Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Blue Sky Buzz(Mini Update): Name Calling...
Since this is the traditional day we all gives gifts, I felt a small gift to you Disney Fans/Geeks of what is going on inside the Mouse might be appropriate...
Time marches on.
And so does the Disneyland Resort. The economic downturn has put a cramp into those plans the Mouse has had for more global expansion. As of now, it really hasn't canceled much, so much as delayed several projects. Disneyland has the luxury of having had its budget mostly planned out for a while now, which means it will hopefully be spared the brunt of the cuts from the corporate blade over the next few years(except the entertainment department which has received several cuts because of the slowdown). The Bothans have been busy, but nervous and not very talkative. I figured it was time to give you a bit of perspective and a smattering of news that may or may not change over the next year or two...
First off, you've noticed we talked a while ago about the possibility of DCA getting a name change by the tenth anniversary of the mistake... errr, I mean opening. Freudian slip there, sorry. Well, plans come and plans go and plans change sometimes comes in different ways. It appears that the current idea is to call the park:
Disney's California Adventure.
Nice ring to that. Sounds Familiar, doesn't it?
It appears the current line of thinking is to have the park themed to all the wonders that come out of California and to reflect it in the show details and rides. So just because Ariel is in the pier doesn't mean she isn't from the Golden State... Disney's version was born here. And that is the direction they seem to be headed. This isn't going to be a park celebrating California, it's going to be a park celebrating "Disney's" California.
Most of the project are moving ahead, but some of the things you see on that model in the Blue Sky Cellar(That's a nice name for a cellar, btw.) won't look the same by the time 2012 gets around. You already know that the Green Army Men parachute drop where Maliboomer is/was/will be? won't be going in. This model is almost three years old and is the original one presented during the first proposal to Iger. That's why the name on the Sun Wheel/Fun Wheel is different as well. The plans for the Maliboomer have fluctuated, but it appears as of now, because of the cost of removal the Maliboomer won't be going anywhere anytime soon. It's not scheduled for the dozer till at least 2011, if then. Since taking it out would result in far more cost than expected, this cost would have to come from the budgets allotted to other attractions and Imagineers don't want that to happen. So unless more money becomes available by that time expect to see a retheming of the attraction to match the Victorian sea-side pier it now inhabits. The Fun Wheel will not look the same either. Gone is the exterior walkway around the Fun Wheel with its two little gazebos, this is considered nice eye candy, but an expensive decorative effort that could be used in actual attractions and that is the reason people come... isn't it? The Imagineers have cut some of these thematic elements so as to have this money available for, say The Little Mermaid ride. Better to cut some of those areas than an actual attraction the Bothans tell me... and on this I agree. It's also not that we won't be getting a lot more theming because we will. These areas will have additional layers of detail added to them as the years go by. Should this expansion be successful, expect some of the theming to be worked into future budgets.
As for Mermaid and Carsland(now there's a name I want changed!), these projects are moving ahead at full speed. They will have very generous budgets and will be great crowd generators. I wish to say that it's my belief that DCA's first "Tokyo Disney" quality attraction will be Mermaid. It's going to be on par with Pooh's Hunny Hunt in TDL's Fantasyland or even the new Monster's ride in their Tomorrowland. And when that reproduction of Radiator Springs opens up you can expect a whole completely different perception of this park. It truly is going to be a shining jewel in the Imagineers' cap. Overall, the park has a bright future that will make it a very worthy sister-park in 2012... Not that there aren't/shouldn't be things that are in need of change, additional theming or removal. But that is for the Second Phase of expansion which depends on the success of the first.
Also, over in Hollywoodland(now known as Hollywood Backlot), the plans for the Muppets redo are still in flux as they decide if they're going forward with the Narnia retheme. The box office numbers were less than what the Mouse expected and it's not known if this or another planned attraction will move into the Muppets old home. Something will go there, but it may not be C.S. Lewis' children's fairytale.
The expansion/redo of the Disneyland Hotel is supposed to start late next year or at the latest early 2010, but that all depends on when it is announced. Right now the plan was for early next year to make the announcement but with economy it could be delayed. The tentative plan is to have the rethemed DLH up and going by 2012-13... again, all this depends on how quickly the economy gets firing back on all cylinders.
Now, some additional info about our parks in the East...
Tokyo Disneyland with the Japanese economy felt that those Urban Entertainment Centers(UEC) that WDI had been designing for the Oriental Land Company turned out to be financially unfeasible at this time. So they were shelved much to the disappointment of Imagineers. There are still plans underway for at least one E-Ticket for TDS in a couple years and the possibility of another couple D's if all goes well. As for Tokyo Disneyland, I haven't heard anything really noteworthy... at least not yet. We should start hearing more news come the first few months of 2009.
Hong Kong should see an announcement by next summer at the latest as the agreements between the city and Mouse should be finalized by the beginning of the new year. Hopefully the HK Officials won't throw anymore monkey wrenches in the plans. Also expect an announcement about the much rumored Shanghai park by late summer at the latest. I'd be surprised if not sooner. We should be pleasantly surprised by this park as the situation for it should come out dramatically different than HKDL.
Well, that's going to be it for now. The Bothans have been busy and much more tight-lipped than earlier this year. It appears that the economic climate means less work and with budgets tightening some could find themselves looking for work. This makes them a little more hesitant with the details. As the economy expands we should start to hear more news from both them and TeamDisney Burbank. Here's to a great 2009 for Disney and ourselves...