MiceAge Disneyland Update: Mickey’s Boomtown

Written by MiceAge. Posted in Disney News, Disneyland Resort, MiceAge Update

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Published on June 04, 2013 at 4:05 am with 78 Comments

With a predictable increase in ticket prices, Anaheim’s first price hike since the re-launch of California Adventure last June, the Disneyland Resort heads into the busy summer vacation months ready to tackle the growing crowds. In this update we’ll fill you in on some of the backstory behind the dry ice explosion in Toontown last week, spill the beans on where you’ll likely be sitting if you spring for one of those $1,000 ticket packages to the Lone Ranger premiere, as well as how the new attraction plans are firming up for Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary before they get announced (or not) at August’s D23 Expo.

Got that everything bagel toasted and slathered with cream cheese?  Have that 32oz tumbler of Tang™ mixed and chilled?  Then lets get to the news!

MICKEY’S BOOMTOWN

The dry ice explosion in Toontown last Tuesday was an unfortunate event, with the blame placed solely on a young Outdoor Vending (ODV) Cast Member who is still sitting in jail in lieu of $500,000 bail. Lost in most of the media coverage on the ensuing evacuation of Toontown is the fact that these dry ice bombs have been a common prank amongst the park’s vendors since the 1990’s, and it’s not unusual to have one go off somewhere during the average day when hundreds of ODV CM’s work a shift in the parks. The dry ice bombs, often using soft drink bottles, are usually placed in or under the carts themselves as a prank to scare the next CM arriving to work at the cart. The dry ice bombs can also be placed in nearby planters, or in the backstage break areas, and it should be noted that most CM’s try to plot their dry ice pranks when the park is closed or when they are in backstage areas away from park guests. It’s long been considered a badge of honor for new ODV CM’s to be “bombed” within their first few days on the job, after they’ve finished their training and arrive at a cart for their first real shift.

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But the dry ice bomb that caused the Toontown scare was a particularly potent one, and it was unwisely placed inside a trash can. A Custodial CM had just arrived at the trash can and was in the process of emptying it, when the bomb went off inside the bag liner as it sat on the ground beside the trash can. It created a loud and sharp explosion as it ripped open the bag, and it startled nearby CM’s and park guests enough to cause a small panic. The CM’s who witnessed the explosion immediately called Disneyland’s emergency control center and reported it as a “small bomb” that had detonated, and Disneyland’s security team leapt into their well-rehearsed response to such an incident.

Within moments, the park’s duty manager called for the immediate evacuation of Toontown while the situation was assessed, radio calls went out alerting all park management to report to Toontown to help with crowd control and evacuation procedures, and the individual shops and attractions in Toontown began their own evacuation and lock down procedures that CM’s are trained on. In a very short amount of time, the entire Toontown area had been swept clear of all guests and non-essential CM’s and was cordoned off. And in the Social Media age, it only took a few minutes for word to spread that there had been an explosion in Toontown and the major media jumped on the story quickly. News helicopters were hovering over Disneyland within the hour, and the rest is history.

Disneyland Resort CM’s, particularly Attraction CM’s who have thorough emergency response training for each attraction facility they work at, are all trained on how to respond in emergencies that may require a partial or full park evacuation. Disney has three types of emergency responses that involve the clearing of a section of the park or the entire property itself, and the Toontown explosion triggered the activation of the most immediate response but confined it to only the Toontown area during the initial assessment. These types of evacuations and corralling of park guests into designated “safe havens” and CM’s into assigned “assembly areas” are usually trained as a likely response to a damaging earthquake, although the threat of man-made danger is also a consideration in the training.

In addition to the location-specific training for CM’s, twice a year the Disneyland Resort stages a large-scale emergency drill after park hours where hundreds of CM’s are enlisted to act as victims, complete with gory makeup to resemble mass injuries, while Disneyland’s own facilities and security teams alongside Anaheim fire and police departments practice their responses in setting up perimeters and triage units and communication systems. Much of that practice and training came into play during the Toontown incident, and Disneyland’s management and front line staff deserve commendation for reacting so quickly and so professionally, while keeping the response to a targeted area. The good news is that it was a prudent reaction to a classic vending prank gone wrong, and Toontown was reopened to park guests just a few hours later.

The executive team in TDA, many of whom have absolutely no experience working inside the theme parks in a front-line role, were amazed to learn that the dry ice bomb wasn’t a specific threat by a disgruntled CM, which was an assumption they were working under once it was learned exactly what the “bomb” was made of. Instead, it took a while for the ODV management to admit to the suits that they know all about these dry ice bombs, and some of the young managers probably pulled off a few similar stunts earlier in their ODV careers. But you can bet that the practice of playing around with dry ice, either inside the park or in backstage areas, is now under intense scrutiny in ODV. The innocent era of dry ice bombs as common pranks for ODV Cast Members quickly came to an end last Tuesday with the evacuation of Toontown.

LONELY RANGER

With that minor media attention now past, TDA and Burbank are focused intensely on the upcoming Lone Ranger movie premiere we had leaked in a previous update. The Burbank team at the Studios just loves to throw these huge movie premieres in Anaheim, after the Disneyland team pulled off a series of four flawless premiere parties for the various Pirates movies in the last decade. And now it’s DCA’s turn, with the gorgeous Buena Vista Street creating a perfect setting for traditional red carpet Hollywood glamor.

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There’s just one problem; unlike the Pirates events that used a massive outdoor arena seating over 3,000 along the Rivers of America, the Hyperion Theater only seats 2,000 and that’s not enough to host all the industry insiders and Hollywood hangers-on that turn up for these events. The solution will be for the premiere to be split between two theaters, with those lower on the Tinseltown totem pole being assigned a seat in the MuppetVision Theater while the A-listers get a seat in the Hyperion Theater.

The mere mortals who are buying the $1,000 ticket package will also be seated in MuppetVision. They’ll try to mitigate concerns about being in the “wrong theater” by parking a real steam train right in front of MuppetVision and having the film’s celebrities walk the red carpet directly in front of MuppetVision on their way to the Hyperion Theater up the street. The Lone Ranger’s white steed, Silver, will also be there on the red carpet. And some may want to purchase the $1,000 package if only to have several hours of exclusive access to Cars Land after the film; for some Disney fans, a short wait for Radiator Springs Racers could be worth the indignity of being seated in MuppetVision.

As usually happens with these big move premieres, the prep work will be messy and take days to set up and it might be best to avoid DCA entirely from June 19th through the 22nd, unless you want to see the red carpet arrivals on Saturday afternoon. Even then, space for red carpet viewing will be very limited, most of DCA will close early that day, and they’ll reopen the old backstage park entrance behind Soarin’ that had been used for a year before Buena Vista Street construction was completed.

THIRD TIME A CHARM?

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Once the movie premiere is cleaned up by Monday the 24th, it’s onward toward the usual busy summer vacation months for Anaheim. But in early August the entire Walt Disney Company’s attention will focus back on Anaheim again as the next D23 Expo kicks off in the Anaheim convention center. The Expo will continue with a similar format, although organizers are promising they’ve heard the complaints about long lines and sold out venues and will respond with bigger auditoriums and more efficient crowd control. The Burbank planners are promising to get it right this time. At 1.1 Million square feet, the Anaheim Convention Center is the largest convention facility on the West Coast and most of the Expo venues have the ability to be expanded easily if Disney wants to pay for additional square footage.

Burbank bosses have given fresh scrutiny to the entire D23 business plan, and if the 2013 D23 Expo doesn’t pull in solid numbers and strong buzz for the company it could be the last Expo, at least in this massive Anaheim format. The ugly visuals of long lines and the prospect of the company’s most devoted fans Tweeting complaints each day about over-booked auditoriums and sold-out sessions doesn’t help D23’s case. D23’s planners would be smart to tap into all the professional expertise sitting across the street at Disneyland, where the operations teams there have decades of experience working with huge crowds and long lines and keeping them reasonably happy.

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Of course, any complaints about the Expo can be mitigated by a few big announcements of major new attractions coming to the theme parks. That’s the stuff that really creates the biggest buzz out of D23 Expo, and the rather lackluster theme park announcements from the 2011 Expo didn’t impress too many fans and left them focused on the Expo’s shortcomings. This D23 Expo could offer up several big E Ticket announcements for both Anaheim and Orlando. We’ve told you about the plans for a Monsters Inc. door coaster for DCA, turning the existing Hollywood Studios sub-land at DCA into a Monstropolis land. And there’s also the Tomorrowland reboot for Disneyland that has moved from the front burner to the back burner so many times we’ve lost count. Add to those Anaheim projects the three possible scenarios to give Disney’s Hollywood Studios at WDW a DCA-style makeover; varying from DCA’s big budget of 1+ Billion to a much more modestly budgeted makeover that still has Team Disney Orlando feeling gun shy, and there’s several big E-Ticket announcements that could be made at D23 Expo this year.

But then there’s also several smaller projects, all makeovers to existing attractions that are quickly gaining favor to beef up the plans for Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary in 2015. The first project is a remake of Soarin’ Over California for DCA, with the original film switching to a digital HD format and taking off for entirely new destinations. With a current working title of “Soarin’ The World”, the new footage will be filmed over some of the planet’s most famous icons and was originally set to debut first in Shanghai Disneyland’s Adventureland section in late 2015, with a clone going in to Tokyo DisneySea’s Port Discovery section. But now the plan is to take the basic world-tour concept to the other existing Soarin’ attractions in Anaheim and Orlando. And for Anaheim, they’d film a new ending segment that would have the theater end their world tour with a new HD flyover of both DCA and Disneyland.

The date for this new Soarin’ filming has already been chosen, in order to secure the proper permits and assure that the Resort looks its best from the air. On the evening of March 12th, 2014, Imagineering will fly an HD Omnimax camera in a helicopter over and around the Resort area for several hours capturing the best nighttime shots for the attraction’s new finale’. The re-launched Soarin’ The World would then debut in 2015 as part of the Anaheim properties 60th Anniversary. The new ride film would also allow WDI to go in and re-theme the Soarin’ building and surrounding Condor Flats section of DCA to the same vintage timeframe that nearby Grizzly River Run received last year. While the new film would also be installed for the Epcot version, the contemporary airport theme of the Florida version would remain the same.

But it wouldn’t just be DCA getting refreshed rides for Disneyland’s birthday. The one project that has been delayed and rethought multiple times in the last three years, fixing the outdoor track at Alice In Wonderland, has spawned an even bigger idea. The replacement of the track at Alice In Wonderland is back on again, and a shorter and wider track that hugs the building more and is completely up to fall-protection standards would be installed this winter. Alice is tentatively slated to close in January, 2014 and then reopen by late May with a new track.

But the plan to fix Alice that had been debated in both TDA and at WDI for the past several years brought attention to all of Fantasyland’s five classic dark rides. While they were all rebuilt for the New Fantasyland in 1983, and have received several nice technology upgrades over the last decade, they are still showing their age. The likely proposal now has Disneyland closing each dark ride for several months throughout 2014 and early ’15, starting with Alice, while installing upgraded animatronics, lighting and audio, plus all-new digital special effects. The result would be the classic Disney dark ride reborn for the 21st century, marketed to celebrate Disneyland’s 60th.

Only Disneyland has the entire library of classic Walt-era dark rides, with eight dark rides total in both DCA and Disneyland, five of them packed in together in central Fantasyland. The rest of Disney’s magic kingdoms around the world only have one or two classic dark rides left, and the Orlando versions in particular are not in good shape cosmetically. Anaheim has taken loving care of their Fantasyland dark rides, especially with the small tech upgrades of recent years, but both WDI and TDA feel that they are looking quite dated to modern audiences and are coasting on fumes of nostalgia.

The project to fix Alice In Wonderland’s outdoor track will happen regardless, but if the plan to cosmetically upgrade every other Fantasyland dark ride gets the green light this summer, it could be one of the featured announcements at D23 Expo. And if Disney’s marketing team can find a way to flog minor things like new ear hats or a new dessert menu as a reason to visit the park under the lame “Limited Time Magic” banner, then surely they could play up sparkling refreshes of famous and beloved Walt-era dark rides as a decent 60th Anniversary campaign. Along with new fireworks and a parade, of course.

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OH-KAY!  That should do it for this week.  Are you looking forward to the D23 Expo? Would a refreshed and updated Fantasyland be a good draw? Would you pay $1,000 to sit in an overflow theater for a movie premiere?  See you all soon!

About MiceAge

The MiceAge crew was started by Al Lutz in 2003, and is committed to bringing you the inside Disney story that you just can't get anywhere else. As much as we'd all like to see more frequent rumor updates on the site, we only publish when reliable news and rumors are available to share. Generally, you'll find a new MiceAge news update from Al and crew once or twice a month on Tuesdays. The MiceAge news Editor can be reached at: [email protected]

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78 Comments

Comments for MiceAge Disneyland Update: Mickey’s Boomtown are now closed.

  1. I’m not sure I understand how Disney can’t get the expo right. Down the street from Anaheim has always been San Diego’s Comic-con International. They do it right for most part. What, Disney can’t do research and send someone who understands logistics to Comic-con? I too may skip this one.

    All I know is that watching a movie at the premiere for $1000 isn’t for me.

  2. I like the idea of upgrading the Fantasyland attractions. I just love those rides. However, I’m not nearly as excited about the prospect of a Soarin’ ride not themed to California. If Shanghai and Tokyo want to do it, fine, but the concept of a ride themed to California in a park themed to California makes sense, because the theme of both is one and the same. In all honesty, I think the world concept is a bit too easy to do.

    • I agree with this. Soarin’ the World makes perfect sense for Epcot; on the other hand, the last thing California Adventure needs is further erosion of its California theme, which is only going to suffer even more if the Monsters expansion is real

    • As much as I’m reluctant to see them turn DCA into PIXAR Place, I think a PIXAR Planes film in the Sorin’ theater would be the obvious best fit. Give the attraction a story line instead of just a series of images.

      • I read on this site that Planes is disney animation, not pixar. Either way, it’s
        an awful idea. Pbs has already done trains and planes. And Cars 2 was
        really dumb.
        Don’t get me started on finding dory. I love Ellen, but she pretty much bored me in nemo already.

      • Dusty Sage great job on the POD casts. @ hour comute man no more complaining about my 35 minute drive from Hollister to Salinas. That said I disagree, I love soaring over california especially the smells. The orange and pine smells are amazing. Also how about a soaring over the West or the USA, and having random films one being over California, and another be the World or the USA.

      • sorry meant two hour commute

    • Leave Soarin’ alone in DCA, or maybe upgrade and expand it, but we don’t need another One-Disney-style concept forced down our throats. Film a new show for Florida (do you really want “Soarin’ Over … Endless Flat Countryside”?), film another for the Asia Parks, but leave the DCA show alone; it’s one of my few “must” rides.
      Let DLR keep something unique and totally California.

      • Agreed bandboss! And Disneylandfan85 & red barcheta above! Soarin’ Over California is great & should remain as is (okay, if they want to update the fly over of Disneyland & add DCA to that, great. But the California focus should stay!

  3. Looks like TL is gonna get screwed again , if we wanna see TL get revamped well probably get it when price of admission is $100 a day and Disneyland celebrates its 75th anniversary

    • DL admission will be $100+ per day within 2 years (probably 18 months)–it certainly won’t take another 16+ years to get to that level.

    • Ha, you think it’ll take twelve more years to get up to $100 a day? Give it five.

      • I’ll give it til next year at this time!

      • The 75th will be in 17 more years (2030), but who’s counting… :) Seriously, though, I agree that the next price bump will be a year from now. Was thinking about the parking increase, too. Now they’ll have to haul in tons of one dollar bills to make change at the parking kiosks, which will probably hold up the flow of traffic into Mickey & Friends.

      • Are we starting a pool? I’ll take Four years.

  4. I have to agree with the other comments made about the dry ice bombs, there’s nothing innocent about them, nor are they a harmless prank. The most dangerous thing about them is that the timing of the explosion cannot be controlled. It’s not Diet Coke and Mentos we’re talking about, it is a serious burst of power and though I feel $500,000 bail is way too much, I’m glad the era of dry ice bombs, innocent or not, is over. We’re all the safer for it.

  5. The issue I have with updating/replacing the old Fantasyland dark rides is that all of the post-1983 dark rides at the DLR are decidedly inferior to them–I mean straight-up, disregarding nostalgia. And I don’t know what people mean by the new “technology” today, as none of the rides use any advanced technology that I’ve noticed–for me it’s all about design and ride experience.

    • You haven’t seen the new tech used in Snow White?

    • Or the projection upgrades to Alice In Wonderland, or the upgrades Pan got in the 1990′s? They haven’t just let them sit there since 1983, they’ve been plussed and changed over the last 15 years.

    • I think you’d see technology/effects upgrades but not a real change to the story or sets. The classic dark rides would just get better.

      During the 50th, they added the explosions and piranha to Jungle Cruise, floating Leota to the Haunted Mansion and other little enhancements around the park. I think the proposed changes would be more along those lines.

      I’d expect that we’d see the Hat Box Ghost FINALLY return to the Haunted Mansion.

    • Exactly, Mr. Cook!

  6. I didn’t work on the ice cream carts, but I did work in ODV in the late 90′s and I knew most of the people who did work on the ice cream carts and I had never heard of a dry ice bomb until this happened, so it definitely wasn’t a really common thing that happened. We did mess around with dry ice a lot backstage in the warehouse, but nothing like that. Even back then before 9/11 if you did something like that onstage I’m pretty sure you’d at least be fired because you ruined the “show” and took the park guests out of the fantasy that Disneyland is supposed to be. As I said when this happened, this sounds like a last day prank to me, because even if he didn’t get arrested, doing something like this onstage would guarantee that this would be your last day working at Disneyland.

  7. Wow, did this update really include the phrase “innocent era of dry ice bombs” without sarcasm? You do realize how ridiculous this sounds, right?

  8. The redo of all the dark rides is prob the moest exciting rumor, but really how much could they do?? The AAs don’t need that much movment w/ the speed the vehicles are going. I think Pan could benefit the most w/ the FX from Paris that never made it. Toad is fine on the FX front but maybe make Hell more real?? Snow and Pinoc are probably the greatest possibilities. Imagine a dark forest w/ fog, projection mappig eyes in the trees?? Swirling clouds?

    I CANNOT believe theyre going to touch Soarin because Epcot needs a new film! Its Soarin over……CALIFORNIA! This is the ONLY attraction that ties into the California theme. And to gut Jerry Goldsmiths last score would be criminal. Put Soarin World at Epcot and let DCA keep the original

    • I’m optimistic that they would retain some of the major Jerry Goldsmith themes from the original Soarin’ and augment them with a new musical score by someone like Bruce Broughton. He would seem to be a natural choice to followup on what Goldsmith created.

  9. I hope they are not changing ANY actual dark ride scenes/set pieces and merely updating the FX

  10. It’s funny, when I saw the title ‘Mickey’s Boomtown’, I thought it was referring to the price increases :) It’s great if they upgrade the dark rides but too bad they don’t have much space, those Fantasyland dark rides are really cramped into small spaces. I hope at least they can add some Little Mermaid Ariel’s Undersea Adventure quality animatronics, and find a way to increase lighting, some of them are really dark right now.

    I agree that the way to get positive buzz at the D23 Expo is to announce new big rides, but instead of a Star Wars addition to Tomorrowland, they should muster up the courage and just build a Star Wars/Marvel third park.

    Maybe what they’re thinking of doing is add Star Wars to Tomorrowland, and have another Star Wars land in the third park, the way Universal is putting Harry Potter in two different parks. Tomorrowland and the Star Wars third park could be connected by riding in a Star Tours vehicle.

    • Hello, they are blacklight dark rides! From what I’ve seen of the ride through videos,
      Mermaid needs LESS light!

      • Black light has some nice effects, but what I would call classic black light rides, that is, ones that are primarily black light, seem a little hokey and outdated. I don’t think of Haunted Mansion as a black light ride, it’s mostly natural light.

        Black light is fine, but if you’re going to put in advanced animatronics, I think you need to showcase them with a little brighter light. I know people complain that Mermaid is too bright, I personally don’t have a problem with it, maybe they could tone it down just a little.

    • Maybe what they’re thinking of doing is add Star Wars to Tomorrowland, and have another Star Wars land in the third park, the way Universal is putting Harry Potter in two different parks. Tomorrowland and the Star Wars third park could be connected by riding in a Star Tours vehicle.

      Oooh! Retheme the Tron Bike idea for the People Mover to Speeder Bikes from Return of the Jedi and extend the track to Star Wars land in the third gate! I don’t know about right of ways, but they could use the space over Disney Way along the east side of DCA, or through show buildings inside DCA along the same part of the park to get most of the way there.

    • That would be copying Universal’s idea. Disney should be known for original ideas.

  11. I am going to be so disappointed if this Monstropolis thing happens!

    We’ve been harping for years on Tomorrowland, and they have made a few good changes aesthetically but never followed all the way through. I guess I just don’t trust them to do it right. The funny thing is to make things “futuristic” again, they are going to have to look to the past.

    It’s a good idea to work on the FL dark rides, so long as they can do it tastefully. Don’t get too crazy with the digital! I mean, keep the old school wizardry like the Pepper’s Ghost effect in pinn

  12. Aren’t Space Ranger Spin and Midway Mania dark rides too?

    Also, enough with the delays. Fix Tomorrowland!!!

  13. I rather wait several years to have a Star Wars land at a third park than a few years to have more added to TL. The space is limited in TL and I don’t want TL to become Star Wars land. For the third park, 1/4 to 1 half, could be Star Wars and could include many areas themed to many planets.

    I really hope they announce the TL redo soon.

    They should redo Pooh with the trackless ride system.

    Soarin’ should stay California. Just film new California sites.

  14. If and when Soaring over the world comes, I really hope they specify that we’re taking off from California and maybe even talk about its history about aviation. I get that California Adventure has kind of lost its central theme, but that doesn’t mean it should be completely dropped. I think the best “route” would be to take off from some California airport, and go west towards Japan and just keep going around the world that way, ending in California Adventure. Those are my simple requests

    • Agreed. I love all of the pictures in the queue and how much there is to celebrate in California’s history of aviation. I mean we had HOWARD HUGHES, suckers!

  15. Upgrading the Fantasyland dark rides is nice and all, but let’s make sure Tomorrowland is taken care of first. And not just one new E-ticket attraction. I’m talking about a full land makeover on par with the 1967 renovation.