Hiya fellas, remember me?
Sorry things have been dead around here for what, I see, is a surprisingly long time. What’s ironic is that during this period of silence there has been a remarkable flurry of activity and news in all corners of the Disney empire. The head of the motion picture division, Rich Ross, got canned and just yesterday was replaced by former Warner Brothers President Alan Horn. This was a huge, enormous upgrade and we’ll talk more about it soon.
Films have been greenlit, canceled, and announced; Glen Keane left Walt Disney Feature Animation. The Fantasyland remodel in Florida has been slowly revealed, with surprisingly impressive results, and Epcot’s Test Track closed (yay!) for a remodel that will give it an aesthetic that is “TRON but not TRON.” Yesterday, Snow White’s Scary Adventures closed forever to make way for a princess meet and greet area. Plans for Downtown Disney continue to founder, and get kicked up and down the corporate ladder, continuing an embarrassing saga that has gone on for years now.
But most of the news is good, and a lot of the spotlight is going to California Adventure, which is finally emerging from its five-year makeover. When the park is re-dedicated later this month, guests will find a park with a remarkably different vibe than they did in 2001. It has, amazingly, become a habitable environment that’s pleasant to visit.
Most exciting is the new entrance area themed to 1920s Hollywood. Buena Vista Street will revive the classic Los Angeles Red Car Trolleys, and bring back to life the long-defunct Carthay Circle Theater. I’m not really happy that they’re using the theater for a restaurant and bar, but at least it looks nice. With the new architecture, water features, and background music, the difference between new DCA and old is like night and day.
I took a trip down to Anaheim the other week to check out the changes; I hadn’t been in a long while and the difference amazed me. I took the following brief video of the construction that continues on Buena Vista Street as they try to meet their opening day deadline. Now, a caveat – first, this was taken on my (terrible) cellphone, so it isn’t spectacular. Also it was impromptu filming on a blustery day, so it’s not exactly Toland-grade cinematography. Nevertheless, I think you’ll get an idea of how things are progressing.
Looks good. I can’t wait to see it all finished. While the remodel won’t solve all of DCA’s problems, at least it will now have a fighting chance. There are still areas within the park that need major remodeling, and most of all the park needs ride capacity. Lots of ride capacity. When there’s always a massive queue for the slight and nonessential Monsters Inc. ride, you know you need more for the family to do. More people-swallowers like Pirates or Mansion in Disneyland; more animatronic theater shows like Carousel of Progress or the Tiki Room; more transportation like the Disneyland Railroad or the Red Cars.
Still, it’s looking good so far – now they just have to get it open on time!