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Jim Hill
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by Jim Hill (archives)
October 11, 2001
Tiring of all the controversy surrounding people's passionate opinions of DCA in general (And Paradise Pier in particular), Jim Hill tries to lure a few more folks out onto The Middle Ground.

It All Depends on Where You Stand
Tiring of all the controversy surrounding people's passionate opinions of DCA in general (And Paradise Pier in particular), Jim Hill tries to lure a few more folks out onto The Middle Ground.

If you missed the background to this story, see Jim's October 5th and October 10th columns

Poor Doobie & Rebekah.

I mean, these folks go out of town for a few days on a fact finding trip to Orlando (So that they score the most up-to-date info about what's going on right now at Walt Disney World. With particular emphasis on all of that new "100 Years of Magic" stuff). But what's the first thing the Moseleys discover once they get home? That the electronic equivalent of a bar room brawl has broken out on one of their LaughingPlace.com discussion boards.

Have you folks seen what's going on on the "Oct 10 Jim Hill" discussion board? Man, it's like a war zone in there! E-mail bombs going off left and right. People posting these mile long epistles where they passionately defend their stances on DCA in general and Paradise Pier in particular. If you love a lively debate, this is one discussion that you definitely want to check up on.

Me? I really should be finishing up that "Dinosaurs" story right about now. If I delay the next installment of "When You Wish Upon a ... Frog?!" one more time, the Kermit the Frog fan club is surely going to hunt me down and pith me.

And yet ... I still feel like I should weigh in for one final time on this whole DCA / Paradise Pier controversy. To see if I can't pour a little soothing oil on the roiling waters of Paradise Bay.

But -- before I do -- let me try to sell you guys to the idea of ... The Middle Ground.

Over there (look to your extreme right) are all those folks who think that Disney's California Adventure is bad. Not just bad. Terrible. These are the guys who honestly think that there isn't a single thing that Barry Braverman and Paul Pressler got right with the entire place. Which is why they want WDI to tear DCA down right now and build a brand new, much better theme park in the exact same spot.

And over here (look to your extreme left now) we have all the extremely nice people. Those folks who think that everything the Walt Disney Company has ever done is absolutely perfect. Who wouldn't dream of complaining about DCA (They *LOVED* "Superstar Limo" ). These are the people who wouldn't change a single thing in the entire park.

And then (looking straight ahead) is the rest of us ... Out here on The Middle Ground. We're the folks who obviously have an interest in what the Walt Disney Company is up to (Otherwise, why would you be wasting your time reading such a poorly written article?), but don't necessarily love everything that the Mouse has done. We opt to pick and choose what we're enthusiastic about. What we loathe. Which is why we're really of two minds when it comes to Disney's California Adventure.

I mean, how is that the Walt Disney Company can get so much stuff inside Disneyland's Second Gate right and yet let other areas of the park go so obviously wrong?

Take -- for example -- that stretch of DCA's Golden State area that runs from Condor Flats all the way out to the Bay Area. There's some really beautiful design work in this section of the park. Everything fits together neatly. There's lots of cohesive, seamless story telling to be found here. No awkward transitions anywhere.

Want an example of how seamless the story telling is in this particular part of Disney's California Adventure? On a really clear day, get on "Grizzly River Run" and -- as your raft chugs up the load hill -- keep your eyes fixed on Grizzly Peak. As your raft moves higher up that conveyor belt, notice that the snow capped San Gabriel Mountains will slowly rise up in the distance directly behind this bear-shaped mountain-top. As if to reinforce the idea that this 110 foot man-made structure is actually part of the natural terrain.

Wait. It gets better. Just before you reach the very top of the load hill, take a gander at what's suddenly rising up between between the San Gabriels and Grizzly Peak. Yep, it's another white topped mountain. Disneyland's Matterhorn.

Do you realize the hours of planning that went into pulling off this effect (Something that 99.9% of DCA's visitors fail to ever notice, by the way)? Placing "Grizzly River Run" 's load hill at the exact right angle in the exact right position so that Grizzly Peak, the San Gabriel mountains and the Matterhorn could come together to compose a gorgeous -- albeit brief -- image. A splendid view that Disneyland Resort guests would spy just as they reached the top of this pseudo-summit. Imagineers Chris Tiez, Chris Runco, Rick Rothschild and Coulter Winn all deserve high praise for having the skill and ingenuity to pull off such a snazzy stunt.

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