Monday, February 11, 2008
Blue Sky Alert-America (Anaheim): Buy And Enlarge...
"Nothing endures but change." - Heraclitus of Ephesus
Time passes so quickly, doesn't it? In the blink of an eye a month will just fly by... It seems like only yesterday it was a new year and we were ringing in 2008 and now it's already the middle of February. Wow.
Things are really moving in the Resort right now as people that have tried to reach Sceamin' have noticed when they go into the pier and stop in front of the wall wondering: "How am I supposed to get to the roller coaster?". WDI and TeamDisney Anaheim are wondering that as well, which is why plans seem to be somewhat mercurial right now. The Disneyland Resort will be a literal beehive of activity for the next few years as DCA becomes Wall Land because of the continual construction and Disneyland's desire to keep thing fresh for the coming 55th anniversary. My focus on this Blue Sky Alert will be the Resort in general and DCA specifically. I'll try and have another Alert up focusing on the Mother Park sometime near the end of the month, time permitting.
Sometime before the end of spring the company should come out and finally reveal the "Extreme Makeover" plans for the Disneyland Hotel. Expect some artwork and a presentation along the lines of what we saw for the Grand Californian expansion a while back. Work should commence on one of the towers by the middle of summer should the current schedule be kept. That means the first tower will probably be finished near the holiday season or a little after it. Come this time next year one of the towers should give us an idea of what to expect since all three are supposed have a uniform theme when they are done in time for DCA's Tenth Anniversary.
Speaking of the Grand Californian, those 250 rooms should be done in time for the new water show that premieres in spring of 2010. Although the new expansion has only 50 DVC units, it won't be long before more are coming... by the end of this decade there will be a great deal more in the planning.
There are still plans for more hotels and hotel rooms over the next few years. The planning for a proposed new hotel in the Simba lot continues as well as plans for another hotel. I badly worded a sentence in one of my previous updates that made people believe that I meant the latest proposed hotel would go where the toll booths are. That's the problem with writing these articles late at night... sometimes your fingers get ahead of your brain. What I was referring to was the loading area, not the toll booth area. This is where another hotel is being designed for. One that will open up and be an entryway into the Esplanade kind of like the way the Disneyland Hotel greets people entering the park in Paris or the way the new Disneyland Hotel will greet guest in Tokyo. The stylings of the preliminary designs look like it's going to be a traditional period themed hotel that guests will move through and around to enter the Disneyland Resort. It will mark a dramatic and inviting visual for those traveling down Harbor Boulevard toward Ball Street. Should these plans be approved, the hotel would likely be finished around the time work begins on the Second Phase of DCA.
It's hoped that by the time DCA begins it's second decade that formal plans will have been approved about what to do with the Paradise Pier Hotel. There are several embryonic plans that Imagineers have, but none will seriously be looked at until after the parks Tenth Anniversary. There are two branches of though about this inside WDI. One group inside Glendale want to take the hotel and give it a retheming as the DL Hotel will soon be getting... while others would like to just gut the hotel and start anew. This project won't be moving very fast over the next few years as the Suits and TDA focus on turning DCA from a disappointment into a park worthy of the Disney name.
As for the expansion of Downtown Disney, well work has been proceeding slowly on that as well, but my Bothans would only confirm that the current scheduling looks to be sometime around late 2009/early 2010 before we start to see any major progress in that direction.
Now that construction is speeding up in the park, WDI and the operations side of DCA can start to see the headaches that this is costing. Some dates have been pushed back and some have been shifted to later periods, but no one out there should start to think that this is going to be like the Disney Decade where so much is talked about and so little is actually built. It takes time to clean up after Paul Pressler's mess and we are now reaping what he sewed.
The construction of Toy Story "Midway" Mania is continuing along with tests going on and cast members beginning trained for its opening. The main structure itself is almost done. There are several buildings being constructed along the water's edge which will be semi-permanent structures for ODV carts and shaded roof structures that will replace the metal umbrellas that have dotted areas along the pier. The structures will have similar roofs to the ride with the stylized red shingles and metal railing along the top that is made up of silhouettes of Disney characters(Donald, anyone?). The powers that be have decided to forgo the wooden boardwalk that everyone was expecting and instead go with a patterned concrete design. Hopefully Imagineers will not hold back on the replacement of the gold sunbeam railings which are supposed to have a form similar to Victorian arches that will evoke the turn-of-the-century period. The rest of the games and shops should go behind walls in March if they continue ahead with the latest schedule. Everything between the Maliboomer to the Carousel should be done between May and June for soft opening, followed by a big summer bash.
After the fall and before the holiday season the other areas around the pier will start to slowly go behind walls. The construction will continue on until early 2010 with the debut of the Disney's World of Color night time water show. The entire Paradise Pier area should be done with the exception of the Little Mermaid ride which will open the following year along with the remade front entrance.
Speaking of the Mermaid ride, many of you have heard that the attraction will be taking over the bathrooms behind it. That's true. The bathrooms will be placed across the way, but what isn't known is what the stylings of the new bathrooms will be... the area where the old restrooms were and the new bathrooms will go will not be San Francisco anymore. That's right, with the exception of the Palace structure there will not be anymore San Francisco architecture.
How can that be?
Now, these proposals are what the Imagineers are slowly discussing, but everything is blue sky phase and nothing will get approved until around the time Cars Land is completed. The Suits up in Burbank want to make sure that the First Phase has achieved its goal before approving the rest of that 1.1 billion dollar investment. If figures of over 8 million start going through those turnstiles then we can expect that final figure to be a couple hundred million dollars more. That article in the New York Times the other day mentioned the 1.1 billion dollars for the first five years, but that is simply not true. It's Disney's PR Machine trying to give the impression that it is spending over a billion because it's a nice number. The true figure is just under 800 million and no amount of whining to the New York Times will change the reality of what's being spent. That being said... it's still a lot of money and more has been committed should the remade park spark the public's interest.
Now back to that missing San Francisco section... one of the proposals for the Second Phase is to take the Pacific Wharf area and turn it into the San Francisco area of the park. It's one of several proposals that are being pitched for the Wharf area in the Second Phase.
Then the Golden State will get the retheming of the Extreme Sports look and have it replaced with the period "Yosemite" turn-of-the-century national park look that we've all been hearing about. The animatronic creatures native to California will dot the GRR attraction along with a much more elaborately themed Theodore Roosevelt style park area. The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail will be replaced with a new E-Ticket. The proposals are between a natural adventure type attraction and a vintage locomotive type attraction. Neither are themed to Disney cartoons for those of you that are ranting about the "cartooning" of the park.
The Hollywood Backlot area will be themed more toward the 30's Hollywood that they abandoned in the early design phase of the park. There is a proposal to take all the area around the TOT attraction that is used for the road access to the Timon parking lot and transform it into the Golden Era of Hollywood with several ventures and areas that evoke the time when Walt Disney started to make motion pictures and buckle the system. Just as the new front entrance will give visitors a look at what Los Angeles was like when Walt came here in the late 20's, the Hollywood section will continue on that by focusing on the glory of Hollywood in the 30's. The area around the Hyperion Theater will finally become the grand entrance that it was deprived of under Pressler. At least one E-Ticket will be going into the Hollywood section but right now the Bothans don't have credible evidence as to what direction narratively it will go.
The entrance to the area right past the HBL will lead to the jewel of D(C)A... Carsland. The land which will take up 20 percent of the park will have 3 attractions upon opening four years from now... Radiator Springs Racers, Mater's Junkyard Jamboree and Luigi's Roaming Tires. But the new land was designed to hold at least two more attractions. By the Second Phase we should see at least one more D-Ticket or a plussed C-Ticket at the least. The Paradise Pier area will get another E-Ticket during the Second Phase, most likely one of several that have been pitched for the helix next to the entrance of Screamin' or it will have an entrance there with an attraction behind the stage. Should enough money be available expect Goofy's Sky School to be taken down and a true E-Ticket put in its place. And the proposals so far include one attraction that is an original thrill ride and another that is based on a classic character.
By the time the First Phase is over Disney's California(or whatever it's called) Adventure will be a park worthy of being called a Disney park... come the end of the Second Phase the park will be worthy of being next to Disneyland.
We'll try and have another Blue Sky Alert on the Disneyland Park soon and hopefully a BSA on WDW sometime in March. Lips are tight inside the Glendale Kingdom and I'm sorry for the delay in updates...