A different look at Disney...

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Refresh & Renew

Meanwhile, there's more work heading to Disneyland in the next two years with Tony Baxter leading the charge to keep the maintenance momentum rolling in Walt's original park. More upgrades are planned for Pirates of the Caribbean, including the possible addition of Tia Dalma in the Blue Bayou scene, a return of one of the original turntable chase effects that was removed from the Chase Scene back in 1997, and a reworking of the final scene you encounter after you come back up the lift as your boat heads back to the dock.

No pancakes for you!
River Belle Terrace rehab. Photo: David Lane

Additions and improvements are also planned for the popular Indiana Jones Adventure in preparation for the fourth movie release next summer, plus a bag of new tricks heading to the Haunted Mansion next year after some of the effects make their debut in Florida's needy and formerly seedy version of that ride next month.

Upgrades and work also continue on Disneyland's grand fleet of classic Walt Disney dark rides, with a complete reworking of the haunted forest scene in Snow White's Scary Adventures, audio and visual upgrades to the effects in Mr. Toads Wild Ride and Alice In Wonderland, and even some thought being given on how to plus up that turkey Winnie The Pooh.

They said he'd be here between 9am and 4pm

Disneyland has an unprecedented seven classic dark rides, where most other Magic Kingdom parks only have three. If you add in Monsters Inc. next door at DCA, Anaheim has a whopping eight dark rides to choose from. Poor little Hong Kong only has one!

Disneyland has taken very good care of those dark rides over the last few years, with digital technology upgrades and fancy new audio and lighting systems installed across the board. Tony Baxter will be overseeing a continuation of that trend, and if the plan to reopen the Sleeping Beauty Diorama we first mentioned here last time works out, Fantasyland will have never looked better.

A great big beautiful Tomorrow

And then, of course, there's Tomorrowland. After limping along for almost a decade as a shell of its former self, it finally has a new lease on life with Buzz Lightyear, the just as beloved new version of Space Mountain, and the immensely popular Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage all up and running now. A big budget Microsoft takeover of Innoventions later this year will help take some of the sting out of the pathetic use of the Carousel Theater, and the first train of the hip new monorail fleet will arrive on property about the same time.

Not great or big...

But Tony Baxter isn't satisfied with Tomorrowland just yet. He sees Innoventions as a dying entity, and something that never should have been shoehorned into that revolving building in the first place. Don't bet on that Microsoft sponsorship to be renewed once the short contractual obligations expire in 2010. The saga of remaking Tomorrowland has been dragging on for years now, and there are several separate projects patiently waiting for their number to be called, not the least of which is the Star Tours 2.0 remake gaining steam. 2010 also spells the end of the Chevron sponsorship of Autopia, and the electric version in Hong Kong sponsored by Honda is looking very promising. No wonder TDA's Participant Relations department trips all over themselves when the Honda execs come to visit.

...or beautiful, yet...

A new PeopleMover on the existing track, as well as a big new futuristic E Ticket that would push the boundary of Tomorrowland out all the way to the edge of Harbor Blvd., with the Disneyland Railroad running right through the middle of it, is what Tony wants to see under construction before the end of this decade. That's his biggest goal right now, to get that off the ground and to avoid the short sighted budget mistakes Paul Pressler imposed on his last Tomorrowland remake in 1998. John Lasseter is behind Tony 100%, as John also has made some very frank statements regarding the unacceptable condition Disneyland's Tomorrowland is in.

An entire land remake for Tokyo's Tomorrowland also plays into the timing on this one, as some of the attraction concepts would be used in both Anaheim and Tokyo. Florida's Tomorrowland is not on anyone's radar, as the only real plans there are for a more modest version of Disneyland's recent Space Mountain refurbishment.

Paradise Pool

All of that is long term though, beginning in late 2007 and stretching through the end of the decade. Shorter term, Disneyland is heading into its latest and greatest peak season; autumn. First up is the surprisingly popular Disneyland Half-Marathon this Labor Day Weekend.

After being a breakout hit its first year last September, the second time around is proving to be even more successful at filling hotel rooms and packing the Resort on what is traditionally one of the slowest holiday weekends of the year. The feedback from the participants was glowing even though it was the first year, proving just how good Disneylanders are at staging huge events and being a good host to everyone involved.

The half-marathon has proven to be so successful, selling out completely several months ago, that the Disney Sports team is looking at other similar events to be held in Anaheim. A full marathon would be an obvious choice, and that will probably happen eventually, but first they are seriously contemplating a Disneyland Triathlon. The running and biking courses would be easy to stage obviously, with the 25 mile cycling course likely heading down to the beach and back.

Even the sun sets early at DCA
Photo: Fishbulb

But the swimming course of the Triathlon wouldn't be held down at the beach if the Disney Sports department gets its way. Instead, the 1.5 Kilometer swim would take place in the Paradise Pier lagoon! The media coverage of such an event would be spectacular, and the publicity shots would be invaluable. The only problem is, well, the water itself. That lagoon was never designed for people to swim in, and the rudimentary filtration system can't handle getting that water to a level suitable for mass human consumption.

The Rivers of America, which would be an even better photo op, isn't an option because the logistical setup there is even less conducive to quarantining the water and filtering the heck out of it. Not to mention the fact that most areas of Disneyland's river are only a few feet deep and far too shallow for competitive swimming. Believe it or not though, they are working on the water issue in the lagoon, and if the water quality problem can be overcome than a Disneyland Triathlon is likely in Anaheim's future.

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2007 Al Lutz

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