Refresh & Renew
Meanwhile, there's more work heading to Disneyland in the next two years with
Tony Baxter leading the charge to keep the maintenance momentum rolling in
Walt's original park. More upgrades are planned for Pirates of the Caribbean,
including the possible addition of Tia Dalma in the Blue Bayou scene, a return
of one of the original turntable chase effects that was removed from the Chase
Scene back in 1997, and a reworking of the final scene you encounter after you
come back up the lift as your boat heads back to the dock.
River Belle Terrace rehab. Photo: David
Additions and improvements are also planned for the popular Indiana Jones
Adventure in preparation for the fourth movie release next summer, plus a bag of
new tricks heading to the Haunted Mansion next year after some of the effects
make their debut in Florida's needy and formerly seedy version of that ride next
Upgrades and work also continue on Disneyland's grand fleet of classic Walt
Disney dark rides, with a complete reworking of the haunted forest scene in Snow
White's Scary Adventures, audio and visual upgrades to the effects in Mr. Toads
Wild Ride and Alice In Wonderland, and even some thought being given on how to
plus up that turkey Winnie The Pooh.
Disneyland has an unprecedented seven classic dark rides, where most other
Magic Kingdom parks only have three. If you add in Monsters Inc. next door at
DCA, Anaheim has a whopping eight dark rides to choose from. Poor little Hong
Kong only has one!
Disneyland has taken very good care of those dark rides over the last few
years, with digital technology upgrades and fancy new audio and lighting systems
installed across the board. Tony Baxter will be overseeing a continuation of
that trend, and if the plan to reopen the Sleeping Beauty Diorama we first
mentioned here last time works out, Fantasyland will have never looked better.
A great big beautiful Tomorrow
And then, of course, there's Tomorrowland. After limping along for almost a
decade as a shell of its former self, it finally has a new lease on life with
Buzz Lightyear, the just as beloved new version of Space Mountain, and the
immensely popular Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage all up and running now. A big
budget Microsoft takeover of Innoventions later this year will help take some of
the sting out of the pathetic use of the Carousel Theater, and the first train
of the hip new monorail fleet will arrive on property about the same time.
But Tony Baxter isn't satisfied with Tomorrowland just yet. He sees
Innoventions as a dying entity, and something that never should have been
shoehorned into that revolving building in the first place. Don't bet on that
Microsoft sponsorship to be renewed once the short contractual obligations
expire in 2010. The saga of remaking Tomorrowland has been dragging on for years
now, and there are several separate projects patiently waiting for their number
to be called, not the least of which is the Star Tours 2.0 remake gaining steam.
2010 also spells the end of the Chevron sponsorship of Autopia, and the electric
version in Hong Kong sponsored by Honda is looking very promising. No wonder
TDA's Participant Relations department trips all over themselves when the Honda
execs come to visit.
A new PeopleMover on the existing track, as well as a big new futuristic E
Ticket that would push the boundary of Tomorrowland out all the way to the edge
of Harbor Blvd., with the Disneyland Railroad running right through the middle
of it, is what Tony wants to see under construction before the end of this
decade. That's his biggest goal right now, to get that off the ground and to
avoid the short sighted budget mistakes Paul Pressler imposed on his last
Tomorrowland remake in 1998. John Lasseter is behind Tony 100%, as John also has
made some very frank statements regarding the unacceptable condition
Disneyland's Tomorrowland is in.
An entire land remake for Tokyo's Tomorrowland also plays into the timing on
this one, as some of the attraction concepts would be used in both Anaheim and
Tokyo. Florida's Tomorrowland is not on anyone's radar, as the only real plans
there are for a more modest version of Disneyland's recent Space Mountain
All of that is long term though, beginning in late 2007 and stretching
through the end of the decade. Shorter term, Disneyland is heading into its
latest and greatest peak season; autumn. First up is the surprisingly popular
Disneyland Half-Marathon this Labor Day Weekend.
After being a breakout hit its first year last September, the second time
around is proving to be even more successful at filling hotel rooms and packing
the Resort on what is traditionally one of the slowest holiday weekends of the
year. The feedback from the participants was glowing even though it was the
first year, proving just how good Disneylanders are at staging huge events and
being a good host to everyone involved.
The half-marathon has proven to be so successful, selling out completely
several months ago, that the Disney Sports team is looking at other similar
events to be held in Anaheim. A full marathon would be an obvious choice, and
that will probably happen eventually, but first they are seriously contemplating
a Disneyland Triathlon. The running and biking courses would be easy to stage
obviously, with the 25 mile cycling course likely heading down to the beach and
But the swimming course of the Triathlon wouldn't be held down at the beach
if the Disney Sports department gets its way. Instead, the 1.5 Kilometer swim
would take place in the Paradise Pier lagoon! The media coverage of such an
event would be spectacular, and the publicity shots would be invaluable. The
only problem is, well, the water itself. That lagoon was never designed for
people to swim in, and the rudimentary filtration system can't handle getting
that water to a level suitable for mass human consumption.
The Rivers of America, which would be an even better photo op, isn't an
option because the logistical setup there is even less conducive to quarantining
the water and filtering the heck out of it. Not to mention the fact that most
areas of Disneyland's river are only a few feet deep and far too shallow for
competitive swimming. Believe it or not though, they are working on the water
issue in the lagoon, and if the water quality problem can be overcome than a
Disneyland Triathlon is likely in Anaheim's future.