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02/08/02 DCA 1 Year Later...
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02/08/02 DCA 1 Year Later...

Well I have been trying to piece together my thoughts on Disney's California Adventure's First year and its been a little harder than I thought. I have mixed thoughts on the park and its turbulent first year. So instead of writing a long column, which was the first four drafts of this, I have decided to instead go with a list and mini explanations. I have divided my thoughts/comments up into five sections, probably not the best way to do things, but why not I am not the English geek... I am the disneygeek...

I can sum up my thoughts in a word: disappointed. There are several good items with DCA, but overall I felt let down. I had such huge expectations when Disney announced a second gate in Anaheim several years ago. Some of the early concept artwork and park ideas were simply incredible. Then things started to change. Finally DCA sprung to the forefront and became reality. Even though I was unsure of the new park, I still had high hopes assuming Disney would definitely "do it right". Well after the first year I think it is better than nothing, but I think the park has a ways to go to become a "favorite".

The Good:

  • Soarin', GRR, and much of the "themeing" around the park. Disney did put a lot of detail into some areas of the park and it shows. A couple of the unique "Disney" attractions are incredible. Soarin' and GRR are the two standouts in the park.
  • The light crowds. It has made it enjoyable to walk around the park and be able to pick and choose attractions based on mood and not length of line. (Yeah I know this is bad for the Disney company and bad for the park in general, but for a guest like me that disslikes lines, its great).
  • The Power of Blast @ the Hyperion
  • Much of the live entertainment around the park. Such as Vocal Flight, Groove 66, the improv group, DeVine, etc…


  • Disney's Electrical Parade: I love the parade and really have enjoyed its return to Anaheim, but I wish it were at Disneyland and DCA would have gotten its own nighttime parade.
  • Eureka Parade: It was not all that bad the first couple times I saw it. It was different and seemed to work well with the California theme. Too bad more people did not stay around to watch it.
  • Millionaire Show/Game: I rate this as neutral because I think its good to see the park expanding and the show is not that bad. The problem is its not something I want to do over and over again. I think it works better with day guests than AP people. Just my impression though, I am sure there are some AP people who go all the time…

Was hoping for so much more:

  • to DO… the park just does not have that much to do. The movies grow old fast and how many times can you go around on the Orange Stinger before you get bored. The park works great as an extension of Disneyland (love parkhopping), but as its own entity it falls short in my book.
  • Luminaria.. it was ok, but for some reason never really caught on with me, or with most guests it would appear. Judging by the mixed reactions I overheard and the lack of (or slight)applause at the end most shows.
  • New Character shows around the park. For the most part these shows are really annoying to adults. Kids do not seem to mind them. The one exception in the Goofy Beach Party Blast, which is enjoyable.
  • Wish they would have figured out a way to keep the stunt show. I liked the idea and it the concept of a stunt show on the backlot works really well. Too bad the execution was not there. I wish it would come back in some form.

The Bad - So much time is spent harping on the bad around the internet that I will just list my top items and move on:

  • The Park's theme… I guess you can call it theme park envy or something, but I really wish WestCot, Disney's America, or DisneySea would have come through instead of DCA. This especially hit home once Tokyo DisneySea opened this past year. From what I have seen that park is incredible and really showcases what the Imagineers can and should be doing here in the states. Oh well… maybe the third gate will be a "killer" park. Or maybe DCA will be improved over time. If nothing else I am sure it will grow on me as almost all things Disney do for some reason.
  • Paradise Pier - Not because of its lack of themeing but more for its relative size in the park. My complaint is the focus of the park to most is the Pier if for no other reason than the large lagoon and large number of rides located in this section. I think the Pier would have been stronger if it were only the South side… meaning the boardwalk entrance all the way around to where the parades go in…. maybe include the Orange stinger (would rather have the GZ moved there). The rest of it from that point around to the Golden Dreams theater could be land better used in my opinion. I am sure WDI could come up with a couple really good attractions.
  • Superstar Limo - Just did not work for me.
  • Disney's Steps in Time - The storyline just bugged me as did about 1/3 of the song "remakes".
  • Reduced hours… because no one showed up at the park (even after heavy discounting) the hours were reduced and continue to be…

Things to watch(and some wild rumors/suggestions that we liked):

  • new Flicks Faire (or whatever its final name is): I think they are missing the boat on this one. The problem with the park is not just not enough for kids to do. Its not enough for the entire family to do together. This is the selling point of Disney parks and DCA misses it on most attractions. I think building attractions for one demographic is the wrong solution. For the same reason I think Tower of Terror is the wrong solution to help the park in the short term too. They already have thrill rides. They need more "Disney" rides "E"&"D" ticket attractions for everyone. Also I think the length of the rides is a problem. Excluding the movies most are only a couple minutes at best. Where as at Disneyland you have several well over 5 minute adventures to go on (Pirates, Jungle Cruise, even Haunted, Small World, Splash Mountain, and the list goes on…)
  • Some sort of nightly fireworks show during the summer. There have been all sorts of rumors flying around so only time will tell, but I think the park really needs something at night in addition to the DEP.
  • Parades: What are they going to do? A new parade for the day/night or just the same thing again this year?
  • Shows: What's after Blast? I hope it's another unique entertainment group. I wish the theater could be used for "traveling groups" too. Image a group like Barrage or something performing in there. That would be interesting.
  • Favorite Suggestion -> Over the past year I have read a lot of websites/newsgroups about the park. My favorite "blue sky idea" has been they need to add a "Disneyland" section to DCA. It fits the theme. Disneyland is a big part of the California experience for locals and tourists alike. In this section could be past Disneyland attractions…. Such as the Country Bears, the Flying Saucers, the Skyway even…. Who knows. I just thought it was a great concept and a way to add to the park.
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