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  1. #1

    • Lowering Expectations
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    The Little Bridge into Carnation Plaza Gardens


    (Flikr photo by Matt Pasant.)

    The little drawbridge that takes you through the arched entryway of Sleeping Beauty Castle and into Fantasyland is the bridge that gets the majority of photographs, teary-eyed reminiscing, and sheer foot traffic. But there's another little bridge that sits just a few paces to the left that has been around almost as long, and it was beautiful in its own right. It doesn't have a name; it's simply "the bridge that leads you to the Carnation Plaza Gardens" (not to be confused with a narrower arched bridge nestled into the greenery nearby).


    If you take a look at today's Dateline Disneyland update, you'll see that the entrance of Carnation Plaza Gardens has reopened after the bridge got some work done to it. I want to do a comparison of how it looks before and after, and a little history behind this little bridge.


    Last week, on Friday the 13th of November, I tweeted the news:

    Quote Originally Posted by @DLtoday
    Carnation Plaza's entrance is walled off while the bridge gets new boards and railing:

    I also tweeted two photos, which you can see here below. One is of the front, showing construction walls blocking the entrance..



    ..and the other is of the back, shamelessly peeking through a tiny space where the green screen was stapled to the eight-foot construction wall.



    As you can see, the wooden planks of the bridge floor were swapped out with fresh ones and, to my dismay, the charming white wooden handrails were removed and replaced with taller, statelier wrought iron railing, in between new rock pillars.




    Compare and contrast the two photos below:





    I will go so far as to say that this is a decline by degrees. The new railing is charmless and visually distracting compared to the charm and simplicity of the white wooden handrailing. The increased height of the bridge railing is completely unnecessary; it is even taller than the surrounding green fence for the planters. I can't fathom that kids managed to fall into the waterway below.

    If the wood was rotting, then the handrails could have simply been replaced. That's exactly what happened to the smaller, more curved wood bridge just across the way when it was deteriorating a few months ago; why couldn't this bridge get the same treatment?

    It's a sad change. I'm not sure exactly how long the Carnation Plaza entry bridge has been around, but it sat unchanged from its original form for at least 50 years. Yesterland has a picture of it from the 1950s in one of their "Then and Now" photo series:



    What I love about this picture is that you can see that the railing of the bridge once matched the wood fencing that surrounded it. It shows the original context of those isosceles and right triangles formed by the old bridge. It's a familiar, understated country feel.




    Here's a Davelandweb photo of the bridge, dated February 1960. It gives you a sense of the height of the old railing - tall enough for Daddy to sit on, but not short enough for the kids to inadvertently fall off or through.


    -----------------------------

    I think this bridge, given its close proximity to the center of Disneyland, deserved some attention. It's no castle drawbridge, but it lived through half a century of Disneyland history virtually unchanged, even as Partner Statues, path widening and all sorts of other cosmetic and logistical changes were made nearby over the decades - until now. Now, it's still a bridge, but one that tries too hard to prevent guest stupidity.


    It's hard to explain what charm looks like, but even understated charm is missed once it's gone.
    Last edited by 2DieFR; 11-23-2009 at 04:58 PM.
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  2. #2

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    Re: The Little Bridge into Carnation Plaza Gardens

    maybe they wanted to prevent people from sitting on it since they could fall into the other side and get hurt.

  3. #3

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    Re: The Little Bridge into Carnation Plaza Gardens

    I was with Fishy when the photo of the new bridge was taken. I actually like it. The newness of the wood slats make it a little out of place, but I thought it looked nice. And I'm not one to suppress my feelings about the park.

    I suppose it is one of those things that you may not like until you get use to seeing it. But it really seems like an upgrade to me.

    But that's just my opinion on the matter.
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  4. #4

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    Re: The Little Bridge into Carnation Plaza Gardens

    How exactly is this a decline by degrees?

    The new bridge actually looks more intricate. While I don't think it particularly adds to theming or mood, it doesn't detract either.

  5. #5

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    Re: The Little Bridge into Carnation Plaza Gardens

    The old bridge was the only reason I had for visiting the parks. I'm cancelling my AP.

  6. #6

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    Re: The Little Bridge into Carnation Plaza Gardens

    Quote Originally Posted by flotsam_mike View Post
    How exactly is this a decline by degrees?
    Two reasons, both subjective. One, it wasn't necessary for the bridge railing to be higher. And two, the end result is less pleasing to the eye than what it replaced.

    Quote Originally Posted by flotsam_mike View Post
    The new bridge actually looks more intricate. While I don't think it particularly adds to theming or mood, it doesn't detract either.
    I would argue that "less is more" applies here. If you look at the Carnation Plaza area, including the sign, there isn't very much ornate decor. It's tastefully plain, by design, because it is a part of the central hub and the border between two lands. These places are themed low-key, to ease the thematic transitions.

    I think the bridge railing would be more suited in New Orleans Square, and even then I would take issue with the design of it as well as the rock pillars on the ends.
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  7. #7

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    Re: The Little Bridge into Carnation Plaza Gardens

    I personally think that the fence itself fits better with the Main Street theme. The stone, however, seems rather out of place.

  8. #8

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    Re: The Little Bridge into Carnation Plaza Gardens

    Saftey? Harder for little kids to slip threough the slats?
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  9. #9

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    Re: The Little Bridge into Carnation Plaza Gardens

    I actually like the new one better..

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  10. #10

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    Re: The Little Bridge into Carnation Plaza Gardens

    Thanks for the update. I've always liked that area. We have family photos going back 40 years of us in that area, even with the swans in the castle moat in the background. I still like walking around there and seeing the waterways, ducks and turtles. It's pretty and very park-like. My Mom used to go to the Plaza Gardens to see the likes of Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Count Basie and Stan Kenton perform at the stage there.

  11. #11

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    Re: The Little Bridge into Carnation Plaza Gardens

    The New one very Nice...Disney did a good job!
    Look fresh and clean......
    I wish I can say the same... with other area's at the Disneyland Resort!
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  12. #12

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    Re: The Little Bridge into Carnation Plaza Gardens

    I like the new one a lot, but I don't think it's better or worse than the previous one.
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  13. #13

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    Re: The Little Bridge into Carnation Plaza Gardens

    Actually, I like the new one better.
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  14. #14

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    Re: The Little Bridge into Carnation Plaza Gardens

    You're calling more detail and more expensive materials declining by degrees? Really?

    I don't agree with you, 2DieFR. I really like the new bridge, and think it's a great step in the right direction for bringing real detailed, quality work back into the park, instead of using cheaper materials and cheaper designs.

  15. #15

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    Re: The Little Bridge into Carnation Plaza Gardens

    I too vote for it as an improvement.

    Does anyone else remember the moat around the Castle being called Swan Lake?

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