Monday, April 21, 2008

Blue Sky Alert-America (Anaheim): The Wheels Of Change...



First off, an apology. I've not posted a Blue Sky Alert in some time and I'm sorry about that, but the realities of the real world have prevented me having the time to communicate with my Bothans. See, in the real world I have deadlines and thankfully here in the blogosphere I can do things when I want(or can)...

I really can't believe how fast this year is going...

It seems like time slips by before you even have a chance to realize it. Bothans are precarious creatures. They take their time getting back to you and even when they do they're sometimes cryptic in their response so as to not jeopardize themselves or their colleagues. So here we are with another update...

A lot will be happening in this year as visitors to DCA can attest when they tried to get to "Sceamin'" from the pier area a short while ago... it wasn't a pretty sight. The signs were in the wrong places where people couldn't see them. But the irony is they were put there because when people did see them in their original place they still ran into them. People just didn't pay enough attention and sadly the lawyers paid too much attention... even in this Disney World there are way too many lawyers. But I digress...

But enough talk about Wall-Land talk, errrr i mean DCA talk.

The Disneyland Resort has been having a good year. Although not the banner year that the 50th or last year was... it's been a good year for the Mouse in Anaheim. DCA's attendance has kind of flattened out, but some of that is to be expected with all the intrusion of work and walls that have(and will) go up over the next few years.

Plans are still moving ahead for the expansion of Downtown Disney, but don't expect anything to be announced before fall or more likely the early part of next year. They're still trying to address how the GardenWalk is going to impact DD and that will likely play into the final design. Also as many of you have noticed from other sites that the Disneyland Hotel plans are going through another review. That's the reason we didn't see the announcement last fall or the pushed announcement to early this year which has been put off until a final decision is made about what to do with those three giant blocks known as the Disneyland Hotel. The cost of retrofitting and expanding the existing structures is running at such a high figure that the Suits are wondering if it is worth the theming or is it just better to start from zero and build anew. We're now reaping for what Pressler put off in the mid 90's when he chose to kick the can down the road on deciding on a plan for this aging collection of dated hotel towers. His decision to not add to the cost of the late 90's Disneyland Resort expansion will now cost the Mouse even more. They could have taken care of it then, but under his penny pinching style of leadership they felt they could hold onto the old relic for another decade or more with only some new paint an a few flashy trinkets. As with much of Pressler's other ideas he was wrong, wrong, wrong. He could have gone ahead with some of WDI's plans for an opulent, expansive(read: expensive) and detailed new version of the park's main hotel. If I had my way that's what I would do... create a new, grand experience for the original DLH. That's my vote, but I don't have a say in the matter. They're going to have to make a decision soon if they want to have the renovated or new hotel up by the tenth anniversary of DCA... or at least by the fall of that year. We should be hearing something by the end of this year as for the expansion that Disney wants to add to the GardenWalk, but an exact date isn't known since even Iger and the Suits haven't yet settled on one yet.

They've finally got all the kinks(most of them at least) out of the Monorail Red and it should be up running with guest by the end of the month/early May at the latest. I'm sure everyone's seen all those pictures of Monorail Blue arriving last week at the Resort. It had the work done on it before it came so we shouldn't worry about having any of the mishaps that happened to Red coming its way. Blue should be out and about by the end of May if current testing goes smoothly or at the very least by the time Mania opens. As for Orange, it's going to appear right at the height of summer and just in time as this summer promises to be one of the busiest ever.




Although the original theme park isn't getting as much TLC as DCA, it is getting a great deal of work... just imagine if the former management was still there. New banners and maybe a parade? While it won't get the 800-900 million that California Adventure is getting, let's be honest... it doesn't need that much, it will be getting around 400-500 million should Baxter's dreams come true.

It's great for Disney Geeks/Fans that Tony Baxter is in charge of Disneyland. A lot of people still wax longingly about Baxter's aborted "Tomorrowland 2055" project. While we won't be getting that exact project for Tomorrowland, we will be getting a variation and successor to it. The project that Baxter plans to makeover TL with will be layered in the detail we have become accustomed to from Tony Baxter. The project will also take a long time to complete. If it all gets approved then it will be done over phases. Broken into two or even three phases over a period of four years...

The first phase will be scheduled to be done by the time Disneyland's 55th anniversary comes around. Yes, only part of the proposal will be completed when the park celebrates that special milestone. The next phase will come the following year with final phase reaching completion around late 2012/early 2013.

The goal is still to have the Star Tours attraction revamped and up and running by the end of the first phase. The area around ST part will be rethemed to represent a more stylized view of what Baxter wants to turn Tomorrowland into. The small bit of art that I've seen reflects a more "retro" feel in what Tomorrowland will become at the end of the Makeover. Many of the elements of the original 98' makeover will be brushed away if the Suits approve his plans. There are also plans to put in a plussed "D-Ticket" where HISTA is by the end of the second phase and even talks about a makeover of Autotopia to reflect the changes in theming in the area. By the end of this part expect to see a return of the People Mover... at least a variation of it. But it appears that the Incredibles "Pod-Movers" have fallen out of favor in return for something else to match the new design. Plans are still in the early stages and the presentation won't be given to Burbank and the Suits until later this year for approval. The final third phase won't be completed until after DCA's Car's Land more than likely. It will be the final makeover or total removal of the Carousel of Progress. The Imagineers are planning a new elaborate "E-Ticket" for where this large piece of real estate occupies, but the construction of it will have to wait until the contract with the current sponsors of the place runs out. That'll be a few years from now, but when it's all said and done TL will have at least one new "E-Ticket" and at least one, more likely two "D-Tickets" in addition to the renovations that are supposed to take place on Star Tours.

In Fantasyland, the plans for a new indoor theater will also be up for approval later this year. If approved, we could see a new enclosed theater done in time for a new, extravagant stage show being developed for the park's anniversary. Baxter is working to make sure the exterior's theming reflects the Fantasyland area that it will be surrounded by.

There are early plans for a renovation/makeover of part of the area of Frontierland for a possible "wild west" show... this could be part of the proposed tie-in with the "Lone Ranger" movie that is supposed to be released between summer 2010 and the holidays, but right now it's very, very early.

Many of you will remember me talking about all the tie-ins for the new "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" a few Blue Sky Alerts ago. As next month rolls around you can expect plenty of merchandise and a new show in Adventureland. There will be actors roaming about doing skits and involving the guest in what will hopefully be a very popular and very entertaining adventure yarn. It's not going into the Aladdin theater from what I was told, but if the entertainment proves to work its magic on the guest then there are plans for something more permanent... over in TDS they're going to have a direct tie-in with the film since they have an entire land devoted with the "Man with the Hat" and a ride that follows the basics of the film. See what happens when good planning is done? Uhm.

The renovation for "It's A Small World" is a very extensive one from what I've been told. It's been in the planning for quite a while with much of the ride in disrepair. Anyone who had ridden it recently would have noticed the chipped paint, tiles with holes in them and the actual canals that the boats travel in. This is something that WDI has wanted to work on for more than a decade. It only really got serious five or six years ago. The plan, from the Bothans who have seen it, say that it is mainly structural; dealing with the aging interface and is not intended to be a major makeover so that it mimics the new one that is about to open in Hong Kong. That being said, there are several areas that they have planned on adding well known animated characters, just not as many as what were proposed for HKDL. The media storm has gotten the Mouse's press relations caught off guard(it shouldn't have been). The Suits inside are worried about bad publicity for the attraction, but also confident after the POTC makeover that most of the fuss will blow over once fans have had a chance to ride the new version. The Bothans I've spoken with aren't on the project, but said the people in charge really do care for IASW and they trust them. They said the "characterization/cartooning" is minimalist at best and most will not notice them. That said, Burbank is nervous... if you want to try and minimize the impact this will have on this classic attraction then keep up the pressure so they know your passion.




Planning continues in Disney's Wall Land. For the next four years we get walls to make up for Pressler's Hellspawn... even after these renovations/expansions are complete there will be plenty of work to do to DCA. When all is said and done in 2016 the park(and Resort, for that matter) will be quite lovely and quite grand, not to mention all the buzz Disney Geeks will be having about the construction going on across the street in what used to be the employee parking lot(that's a story for a much later day). But come the fifteenth anniversary of DCA, the Disneyland Resort will have finally become what it was supposed to be when Eisner first came up with the idea: a resort. A REAL Resort...

As anyone that has visited the park knows there's a lot of construction going on... trust me, it's going to get a lot worse a year from now. Worse in a good way, I mean. I mean there will be plenty of walls and confusion for guest but the end results will be worth it.

The first area to be done is the Paradise Pier section. The plans call for it to be done by spring 2010, but timetables slip as has happened with the stores and games next to the new Midway Mania ride. They were all supposed to be done when the ride opens up, but it may not get completed until late fall/early holiday if another infusion of cash doesn't come soon. There was a lot more spent on Midway than was expected and the result is there won't be enough money to complete it in the current fiscal quarter so the Suits may wait until the start of the new quarter to get going on this. There is also a plan which is awaiting approval to build a more permanent structure for King Triton's Carousel of the Sea, one that will take the place of the cheap tarp and exposed beams that decorate it now. Picture more of a gazebo type structure that is in line with the roof of the Midway Mania ride. It hasn't been approved yet as WDI is trying to convince management that there is need to go on and construct this so that by the fall it will blend in with the rest of the renovated pier. Then there is the remodel of the Orange Stinger. This one is going to try and create the feel of an open air swing set you would have found at a turn-of-the-century coastal pier along the lines of what one imagines Santa Barbara would have looked like. Gone will be the giant orange peel and in its place will be... well, nothing really. Don't get me wrong, it's supposed to be themed in detail to a Victorian area ride, but guest will be riding the swings right out in the open. There'll be flags and canopies around the outer edge and the elevator shaft will have a Victorian roof and siding to give it the borrowed appearance of something more permanent. By late spring of 2010 everything should be done around PP with the exception of The Little Mermaid ride. That should be in the early process of construction by then. Around this time Sunshine Plaza will be chaos with the closing of the entrance by summer at the latest if WDI is to have this front entrance done in time for the tenth anniversary.

Anyone that's seen Mr. Potato Head over in rehearsals at the TSMM ride will understand just how detailed and elaborate the AA's in the new Cars Land will be. And there will be plenty of them. There will be dozens, if the plans I saw go through of Audio Animatronic characters all throughout this land. Particularly on the main ride: "Radiator Springs Racers". The range and motion of all these characters will make this ride a stop for boys young and old each and everytime the park is entered. The sustainability of this land has been something that Imagineers have planned on for the remainder of the next decade as it will have several bells and whistles that will make this THE premiere land in Walt Disney's California... uhm. Scratch that. Let's just call it DCA for now since no name has been set in stone yet.

We've talked before about the areas in Golden State and the Expansion/Makeover of the Hollywood Backlot area, but most of that won't happen until 2012 or 2013 most likely. Plans for the Second Phase of the park really are in their earliest of stages as the Imagineers focus on what lies ahead in the next few years. By 2012 DCA will have come a long way... not as far as it should, but most will find the park a refreshing alternative to Disneyland, and yet an inviting sibling in terms of the experience guest get visiting the park...



One final note about DCA... expect when the Paradise Pier is open to have some of the lovin' that Disney gets to happen over in the Pier. By that I mean: premieres. Should the Makeover of PP be done by summer there are tentative plans to have the premiere of "Toy Story 3" there. Just like the Pirates events that happened over on the other side of the Esplanade, this little park is about to have some major events come 2010... and if you think that's big, just wait until Cars Land(boy, I hope they change that name) opens right around the same time as "Cars 2" comes out. Think of the gala they're going to have for this... can you imagine all those little boys that will be watching the film debut in Paradise Pier and then want to run over and ride through Radiator Springs? Oh, the lines... the lines. Good times are coming.

Have patience. Change is not always good, but in this case... it is.

And just so you know, Lasseter has amassed a great deal more power in the last two years than people thought. His image grows with his success... if you want to see bigger budgets and greater detailed attractions just a simple bit of advise: Go see "Wall-E". Not that I have to tell many of you, but the more success Pixar keeps having the less reason Iger and the Suits have to say no to his request for uber-budgets that would have been undreamed of during the Pressler and Eisner Era, not to mention more "plussing" for all the attractions in general. So I repeat:

Go see "Wall-E". Many times. Over and over. Nuff said...

Again, I'm sorry for the delay in this BSA, but since I live in the real world, it actually has to take precedence sometimes. I'll try and have another one out in early May. Not making any promises, but we'll try and take less time getting out the next one. It'll all depend on meeting/hearing from my Bothans as well as what amount of time I have available to construct it into something readable and, for the Disney Geeks, something worth knowing about...

TTFN

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

A comment on the "Cars" pink finned car from the movie. I saw a full sized version, real car driving through Westlake Village about 4 months ago. It wasn't pink, it was florescent lime green. It was making a U turn in front of Gelson's market, heading back in the direction of Westlake Blvd. It actually was a stunning car seen as a real life car.

Spokker said...

"They said the "characterization/cartooning" is minimalist at best and most will not notice them."

Then what's the point in adding them?

t said...

Honor,

do you have any new info on Disneyland's next daytime parade...working title is supposedly "World of Wonder"?

also, anything true about DL possibly getting DEP/MSEP back...or a revamp of it...or possibly a new night parade? rumors abound...

DCHall said...

Still not happy with the "renovation" of It's a Small World. Not just me, there's a whole bunch of Disney-Pixar artists not happy with it. No need to commercialize the thing. It's like restoring the Mona Lisa but adding a few touches like diamond earrings to make her more glitzy.

Everything else sounds good.

Anonymous said...

Spokker and Dchall, I wish you two would just disappear!

Why do naysayers such as yourselves have to see every change that Disney makes as commercialization?

Your views are so flawed that it's just laughable.

Kevin said...

Is there ever a chance that Disney will expand any of their monorail lines with additional tracks? They have, in the long-ago past, and maybe there's no place to go in Anaheim, but what about Disney World? I've always hoped for more resorts with monorail stations, and it wouldn't hurt to have another monorail loop at that hit the newer resorts and parks, like Animal Kingdom, et al. And I love the monorails! More monorails!

Anonymous said...

I actually thought that this was the weakest BSA in awhile most of this stuff we can pick up elsewhere in discussion boards and whats rehashed from the past ... Honor where is the Juice? the stuff that got us hooked in the first place look we appreciate your bsa we understand your working but give us something more than what we have already heard.

DCHall said...

So disagreeing with something Disney does is not allowed, unless you want to be labeled a "naysayer?" THAT is laughable. You have your own mind that you can make up for yourself. If it weren't for "naysayers," Eisner would still be in charge. Besides, I have been in agreement with this current Disney leadership 90% of the time. Forgive me, I'd rather not be a complete sheep (though it's hard with these new guys, they seem to make the right decision most of the time).

Don't take my word for it. Or would you like to see all these guys go away too?

Anonymous said...

I thought it was a great report - it got me excited about all that is coming --- except for the crowds. There isn't enough space in DCA for all the people that will be coming to see all this new great stuff. (Hopefully, there will be more benches in the plans, too.)
TL plussing and having an inside theater back in Fantasyland will be great to see also.

Thanks for all your efforts, especially in the midst of deadlines, life...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the report! Great read as usual.


Just a quick question regarding the monorails....is Monorail Purple being kept around until the new Blue appears, or is it disappearing once Red comes online?

Anonymous said...

It's not that disagreeing is not allowed... but I mean, come on! You compared a ride to the Mona Lisa.... pffft.

I would think and hope that they would expand the monorail for the 3rd gate, as well as expand the fleet. Imagine being able to get on in Disneyland, and instead of walking down the street to the new park, you fly over to it and are dumped right inside. Then you could 'fly' over to DCA (somewhere in paradise pier), then you could go to Downtown Disney and back to Disneyland. All on the Disney monorail.

Problem is though, how would Disney account for the varying tickets etc. while stopping at different parks.

Anonymous said...

If it weren't for "naysayers," Eisner would still be in charge.

Sorry, but you're wrong again.

It's not the internet fanboys that rallied for Eisner's ouster. It was the shareholders.

The reason why Eisner is gone is because the shareholders wanted him to go, not powerless fanboys.

DCHall said...

If you want to ignore the "powerless fanboys" who lent their support to Roy Disney when he went on his Save Disney campaign, which he used to rally the shareholders, then go right ahead.

(Incidentally, I'm also a shareholder, but never mind that point. Let's just keep my status as "powerless fanboy" in this discussion.)

Did you bother to read the link I posted earlier? Like I said, if you think my disagreement with the changes being made to that ride is invalid, then you must know a heck of a lot more than all those Disney-Pixar artists as well. More power to you. I still will have to disagree with you though.

My apologies on using the Mona Lisa as an example of art - I was trying to compare the artwork of legendary Disney artist Mary Blair to something that would be more understandable. Obviously that analogy went over a few heads.

OlegC said...

Honor - thanks for another great update. While we can pick up some of this stuff elsewhere - I kind of prefer your delivery to others and their fasle prophet style of news/rumor delivery.

Long Live the Bothans! ;-)

Anonymous said...

could you possibly make a list of what will be down this summer in terms of walling and ride closure? I'm trying to convince my family to wait until 2012 to see the parks when most major work has been finished,'cause I live in SC and don't go to DL often.

Joe said...

Such a detailed update, thanks!

I'm so excited to hear that Tomorrowland may be getting an update. I've always thought that they should theme it with a retro feel to make it a bit timeless (really just bringing back a sensibility of how it was). I'm glad that they may head in that direction.

It really will be interesting to see how this all pans out in the end.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the update Honor! :)

Honor Hunter said...

Hey Kevin,

Sorry, but no plans are in the works for an expansion of the Monorail... it's just so expensive, it would be like adding a new "E-Ticket" to the park. That doesn't mean in the future we won't get one, but as of this time it's not on the drawing board.

Kevin said...

Honor,

Thanks for the response. Too bad, say I. I know it's pricey, but one of my favorite things about the parks has always been the monorail. And the WEDway People Mover (I know, they call it something else, I can never update my brain). And it's such a great and unique way to get to the parks. I'd love a monorail that hit the Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios down at WDW. Ah, well. One of my first memories of WDW is riding the monorail. It's just so wrapped up with Disney in my head, I was disappointed when first going to Disney MGM/UA lo these many years ago that there was no monorail to take me to it.

Ah, well.

Nacho said...

It's not just the boys who are looking forward to Cars Land, so don't forget the girls (little and big) during your next installment!

Bsd said...

HH,

I read this a while ago, but did I remember a tad hint that you are actually one of the few people that are okay with this controversial ISAW refurbishment? Don't be afraid to come out and say it. (actually, on the other hand, it might save you an email box flooded with angry Disney purists who prefer the deteriorated ISAW, but thanks for mentioning your opinion)

I know you seem like the kind of person that looks at the bright side and knows that yes we might get a few unnoticeable Disney characters but for the most part a fresh, bright, much needed refurbished ISAW.

spokker-- why add them? because there is obviously a war going on within the walls of Disney, just like there is here within the fan community (I think). There are the group of people who want to just extensively refurbish and freshen the ride up, and those who want to do a bit more by adding the characters like in HK. I think they are trying to please both sides here. Adding the characters, but not making them too noticeable so Disney fanatics dont bitch and complain too much while still going through with the extensive refurb. I'm sure they also know that outside of the fanatics the public will be ok with it (that is if they notice that characters have been added in the first place).

BrittaniaRulz007 said...

Yep,

Cars Land is a silly title especially when the movie already has the answer.













Radiator Springs

http://joshdonovan.tripod.com said...

In regards to the name Cars Land, I totally agree that a different name would be more appropriate. Since they're going for a more retro California, why not name it Route 66 with the inscription: Inspired by the Disney Pixar film Cars.

Anonymous said...

rumors or not, i love feeling hopeful for the parks & resorts. i am most excited about things happening over at dca. but even though shows and attractions are tops, it is also great to hear of any new restaurants and shops in the works as well, so honor, please don't forget those rumors as well.

Anonymous said...

and check out the hong kong disneyland small world videos on youtube. their small world looks amazing on the inside!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZKPNeQspWE

Anonymous said...

My biggest gripe with Disneyland

The price of admission!

$63 for adults

About 2.5 times the price of Knott's.

CRAZY!

I remember not too many years ago you could get a southern california ticket for $19.99. I know, inflation, but this is CRAZY!

Kevin Bruehl said...

Oh Man, Disneyland keeps me excited more and more. I can't wait for the Pirates of the Caribbean land for Tokyo Disneyland, a whole new ride for it and the land itself. I also can't wait for the new Indiana Jones ride for DIsneyland Paris, the proposed Temple of the Forbidden Eye style ride. I didn't heard about the possible Lone Ranger show until now, which sounds fantastic because I can't wait to see the movie with Johnny Depp as Tonto, one of the funniest castings I've ever heard, plus I love westerns, and with great work, this could be the biggest, funniest, most adventurous western in the style of Pirates of the Caribbean, plus I had an idea for that type of western, not Lone Ranger, but a fun one. I want to work DIsney or Universal as an "Imagineer," that must be one of the most fun jobs on the planet. I'll actually be sad to see Star Tours go, though some people think its' outdated, I now think to myself, it's still really fun, I even own the audio for the whole thing. I can't wait for Carsland too and as a future Imagineer, I also have a bunch of new ideas for Disney attractions for both Disneyland and their other parks. Disneyland needs a really new bold attraction, something that's just gonna blow everyone's minds,a totally immersive guest experience, and i think I have just the attraction. I'm not gonna say anything now. I also with they'd make another Disney park when they get the chance, who knows what new things will be around the corner.