PDA

View Full Version : California Adventure: The good, the bad, and the future



Pages : [1] 2

pisces
01-18-2005, 12:28 PM
I spent months patiently listening to all the arguments for, and against the California Adventure. After finally having seen it for myself, for the first time, last month, here's what I think:

THE GOOD: The Hollywood Backlot is extraordinary. They've really done a nice job with that, and it rivals Main Street in terms of carrying out the theme really well.

This is a "Theme" park, after all, and I feel Theme should take priority over anything else. There are characters roaming the Backlot, there was Christmas music playing, the sights sounds and smells, plus a general hustle and bustle. There were no bare, or empty spaces, and everywhere you turned, there was something to see, or smell: A total sensory experience, which is what one wants when being totally immersed in a theme.

Grizzley River Peak is also very well done. It's a total sensory experience, what with the music, the Park Rangers all in costume, the different textures of rock, the railing, and the sounds and smells of water flowing all around. The theme has been totally carried through from beginning to end. There's a general excitement as you enter and you do feel that as it's centrally located. The Grand Californian only compliments that area as that hotel is an experience in and of itself, and a big asset to the California Adventure, in and, of itself.

Both the GC and main Entrances are located in key spots and intuitively where they ought to be. Once you enter, you are dropped right into the Hollywood Pictures Backlot. Or, entering through GC, you are right in Grizzley Peak.

Maybe it's no surprise that those are the two best areas, and they are kept up the most, since they are right near the entrances.

THE BAD:

Condor Flats needs a bit of work. Obviously Soarin is a popular ride. But, my thing is "Theme" and how well a theme is carried out, and whether or not I am actually transported into another time and place. There is a lot of bare and empty space. Perhaps that's the way a true military base would be. However there could be a little more "Atmosphere", such as Military men in costume parading around. A court of flags flapping in the breeze, and the sounds of aircraft,....none of which they seemed to have.

Paradise Pier and the Pacific Wharf: Uh-oh. Something went terribly wrong with this area. If they are trying to make it "Coney Island" they have failed miserably. A happening pier needs far more characters, and atmosphere, than just birds flying about. Where are the fiddlers, fortune tellers, jugglers, and strolling musicians? All which give an old time pier it's life?

Also the buffer area between the Pier and Grizzly Peak was all abandoned when I was there. Not a very good transition when you are walking from one area to the next.

The bread factory and Tortilla factory are not active experiences. You are simply watching others do the work. How much better it would be if guests were actively allowed into those factories and allowed to engage in the making, hands on, of the tortillas and bread. It all feels very passive. A total experience means you are participating, not simply watching. Moreover, there is not enough, or any---that I can remember---music, nor atmosphere in and around the Farmers Market area to give it life, and feels depressing.

Malibu-Ritos has been shuttered. And, so they don't have any viable restaurant near, or around the Sun Wheel area. Actually, if Paradise Pier is supposed to be an abandoned Pier area, it works. But, if they are trying to make it a viable scene brimming with life, the closure of Malibu-ritos only defeats that purpose. Several times, I'd have liked to take snacks of some sort up on a non-swinging carriage. However, I was so disappointed with the closure of Malibu-ritos, that I decided to go without.

There are a couple of empty areas in and around the Tower of Terror, however, much of the excitement of the crowds makes up for that, and the Hollywood Pictures Backlot is close enough to mitigate any lack of theme.

Some of the queues are a bit boring and just bare wall with nothing to look at: Soarin's queue could use a bit more life, such as more flat screen TVs to watch while you are waiting. Tower of Terror is an awfully short ride, with a very large multi-story queue. Maybe they would want to jazz it up with dry ice that flows up, or something.

THE FUTURE: Anyone wanna take a guess as to what the future will be? Again, since the Pacific Wharf and Paradise Pier are not near any major entrances, I wonder if there will be an incentive to invest in those areas.

Maybe they will add to Condor Flats a bit, since it is near a major entrance.

It really wouldn't take much to add a bit of atmosphere to California Adventure, and do something about the abandoned areas.

Family5LovesDisney
01-18-2005, 01:37 PM
I can't wait to go in March and form my own opinion too. I enjoyed reading through your post. It is very well thought out and without ever having been there, I can sort of get an idea of what the Park is about. I don't think I will be too disappointed since I have read so many negative things about it.

I have always been disappointed in Disney's MGM Studios over at WDW. And for some of the same reasons you mention here.........they never carried through real well on some of the themes and they seem to have neglected some parts of that park.

Hopefully, Disney will work on these things and add to them over the years. It would be nice to see, wouldn't it?

hbquikcomjamesl
01-18-2005, 01:57 PM
Personally, I think Condor Flats would be improved greatly by tearing out "Taste Pilots Grill" (and perhaps replacing it with a much smaller hamburger stand where the souvenir shop is), and replacing it with a conventional simulator ride with a "research flight test" theme.

Keep in mind that Paradise Pier and Pacific Wharf are separate areas.

Involving guests in the production of anything edible would be a very BAD idea. What if they're carrying something pathogenic (with or without their knowledge)? And do we really want to put cooking knives into the hands of guests?

Given that Pacific Wharf is supposedly based on Monterey's Cannery Row, as depicted in Steinbeck's novels, perhaps we ought to lock some imagineers into a room with Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday (and maybe a videotape of a fully-staged production of Pipe Dream, for which Steinbeck wrote the libretto), and see what sort of ride or show idea they can come up with.

The Mission Tortilla Fiasco is probably one of the very worst Disney theme park attractions ever opened. I make no secret of the fact that I have very little interest in Mexico or Mexican culture, but it seems to me that between the Mission Tortilla Fiasco and Epcot's "El Desperdicio de Tiempo," Mexico has every right to declare war on the Walt Disney Company.

I also think that some sort of cable car themed attraction ought to go into the Bay Area. Maybe the fully interactive simulator I mentioned a year or so ago.

Tigertail777
01-18-2005, 02:01 PM
For the most part, thats a pretty dead on assessment.

One point of contention with me however is Grizzly River Run. This is disney it should be brimming to the gills with details. There is next to nothing to see as you go down the run... ummm hello? It would be nice to see a few bear AA's maybe in the cave part, or just ressurect the simple type ones they used for the mine train through natures wonderland. In fact there should be a LOT more critters; beavers, deer, birds. I personally was very dissappointed in GRR, it seemed very much like the same rapids ride in magic mountain, but with a bear shaped mountain.

I would add with paradise pier; it needs more old time shops; salt water taffy shop with a real puller in the window, a real cotten candy stand made right there for you and not prepackaged, a souvineer shell shop, old fashioned tinted postcards etc. The costuming needs to be more of the time period portrayed. And they need to put in more of the rare breed of rides that arnt around much anymore, such as a virginia reel. The sunwheel is a good start, being a copy of the wonderwheel, but it needs a lot more... what about a shoot the chutes? Almost every seaside resort had one of those at one time or another. And it was originally a adult park, what about a tunnel of love? A funhouse? A ghost train? a tumblebug? A whirl go round? Adult bumper cars (as opposed to the kiddie bugs life ones)? a REAL woody coaster? A octopus? All of these venerable old carny rides could easily be disney themed too. I just get the feeling that the PP portion was done on the cheap.

And worst que ever for disney for me, is definately soarin'. Soarin' que is borin'. I wont even get started on how mixed up the theming is.

Shortiemetoo
01-18-2005, 03:17 PM
I'm leaving on my trip in ONE week and will be at DCA next Wednesday for the first time. I can't wait to see everything and form my opinions which I know will be disappointment with some things...however I know that I will also love some of the rides/areas also!!!! I feel like I have a much better idea of DCA and the set up now. Thanks for the great information!! :)

rentayenta
01-18-2005, 03:36 PM
Best: Animation Studio. IMHO, it is the only part of DCA that has any Disney magic.

Worst: The game area, I'm not sure what its called. Its so carnival dirte- that's right dir-tay ;)

Future: not really sure but I look forward to any improvements.

pisces
01-18-2005, 05:21 PM
No no no, you will not be disappointed. I think the balance of California Adventure is good. All of their rides are solid and state-of-the-art. I just think they need the theme-ing, atmosphere, queues, and restaurants to support those rides, in some places.

I liked Grizzly River Run. I think it's unfair to compare Magic Mountain with California Adventure. Disney is a theme park, and Magic Mountain is more of an amusement park with thrill rides----no theme.

Knotts Berry Farm has a sort of more turbulent white water river rafting ride, but that's actual white water. I don't know if California Adventure's is supposed to simulate an actual white water. I think it's just basically a river, where you are on the lookout for grizzly bears. I like that ride the way it is. I didn't need any extra critters. Every time I'd go on Grizzly River Run, of the 6 or 7 times that week, it'd be raining-----so I already had a lot to deal with. I don't think I'd have needed any other thrills. But, I'll try to experience it without the rain on the next visit and see. I will say this: Grizzly River Run makes a beautiful ride at night, when you can see the sun wheel all lit up, and with me, there were no crowds, so I got to go round 4 or 5 times without leaving the raft, in the evening. It made a very romantic and complete experience. I think it's a very well thought out attraction, with lots of visual interest and places to gaze at, even if you don't ride----the wheel barrow and such.

I don't know about Paradise Pier or Pacific Wharf. Coney Island is in New York, so they can't be trying to emulate that. My eye wants to see something, maybe a fantasy waters show, or dancing fountains coming out of that harbor. Maybe gondola rides-----they need to add something other than birds flying around. Plus, at night it's just still waters. I don't know, maybe things get a little more exciting when the Electrical Parade starts. I never got to see the Electrical Parade because they were always too willing to cancel it during any little sprinkle of rain....where as the Fireworks and Fantasmic always seemed to go on as scheduled during that week.

Again with Tower of Terror: It really is a minor thing to add a fog machine, dim the lights intermittently, and have a more haunted musical score for the queue. And, I think they will add those things, as it's a relatively new attraction, and very much a work in progress. Even with a fastpass, you still have a considerable amount of waiting time with Tower of Terror, such that there needs to be something of interest in the long multi-story queue. The whole time I was there, even when other rides were walk-on, Tower of Terror was always a line.

It's a great attraction, but they need all the other supporting things a more haunted queue, a good terror restaurant etc.. to back it up.

I think it will happen. The Park is very much a work in progress.

hbquikcomjamesl
01-18-2005, 05:26 PM
Coney Island is in New York, so they can't be trying to emulate that.There were plenty of old-style waterfront amusement parks in California, back in the days before Disneyland. "The Pike" comes to mind as one of the most famous. And of course, the Balboa Fun Zone is still around (and the sleaze factor that Walt found so repugnant about such places, and that was deliberately left out of Paradise Pier, is still very much present).

sediment
01-18-2005, 05:27 PM
It's a great attraction, but they need all the other supporting things a more haunted queue, a good terror restaurant etc.. to back it up.

1. A diner in the middle of nowhere in snow, and a bus with one passenger too many.
2. A diner with those little devil-head fortune tellers.
3. A bar where there's someone who never shuts up about anything.
4. A bar where a peddler has exactly what you need.
...

disney jones
01-18-2005, 05:45 PM
i think this was a very fair and well written critique, Pisces.

While Paradise Pier could use some more theming, i really enjoy the rides there - California Screamin', Maliboomer, Orange Stinger, and the Sun Wheel all work for me for thrill rides. GRR and ToT work too. Soarin' is OK, but after a few trips there, it's become old for me. There's a bit of magic to enjoy in the Backlot, back i can wrap up a nice few hours there, capped by the MSEP, then it's back to where the real magic is across the way to DL.

I take DCA for what it is, enjoy the few attractions, and leave. The girls would rather spend the time in DL than a Bug's Land, so we visit there every once in a while, but not every trip.

DLRCM
01-18-2005, 07:10 PM
Paradise Pier and the Pacific Wharf: Uh-oh. Something went terribly wrong with this area. If they are trying to make it "Coney Island" they have failed miserably. A happening pier needs far more characters, and atmosphere, than just birds flying about. Where are the fiddlers, fortune tellers, jugglers, and strolling musicians? All which give an old time pier it's life?

This is by far, the best suggestion I have heard regarding PP. I have never thought about adding carnival-type atmosphere characters around. That would be a great idea!

VickiC
01-18-2005, 07:45 PM
One thing DCA could use is a transportation ride. DL had the train, the fire engine, the horse drawn trolley, the old-time car.

A Pacific Red car could run from the Back Lot all the way to PP. The only place it would be out of them would be the Wharf area as Pacific Red Cars did run in Hollywood and to the beach communities of SoCal. A cable car ride could run but theme wise it would only "fit" in the Wharf area.

animagusurreal
01-18-2005, 09:08 PM
Hello, I'm new to the boards:)


THE GOOD -

Soarin' Over California is now my second favorite Disneyland Resort attraction after Space Mountain. It's like nothing I've experienced at a theme park before, like an oasis of innovation in the recent years of WDW imports.

Grizzly River Run and California Screamin' are also tons of fun. I was a little disappointed by Tower of Terror, but still good stuff.

In the thematic structure department - the wave fountain at the enterance, that fake sunset at the end of Hollywood Boulevard, Paradise Pier from across the bay, etc.

The Californian music, especially the carnival-ized Beach Boys tunes in Paradise Pier.

I'm sure there's more, this is just off the top of my head.



THE BAD -

First and foremost, how few attractions there are.

The slapping up of off-the-shelf rides in Paradise Pier, however visually attractive they might be from the opposite shore.

The Sourdough Factory. I remember having more exitement on an elementary school field trip to the local Domino's Pizza.



THE FUTURE -

I think what DCA could use is a representation of California's most iconic attraction - Disneyland! I'm only half kidding - I could see a land or at least an attraction comining components of everyone's favortite deleted attractions (including ones I was too late to go on, like The Flying Saucers or Adventure Thru Inner Space) and an audio-animatronic Walt leading us on a tour of park history.


I also think that some sort of cable car themed attraction ought to go into the Bay Area. Maybe the fully interactive simulator I mentioned a year or so ago.

hbquikcomjamesl, I've long imagined a San Francisco cable car themed ride, too :cool: I've always pictured it as a roller coaster, with exaggerated San Franciscan hills. A simulator would be cool, too.

I could also see a skiing ride, and a surf-themed stand up roller coaster/water ride.

Also, I think they could use to get more into California's past and legends.

I think the theming could get a little more time-specific. In DCA, you know where you're supposed to be but not when you're supposed to be. Whereas on Main Street, for example, it isn't just Disney's idea of an American small town, it's Disney's idea of an American small town, circa 1900. The problem, I think, is that Fronteirland already took the whole gold-rush-era thing.

And where are all the animatronic figures!?!?! (I mean, besides the ones in the 3*D movie attractions.) I don't think Grizzly River neccicarily needs any, but there's not one "Pirates" or "Haunted Mansion" ride - surely there's some Californian legend that deserves one.


- Brent
(animagusurreal)

spacemountain85
01-18-2005, 10:08 PM
"Malibu-Ritos has been shuttered."

Will somebody please tell me that Strips Dips & Chips has not suffered this fate as well? :(

Darkbeer
01-18-2005, 10:42 PM
Will somebody please tell me that Strips Dips & Chips has not suffered this fate as well? :(

Strips Dips & Chips is still open at DCA, and it's basic menu has been transferred to the Stage Door Cafe in Frontierland. So there are now two places to get the grub...

spacemountain85
01-18-2005, 10:49 PM
Strips Dips & Chips is still open at DCA, and it's basic menu has been transferred to the Stage Door Cafe in Frontierland. So there are now two places to get the grub...
Oh my gosh! Thank-you! This is the best news I've heard all day! :~D

evrythngwmn
01-19-2005, 12:30 AM
The Sourdough Factory. I remember having more exitement on an elementary school field trip to the local Domino's Pizza

Maybe I'm easily entertained but I find the bread factory fascinating. They start running the equipment before the park opens and when I'm working DCA this is one of my favorite things to watch.

Shortiemetoo
01-19-2005, 05:31 AM
Wow Brent, what a good idea about making a "Disneyland" area and bringing back some of the old disneyland attractions. I could see where that may solve a lot of the problems in DCA. Or it could be the history of DL!!!! Neat idea!!! :fez:

5hr drive
01-19-2005, 11:29 AM
According to Al, Superstar Limo will be redesigned as a Monsters Inc. dark ride, opening sometime in 2006. This should further help DCA. BTW, does anyone know what plans there are for the Who Wants to be a Millionaire? building?

Disney Vault
01-19-2005, 03:27 PM
I read on another forum that they are working on something to open in the millionare building around the same time the monsters inc ride opens. I think it is some kind of show or perfomance but nothing has been decided yet for sure.

Johnhost
01-19-2005, 07:45 PM
I think the BEST ride to add is the mouse ride from Santa Cruiz my personal favorite. I went through DCA on my last day at Disney in July...it was ok but I MISSED the best ride Soaring because I didn't think it was going to be any good...now I know I was wrong. This time around I will spend more time exploring it.

TrekkieDad
01-19-2005, 09:00 PM
Also, I think they could use to get more into California's past and legends.
[snip]
And where are all the animatronic figures!?!?! (I mean, besides the ones in the 3*D movie attractions.) I don't think Grizzly River neccicarily needs any, but there's not one "Pirates" or "Haunted Mansion" ride - surely there's some Californian legend that deserves one.


- Brent
(animagusurreal)
Hey, that reminded me of the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose!

Fozzie
01-19-2005, 11:44 PM
BTW, does anyone know what plans there are for the Who Wants to be a Millionaire? building?

I heard a couple of months ago that they actually may turn it into a cast building to house costumes, change rooms, conditioning rooms, etc. Not very exciting.... :|

Tigertail777
01-20-2005, 02:29 PM
They should make it into a winchester mystery funhouse! :D

disneyhound
01-20-2005, 04:16 PM
I think the BEST ride to add is the mouse ride from Santa Cruiz my personal favorite...

I've been on that ride! Fun!

Anyone remember Pacific Ocean Park (POP)?