While DCA's immediate future and construction budget remains intact and on track, Disneyland has seen some minor fallout from the economic crisis and resulting downturn in visitor spending. The Anaheim parks haven't seen the complete deep freeze mentality that gripped the Orlando parks late last year and continues to keep any meaningful expansion plans for the Florida parks in limbo, but some of the existing plans for Disneyland have been scaled back or postponed.
The first casualty that was once slated to get underway this year for a 2010 opening, but is now pushed back at least a year, is the remake of Star Tours. This new version of the popular E Ticket attraction is the worst kept secret on the Internet, with many people associated with the latest round of Star Wars films constantly dropping hints of their involvement in the new ride. The new version is going to take advantage of the in-cabin effects pioneered in Tokyo DisneySea's StormRider simulator attraction and the randomly changing plotlines that digital technology now allows. But the new ride will also be using new facial recognition technology that the Imagineers want to use to pick people out of the audience and incorporate into the show using the cabin video screens and the animatronic pilot's personalized dialogue.
The revamped Star Tours 2.0 was to debut in spring, 2010 as part of Disneyland's 55th Anniversary celebration, with a nearly identical version planned to open in Walt Disney World around the same time. But when the Orlando executives, who are a notoriously tough sell when it comes to investing in new attractions, put the brakes on not only Star Tours 2.0 but also most other major attraction additions in Florida, it threw the carefully crafted budget into disarray.
The large production and facilities installation budget was created by WDI on the ability to spread the costs between two properties, but with Walt Disney World backing out of the plan last year with no current interest in rejoining the project, the Disneyland version that TDA still wants is now left up in the air. And people wonder why I frequently have Orlando in my cross-hairs.
Luckily, the folks at WDI have been in frantic contact with the Oriental Land Company to try and sell Tokyo Disneyland on paying for the version once destined for Orlando. While the Oriental Land Company has yet to sign on the dotted line, negotiations are looking positive, and the new version of Star Tours may be able to debut simultaneously in Anaheim and Tokyo for the 2011 summer season.
As part of the plan to debut a new Star Tours in 2010 that included updates to the attraction façade, the entrance to Tomorrowland was supposed to get an update as well. The AstroOrbiter was planned to be repainted in a new silver and blue color scheme, and the entrance to the land was going to be opened up and rethemed a bit. The refurbishment and new paint for the AstroOrbiter is still budgeted and planned for later in 2009, as the mechanical structure needs maintenance and new parts to allow the revolving planets to spin again. But that new paint job and refurbishment was really supposed to tie in with the dramatically redone Star Tours 2.0 next door.
Not yet going away.
Still, it's the last bit of the 1998 New Tomorrowland that has yet to be redone, so it's needed regardless of what is to become of Star Tours. And yes, once DCA proves itself and Tony Baxter gets the green-light for his big budget retheme of Tomorrowland, the Astro Orbiter will return to its rightful place atop the PeopleMover station. But the paint job and mechanical refurbishment is still needed in the meantime. "
I really hope this one comes true as these items need to be updated and we will still have the Rocket Rods / People mover track / ride to deal with. Where is the 2 Bil for the Tomorrowland area????