Wednesday, April 18, 2018

If I Were Disney CEO Part 3 - Disney California Adventure

To all who believe in the power of dreams...Welcome!  Disney's California Adventure opens its golden gates to you.
Dedication read by Michael Eisner February 8, 2001


Disney California Adventure definitely gets the award for most improved park in the Disney family of resorts.  This second gate opened in 2001 in the old Disneyland parking lot, offering a more modest creation than the previously proposed WestCOT or Port Disney plans.  The park at opening was almost a complete opposite of Disneyland.  Expansive pathways, hip and "edgy" attractions, filled with puns, and a much higher shopping and dining to attraction ratio.  When the expected crowds didn't materialize, management began adding variety of options to try and lure people out of Disneyland and into this new venture, including a bug's land, the Tower of Terror, the Electrical Parade, and the X-Games (some more successful than others).  

Finally, in 2007, Disney announced a five-year, billion dollar renovation of the park, overhauling several sections of the park and adding the immersive Cars Land expansion.  And with this renovation, Disney California Adventure quickly rose in caliber, making it truly Disney quality.  

Having visited the park in both incarnations, the difference in the appeal of the park is striking.  While there are pieces of the previous version that were memorable (the C A L I F O R N I A letters at the entrance and the monorail over the Golden Gate Bridge), the park is much stronger and much more charming now.  There is definitely a solid foundation for the future and a greater framework for expansion.

Primary goals:
  • While the renovation greatly improved much of the park, there are still sections that are waiting for their renovation to be finalized.  Hollywoodland requires a near complete reworking, Paradise/Pixar Pier requires finalization of the chosen theme, and the Grizzly Peak area could use a few final touches to truly cement the Disney experience.
  • The expansion pad behind Tower of Terror and next to Cars Land will need to be filled out with the Marvel expansion.   This should be done in a way so that there are draws for all ages.
  • With the removal of a bug's land, expansion should be carefully considered so that there are greater draws for all ages and heights.  As it stands, there are large stretches of the park with no options for the full family.
With these goals in mind, I'll walk through each land in the park and discuss the updates.  I'll be walking through the park clockwise from Buena Vista Street, heading through Hollywoodland first and working around to Grizzly Peak.

Buena Vista Street:
One of the most amazing components of the revitalization of California Adventure is Buena Vista Street.  Disney took an "entrance plaza" nearly completely devoid of charm and transformed it into a very attractive and inviting version of 1920s Los Angeles.  Truthfully, the area is completely realized.  There is no room for expansion here and very little I would change.  The primary thing I can think of is improving the window displays in the shops.  They started with time period appropriate displays and quickly devolved into random collections of plush.  I would either go back to the time period appropriate displays or create something similar to the Enchanted Window displays on Main Street.  Changing them from vehicles for merchandise advertisement into little dioramas.  Preferably, these would all be from early Silly Symphony cartoons to have a greater tie to the time period.

If I were shooting for the moon, I would re-theme the turnstiles and entrance from the current Pan Pacific architecture to a Spanish Revival style, similar to the walkways and skybridge at the Historic Mission Inn and Spa Hotel in Riverside.

Particularly interested in the bells in the foreground here.

Another example of the roof work and passage style.
While I do not mind the current Pan Pacific entrance at all, I would prefer that each Disney park have its own unique style.  With the Pan Pacific entrance already also used at Disney Hollywood Studios and well established there, I would prefer a change here at California Adventure.  The Spanish Revival style well suites the overall California theme and has a greater tie to the broader Buena Vista street.

Hollywoodland is the section of the park most in need of revision, as it did not receive any attention in the renovation.  Accordingly, nearly every corner of this section of the park will be touched in some way.

This area of the park unfortunately still carries the "trying to hard to be hip" vibe from version 1.0 of the park and the backlot's attempts at theming believe a false-front building is sufficient to carry the Hollywood theme.

The focus here then is establishing a time frame to refocus this area on a unified or at least cohesive sense of time and place.  To me, I would focus on the Golden Age of Hollywood, highlighting in particular Walt's Hollywood from the 1930s to the 1960s.  If Buena Vista Street is Walt arriving in 1920s Los Angeles, Hollywoodland becomes the progression of Walt's achievements in Hollywood, with the Red Car Trolley acting as our vehicle to transition through time.  I would look to have the Red Car Trolley turn left at the Hyperion now, so that the trolley stays in Hollywood (and is not going into the Marvel expansion).  The trolley storage would be combined with a linked attraction to be discussed later.  And the trolley could potentially make a slight loop around the new center, removing the need for trolleys passing on the center of the street.

Overview of revision of entire land
For the land overall, I envision a soundtrack of popular film music of the time.  This is an area that could get a little meta, as it can include Disney's own product.  Hopefully, it would include very deep cuts from the Disney music libraries.  Additionally, I envision a Disney Walk of Fame on the sidewalks, allowing the company to recognize significant contributions to Disney film, perhaps with Mickey-ear plaques in the sidewalk instead of stars.  This would be continued at Disney Hollywood Studios in Florida and be very similar to the Main Street Window recognition.  It could even start with the current Disney Legends.

I would start first with the area including Gone Hollywood, Award Wieners, and the Sunset Showcase Theater (formerly MuppetVision*3D).    For this space, I would currently revamp the theater to be able to hold Donald's Philharmagic (yes, Donald's Philharmagic here instead of Mickey's), likely absorbing the seating for Award Wieners.  The goal for the building will be to build a fully enclosed and designed theater space including the queue.  Going for an exterior like the Crest Theatre. The great thing about a show like Philharmagic is that show scenes can be swapped out; what's needed is just new animation and programming for the theater effects.  This version of Philharmagic would focus on Walt-era films and cartoons.  So it could keep the Sorcerer's Apprentice and the brief Peter Pan segment, but add options like Heigh Ho, Pink Elephants on Parade, I Wanna Be Like You, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, Bumble Boogie, Blame it on the Samba, and the Mickey Mouse Club March.  Creating a new specific version would let the Walt Disney World version be showcased later and promoted.  Other versions could be created like a villain song Halloween version or a Christmas show.

The Award Wieners facade would be changed to either the Tail O' the Pup or Schwab's Pharmacy, with the appropriate menu.  It's seating would be moved to tables surrounding the new center fountain.  Gone Hollywood would remain as one of the two primary store locations for the land.

The area north of the monorail track would be completely reworked, removing Stage 17 and Monster's Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue.  This area would become a noir-ish Roger Rabbit area, moving Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin from the renovated Toon Town to the Stage 17 side of this area.  The ride facade here would take on the Maroon Studios look from the movie.

Our Roger Rabbit building

 On the east side, I would build a single building to hold the Red Car Trolley barn and the long developed but never realized Toontown Trolley ride.  This was a ride originally proposed for the "Disney Decade" for Disney Hollywood Studios that would have had Roger Rabbit driving a simulated trolley ride through Toontown.  The windows on the trolley would be screens, which would have allowed an wrap-around cartoon view.  Here, I would suggest our conductor be the ever-popular Goofy, balancing out the character attractions.  This facade would take on the appearance of the Pacific Electric Railway building from the movie.  If there is room between the buildings, I would also love to add the connected Terminal Bar. (The End of the Line bar stand would be absorbed by this building).

No need for Cloverleaf here.

The goal with both Roger and the Trolley Building would be to build entrance and partial facades in front of the monorail track, passing under the track internally to the actual attractions behind the beams.

Continuing the classic Hollywood vibe, the Hollywood & Dine building would become the Hollywood Canteen, re-purposed from a food court into a dinner and a show, a la the Golden Horseshoe. I envision partnering with the USO to put on a classic USO show, with Andrew's Sisters style singers, a Bing Crosby-like crooner, a swing band, and swing dancers.  The great thing is that entertainment could be experimented with until a show formalized, bringing in comedy and music acts, etc.  It would not be hard to re-theme the outer facade into the Hollywood Canteen building.

Add the distinct sign on the door and the billboard up top
The Hyperion works internally, it is just stuck in an unfortunate facade for a theater.  The structure needs to become a fully realized theater with internal lobby/queue, restrooms (and potentially concessions).  The current setup makes a full entry lobby difficult, so the suggestion would be to have a narrower entry in the front, with a more expansive lobby area down on the south side of the building, toward the Mission Breakout ride.

The inspiration for the new exterior would be Disney's own El Capitan Theater, particularly because the design with the theater and marquee low on an otherwise tall office building allows imagineers to play with the forced perspective for the view from the entrance to Hollywoodland. In particular, including the modern marquee excites me, as it would allow for opportunities to interplay the screens on the marquee with projection mapping, turning this section of the park into a very fun space at night.

A Disney grand theater to inspire the prime theater in Hollywoodland.

For the new production inside the theater, Frozen would be replaced by a shortened theatrical version of Mary Poppins.  The show includes many of the things that made Aladdin exciting (flying over the audience, recognizable music, magic character), but it is the tie to Walt that makes it exciting.  This makes the progression on the Red Car hit perhaps Walt's crowning achievement in film before turning to the storage facility.

The Animation Academy facility likewise works.  An external refurbishment should be included to remove the post-modern exterior touches.  While the design reflects a bit of the magic that is bursting forth from the building, something closer to the artist's concept included in the Blue Sky Cellar at the time of the park-wide revamp, would be much appreciated.  If nothing else, more appropriate signage for the Animation Academy and Off The Page would good a great way in assisting the aesthetic appeal of this section of the park.

This view is much better.
Internally, it again works; I would make just a couple of adjustments.  First, Anna & Elsa's Royal Welcome would be evicted from the space, restoring both the Ursula section of the Sorcerer's Workshop and the Character Close-Up nook.  The Character Close-Up nook would be filled with artifacts from the archives similar to One Man's Dream in Florida (but the Pixar Zoetrope would not go back here).  The Animation Academy and the Sorcerer's Workshop would remain the same.  Turtle Talk with Crush would be moved to the pier, and that space would be carved up to create a small room playing the One Man's Dream film on loop and the rest used for a dedicated Meet & Greet space (largely turned over to promotions for whatever film is currently gearing up).

Disney Jr. Live on Stage would be replaced by Walt Disney Presents - a dedicated preview theater for upcoming theatrical presentations for Walt Disney Theatrical Animation and Walt Disney Pictures (the main Disney company, not Pixar, not Marvel, not Lucasfilm, etc as these should be in their appropriate land.).  It only makes sense to me that Hollywood themed parks or lands should have a space to promote the newest Disney picture.  Again this space can be largely turned over to promotions to prep accordingly for each film.  It is a smaller theater space, so it will not be as big of an issue dedicating the space to this purpose.  In between promotions, the theater can be used to show classic Fab Five and Silly Symphony cartoon shorts.

The center of the land currently containing the Hollywood Backlot Stage, Fairfax Market, Schmoozies, and current Superhero Picture areas would all be replaced with a water feature.  I would remove this all for a recreation of the Mulholland Fountain.  This de-clutters the area, giving a nice open view in the space.  The fountain provides an option with visual appeal and historic context, while also allowing for that clear view from side to side, which can also come into play in the desired night activities.  A mix of cafe tables and chairs and outdoor vending carts would surround the fountain.  This can also make the turn in Paint the Night for the Mack truck a little easier.

The centerpiece.
For nightlife, I envision this area to be a lot like the Small World Mall area. It's an area that the parades will travel through and can be a good alternative area to World of Color.  This has already been displayed with Glow Fest, Electronica, and the Mad T Party.  If we are comparing parks, to me, this would be the place for a Fantasmic! like night time event (compared to the main draw in World of Color/Fireworks and the minor draw at the Cars Land Neon/it's a small world projection show).  For an area themed to Hollywood with a lot of outdoor screen marquees, this area would benefit greatly from a more elaborate projection show on the buildings. They could be busting out of the marquees and running loose on the buildings.  I could see this entire space becoming the equivalent of an outdoor 4D show, complete with water, fire, bubble, and snow effects, confetti cannons, inflatables on the roof, and projections.  The center fountain could even take part with color changing lights and the timing of the spray.   Essentially everything but the fireworks.

Otherwise, every night should be like a movie premier where the red carpet has been rolled out and the search lights are going.  A real amazing place to just hang out for the night.

Marvel Land:
With a bug's land going away, that opens up a large section of the park for the upcoming Marvel expansion, as it can include the entire bug's land area including It's Tough to Be a Bug and the true expansion area behind Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout and bordering Cars Land.

Rumors have an included Spider-man ride, an Avengers or Captain America mega-coaster, and roaming character interactions.  Hopefully, at least one attraction will not have a height restriction or will have a very low height restriction so that even the youngest Marvel Zombies can enjoy what the land has to offer.

Most likely Marvel Land
The only issue with this particular land will be the eventual name, since Marvel cannot be used due to the existing contract with Universal.  Most likely will be Super Hero City, but if I were to through out a complete nerdy suggestion, I would go with "Sector 616."

Cars Land:
Cars Land is a fully realized version of Radiator Springs that is truly the greatest asset of the revitalized California Adventure.  It is an amazing recreation of the town from the movie, especially with the Cadillac Range in the background.  There is a charm to this section of the park that is achieved in the best Disney lands. 

With the Marvel Land expansion, it is unlikely there will be any room to add anything, apart from potentially adding an exhibit in the courthouse in front of Radiator Springs Racers.  If some space could be carved out from the Marvel Land expansion, I would love to see the Cars version of the Sci-Fi Dine-In.

This would be perfect for an additional dining option.

Imagine sitting in the cars with the Cars-style faces and watching Cars-inspired movie versions like Toy Car Story, a (VW) bug's life, Monster Trucks, Inc., etc.  It would truly cap off a great land and provide another dining option outside of Flo's.

Pacific Wharf:
Again a land that really does not need much revision.  While it would be great if there could be an attraction added to the space beyond the bakery tour, the land serves its purpose by providing great dining and dessert options.

Pixar Pier and Paradise Gardens:
The former Paradise Pier area received a lot of attention in the renovation, removing a few eyesores (goodbye Maliboomer), converting odd choices into charming ones (Orange Stinger to Silly Symphony Swings) and overall starting a specific time period aesthetic that was a great improvement from the original version.  The focus became turn of the century to 1920s sea side pier amusement parks, of which there were several classic examples in California.

The main problem was that the renovation was not completed.  There were still sections of the land that were waiting for the architectural change to bring it in line with the rest of the land. In particular, the California Screamin' queue, King Triton's Carousel, and Mickey's Fun Wheel queue all needed attention to remove their more modern skins and put them in a more visually appealing form.

This section of the park is currently undergoing another transformation, moving away from the classic sea side pier into a collection of neighborhoods for different collections of Pixar characters.  These neighborhoods are only loosely tied together in theme only (here Pixar), not in aesthetic.  I'm extremely torn on this approach.  While I have no qualms with using the Pixar characters in this area and there will be a couple of attractions that seem to be an upgrade from their previous incarnations, generally this seems to be an aesthetic down-grade with some very odd choices.

In the spirit of this series, I'm going to move forward from the current setup that exists for the land and that means working from the Pixar Pier choice.  I will be recommending a couple of changes to what they are implementing, in order to create a cohesive Pixar Pier approach - one land unified in aesthetic (i.e. no more specific neighborhoods).  I will have a post later this week that offers a second take which goes in a wildly different direction.

With that preface, I will work from a continuation of the early 1900s seaside amusement pier theme.  Every structure will be brought into that architectural style.  The emphasis will be more on a classic pier where you can encounter the characters rather than stepping into their neighborhood.  Accordingly, the result should be something more like Toyville Trolley Park in Tokyo DisneySea, a highly detailed Victorian/Micktorian land that incorporates the Pixar characters.

Will be a great place to be at night.
The soundtrack of the land should be ragtime and player piano versions of Pixar themes. Accordingly, a lot of the music from UP will fit already.

Starting from the entrance next to the wharf, the exterior of the former Treasures in Paradise and Ariel's Grotto restaurant are getting exterior upgrades in their transformations to Knick's Knacks and the Lamplighter Lounge, respectively.  The cupolas and lights match the exact design elements that should be highlighted in this approach.

The new entrance - an aesthetic upgrade.
For the interior, they are displaying a far too modern design, with Knick's Knacks looking more like a current Disney Store you would find in the local upscale malls and Lamplighter looking more like a new gatropub.  The interiors would be changed back to period appropriate design.  Lamplighter would further add a Pixar character breakfast (as it would be the only character meal in the park).

The Paradise Pier Ice Cream stand would simply change in name to the Pixar Pier Ice Cream Stand and add the Adorable Sno-Cone to its menu.  It would not get the cardboard flat overlay that has been proposed.  (I'm sparing you a visual on that design).

California Screamin' still changes to the Incredicoaster (which to me is a better name).  The scream tunnels are still enclosed and painted red, though it would be nice if they were more covered bridge style or like the tops below in the Luna Park picture.  I can live with the red tubes, though. It does receive a larger Victorian load platform and covered queue, instead of the current shade structures and opposed to the planned mid-century modern house design.  The new, longer covered queue could incorporate fun-house aspects in the lead up to the loading platform and could help sell the new storyline of the Incredible family visiting the pier and trying to chase down Jack-Jack.

Looking to the past for inspiration.
Inside the eastern helix of the Incredicoaster, I would add a new flat ride.  It has been long rumored this is an expansion spot for a new ride and with the Incredibles area, it has been rumored for an Omnidroid octopus style ride.  I think this would be a very good addition and give some kinetics to this otherwise dead section of the ride, which still fit in well with its overall theme.  I've included a picture of an Omnidroid from the parade for reference.

Imagine spinning round on those arms.
King Triton's Carousel shall still be rethemed away from the Disney picture to a Pixar one.  Critter Carousel is a fine design choice, but it will be getting an appropriate covering structure and will not be getting a giant Jesse.  My goal though would be to represent as many Pixar films as possible, so I would want to change from the Critter Carousel to a Coco inspired Alebrije carousel.  The colors would benefit this ride greatly and would still work under the Victorian-like canopy.

Toy Story Midway Mania stays as is.  This is truly the inspiration for the rest of the expansion and one of the rides implemented very well in the expansion.  I will note, though, that since this ride is supposed to be a collection of midway games, I am less inclined to keep the row of actual midway games that are next to the ride.  That space is prime space for another attraction.  I would not mind scattering the midway games around various sections of the pier and have indicated them in blue on the overview image of the land.  I can see games for La Luna, Boundin', Brave, and the Good Dinosaur.

With that in mind, the section of the pier up to the midway games (the section under the area where the Incredicoaster crosses over and location of long closed additional midway games) would be replaced with Tuck and Roll's Drive 'Em Buggies with an appropriate Victorian structure.  This section is limited in what could be added due to the roller coaster, but it would seem that bumper cars would be easily implemented.  Bumper cars are a staple of seaside amusement piers and would be something more exciting for people to look at while in the Toy Story Mania overflow queue.

Where the current midway games are there are two attractions added in: a Pixar Shorts Nickelodeon and the entrance to a Monsters Inc. Spook House ride.  Again, taking two classic amusement attractions and bringing the correct fit from the Pixar stable.  The Nickelodeon would be the perfect place to come in and take a load off in the AC.  I would rotate through Pixar shorts, but Presto would be a must as it would be the perfect fit.  This space would also be valuable for promoting upcoming Pixar film releases.  It does not have to be a large theater.  Between the overview above and the image below, I'm envisioning something shallow but wider to enclose the space.  The image below is crude and could be redivided as needed to accomplish the goal, but illustrates the point.

Envisioning the new space.
The Monster's Inc. Spook House ride would primarily from this point be an entrance leading the rider to the ride behind the Incredicoaster.  This would provide ample space for the queue and allow for a much larger ride area.  The idea would be the same as Midway Mania in that here the Monsters Inc. characters are running a traditional spook house to collect screams.  It could be Disney-spooky or could be even changed to where they are now trying to collect laughs.  Either way, it would be a more traditional dark ride in the space, with physical sets and animatronics (as opposed to Midway Manias screens), though it would include projection mapping to fill out the space.

The shops at the end of the building line would be changed to include Bing Bong's Sweet Stuff as planned.  This looks like it fits the area and having saltwater taffy on the pier is a no-brainer.

In the western helix of the Incredicoaster (the former Maliboomer location), I would move Flik's Fun Flyers as planned but would not theme it to Inside Out as rumored.  My issue with the Inside Out ride is that the rumored name is Inside Out Mood Swings and while I absolutely love that name, I would hate to have two rides named swings right next to each other. I would have Inside Out Mood Swings take over the Silly Symphony Swings and would retheme Flik's Fun Flyers to the Up! Balloon Flight. There could even be a balloon cart at the entrance to the queue that looks like it is about to fly off.

On the lagoon side of the pier, the Fun Wheel would become the Pixar Fun Wheel, but I would complete the transition and replace the Mickey face with the Pixar ball.  If the land is going to be rethemed, I'm going to commit fully to it.  The various characters on the cars will continue to be implemented.  There would be a reworking of the queue to remove the cloth sun shades and implement again a Victorian style throughout.

I would seek to build a small-ish "aquarium" building next to the Fun Wheel to house Turtle Talk with Crush in a more themed location, like that in Tokyo DisneySea.  Ideally this aquarium would have you travel down to the theater, so you are traveling under the water line and looking out a window that crush can swim up to.  I think this can be achieved as I know the Fun Wheel dips below the water line.  It would likely require draining the lagoon, but this would likely benefit the Fun Wheel and World of Color, allowing the reworking of the Fun Wheel queue and maintenance on the World of Color platforms.

The remaining vendor carts would keep their current architecture styles but receive updates on characters as needed.  For example, Don Tomas turkey legs could go to Senor Buzz (if necessary).  I do not believe that character theming is 100% necessary on these and would rather see them be typical pier vendor carts.  I would love, though, to see a version of the Disneyland Little Red Wagon truck re-painted and themed to the Pizza Planet truck, serving pizza by the slice.

Just imagine a Pizza Planet truck version of this.
The rest of the land is currently being left alone and renamed as Paradise Park.  I would as stated fully commit to the Pixar theme and wrap it completely around to the Little Mermaid.  The Silly Symphony Swings would become the Inside Out Mood Swings, Jumpin' Jellyfish now recreates the scene in Finding Nemo, and the Golden Zephyr could either be the Toy Story Aliens or Wall-E.  Goofy's Sky School changes from a wild mouse roller coaster to a wild rat roller coaster with a Ratatouille redesign.   The Pixarharmonic Orchestra would continue to play in the Paradise Garden Gazebo.

Little Mermaid could move to the Wharf area with the Painted Ladies to create a little larger San Francisco area.  If desired, the Winery area and Blue Sky Cellar could be completely reworked into a San Francisco/Wharf attraction.

Grizzly Peak:
The Grizzly Peak area has benefited greatly from the combining of the Golden State and the Condor Flats area into a singular national park themed area.   My goal with the area will be to solidify this theme and particularly focus on a 1950s national park, as well as a greater utilization of the space.  The two attractions that are in the land take up so much space and are both height restricted.  The goal is to add a couple of secondary, small-form attractions with no height limitation, to maximize the appeal of the land itself.

Grizzly Peak Overview
Everything currently in the land works.  I would want to strengthen the 1950s feel on Grizzly River Rapids, removing the last vestiges of the extreme sports decor.  I would add at least minimal movement animatronics to the ride (like those on the Rivers of America) to give visual appeal and add sight gags along the way.

J. Audobon Woodlore and Humphrey Bear would be added as walk-around characters, particularly in the Redwood Challenge area.  They would be the representative characters for the land.

I would seek to add a single theater version of the Country Bear Jamboree to a Country Bear Hall Theater squeezed into the area behind the winery.  Hopefully a single theater and queue could be made to fit in this space. The Country Bears could be seen as characters similar to the bears in the Humphrey cartoons and would bring a lot of classic Disney into the area.  This version of the Country Bear show would have four versions: the classic show in spring, Vacation Hoedown in Summer, Campfire Ghost Tales in Halloween, and the Country Bear Christmas in November/December.  It would add an attraction type that is missing (animatronic show) and would bring a heavy nostalgia factor.  It's also a perfect fit for an area that is themed to a bear filled national park.

I would also seem to move Gadget's Go Coaster from the re-themed Toontown to the area just south of the monorail track between the Grand Californian and the guest pathway.  This would likely require a little re-configuration of the guest pathway, but would result in adding a small form attraction for little riders.  I know it is not the best ride, but it is many kids first roller coaster and can be themed to an instructional flight (especially with the Sky School being rethought) to fit in with the Grizzly Peak airstrip section of this land.  Could even be tied into the Planes franchise if desired.  If not the Go Coaster, I would at least add a Planes Dumbo-like spinner.

Finally, I would restore Soarin' back to Soarin' Over California. Soarin' Over the World and any other versions developed (like Soarin' Over the Land) can always be brought back as special runs, but the default should be Soarin' Over California for the park.

Seaonal Overlays:
Like Disneyland, California Adventure has recently gotten into the spirit with seasonal overlays and stepping up their celebrations.  Both Mater's and Luigi's in Cars Land have Halloween and Christmas versions of the ride. And the decorations have truly been stepped up in this park for both seasons.  This park even has a leg up with the Festival of the Holidays food and entertainment offerings.  I believe there is a little more that can still be accomplished.  First, the preview theaters can offer appropriate seasonal offerings, both in Hollywoodland and the Nickelodeon in Pixar Pier.  Likewise, the predominantly screen based attractions can more easily have seasonal versions developed.  Philharmagic, Midway Mania, and even the Toontown Trolley ride can have appropriate seasonal animation developed.  Even Soarin' Over California can have the appropriate seasonal ending added (general castle and fireworks for spring, 4th of July fireworks and bunting for summer, Halloween Screams for Halloween and the current version with the Christmas tree for the holidays).  Adding the Country Bears will come with already developed seasonal overlays.  And finally, the USO show in the Hollywood Canteen will provide appropriate entertainment (like the Golden Horseshoe).

Parades and Nighttime Spectaculars:
I know the Pixar Play Parade is getting a little long in the tooth, but ideally the day time parade for Disney California Adventure would be something in this mold.  An update, energetic parade that has a lot of focus on the Pixar Characters.  After all, the Pixar characters are primarily housed in this park.   This is also why Paint the Night works so well in California Adventure.

Like Disneyland and the Main Street Electrical Parade, I view Paint the Night to be the perfect fit for California Adventure.  It's a little more pop, the characters represented in the parade have a significant presence in the park, and the expanded pathways and longer parade route can absorb the scope of the parade better.  Paint the Night to me would be the default night parade, the one that is gone back to time and time again after tinkering and plussing, changing out particular float units as needed.

As discussed in the Hollywoodland section, I truly feel the Cars Land neon is the equivalent in this park of the it's a small world clock projection show.  It's a short event that really adds character to the land and park as a whole and encourages guests to linger.

Also, as discussed, I would make Hollywoodland contain the equivalent of the Fantasmic! experience in Disneyland with the addition of the longer projection show which transforms that land into a magical outdoor 4D theater experience.  Playing with the land as a whole through building projections, water/bubble/fire/snow effects, confetti cannons, lasers and inflatables to truly immerse the guests in a show occurring all around them.  A Gala Premier or Red Carpet Revue. Fantasmic works in Disneyland because it transforms a section of the park you have experienced in one way in the day, into a new version at night.  It seems like it comes into existence magically.  Hollywoodland could offer this similar magical transformation.

World of Color has cemented itself as a permanent fixture in the park.  The show provides a truly unique experience for this park that offers a lot of flexibility in implementation and design for the future.  I would focus on developing a Halloween themed show to go with the new seasonal Halloween offerings that have been developed.  And while World of Color: Season of Light is the far superior holiday show, I would like to add back in the Christmas World of Color Television intro from Winter Dreams to solidify the brand (plus that is a really great intro piece of music).

Cartoon Mascot:
For the cartoon mascot of this park, I have chosen Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.  I feel there are a lot of parallels to Oswald's story in the park.  Oswald was a lost cartoon creation of Walt's that was re-acquired in 2006, the year before the announcement of the California Adventure transformation.  Similarly, California Adventure was almost the forgotten park prior to its transformation.  With the re-acquisition, Oswald became an integral part of Buena Vista street and almost synonymous with the land.  The Oswald Rabbit ears were hugely popular here.  And it's kind of fitting to have Walt's two primary creations in the parks opposite each other.  Mickey in Disneyland and Oswald in California Adventure.


Again, I hope you have enjoyed this exploration.  Next in the series will be the Disneyland Resort, focusing on hotels, Downtown Disney and future expansion.  In the interim, look for a second take on Tomorrowland, Hollywoodland, and Paradise Pier coming later in the week.

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