Sunday, February 8, 2009

Mary Shelley's DCA Turns Eight...


Eight years ago today, Doctor Victor Frankenstein took a collection of bodies he'd stolen from the local morgue, stitched together and placed them on table. He then pulled a lever which lifted this mass of unliving meat into a skylight above his laboratory. You see, a storm was brewing. And that was his plan. Once it had reached the top, the electrodes and wires that flowed from the "Creature" could be seen connecting to several conduits that the mad doctor had put together. Finally, lightning struck the right place and traveled along to the coils. This transmitted a surge of current through the dead collection of body parts. Several moments of silence followed and then he could hear it...

A heartbeat.

It was alive... It's Alive!

No, Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" isn't a parable for "Disney's California Adventure," but it sure could be. After years of several stalled attempts at turning the Disneyland Park into the Disneyland Resort, on this day eight years ago, Eisner succeeded in doing so. And not.

A disappointment from the beginning. Many were confused when the project was first announced. A park about California IN California? A collection of lands that differed in both quality and style depending on where you start out. The only land that initially screamed out "Disney" was the Golden State area. And that was because it was by the entrance to the new Grand Californian Hotel where guest payed lots of money to be where an entrance to the park was. Eisner must have hoped that guest didn't notice the decline in detail and quality as you left the area and moved to the Pier and elsewhere. It looked like Disney's attempt to create it's own Six Flaggs or Knott's Berry Farm and for some reason Dr. Frankenstein, uhm, I mean, Michael Eisner didn't get it. He'd become delusional over the past few years, and along with his other Suits and Bean Counters had designed an inferior park that he thought would collect lines of guest simply because of the Disney name, not the Disney quality...

He was wrong then... and on that opening weekend as he stayed in the penthouse suite at the Grand Californian, I think reality began to set in. I can't say for sure, and his hubris would never let him admit it, but I believe he knew it. I think he knows it for sure now. If only he hadn't appointed that Igor, I mean, Pressler, to come up with this idea. But alas, it was too late... After years of promising to give us a Ruth's Criss Stake House, he gave us a McDonalds with a Ruth's Criss Stake House sign out front to fool us.

It didn't...

Which is why today, on the eighth anniversary of Disneyland's Second Gate there's no big ceremony. No big announcement. No big... anything. Only a park filled with walls and constructions. You see, the Monster's body is being worked on, quite extensively, to the point of around 900 million dollars. And when it's done, this park will finally start to look like a Disney park. A worthy park. But think of all the pain that it's went through to get there...

Happy Birthay, DCA.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ouch!

Anonymous said...

you know, I have to say... I love Disney's California Adventure. When I first visited 3 years ago, I saw nothing wrong with it, and I stand my ground today. It was fun, it was fresh, and I loved a bug's land! Paradise Pier was what it was meant to be; a classic California pier amusement park. DCA had Soarin, TZTOT, GRR, that great bug movie, Screamin'- what was not to like about this park? Pacific Wharf was also one of the best areas, one of the best themed in Disney's Parks. And the food was great! So yes, Happy Birthday DCA!! It's really exciting to hear about all the changes going on in what was already a worthy park, can't wait to go back and check it all out in 2010!!

Honor Hunter said...

Actually, Paradise Pier ISN'T what it was meant to be. The budget was dramatically cut. What you see is a cheapified version of what the Imagineers hoped to have built before Pressler came in and slashed almost 300 million from the budget. As for Bug's Land, it wasn't there on opening day. It was one of many things added to boost attendance, which still didn't get boosted much. DCA was a paltry $600+ theme park where had been promised a 2 to 3 BILLION dollar theme park. We didn't get it and Tokyo did. Eisner thought we wouldn't notice and we did.

My point isn't that there aren't things to enjoy at DCA. There are. There aren't nearly enough of them, and glaring mistakes can be found all around the park... My point is that all this that has to be done could have been avoided. The warning signs were there. And Eisner simply drove on past not even bothering to look.

I believe Bob Iger gets it. Most of the current management get it(not all, I'm afraid). But I hope that we continually remind the management of the Mouse about this so that they don't repeat the mistakes of the past into mistakes of the future.

Read that as a Third Gate here in Anaheim. Iger's first test will be what we find when Shanghai DL is announced later this year...

Kevin Crossman said...

Look, I'm not going to say that DCA is the pinnacle of imagineering, but this post seems a tad mean-spirited. Disney not celebrating an 8th birthday is some sort of slight on the park? Puh-lease. It's the 8th, not 5th or 10th birthday. Com' on.

I've always said there was nothing wrong with DCA's theming that more and better ride-based attractions wouldn't have fixed. Let's give Disney credit for doing the right thing and addressing the park's deficiencies.

hugh hogwarts said...

"Pacific Wharf was also one of the best areas, one of the best themed in Disney's Parks. And the food was great!"

Yeah, I like paying $60 bucks for a tortilla making ride!

If you don't expect much, you won't be disappointed. I bet county fairs and carnies are just awesome to you.

Honor Hunter said...

Sorry Kevin,

but that's what happens when I do a post recovering from a cold and fever... I'm not in a good mood and DCA, Eisner and Pressler are the target of my misery...

Hehe. But truthfully, look at most of my post, I fully expect it to be a good park, but as I said near the end of this post, just look at what we had to go through to get here? It'd be different if there was no warning. The Imagineers knew it, I believe deep down Eisner did, but he rejected it. Pressler, I don't think had a clue...

May he be unemployed for the rest of his miserable existence. I hope that sounded cruel... it was intended to. Now I've got to go lay down under an electric blanket.

Mr. Lincoln said...

How much of the budget for DCA is going to changing the unpopular carnival games with newly themed carnival games that will still be unpopular? A bad unsuccessful idea is not turned around by changing the backdrop. The revamp on the carnival style games is a waste of money... IMO.

Eisner may know is his own mind that the park "lacks" but he will always spin it and take credit for "planting the seed."

Anonymous said...

I get the criticism of the carnival games, but then again.. isn't that all the Frontierland Shooting Exposition is?

The carnival games fit in well with the theme, more-so when they're redone, and add an extra dimension and another layer of activities for guests to do.

I don't know how they're priced though... if it's like the Frontierland Shooting Exposition where the cost is cheap, but enough to stop people hogging it, then that's fine. If it's priced to make a greedy buck for the company then they need to rethink it.

Mr. Lincoln said...

The difference is people frequent the Frontierland Shooting gallery.

Sure the DCA ones fits into the theme (although the whole Pier theme is weak in general) and it will fit into the new theme just as well. It just feels gimmicky to me, and I suspect the majority of guests as well.

It feels like all the second rate amusement parks and carnivals that Disneyland tries to rise above. I don't feel that slapping a 20-30's cartoon theme is going to draw any more people than it did before, and trust me that's not many. If an idea isn't popular changing the backdrop won't turn things around.

And as far as "adding an extra dimension and another layer of activities for guests to do," I agree whole heartedly. But with ones that are successful.

DCA-Sucks said...

DCA's 8th Anniversary is no big deal. I agree with Kevin. It's the 10th Anniversary that matters, but in DCA's case, it's a who cares as well.

I'm sure DCA will get better as its Extreme Makeover continues, but I really really hate the proposed Pan-Pacific Auditorium entrance. Come on. Not again. It's been done before.

DCA is still a clone of something or anything. Even with its original ideas, it still seems half-baked and lacking of WOW.

Once its additions are done, I can't wait for them to be duplicated in WDW. Then you have to ask, why bother. DCA is a second rate park forever.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only person who didn't have a problem with DCA's theme? There's plenty of blame to go around for why DCA hasn't been as successful as it could have been, (and Honor's got most of the big ones down) but I really don't think the "park about California in California" theme is the reason.

WDI could do a theme park on the history of lint and make it interesting if you let them go nuts creatively and spend the money to make it happen. Disney (read Mike and Paul) decided that they lost their shirts in Paris because the they let WDI do what they wanted, and they decided to do DCA on the cheap - and when the park opened, they reaped what they sowed.

I have to admit, I hated DCA when it opened, but I think it's grown on me. Now if Disney and WDI can manage to fix it over the next couple of years and convince people who visited DCA Mark I and were underwhelmed to come back and give it another shot, they might have something.

Anonymous said...

It was still and always will be a not so attractive theme. When it opened especially, it was a mess, a disastrous mess that proved to be unentertaining. Now they are trying to fix the mess, but it won't work wondrously. yea things will be copied to other disney parks and the theme will always be there. california in california. A sea theme park would have been much better or even westcot. This will never be since it was branded as cheezy from the begining. I wont be surprised if Disney gives up on the park 10 years from now, being a disney first.

lindsay Brothers Studios said...

I am completely gobsmacked that people are still defending this thing 8 years later.

CheriBibi said...

I think we should be arsh on the cheap Disney parks like DCA and WDS, I think we must not undermine what has been driving Walt Disney Company since its founding : its customers high expectations (set by an always-above-average quality).

DCA is a disappointment, WDS is a shame, even though they are in the process of becoming worthy Disney parks.

So untill they become beautiful Pygmalions, I don't mind having them called Frankenstein...

Great post Honor.

AnoneeMonkey said...

I think he's calling them the monster. Frankenstein was the mad scientist.

Anonymous said...

My first visit to DCA was during the cast member previews. I was a member of WESTCOT 2000 and enjoyed following the creation of the Disneyland/Anaheim resort from its inception in the early 1990s. I was very excited to finally step foot in Disneyland's second gate.

But then we rode the rides. First was Superstar Limo, next up was Screamin' - sans music. Then Soarin', whose choppy film cuts were much more obvious on that first ride than the incredible musical score I enjoy today.

Needless to say, my impression after those three experiences was not good. The years passed and the park is better than it was then, but so much more needs to be done. I'm glad the improvments have begun. Toy Story Mania is an incredible example of what can be done with the park. I'm very excited to walk through the park again once the work walls are down.

Anonymous said...

DCA needs more Disney in it. If it's going to refurbished to represent Walt's early years in California, then there should be rides and attractions that expand on classic movies like Snow White and Fantasia. And the Muppets have GOT to go - they are an unnecessary acquisition, not a credible part of the Disney legacy. That Muppet 3D show is a jarring distraction at best. More *authentic* Disney, and more Pixar (yes, it was an acquisition too, but the two companies had worked together and created great properties together prior to the acquisition) is what is needed to make DCA a viable and thematically harmonious addition to Disneyland. As Honor says, things do look a bit more hopeful. I'm rooting for the "new guys" in Disney management to bring their visions to life...

Answering Idiots said...

"Am I the only person who didn't have a problem with DCA's theme?" - Anonymous

Yes. Yes, you are. Does that answer your question?