It won't be Golden Master for a decade...
As the Extreme Makeover picks up speed and noticeable improvement become more evident, it's time to softly unpack the future...
Ok, once again Blue Sky is here to add a little perspective laying out the (possible) terrain ahead. We're around a year and a half from the completion of Phase One of the EM and I thought we'd examine where some of the possible projects could/would be and when they could/would get done. As usual, this is a general outline, not something set in stone. Time tables can change and project status as well as choice of those projects may be altered. But this will hopefully reveal the topography of the broadening, bright future for Anaheim's Second Gate.
When the fall of 2012 comes to the Disneyland Resort, the park and resort will be dramatically different than they looked a decade ago. Like I've said before, the resort will actually be a resort. Certainly not near as big as Walt Disney World, but at least it will be the beginnings of a full resort and the "Spare Park" as some derogatorily call it, will finally be a Disney Park.
With the elaborately detailed and richly themed Buena Vista Street entrance welcoming guest through the turnstiles, it will be a much different experience for someone stepping foot in the park come the end of summer next year. That said, there will still be several areas that will/could provide ample opportunity for expansion or retheming. Translation: there is still work to be done, just not nearly as much and not necessarily as extreme!
There are four major areas for address:
1 - The majority of Hollywood Land (the former Hollywood Back Lot) will still be awaiting the majority of its transformation to a Forties (40's) makeover. While the Red Car Line will be working and the Disney Theater will reflect the coming atmosphere, the retheming of several areas along the walkways as well as the side and proposed enclosed entrance of the Hyperion Theater have yet to reflect the new period look. Also there are two stage areas ripe for expansion of attractions and a desire to update the current Muppets building. Should you see the new film featuring the characters become a hit, it will most likely stay within what was the opening theme, but likely updated to reflect the latest addition of this franchise.
2 - The area between Cars Land and transitioning from the Tower of Terror is available for the expansion of Hollywood Land or the increasing of valuable real estate in Radiator Springs. No decision has been made as to what will be put there or which combination of attractions will result. The exposed power lines on that side of the Cadillac Mountain Range offers the opportunity for more rock work to alter that skyline and reduce the remaining bad show. While the other side could offer viewpoints that better transition from the Tinsel Town facades (My own suggestion: Hollywood hills with the historic sign on one side/desert clifts that blend in to the mountainous rage on the other side.).
3 - The Golden State will start to occupy and transform the small Condor Flats area of the park over the coming years. With the opening of Cars Land, there really is no need for two desert themed area. This location, like the Grizzly River Run section, will receive a gradual makeover as elements are transitioned toward the early Fifties (50's) period that the Imagineers want the national park to project. The Red Creek Challenge Trail will likely receive retheming inspired by the Pixar film "Up" as the trail will be recast to reflect Russell's Wilderness Explorers.
The Paradise Pier area will need to be completed in the second phase of construction during the remaining decade. This is the largest area that will need to be rethemed. It will also be the most noticeable of all projects, as it takes up a much larger footprint than the other areas due for alteration. These projects will have the most visible footprint to the current expansion, so expect it to come in phases as construction would be approved.
4 - The temporary garden that has replaced the Maliboomer is a place holdover project for a 3-5 year time frame. The current and very embryonic thinking is that this area will be turned into the entrance for another E or D+ Ticket, which will most likely be built behind the Screamin' roller coaster which is currently occupied by the parade building.
The Goofy's Sky School coaster, for all the planning, is still a long term place holder project as well, although a much longer one than the Maliboomer area. Expect this area to remain for at least a decade+ as the company decides on what type of E Ticket to place here. Naturally, the theming is planned to match the surrounding areas reflecting a vibrant and roaring part of the early 20th Century.
The stores along the boardwalk are also scheduled to go under the knife around this same time for retheming to the Twenties (20's) period as well as several other elements (removal of those golden fans, retheming of lamp lighting and various, other theming). The Carousel could be expected to be transformed during this period to match the Victorian building of Midway Mania. Hopefully it will look similar to the classic structure that was presented on the model in the Blue Sky Cellar a year ago. The Screamin' queue building, line as well as the attraction itself are in need of a more focused retheming also. The transition of the queue building to something along the lines of the proposed fun house will likely be one of several options. And it's not the only location in need of some redressing along the boardwalk. The queue line for the Fun Wheel will hopefully get some variation of the beautiful covered structure that was abandoned during the design phase (my own hope's here) to replace the cheap tarps that were put back in place after the transformation from Sun to Fun.
The area featuring Ariel's Grotto is supposedly scheduled to be transformed into a Princess Palace (that name is not confirmed as the final choice, btw) and the stores are supposed to get a Neo-Victorian appearance as well to match the buildings across the pier on both sides (Mania and Mermaid).
Let me be clear that none of these areas have received an official green light, but that it is thought that these areas would be the focus of any expansion over the next decade. There are several proposals that WDI has available, but nothing is in an advanced state of planning for these areas right now until the first part of construction is finished. Once done, if the attendance levels that Iger and the Burbank/Anaheim Suits are expecting reach acceptable targets; Imagineers are hopeful that an expansion could start by 2013 or 2014 at the earliest.
Until the end of next year we will have to wait and see as the company examines the fruit of its labor in DCA's reimagining. Should attendance/merchandise/hotel bookings reflect well from all this planning, you can expect a second phase to move forward at a much faster pace.
Time will tell...