Almost 2 years ago, Disney unveiled Cars Land and Buena Vista Street, and ushered Disney's California Adventure into its 2.0 phase. So, 2 years later, I wanted to take a multi-part look at the park, its lands, its problems, its successes, and what can be one in the future.
Previous threads: Grizzly Peak/Condor Flats, Paradise Pier, Cars Land
This marks the halfway point of this particular series, and it's an interesting point to be at. A Bug's Land (which I'll probably just call Bugs Land from here on out) was part of the first expansion of DCA, along with Tower of Terror. Bugs Land itself was meant to address an issue with the original DCA - that it lacked rides for young children. Thus, to compensate, Disney took the land next to park original It's Tough To Be a Bug, and expanded the Bugs presence with 4 new rides and a water area.
So did it work? Well, yes and no. Let's get into this and unravel the Bugs Land mystery.
You know, Bugs Land probably doesn't get enough credit for theming. The original entranceway into Bugs Land helped establish a visual style for the rest of the land, by having guests walk through an opened cereal box that leads to the larger (literally) land beyond. There's a great sense of scale by blowing up normal objects to large proportions, with some clever results (in particular, I love Christmas time here with the oversized Christmas tree lights).
It's Tough To Be a Bug has been in DCA since the beginning, and remains charming. The theater itself just received an upgrade for its projectors as part of the Maleficent preview recently taking residence.
Of the rides in Bugs Land proper, both Heimlich's Chew Chew Train and Flik's Flyers appear to be the consensus top rides in the land, and for good reason. Both do a great job with theme and provide a unique spin on traditional carnival rides. For Flik's, the ride vehicles are dressed up as old food containers, and has the look of something built by bugs. Heimlich's is a hidden gem of an attraction, as guests took a standard train ride and plussed it by adding large food scenery and scents to accompany the ride. By all accounts, this ride could really be lengthened and no one would find fault with it.
Remember how I pointed out that Bugs Land brought 4 new rides and a water play area to the park? Notice how I only talked about two of the rides in the positive section? It's time to talk about the other two rides.
Francis's Ladybug Boogie is....an interesting ride. It's a standard spinner similar to the Tea Cups found just across the Esplande. The problem here is the ride vehicle, where I guess you're spinning around inside Francis? Honestly, the biggest problem with this ride is how divorced it feels from the rest of the Flik's Fun Fair theme in the land. Tuck and Roll's Drive 'Em Buggies is a fine ride, but the core concept (bumper cars) feels more at home in Paradise Pier or Cars Land. The problem for it was that, at the time, Paradise Pier didn't have the room (as Maliboomer was still running) and Cars Land wasn't even on the drawing board.
Now, as for the water play area, known as Princess Dot Puddle Park, the reason I have it down here in the negatives is more of a personal bias. Certainly the area is well themed with the large water spigots, but I'm just not a fan of water play areas. I find them gross. Can't really explain why. Maybe a better issue for this area is that it occupies some prime real estate right in the heart of the land, which I'll get to in a second.
One big issue people find with the land (and comparisons calling it DCA's Fantasyland) is the lack of dark rides in a predominantly child-oriented area. I agree with this assessment, but more because DCA could use more dark rides in general, and Bugs Land could lose some rides to provide real estate for one.
The other big issue here is ITTBAB. I know I said it's a fine show, but this has more to do with the overall problem of 3D and AA shows at the DLR. While the shows tend to be popular with guests who do see them, the problem is how few guests are actually taking the time to go see them. This is exacerbated by the large amount of APs that make up a large portion of the attending crowds, as they're less likely to attend these shows after a first viewing (I know I've personally been guilty of this for basically any show outside of Tiki Room). So for ITTBAB, it becomes harder and harder to justify the large parcel of land this show sits on compared to the ridership numbers.
Is there room to expand?
Bugs Land is one of three lands that could claim the expansion pad behind ToT, but of the three, Bugs Land is the least likely to expand. If anything, Bugs Land may remain the topic of expansion plans for Hollywood Lane by armchair Imagineers.
The Possible Fixes
And now, this armchair Imagineer is going to propose some fixes. First, we're getting rid of a few rides. Tuck and Roll is gone, with the bumper car ride getting moved to Paradise Pier with a retheme (it'd be an easy replacement for Jumpin Jellyfish along the water or at the Maliboomer expansion pad). Francis's is also gone, along with the Puddle Park. Oh, and one more thing gone in this area? The pathway between the water area and Tuck and Roll/Francis.
Bugs Land gets a new entranceway from Cars Land, with a small ant tunnel built at the entrance to give a similar experience as the entrance from the spine currently does. The Hollywood Land entrance gets a spoof on the Santa Monica Pier sign to advertise Flik's Fun Fair.
So, we now have real estate to build a new ride on. This would be the spot for a dark ride. In this case, I'd put in a ride similar to the Monster's Inc Ride and Go Seek attraction found in Tokyo, though in this case you're helping the ants (and carnival friends) find food for a large party. It's simple but highly interactive, with the queue and station taking the place of the water play area, and starting the ride outdoors before heading into the main show building.
Now, for one other change: I'd suggest getting rid of ITTBAB. Here me out! There's a great theme at work here with the ant tunnels leading to the theater, and it's that theme that leads me to put a new E-ticket attraction here: Escape From Ant Mountain (name subject to change). The ride itself would be an indoor roller coaster with show elements. The story would lead guests into the tunnels, where Flik has built a new transport system through the tunnels. Show elements at the beginning of the ride would be similar to the Mummy and new Gringotts coaster, with the crickets showing up to cause trouble, leading to a high speed chase through the ant tunnels. And, like those coasters (and Big Grizzly Mountain in HKDL), the ride would go backwards after quick story segments. A FP distribution area could easily be set up in the small flex area in front of the entrance to Flik's Fun Fair, and the outside of the show building could be rethemed to look like an ant hill (with the top kept low enough so that it isn't seen from Buena Vista Street/Hollywood Land).
Now I invite you guys to share your thoughts on the Bugs Land area. Anything you'd like to see added or removed or fixed? Sound off below.