Legacy Content

Jim Hill
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And then there's the cost of constructing Paradise Pier. Based on some final cost estimates that an Imagineering insider was nice enough to share with me, I can tell you folks that being nostalgic ain't exactly cheap. Take -- for instance --- the "Golden Zephyr," a modern version of a classic old amusement park attraction that used to be popular back in the 1920s & 1930s. Looks like fun, right? Trouble is, no one in the amusement industry has made one of these old "Buck Roger's Flying Spaceship" kind of spinny thingies since the late 1960s.

So the Imagineers had to basically design this DCA attraction from scratch. Eyeballing old period photographs to get the portions and design elements of this classic ride just right. But -- as the same time -- making sure that the "Golden Zephyr" had all the necessary elements (EX: handicap access) to make it a successful theme park attraction in today's marketplace.

This is the pattern, folks. Time and again. Rides & shows for Paradise Pier that may look cheap on the outside because they're old fashioned. Deliberately low tech. Short on thrills but long on charm. But -- if you can just look past the surface -- you'll see that a ton of time, talent and money was poured into making this nostalgic recreation of a 1920s / 1930s Boardwalk amusement area look just right.

Which brings us to perhaps the biggest lie of all: The rumor that the only reason that Disney included Paradise Pier as part of Disney's California Adventure's Phase I (instead of -- say -- a "California Gold Rush" themed area or a full-blown recreation of San Francisco's Chinatown) was because it was cost effective.

Which is bull. Because anyone who's familiar with Disney's plans for the Port Disney project in Long Beach knows that that an old fashioned boardwalk area (modeled after Long Beach's historic Pike) was featured prominently as part of that proposed resort's theme park complex, Disney Seas. This area (which to have been called "Fleets of Fantasy") too had a huge steel roller coaster which was disguised as an old fashioned woodie, an enormous ferris wheel as well as an ornate merry-go-round.

Those plans date back to June 1990. Now let's jump uphead to 1993, when Disney unveiled its plans for a history theme park in Virginia. What's that tucked away in the middle of "Disney's America?" Why, it's the "State Fair," an area that celebrated the simple pleasures to be found at a 1920s / 1930s era amusement park. Plans for this section of the history park also included -- surprise, surprise -- a huge steel coaster that was disguised as a woodie, a giant ferris wheel as well as an ornate merry-go-round.

Still not convinced that the Walt Disney Company has wanted to build an old fashioned style amusement area for quite a while now. Well, wait 'til you hear Disney's original plans for WDW's "Boardwalk" hotel. At this time (circa 1991), the "Boardwalk" was actually envisioned as a place where people who were bored with the clubs & restaurants at "Pleasure Island" could go to try something new.

And what would WDW guests have found at the original version of Disney's "Boardwalk"? Several unique restaurants. Among them the "Under the Sea" (Which would have treated visitors to a "Little Mermaid" themed dinner show), the "Family Reunion" (Which would have used streetmosphere performers to suck you into a most intriguing evening of fun, where you'd have surrounded by a room full of comic, colorful relatives that you never met before) as well as "Walt's Attic" (Dine on gourmet food in a shabby but chic setting, surrounded by priceless Disney collectibles). Some fun shops. As well as -- you guessed it -- a huge steel coaster that was disguised as a woodie, a giant ferris wheel as well as an ornate merry-go-round.