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Jim Hill
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Speaking of which ... Based what I've been hearing lately, San Francisco's fix may not be all that long in coming. You know that Bay Area building that stands directly across the street from the entrance of "Golden Dreams"? That structure was originally designed as a place where artisans would practice their craft. You know, glass blowers, sculptors, painters? You get the idea.

Well, at the very last moment, Disney opted not to go ahead with the whole artisan idea. (Why? I'm not exactly sure. No one's ever given me an answer that ever made any sense. Anyway ... ) So -- for a time earlier this year -- this San Francisco styled structure was used as a DCA package pick-up point and/or additional lock space for the park. Then there was some talk of using the interior of this Bay Area building as character greeting space.

But -- come the middle of November -- I am pleased to report that there will finally be artists inside of the Artisan's space. Only these gifted folks won't be working in clay, oil or pastels. They'll craft most of their masterpieces in crayon.

Yep, this building will be one of the areas inside of DCA where your children will go to create those seasonal images that -- just hours later -- will be blown up giant sized and shown on screens out on Paradise Bay as part of the park's nightly "Lumin-Aria" holiday celebration.

Does this one move make up for San Francisco being reduced to just a place where people go to use the bathroom while touring Disney's California Adventure? To be honest, no. But you have to at least acknowledge that it's a start. An honest attempt to try & turn around what is clearly an under-utilized portion of the park.

So you see, folks: They're trying. Braverman, Pressler and the Imagineers clearly recognize that DCA has problems. Problems that they probably should have seen coming, it's true. But that doesn't take away for the fact that they're already hard at work trying to fix these very same problems.

So -- yes -- while it is sad that Wolfgang Puck opted to pull out of Avalon Cove last week (Or was it that he was asked to leave? Some highly placed Disneyland Resort officials have been suggesting to me that it was they who asked Puck to leave DCA. Not the other way around. They tell of an allegedly endless series of guest complaints about the in-park facility's poor service and rude staff. All of which reportedly lead to the Mouse showing Wolfgang the door last week. To be honest, this sounds like kind of a far fetched story to me. Something Disney food service people created to try & put a positive spin on what is obviously a horrible PR situation. But has anyone else out there heard anything about this rumor?), one must still try to focus on the bright side of the situation. Which is -- according to what I've been hearing -- that Disney's allegedly looking to open a "Little Mermaid" themed character dining area in this very same facility by the middle of next month. A restaurant that will offer DCA guests an absolutely killer view of "Lumin-Aria," I might add.

Anyway ... You see what I'm saying here, kids? Do you remember that famous quote that Walt once said about Disneyland? How the park "will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world"?

Well, those same rules also apply to Disney's California Adventure. Braverman, Pressler and the Imagineers will continue to focus their attention on DCA 'til they get all the bugs out (Or -- in the case of Bountiful Valley's soon-to-open "Bug Town" expansion area -- 'til they get all the bugs in). They'll keep at it 'til there are finally no more areas in the park where it's easy for a weenie like myself to point and say "Bad Show."

Of course, were you to stand out here on The Middle Ground with me ... and not give in to the urge to be overly negative about the place (or overly positive, for that matter), you'd clearly see that Disney's California Adventure is already changing for the better.

It all depends on where you stand.

Alright. That ends this week's lecture on DCA. Next week (I promise), I'll finally finish up with the Muppets.

Your thoughts?

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-- Jim Hill

Jim Hill can be reached using the Talkback form below or by emailing him at [email protected].

Jim Hill is this guy who lives 'way out in the woods of New Hampshire. (Hey, it's not like he wants to live there. But the Witness Protection Program has got rules, you know.) He has one beautiful daughter and three obnoxious cats. When he's not looking for real work, Jim writes about the Walt Disney Company and related matters for LaughingPlace.com, AmusementPark.com, "Orlando Weekly" and Digital Media FX.

The opinions expressed by Jim Hill, and all of our columnists, do not necessarily represent the feelings of LaughingPlace.com or any of its employees or advertisers. All speculation and rumors about the past decisions and future plans of the Walt Disney Company are just that - speculation and rumors - and should be treated as such.

-- Posted October 11, 2001

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