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    Not that Punny: The negative effects of Disney's California Advenuture's wordplay

    Disney's California Adventure park opened in 2001 with much fanfare from Disney as being a look into the wonders, magic, and excitement of the Golden State.

    But really, upon inspecting Disney's California Adventure, one can easily deduce that the park is not actually themed well at all to California. In fact, upon closer inspection, much of the theming lies not in actual detailed theming taking guests into the past, present, and future of California - but rather, a large majority of DCA's theming lies in the overabundance of puns, inside "California" jokes, and nods to the Golden State that Imagineers threw in, rather than theme in. The writings on the walls at DCA don't only show an ill-concieved idea of Eisner-era management, but also an underfunded one that had to rely not on Imagineering showmanship and magic, but on off-the-shelf jokes and nods to California to match the off-the-shelf attraction roster inside the California-themed park.


    This thread is not to bash DCA, but rather to take a look at the theming that is there, contemplate why and how management could allow a potential powerhouse Disney Destination to rely on mere puns and jokes to carry its theme, and to discuss how the recent rumors of a $1 billion make-over for the park may change the park from being a bucket of unpunny puns into a world-class Disney theme park.


    ENGINE EARS TOYS - Engineers

    As the California Zephyr symbollically pulls into the station in DCA's Sunshine Plaza, one is greeted by Engine Ears Toys. One entrance of this attraction (not pictured here) is marked by a neon-emblazoned, cartoony sign depicting stuffed bears in conductor outfits driving a toy train. The true entrance to the shop (pictured above) is marked by the front of the train itself, which actually allows the pun to make any semblance of sense... but instead of showcasing both the store and the iconic California Zephyr locomotive, the store casually makes a mockery of the Amtrak passenger train.


    BUR-R-R BANK BAKERY - Burbank, California

    Burbank, billed as the "Media Capital of the World," and home to The Walt Disney Company itself (as well as NBC Universal and Warner Brothers), doesn't get an attraction or proper recognition in Disney's California Adventure. Instead, it gets its city name turned into a pun and is turned into a ice cream counter. Clever.


    BAKER'S FIELD BAKERY - Bakersfield, California

    According to the United States Census, Bakersfield is California's 11th largest cityand the 58th largest city in the nation. It's been noted in such works as The Grapes of Wrath and is known for its country music thanks to the likes of Buck Owens. The city, when not being targeted for its deplorable air quality, is known for is agricultural productivity as well as its petroleum extraction and refinement industries. What Bakersfield isn't quite known for is its world-class bakers, because, well, there really aren't any. However, at DCA, Bakersfield is reduced to a joke as "Baker's Field Bakery" - and to think they don't even sell Smith's Bakery's famous sugar cookies there!


    TASTE PILOT'S GRILL - Test pilot

    Test pilots perform some of the most dangerous miliary aircraft flying during peacetime. In real life test pilots test aircrafts but unfortunately, at DCA, Test - or rather, Taste Pilots just test bad hamburgers.


    FLY 'N' BUY SOUVENIR - Flyby/Flypast

    Flybys, or flypasts, are typically done for ceremonial occassions or airshows. Not for quick souvenir shopping.


    COOL YOUR JETS!

    "Cool Your Jets" is apparently an aviation term which relates, literally, to your plane's jets to cool after turning off the engines. It's also commonly used as similarly as "hold your horses" or other phrases that mean to slow down or to calm down.


    EARBORNE POPCORN - Airborne

    Earborne Popcorn is an outdoor vending cart in the Condor Flats section of DCA. "Earborne," of course, is a play on the word "airborne," which is an appropriate theme in this area of the park. However, the word "earborne" makes no sense in the context. Sure enough, its supposed to be clever, but comes off to me as being a new ear-borne type of contagious disease. Maybe puninitus, the ailment of too many bad puns, is earborne.

    "BEAR LEFT"

    Bear left. Towards the big grizzly bear mountain. How clever.


    "LET'S CUT A DEAL"

    It's not even funny. I mean, as if they're going to really haggle with you on the over-priced t-shirts and plush. They aren't fooling anybody, especially with yet another lame pun.


    LAOD BHANG'S PIN TRADERS - Loud Bang - Fireworks

    Themed as a Chinese firework vending cart, in a feeble attempt to go with the nearby San Francisco theme, as San Francisco is famous for its Chinatown, this pin cart really has no business even being themed as a fireworks vendor.


    PIZZA OOM MOW MOW - "Papa Oom Mow Mow"
    IN CRUST WE TRUST - In God We Trust


    Perhaps this was a hint at the future of DCA's ticketing, because we've got ourselves a 2fer! Pizza Oom Mow Mow is home of two of DCA's more un-clever plays on words. Here, the name of the restaurant harkens back to "Papa Oom Mow Mow," a doo-wop song first performed by The Rivingtons in the 50s, then later covered by DCA's favorite band, The Beach Boys, in 1965.


    MALIBOOMER - Malibu, California

    Malibu, California is home to numerous movie stars and is known for its sandy beaches and expensive lifestyle. I don't think a "space shot"ride themed to a test-your-strength midway game really reflects the true nature of the famous beach community.


    SIDESHOW SHIRTS - Curiosi-Tees, Oddi-Tees, Rari-Tees, Absurdi-Tees

    Sideshow Shirts is a overgrown gift shop on Paradise Pier, in an area where better quality attractions is a necessity, not more giftshops. Sideshow Shirts not only insults park guests with its wide array of Roxy, Quicksilver, and Billabong shirts mixed in with its Tinkerbell and Mickey tees, it makes a joke out of the shirts on its signage, proclaiming them oh-so-cleverly as "Oddi-Tees," "Absurdi-Tees," and so on.


    MAN HAT N' BEACH - Manhattan Beach, California

    Manhattan Beach, California is only three miles from LAX, about 19 miles Los Angeles and features a 928-foot-long pier. The city has an estimated value at $3.8 billion and the beachfront community is nicknamed "Pearl of the South Bay" for its desireable location and beauty. Instead of just getting turned into a bad shop name, you'd think Manhattan Beach and its similar beach communities would have gotten proper recognition in DCA.


    SHORE SHOT - Sure shot

    Well, too bad this and the rest of the Games of the Boardwalk weren't sure-shot winners. Instead, they're overpriced, and similarly-rigged carnival games that do nothing to enhance the theming and overall enjoyment of Paradise Pier, their punny names notwithstanding.


    NEW HAUL FISHERY - Newhall, California

    Newhall is the oldest district of Santa Clarita, California, the first anglo settlement in the valley, and is home to the Newhall Incident, where four highway patrolmen were killed in a brutal shooting. But at DCA, the small community is nothing more than a fishery.


    CALIFORNIA SCREAMIN' - "California Dreamin'"

    "California Dreamin'" is a 1965 song by the Mamas and the Papas and is the inspiration for the name of Paradise Pier's E-Ticket, California Screamin'. What's interesting, however, is that aside from the name, the rollercoaster has no other connection to the song - not via theming and not via the on-board sound system which could easily blast a version of the song suited for the coaster.

    CATCH A FLAVE - "Catch a Wave"

    The Beach Boys can easily be regarded as one of California's quintessential bands. Their 1963 song, "Catch a Wave" is represented here, at DCA, as an ice cream shop, where you can, apparently, catch a flave.


    RITA'S BAJA BLENDERS - Margarita

    Marga-ritas at DCA. Yeah, if you can't stomach all of the bad jokes, then you can ease the pain with some booze.


    LUCKY FORTUNE COOKERY - Fortune Cookies

    The Lucky Fortune Cookery in DCA's Pacific Wharf district has been closed for quite a while, but the building and all of its signage remains. The Lucky Fortune Cookery was actually one of the only cleverly-named things in DCA - fortune cookies being its specialty as it served chocolate-dipped and decorated fortune cookies for guests to purchase and enjoy with their $7 teriyaki chicken bowls.


    SAM ANDREAS SHAKES - San Andreas Fault

    San Andreas Fault is a geological fault that runs about 800 miles through Western and Southern California. Instead of an attraction having to deal with California's earthquakes that would suit the theme of the park, park designers gave the honor of giving one of Californias most well-known, and perhaps, most-feared natural occurances to a milkshake stand. Delicious to a fault? More like tasteless to a fault.


    GONE HOLLYWOOD - "Gone Hollywood"

    The Hollywood Pictures Backlot in DCA offers the most puns in the shortest distance in the park. Disney's Hollywood Pictures Backlot is perhaps one of the most insulting areas of the theme park - giving us a row of empty facades instead of attractions. It seemed where the Imagineers didn't have enough money for rides and entertainment for this section of the park, they made the puns and inside jokes the main attraction. Nearly every neon and window sign on DCA's Hollywood strip is making a joke. And "Gone Hollywood" is no exception. "Gone Hollywood," while being commonly used as a figure of speech, is also a 1979 song by Supertramp, which tells the story of a man who wishes he never had set foot in Los Angeles. How ironic that many guests probably feel similarly about DCA.


    AWARD WIENERS - Award Winners

    Does this even need an explaination? It's just... tacky.


    PHILIP A. COUCH CASTING AGENCY - Casting couch

    According to Wikipedia, "The casting couch is a euphemism for a widely recognized sociological phenomenon that involves the trading of sexual favors by an aspirant, apprentice employee, or subordinate to a superior, in return for entry into an occupation, or for other career advancement within an organization.
    This practice is thought to be a phenomenon in careers which are highly desirable and traditionally difficult to break into, primarily the movie, television, advertising and music industries. Such trading of favors may be considered an abuse of power, and become a wider sex scandal if deemed newsworthy."
    Interesting that the Imagineers would put a not to this aspect of Hollywood in the park - shining brightly in neon, no less! Thanks to TrojanSkippa for pointing this out to me.

    PHIL M. NOIR - Film noir

    Film noir is used in stylish Hollywood crime dramas, and hit its heyday in the 40s and 50s. Noir is an important part of cinema, and is something that would make an exceptional theme park experience, especially with the creativity of Disney's theme park wizards. Unfortunately, Phil- er, film noir just doesn't get proper recognition in DCA's Hollywood Pictures Backlot.


    GONE WITH THE CHIN - Gone With the Wind

    Gone With the Wind is widely regarded as a breakthrough cinematic acheivement. Having won 10 Academy Awards and after being adjusted for inflation, is the highest-grossing film of all time, you'd think this film would be a gem of a theme park attraction. Instead, its just a clever plastic surgery doctor's office on DCA's Hollywood Blvd. If we must stomach the bad pun then this sign ought to get some plastic surgery itself and get the neon fixed - half of its missing!


    SOUVENIR ITCH - The Seven Year Itch

    I wonder if movie-goers got the Souvenir Itch after watching Marylin Monroe's Seven Year Itch in 1955. I'm betting no.


    SCHMOOZIES - Schmooze

    What they thought was a clever merger of "schmooze" and "smoothies" is anything but funny. The Schmoozies flashing neon sign is quite possibly one of the most glaringly out-of-place and distracting elements along DCA's Hollywood Blvd.


    BEN HAIR - Ben-Hur

    Ben-Hur is an 1880 book that has been adapted to film four times - twice as a silent film, once as a sound film, and once as an animated film. The 1959 Charlton Heston won eleven Academy Awards and depicts the tale of Christ. An epic film, however, at DCA, apparently can just become an epic salon.


    DIAL M FOR MUSCLE- Dial M For Murder

    Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 film adaptation of Frederick Knott's stageplay is nothing more than a fake gym in DCA.


    ROLE MODELS MODELING AGENCY - Role Model



    EXCESS BRAGGAGE - Excess Baggage

    Of course, being a Hollywood star is all about bragging, so naturally, you'd want some luggage you can brag about. And that's what Excess Braggage at DCA claims to sell. However, good luck getting in to get your designer bags, because this shop is as fake as anything else on DCA's Hollywood strip.


    A SWEET SHOP NAMED DESIRE - A Street Car Named Desire

    Tennessee Williams won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1948 for his play called "A Streetcar Named Desire." The film based on the award-winning play starring Marlon Brando and opened in 1951, and was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and nabbed four of them. At DCA it's represented as a candy store that you can't even get into. Funny?


    FLORAL CANYON - Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles, California

    Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles is known for the self-contained nature of its community, nestled along the canyon along the way to Mullholland Drive. Laurel Canyon is also an important thoroughfare between West Hollywood and Studio City and the rest of the San Fernando Valley. Laurel Canyon is also known for its famous past and present residents including Justin Timberlake, Orson Welles, Harry Houdini, The Rolling Stones, Meg Ryan, and Jennifer Aniston... so while the drive is lined with stars, the Canyon isn't quite known for its flowers, as it is at DCA.


    LA BREA CARPETS - La Brea Tar Pits

    The La Brea Tar Pits are a famous natural phenomenon comprised of a cluster of tar pits that have formed from tar that has seeped up to the surface over tens of thousands of years. The pits have fossilized the remains of animals that became trapped in the sticky pools, the result being an incredibly rich collection of fossils in the asphalt, dating back to the last ice age. The Tar Pits could potentially offer an interesting DCA attraction which would support and quite noticeably enhance the California Adventure theme. However, the rich history of California is again wasted in the park and merely represented as a carpet store on a fake Hollywood Boulevard.


    Many critics of Disney's California Adventure say the theme of the park is a mistake and needs to be abandoned. Personally, I feel that the theme is a hidden gem buried under a lot of muck and is waiting to be revealed. There's no question that California is rich in history and natural and man-made wonders that could easily translate to the theme park setting with magical results. Unfortunately, instead of banking on the rich and diverse offerings California has to offer, Disney turned to making numerous puns and inside jokes on the Golden State and rested the weight of the park's theme on the shoulders of those puns. If one was to strip away all of the puns and jokes at DCA, the park would hardly represent anything in California.

    The puns are a cheap theme overlay in a park that has no real theme. The success of DCA now lies in the $1 billion re-Imagineering budget that the park was rumored to recieve. Hopefully that budget will be spent not on more puns, or further watering down of the California theme, but in a complete revitilization of the theme and directed toward strengthening, enriching, and making true magic out of the Golden State.

    The possibilities are there. Hopefully Disney does the right thing for this park.
    Last edited by MasterGracey; 08-13-2007 at 03:57 PM. Reason: Grammar and adding more puns

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  2. #2

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    Re: Not that Punny: The negative effects of Disney's California Advenuture's wordpla

    I guess it's a good thing that the original Disneyland didn't have any puns. They'd have to scrap the whole resort.

  3. #3

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    Re: Not that Punny: The negative effects of Disney's California Advenuture's wordpla

    Very good thread.

    You showed a ton of things most of us miss, without the usual anti-DCA spin. Thanks for putting this together.

    Chad

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    Re: Not that Punny: The negative effects of Disney's California Advenuture's wordpla

    Oh, wait. They did. Let's all stop going.

  5. #5

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    Re: Not that Punny: The negative effects of Disney's California Advenuture's wordpla

    The theme in this regards only works if you have been living here for a long time and/or took California history in the fourth grade. If not, I'm afraid the theming that is there (and there is themeing, as you have shown) goes above most guest's heads...

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    Re: Not that Punny: The negative effects of Disney's California Advenuture's wordpla

    Quote Originally Posted by KDR View Post
    I guess it's a good thing that the original Disneyland didn't have any puns. They'd have to scrap the whole resort.
    Disneyland certainly does have puns and makes blantant use of various wordplay. The Starcade, Hatmosphere, Le Bat En Rouge, etc. are prime examples of this. It is important to note, however, that Disneyland tends to use them sparingly, and does not cover the windows and storefronts of entire lands with them, as DCA tends to do.

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    Re: Not that Punny: The negative effects of Disney's California Advenuture's wordpla

    Yet another "taken way too seriously" post. Gotta love micechat for something right?
    Class of 2005...

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    Re: Not that Punny: The negative effects of Disney's California Advenuture's wordpla

    You have a point.. but maybe.. a teeny weeny bit too much time on your hands as well?
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    Re: Not that Punny: The negative effects of Disney's California Advenuture's wordpla

    I think you miss one very important thing -- DCA is not Disneyland. It's its own park with its own thing going on. While they should always strive to have it be as good as Disneyland, I think it's a gigantic mistake to make it LIKE Disneyland. Personally, I enjoy the puns quite a bit. Just because Disneyland has fewer blatant puns (though it would be interesting to see a park-by-park comparison of puns), doesn't mean that DCA has to be held to that same level.

    BTW, ever been to Disney-MGM Studios? They have a very similar thing happening in several parts of the park. And I like that park a lot.

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    Re: Not that Punny: The negative effects of Disney's California Advenuture's wordpla

    I totally agree with you, Master Gracey. I'm glad it's not just me who thought those signs were about the stupidest things ever. The puns are very very grating and get old real fast. I hope that rumored one billion gets us some real rides and entertainment and some real creativity. Maybe they could just bulldoze the whole place and put in DisneySea instead. Would the one bil cover that?
    okerry
    Last edited by okerry; 08-13-2007 at 01:44 PM. Reason: spelling

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    Re: Not that Punny: The negative effects of Disney's California Advenuture's wordpla

    Quote Originally Posted by okerry View Post
    I totally agree with you, Master Gracey. I'm glad it's not just me who thought those signs ware about the stupidest things ever. The puns are very very grating and get old real fast. I hope that rumored one billion gets us some real rides and entertainment and some real creativity. Maybe they could just bulldoze the whole place and put in DisneySea instead. Would the one bil cover that?
    okerry
    Er, no.
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  12. #12

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    Re: Not that Punny: The negative effects of Disney's California Advenuture's wordpla

    Quote Originally Posted by KDR View Post
    I think you miss one very important thing -- DCA is not Disneyland. It's its own park with its own thing going on. While they should always strive to have it be as good as Disneyland, I think it's a gigantic mistake to make it LIKE Disneyland. Personally, I enjoy the puns quite a bit. Just because Disneyland has fewer blatant puns (though it would be interesting to see a park-by-park comparison of puns), doesn't mean that DCA has to be held to that same level.

    BTW, ever been to Disney-MGM Studios? They have a very similar thing happening in several parts of the park. And I like that park a lot.
    I'm happy that you enjoy DCA. However, the park isn't necessarily the most successful in the Disney theme park roster, is it? While many believe that the California theme is the culprit, I think the lack of theme and the overuse of jokes and puns is one of the main flaws with the theme, not that it centers on California.

    Certainly, I enjoy certain aspects of the park, and nowhere in this thread did I say that DCA should be like Disneyland. DCA should certainly be its own entity with its own identity. However, making the theme of the park rely on an overlay of jokes and puns isn't a good strategy for that, and I think that those jokes are yet another reason why the park has failed to attract an audience.

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  13. #13

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    Re: Not that Punny: The negative effects of Disney's California Advenuture's wordpla

    Rather than support the sometimes threadbare theming of DCA, the constant, insipid use of these puns focuses even more attention to the lack of real substance the Park suffers from. It appears desperate. I still like DCA a lot, but its critical flaws seem to be 'showcased' rather than 'downplayed' by the use of the 'clever' signage. Great thread, MG.

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    Re: Not that Punny: The negative effects of Disney's California Advenuture's wordpla

    Quote Originally Posted by okerry View Post
    I totally agree with you, Master Gracey. I'm glad it's not just me who thought those signs were about the stupidest things ever. The puns are very very grating and get old real fast. I hope that rumored one billion gets us some real rides and entertainment and some real creativity. Maybe they could just bulldoze the whole place and put in DisneySea instead. Would the one bil cover that?
    okerry
    No. DCA shouldn't become DisneySea. It should remain DCA, but with a true California theme.

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    Re: Not that Punny: The negative effects of Disney's California Advenuture's wordpla

    I have to admit, I couldn't read the last of your post MG, simply because the puns were so bad. I could "bear" it no longer.

    Very Thoughtful post, it made me want to scream.

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