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    AbandonedLand: Finding uses for the empty and unused parts of the Disneyland Resort

    Taking a cue from Kevin Yee's 4/26 column, AbandonedWorld, I thought it would be interesting to look at the abandoned and empty attractions, restaurants, and other venues at the Disneyland Resort theme parks.

    Like Mr. Yee's column, this thread isn't intended to be an overtly-critical jab at Disney. Likewise, I in no way hate Disney or Disneyland, and this thread isn't meant to say anything like that - but rather, bring to light the areas - some small, others quite large - in the parks that should be hosting guests in more productive means instead of sitting empty.

    Alright, now... Let's take a look.
    DISNEY'S CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE
    We'll begin with Disney's California Adventure Park. Since the park's opening in 2001, DCA has had its fair share of attractions and restaurants that have been quietly shuttered with no replacement. Luckily restaurants like Wolfgang Puck's Avalon Cove and the ABC Soap Opera Bistro haven't been left as empty shells, and dining like Ariel's Grotto and attractions like Playhouse Disney - Live on Stage! have filled the venues.

    Other areas haven't been so lucky, though.


    Hollywood & Dine
    Stage 12, or what was previously Hollywood & Dine sits in the far corner of the Hollywood Pictures backlot, near Monsters Inc. The building previously housed Hollywood & Dine, a restaurant that opened with the park serving Asian specialties, burgers, deli sandwiches, and pizza. After guest demand didn't meet the expectations, the establishment was shuttered. Instead of Imagineering a replacement, Disney instead constructed a brown wall in front of the building, planted some palm trees and called it good. Now Stage 12 is used for private parties, media receptions, and other private events. Most of the interior decor from Hollywood & Dine is still intact, but remains unseen by the general public. As for dining, if you want a quick bite from this corner of the park, you can get a snack from the Studio Catering Company truck that was added when the "Hollywood Studios" placemaking project rethemed this area of the Backlot. But don't get your hopes up - the catering truck is often closed as well.



    Coca Cola Drive-In
    This area used to feature a photo-op with an old 1950s sports car, and additional overflow seating for Hollywood & Dine. Now the Drive-In structure is used primarily for seating for the Studio Catering Company truck, if its open, or a resting place for tired parents as their children play on the nearby Monsters Inc photo-op. The 50s car photo-op which matched the theme of the structure, is no longer there.



    Who Wants to be a Millionaire - Play It!
    Stage 17 opened in September 2001 as Who Wants to be a Millionaire - Play It!. The attraction, based on the hit ABC primetime game show was a clone of an attraction that had debuted earlier that year at Disney-MGM Studios in Florida. The local crowds in Anaheim didn't really grow too fond of the attraction, and aside from a small cult following, it generally didn't garner much attendance. It was closed in 2004 and has since sat empty. When the new Monsters Inc attraction opened next door in early 2006, Stage 17 was used for a media and press reception. Online message board users reported that the sets from the Millionaire attraction had been gutted. Later, in September of 2006 Disney announced that instead of a new attraction, the building was now available to rent for corporate meetings and other private functions.




    Farmer's Expo
    Up against a wall that separates Disney's California Adventure from the Timon Parking lot is a quaint, shaded area themed to a Farmer's Market Expo. But there isn't any fresh fruit or veggies to buy here... Disney previously used this shaded area as a small stage show area for children. Various mini-shows came and went, including the Ugly Bug Ball which was a feature of the area after the Bountiful Valley Farm was absorbed into "a bug's land." Yet, no stage remains today. Instead, just some leftover benches and tables that can be good for parents to rest their feet as their kids go play in the nearby water play area.
    It is ironic, though, that the wall that this area is up against proudly proclaims: "Bountiful Valley Farm - Our Business is Growing." Seems like business is dead to me.



    Sam Andreas Shakes
    Perhaps the photos above don't illustrate this quite as well as I had intended. Sam Andreas Shakes is quite commonly closed. On the left, you can see a family walking up to purchase a delicious, frosty shake on a warm summer day. However, on the right, signs in the windows say "Sorry, farmhands, we're closed today." It's rare not to see that sign at Sam Andreas Shakes these days.



    Lucky Fortune Cookery
    Maybe people don't like puns with their food. A vast majority of dining establishments at DCA featured plays on words or puns, and many of them ended up closing a little after the park opened. The Lucky Fortune Cookery is no exception. The only time you'll see this place open now is during Disney's California Food and Wine Weekends when it is used as the Taste of California Marketplace, serving appetizer-sized portions of taste California-inspired dishes. And despite not having served any fortune cookies for years, all of the signage for the Cookery remains.



    San Francisco facades
    Briefly used as an arcade during the short-lived X-Games Xperience at DCA, the San Francisco facades are an oddly-placed row of facades that serve no purpose other than to make you wonder what their purpose is. The sad truth is that they have no purpose. No purpose whatsoever.




    DISNEYLAND
    Across the epslanade at Walt's original Magic Kingdom, there's no shortage of unused space.


    PeopleMover and AstroJets
    One of the greatest losses of the entire 1998 New Tomorrowland project was the PeopleMover track and the AstroJets. While the Rocket Rods may have been a decent attempt at an exciting replacement for the aging PeopleMover, the goals of the Imagineers were doomed with the paltry budget they had to work with. After the Rocket Rods closed in 2000, no replacement for the PeopleMover track has come. Instead of Tomorrow's Transporation Today, we get an empty track above our heads that has seen much better times. In the heart of Tomorrowland, the shell of the AstroJets still spins but it doesn't get to take any guests through a flight high above Tomorrowland. Instead, the rockets were replaced with the Observatron, a spinning kennetic sculpture of sattellites that serves absolutely no purpose other than to confuse guests every 30 minutes with its loud soundtrack and meaningless spinning.



    Starcade Upper Level
    Ignore the last remaining speedramps in Tomorrowland. That barricade is there to hide them. And that blue tarp covering that signage over the speedramps - ignore it too. Nothing is up there. The Starcade is hardly a Disney quality attraction to begin with. With its dated arcade games, the venue is ripe to be taken over by something more interesting. But if the arcade must stay, why not invest in some high-quality video games on both levels of the arcade? I mean, that X-Wing hanging above those speedramps should be getting some visibility!



    Spirit of Refreshment
    When the Moonliner returned to Tomorrowland in it's smaller size, it came not as a "weenie" for Tomorrowland, or as an icon for a grand new version of Mission to Mars, but instead, it was a over-the-top backing for a Coca Cola cart. But to be fair, this wasn't any Coca Cola cart - the Hyper Cool launch mechanism shot your Coke into the air, only to be caught by a quick-handed CM. It's just too bad that now you can't even get a Coke in this "futuristic" way anymore - the Spirit of Refreshment is rarely open for business.



    Motorboat Cruise / Fantasia Gardens
    The Motorboat has been closed ever since Mickey's Toon Town popped up behind Fantasyland. Unfortunately, most of the waterways of the Motorboat Cruise have now been filled in by dirt and will only be seen by guests if they have to be evacuated out of the the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage showbuilding. The waterways of the Motorboat Cruise are forever lost - and now all we have left is an old dock where guests can sit and eat a turkey leg from a nearby outdoor vending cart.



    Skyway to Tomorrowland
    High atop a hill in a quiet corner of Fantasyland next to the Casey Jr Circus Train sits the Fantasyland Skyway station. The Skyway has been closed since 1994 but the old station just sits up there unused. Is there no way the structure could at least be converted into a unique sit-down dining location (somehow utilizing the nearby Village Haus kitchens), or at the very least a character meet-and-greet?



    Big Thunder Ranch / Festival of Fools Arena
    Aside from the petting zoo portion, much of Big Thunder Ranch sits unused today. Big Thunder BBQ no longer serves tasty barbeque dinners, and the huge Festival Arena no longer hosts the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Instead, Big Thunder Ranch is primarily used for seasonal events now like Santa's Reindeer Round-Up at Christmas and Woody's Halloween Roun-Up in the fall. And the Festival Arena joins Hollywood & Dine and Stage 17 at DCA as being another venue used only for private events at the Disneyland Resort.




    PROGRESSLAND
    But, while there's a lot of unused space at Disneyland, there is some progress.

    Submarine Voyage
    After sitting empty for 9 years, guests can once again board a Submarine and travel through liquid space.



    Tom Sawyer Island
    The new theme is a matter of dispute amongst Disney fans, but there's no doubt that the Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island additions are far superior to what was previously on the Island. So Injun Joe got kicked out - at least Davy Jones brought some amazing new lighting and some cool new special effects. Wat better than what was there before. It's a shame about the Fort, though.



    MalibuRitos / Toy Story Mania!
    And after being a large chunk of dead space on Paradise Pier at DCA, the long-closed MalibuRitos is now officially history along with Strips, Dips, and Chips and is now part of the upcoming Toy Story Mania! attraction.





    ...So what do you think? How can Disney better use these empty spaces for better guest enjoyment, increased capacity, and overall park improvements?
    Last edited by MasterGracey; 06-15-2007 at 11:20 AM.

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  2. #2

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    Re: AbandonedLand: Finding uses for the empty and unused parts of the Disneyland Res

    Wow...some of that is really depressing. Especially the motorboat cruise....

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    Re: AbandonedLand: Finding uses for the empty and unused parts of the Disneyland Res

    Great post! And a little saddening, since it wasn't too long ago when I was a young lad and all those areas were being used. The Motorboat Cruise and Big Thunder BBQ bring back good memories. *sigh*

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    Re: AbandonedLand: Finding uses for the empty and unused parts of the Disneyland Res

    Excellent post. Exactly how big is the Motor Boat Cruise area? It would be really cool for a new Fantasyland attraction based on a classic movie to go there. The skyway should be reopened or else there should be a massive E-Ticket that takes up both the FL skyway station and possibly parts of Big Thunder Ranch. The peoplemovers and astrojets desperately need to return to give more life to TL. And, Starcade could be gutted and an all new ride (one that actually deals with the future) could be put in there. This post was sad in someways, but it gives me hope for new attractions at DLR.

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    Re: AbandonedLand: Finding uses for the empty and unused parts of the Disneyland Res

    Wow. Until you posted this and pointed out all of the unused real estate, I had no idea just how much potential for growth there was at the park! I hope someone (or many someones) from TDA sees this, and realizes that the customers DO notice.

    Why go to the expence of building a third gate, when they have so many places that could have new attractions and/or shows built. It seems like a waste of money to be worrying about a new park, when so much could be done to expand what they already have.




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    Re: AbandonedLand: Finding uses for the empty and unused parts of the Disneyland Res

    Quote Originally Posted by penguinsoda View Post
    Why go to the expence of building a third gate, when they have so many places that could have new attractions and/or shows built.
    Such a great point. Just to think that they closed the Motorboats just because the operating expenses increased with the opening of ToonTown... when less than a decade later they were able to open a whole new park?? I've said it before and I'll say it again: *sigh*

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    Re: AbandonedLand: Finding uses for the empty and unused parts of the Disneyland Res

    Whats sad is that many of the Then and Now posts of DCA look a lot like the pictures of the abondoned shops of Dreamland in Kevin Yee's column.

    When attractions were original

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    Re: AbandonedLand: Finding uses for the empty and unused parts of the Disneyland Res

    Quote Originally Posted by penguinsoda View Post
    Why go to the expence of building a third gate, when they have so many places that could have new attractions and/or shows built. It seems like a waste of money to be worrying about a new park, when so much could be done to expand what they already have.
    Because you can't charge a second admission fee on one gate. '_'

    Great post MasterGracey! Love the photo evidence roundup.
    Disney FAQ#275: What is DCA?
    DCA stands for Disney Construction Area. All the Cast Members are themed with hard hats and steel toed boots.

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    Re: AbandonedLand: Finding uses for the empty and unused parts of the Disneyland Res

    MG - I give this thread 10 out of five stars. Thanks for taking the time to put those side by side shots together. Up until a few weeks ago, you could have had a then/now with the subs and TSI. Thankfully, it looks like Disney is finally investing in the DLR in a noticeable way. With the great popularity of Nemo right now and with people like Lasseter pressing for more imagination and more money, I think Disneyland AND DCA will continue to improve over the next few years. TDA might be noticing that new E tickets = more visitors to the parks.

    I wonder what would happen if we staged a mass demonstration to move the rockets back where they belong and finally do something with the peoplemover. Maybe we could all lie down on Harbor Blvd.




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    Re: AbandonedLand: Finding uses for the empty and unused parts of the Disneyland Res

    COOL thread! LOVE IT! What we nee to do is get rid of the facades and junk and put in som kick butt attractions! Its good to see progress though The subs and the TS Mania thing are living proof that good change/use of space is possible


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    Re: AbandonedLand: Finding uses for the empty and unused parts of the Disneyland Res

    Quote Originally Posted by MasterGracey View Post
    And after being a large chunk of dead space on Paradise Pier at DCA, the long-closed MalibuRitos is now officially history along with Strips, Dips, and Chips and is now part of the upcoming Toy Story Mania! attraction.
    This alone is progress. We ate at SD&C in March of last year (2006), and it was horrible. The chicken was greasy, the cheese sticks tasted nothing like cheese, and the fish was just okay. And the dips were awful.

    I sure wish they'd bring back Big Thunder BBQ, we loved that place. And I am so glad I saw Festival of Fools, we almost didn't. It was such a great show.
    xo, Deanna

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    Re: AbandonedLand: Finding uses for the empty and unused parts of the Disneyland Res

    AMAZING thread, MG! Thank you for getting all of this into one thread!

    I keep wondering just how much space there is in the old Motorboat Cruise area...I'd love to see something there, but room is definitely a factor.

    Thunder BBQ/Festival of Fools arena...it's high-time that Frontierland got a new, exciting attraction. This land used to be a place of constant movement back in it's heyday. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: a folk tales attraction should go right here. The classic stories of American heroes and heroines of the old west are dying...almost no one knows the stories anymore. Disney used to make cartoons based off of some of these characters, so it's in the company's history. I wouldn't want to see cartoonized versions of these stories come to like...rather, a fabulous new AA attraction with life-like characters. We need to see Annie Oakley, Paul Bunyon, Pecos Bill, Slue Foot Sue, Bess Call, and of course, Davy Crockett to name a few key characters...it would be absolutely amazing.

    PeopleMover track is waiting. It's a total no-brainer, and it's in plain sight all over TL to guests...it automatically creates a sense of lifelessnes if there's nothing moving on those tracks that are clearly there, meant to actually do something.

    The Observatron is a remnant of a much grander idea that had been for the TL updates, but due to so many budget cuts, the new theme of the land didn't really work cohesively...so instead of "signaling aliens", it just looks like a bunch of space junk. Get the Rocket Jets back up there, say ta-ta to the Astro Orbitor (and get the new color scheme and theme back together), remove ugly rocks, and make a grand new entrance for TL (I picture a nice, futuristic water feature).

    The Spirit of Refreshment thing has always depressed me...I've ALWAYS wanted to buy a coke there and see it shoot out! (I know this sounds silly, but it was one of the few things in TL '98 that excited me). But it's never open! Good grief, if the darn thing isn't going to be used...

    The Starcade shouldn't be in TL (IMO)...but salvage that X-wing! Here's my idea. HISTA isn't doing so well either...gut that building as well as the Starcade, and construct a different way for people coming off of Space Mountain to exit (or dig a little lower so the exit/entrance of this area comes under what would now be built). If you get all of that room, there's enough space for a new attraction! What would go there? The possibilities are plentiful...my suggestion would be either a time-travelling machine attraction, or perhaps an Adventure Thru Innerspace 2.0...

    Skyway...dining facility, or a wedding chapel, or bring the darn thing back (all ideas Matt Ouimett fancied).


    DCA is just dead. Ugh. So many of those things could be open more (I LOVE shakes...who doesn't love shakes?) or whole new attractions could be built.

    So many of those restaraunts wouldn't be closed if it weren't for the fact that there aren't enough things to do that interest the general public to keep guests inside the park.

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    Re: AbandonedLand: Finding uses for the empty and unused parts of the Disneyland Res

    Quote Originally Posted by GhostHost2 View Post
    And, Starcade could be gutted and an all new ride (one that actually deals with the future) could be put in there.
    The Starcade is big for a room, but too small for a ride. Even on 2 stories. It looks pretty landlocked from Google Earth so I don't think beyond the berm is really an option.

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    Re: AbandonedLand: Finding uses for the empty and unused parts of the Disneyland Res

    Great post, and excellent points! Nothing bothers me more than staring up at the lonely, tree-shadowed skyway station, or wondering why the heck all of those well-signed "mystery establishments" in DCA are sitting empty and confusing the heck out of guests. Disney really should focus on these areas rather than worrying about a third gate just yet.

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    Re: AbandonedLand: Finding uses for the empty and unused parts of the Disneyland Res

    innoventions isn't getting as much business as it used to. but it still has some good stuff in it. so, move those things into the starcade where people can still be able to enjoy them, and add some futuristic video games in there as well. with the technology today and disney magic, a lot is possible. then, they'd be able to use both floors. rename the starcade to something more suitable, and "viola."

    now, just gut out/take out innoventions, and place a whole new attraction there.

    sorry if this idea has already been thought up.

    and great thread, btw.

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