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The New No. 2

The road to the future…

While the big changes coming to Disneyland remain unannounced and in the far future, its companion park California Adventure is in the midst of the greatest single overhaul ever of a Disney park. A number of unprecedented changes necessitated by the park’s disastrous initial design are underway, leading to the most “pardon our pixie dust” walls I’ve seen at one time since EPCOT circa 1999. So on our recent trip to Anaheim I was eager to see just what had changed since last year, and what alterations were currently underway.

Let’s start at the very beginning…

Perhaps the most noticeable change will be just inside the park’s turnstiles. In a truly unprecedented move, Disney will for the first time completely tear down and rebuild the entrance to one of their parks. The rather sparse area surrounded by the large tile “postcard” mural will be replaced by Buena Vista Street, themed to California of the 1920s. Work has barely begun in this area, as they had just started to demolish a section of the mural right before our visit.

And so the demolition begins…
…in the southwest corner of the plaza. Scenic, eh?

Passing under the soon-to-disappear ersatz Golden Gate, one enters Sunshine Plaza – the closest the park gets to a “hub”. Aside from some unfortunate store facades, the only other occupant of this area is the “Hubcap” – a stylized sun that was meant to be the park’s central icon. The sad thing is that while it might be a fairly neat piece of sculpture, it just doesn’t warrant a placement that necessitates comparisons to Cinderella Castle or Spaceship Earth. Perhaps it should relocate to Walt Disney World’s Grand Canyon Concourse? Anyway, the hubcap is on its way out, meaning that guests don’t have long to take in this impressive vista:


You can see the sun sculpture is now behind a pixie dust fence, and the stage for the upcoming “ElecTRONica” show now occupies the park’s central area. After the remodel is complete, this area will become a replica of Los Angeles’s long-lost Carthay Circle Theatre.

Sunshine Plaza today, and the future Carthay Circle Theatre

So say goodbye to the Hubcap…

If Paul Pressler had used less angel dust, we wouldn’t need so much pixie dust.

Meanwhile, the Sunshine Plaza prepares for ElecTRONica, which debuts October 8th.

The bar code thing actually worked, which was pretty cool. Kudos to whomever thought of that…
The Master Control Program would not approve of freelance raving on our plywood stage!
The flats on the stage appear to rotate; on their reverse sides are game cabinets from Flynn’s Arcade

Meanwhile, turning to the left, we see the soon to be renamed Hollywood Pictures Backlot – which will get its own bizarre ElecTRONica overlay.

Hollywood Pictures Backlot entrance with ElecTRONica concept art

Aside from the (hopefully) brief weirdness of ElecTRONica, the Hollywood Pictures Backlot will eventually lose its “backlot” status as it’s rethemed to the real Hollywood of the 1930s and 40s. And, hopefully, its entrance will become a little more… inviting?

What the?!

The rethemeing also – hopefully – means that there will be less of this:

Just….. no.

Key to this rehabilitation is the addition of a Red Car Trolley that will travel from the park’s entrance through Hollywood to the Tower of Terror. This will bring a nice sense of motion and activity to the area, as well as providing the park’s first transportation system.

Red Car Trolley and a Wig Wag!

Designed by Imagineer George McGinnis, based on a similar concept originally developed for Sunset Boulevard at the Disney-MGM Studios in Florida, the Red Cars will provide a much-missed Disney touch to the park’s sparse offerings.

Newly-laid trolley tracks and brickwork line the future path of the Red Car Trolley

There’s quite a bit of remodeling being done at the end of the road; the path to the Hyperion Theater and Tower of Terror is blocked. Eventually the Hyperion will receive an actual facade instead of the fake streetscape it’s cloaked in today.

A number of signs decorate the wall where the Red Car track is being installed

Note the line on the “Coming Soon” sign about additional lines and service connecting locally at the Hollywood Tower Hotel – perhaps additional transportation is being planned for Carsland or, hopefully, the Pacific Wharf area and Paradise Pier? That would be a nice surprise.

As an image in the park’s “Blue Sky Cellar” preview center shows, the Trolleys have also been considered as the site of a live show reminiscent of Newsies. Now, I don’t love ragging on individual pieces of art, because heaven knows who might come across this page and I don’t want to rip on any Imagineer’s art when I can’t draw worth a darn myself. But… seriously. This has to be one of the most bizarre and terrifying renderings ever created by Imagineering:


I mean… what?!


Absolutely terrifying. The very essence of WTF?

On a happier note, one of the park’s biggest eyesores will soon be headed for the scrapyard. The Maliboomer, one of California Adventure’s most Six Flags-y attractions, has closed for its long-hoped-for demolition. The blight of the Maliboomer can easily be seen from the outside of the park:

For years, kids hoped to be the first in their family to spot the Matterhorn from the freeway as they approached Disneyland. Nowadays they try to be the last to see the Maliboomer.

Inside the park, one can easily see that the attraction is being dismantled.

Now we know why Mickey is smiling…

Meanwhile, a bunch of unfortunate shops and eateries will soon be replaced by Paradise Gardens and its two new restaurants. The Mulholland Madness wild mouse coaster will get a few years reprieve with a minor facelift that will turn it into “Goofy’s Sky School”.

The Paradise Gardens area, with renderings of pizza ovens at one of the new restaurants and a scene from Goofy’s Sky School
New facades will bring a more period-appropriate look

Then, there’s The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. Located on the former site of Golden Dreams, the new show building is well underway.

Nice try…
Coming 2011!
Tonight, on Non Sequitur Theatre…

Showing the problems inherent in California Adventure, this 19th century Danish fairy tale will exit through a replica of San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts. Because, you know, California.

California, right?

Inside the Blue Sky Cellar is a diagram of the attraction, which will be cloned in Florida’s Magic Kingdom. If you’ve been wondering what awaits you in the Fantasyland expansion, this is it:

There’s even a model!

Meanwhile, the final addition of the California Adventure remodel’s Phase I is Carsland, which will arrive in 2012. Already, loads of massive rockwork is under construction to re-create the film’s setting (not California, by the way). It’ll be interesting to see how well the rock walls mesh with sightlines from the rest of the park:

To your right, you’ll see rice growing in rocky terraces…

The former Bountiful Valley Farm has finally given up the ghost to make way for a different kind of ‘Mater.

From John Deere petting zoo to franchise opportunity in just ten years…

And there are lots – lots – of signs promoting the upcoming expansion.

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign…

So that’s what’s up at California Adventure. Can this little park be saved? And what of phase two? Can California Adventure succeed without the draw of Superstar Limo? Only time will tell…

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10 comments to The New No. 2

  • RO93461

    It just dawned on me, I guess this park will not have a major icon at the end of the street. The Fun Wheel is not visible like the Castle or the Chinese Theater. Thanks for the report.

  • Hopefully, they’ll resurrect that old Chute-the-Chutes idea for Maliboomer’s spot. They deserve another big ride on that land, and there is historical precedent for that (see also: Kennywood’s Pittsburg Plunge).

  • Thank you so much for the updates! And I very much appreciate the commentary, too ;) I have no idea what to say but… wow. I hope it makes more sense when it’s finished?

  • beaglelady

    What is (was) the Maliboomer?

  • The Maliboomer was an off-the-shelf space shot ride. Here’s a pic in action:

    Carrie: I hope it makes more sense too!

    Ryan: I totally agree on the Shoot-the-Chutes idea! That has always been what I thought they should add to the pier! It’s so funny you said that. Back before they announced the DCA remodeling scheme, I came up with my own plan for how the park could be fixed. One of my additions to Paradise Pier was a combination Tunnel-of-Love/Shoot-the-Chutes boat ride based on The Little Mermaid. Weird that Mermaid is going to wind up there after all. I just thought that would be a neat way to incorporate some really retro ride concepts with something “Disney”.

    Eddie: I think Carthay Circle will be the icon at the end of the street… it’s just how they decide to use it that I’m concerned about!

  • Jeremiah

    I agree, a shoot-the-shutes would add some excitement and character to that part of Paradise Pier. Hope it ends up in Phase II! I would also love to see some sort of funhouse walkthrough added to the mix, although Disney’s lawyers would probably squeeze all the fun out of it.

  • Yes!! Although it flies in the face of my complaints about character invasion, I thought a spookhouse/funhouse based on Lonesome Ghosts would be cool.

  • At my company, we’ve had to keep destroying stock (of books) because of errors. These errors are due to political negligence, insistence on using poor writers, and expedited schedules. It keeps happening. We destroy the stock, pay someone to help clean up the errors, then my team has to implement the changes, then we spend more money to print it correctly.

    This to me is the DCA way.

    It’s just so obvious the changes they’re making now…you just wonder how stupid they could’ve been to okay the park in the first place. (Or imagine the park they could’ve created with the sums of money they will have spent in Phases 1 and 2). I don’t think the park is beyond saving…there are some interesting rides there. But what they’re planning isn’t quite enough to warrant a longer visit to DCA. (Especially if you’re like me and avoid the craptastic carnival rides.)

  • […] Crawford at Progress City, USA posts about the changes coming to Disney California Adventure. He also shares some Disneyland concept […]

  • […] Crawford at Progress City, USA posts about the changes coming to Disney California Adventure. He also shares some Disneyland concept […]

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