With the early arrival of Thanksgiving this year, Disneyland and DCA have already gone through some of the year’s busiest days last week and now get a short two week breather before huge crowds descend again for Christmas and New Years. The customer feedback on Cars Land and the remade DCA is remaining at sky high levels, matched only by the very high hotel occupancy rates in Anaheim and the rising spending levels of all those happy tourists and locals.

Anaheim is about to receive the Christmas present it’s been wishing for since 2001; a Resort that disperses big crowds elegantly, with a second theme park that satisfies customers just as much as Walt Disney’s own flagship park next door. In this update we’ll fill you in on how Cars Land is now regarded by many in the theme park industry as the silver bullet that transformed the Disneyland Resort, what it means for Anaheim in the short term, and where Cars Land might be duplicated next. (Hint: Which resort run by executives who prize short term cost reductions over long term investments isn’t on the list yet?)

Got that peppermint latte and gingerbread man cookie on your desk yet? Practiced your Anaheim cheers and Orlando hisses? Well then, let’s get going shall we? As always special thanks to Andy Castro and Fishbulb for the photos, as well as those of you who support this site and column via the PayPal button below – or the Amazon wish list linked here – we appreciate your contributions…

The little things you do together…

Before we get to the juicier news, it should be mentioned that this last week of November is particularly slow for the Anaheim property. The 2012 calendar brought Thanksgiving very early this year, giving an extra week to the season between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This would have been the perfect time to host the traditional Disney Company employee Holiday Parties that were usually held the first Monday and Tuesday in December, just after Thanksgiving weekend. As regular readers know, TDA cancelled the 56 year old tradition with the excuse that Disneyland was suddenly too busy to close two hours early on a slow winter weekday.

The truth was that TDA cancelled the parties due to pressure to conform to the “One Disney” corporate mantra after Orlando execs got huffy that Disneyland was still throwing company Christmas parties in the park for lowly Cast Members, as if Walt was still alive and a spirit of warm camaraderie still existed.

But Monday and Tuesday of this week, days that would have been perfect to host the traditional parties, have even lower attendance than usual due to the extended Christmas season this year. And with DCA 2.0 now glowing with sky-high customer satisfaction ratings, the early closure of Disneyland while DCA stayed open in the evening would have much less impact to the customer experience than at any time in the past decade.

The excuse that Disneyland Park is too busy now to host a private employee Christmas party is simply a lie from TDA, and it’s important to note that here for all the Cast Members in Anaheim who are still grumbling about the bah-humbug spirit flown in from Florida that has ruined yet another Disneyland tradition. Never mind all of the perks and benefits ladled on the sprawling Florida property, things that Anaheim Cast Members don’t have and  likely will never see, like on-site subsidized daycare, on-site subsidized healthcare, urgent-care and pharmacy, a private beach and recreation club, efficient employee parking, etc., etc.

If you are visiting the Anaheim parks this holiday season, make sure to thank a Cast Member who goes above and beyond for you. They don’t get much respect from their executive leadership lately. Heck, even on Thanksgiving Day the dingy and over-crowded Cast Member cafeteria behind Main Street USA couldn’t keep their institutional five dollar turkey dinners in stock. They had run out of turkey and stuffing by 11:15 AM on Thanksgiving Day, and Cast Members working the holiday had to settle for mushy over-cooked Ziti with mystery meat for their noon holiday meal. Reinforcements were brought in on steam trays from the satellite prep kitchen by early afternoon, but they ran out again just as the dinner rush started at 5:00 PM.

There are still Cast Members who remember prior to the 1990’s when CM’s working on Thanksgiving or Christmas were treated to complimentary turkey or ham dinners with fresh pies and all the trimmings, and none of it was trucked in on steam trays.

Looks so real, doesn't it?
The legs have already been sold.

All the trimmings…

They may not be treating the front line Cast Members as they should this holiday season, but the TDA executives are grinning from ear to ear over how well the entire property handled record crowds this past Thanksgiving week.  The goal for the reinvigorated DCA was to pull in an additional 1 Million visitors per year over the 2011 figure of 6.3 Million, once the 1.2 Billion dollar makeover was completed this past June. But the attendance numbers since June 15th have blown that modest estimate out of the water. Even during September, one of the slowest months of the year, DCA pulled in over 800,000 visitors.

The numbers piling up mean that by the end of this year, DCA could easily surpass the 10 Million annual attendance mark, and perhaps edge closer to 11 Million depending on how the month of December goes. That would send DCA flying past the annual attendance of Disney Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom out at WDW, and perhaps nudging Epcot out of the number three position for annual attendance. And to think TDA would have been happy with just an increase to 7.5 Million for 2012.

The skyrocketing DCA numbers have taken a hit on Disneyland’s daily attendance, especially because Disney only counts a park-hopping visitor once per day in their attendance figures; whichever park the visitor enters first gets the “attendance click” for the day. Each morning the rush is on to DCA to grab a Racers Fastpass before they are gone within an hour of opening, and the DCA turnstiles spin madly those first few hours siphoning off daily demand from Disneyland.

Overall, however, the Resort attendance for Anaheim should grow by a very healthy margin. If trends hold through the Christmas weeks, and assuming WDW’s parks continue on their trend of static or slightly weaker attendance from 2011, the numbers for 2012 could end up looking like this, give or take a half million for each;

2012 Attendance Projections

  1. Magic Kingdom Park – 17 Million
  2. Disneyland – 14 Million?
  3. DCA – 11 Million?
  4. Epcot – 10.8 Million
  5. Disney’s Animal Kingdom – 9.8 Million
  6. Disney’s Hollywood Studios – 9.7 Million

The result is that the Disneyland Resort will have seen its annual attendance grow in 2012 by several million additional visitors over the 2011 numbers, and that was with Cars Land only open for half the year with most of the general public not even aware of the new Anaheim offerings until this summer. DCA could also leapfrog several Florida theme parks compared to 2011 when DCA had an annual attendance of just 6.3 Million. It will be close in 2012, but DCA could surpass Epcot’s 10.8 Million attendance and perhaps even nudge past the 10.9 Million that Disneyland Paris had last year.

With hotel occupancy setting records at Anaheim area lodging and the Annual Passholder program maintaining nearly a million passholders despite big price increases (and another price hike is looming), the prospects for further attendance growth in 2013 remains strong.

The swiftness and completeness with which the final pieces of the DCA extreme makeover in 2012 changed the dynamic of the entire Disneyland Resort caught even TDA planners off guard. The critical “intent to return” statistic tracked by Disney’s consumer research team has also gone off the charts, as people leave DCA very happy and go home to gush to friends and family about their latest Anaheim vacation.

Orlando Management: Bad for the brand?

Cars Land, obviously, is the silver bullet behind this comprehensive change at the Resort, after DCA made solid incremental improvements every year since 2008 with additional attractions, shows and aesthetic improvements around the park. The word is now out in the theme park industry about Cars Land and DCA, and this fall various industry executives were paraded through DCA by pleased TDA executives.

The red carpet was even rolled out recently for top executives from Universal Studios Hollywood, who are busy planning their own Harry Potter land, with George Kalogridis leading the Universal execs on a tour of DCA and showing off Radiator Springs Racers and all the Cars Land attractions. Top executives from Sea World, the TEA industry trade group, as well as parks from Europe and Asia have all made an official pilgrimage to Cars Land this fall.

But it’s not just suits from outside Disney that want to see what all the fuss is about. Other top Disney executives have been spending multiple days in Cars Land, before heading up the freeway to Glendale to see how Imagineering might be able to duplicate the land in their own property back home. While Disney Hollywood Studios is the leading contender for a WDW park to get a scaled down version of Cars Land late this decade, Imagineers and John Lasseter are already frustrated by the Orlando executive never ending requests to trim and scale back the project. (Remember, the Orlando folks get excited about walls, and Princess meet and greets as opposed to actual rides. No wonder bookings are hurting.)

So while WDI lets the Orlando team mull over their downsized options and how to cut them back even further, the Imagineers are moving on to a different client for their Cars Land cloning machine, and it’s a client that has WDI and John Lasseter salivating.

Yo! Tokyo...
Orlando still doesn’t get it…

Turning Japanese…

Earlier this month the top executives from Oriental Land Company, including their President and CEO, made a rare multi-day visit to Anaheim and Glendale. They spent hours touring Cars Land before going on to a private dinner at the Carthay Circle restaurant. They also spent a full day in Glendale where WDI gave presentations and showed models of how a nearly identical version of Anaheim’s Cars Land could fit perfectly in the space currently used for their version of… Frontierland.

To get Cars Land into Tokyo Disneyland, much of Tokyo’s “Westernland” would need to be repurposed and the Rivers of America section would be removed entirely. Thunder Mountain, the Country Bear Jamboree and the original frontier town buildings would remain at the front of the land, with the Western River Railroad continuing to circle the property. But towards the back of Westernland the entire Rivers of America would be leveled and turned into Cars Land.

This plan has gained fast traction with the OLC team, as the current real estate used for the Rivers of America takes up a huge amount of space but delivers very little in the way of attraction capacity for that crowded park. Tokyo’s three Rivers of America attractions combined; the Mark Twain Riverboat, Tom Sawyer Island Rafts and Davy Crockett Canoes, only manage about 1,500 riders per hour on even the busiest afternoons. And at dusk the Island and the Canoes shut down, leaving half an operating day with just a few hundred riders per hour taking an evening cruise on the Mark Twain. The Rivers of America is simply a huge waste of space with very little payoff in Tokyo.

Comparatively, the three Cars Land attractions combined in Anaheim are now returning well over 3,000 riders per hour up to 16 hours per day; 1,600 per hour at Racers, 900 per hour at Mater’s, and 800 per hour at Luigi’s (now that the beach balls are gone and loading is faster).  That additional capacity is a huge selling point for the Japanese executives, with the wild popularity of Cars Land with Japanese tourists in Anaheim a good indicator of future popularity if it were to be cloned for Tokyo Disneyland. Replacing the Rivers of America with Cars Land in Tokyo would buy the OLC triple the daily rider capacity in a splashy expansion that could fuel Tokyo resort attendance for years, and the Japanese are now contemplating jumping in and fast-tracking the project while the Orlando executives continue to dawdle and downsize.

Crowds day or night

NextGen: Next!

Meanwhile, in Anaheim, there’s plenty of unglamorous work about to begin in 2013 to prepare for Anaheim’s NextGen programs that will be first rolling out in January at Walt Disney World. NextGen will allow tourists and day-trippers to plan their visits down to the minutest detail, with a payoff of hyper-personalization from attractions, shows and restaurants during their visit. NextGen requires a lot of infrastructure to be installed, and most new facilities built after Cars Land have that infrastructure already included in the plans. The new Fantasy Faire meet n’ greet pavilion that opens March 10th (with AP previews and soft openings for a few days before that) has its NextGen data infrastructure installed, but it won’t be turned on for at least another year.

The first thing that needs to change in Anaheim to get NextGen up and running are the entry turnstiles. Much has been made about the lack of biometric finger scans in Anaheim, which are a big part of the entry turnstiles in the Orlando parks. The truth is that the biometric equipment and logistical setups require more space than Disneyland has, and the number of entry lanes would be reduced if biometric screening was installed in Anaheim. A compromise is under consideration for Anaheim to create a NextGen entry process that uses simply RFID tags.

But what has TDA the most worried is the impact all of the NextGen offerings on the huge Annual Passholder demographic, as NextGen caters mostly to tourists and day-trippers who have planned their visit far in advance. It’s that looming PR problem that local AP holders will have with NextGen that now has TDA trying to come up with as many extra perks as possible for Annual Passholders, to not only justify the next round of price increases for the popular passes, but to also offer examples of things AP’s receive that NextGen tourists don’t.

The sudden decision to offer the Candlelight Ceremony on 20 consecutive nights this year and give the seats away to AP holders as a “perk” is only the latest example of TDA’s increasingly panicked attitude toward the looming NextGen rollout. That Candlelight decision was so rushed that it caught many of the planning groups off guard, and the logistical hurdles are causing many late nights for the Disneyland operations teams tasked with making it all work for three weeks straight.

NextGen is a massive Billion dollar program that has been in development for years and is primarily overseen by Florida executives, and the consideration of Southern California annual passholders wasn’t on their radar for most of that development. But when the average Annual Passholder of 2014 drops by Disneyland on a Sunday afternoon to find all the Fastpasses gone, all of the best seating for shows and parades reserved, and all of the best restaurants booked solid with NextGen tourists receiving personalized attention from CM’s, you can bet they won’t be too happy with NextGen. (Especially after another price increase…) Thus the rush to throw as many perks and extra benefits at AP holders as possible in 2013.

As we’ve told you before, the NextGen project in Anaheim is approximately 18 months behind the timetable for Orlando. The program kicks off formally this January at Disney World and expands throughout the spring, and should be rolling in Anaheim by the summer of 2014. But for now, TDA is focused on the approaching peak holiday season. With DCA now soaking up 40,000+ visitors who willingly go there first and happily stay there all day, this could be the first time in over a decade that Disneyland doesn’t have to close their turnstiles due to overcrowding during the week between Christmas and New Years. And that’s a Christmas present that TDA has been wishing for since 2001.

Oh-kay – that should do it for today. Remember your support is vital, your donations to PayPal help keep the bills paid. We’re only here due to all of your kind efforts.

Keep in mind updates only get posted when there is something to report on, and not before. It takes time to confirm things, and even then we can only offer a snapshot of a continually evolving story. (People do change their minds you know.) Just like the happiest place on earth, patience is a virtue; the queue may take a while before you can enjoy the attraction. 😉

See you at Disneyland!

Think the swamp folks need a wake-up call? Could Tokyo outdo Anaheim? Will Cars 3 start by saying Cars 2 was only a dream? Post your thoughts on today’s update below…

  • Disneymike

    I usually enjoy Al’s updates but to be truthful this one was lackluster and focused too much on Orlando and Tokyo. What’s going on with the BTMRR refurb? What’s going on with Tomorrowland? I understand things are slow in Anaheim but there has to be some tidbits going on regarding future projects besides the whole NextGen crud.

  • mratigan

    Thanks for the update Al. I’m exited the fantasy fair is opening on a weekend so i can go. I hope Cars 3 starts out telling us Cars 2 is a dream.

  • KingEric

    Sadly the Orlando team out here, just don’t understand what tourists and families want. More and more people are staying in the WDW, but not visiting the parks.

  • Roger55

    Great update!

    While it excites me that OLC and TDR are considering a Cars Land, it disturbs me the way the Orlando team continues to drive decisions that result in lower quality offerings. Also disturbing is that TDA and the DLR are being forced to accept the decisions made by a management team that STILL believes they are the experts on Guest satisfaction and resort operations.

    From simple things such as how many Cozy Cone sipper cups should be ordred, to much larger things such as factoring in the effects of the HUGE AP community at DLR, the Orlando centric management decisions repeatedly fails to acknolwledge the fact that DLR is NOT WDW.

    I long for the day where the two resorts can return to their semi-autonomous operations. There are certain very obvious things the two resorts can keep in common, but there are also just as obvious things (albiet not so obvious to certain management) that control should be returned to each local resort management team.

    I’m also very thankful that the Japan resort has independance from the Disney Parks decision making team. Ripping out most of Westernland for a Cars Land installation is a HUGE undertaking that will not only cost a lot of money, but also disrupt TDL operations for several years. However, the end result will be an even more amazing high quality park with the vast majority of the park Guests benefiting from the decision to change. OLC would be wise to green light this project if it hasn’t done so already. And for those of you that know the quality and outstanding management at TDR, you know the end result will surely be an amazing and insanely popular Cars Land.

    • Internitty

      Basically it boils down to the IOne Disney program doesn’t work, I think it will be the ruin of the Disney theme parks in the USA

  • Malin

    Mix thoughts on Cars Land coming to Tokyo. It kind of puts DCA back as a clone park. But it would be a massive boost to the Tokyo Park. Although it would be terrible to see the Rivers of America be flatened to make way for this expansion. It might be wasted real estate but it provides one of the few areas of the Park that provides ambience and escape. Tomorrowland and Fantasyland are both in need of improvements. So I’d much prefer to see them fix these problems rather then desperately remove one of the areas of the Park which provides natural beauty.

    It’s not surprising to see DCA attendance picking up. But if it can surpass Epcot it might finally wake up WDW Management.

    • I’m also concerned about where they want to put Cars Land in Tokyo.

      Ripping out the Rivers of America to build Cars Land is not the right way to add that property to the park. Western Land serves as an escape from the hustle and bustle of this busy park. They need the tranquil trees, water and open space to balance out the rest of the park. If anything, they should rip out ToonTown and build Cars Land there. They could certainly get creative with the ride so more of the track winds through the mountain range at various levels so it doesn’t eat up quite as much space. And they’d be wise to dump the two flat rides and build a couple small dark rides instead.

      I just hope that in the rush to build a better Cars Land, they don’t rob the park of its natural beauty. When you think about what the most beautiful area is of Disneyland (all of them), it’s that area around the Rivers of America. It adds so much to the beauty and charm of the park and serves an essential function as well . . . to reduce the stress level of visitors and provide a break.

      • KENfromOC

        While I have never been to Tokyo, I agree with your sentiment about having a quitter area to enjoy. Exactly why I HATE FANTASMIC! I fondly remember the days before it, going over to New Orleans Square in the late evening was a great way to relax, enjoy a nice dessert and calmly listen to some jazz and the Mark Twain steamed by on the river

  • Park Hopper

    Sounds like Nextgen is going to be a real nightmare for annual pass holders. A large part of the reason I have an annual pass is so I can stop by on an afternoon for a casual visit, stroll around enjoying the ambiance, ride a couple of attractions and have dinner.

    Obviously I’m going to take a wait and see approach, but if this becomes impossible due to Nextgen, it may be the end of an era for me. I’ve had a Disneyland annual pass since 1989. I’ve been through price hikes and cuts and then hikes again. But this time Disney is taking the duel approach of raising prices astronomically, and at the same time they are reducing the pass’ value. And by reducing its value, I mean making it a challenge to get a fast pass or eat dinner at a decent restaurant. And of course they reduce its value even further when they take away the Christmas entertainment that is currently included with your AP admission and make it part of a hard ticket event.

    I understand that Disneyland is constantly evolving and it may just be that it has outgrown the annual pass program as I have known it. I am very happy to have been an annual pass holder for 23 years. I enjoyed every minute of it. But now it might be time to start thinking about going less frequently –maybe 3 or 4 times a year— and for day-long preplanned visits – not the worst fate in the world.

  • George Taylor

    The NextGen initiative seems to have changed over the past few years. I remember talking to a programmer working on the system in 2008 and he was adamant that Disney would never create a caste system and that all guests were created equal.

    Everything that I’ve read and heard points to the old adage that you get what you pay for. In this case those that pay more get more.

    I’m apprehensive about any major changes to the fabric of any of the parks. Although, I do think that the Fantasyland Expansion was very well done and a vast improvement. I still wonder of the Execs at WDW will ever get a different direction besides quick, cheap and easy.

    Thanks for the update!

  • We’ve all seen the impact Cars Land/Buena Vista Street has made not just on DCA attendance but on the Disneyland Resort as a whole. It has leveled the playing field and raised the bar on the entire resort. It’s been nothing but good.

    But over in Orlando, the suits continue to be constrained by budgets and algorithms rather than doing what is creatively right to grow their audience and improve the experience. WDW has become such a machine that it can’t accommodate big creative ideas. There is a creativity vacuum in TDO. But if you can show them $$$, they can factor that in (as they are doing with Next Gen)

    They think they have running a resort down to a science, and they do to a degree. But that formula has also made them a cold machine. And it spills over into the feeling you get from the parks. Everything is FAR too institutional at WDW. It could benefit from some decentralization and quirkiness – but instead, they are going the opposite direction and will be planning every aspect of your vacation.

    While Next Gen is going to help them make even more money, it is going to further rob tourists of the ability to explore and enjoy a vacation. The robot wants to program you. Greetings humans!

  • MrTour

    Although I have never been to TDL, I am sad to hear that they may be tossing out their Rivers of the West. I understand that the park was built with a sense of “space”, something lacking in the crowded cities of Japan. The river offers more than just an attraction for 1,500 riders per hour, it also offers an expansive environment. Taking that out to add more people just seems against the whole idea of TDL.

  • jcruise86

    Outstanding update, Al. Thank you!

    I disagree with this: “The Rivers of America is simply a huge waste of space with very little payoff in Tokyo.”

    Maybe Carsland will be an improvement, but Tokyo residents might value the opportunity to get away from it all in the greener West, even if they don’t avail themselves to this every trip. HBO subscribers have not always watched their award-winning programs in great numbers, but they valued having them as an option. (This is why Bob Iger made an awful, short sighted mistake in selling off the Miramax film library, with its astonishing # of award-winning movies. People value quality content, and there is more to life and business than just ladling swill to the #s of proles content with Transformers 5.) To get ad nauseum about this, Jackie Mason said that NYC residents like living in NY because, “I can see the ballet.” Mason said that these people have never been to the ballet, but apparently they like having it there as an option. Tokyo’s Carsland might be like Tokyo’s cloned Eiffel Tower–a monument to a lack of imagination. (One could argue the whole 1st Tokyo Disney park was, except that the Oriental Land Company is dedicated to doing it better.)

    Sigh. So build a better Carsland, Tokyo Disneyland, but maybe not at the expense of Westernland. Where? Maybe in a landfill connected by fast, super-high occupancy vehicles stylized to fit in the cars world.

    Now Hong Kong is a park that could use a giant Carsland. I wonder if Shanghai will now fit in Cars.

    • jcruise86

      P.S. John Lasseter should be the next CEO of the Walt Disney Company, maybe with Thomas Staggs as his #2. Or (if Lasseter’s health prevents this and in the very unlikely event that they would do it) Jeffrey Katzenberg or Steve Burke should be Iger’s successor. Of course, why would they leave great, secure positions? Maybe it would be like a Catholic football coach tempted by Notre Dame. Come HOOOOME Jeffrey & Steve! Crofton and Rasulo should retire. George Kalogridis should be watched closely. Disney needs a creative visionary at the top. Preferably not just one content to buy the creativity of others. (Will the Muppets go back into hibernation?)

  • Mac Daddy

    Ha! I KNEW that they were up to something when I saw George Kalogridis leading a group of suits, possibly from Tokyo, through Carsland earlier this month. I don’t know if ripping out the Rivers of America is really the solution for them though as you would be giving up some of the richest theming in the park in order to replace it with something new. Too bad they can’t tunnel under the perimeter and simply add Carsland beyond the current Frontierland. Or can they?

    As for Next Gen….if they really wanted to give the AP holders a perk, how about a designated Annual Passholder FAST LANE entrance? Have you SEEN how long these dear cast members, several of them a bit older, sit and talk to first time visitors? While it’s nice and neighborly for the folks who are getting all of their questions answered, the REST of us are standing…..and standing….and standing…..waiting for the conversation to end. Put a fast lane with instructions to have your passes out and ready to scan and and ZOOM. In Disneyland Paris, the actual turnstiles were machine operated and people FLEW through the entrance! I’ve waited several times in the last few weeks behind guests who took at least 5 minutes each. Not mad at the cast members….just the system.

    • jcruise86

      I like your 2nd paragraph, MacDaddy. I was once in a lane to enter the Mickey & Friends parking lot that was much slower than the others. AFTER I got my AP card/parking pass back the super-friendly CM cheerfully asked, “Where are you from?” Bad training of a potentially good CM.

  • lionheartkc

    I understand people’s misgivings about replacing Rivers of America with Cars Land, but I also understand how the Tokyo park could desperately use some people eating attractions. That park is so wide open compared to the American parks, but it can get far more packed than I’ve ever seen any of the American Parks.

    My hope is that, if they do green light Cars Land that they don’t just clone it. With the level of quality at the Tokyo resort, I would LOVE to see how they might plus the land. I could see huge improvements to Luigi’s tires, the addition of more life to the town itself, and possibly even another attraction… Tokyo would be a perfect location for the drive-in restaurant.

    • Disneylandfan85

      Lutz said, “To get Cars Land into Tokyo Disneyland, much of Tokyo’s “Westernland” would need to be repurposed and the Rivers of America section would be removed entirely. Thunder Mountain, the Country Bear Jamboree and the original frontier town buildings would remain at the front of the land, with the Western River Railroad continuing to circle the property. But towards the back of Westernland the entire Rivers of America would be leveled and turned into Cars Land.”

      If they removed the Rivers of America, how would Splash Mountain fit without water for it to flow through (after the big drop)?

  • PirateLover

    Why can’t someone with an AP just plan their trips using next gen also? Is it only for people who buy a single or multi day ticket? Or is it an extra added cost?

    • Nczerks23

      They CAN plan their trips… but unless youplan your trip out weeks/months in advance all of the good experiences will already be reserved… when my 3 yr old son comes to me at 6pm and sweetly asks if we can go ride the carousel, I will now have to get online to see if there are any reservations left to ride the carousel… and then most likely have to break the news to him that, No, we can’t go ride the carousel, even though I’ve paid thousands of dollars for my family to have a pass.

      • Marko50

        None of the carousels currently have FastPass. I can’t see that they would, even after NextGen.

  • Algernon

    Who wants to plan their trip to that extent? I like to ping-pong all over the place, doing things on a whim. And isn’t it time they started selling separate and cheaper admissions for each park? And how much of the DCA success is due to Disneyland being made worse from all the bogus changes over the years?

  • Baloo

    CarsLand in that area of Tokyo Disneyland would fit nicely and even give thunder mountain a nice big mountain range for a background.

    It would be fun if WDI could find a way of integrating the Disneyland railroad track at the edge of the park into the mountain range so that young and older visitor can get a glimpse of the inside of radiator Spring racers dark ride portion. They could use dark glass and properly placed props to block the view of the train from riders of the racers but still allow glimpse of one of the show scenes to train riders. It would not be the first time they integrate two attractions without conflicting with each other.

    • Marko50

      I like this idea. Not sure if the scales would be compatible, but there *is* a RR crossing scene in RSR.

  • wave789

    “Orlando folks” was clearly referring to Orlando management if you read the article and don’t pull the quote out of context. Al wasn’t insulting fans. But there’s a strong disconnect between your rush to attack Al for his justified opinions and your scathing remarks toward WDW since you obviously share the same sentiment toward WDW as Al and the rest of the Disney fan community.

    Welcome to the Internet.

  • J.J.

    Although I love your articles, and like most of your readers, I what anxiously for each new article, I do not understand your comments on WDW. I have been a DL AP since 88. I go to WDW every two years. I love Disney as much as the next person. But it appears you don’t read any of the WDW articles on your own site or peruse the excellent coverage found elsewhere. The FLE, TT, POTC, AoA resort are all incredible expansions and updates at the world. Although I too am not keen on the NextGen additions, it’s not like WDW is doing nothing. Could they improve? Of course. But so can our beloved DLR. Thanks for the articles and allowing me to voice my opinion.

  • lighttragic

    While very beautiful I do think the Rivers of America in Westernland was underutilized at Tokyo Disneyland and I will say if Tokyo Disneyland moves Carsland into a Disneyland they will do it well. I was skeptical at first when they were putting the Monsters Inc attraction near the edge of World Bazaar, the hub and near tommorowland at first my head scratched but my worries quickly passed. The same could be said for a high tech attraction like Toy Story Mania in the American Waterfront section at Tokyo Disney sea but the way they made it an old fashion pier was simply awesome. I do have a question about Radiator Springs racers that is more of an operational concern. Dont both Test Track and Radiator springs racers have issues with rain? They tend to close fairly easily in the rain at least from what I noticed With Tokyo Bay be susceptible to rain I wonder how the operations of Carsland will work since most of the attractions are outdoors. Could we see a uniquely themed dome on Maters and Luigis Flying Tires(giant Tire anyone?) much like Alice’s Tea Party is domed. But I wonder how they will deal with RSR.

  • SFDave

    I think instead of just cloning Carsland for DHS they should just close section by section that park ala DCA and rip it apart. It is very dated, and really needs a major overhaul. I bet they will add a Star Wars Land there instead of Carsland. TDO needs a big original idea.

  • Bronco21

    Why does anyone in their right mind think that the way WDW does it is the right way? I hate the way WDW does almost everything. I don’t like that you have to reserve everything months in advance, I don’t like that it takes 45 minutes to go from one park to another, I don’t like that WDW AP’s do not get food discounts everywhere, I don’t like that WDW has way more shops and restaurants than rides, I don’t like that WDW thinks they know what I want, I don’t like that WDW thinks I want to buy one Disney crap, I don’t like that “the biggest expansion in magic kingdom history” was comprised of 100% cloned rides, i don’t like that WDW thinks the average guest would rather visit princesses than a classic dark ride, I don’t like that WDW builds beautiful facades, but does not build the rides to match the quality, I don’t like that WDW thinks that EPCOT is fine…………………

    Nextgen is a horrendous idea.

    • DisneySam

      I disagree with some of your comments. I very much enjoy that there is a great amount of distance between the 4 theme parks. It is the blessing of size that makes WDW great as an overall resort as opposed to California where everything seems too close together. Also, how is the Fantasyland expansion and circus area comprised of “100% cloned rides”. Only one ride is cloned and that is the Little Mermaid. The 7 Dwarves mine coaster will be all new when it opens. The rest while just filler material (meet and greets, restaurants and a repurposed/relocated ride aka Dumbo) it adds new ambience and theming that enhances the whole area like never before. Why Micechat continues to have the attitude of Florida vs. California is beyond me. I have found that there are good and bad qualities to each property and while you can point out the negatives of one it doesn’t help to prop up the other.

      • Marko50

        Dumbo is a cloned ride – of itself. And right now, Dumbo and TLM are the only two rides. Hence, 100% clones.

        The attitude of Florida vs Cali is due to the respective administrations’ attitudes.

  • eicarr

    If Disneyland is where the $$ is at they should not fight to hold it down. Its so hard to get a room these days and they all cost a fortune. I wish they would put new resorts at the bus stop area and where that lackluster Downtown Disney is. Of course they have tons of land for mega resorts on each side of the Disneyland Hotel too. A peoplemover could connect the outlining resorts, parking, bust stops, and 3rd park.

  • scarymouse

    Nice report Al as always, I really think the treatment of CM’s is horrible. Since I have been going to the parks for some 40 plus years, the experience of the CM’s has been part of the magic that is Disney. Walt always looked at the future and rolled with it but I don’t think he would be happy about the way his employees are being treated. I for one will make it a mission to let the CM’s know that they are truly appreciated,and are still apart of the magic. The CM’s are a major part of what makes the Lands so magical and unlike any other parks in existence, shame on management to continue this current way of thinking if it continues they will just have a amusement park like so many others,as for nextgen I guess we will have to wait and see,I like to plan but to the extent that they are proposing , it doesn’t so good but we shall see. I don’t know about everybody else but it hard to keep to a schedule with kids and adults doing their trip like robots on time,not at Disneyland or any other land for that matter , wishful thinking but then again if they can get you thru the park with little or no waiting ,rides , shows, dinner reservations, yeah right I’ll beleave it when that happens.

  • Jeff Heimbuch

    “Remember, the Orlando folks get excited about walls, and Princess meet and greets as opposed to actual rides. No wonder bookings are hurting.”

    Are we talking about execs or the people visiting the Park?

    If you’re talking execs: I can see your point, and I would agree.

    If you’re talking about Guests: I strongly disagree.

    • DisneySam

      I was thinking the same thing and I agree, although I should point out that the Fantasyland expansion is more than just a meet and greet and walls. As many people have reviewed since it opened and I agree having seen it myself. It is an expansion that adds a greater sense of theming like nothing we have seen in quite some time. And there are some actual rides there as well (of course, one has yet to open). I think it was a lesson learned by execs to change the plans for the expansion to include these things once the intial announcement didn’t have quite the effect they were hoping for.

  • Epcyclopedia


    Epcot had a painfully slow summer and low attendance with Test Track closed. However, it rebounded a good bit with Food and Wine festival in the fall. The local AP population essentially supports the existence of that festival. They go to only Epcot (so first click doesn’t even matter) when they visit Food/Wine.

    And.. “We work while others play.” As long as there are paying guests to justify the park hours, there’s no reason to have the park closed for a CM event. They have enough guests to justify the hours. Al likes to talk about it being a ‘when Walt was alive’ tradition but neglects that park attendance was a fraction of what it is now and they closed the park entirely multiple days each week because attendance didn’t justify keeping it open.

    It baffles me how you can tout Cars Land was a silver bullet to finally make DLR a real “resort” but then want to cater to a local market and put CM parties ahead of operational needs. That’s just silly. If DLR wants to be a multie destination resort, it needs to act like one. That means not shutting down like a mom and pop store for a family gathering.

    And the turnstile excuse? Absolute BS. The biometric turnstiles are smaller than the ones currently used at DLR. That’s more nonsense from DLR not wanting to change -anything- to be the WDW way. Seen it hundreds, if not thousands, of times from DLR CM’s when offered a solution to a problem that comes from WDW. Sheer stubbornness.

    • Marko50

      Me thinks he doth protest too much.

      Or something.

      I do agree with not shutting down the park early for a CM party. Not because it’s mom-and-popish, but if it is justifiably open that long, then so be it. But there is no reason that there couldn’t be a CM party after closing. We’re just talking one hour.

      Stubborness? Whose parks are climbing in attendance and whose are fading? Why would the former want a “solution” from the latter?

  • HMF

    I am not fond of the Castle Parks having entire lands dedicated to movie franchises.

  • BrianLo

    I also don’t get the mentality of California vs. Orlando (but as a Canadian I don’t have park loyalty).

    I will come to the defence of Orlando in saying this “so-called” scaling down of Carsland involves removing the elements that don’t really work (Luigi’s and maybe Cozy Cones) and replacing those with the rumoured Monsters Inc. dark ride coaster as part of the greater project. Of course all falls under the greater realm of Pixar Studio’s at Hollywood Studios.

    Of course if they replaced the elements they removed with something better would be nice, but I kind of take Monsters Inc as that replacement.

  • 20kguy

    You forgot to mention Al another perk that we cast members have at WDW. At the Liquidation Sale they now sell discounted food. Milk, oj, rice, beans, apples, bananas and pasta. It helps us folks who try to feed kids. Oh, and you can forget about the subsidized healthcare. Try four different doctors in one and a half years.

    • disney4me2001

      DLR’s Company D also sells discounted food. So fortunately that’s a perk that CMs at both resorts get! I love going there- bags of pasta for $1 each, can’t beat that!

  • waltopia

    I don’t see why Tokyo would want RSR, when the very same elements are put to far better use next door as Journey to the Center of the Earth. With BigThunder already featuring all that rock work standing right there, and leaving no real river or many trees? Doesn’t make much sense. There are better ways to exploit the western rivers acreage. Something in a shade of ‘Hi-ho silver’ perhaps. An Oz-land replacing Autoipia might be a bit more interesting.

  • salmul

    I am a seasonal cast member. I was able to go to the Disneyland park for Christmas the past two years as I was considered a cast member. I wanted to thank Disney for doing that. They certainly did not have to do that for anyone. It was so much fun and I was extremely honored that I was invited.

  • tasman

    While a CarsLand 2.0 in Tokyo is bound to be a hit, I think the current plans as noted by Al are a mistake. They will turn will turn Westernland into a Hong Kong style “miniland.” I would much rather take out both Autopia and ToonTown and put a Tokyo-themed RSR-type ride there.

    • DisWedWay

      This is true about cutting Fronteirland down to the point that it doesn’t outshine HKDL, as it does now.

  • DisWedWay

    I always point to and suggest guests go to TDL to see what Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland used to look like flipped over and what a great experience it is. Kind of reminds me of the thinking behind getting rid of the One Of A Kind Shop in getting rid of TSI and all its river traffic, which does calm when crowds are heavy in other areas. Not sure where Splash is in this thinking? Cars Land needs a 3rd park as I can’t see it at TDL or TDS. Very sad about the employee parties being cut. After all They Make The Magic.

  • jbm500

    WOW, so much going on. It’s exciting, but I’m not sure who will benefit most – the NextGen or the AP’s. It’s a tought call.

  • SpectroMan

    I think Al, speaking on behalf of his TDA contact, is overemphasizing the popularity Cars Land a little bit too much. It has ONE E-ticket and two C-tickets, and a ton of neon – something quite common in the 50s and 60s, especially in Las Vegas, and now apparently experiencing a resurgence in popularity due to it’s decline, somewhat like that of the Tiki culture. That said, cloning this Land seems VERY short sighted in my opinion. There’s so many other things Tokyo OR Orlando could do, and at the same time we could keep this franchise a unique feature to DCA.

    As Dusty says, Orlando has become a money-making machine with very little heart and soul. The resorts are beautiful and the number of things to see and do is incredible; however, the maintenance is lacking and there have been far too few new rides over the recent two decades. It’s time for them to step it up even if they think the average dumb tourist doesn’t know or care.

  • hrdrockbob

    before DL exports Cars Land..they have to get this one right…the neon in the Flos Cafe sign that faces the street has been burned out and broken for two weeks now ..i have mentioned this twice to management and the dont care..DCA should be ashamed and John Lasseter should know about this Disney continues to decline into the rut of not fixing things

  • QPerth

    If this speculation of Cars Land/Radiator Springs replacing Tokyo Disneyland’s Rivers of America and chunk of Westernland is true, I think it is a HORRIFIC idea. In a stunningly gorgeous themepark, this is a truly beautiful area. I hope OLC don’t just focus on the attraction capacity of this area but appreciate the beauty and design of this part of TDL. It’s bad enough there are rumors of cloning of this “silver bullet” from DCA, but tearing out this area and replacing it with a dessert town? Don’t do it! No doubt if would be popular with the guests, and it would be built to the highest standards we’ve come to enjoy from OLC- BUT the price the public will pay in the loss of this beautiful area is not worth it. Also, i think there is a reason most of this ride system used in JTTCOTE over at DisneySEA is INSIDE a volcano, covered. Just like Main Street is undercover in World Bazaar. Tokyo gets a lot of rain.
    If they must, put it somewhere else. Or an OZ land elsewhere. I truly hope this speculation does not come true, it would really be a loss for Tokyo Disneyland.

  • red barchetta

    Does anyone else remember when Al raged on and on about how Disney World’s Star Tours would be a cost-cut inferior version?

    And then it wasn’t?

    Weird, huh?

    • Marko50

      That’s OK. If a hard ticket Holiday/Christmas event doesn’t come to pass in DL, I won’t be disappointed.

  • Spongeocto4

    Thanks for the update

  • Gullywhumper

    Tokyo disneyland should put Cars Land at Autopia, with the land spilling out into the parking lot that’s behind most of Tomorrowland. They can easily build a parking garage along the outer side of the Tokyo Disneyland parking lot, opening up the half of the lot, nearest the edge of the park, for a Cars Land Expansion. There’s no reason to get rid of the Rivers of America or Mickey’s Toontown. There’s enough room on and immediately behind the Tokyo Disneyland Autopia. http://www.bing.com/maps/#JnE9LnRva3lvJTJiZGlzbmV5bGFuZCU3ZXNzdC4wJTdlcGcuMSZiYj0zNS42MzIzNDMzMDQ3NDMlN2UxMzkuODc5NDU1OTI2MDM0JTdlMzUuNjI5NDkwMTgzNzQ4MSU3ZTEzOS44NzU0ODczMTQ0NzI=

  • ralzap

    I guess 1 more AP is in order, and I can’t aford the Disnelyland hotel’s. Sorry mouse, one more year…..Your food is to expensive due to your plans. hope you can add the casino that will bring in the big whales. Very sad for the company.

  • danielz6

    I say no franchise lands in a Disneyland park. Period. And mixing westernland with carsland is an aweful idea. They are two completely different themes. One is a realistic American west in the late 1800s, the other is a cartoon reality in the modern age. How can you have cars driving around with old mine trains and steam engines…terrible I hope it doesn’t happen!
    I also hate the next Gen idea. Whatever happened to just visiting a park for a day of liesure and entertainment? Why do I want to schedule my entire day, thats the opposite of liesure that’s every day when we go to work! Anyone who’s ever planned a vacation knows that too much planning takes away some of the fun of it. Spontenaity and surprise are vital to a good vacation .

  • pineapplewhipaddict

    I don’t want NextGen coming to Disneyland. I don’t understand why there isn’t a separate team located in Anaheim to configure a type of NextGen system that is unique for the resort and the demands of its guests. Orlando really needs to just butt out of Anaheim’s business. They ought to be ashamed of themselves for taking away the holiday parties from the Cast Members. Scrooges they are. And in Anaheim, shame on them for not properly caring for their CMs by standing up for the party and not making sure they are properly fed on Thanksgiving. Anyone that gives up a holiday to work should still have traditional food offerings available to eat. Anaheim just continues to take take take from its employees. ith all these upcharges, the front line CMs should be seeing some of that in pay, health care, benefits, etc.

    I mean, if they WANT to get rid of their annual passholders, I guess this is the way to do it. But by doing this, they are also creating a PR nightmare and it will leave a bad taste with many locals who will not want to give Disney their business anymore.

    I don’t understand what is up with Candelight this year and all these crummy future holiday plans. Main Street is going to be a nightmare and meanwhile those poor kids aren’t going to be paid for their hard work. And during December, when these kids have families and school and possibly jobs…not cool.

    As for Tokyo, that’s cool I guess. Shame that Westernland gets cut down like that though. But if Tokyo is going to do it, they’ll go to infinity and beyond in execution and I’m sure guests will love it. John is going to have a field day.

  • darkamor

    This candle I light is for Team Disney Anaheim Cast Members who got s c r e w e d out of their deserved good holiday cheer no thanks to some suit n’ ties back in Orlando that need to be replaced with more humane executives (bad Disney! bad!) …

    If the Walt Disney Company ever loses George Kalogridis due to their own ignorance, I guarantee you that Universal will snag him faster then the ink could dry on the contract (the man does a great job of running things) ….

    Cars Land has been successful enough to increase Park Guests to Anaheim, but the only way things are going to improve at Disneyland is for needed rehabs / new rides – attractions to be green lit in time for the 60th Anniversary in 2015 …..

    Walt Disney World continues to suffer (no thanks to p i s s poor executive decisions) due to under performing Theme Parks (both Universal, as well as Busch Gardens continue to steal Park Guests) and its their fault for letting these theme parks go to p i s s – solution? cut the crap and do something (the Walt Disney Theme Parks in Asia already figured that out!). Universal, as well as Busch Gardens, learned from Team Disney Orlando on how to build (& maintain) better Hotels – now its time for Disney to learn from their competitors regarding rides / attractions …

    C J