didn't have enough money for a new E-Ticket here and set about retheming the ride to something that featured a famous Disney character and giving it a much more elaborate surrounding. It's going to make riding that roller coaster much more fun and also make you realize how little they actually spend on it to begin with. But relax, this isn't intended to last forever. Should the Park's attendance rise dramatically and more importantly, the Disney vaults fill with lots of money there are plans to add another E-Ticket ride where Goofy will sit, errr fly or crash in a few years. There is nothing concrete as to what will go here, but there are plenty of ideas that lay around in storage that could be brought out should the current plans work as hoped. Over where the Maliboomer is... well nothing is planned right now. I mean other than it going bye-bye shortly. Right now it looks like a nice wooded area/childrens play area will take the place of the carny ride. During the Second Phase there are plans to add a D or possible E-Ticket inside where the Maliboomer once stood. Actually, the plans call for two rides to go down here. One in each helix. But as of now, they are in the most embryonic stage of all the planned rides.
Cars Land could have room for a fourth attraction to be added if needed during P2, but that's all going to depend on daily attendance figures and yearly totals before any plans would be given the funding here. This area will be DCA's New Orleans Square to Paradise Pier being DCA's Rivers of America.
And by 2017, the Disneyland Resort will have a Second Gate that will rival EPCOT for being the best second park in America. Now I know many people don't like hearing that, but with the TLC that Lasseter and crew are going to be giving this place, it's going to sparkle and shine... remember, this park will have attractions based on three movies he has personally directed. Do you think he wants to see this Park succeed? As long as he has the clout, DCA will have attractions that are exclusive to DCA, elaborate in design, rich in detail and captivating to experience. Will it be as good as TDS? Probably not, but it'll be close. EPCOT and DCA will be rivals come the next decade and that's something no one would have thought would happen just a couple years ago.
I think that about does it for this BSA. I think I need to go soak my fingers in ice. Ouch, they hurt! Stay tuned for more Bothan fodder near the end of November.