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  1. #1

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    Are Buena Vista Street and the Cathay Theatre interesting without the history?

    This is NOT a negative, snarky post, so please don't flame. I haven't seen the new stuff in person, but I have a sincere question and hope for sincere answers from those of you who HAVE seen it all.

    If you're not a Disney history geek and don't know anything (or don't particularly care) about those early days, so that the names "Hyperion" and "Cathay" have no magic in them and mean nothing to you—in other words, if you're a typical guest, then...

    Is the new area visually interesting? Just looking at the photography, it looks like a lovingly and perfectly recreated chunk of Los Angeles from the 1920's, but . . . what was so beautiful or interesting about LA in the 20's? I see bland mission architecture and drab, washed out color (beige, or BEIGE as someone else put it). If someone just showed me a cropped section of the street scene in a photo, and I didn't know it was a brand new historical recreation at a Disney park, it would be a very uninteresting photo to me.

    Is there something magical when you're there that doesn't come across in the photos and doesn't depend on some kind of immersion experience in "Disney history" before it grabs you? I'd like some feedback on this question.

    (And of course, apologies if this has already been brought up and I've overlooked it.)
    "My mental facilities are twice what yours are, pea brain!"

    The conversation continues at Long-Forgotten, the blog.

  2. #2

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    Re: Are Buena Vista Street and the Cathay Theatre interesting without the history?

    While the interest is increased the more one knows the history, I think the architecture itself (or in this case the Disney stylized-fantasy version of it) has interest on its own. The spaces, shapes, textures and colors of classic architecture can be pleasing and transportive on their own -- whether a theme park park adaptation or the real thing.
    "With the acquisition of Marvel and now of Lucasfilm,
    Disney may have finally found the grail. You don't need
    imagination or art. All you need is a brand."

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  3. #3

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    Re: Are Buena Vista Street and the Cathay Theatre interesting without the history?

    Yes, but IS that considered "classic architecture" by most people? If so, I'm a little surprised, I guess.
    "My mental facilities are twice what yours are, pea brain!"

    The conversation continues at Long-Forgotten, the blog.

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    Re: Are Buena Vista Street and the Cathay Theatre interesting without the history?

    I see what you're saying, as I turned the corner and saw the completed Carthay Circle Theatre last week with the construction walls still up around BVS, it took my breath away. Such a nice contrast with the almost lifeless hubcap that used to occupy that area of the park. I was quite pleased with what glimpses I could get through open doors or areas above the construction walls.

    The old entrance to DCA was a caricature that did not begin to do justice to the majesty of the real Golden Gate Bridge and a sun shaped hubcap at the end of it. It was a place to walked through extremely quickly on your way to a ride.

    Now, it's a place that invites guests to explore and discover the story. Maybe they won't. A lot of people wander past Main Street USA all the time without stopping to explore the Disney history there. At the very least, it's so much more interesting than what used to be there.

  5. #5

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    Re: Are Buena Vista Street and the Cathay Theatre interesting without the history?

    To me it was very enjoyable, I just wish I had more time to spend there. I'm sure there will be some people that don't get as much from it. But it has all the important aspects of creating a nice place to spend time which will be universally appreciated. The scale, the shopping and dining, the landscaping, the fountain and detail make it generally appealing in the way the best lands at all the Disney parks are.

    As a Southern Californian, I love it not just for its Disney history, but also the historic LA feel without shoving famous landmarks in your face the DCA 1.0. To me it's now much more appealing to locals in the sense that it take you somewhere that feels familiar and yet different. It's like something we all are exposed to little pieces of in our lives, but there's not really anywhere that actually captures that feeling that exists anymore.

    My dad, who grew up in LA, didn't know basically anyhting about the project, but when he saw the Red Cars and got all excited like a little kid. We walked through the gates and the first thing he said was, "Cool, these are new huh?" And I was like, "Yeah, everything in this area is new, and then he actually looked all around him and said, "Wow, this is amazing!"
    The Mickey audience is not made up of people; it has no racial, national, political, religious or social differences or affiliations; the Mickey audience is made up of parts of people, of that deathless, precious, ageless, absolutely primitive remnant of something in every world-wracked human being which makes us play with children’s toys and laugh without self-consciousness at silly things, and sing in bathtubs, and dream and believe that our babies are uniquely beautiful. You know…the Mickey in us.
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  6. #6

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    Re: Are Buena Vista Street and the Cathay Theatre interesting without the history?

    Quote Originally Posted by HBG2 View Post
    Yes, but IS that considered "classic architecture" by most people? If so, I'm a little surprised, I guess.
    I see what you're saying; I meant to say that simply being surrounded by the visual elements of such architecture can be pleasurable and transportive. Like music -- that can lay well on the ear even if the listener has no knowledge of the names of the instruments, the style and period of the music, or the composer. Certainly, the more you know, the more layers you can appreciate... but just what's on the surface in classic architecture design can be a nice experience for the eye.
    "With the acquisition of Marvel and now of Lucasfilm,
    Disney may have finally found the grail. You don't need
    imagination or art. All you need is a brand."

    - Neil Gabler


  7. #7

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    Re: Are Buena Vista Street and the Cathay Theatre interesting without the history?

    Quote Originally Posted by HBG2 View Post
    Are Buena Vista Street and the Cathay Theatre interesting without the history?

    Is Main Street? Is Frontierland? I think any history-based land is enriched by having some familiarity with the subject it's based on, but I don't think that is ever the only way it can be enjoyed.

    As for BVS, I think just about everyone will have at least a sense of familiarity with the time period, that it's the 1920s or '30s, etc., even if they don't make the connection to its regional significance. But I'm sure that at least some people will be sufficiently inspired to do farther research when they get home.


  8. #8

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    Re: Are Buena Vista Street and the Cathay Theatre interesting without the history?

    ^ Bingo.
    "With the acquisition of Marvel and now of Lucasfilm,
    Disney may have finally found the grail. You don't need
    imagination or art. All you need is a brand."

    - Neil Gabler


  9. #9

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    Re: Are Buena Vista Street and the Cathay Theatre interesting without the history?

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkTwain View Post
    Is Main Street? Is Frontierland? I think any history-based land is enriched by having some familiarity with the subject it's based on, but I don't think that is ever the only way it can be enjoyed.

    As for BVS, I think just about everyone will have at least a sense of familiarity with the time period, that it's the 1920s or '30s, etc., even if they don't make the connection to its regional significance. But I'm sure that at least some people will be sufficiently inspired to do farther research when they get home.
    This is essentially what really bothers me about Buena Vista Street. If one does the research on old Los Angeles in the 1920s and 1930s one starts to see how much meticulous care and research went into the project. Dig into the Disney history and it starts to fall apart. Walt as the starting point for why to include buildings is great and adds another layer, slapping on names and characters to make the connect obvious breaks apart the idea.

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    Re: Are Buena Vista Street and the Cathay Theatre interesting without the history?

    Quote Originally Posted by lazyboy97O View Post
    This is essentially what really bothers me about Buena Vista Street. If one does the research on old Los Angeles in the 1920s and 1930s one starts to see how much meticulous care and research went into the project. Dig into the Disney history and it starts to fall apart. Walt as the starting point for why to include buildings is great and adds another layer, slapping on names and characters to make the connect obvious breaks apart the idea.
    You're certainly not the first to mention this concern (Techskip had quite the thought-provoking thread on it a while back), but somehow it never bothered me. For pretty much any land Disney creates from original content, they're going to have to come with up titles for all the stores and restaurants within it. It really doesn't make any difference to me whether the names all come from animated shorts or cartoon characters, and I doubt it will for the average visitor, either (for whom "Oswald's" or "Clarabelle's" has as little meaning as "Gibson Girl" or "Carnation Cafe"). If anything, it might actually encourage those guests to talk about or learn who the namesakes actually were, and I see that as a good thing.


  11. #11

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    Re: Are Buena Vista Street and the Cathay Theatre interesting without the history?

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkTwain View Post
    You're certainly not the first to mention this concern (Techskip had quite the thought-provoking thread on it a while back), but somehow it never bothered me. For pretty much any land Disney creates from original content, they're going to have to come with up titles for all the stores and restaurants within it. It really doesn't make any difference to me whether the names all come from animated shorts or cartoon characters, and I doubt it will for the average visitor, either (for whom "Oswald's" or "Clarabelle's" has as little meaning as "Gibson Girl" or "Carnation Cafe"). If anything, it might actually encourage those guests to talk about or learn who the namesakes actually were, and I see that as a good thing.
    The difference I see is that in the past these names may have been chosen for some sort of reference, but more often than not it was people from the team doing the designing. They were real people with real names, and used their names because they were names that others could have in such a place. Now many of those people are Disney Legends and what not, so people have started to look for these and expect them to still be named for somebody prominent. Buena Vista Street's story of the Los Angeles discovered by Walt Disney as he was creating the Company insinuates that these names have more, but a very different, meaning. Creating backstories such as for Fiddler, Fifer and Practical is a sort of re-writing of history as if these ladies were inspiration for the Three Little Pigs. That Oswald somehow predates his creation by Ub Iwerks and Walt Disney. The Midwestern, not urban, nature of Disney's work during these years remains a point of note, and it is ignored to instead reposition Los Angeles as something different in meaning.

  12. #12

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    Re: Are Buena Vista Street and the Cathay Theatre interesting without the history?

    Gotcha... to that, I have no argument.


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    Re: Are Buena Vista Street and the Cathay Theatre interesting without the history?

    Quote Originally Posted by lazyboy97O View Post
    The difference I see is that in the past these names may have been chosen for some sort of reference, but more often than not it was people from the team doing the designing. They were real people with real names, and used their names because they were names that others could have in such a place. Now many of those people are Disney Legends and what not, so people have started to look for these and expect them to still be named for somebody prominent. Buena Vista Street's story of the Los Angeles discovered by Walt Disney as he was creating the Company insinuates that these names have more, but a very different, meaning. Creating backstories such as for Fiddler, Fifer and Practical is a sort of re-writing of history as if these ladies were inspiration for the Three Little Pigs. That Oswald somehow predates his creation by Ub Iwerks and Walt Disney. The Midwestern, not urban, nature of Disney's work during these years remains a point of note, and it is ignored to instead reposition Los Angeles as something different in meaning.
    Yep. Historical accuracy is irrelevant to Disney's repositioning of Walt as a theme park media brand: a pseudo-historical condensing, reshuffling and rewriting of his life and times, garnished with an overdose of the in-your-face, on-the-nose puns that have been what passes for writing at WDI in the last two decades. Like Marty Sklar's bogus story of the colorblind bulldozer driver who ripped out the wrong trees, nobody cares how much of it is a fabrication, as long as they can sell it for a buck. We can expect much more of it to be ladled over Walt's life and times as the years go on, and served up for customers who neither know nor care about the difference.
    "With the acquisition of Marvel and now of Lucasfilm,
    Disney may have finally found the grail. You don't need
    imagination or art. All you need is a brand."

    - Neil Gabler


  14. #14

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    Re: Are Buena Vista Street and the Cathay Theatre interesting without the history?

    I think BVS is still interesting regardless of having knowledge of it's back story and hidden history. The mission style architecture is classic architecture. Perhaps growing up in California or in the south western United States has created a degree of familiarity with the theme and design for some guests. Maybe that creates the opinion of "bland mission style architecture" mentioned in the original post? I don't know, just speculating. I personally don't think it's bland. There is enough color here and there with the murals, stained glass and also some shops are painted colors other than beige. Also the details in the relief work are stunning! Nothing bland about that!

    I know when I walk down Main Street I feel transported not only to a different time, but to a different place. Mainly because it represents a small turn of the century town in the midwest. A place I am not familiar with, and buildings that have a whole different architectual design than what I have grown up with. So this creates that transported feeling for me. I do feel the transportation in time when walking down BVS, but as a Los Angeles native, the architecual design and surroundings do feel familiar. Perhaps visitors from other parts of the country or world will have another opinion of BVS?

    As for the history of Oswalds, Mortimers, FF&P ETC..., It does not bother me if their actual history has been re-written. I'm not one of those who expect a trip to a Disney resort to also be a trip to a living history museum. The statue in Carthay Circle is called "story tellers", not "history teachers". There are plenty of fine museums in California and other parts of the country to visit. None of which are run by a giant mouse and have a bobsled ride.

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    Re: Are Buena Vista Street and the Cathay Theatre interesting without the history?

    Quote Originally Posted by DisneylandDragon View Post
    I think BVS is still interesting regardless of having knowledge of it's back story and hidden history. The mission style architecture is classic architecture.

    I know when I walk down Main Street I feel transported not only to a different time, but to a different place. Mainly because it represents a small turn of the century town in the midwest. A place I am not familiar with, and buildings that have a whole different architectual design than what I have grown up with. So this creates that transported feeling for me. I do feel the transportation in time when walking down BVS, but as a Los Angeles native, the architecual design and surroundings do feel familiar. Perhaps visitors from other parts of the country or world will have another opinion of BVS?

    Having seen some of BVS over the construction wall over a month ago, I must say that I was impressed with the look of BVS, after having initially not liked the concept art. It is much better than what it replaced. Having said that, there is a different vibe between Main Street and BVS.

    Main Street USA has the hometown, apple pie and fourth of July feel, despite being visually stunning, Main Street also has a sense of warmth. Especially at night, Walt liked the look of the Tivoli lights in Tivoli gardens and adopted a similar look for main street.

    BVS also invokes an emotion which is, IMHO, more modern, less community-centric, and more progress oriented, which can sort of be seen with the 'Newsies'.

    Besides diehard fans, I don't think that guests necessarily will immediately pick-up that BVS is supposed to be an idealized version of L.A. when Walt arrived, but they might regard it as an old-time 1930s counterpart to Main Street.

    After having seen of these pictures of BVS on Miceage, I must admit that I am seeing BVS everywhere, at least in a relatively new Home Depot and Barnes & Noble where I live, plus we have plenty of 1930s houses and old fashioned lights in part of downtown. And I don't live even close to L.A. . . . meaning that there are plenty of examples of 1930s architecture still existent in the United States, plus the mission style architecture is, for better or worse, ubiquitous across the country. Outside of the U.S., especially in Europe, the old towns look like they were built by Disney anyway!

    But I've also seen midwestern towns that look like main street.

    Though BVS is awesome, and I can't wait to see it up close, I would have gone with a place a little more foreign to the U.S. I really love the Disney classic Mary Poppins, I would have liked to reproduce a London street, with businesses, but also with some residences. And I would have had english horse-drawn carriages, and old fashioned telephone booths, special english shops (or is that shoppes?), and street performers like in Mary Poppins. What I wouldn't give to see an admiral boom's house which fires a canon at dusk . . . I'm not that much of an anglophile, but I like the look of Cherry Tree Lane, and there are a lot of English-related Disney films which could have been woven into the are, perhaps a small London's Park with a Peter Pan statue.

    Given how prevalent mission style architecture is, some uber-unobservant folks who frequent Magic Mountain will go down BVS and thinks its just made to look like a nice outdoor mall with an old style trolley thrown in for style.

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