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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Disneyland: One Man's Dream: Disneyland Resort Initial Conception

Disney abbandoned the Port Disney idea after protest from enviornmentalists and the government. So now focused shifted once again back to where it all started.

Disney aquired the Disneyland Hotel, along with all other assets of the Jack Wrather Coperation. Then, Disney sold all other assets (RMS Queen Mary, Lassie, etc.) and kept the hotel. This was the first step to building the Disneyland Resort.

Now, the first plans of the Disneyland Resort were being showed to the public. The resort would include:
-Disneyland Park (with a few more attractions...)
-WestCOT- A second theme park, similar to Epcot in Walt Disney World, which would be built on the Disneyland parking lot.
-4 Resort Hotels (The Disneyland Hotel, The Magic Kingdom Hotel, The WestCOT lake Resort
-Disneyland Center- A shopping, dining, and entertainment area situated on a 6 acre lake.
-Disneyland Bowl- A 5,000 seat ampitheater.
-Large Parking Structures, like Mickey and Friends, with a people mover to transport people to and from the parking structures.

The entire construction was going to cost $3 billion, with WestCOT itself costing $2 billion. Let's get into some of the details, shall we?

Disneyland Center was going to be a large dining and shopping area with different forms of entertainment. Think of GardenWalk and Downtown Disney combined. The buildings would be modeled after various California landmarks, including Catalina's Avalon Ballroom, Venice Beach's Boardwalk, and San Diego's Coronado Hotel. All this was to be situated along a 6 acre lake.

The Magic Kingdom Hotel was designed to look like the historic Santa Barbara Mission. This was going to be located, like most of the other hotels (except the original Disneyland Hotel) in Disneyland Center.

The Disneyland Resort Hotel was going to contain about 800 rooms and was going to be the most luxurious hotel in the resort. It was going to be Disneyland's crown jewel, like the Grand Floridian Hotel. And why wouldn't it be? It had was based of the same exact hotel as the Grand Floridian- The Hotel del Coronado in San Diego.

Finally, the WestCOT Lake Resort was going to be unlike any other Disney Hotel- the hotel was actually going to be inside a themepark. The resort would be desinged to look like the Beverly Hills Hotel. Guests could stay in rooms above the attractions above World Showcase at WestCOT (more on this tomorrow...).

And, of course, we had WestCOT which deserves it's own segment. It was truly a marvel.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Disneyland: One Man's Dream- Dreaming of A Resort

It is now the 1990s. Disneyland has been around for over 35 years and has been a success for all these years. Though there had been times of doubt at various points in Disneyland history, it proved so great that Disneylands were springing up all aorund the globe. First, in Florida as Walt Disney World in 1971. Next as Tokyo Disneyland in Japan.

But the difference was Disneyland was a single park. There was one hotel adjacent to the park that bore the Disneyland name, but was not owned by Disney. Cheap cheesy hotels and motels lined the streets adjacent to Disneyland. The theme park soon became boxed in by Anahiem.

So focus shifted for many years towards Walt Disney World. The Magic Kingdom opened with several nice Disney operated hotels. Then Epcot opened. And now a third theme park, Disney MGM Studios was built. Much attention was given to what was once called simply "Disneyland Florida" by many people. Now, Disneyland seemed to be forgotten. While guest were spending on average about a week at WDW, they were spending a day at Disneyland.

But it was Michael Eisner and Tony Baxter who wanted to bring the world's attention to Disneyland. But how?

At this time, they wanted to turn Walt's original theme park into a multi-day resort with hotels and additional theme parks.

There were many different ideas out there for turning Disneyland into a Resort. The first step for the resort was the aquisition of the Disneyland Hotel. In 1989, Disney was finally able to buy The Disneyland Hotel after Jack Wrather died after years of attepmting to buy it. To do this, Disney purchased the enitre Jack Wrather Corporation. With the purchase came the RMS Queen Mary, and an idea for a new Disney theme park.

The park was to be called Port Disney and would be located in Long Beach, Claifornia. The park would be similar to Tokyo DisneySea in the idea, but would be radically different in design and theme. Port Disney would also include a marina and crusie ship dock amongst hotels and shopping centers.

The theme park itself would be a combination of an aquarium and theme park. At the center of the park, Oceania stood, which was a huge aquarium (see below). There would be various lands exploring different waters of the world, Pirate Island, Mysterious Island, Heroes Harbour (celebrating mythical people, like Jason and the Agronauts), and Fleets of Fantasy 9featuring old fashioned carnival rides).

Unfortunately, California enviornmentalists were not very fond of the idea of Disney using all this waterfront property. The California government became worried that the theme park could also disrupt the operation of the busy seaports nearby. So, Disney decided to abandon the $2 billion theme park. They decided to refocus their intentions towards Anahiem.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Disneyland: One Man's Dream- Splashing into Critter Country

In a previous column, we learned about Bear Country and it's origins, as well as the evolution of the Country Bear Jamboree. This little land was about to become home to a brand new mountain. And to welcome it, Bear Country would need a name change.

It is said that Tony Baxter was sitting in traffic one day. He had been wanting to create a flume ride for Disneyland for a while now, and then it hit him to make one based on Song of the South. So, he and fellow Imagineers got to work on creating the attractio

Almost all amusement parks have flumes, so Disney had to get this ride to be more then just the 52 foot drop. They got together, and decided to theme the entire ride to happen in and around a mountain, called Chicapin Hill. The places inside the ride were based on the rich design of the southern bayous and areas in the south featured in the movie. The ride would be called "Zip-a-dee River Run", based on the iconic song Zip-A-Dee-Doh-Dah", which would also be featured in the finale of the ride. "How Do You Do" and "Ev'rybody's Got A Laughin' Place" would also be included in the ride.

Soon, the ride became monsterous, going far over budget- it was costing over $75 million dolars to make. Meanwhile in Tomorrowland, America Sings was loosing popularity after over 7 years of performances. The show was finally closed, and happy Imagineers were able to recycle these characters and put all 114 audio animatronic characters from America Sings into the newly dubbed Splash Mountain. The name change tied in better with all the other Disney Mountains and also promoted Touchstone pictures new film Splash.

Splash Mountain was so popular that new the ride was soon to be put into Magic Kingdom and Tokyo Disneyland. Because the new attraction was more then just about bears, the name of the land was changed from Bear Country to Critter Country. Down the road, though, the Country Bears' days would be numbered

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Disneyland: One Man's Dream- Even More Changes in the Land of Tomorrow

So far, Tomorrowland has had the most changes out of any land. It's always been a headache because of the simple fact that today tachnology keeps improving. Soon, Disneyland would start to show the Fantasy of th Future, but for right now it was still "A World on The Move". Although new additions made it a thematic mess, most proved to be very popular.

First, in 1985, the Submarine Voyage subs were repainted from their dull gray to a vibrant yellow. The names of the subs were also change from Military names to Exploration names, only keeping one name the same: Nautalis. These names and hues would still be used in yet another retheme of the ride 20 years later. Also in 1985, Adventure Thru Inner Space closed.

In 1986, a partnership Between Disney and Geaorge Lucas formed, as Captian EO, a 3D show starring Michael Jackson, was put into the Magic Eye Theater infront of Space Mountain. The show was quite popular, but was removed in 1997 when Tomorrowland went under yet another heavy retheme. Captain EO has since been one of the most missed attractions, and may be returning in 2009 as part of Disneyland's Halloweentime.

This partnership bewteen George Lucas and Disney also paved the way for other attractions to be built. For a long time, Disney wanted a simulator in Tomorrowland, simulating flying through space. They were able to do this by making Star Tours, a ride based on Star Wars. When Lucas finished the film part of the ride, a programmer programmed the ride vehicles with a joy stick to make the vehicle pitch up, down, and side to side among other things. It opened in January 1987, and to celebrate, Disneyland was open for 60 straight. Years have been tough on the attraction, causing Disney to want to make another Star Tours. Though Disney is suspected to confirm this in the D23 Expo, it is already slated to open in 2011.

In the same year, the Mark V monorails debuted. This lasted the longest, and are probably the most iconic monorial due to the time they lasted. These monorails were replaced as they began to get old from years of wear-and-tear.

Yes, many new attractions were being built, and Disneyland was bigger and better then ever before. In the next few years, more favorite attractions would debut, but behind the scenes, those at WDI were dreaming of expanding Disneyland past it's berm... and beyond.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Disneyland: One Man's Dream- Fantasyland Extreme Makeover

When Walt originally pictured Fantasyland, he wanted it to resemble a European Village. It was the setting for most of his movies, so it made sense. However, due to budget restraints, this could not be fulfilled, and the idea was replaced with a medieval fair ground theme.

In the 80s, the idea of the European Village theme resurfaced, and from 1982-1983, Fantasyland underwent an extensive makeover. All the classic dark rides would now be housed in elegant Bavarian buildings. Dumbo the Elephant, The Mad Teaparty, and King Arhtur's Carousel were relocated. Also, Cpatain Hook's Galley was closed and removed for good due to deteriorating and wood rot.

For years, Disney wanted to replace the Fantasyland Theater with a dark ride, most notably Pincchio, and that idea was finally made into reality with the Fantasyland retheme.

Fantasyland was rededicated, and for the second time, the drawbridge was lowered. It's great that Walt's dream was finally realized, and is a suiting tribute to the man who did so many great things.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Disneyland: One Man's Dream- The Main Street Electrical Parade

It's one of the most iconic and classic parades ever. The Main Street Electrical Parade premiered in 1972, but was much different then what we know. The original Electrical Parade featured flat screens on moving platforms illuminated with lights. The music was synched to various parts of the parade, using radio-activated triggers as each float entered a zone, the audience would hear float-specific music through the Disneyland audio system. Each zone was between 70-100 feet long, and the zoned system meant that every person watching the parade would experience the same show, no matter where they stood along the parade route.

The Main Street Electrical Parade continued to entertain guests for over 20 years as it proved to be quite popular. Finally, Disneyland announced in 1996 that The Main Street Electircal Parade was "Glowing Away Forever" and would end in November. After the final show, certified light bulbs that were used in the show were sold to collectors. The next year, Light Magic opened, but was such widely criticzed, especially by people online, that it was scrapped. The Electrical Parade continued in Magic Kingdom as a replacement for SpectroMagic, but in 2001 was brought back to Disneyland.

However, it would not go back to Main Street. Supposedly it will in the near future, but as of now, it's in another Disney theme park...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Disneyland: One Man's Dream- The Wild West

Here's a land that hasn't gotten much attention- Frontierland. It didn't originally have many attraction, just a pack mule ride and stagecoaches. In 1956, it was also home to Tom Sawyers Island, where guests could take rafts to the Island in the middle of the Rivers of America and explore the area based on Mark Twain's books.

But in 1956, The Rainbow Caverns Mine Train opened, and took guests on rides to explore desserts. In 1960, the Rainbow Caverns Mine train became The Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland opened. At this time, the stagecoaches also closed. The newest incarnation of the Mine Train brought guests could board a train and be taken on a tour through western landscapes, from desserts to forests.

This attraction was not fit to last, however and closed in 1977. The Pack Mules also dissapeared at this time. What was to replace them? Only the wildest ride in the wilderness!

The idea for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was originally concieved for Walt Disney World by Marc Davis and Tony Baxter. It was to be a large western plateau pavilion, which was to contain many rides including a runaway mine train. The idea proved to be to expensive, and was abandoned, save for the Mine Train. This was put on hold while Space Mountain was built. The ride benefited from this, because by the time it opened in Disneyland (first), computers were controlling the ride, making it easier to operate. It's also interesting to note that many props from the Mine Train are n

Thunder Mountain opened in 1979, and opened in Magic Kingdom one year later. It's story revolves around a legend where gold was discovered in the mountain, and the area soon became a boom town. The miners who mined the area did not know that the mountain was sacred to Native Americans who lived there and was cursed. Soon, there was an earthquake and everyone who lived there fled. The mountain was "rediscovered" later, and those people saw the old mine trains racing around on their own. The people decided to open the Mountain up again, but this time as a tourists on rides.

Thunder Mountain was once again another hit, and the Disneyland Mountain Range was still growing...