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The World Report
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by Stephen Halpin (archives)
November 19, 2001
Steve recently had the opportunity to visit Disney's California Adventure and in his latest column he talks about it.

A Floridian Vists DCA

What the heck is the World Report guy doing writing about California Adventure (DCA)? After months and months of reading endless discussions and articles and analysis about Disney’s California Adventure, fortune shown down on this poor Floridian and I found myself in Anaheim on business. What better time than to give DCA a look over and share with you my opinions of the park. I have had the opportunity to see all four Disney parks in Florida at their openings so I guess I am bringing my own Disney perspective to this discussion. But I need to tell you right off that I feel pretty conflicted. This is a park that I like. Sometimes I liked it a lot and other times I had to work harder at it but I am conflicted because it always seemed that there were opportunities that were missed that would have turned my experience from a nice visit to a great visit. Before I begin to look at each section of the park and what I saw I want to talk about some of the major things I had heard before visiting the park and my thoughts on them.

  1. DCA is not well themed. I have heard many people say that. I would have to disagree to a point. Each individual building and area was well themed. Well researched buildings everywhere with several nice Disney touches to boot. The problem at times is the transitions from one area to another are sometimes muddy and there are several areas of the park where you can see things outside the park as well as several areas where you can see Paradise Pier from where you are standing. Do you really need to see California Screamin’ while standing near Grizzly River Rapids?
  2. This is not a full day park. Again I would have to disagree. I can see why some people would feel that way. If you went from attraction to attraction and did everything once you could easily be finished within 4-5 hours (the longest wait I had on the days I was there was 15 minutes). However, DCA asks more of you. It asks that you take your time and really visit the park and take it in. It reminds me a lot of Animal Kingdom in that respect. You need to look at all the little things to really get the fullness of the experience.
  3. Some of the attractions are not really attractions at all. I would say true. While the Mission Tortilla Tour was interesting for a couple of minutes I am not sure I would call it an attraction or an adventure like the guide map says. Nor would I call Bountiful Valley Farm an attraction. Nice landscaping? Sure. But an attraction? No.
  4. The park has an attendance problem. Again true. The two days I visited the park was very slow. It was a three day weekend for many school and Disneyland was packed but DCA never had long lines (which was nice for me I guess). Soarin’ Over California had a wait of 30 minutes at times on both days which made me wonder what would happen if the park really had heavy crowds? How would the low capacity attractions of Paradise Pier handle 30,000 guests? It seems to be a catch 22 for Disney. They cant be enjoying low attendance at this time but the other side wouldn’t be too much fun either. Orange Stinger with a 90 minute wait? Yikes.

Well enough about my general thoughts. Let me tell you about my visit to Disney’s California Adventure.

You probably need to know that along with me on this trip is my 12 year old son Michael. It was his first trip to California and the Disneyland Resort. And as an aside for those of you who prefer Disneyland to the Magic Kingdom, my son agrees with you. He thought Disneyland was much better than the Magic Kingdom if for no other reason (actually he had many reasons) than the Matterhorn which we rode six times.

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Inside Disney's Animation

For a visitor from Florida, Hollywood Pictures Backlot will seem familiar. Taken from a page of the Disney-MGM Studios theme park, the backlot is home to the familiar attractions Muppet*Vision 3D and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire-Play It! They are basically exact copies of their Florida counterparts. The real find in this area is Disney Animation which in my opinion is a great improvement over the Florida version. Broken into four sections you can see Robin Williams and Walter Cronkite explain how animated films are made or you can visit the Sorcerer’s Workshop and play with some interactive things like a computer game that tells you which Disney character you are most like. But it is the lobby area with its ever changing pictures of Disney Animation highlights that is really wonderful. I could sit in the lobby for hours taking it all in. The Hyperion Theater was closed on my visit awaiting the arrival of "The Power of Blast!" If it is the same show that appeared at EPCOT this summer it will be a wonderful addition to the park. Next in the area is Superstar Limo. One of the most discussed attractions in the park, it is the only dark ride as well. Think Mr. Toad on drugs. Boarding a limo that takes you through Hollywood while being wooed by a producer, this dark ride has three dimensional representations of Tim Allen, Cher and Whoopi Goldberg, among others. Is it as bad as some people have been saying? No. But it is also not a classic in the true Disney sense. The storyline is poorly executed but the bigger problems with the attraction is that the celebrities are static and voiceless (except Whoopi) and the ride moves waaaaayyy toooooo slow. You could walk through the attraction as fast as the vehicle moves. What could be a fun wild ride through Hollywood is now a crawl through tinsel town which unfortunately points out the attractions short comings.

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