Okay, so in Al's update they mentioned a few things, one was that GRR was getting some AA animals to spruce up the areas. While this is a step in the right direction, I think GRR could become a true Disney classic. Stay with me on this, but my idea is to intregate parts of the lost attraction Western River Expedition. Granted, it would be a much smaller and more intimate version vs the Pirate-like spectacle. But I think it could work.
The lift hill has music added and Hooty doing his spiel. Once we reach the top, we are transported back into the days of the Gold Rush. Like with the original idea, the main song would be sung throughout the ride by man and animal alike. In the cave there would some prospectors and their dog, on the ledge with the Indian markings a cowboy on a horse could be added. Winding down the mountain you would encounter small scenes such as these set to music. Right before the drop, a group of bandits would try and rob you and you would get caught in the crossfire between them and the sheriff's men (water splashing up), then the finale is after the drop with the gysers replaced with a boomtown filled with characters singing as you spin your way to the station. I think these simple changes would tansform it into a family adventure that embodied the feel of the classic e-tickets.
My second idea is inspired by a different attraction. Alien Encounter. Now wait, how would that work in the Redwood Forest section? My idea was a spooky lodge that is filled with "proof" of various California legends. The lodge is run by a man who borders on dementia with his conspiracy theories of said legends, and so his home somewhat resembles the Winchester Mystery House. In the preshow we see exibits on such legends as Sasquatch, strange sightings around Mt. Shasta, and the Wendingo. Then our host tells us that he finally has infinite proof and invites us to see. We sit in an arena around a large rusty set of steel doors in the floor. The doors open and out of the floor rises an industial lift and sure enough we are face to face with Sasquatch (or the Wendingo). It begins to break free of it's chains, and in the process, causes a short leaving us in darkness. From there it is classic Alien Encounter as we hear, feel, and smell this beast lurking around us as our host and his crew struggle to tranquilize the beast. Eventually, they lure him back to the center of the stage and drop a cage upon the beast, saving us and warning us of speaking about this.
The attraction could easily be housed in the current Brother Bear/activity course area in a weathered old hunting lodge. The obsticle course would be moved into the Condor Flats area. It would start by the Test Pilot's Grill, guests would climb up to the suspended bridge that goes over the path, framing the area nicely. Guests would then decend to the other side where some of the set pieces would replace the gift shop/smoking area located on the side of the mountain.
And I think they can avoid the scared children excuse for the new attraction by properly naming/theming it. Have some of the scary stuff start in the que, giving the mothers a great feel for what the attraction will build to. As for wendingo vs Sasquatch. Sasquatch is known, but the Wendingo can be whatever Imagineers design (even having wings to fly as the alien did).
Let me know what you think.