So, as we all know, DCA has vastly improved and is a much better park than it was prior to the relaunch in 2012. Attendance numbers and guest satisfaction show that. I personally find myself spending much more time just hanging out and being there on my visits. BVS and Cars Land are two of the best themed areas put in a Disney Park, but the park still has plenty of room for improvement, especially in the placemaking of it's lands. With their original project starting to really payoff, I think it is time to invest more in the infrastructure and eventual expansion of the park.
What inspired me to write this was Warner Weiss' wonderful column about the missed placemaking opportunities of Paradise Pier , specifically the Carousel MiceChat - Disney History, Disneyland Resort, Features, Werner Weiss - King Tritonâ€™s Carousel of the Sea. I wanna concentrate this thread on my ideas, and your ideas, on mostly placemaking work for three lands that need it: Hollywood Land, Condor Flats, and Paradise Pier.
Paradise Pier has so much potential to be a truly great land that captures the idealistic romanticism of a seaside amusement park in the 1920s. That is an environment I would LOVE to visit! When Paradise Pier works, it WORKS…Paradise Gardens, TSMM, Midway Games, TLM, SSS, Paradise Park, the actual carousel and detailing (I love the organ!) like the article pointed out, the popcorn lighting…but it still needs a big dose of MORE. During the redo, I think I was most sad to see that we never got the pavilion for the carousel, the fully realized and covered queue for MFW, a new queue building for Screamin (a fun house type queue would be amazing), and all the old school landscaping (look like ficus trees in the BSC model, which have a history as pieces of landscape here in CA)…the carousel pavilion especially...it's style would have been a perfect complement to the SSS structure across the bay.
My hope is that some day soon, these areas will be addressed. I think we will one day see new dark ride attractions in both the Maliboomer graveyard and GSS areas. The cool thing with PP is you can dress up the facade to fit and have almost any attraction for a dark ride on inside…dark rides of different themes were common in these old seaside parks parks and is why both TLM and TSMM work in Paradise Pier (also think how Crush and TSMM fit into American Waterfront at TDS).
While I applaud the little things they tried to do to improve the land as a whole during the initial redo (the renovation of Ariels Grotto is great, the removal of Maliboomer, the light touch up of the Midway shops, all the new voice spiels, new music, etc.), it just needs MORE. I hope one day we see new attractions, the pavilion for carousel, a new queue for Screamin, new queue for Fun Wheel, and just an overall bring up of the land to be on par with TSMM and Paradise Gardens.
And let me say that the one of the best things they have done on the pier was the end of summer party they did last Memorial Day weekend. The wandering sideshow acts and vintage beachwear characters were PERFECT! Paradise Pier needs that type of roving entertainment all the time. It adds such nice depth to the land.
Condor Flats, to me, would be the easiest land to placemake out of all the ones that need it. This land already has some wonderful theming. Anyone who doesn't agree with that should check out the detailing in the Fly N Buy shop...it's great, stuff that tells a historical story, especially behind the registers (I asked once about the 1940s calendar and got a great history lesson from the CM on the details). I think the first thing that needs to be done is take the land and absorb it into Grizzly Peak. I understand the history or aviation and it's links to the desert, but the attempt at desert theming in the land is mediocre at best and redundant with Cars Land doing a much more effective job at desert theming. Add more trees and make the environment a kind of "transitional" forest into Grizzly Peak. I imagine it like driving up from the city (BVS), into the foothill woodlands (Condor Flats), to the mountain forest (Grizzly Peak).
Instead of the test base look, I would have the land be more of a mountain landing strip in this post-WWII, mid century National Park (since Condor Flats has 1940s theming and Grizzly Peak has slowly been transition into a 1950s theme). It sounds crazy, but those things did and still do exist. The hang gliding backstory actually fits better into a mountainous national park environment. As far as buildings in the land, I would love to see them painted in more muted tones and just more rustic touches added.
I would also love to see more done with Grizzly Peak with the addition of more scenic elements and AA animals (I think Mark Davis-esque animals would work so well and could be iconastic in the land if placed in areas of the ride visible to both visitors on the path and the ride). Since the two lands would become one, it would be great to see if they could somehow squeeze another attraction into the expanded land.
Now this one is tough...I don't have as fully fleshed out ideas for place making in this land, just a bullet list of ideas:
- Concentrate the look of the land on the Golden Age of Hollywood between the 1940s-1960s.
- Decorate the facade of the Hyperion with an actual iconastic building instead of the faux sky. I would love to the idea they were originally going to go through with this facade during the redo. An actual, fully realized lobby would be great as well. I imagine something simple, very Hollywood Golden Age, with a vaulted sky light above it.
- Finish and enclose the back of the facades for the buildings on the north side of the street bordering the Hollywood Studio section.
- Further make the Hollywood Studio section look like an old backlot. Current attractions can stay (they NEED new facades, especially Monsters) or have a new attraction take their place.
- If the parties must stay, take them indoors and fully convert the old Hollywood and Dine building into being a nighttime "club". If they still want an element of it outside, open up a part of building with a retractable roof and/or expand a little into the backstage area with a disguised patio.
What do you think? What are your ideas? Discuss!