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Monofail

With Small World reopened and its big hourly capacity back on line, Disneyland can then focus on other refurbishments over the winter and spring. At the top of that list is the troublesome new fleet of monorails that TDA purchased. Regular readers will know that these new monorail trains have caused some of the biggest headaches since the Rocket Rods, and there is still plenty of blame and legal wrangling to go around before the dust settles. But TDA's first priority right now is not figuring out who is to blame, but to get the trains running for hotel guests again. A fix for the ridiculous window design that didn't let in any fresh air into the non-air conditioned cabins has been tentatively agreed upon.

Monorail Rouge
Photos: David "Darkbeer" Michael

This winter the new Mark VII trains will go under the knife and have their sleek new skin ripped open so that new windows can be installed that slide down into the body, like the windows did since the ride opened in 1959. All of the other fixes thrown at this problem simply have failed to work, and the trains are still unusable any time the temperature goes above 80 degrees.

Haute or hot?
The new window design was a failure.

With the usual fall heat waves that Southern California gets, that has meant the three new trains sit there in the roundhouse on warm days, while the lone remaining Mark V train has struggled to keep up with the demand. It doesn't help that the Mark V was on its last legs months ago, and it's a minor miracle the old girl can still make it around the beam. But while Imagineers and TDA safety experts argue over who is to blame, the line of cranky hotel guests gets longer.

Let's just hope they learn their lesson on reinventing the wheel, and by next summer the windows have all been replaced on the new trains.

Birthdaze

There are some other small surprises coming to Anaheim over the winter, most of it thanks to Jay Rasulo's What Will You Celebrate campaign. TDA planners learned their lesson back in '07 with letting the corporate heads out in Florida plan décor and additions to Disneyland, with those hideous swans and pastel decorations having a mercifully short shelf life here in SoCal. While the Celebrate campaign has underwhelmed many in TDA, they are trying to come up with some ways to pump some life into the rather odd campaign whose main focus appears to be free admission on your birthday. (And that one promises plenty of headaches for the ticketing folks out at the turnstiles!).

One of the ideas being thrown around by TDA is to let WDI plus up and add some things to some select attractions that would mesh well with the "Celebrate" theme. Disneyland's rather unexciting Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh dark ride, for instance, is slated to get some new additions and changes to the finale birthday scene that could tie in with Pooh themed birthday décor around Critter Country. The Disneyland entertainment department is also coming up with ways to plus up the experience of the Celebration street party mini-parade so that it's more interactive and more enveloping than what is planned for Florida's Magic Kingdom.


DisneySeaWorld

While the local Anaheim folks try to beef up Jay Rasulo's new campaign and inject some California style into it, Rasulo and his planners have their eyes on a bigger prize. We've been very open with our criticism of Rasulo, and most of that stems from his complete disinterest, some even say dislike, for the actual operation of the theme parks he is responsible for. This is a man who never goes to a Disney theme park unless it's part of a scripted media event, and even then the strategic annual visit is measured in minutes and captured by official photographers at every turn just to prove he was there. Rasulo simply has no real interest in the product he represents.

But what Rasulo has been good at is the strategic planning and future growth of the theme parks and resorts. Rasulo may have no desire to go on the rides, but he does have a knack for putting together a plan to get people to his properties. His latest rumored project involves exploratory interest in the Anheuser-Busch parks, specifically the two SeaWorld parks in Orlando and San Diego. And believe it or not, the San Diego park is the one that is of most interest.

Why isn't Orlando's SeaWorld the main focus? Because the big Disney cruise ships on order and headed to the West Coast in a few years can dock in San Diego, and all those Disney Cruise Line passengers could burn up an additional day of their itinerary visiting Disney's SeaWorld. With the situation in some Mexican port cities looking more and more uncertain, and certainly not very safe for tourists, Disney would now like to make the most of what Southern California has to offer for cruise line passengers and minimize the time they are in Mexico. This is all still in its infancy, but it's an idea being tossed around lately in Burbank.

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© 2008 Al Lutz

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