Saturday, June 28, 2008

And Now for Something Completely Different: Guest Blogger!

SO I saw Wall-E on Friday when it came out, so I was going to blog on that, besides a post about the new monorails at Disneyland, but my time to do things has suddenly been schedualed, and blogging happens to not be one of them right now. So normally you wouldn't be reading anything right now, but luckyly my sister has asked me if she can do a guest post. I was planning on posting this later after I had the time to read it, but I figured you guys needed something. So, Without further ado, a guest post!

Hey everyone! Rikua's sister here. Yes, I'm the one that works as a CM (that's Cast Member for those of you who aren't in the know) at Walt Disney World. This is the point where I would normally tell you more about myself, but I'll just skip over that right now. If I'm lucky, you'll really like this post and then Rikua will ask me back (so there!). So if you enjoy this, leave him a comment and tell him so.

Now I'm going to walk you through the history of one of our WDW attractions. Since we're from the West Coast, Rikua has a tendency to focus on Disneyland. But since I'm here in FL this summer, I've picked up on a few things. So what are we going to be discussing? I'll give you a hint: the forecast calls for a great, big beautiful tomorrow. Got it yet? That's right it's:
Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress!

For those of you who aren't familiar with the Carousel of Progress, this was one of the last attraction that Walt Disney personally saw to completion. Along with It's a Small World, the ride made it's debut at the 1964 New York World's fair. The ride originally was sponsored by GE, so it showcased the progress of an American family through four generations, mainly through the inventiveness of electrical products.
The exterior of the GE Carousel of Progress at Disneyland

But this wasn't just show and tell for GE. Walt Disney loved the idea of the American family, it was at the base of everything he did. He was also a big fan of progress--just look at all the innovation he created in his lifetime! What better idea than to combine the two, and transplant the completed attraction back to Disneyland when the fair was over? And voila! You've got the Carousel of Progress.

So why "carousel" of progress? Well, this 240-seat theater has six different stations, but rather than the stage revolving, the audience does. As the narrator explained in the first version of the attraction:
"Now most carousels just go ’round and ’round, without getting anywhere. But on this one, at every turn, we’ll be making progress."

Every act features the family father with his faithful dog (now dubbed Rover) by his side telling the audience about the new progress his family is experiencing. Additional family members occasionally pop in to add their two cents, so keep an eye out for Mother Sarah, Grandma, Grandpa, Patty, the (unnamed) little brother, and Uncle Orville.

So for those of you who are familiar with the ride, you'll be happy to know that Acts 1 and 2 haven't changed much over the years. While Act 1 is merely pinned down as turn of the century (probably pre-1900), Act 2 can be traced to 1927 because of a reference to Charles Lindenburg. However, Act 3 (1940s) and the final scene have changed quite a bit. Here's a picture of the 1940s scene as it used to look:
and here is a glimpse of the old concluding scene:
As you can see, the only thing that this last scene and the show as it currently stand have in common is probably the fact that they both happen during Christmastime. That's progress for you!

After the World's Fair closed, Walt planned to have the Carousel of Progress moved to Disneyland. It opened there in the new Tomorrowland in July 1967. Sadly, Walt's death in December 1966 meant he never got to see the transplanted attraction. The Disneyland version also had a speedramp that took guests to the second level of the theater, where Guests had the chance to see a huge model of Progress City:

Walt's eventually had a plan to build his own progress city, a place that he dubbed EPCOT (Experiment Prototype Community of Tomorrow). The actual model of Progress City didn't have the two Imagineers present, but it is assumed that they are included in this publicity photo for scaling purposes. After a run of six years, the Carousel of Progress was permanently closed at Disneyland in 1973.

But this isn't the end of the story. Oh no. Because the Carousel of Progress is still around today... but in Walt Disney World. Perhaps you'd like to know the reason the ride was moved? According to Disney sources (I got this from a guy in Imagineering, so he should know), it was the decision of the sponsor to move. As I mentioned earlier, the ride was sponsored by General Electric. With the opening of the Magic Kingdom in Florida in 1971, GE was big on the idea of having a whole new audience that hadn't been tapped into. Their idea was that the ride served as one big commercial for GE products and how they helped the family progress into the future. So by 1975, the Carousel had moved to Florida at GE's insistence.

Now this is where it gets interesting. Most people easily recognize the ride theme song, "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow," but that wasn't always the song! With the move to MK in 1975, GE asked the song to be changed. They wanted the focus to not be on the future but how GE could help you have a beautiful now. The Sherman brothers (the original composers, and the genius behind such songs as those found in Mary Poppins) reluctantly agreed to write a new theme, and the ride was redone with the song "The Best Time of Your Life." The whole point was to focus on the fact that the best time is now, and it's all possible with products from GE. You can still hear a variation of this song in the Tomorrowland background music at the Magic Kingdom if you listen carefully.

But here's the best part. The Sherman brothers were never happy about changing the theme, since "A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" was a song that they wrote for Walt. With the extensive re-theme of Tomorrowland in 1994, the attraction was changed back to the original theme song. Why the change? GE is no longer a sponsor! So Imagineers decided to put the ride back the way it was intended. It was also dubbed Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress, and given a very nostalgic feel to it. Although GE no longer sponsors the ride, if you watch carefully, you'll notice their logo on several of the new appliances.

The move to Florida also saw the end of the Progress City model and the second story of the theater. However, if you are interested, you can see part of the model when you travel on the TTA (Tomorrowland Transit Authority). Most people think this model is Walt's actual model for EPCOT, but in reality it's just a small piece of the huge Progress City diorama. Whatever it is, it's a fitting tribute for a tomorrow that never came:
The model as seen from the TTA

So you're probably wondering just what happened to that building at Disneyland. Well, from 1974 to 1988 it was the home of the attraction America Sings. Eventually the top level was converted to become the Super Speed Tunnel for the Peoplemover attraction, while the bottom was still used as the theater. With the end of America Sings, the bottom just became used as office space for several years (how much of a waste is that!). However, with Disneyland's Tomorrowland renovation in 1998, it was finally converted to Innoventions, once again using the two level design. Although it doesn't really resemble the theater it used to be at all, the carousel building still spins as a tribute to the great ride that previously was housed there.

And here's a quick bit of Hidden Disney for you. In Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom, behind the fast food station located underneath the TTA, you'll find a payphone. If you push button number 9, you'll hear a recording that pays homage to both theme songs of the Carousel of Progress. I won't spoil the surprise here, but pay close attention and you'll definitely get it.

And here's a treat for those of you who've never seen the carousel. Yep, it's a YouTube video of the attraction. Can you really avoid these when talking about the parks?

Sadly, the carousel is struggling. With almost a 60 year gap between Act 3 and Act 4, it's become harder and harder to keep the ride up to date. Since 2001, the ride has been on and off of theme park maps and will even remain closed for long periods of time. So if you are at Magic Kingdom during a busy time and it's open, you may want to catch it while you still can. It may not be long before the Carousel sees it's last tomorrow.

Before I go, I want to thank Yesterland for the use of these photographs (though I'm sure you already saw the logo on them). Also, if you'd like to find out more information about the Carousel, check out the section on it in the Imagineering Field Guide to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. Also, if you are interested in seeing all sort of some of the "Hidden Disney" details like those I mentioned, 101 Things You Never Knew About Walt Disney World: An Unauthorized Look at Tributes, Little Touches, And Inside Jokes might be a good fit for you.

Well, that's it for me folks! Leave a comment and let me know what you thought of the post. And maybe I'll be invited back sometime! :-)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Awakening Sleeping Beauty

Yeah, okay, so I started this post around last Wednesday, but never got around to writing much. Even though it says Wednesday up there, it really is a week from my last post. I'm really sorry about this, but there are times when life (or judging Project 1 in MouseTime's Imagineer Game) get in the way of other things. Besides that, I have kinda been out of ideas for posts... But I have lined up a few posts and when I get the time, I'll have my sister teach me how to time my posts and then we'll see about having a more regular schedule, but for now, this is all you've got. So, without further delay, on to the post!

So before I left on my camping trip, I told you guys about a historical post I was going to make on an attraction at Disneyland. Well, if any of you guessed it, I was taking about the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough (insert royal celebratory music here)! In early June/late May, construction walls went up around the long-closed exit to this attraction. Imagineer's were seen entering and exiting through said doors and while they stayed silent, the construction workers told guests that work was being done to restore the attraction. The problem with this being the obvious state of disrepair the attraction is in, much like the problem that they faced with the subs. You can't close an attraction for a decade or some, leaving the stuff just sitting there, and expect to come back and find it in perfect working order many years later. Besides that, it is also reported that the people who installed the "Remember Dreams Come True" fireworks also demolished parts of the attraction for show elements. While it is still unknown as to how much work needs to be done, the attraction likely won't open until the movie's 50th anniversary on January 29th, 2009.

Sleeping Beauty Castle opened with the rest of Disneyland on July 17th, 1955, with nothing but empty space inside. Walt Disney soon assigned Ken Anderson, who worked on Sleeping Beauty, to create an attraction in the tight spaces of the Castle. Ken and his team designed a walkthrough attraction that opened April 29th, 1957. The original attraction featured the work of Eyvind Earle, who personally painted most of the film’s backgrounds, and was directly involved with the creation of the Sleeping Beauty Walkthrough. The attraction was redesigned in 1977 to add more movement and depth to the backgrounds of the dioramas. The new backgrounds had more detail, but lacked the original style and looked more like the Emporium windows. After the September 11th attacks, attendance plummeted. Disney cut costs where ever they could. The castle closed for refurbishment on October 7th, 2001. The castle slowly dropped off the refurbishment list, and the entrance lost its attraction sign. Attendance recovered, but the castle never returned. To this day, Disney has never given an official announcement or reason for its closure. A few rumors of the reason the castle closed have come and gone over the years. More popular ones include cost, security problems, and accessibility.

For those of you who don't remember this attraction, I have found a video of it on YouTube.

It think it would be interesting to see this attraction return. Besides restoring the attraction, I think some effort could be put into adding new lighting and effects to the dioramas, possibly even a little animation. I know there are many Disney fans out there who would love for this to come back, my sister being one of them. I'm sure that Disney will have to look into accessibility a bit, seeing as the average American these days can be a bit larger that those of old. If those tight spaces were a concern before, they're likely to be a problem now. Another thing that I have heard but never thought about before was the scare factor. I'm sure dark places with special effects did and will scare some kids, so there will have to be more lighting added.

Sleeping Beauty's Jedi from the MouseTimes boards posted that "For what it's worth those very walls were down by the time I got to Disneyland on Wednesday and they never were up for the duration of my visit. I hope the walkthrough does come back, but I'm not going to be excited about it until they make it official." I don't know if this is a sign of the attraction not coming back, but I guess we will hopefully find out by January at the latest.

Just a cool little side note here: While researching for this post I found a little blip about the drawbridge of the castle. For those of you who don't know, the drawbridge on the castle has been lowered twice: once for the opening of Fantasyland on July 17th, 1955; and again at the reopening of Fantasyland after a redesign in 1983. What I didn't know was that the gears that control the drawbridge were removed during a refurbishment in 1996 and have not yet been replaced. Interesting, huh? A few pictures of the attraction are below. A thank you to MouseTimes, MousePlanet, Yesterland, and YouTube for all the information in this article. See you all next time!

The entrance to the closed attraction.

A look inside the dark castle.

The most famous scene.

The recently added walls around the exit to the attraction.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Future of the PeopleMover...?

I recently came across this great idea for a replacement for the PeopleMover track at Disneyland. Techskip on Micechat came up with a time travel story for the attraction. I will let him tell you more about it in his own words.

"I had posted a similar thread some time ago which is now locked, happens. But between then and now I have developed a rather unique concept to base this attraction around. In the past couple days I have read a proposal to put the RR cars on the track, as well as a time machine concept. In a way this would achieve the time machine, while placing something on the track.

Attraction Name: "The Clock Works"

Location: old People Mover/ Rocket Rods station.

Background: While attempting to restore an old clock tower, and power it with new technology, researchers accidentally developed a method of time travel. Instead of allowing long leisurely visits the current method only allows brief "leaps" from one time period to the next. Currently only in a developmental state, it has been deemed safe. At the unveiling of the new Tomorrowland World Clock this new technology is unveiled and the public for the first time is allowed to witness what was previously only science fiction.

Station Design: I am not sure how many individuals have ever actually been in a clock tower. I have, and I consider myself lucky to have experienced it. Clock towers are very dynamic, with gears of every shape and size spinning in a variety of directions. I imagine the station queue to be designed in a similar manner with a variety of gears spinning, tools strewn about as workers finished the final touches on the old clock. This theme could be applied to the ADA elevator as well, which would be a clear elevator, allowing individuals to see the mechanisms around them. In all cases safety would be the priority and gears would be behind glass "windows" allowing the observer to safely watch the ongoing displays. This station would also include an actual working clock, or should I say clocks. I would expect that this new "clock" would have many faces boasting time in a variety of international countries, while allowing the queue to see some of how it works. The actual clock placement would be where the current Observatron resides.

Vehicle Design: omni-mover style single show wheel vehicles. with 4 person capacity. I am horrible at drawing, so my concept will be in words. I envision a single bubble style vehicle similar to teacups, that include a center wheel allowing individuals to turn it and spin. Outside of this "bubble" would be a much larger show wheel in the shape of a giant gear. Gears would also be visible throughout the queue, completing the theme of a giant clock about to be completed. Within the show wheel would be LED's, also LED's would be on the bottom of the bubble. These LED's would be partially tied to the control wheel. The faster you spin the faster the LED "motion" allowing those below to watch as some vehicles appear to move faster then others. A safety button on each vehicle could be pressed by a CM to turn off the LED's should this be necessary due to medical conditions.

Track Design: This section is basically an open book. Time Travel allows one to travel into the past, but not the future. It would be up to WDI to present various immersive environments throughout the track. The important part is that in every building the track appearance would change to reflect the different period. The outside sections of the track would be explained as the "periods between jumps"."

I think this ride sounds wonderful, except I would bank parts of the track and put new versions of the Rocket Rods cars on the track, instead of the omnimover system. When I imagine time travel, especially unstable time travel, I think of going fast. Anyone else have anything to say about his attraction design?

While this may not be an actual plan for Tomorrowland, there is a replacement planned for the track in Tony Baxter's new Tomorrowland Design. according to Blue Sky Disney, we can expect a variation of the PeopleMover to come back, but the Incredibles Pod-Mover has fallen out of favor for something that matches the new design. Don't really know what that means, but we will hopefully find out soon!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

New Paradise Pier Pt. 3 More General Area Changes

Sorry for the delay in blogging! Wednesday was super busy and I didn't have a chance to write anything and I came home so dirty and tired yesterday that I didn't have time to do anything! I feel really bad about it so I'll try to post another post tonight or tomorrow (depending on how easily I find what I want to know).

This post will talk about the change of Mulholland Madness and the Sun Wheel and the addition of World of Color and Cars Land. In addition, I will have a small update section at the end of this post with some more info on what I posted before. Thanks again to the MouseTimes Forums and the Micechat Project Tracker for information, and a thank you to Blue Sky Disney for updated information!

Starting off is the change of Mulholland Madness to Goofy's Sky Skool. The entrance/queue will be rethemed to a small version of the Soarin' Over California building and the road map type wall hiding the attraction will be covered in possible plane flying instructions. I'm really only going off concept art above on this since I really don't know how it will change. It seems that most people are angry because this ride not only doesn't fit in with Paradise Pier, but that the park already has Condor Flatts and this isn't going to be in that area. I think Disney is pushing the themeing of Paradise Pier to a Disney animated character boardwalk area, so I can see Goofy in the area more than a car driveing attraction, but I still think that this would be much better in Condor Flatts. The only problem with moving it there is that there is absolutely no room for it. The only place it could go is the small shop opposite Soarin', but I think that that is way too close to Grizzly River Run. One person on MouseTimes proposed having a Test Track ride but with you test flying a plane. I don't really know how that would work, but it sounds better than a simple retheme of Mulholland Madness. Anyone one else have thoughts on this? This should begin in 2009 and finish in 2010.

The Sun Wheel is next, which is being changed into Mickey's Fun Wheel. It seems that the only change happening here is to switch out the giant sun for a giant Mickey Face and add some lights for nighttime. The Sun Wheel is a decent ride, but I can't stand those moving gondolas. My only gripe (and yet, my favorite part) is that you can see backstage. I love seeing backstage as much as the next Disney nerd, but it still seems a little unprofessional, especially for Disney. I guess that there isn't really a way to solve this problem, which is why Disney hasn't addressed it at all so far. I can only imagine that Disney will have to create a new entrance to the if they are going to add a water show. Waves might develop and wash over the already existing low concrete walls on this ride. This project should start in September and end in December of this year.

Talking about a water show brings us to our next topic, the addition of World of Color to the lagoon in the center of Paradise Pier. From Blue Sky Disney: "We all know that it's going to be a big show. A cross between Fantasmic! and the water show in front of the Bellagio. We all ..." Oh wait, sorry. Wrong font. Let me try again.

From Blue Sky Disney: "We all know that it's going to be a big show. A cross between Fantasmic! and the water show in front of the Bellagio. We all know that there will be hundreds and hundreds of jet nozzles shooting water far into the sky with projected images surrounding this spectacle, but...Did you know how much of the Pier will actually be used for these fountains? Most have said that it will just be in front of Mickey's Fun Wheel. No, no...Try the entire water area of the Pier. That big. Really. When the PP goes down next year to be drained so that construction can begin on the new extended area and the placement of the water and lighting system is put in it will be extensive. This will have some form of fountain display all across the whole of the area."

It seems that Disney is also considering covering over the Ariel's Grotto Restaurant area as the guests sitting there would get drenched. And you want to know who the main character in the show is going to be? Let me just want you now, its not any normal Disney character. If all goes well, the main star will be Chernabog, the demon from Night on Bald Mountain. I know, strange, huh?

Besides the show, Disney will expand the area of the lagoon and add a huge viewing area by where the overview of the lagoon is at now. I think that a huge show would be great for California Adventure, and a water show like Fantamic! would be absolutely wonderful for the area. I have always that the lagoon was a great waste of space and that if they weren't planning to install something there, they could build an attraction over it or do something under water like a walk-through aquarium. Maybe they could have done Little Mermaid there...Nah, I'm just kidding. The underwater thing has already been done at Disneyland, and I don't think they should duplicate it so close to the original. I've also heard that some feel that Disney should just bring the already successful Fantasmic! to the lagoon and get another show for Disneyland. The problem with this being the fact Disney would have to craft an artificial mountain and huge amphitheater for it and the show would only be viewable from one side of the lagoon and people walking on the other side of the structure would be able to see tall the behind the scenes part of the show. On another note, I think the title "World of Color" is entirely unoriginal or exciting. Considering other nighttime show names (Odyssey, BraviSEAmo!, LuminAria, Fantasmic!) this one is pretty lame. Hope you can come up with another name, Disney! The change to the lagoon for the show will start this year and finish up in 2010.

Last but not least is Cars Land. Another rather unoriginal name for what I am most excited about, but the name is still up in the air at this point. Almost everyone knows about the E-ticket Radiator Springs Racer, but not many know of the two other attractions this land will feature.

Luigi's Roamin' Tires is one of the smaller attractions and will be an updated version of the Flying Saucer attraction at Disneyland. Guests will sit in tires and throw their weight around to move across a curtain of air.

Tow Mater's Junkyard Jamboree looks like a Tea Cups ride with guests in the back or tractor trailers swirling around a junkyard as "DJ Mater" spins out the tunes.

Both of these rides sound interesting, but the real beauty of the land will be Radiator Springs Racers. This ride will feature 3rd generation Test Track vehicles, with a ride through desert scenery before entering a huge show building where guests will meet almost all of the characters from the movie before a huge high-speed race to the finish line against the vehicle on the other track. This ride will have to be carefully designed and built so that both vehicles will be able to race each other at the same time. It also sounds like an absolutely wonderful ride, and the way that Toy Story Midway Mania is shaping up, this will be a great addition to California Adventure.

Besides the rides, the land will also feature a small version of the Main Street in the film with little laces like a Filmore Smoothie Stop and a Flo's Diner. The main non-attraction point of the land will be a drive-in theater restaurant. This project is currently on the back burner until Disney gets more money, but it will be stylized like the Sci-fi Dine-in Restaurant in Disney's Hollywood Studios. I think it will be great, but it looks like it won't be there for a long time, if it shows up at all. Cars Land is the last part of the change planned, and will likely be pushed beyond the originally planned 2012 finish. MiceChat still lists the plans as starting this year and finishing in 2012. There is way too much concept art for this area to post it all so check out this Gallery on Mice Chat for some wonderful concept artwork.

Above is some nice concept art of that the Paradise Pier area will look like completed. Moving on to our update section, I now have a bit more information regarding the Silly Symphonies Swing and The Little Mermaid attraction, with a little tidbit about Toy Story Midway Mania.

Seeing as my section on Toy Story Midway Mania is the shortest, we will start off with that. I apologize for my pronouncing the name of the ride incorrectly. I previously called it Toy Story Mania, while the attraction's actual name is Toy Story Midway Mania. Also, Imagineers plan to present a holiday version of the ride for the 2009 Christmas season and update it in 2010 or 2011 to be more themed towards the new Toy Story 3.

Moving on the the Silly Symphonies Swing, the orange structure will be removed and the swing will become open air. From Blue Sky Disney: "There will 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."

Lastly, we have the Little Mermaid. From Blue Sky Disney: "The structure and final building design have been approved and it's going to be more refined and glamorous than any of those crude pictures you've seen in the presentation last October. There's a reason why this ride's budget is up over a hundred million dollars. John Lasseter, Bob Weis and their crew are working to make sure this area is filled with tons of bells and whistles. There will be several show rooms in the ride displaying multiple scenes from the classic Disney film, but the main one, for the main song will be in the center of the building and will occupy the most space. Possibly over half of the building. It's going to be a room that is round/oval in shape and feature some of the most complex lighting and animatronics detail of any Imagineer project. The surrounding areas will feature lush foliage and trees."

That's all for now, folks, and I hope to have another much smaller post done late tonight!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New Paradise Pier Pt. 2 General Area Changes

I haven't been able to find much on the other changes to Paradise Pier, so I decided to glomp the rest of the changes together, with some opinions in between the informative stuff. The changes to the area include the removal of the Maliboomer, the change of the Orange Stinger, Golden Dreams, Mulholland Madness, and the Sun Wheel and the addition of World of Color and Cars Land. And that's not even including all the rethemeing of the area and whatnot. Thanks to MouseTimes forums and Micechat's Project Tracker for most of this information!

We'll start off with the removal of the Maliboomer. I thought it went well with the theme of a boardwalk, but most people seemed to think it was an eyesore. While I never actually rode it (though I have been working up the courage), most of the reports that I have heard is that it is very intense and some outright hate it. I can't really agree or disagree with anyone on this one. The removal should start in 2009 and finish in late 09. Don't really know what Imagineers are planning to do with the spot.

Next up is change of the Orange Stinger to the Silly Symphonies Swing. It sounds as if the ride is to be based off of "The Band Concert". The middle column will be painted like a tornado and will spew out smoke effects. Atop the ride will be a conductor Mickey seen from all sides of the Pier. I have barely any info on this one, so I really have no idea what will happen to the giant "orange" they have, whether it will be repainted or anything. The idea of a swing blends in with the boardwalk theme of the area, but I don't feel either an orange or a mickey short fit in. I guess it is possible that at one point in planning this huge project, the Imagineers just rethemed some things for the sake of rethemeing them, a fact that I think is really disappointing because the budget spent on pointless change could be put to better use somewhere where change actually needs to occur. The project should start in 09 and finish in 2010 with the Mulholland Madness retheme and the World Of Color show.

Golden Dreams is also set to be demolished and changed into an attraction based on The Little Mermaid. I wonder how varied this attraction will be from the already-existing Voyage of the Little Mermaid at Disney's Hollywood Studios. From the concept art, clammobiles will travel through seven rooms, one of which may be a loading/unloading room themed to be part of the story (I'm really unsure of this but in the picture I saw, there wasn't any space outside of the story rooms for a load/unload). I have heard that the facade of the attraction will be shaped like a giant sand castle with interactive play on one side, but I have also seen concept art of a fancy building like the one above (think Toy Story Mania but a bit more water themed, like the Ariel's Grotto restaurant). I don't know which the Imagineer's are likely using, but it will probably be the latter fancy building idea to save costs. I can't imagine them going with what is likely to be the more expensive approach on a tight budget. As for the loss of Golden Dreams, I don't think that this is a bad attraction at all. It's not something I have to see every time I got to the park, but its not something I will purposefully skip. I understand that Golden Dreams was to be a much better show, but was lost to budget cuts and became the more historical version than the Disney version they were planning. I rather wonder if the show would have been much more appealing to guests had that not happened.

I was hoping to finish this post tonight, but it is now very late and I do need to go to bed. I will post the rest of the changes tomorrow. I'm really sorry about that, but I don't really have a choice in the matter with only half of what I wanted to talk about done in about an hour and a half. I will also be gone on a small trip to the mountains from Thursday to Saturday, so don't expect any posts then. I will hopefully post a rather good historical article then. No hints on what this will be about but I will say that it is something that has been closed some years and it's only at Disneyland. See ya all later!

Monday, June 9, 2008

New Paradise Pier Pt. 1: Toy Story Mania

I've been thinking about all the changes to Paradise Pier that have been planned in the upcoming extensive rehab planned for Disney's California Adventure recently. To share my thoughts on the subject, I have come up with a little mini-series that i hope to share over the next few days. I thought I would stat off this mini-series by talking about Toy Story Mania and surrounding area since it is the first part of the rehab. Thanks to Mousetimes and Disneyland News Today for the Pictures.

Lets start off by taking a look at the story behind Toy Story Mania. Disney is known for involving the guest in a story and the attraction is based off that. The queue of a ride usually gives one hints as to what the story is, but Toy Story Mania give us virtuously no hints whatsoever. There are small posters for the various games on the ride, but little about the orgin of this strange and out of place building on Paradise Pier. The Queue does (I think) wind past a talking Mr. Potato Head Audio Animatronic. In conversing with guests, he tells us of the "thrill and chills" of this midway-style attraction. This doesn't really seem relevant at the time you hear it, but becomes clearer as you venture into the loading area.

The Loading area is set up to look like you are riding through a play set, as in the picture to the left you can clearly see the words "Midway Games Play Set". This does explain why you are playing these games, but does little to explain why the ride is where it is. I guess I can't complain much, seeing as Toy Story Mania is a good step in the right direction for California Adventure, but I just feel its a little hard to understand on your first ride. Especially when you can easily tell that you have been shrunk down to the size of a toy on the East Coast version of the ride.

So you went on and enjoyed the ride. Now comes the "ohhhhhh..." potion of the story as you finally understand the whole thing. Exiting into the upper balcony of the Midway Mercantile, you find a small walled off desk and chair. On the floor is a small box, not unlike the one you saw in the loading area. On the front of the box are the same words "Midway Games Play Set". You probably then realize that this was the box the ride "came in" and the little box next to it looks like the box Mr. Potato Head came in. While realizing this, though, one may wonder as to how they got there in the first place. The story behind this little office is that this is the office of the owner of the Midway Mercantile, and that he bought the ride to bring business to the area. It explains the ride but the are itself has a story that one may or may not understand my looking at the area.

But the attraction itself doesn't set the story. Sometimes, the area surrounding the attraction will factor in to where you are. The two new Outdoor Vending carts are well themed to the boardwalk and the midway, but one cart stands out as being very well themed by itself. Next to this seemingly ordinary Churro cart is an old newspaper stand with a few book for sale. while obviously not for actual selling purposes, the cart is wonderfully themed with Steamboat Willie newspapers and appropriately old style books. On the other side of the churro cart is a trashcan with a shovel sanding next to it. While this may appear to be a roll-around cart with a trashcan, it actually contains a hidden sink for the churro stand. If this is the direction Disney is going with simple things like ODV carts, I feel that California Adventure is going to be transformed wonderfully into the park it should have been in the first place, as long as the budget isn't cut short on things that deserve themeing as wonderful as this.

Well, thanks for coming and I hope to see you next time as I continue this series on the changes to Paradise Pier!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

To All Who Come To This Happy Place...

What a cliché way to start off a Disney blog... oh well.

I'd like to welcome all of you to this, my blog! As I'm sure you can tell, its a Disney blog, created mainly to chronicle the small and major symptoms of Disney Withdrawal (as like to call it). I hope to update 2-4 times a week, keeping my schedule in mind, with any little Disney tidbit. I follow many different Disney and non-Disney sources so I might blog about news, or update with pictures, personal experiences, it really could be just about anything! And, as with most blogs, you will probably find your occasional off-topic post, maybe a little bit about an interesting subject, or a thought for the day, I really don't know which direction this will flow, but its sure to be an interesting experiment for us all! And as always, you are welcome to leave any and all comments to let me know your thoughts on something or just a heads-up that I'm not just talking to myself in the dark here, anything is welcome! And with that, lets start our first post!

I've just been thinking a lot about Toy Story Mania a lot lately (is there any Disney fan out there who hasn't?), and I've found it very interesting that while the rides were supposed to be built in both parks simultaneously, the Hollywood Studios version has opened up weeks before us out here in good, ol' California get a chance to ride it! As I understand it, the walls around the attraction here were only brought down Wednesday night (June 4th), and the ride is only in Cast Member previews, while the east coast version has been testing since the beginning of May! I understand the difference in the ability to shut down the area of the park for construction (since you obviously can't shut down Paradise Pier for one attraction, which is what they did at Hollywood Studios), but I still feel that more of an effort could have been made to possibly celebrate a Grand Opening together on both coasts.

But then again, it could just be me.