"I don't think it's what it could have been," says Al Lutz, a longtime Walt Disney Co. observer and operator of the Miceage.com Web site.
"(Disneyland is) going to get a rehabbed ride (Space Mountain) and a nice D-ticket ride (Astro Blasters), but it really needed a class-A showboat kind of attraction like Haunted Mansion or Splash Mountain. If they had been able to open up a brand-new attraction, one of their classic E-tickets this year, they could have blown the doors off the attendance numbers."
One of the major problems for Disneyland, according to Lutz, has been its next-door neighbor, Disney's California Adventure. Attendance at that park, which opened in February 2001, has never met expectations, and resort officials have devoted a lot of energy trying to get more locals to visit — diverting attention from the original park in the process, in Lutz's view.
Yet, despite his criticisms, Lutz believes the overall Disneyland experience is being revived just in time for the 18-month anniversary celebration.
"What's really nice to see is the park coming back up to the standards we expected of it. For a time, they had really let the maintenance side of it go. Toontown alone had faded to pastels, but now it's back to its (original) color. They're freshly painting things on a regular basis now. It makes a big difference."