--Warning: Long Post--
So on this anniversary of Disneyland, I figured I'd make a post about my thoughts on the state of the resort. I'm sad to have to say that it is becoming apparent that Disneyland Resort is suffering from an epidemic of movie-based rides and attractions.
All imagination and creative ability for designing and building unique attractions with new stories being told seems to be completely gone. What's even more disturbing is that we have lots of evidence, some of it amazing in quality, that this imagination and creative ability still seems to exist in every other resort. For some unknown reason, however, the Disneyland Resort seems to be losing out time and again. While Imagineers design amazing new and unique attractions around the world, they seem to be content with just throwing movie-based rides at Disneyland, some of which weren't even new and were simply recreations of rides already built in other parks.
Let's take a look at most of the new rides at the DLR over the past 10 years, shall we? We have... Star Tours: The Adventure Continues, Radiator Springs Racers, Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, Luigi's Flying Tires, The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure, Silly Symphony Swings, Toy Story Midway Mania, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Monsters Inc. Mike & Sully to the Rescue!, and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.
All together that is 10 movie-based rides in the past 10 years at the DLR, and I'm not even counting things like the Pirates films infiltrating POTC, the fact that there are not 1 but 2 whole lands in DCA based on Pixar films, things like the Iron Man exhibit in Innoventions, Star Wars Jedi Training Academy, Woody's Roundup Show, a Mary Poppins (British) themed bakery on Main Street U.S.A., or for some unknown reason the fact they felt the need to inject Disney and Pixar characters into IASW after half a century of unwavering popularity. It's as if Disney executives have developed some kind of irrational phobia that if a ride or attraction doesn't have characters from Disney films or cartoons then there is something wrong with it or people won't like it. When really, pretty much the opposite is true.
So while we have gotten rehashed clones from other parks and attractions where all you do is ride through a movie... other parks got completely new and unique rides like Expedition Everest, Mission: Space, Updated Test Track, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Sinbad's Storybook Voyage, Raging Spirits roller coaster, StormRider simulator, and entirely new land concepts like Mystic Point with the amazing new Mystic Manor and the new spin on the traditional western-themed land Grizzly Gulch with Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars. All of these are great, new, and unique rides or new twists on other similar rides and lands.
What I think is one of the coolest and most innovative new thing Disney has done in other parks is begin to link different rides together by creating a whole new sort of 'universe' within the Disney universe. It first started with Tokyo DisneySea not wanting to pay for the rights to Twilight Zone and creating their own new story for the Tower of Terror. They created the story of Harrison Hightower a millionaire explorer from the late 19th Century who collected rare items and artifacts in his travels. One such artifact was Shiriki Utundu, an idol from Africa which carries a curse with it! Now that is cool in itself, but then Hong Kong Disneyland created Mystic Manor. Mystic Manor was the home of Lord Henry Mystic, also a collector who picks up a cursed artifact while on a journey as a member of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers, of which Harrison Hightower is also a member, among several others. In Mystic Manor you see a photo of the members of the Society, including Harrison Hightower holding the idol of Shiriki Utundu. So not only has Disney created a new take on one attraction and another completely new attraction, but they have created stories for each that link characters and stories together and start to paint a larger story about this new Society of Explorers and Adventurers and their members.
So when other parks are getting amazing, new attractions and lands like these, and clearly the imagination and creativity for new original rides is not gone from the company .... Why, Oh Why is Disneyland seemingly ignored and forgotten? There have been so many occasions and opportunities for cool new rides for Disneyland like the ones listed above, but time after time Imagineers and Disney Execs opt to install already made attractions like TSMM, TLM, and BLAB or use their limited creativity on rides like Nemo or Monsters where you basically just ride through the movie you've already seen instead of making new stories for us to see with their rides.
Now of course there have been rides based on movies since Disneyland's inception and I am not against them entirely, but there has always been a balance between movie rides and new unique rides and almost all the movie based rides were just in Fantasyland and nowhere else, with the exception of Splash (based on a movie most Disney fans haven't even seen). However in recent years they seem to be increasingly making rides, and now entire lands, based just on Disney movies. The most recent example of this comes with the new rumors that Disney is considering putting a second Monsters attraction in Tomorrowland (a ride that in no way has anything to do with the future or even futuristic sci-fi .. but for some reason it should go in Tomorrowland?) and also possibly getting rid of Hollywoodland in DCA and replacing it with 'Monstropolis' and a coaster ride based on yet another film which would make it the third land in DCA based solely on one Pixar film, also having nothing to do with California in 'California Adventure' and making it so that basically half the park is nothing by Pixar movie lands. SMH.
Disneyland is the one that started it all, it is absolutely the greatest of all the parks and the only one where there really is Magic when you enter the gates. A feeling and emotion you don't get anywhere else. Disneyland should be getting just as many amazing new and unique rides just like all the other parks. It's very disheartening to look at every other resort and see the great original rides they have made and are making and then to look at Disneyland and DCA getting rehashes and unoriginal movie-based rides. The prime example of this is when you compare the shocking difference in the level of detail, creative effort, and simple forethought and good planning that went into Tokyo DisneySea and the original version of California Adventure. TDS was and is an amazing and beautiful park completely full of new idea for lands and original attractions that have stood the test of time, while DCA was horribly designed with sub-par attractions in its meager 3 total lands and virtually every attraction with the exception of their E-Tickets have been either changed or completely replaced. And what most have been replaced with are the very movie-based rides I have been talking about and not much else.
This trend needs to stop and Disney needs to recommit itself to Disneyland and California Adventure and any further expansion or refurbishment of lands must consist primarily of new content, new ideas, and new original rides and attractions. Disney parks should not be a place where you simply ride through the movie being marketed to you and buy the toys and accessories of said movie. It should be a place of wonder and amazement, a place that pushes the boundaries of distant horizons and strives to stun guests with their latest innovation and wondrous new stories being told through their rides and attractions. It is always a source of joy but it needs to get back to being a source of inspiration for all the world, with attractions and rides that make their rivals jealous and make their guests ride over and over the 'new' attractions they can't stop talking about.