Disneyland Ups and Downs

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in Disneyland Resort, Features

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Published on July 26, 2013 at 4:00 am with 77 Comments

We have a mixed report for you this week from the Disneyland Resort.  While the park is stunningly beautiful in some areas, there are a few spots that could use a little bit of help.  We look at some abandoned projects around the resort and wonder why they have not been attended to.  We also take a return trip to Splash Mountain to see if the problem with the broken animatronics has been addressed.  But, in all fairness, there are other matters that management is grappling with at the moment.  The Big Thunder Mountain refurbishment is the biggest visible project in the resort at the moment and we scan the copper-colored peaks for any new developments.


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Disneyland is rolling along through the busy Summer season as if on auto-pilot. The park has been entertaining guests in a mostly uneventful season. Though it seems like the crowds have been a little lighter, they are really just better spread around the entire resort, making things feel more manageable than what we have come to expect from the summer season. We can thank Cars Land for that.

 TOWN SQUARE AND MAIN STREET

The characters set the right tone in Town Square, greeting guests at the beginning of the day and interacting with as many as they can.

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New flowers were planted in the tip of Town Square.

Still no visible progress at Starbucks.  But you can be sure that things are moving at a frantic pace inside.

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JOLLY TROLLY RETURNS TO TOONTOWN

After a brief hiatus, the Jolly Trolly has returned to Toontown.  While still stationary, it is now gleaming and sparkling with fresh paint and surface treatments.  WONDERFUL, now, get it moving again!

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BIG THUNDER MOUNTAIN REFURBISHMENT

There was a brief closure of Thunder Mountain Trail this week as part of the Big Thunder Mountain refurbishment.  We also noticed that they are attempting to cover up the dynamite-eating goat when it is not being worked on.  Here are pics from the project site.

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From Fantasyland, heading towards Big Thunder Ranch.

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What’s that?

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Goat under bag with a hole in his side.

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Construction crews climb the outside.

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Approaching the trail from Frontierland we see this sign advising you to walk all the way around, via Fantasyland, to get to the back side of Frontierland.




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It appears that the facade work on Rainbow Ridge is nearly complete.  It looks great from here.

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SPLASH DIMINISHED?

Two weeks ago we covered the questionable state of Disneyland’s Splash Mountain attraction.  While many animatronics along the rides path were not fully functional none were as noticeably frozen as the figures on the large steamboat at the finale of the ride. You can’t expect things to be fixed over night these days, so we allowed a couple weeks for maintenance to be performed.

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Two weeks later, the same figures are still non-functioning.  What is really bad, however, is that many readers pointed out that the same figures have been frozen since as early as May.  What is the real issue here and why has it not been fixed?  There has to be more to the situation than fall protection as the entire steamship is surrounded by water which normally negates the need for fall protection in most cases. And  ropes can be attached to a safety harness for compliance as well. There has been more than enough time for maintenance routines to be created for each and every animatronic on this attraction.

Splash Mountain is a key attraction in the resort. Leaving it in this diminished condition is a real shame and far below the standard we expect from a Disney attraction. It can and should be fixed. A consultation with their OSHA overlords is advisable.

TEMPORARY LONG-TERM SOLUTIONS

Disney theme parks are notorious for allowing a temporary situation to become a permanent fixture. Remember when America Sings closed on April 10th, 1988?  A promising sign hung outside for literally years that read, “Sorry, We’re closed to imagineer a brand new attraction.”

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The building was not used again for an attraction until the infamous Tomorrowland 1998 redo that brought Innoventions and left many asking the question, “10 years for that?”  That same year, after being part of the debut of new Tomorrowland, the Submarine Voyage was closed in September with the promise of a new attraction by 2003.  Again, nothing.  Then, finally in 2007 the Subs returned, after nine long years, with the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.  Not everyone’s cup of tea, but a wonderful return by the original ride system.

Along with the tomorrowland redo of 1998, came the ill-fated Rocket-Rods.  We all know what happened.  With the redo of the land the PeopleMover was removed in favor of what was hoped to be the new flagship attraction in the land.  Not only was it met with mixed reviews, but it was highly problematic.  Rocket Rods closed on September 25 of 2000, just two short years after opening.  Promises of refurbishment were broken when in April of 2001 it was announced that the ride would not be returning.

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So, here we are, 13 years later with no replacement for what was supposed to be a temporary solution, still looming over Tomorrowland. Rocket Rods appears to be the record holder for this ignominious distinction.  But really this begs the question, “Why is this acceptable?”

Yes we have seen the complete rebuild of Space Mountain, which was worth the wait.  No question.  Yes the replacement of the Rocket Rods queue with an interactivel new dark ride, Buzz Lightyear Astro-Blasters, was a success.  Yes we have also enjoyed the overhaul of Star Tours and it is truly a brilliant ride redo that breathed new life into an aging experience.

But, when guests are faced with a 33% price increase over the past 5 years, why is something like a rusting track deteriorating in the skies above Tomorrowland something that is acceptable? It might as well be a billboard advertising that the future is broken. Hopefully the rumors of a new attraction utilizing part of the PeopleMover track will prove true and come sooner rather than later.

We are also going on three years now with the temporary CalOSHA fixes for Alice in Wonderland.  It was reported that we could be seeing a total overhaul of this classic that would address the issues by the 60th anniversary of Disneyland. But why is this taking so long?

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When Disneyland is commanding around $92 a pop for one day one park tickets, is it reasonable to expect a little more than this in a little less time?  What do you think?

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Thankfully Disney California Adventure is still looking wonderful and things are still, for the most part, looking and running just fine.

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New pop-up vending has appeared near Disney Junior Live that capitalizes on the properties from the show.

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The Tower of Terror looms behind the Redcar.


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Tony Baxter Interview

The MicePod’s Season Pass Podcast has an AMAZING two part interview with beloved retired Imagineer, Tony Baxter.

Part One

Part Two


That about wraps things up with news and information from the Disneyland Resort.  We love the resort and want it to be the very best that it can be.  Sure there are little bumps along the way, but Disneyland is still a magical place that creates memories that last a lifetime. We just hope that the powers that be will take it upon themselves to address the few glaring issues in time for the big 60th anniversary in just 2 years.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! We’ll see you again soon. . . In The Parks!

About Norman Gidney

Norman Gidney, also known as Fishbulb, produces and edits many of the articles on MiceChat. Tune in every Tuesday for the Orlando Parkhopper and every Friday for In The Parks. But you'll also find his photos in the Weekly Round Up, SAMLAND, and numerous other columns on the site.

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77 Comments

Comments for Disneyland Ups and Downs are now closed.

  1. I look forward to impeccable maintenance which will be performed on the animated flume ride to be built in the theme parks of the chronically disgruntled.

    Anyone who voted in the current political mess in California has no standing to complain about OSHA regulations. Unless you’ve been on the receiving end of one of their witch hunts, you’ll never understand what’s at stake. OSHA has the power to subjectively fine you out of business. There is a reason why any business that is able to move operations moves to less regulated and costly states like Texas or Florida. The rabidly liberal film industry prefers less regulated places like Canada and New Zealand over California. Even big lefty Robert Shapiro moved Legalzoom.com from California to Texas.

    As a too much maligned stockholder of the Disney Corporation, I invite the chronically disgruntled to please, stay away from Disneyland if the place displeases you so. Spend your money elsewhere, or even better, save it (Disney stock is a good place to start). Then, at the very least, you won’t be standing in from of me. I assure you that despite every single blogger complaint about peeling paint on the carousel roof, the handrails on the Alice ride, animation on Splash Mountain, store windows on Buena Vista Street, and various and sundry Yeti issues, there are multiple tens of thousands of potential guests wanting to spend the money to ride those same attractions or buy merchandise from those stores. Not to mention the multiple hundreds of thousands of repeat guests.

    Oh, and by the way, the plastic bag will be off the goat soon enough.

  2. Last time I was at the park was Xmas 2011, and having watched the ticket price increases and Tomorrowland still languishing as it has for at least a decade now, I just have no desire to go back and spend the kind of money DL wants to charge me. It was just depressing to walk thru TL because, while the recent paint jobs and such are ok and welcome, the bones of the land have been neglected. I find it hard to believe that nothing interesting has been done with the America Sings theater or the PeopleMover track, that the Rocket Jets are still on the ground in front of the land, that those garish rocks are still poking out of the ground at the land entrance, and that in general there’s so much unused or poorly used space and infrastructure in the land. I know I’m harping on TL, but here’s the thing. If it costs me $92 as an out-of-towner to get into DL, and an entire LAND is hardly worth visiting, I’m not paying full price for the admission, period, and that would be with anything I’m not getting full use out of. I can deal with just about everything else going on in DL at present (I’m not even gonna go off on the Skyway having been removed), but with TL being the eyesore it is, there’s just no way. If they can have a cohesive plan to get that area of the park interesting and useful again, then I might schedule a visit. Till then, forget it.

    • Couldn’t agree with you more!

  3. I was at the park this past Sunday and noticed this in the Monsters Inc queue:

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    Really unacceptable!

    This kind of neglect is not something that just sprung up during the day. And even if it did, they should had closed off this portion of the queue until fixed. Really, really bad show, and other guest around me were commenting on it too.

    Oh, and Splash Mountain isn’t the only ride in bad condition. My last ride on Indy: No fire, no mist screen rats, and no rolling ball. And Radiator Springs Racers: No tipping tractors, no white wall tire effect, and a static Luigi in the tire shop. Tower of Terror in shaft C: No mirror effect and no shaking effect.

    The park IMO, is regressing back to Pressler era days of upkeep.

  4. Great update! I personally don’t mind the “rants”..we were there in early June and our beloved Splash featured frozen figures..and what about the rabbit on the train car? That’s been frozen in place for years! I think it’s good to point out the problem areas, and the column at least to me is well balanced.

  5. I have a feeling, starting around Mid-September, we are going to see a lot of ride closures in preparation for the 60th party. I have a feeling next summer more rides will be closed, so they are keeping everything open for now.

  6. wish i could listen to this..looking for transcripts, please! i’m a reader.
    also, what’s up with the intro that sounds like a testosterone monster-rock radio station? eek.

  7. Mr. Colglazier and Her Imperial Majesty Megara are in for rude awakenings if they think they can pull off Pressler/Cynthia style shenanigans at DL regarding maint. Not to mention the 60th. If the 60th ends up like the 45th……well they better not try that…….

  8. Great update as always. Thanks for keeping us all informed on a weekly basis.

  9. Great article with right-on criticisms so many of us have felt for a long time. Tomorrowland is an embarrassment to Disneyland, and the sooner the fixes can begin the better.

  10. I want to see Test Track come to Disneyland using the Peoplemover track

  11. Is Red the Fire Truck actually DOING something out in the middle of Cars Land? They actually brought it out from that back corner? Good!

  12. I think the plastic bag should come off of the goat. It’s eating dynomite; why WOULDN’T it have a hole in its torso?

  13. Wow, after reading all 77 comments, I hardly know where to begin, except to say “Hi, everybody, I’m the new kid on the block, do you mind if I join in on the conversation? and Please hold the tomatoes!”

    I love the passion. It’s obvious that everyone here loves Disney’s core values. Heck, you don’t gripe when something is busted if you don’t care, right? At the same time, I find myself thinking; Wait-a-minute… What immobile character are they talking about? I was most recently at DL and DCA about six months ago, got on most of the major attractions and had a great time. I noticed a few areas where the paint was missing, (hand rails in Autopia), was mostly underwhelmed by the Carousel of Progress, and felt no need to re-enter the line for Finding Nemo or the Matterhorn. BUT, (yes, that’s a BIG but), overall it was a great experience and I’d love to go back in a few months. (I live 800 miles from the park.) I should also say that I *REALLY* love what Disney stands for, even if I only discovered that recently, and am probably a closet Imagineer wannabe. So, here’s my point; Everything you folks are saying is true, mostly. However, you also need to realize that there is a level below which a casual visitor isn’t going to notice it or even realize it was broken. Figuring out where that is and holding the line is the challenge. Let me give you an example in another area of Disney; They recently commissioned some new Mickey Mouse cartoons that are being used in the Mickey Video smartphone app. They are being done by Paul Rudish, of Dexter’s Laboratory fame. I stumbled across it recently and watched about three of the new ones and came away feeling like something was off, but couldn’t put my finger on it initially. Then I watched “How to Hook Up Your Home Theater”, which was done by Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton under John Lasseter and Chuck Williams’ Executive Production. WoW, what a difference! Rudish’s take on Mickey leaves me cold. It’s like Ren and Stimpy Take Disneyland – all skinny, choppy and angular, it feels like cheap Disney Anime. I mentioned this to a young friend who works for one of Disney’s game development groups and his answer surprised me. He said he liked the new style. He saw it as a sign that Disney was “trying new things and not continually going back to what was done in the past.” So, here’s my question; How do you honor the tradition and keep it fresh? How do you hold the line on a high standard of show without turning the parks into museums? I’m pretty sure it can be done. (I think Cars Land did it.) At what level of insanely fine attention to detail are you on the verge of obsessive-compulsive disorder? Does it matter that the eye of the squirrel on the keg of dynamite doesn’t move when you are going past it at 40 miles per hour? I’m not sure I know the answer to these questions yet. I don’t expect perfection everywhere, mostly. It’s delightful when I find it, but I’m also aware, on some level, that in the Magic Kingdom, even the rust is often paint. Does Tomorrowland need an overhaul? YES. (I have a few ideas on that…). Does a first time visitor know the squirrel’s eye is broken? Probably not. Did it have to be animated in the first place? Well… that depends. What I do know is that Disneyland is about Fantasy and Happiness and connecting with the guest on a deep, lasting, emotional level. Now, back to our regular programming. (Disclaimer; I’m long on a bunch of DIS stock in my IRA, and received no compensation for this article.)