Posted on Leave a comment

The Top 8 Rides to Be Stuck on For Eternity at Disneyland

In a tweeted poll, LaughingPlace.com said, “Pick a ride to be stuck on for all eternity at #Disneyland (the ride is working, you just can’t get off),” and they gave four options: Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, and Space Mountain.

Space Mountain

Anyone who chose Space Mountain was straight up tripping. If you take it at face value, there’s no good way to eat or get food while on the attraction – and you’d be eating on a roller coaster. Probably not the smartest decision. If you take it at fantasy value, there’s no place to get food in space. While Disney would switch it up and you could experience Ghost Galaxy, HyperSpace Mountain and that strange but cool 1970’s disco version of the attraction. It would still be difficult and horrible to be stuck on it for eternity. And how would you go to the bathroom? In space, no one can hear you scream, but if someone started tossing the accumulated waste into the travel areas, you might find reason to scream, or keep your mouth shut tighter.

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride – I feel like this attraction is one that is under the strong possibility of getting removed from Disneyland soon. There’s nothing keeping it there. The Wind in the Willows animated film isn’t exactly in the top 12 of Disney films. There aren’t any sequels or (more) live action adaptations in the work. There isn’t a lot of merchandising. The only things that the attraction has going for it are it’s a classic and you get to drive to Hell! That’s pretty amazing in Disneyland. As far as food and bathroom go, there aren’t a lot of nearby options.

However, in terms of the fantasy realm. Moley is eating a fine meal. You can go to the bar and get a root beer float. There are pies on the journey, and there is never a shortage of adventure. Hell might be a little scarier though…

Buzz Lightyear score
To Infinity and Beyond…

Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters – Spend enough time on the ride, and I might finally be able to get to 3 million points, even if they reset after every pass. Food would be hard to come by, even in the fantasy version of this – unless you can eat batteries, aliens, or dinosaur eggs.

its a small world facade

it’s a small world – I actually like the song, so that wouldn’t be a huge problem for me. At face value, you’d have a pleasant rip around the world, you come out into the fresh air, people can deliver food to the boat as you pass by the dock, and it would be a great place to stretch out and sleep. Sooner or later, you would also master the lyrics to the song in at least 5 languages. The scene would change as the Christmas season rolled around, so there would visual appeal beyond what a chiming clock on the outside could bring. Waste could be thrown over the side if there’s no bucket.

Heading into the fantasy realm, it’s a small world could provide you with amazing cuisine from all over the world. You’d meet friendly people and enjoy their hospitality all while floating by on your boat. If you want to travel to new countries and enjoy other cultures, an imaginary trip through it’s a small world eternity would be amazing and never boring.

Disneyland Train Station
Disneyland Train Station

The Disneyland Railroad – It’s outside. You’d be able to switch seats, and if you were lucky, you could ride in the comfort of the Lily Belle. You also get to pass through the Grand Canyon and the time of the dinosaurs. Food can be delivered at any of the stops, including beignets and mint juleps or possibly something from the Blue Bayou or Club 33, and you get to watch as the core elements of Disneyland change. You’d probably need a bucket or you could eliminate waste over the side of the train cars or out the back.

Disneyland's Haunted Mansion
Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion

The Haunted Mansion – it’s my favorite attraction and one that I’ve been dying to join ever since the idea of a death certificate occurred to me. However, as a living person the complication that exists is whether or not we would have to remain seated in our… Doom Buggies. If so, then we would miss out on the Stretching Room, the Portrait Gallery with its staring busts, and Little Leota on the way out. The Haunted Mansion would never be able to have the last laugh again. At least it’s dark, so using the bathroom would be less embarrassing and buckets could be exchanged at either the loading or the unloading zone. Just be sure to go at a time when you won’t have to face the downhill out of the attic.

In the realm of fantasy, the whole tour really is a swinging wake, and as long as we can avoid the axe of Constance, we should be okay. The food might be a little old, but the Christmas Overlay would see fresh gingerbread!

Still, without the queue, its comforting atmosphere, the Hearse, the various cemeteries, and the not-smiling faces of the hosts and hostesses, the Haunted Mansion might be missing something as a complete experience. You really need to be able to get the whole experience from the unexpected outside to the foyer and beyond. (If you like the Haunted Mansion, get a copy of “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”)

Bertha in the Elephant Bathing Pool
Bertha in the Elephant Bathing Pool

The Jungle Cruise – It’s never a bad day for a good pun. The Jungle Cruise will have you laughing again and again, especially as they change riverboat skippers. You’ll get to hear old jokes and new jokes while relaxing outside and passing by the most dangerous part of the journey – the return to civilization. If you get hungry, the Tropical Hideaway may be able to throw you a Dole Whip or Bao. Those are pretty good (and reasonably priced). Waste can be tossed overboard if there’s no bucket available.

In the fantasy realm, you get a tour of the greatest rivers of the world. The adventure of a lifetime that includes seeing animals in the wild and avoiding the perils of a dangerous jungle. You might even get to meet the head salesman of the jungle. Business is shrinking, so he’s offering a deal: two of his heads for the price of one of yours. There’s plenty of vegetation and animals to eat if you can catch them from your boat, and the skipper has a gun, so you’ll be protected from that tiger that can jump over 50 feet and go right over the boat.

Pirates fountain
Pirates fountain

The Pirates of the Caribbean – It would be a cold day for compassion if you couldn’t get someone to toss you some food form the Blue Bayou. It’s a part of the attraction itself and has some of the best food at Disneyland. The adrenaline drops, the amazing effects, and the storyline all add to this attraction to make it one of the best and possibly the one that you should ride for eternity if you had to choose. The boat benches are spacious enough to sleep on. Waste can be dumped overboard if there’s no bucket available.

In the fantasy realm, you would still be able to get food and rum, lots of rum, so if that’s your thing, Pirates makes a good choice. Plus, pirates don’t make such bad companions, do they?

Mark Twain
Mark Twain

The Mark Twain – Spacious, luxurious riverboat travel down the Rivers of America! This is the attraction that is the best choice for a ride that lasts eternity. Walt Disney had his anniversary party in 1955 on the Mark Twain, in part. There’s a place for a bar, and musicians like Louis Armstrong have performed on the main deck. The leisurely ride has enough nature and sun, and when the weather gets inclement, there are areas that remain dry. Food can be delivered and prepared on board, and if there isn’t a bathroom on board already, one can easily be installed. Need a place to sleep? There’s a bunk in the wheelhouse. And you get to be in Fantasmic!

If you want to read more analysis of the Disney Company, check out “Penguinate! The Disney Company.” For more on Disneyland’s structure and its application to creativity, check out “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.”

Advertisements
Posted on Leave a comment

Heroes of the Haunted Mansion: Claude Coats

Claude Coats started out in backgrounds in animation; through this experience, he became a master at establishing moods through the use of atmosphere. In the 1950s, Coats designed the building for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, pioneering the idea of sculpting ideas before they were built. He told imagineer Tony Baxter that Baxter should remain hands on. Drawing can trick people into believing that something can be done. Those same tricks can’t be done to a sculpture.

He worked alongside Marc Davis on the Pirates of the Caribbean, and at the completion of that attraction, he was assigned the Haunted Mansion. While both Coats and Davis wanted to be the headman on the Haunted Mansion, it was there interaction that made the Haunted Mansion a classic attraction. The tension between the two came from their differing ideas about what the Haunted Mansion should be. Coats wanted a scarier attraction. Marc Davis wanted some humor in the attraction.

Walt Disney recognized that Coats had a knack for being able to translate two dimensional images into three dimensions. Coats was also able to lay down tracks that maximized the use of a building’s interior. These talents were put to good use by the Disney Company. Find out what your talents are and find the best way to use them.

Sources: “The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic” by Jason Surrell.

Walt Disney’s Imagineering Legends and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Park” by Jeff Kurtti.

For more on creativity and the Haunted Mansion, get “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” online or at the Candy Cane Inn in Anaheim.

For more on Disneyland and Creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity.” For deep thinking about the Disney Company, check out “Penguinate! The Disney Company.”

You can also find more articles about Disney, Disneyland and creativity at our archive website, www.penguinate.weebly.com, and on our blog. If you would like to get even more articles about creativity, join our Patreon and become a Penguinator.

Posted on Leave a comment

An In-Depth Look at the Biggest Problem of Disney California Adventure

As a Penguinator, does it make sense to be critical of Disney California Adventure (DCA)? No one at the Disney Company is likely to read this post and think, “Oh, yeah, we did forget that,” or “Schnikey! We need to fix that ASAP,” especially if I were to leave this post private and for Penguinators only instead of giving you an advanced viewing opportunity. I don’t have any Disney employees on my Patreon list that I’m aware of, and I’m decently certain there aren’t any that visit my blog. Even if there were, the company is notorious for not accepting unsolicited ideas from outside.

Besides, anything I say has already been said by someone else and probably thought of by the imagineers. Still, as a mental exercise to improve creativity, looking at DCA provides the opportunity to unleash the judge, find what’s wrong with the current park, and figure out how to make it better. Imagineers can talk about the idea of Blue Sky thinking where everything goes and there are no rules, but in the end, they are constrained by the park’s current footprint and the bean counter’s budget, which would include the opportunity cost of any major renovation that would significantly change the park. We have no similar constraints if we choose to offer up possible solutions to the DCA problem. We can truly engage in Blue Sky thinking without reference to financial consequences, thinking only about what’s wrong with DCA and what would make the park better.

Where’s the Theme, Park?

Disneyland changed the amusement park industry by, among other things, theming itself and its lands. Walt Disney established early on that spacemen and cars don’t go into Frontierland, and the cowboys stay out of Tomorrowland. The sightlines were created so that people viewing a building on Main Street, U.S.A. would see a different roof than they would see when viewing the same building from Adventureland.

The berm with its train and trees was devised to keep the rest of the world from interfering with the guests’ ability to suspend disbelief. When coupled with the negotiated rules that Anaheim passed for buildings outside the park, guest don’t see anything that Disney doesn’t want them to see (beyond the occasional plane or helicopter flying overhead). Even with Tomorrowland’s current shortcomings (there are plenty of them) and the addition of Star Wars: Galaxy Edge, Disneyland is all about theming – right down to the dolls making the popcorn in the popcorn carts.

As ill-conceived as it may have been to put a theme park about California in California when a majority of Disneyland visitors are from California, DCA was themed appropriately when it opened. The Sunshine Plaza was upbeat and California themed through and through. Hollywood Backlot Studios had the glamour of the 1930s. Golden State celebrated the architecture of the Bay Area, and Paradise Pier took its cue from the Beach and Boardwalk parks. Condor Flats took on California’s aviation history, and Grizzly River Peak with the neighboring Redwood Trail were a tribute to California’s north. The park may not have been good when it opened, but it was themed.

Unfortunately, the theme wasn’t the right one, and the Disney Company had to come up with ways to get people to spend their money to go over to their second gate. Bug’s Land was added to appeal to youngsters. Not really California themed, but it didn’t intrude on the rest of the park, and there were bug’s in California. “Twilight Zone Tower of Terror” was built in the backlot; the perfect place for it. As a hotel from Hollywood’s glamor days of the late 1930’s, the Tower of Terror fit in with the rest of the theme.

When “Monsters, Inc.: Mike and Sulley to the Rescue” opened in 2006, it signaled the beginning of the end for DCA’s theming. Placed in Hollywood in the same area as the defunct Superstar Limo ride that lasted less than a year; Mike and Sulley weren’t (and still aren’t) Hollywood themed. Still the monsters occupy a prominent place in Hollywoodland as one of the two rides in the area – the other one being the Tower of Terror.

In 2008, Paradise Pier saw the opening of the beloved Toy Story Midway Mania. Set within the games of the pier, Midway Mania could be forgiven its intrusion; even if its story, guests being shrunk down to the size of toys so they could play the game, didn’t fit with the theme, the game element of the attraction worked. With Mr. Potato Head playing the Midway Mania Barker, the Toy Story characters didn’t do much to detract from the theme though no self-respecting boardwalk would have such a sophisticated game during the time that Paradise Pier was supposed to reflect. (And let’s face it, Midway Mania is one of the best attractions in either park.)

Other rides on Paradise Pier were rethemed over the next three years to include Disney characters. Mickey’s Fun Wheel received a new paint job and a giant Mickey Head. The Orange Stinger became the Silly Symphonies Swings and Mullholland Madness became Goofy’s Sky School. Within the singular concept of the ride, the retheming of the last two was brilliant. The Silly Symphony Swingers opens up to reveal a painting of Mickey Mouse conducting the band from “the Band Concert,” which isn’t from the Silly Symphony series (highlighting the theming problem again). Still, the use of the whirlwind cartoon on the swings support pole is a great idea. Goofy’s Sky School is just “plane” fun. The problem is that none of the changes align with the area’s theming at the time, and these rides are exactly that – rides – not attractions. These are off-the-shelf, experience-them-at-your-local-carnival rides.

While hyped tremendously as a new attraction for the park, Ariel’s Undersea Adventure quickly became DCA’s version of Snow White’s Scary Adventure. At seemingly twice the size and half the fun, this show-stopping, audio-animatronic disappointingly doesn’t carry the story far enough or strongly enough. Still, it’s routinely 5-minute wait time makes it a nice place to take a break from the heat, and it features some interesting advances – the descent into the sea and the Ursula figure. It’s still in the wrong place. The Little Mermaid has nothing to do with California or Paradise Pier.

In 2012, DCA attempted to keep with the California theming and connect to its mythical beginnings. Missing a golden opportunity to capitalize on its largest changes, the park turned the Sunshine Plaza into Buena Vista Street of 1923, the time when Walt Disney arrived in California with a suitcase and a dream. The Carthay Circle Theater was opened and fit in with the Tower of Terror in the background, but Cars Land with its decidedly Arizona feel debuted at the same time. Arizona isn’t California. How is Cars Land a part of the California Adventure? It’s not, thematically speaking.

In 2016, the popular Soarin’ Over California was replace with Soarin’ Around the World. California is not the world, and the world is not California. In 2017, the Guardians of the Galaxy took over the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and, in one fell swoop destroyed the themes of Hollywoodland, Grizzly Peak Airfield and Buena Vista Street. These are both popular and fun attractions, but popular and fun aren’t a theme, and the original versions were just as popular and fun.

Pixar Pier
Pixar Pier

In 2018, Paradise Pier became Pixar Pier. Pixar isn’t a theme. It’s a collection of (if the Internet is to believed) vaguely related films with different settings. Even if Pixar properties were relegated to Pixar Pier, the them wouldn’t work. Mixing the superheroes of “The Incredibles,” the shrinking you down to toy size of Midway Mania and Jessie’s Critter Carousel, and the Inside/Out characters of the mind isn’t a theme; it’s a cacophony. Add to it that Mickey’s Fun Wheel and Flik’s Flyers just received paint jobs, with no significant changes otherwise, to go along with the Pixar theme and it looks like Disney has just decided to throw in the towel. They probably could’ve left Flik’s Flyers alone since it was a Pixar film and the theming would’ve worked with Midway Mania, but “A Bug’s Life” has other problems when it comes to theme parks.

Leftovers from Paradise Pier, the Golden Zephyr and Jumpin’ Jellyfish make no sense in terms of theming. They aren’t related to Pixar or Disney characters and only represent the former California Beachside aesthetic. With all of the incohesive changes, Disney California Adventure doesn’t really celebrate Disney or California. Instead, it focuses on providing Pixar a place to put its movie franchises. Things won’t be much better when Marvel joins the scene with its own land. Marvel Land will be able to adopt Guardians of the Galaxy, but this will leave the Red Car Trolley out in the cold and gut the main attractions of Hollywoodland – the Marvel Meet and Greets.

This mishmash of rides and attractions keeps DCA from achieving greatness through theming. Instead it’s a great example of what Disneyland never wanted to be – an amusement park (except DCA is clean and the cast members are friendly).

Why Bug’s Land Had to Change

While the new Marvel Land may not fix DCA’s theming, it does address another relatively small problem: the relevancy of A Bug’s Land. Based on the 1998 Pixar film “a bug’s life,” the land opened in 2002. The land itself was made to be attractive to the younger set, except the 4D film experience “It’s Tough to Be a Bug,’ which was terrifying for some adults. It’s environmental and educational feel was a welcome respite from some of the larger areas of the park, but there was no way these bugs could survive.

The film itself was not one of Pixar’s best. It earned $363 million at the box office, but without a sequel, TV shows, or a cuddly, iconic character, the film has no relevance to today’s children. How many people even remember the film without confusing it for “Antz”? Disney’s classic animation fare has been able to remain relevant through marketing (specifically, the creation of the Princess line, which keeps all of the princesses in the public light as long as new princesses are added every couple of years or so) rereleases and remakes. These movies hold up even through the changing times, and the theming of the lands act as a crutch.

Attractions at Disneyland also remain relevant through the sheer size and scope. The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad are iconic, beloved attractions that create their own atmosphere and fans. Flik’s Flyers? Tuck and Roll’s Drive ‘Em Buggies (which were not bumper cars)? Francis Ladybug Boogie… Does anyone even remember this ride? These were all rides with no real creation to them and without a Dumbo to keep them aloft. Only Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train seemed to make an effort to provide something akin to a new place to visit.

With nothing new on the bug front, DCA needed to come up with something new. Marvel provided the answer. As long as they stay away from the now deceased Iron Man, the land will remain relevant for the next few decades.

World of Color’s and Incredicoaster’s Footprints

The World of Color, which debuted in 2013, is arguably the best show in DCA. The fountains are spectacular, the water screens are amazing, the pyrotechnics are amazing, and the show is flexible enough to be changed almost on the fly to advertise new movies subtly and include new animated sequences. One Christmas show featured the magic of snowflakes a foot in diameter that floated up into the sky. Even the dining options and the viewing areas that go with them are incredible.

The investment in the equipment that Disney made and the popularity of the show make changing the venue area around the show basically impossible. Imagineers are constrained by the World of Color’s space needs.

Just as constraining is the space required for a lesser attraction, the now-called Incredicoaster. Wait times for this attraction hover around 25 minutes, but it is still large enough and technically advanced to warrant protection by the bean counters. It’s change over from California Screamin’ is also an advance in storytelling, especially when it comes to roller coasters.

By Any Other Name

When it first opened, the park was called Disney’s California Adventure. Ironically, it didn’t include Buena Vista street, but was more the company’s interpretation of what California was. Wine country, the Bay Area, the Redwoods, these were all represented. Yes, critics wondered why people would want to see the Disney version of the Golden Gate Bridge when it was just a seven-hour drive up north or a 2-hour flight. Still, that’s what Michael Eisner and his team came up with.

It changed its name to Disney California Adventure in 2010. Linguistically, this could mean that this park is an adventure in California Disney-style. Something along the lines of “have yourself a Disney California Adventure.” It doesn’t have to have the California theming in order to work, except it’s already associated with its first incarnation, and the California parts haven’t been drummed out of it. Choosing another name might work better as far as managing expectations, but it doesn’t change the fact that the park has no cohesive theming.

People come to Disneyland and its related theme parks for the cleanliness, the wonderful cast members and the theming. In its effort to cash in on its acquired IP, the Disney Company has forgotten about the theming at least as far as Disney California Adventure is concerned. Maybe they’ll get it fixed sometime in the future, but for now DCA will suffer from its continued lack of relevance and inability to inspire people to come for more than a day.

It’s our turn for Blue Sky thinking! What could Disney do to make California Adventure better?

If you would like more of this type of discussion, check out “Penguinate! The Disney Company.” Join our email list and Patreon!

Posted on Leave a comment

Heroes of the Haunted Mansion: Yale Gracey

Yale Gracey joined the Disney Company in 1939 as a layout artist. He worked on “Pinocchio,” “Fantasia” and “the Three Caballeros.” In 1959, Walt Disney set Gracey up with Rolly Crump and gave them a large room on the second floor of the animation building. They were instructed to come up with effects for the Haunted Mansion.

As the son of an American Consul, Gracey grew up in various places and had to learn to entertain himself. He filled his days with “Popular Mechanics’ and the book set called “Boy Mechanic.” He also practiced magic.

Gracey had no formal training in special effects, but his curiosity often led to him building miniatures to see if he could get an effect to work. According to Bob Gurr (Kurtti, p. 72), Gracey was given the time and space to tinker without deadlines, and Walt was fine with whatever new thing Gracey invented.

Gracey projected the face of the Magic Mirror on everything in the room one day. It led to the development of the Madame Leota effect (Kurtti, p. 73). Gracey also put the Pepper’s Ghost effect to use in the Haunted Mansion to create the Ballroom scene. Gracey died under mysterious circumstances in 1983.

Gracey tried to do new things. He tinkered, and he followed his curiosity. You can do the same thing. Follow your curiosity and create something new.

Sources: “The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic” by Jason Surrell.

Walt Disney’s Imagineering Legends and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Park” by Jeff Kurtti.

For more on creativity and the Haunted Mansion, get “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” online or at the Candy Cane Inn in Anaheim.

For more on Disneyland and Creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity.” For deep thinking about the Disney Company, check out “Penguinate! The Disney Company.”

You can also find more articles about Disney, Disneyland and creativity at our archive website, www.penguinate.weebly.com, and on our blog. If you would like to get even more articles about creativity, join our Patreon and become a Penguinator.

Posted on Leave a comment

Disneyland Doubles Down on Star Wars

The opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was either handled correctly or greatly misfired depending on who you talk to. With limits placed on annual passholders, a complicated reservation system that required many guests to stay at the Disneyland Resort hotels, and fears of overcrowding keeping other guests away, Disneyland’s first half of June was light on crowds in the park as a whole. Wait times for HyperSpace Mountain rarely rose above an hour. Other favorites had manageable wait times from 35 to 45 minutes, and many Fantasyland attractions had walk-on wait times of 5 minutes.

For those fans interested in the theming of the world’s first “theme” park, Galaxy’s Edge signaled the return of Tomorrowland to its original concept: exploring the world of tomorrow. Instead, Disney has kept its Star Wars Tomorrowland attractions open and is using them to hype Galaxy’s Edge. Instead of offering 51 different variations, Star Tours ends in Batuu, the setting for Galaxy’s Edge. As mentioned above, Space Mountain is in its Star Wars garb. Star Wars Launch Bay features meet and greets with the Star Wars characters.

All of this would be fine if there were an indication that Disneyland would move it to Galaxy’s Edge when the Star Wars Land is completed. However, the Disney Company and its development of Epcot attractions is showing that it no longer cares about the educational parts of its parks or the exploration of the future. Instead, it will rely on its pop culture aspects to draw in the crowds for entertainment. It makes sense for the company to want to use its acquired billion-dollar IP, even if it doesn’t pay respect to the educational and innovative history of the business.

Fans of the Tomorrowland concept may have to go back to their memories, old YouTube videos and TV Specials and Yesterland to experience a version of Tomorrowland that made sense within its dated context. Unless we all start a gofundme campaign and build our own Tomorrowland project. Leave a comment about what you would like to see in Tomorrowland.

For more Disney Company analysis, get “Penguinate! The Disney Company.” For more on Disneyland’s history and how it relates to creativity principles, get “Disneyland Is Creativity.” For a tour of the Haunted Mansion, its history and how it relates to creativity principles get “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” (also available at the Candy Cane Inn in Anaheim).

Posted on Leave a comment

One Image that Explains the Problem with Disney California Adventure

The second gate at the Disneyland Resort continues to perform poorly and disappoint guests. With three-day, single park passes costing around $100 per day, it makes sense for most guests to skip Disney California Adventure (DCA) altogether – especially if they are on a budget.

While there are several problems with DCA, the most glaring is the problem of theming, and the problem is easily illustrated with one photo. Taking the photo from Grizzly Peak Airfield toward the Carthay Circle Theater, the Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout towers in the background and creates a dissonant sight line that doesn’t make sense in the theme park context.

Walt Disney thought that controlling sightlines was important enough that he built a berm and planted trees on top of it to keep people from seeing what was outside the park. The Walt Disney Company has repeatedly lobbied the Anaheim City Council to keep other hotels from rising above certain heights, so that they can’t see in and they can’t be seen from the park. The Jolly Holiday Café was built with two styles of roofs – one to fit the aesthetic of Main Street, U.S.A. and one to fit the theming of Adventureland.

Disneyland and its progeny have all been about theming when they work. The current regime seems to have forgotten its company history and the innovations that it brought to amusement parks. Theming is Disney’s strongest characteristic. They use it to keep stories cohesive, and they should be using it to keep the stories of their parks understandable.

With Pixar all over DCA and not just on the pier and the Little Mermaid’s huge fin- or footprint (depending on the part of the story you’d like to reference) on the opposite side of the pier, Disney California Adventure has a theme problem. Its name no longer matches its content, and it’s been caught in a no man’s land of California references that don’t fit in the Cars landscape, the impending arrival of Tony Stark’s Marvel land, which will likely incorporate the now poorly placed Guardians of the Galaxy attraction at least in name and zone, or many of its other attractions.

It’s time for the Disney Company to let it go and speed up the retheming of the park, which will necessarily include getting rid of Buena Vista Street and Hollywoodland, which is currently the default play place for Marvel superheroes, Monsters, Inc, and Mickey’s Philharmagic – none of which actually represent the heyday of Hollywood and together they present a dissonance that does the park more harm than good.

Even with a 90-minute wait at Radiator Springs Racers and not using any FASTPASSes, my wife and finished the park between the hours of 9 am and 6 pm. We didn’t ride the Incredicoaster (She doesn’t like loops) or Goofy’s Sky School. We also skipped all of the rides, we could find almost everywhere else – Ferris wheel, giant swings, the Zephyr…

Our 6 pm departure was facilitated by the lack of good, moderately priced food choices in the park. Corn dogs, hot dogs, and hamburgers get old. The Pacific Wharf Café and the nearby Mexican and Chinese restaurants weren’t appealing, and the pasta at the end of the pier just hasn’t ever been that great.

You can still find spectacular shows like “Frozen” and “the World of Color.” When you’re not on a budget and you’ve made reservations, the Carthay Circle and Wine Country Trattoria are still two of the best restaurants in the parks. For those of us that are on a budget, Disney California Adventure isn’t worth the price of admission. I keep hoping, but it looks like it’ll be another two decades before the park finds its footing – if it ever does.

Posted on 1 Comment

Disneyland 2019

Before heading to Oregon for my author signing at Second Chance Books, I thought we should stop by my favorite place…