Welcome to Disneyland Park! Middlebrow at your service.
Another day at the epicenter of paradise.
Even in Southern California, summer is drawing to a close. Not that it is getting any cooler, but the kids are back in school and Park hours are shortening a bit, and the Annual Passholders have migrated back to the former orange and walnut grove. Let’s look at a couple of summer successes, one that has finished its run and another on the verge.
The live action roll-play game overlays in the western regions of the park this summer have been a rousing success. Legends of Frontierland continues until September 1, while dispatches from the jungle inform us that Adventure Trading Company game has closed due to lack of “Juju.” I feel you.
Juju in the game mimics charms of the type used by West African people. And while the game was always promoted as a limited time experience, the fun of the game and the popularity of the Juju pieces depleted supplies and ended the game before many would have liked. That’s life in the jungle.
Meanwhile, out on the frontier, play continues.
The story behind Legends of Frontierland game is… Frontierland and its neighbor, Rainbow Ridge, the tiny town at the edge of Big Thunder Mountain, are in the midst of a good, ol’ fashioned land feud. Rumors are spreading that gold has been discovered in mines belonging to Frontierland and the folk in Rainbow Ridge have one thing on their minds: take over Frontierland! And fast!
Pick your ‘western” name, pick the town you want to “be from.”, and away you go.
I’ve been impressed at how much fun the Guests have playing the games. And I’ve been even more struck at the Cast Members spirited involvement.
It is also interesting what a fundamentally different approach this is to the game overlays at Walt Disney World. Both certainly have their value, but I think the “analog” approach may draw more adults in the game. Maybe game overlays are becoming an “expectation” at the Parks. But one thing is clear, the two role play games at Disneyland Park this summer have been an unqualified success.
Next up: A Tomorrowland game.
This may seem like a non-issue to most, but the construction of a Guest Flow Corridor on the east side of Main Street will make arguably the biggest visual change to Town Square since the Park opened in 1955. It at least ties with the removal of the locker facility for an Emporium expansion in 1990.
The area effected is the patio area next to the Disney Showcase shop. Over the years it was used as an outdoor dining area for the Hills Bros. Coffee House and later the American Egg House restaurant and was later redesigned, becoming a Character greeting area.
That area will be the south opening of the corridor which is expected to mainly provide north to south access.
This long planned access route, an alley, themed as… an “alley,” is to be utilized mainly during next year’s new nighttime parade and the nightly pyrotechnics. This could formally bring to an end, nearly 60 years of proposals and plans to ease crowding on Disneyland’s Main Street U.S.A. or develop the adjacent backstage plot.
The proposals have ranged from opulent “arcades,” that would add “backdoors” to the east Main Street shops, to mini-Lands, some planned during Walt Disney’s lifetime. Over the years International Street, Liberty Street, Edison Square and Hollywood Land have all looked longingly on the busy east backstage service area.
Even this latest access improvement plan has also been an on again, off again thing. It has also not been without some “bumps in the road.”
Certainly, planners wouldn’t want people to stop and watch the fireworks in this “Disneyland Diamond Lane.” But at one point in the design process, it was discovered that the alley’s trajectory would made it: the perfect place to watch the fireworks. Designers went back to work, creating a faux bridge to block the view.
At another point the project was “shelved” seemingly because faith in its efficiency had eroded. Guest Control wags argued that the corridor would have to be on the west side of the street to be effective. But building anything in the narrow west service alley which handles food and merchandise deliveries and Jungle Cruise boat storage would be completely impossible.
Whatever the specifics and effectiveness of the final path, the overhaul should provide enhanced facilities for Central First Aid and the Baby Station, and other services on its north end.
Will it help relieve crowding? Call me a doubter.
There was a great wailing and gnashing of teeth in 2012, when the plans to remove the Carnation Plaza Gardens and replace it with Fantasy Faire were revealed. Swing Dancers and cigarette smoking Jazzbos, formed an uneasy alliance to complain about the re-imagining of their favorite empty spot at Disneyland.
“But, I saw Buddy Rich play there!” “Walt and Lillian danced there!” “I met two of my wives there!”
The bloodless incursion by Fantasyland in to an area of the Plaza that was previously considered loosely part of Main Street U.S.A., has allowed the Disney Gentry to roam outside the castle walls. In The Royal Theater, Guests can see Character shows throughout the day and Little Princesses can meet Big Princesses in Royal Hall. And its all within steps of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique where Princesses are known to get their do’s done.
In development terms: nearly a quarter of the frontage at the Plaza was underutilized. Fantasy Faire and the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe have brought the west side of “the Hub” to life again.
The area is now officially charming. It’s a little out of the hustle and bustle and feels decidedly old world. Figures of Figaro the Cat and a caged bird aren’t intended to be realistic. They and the hand cranked “Hunchback…” music box seem to be part of a rearward trend.
But I didn’t bring you here for that. I want to tell you a tale of a castle spire that went missing for many years. How can a castle spire disappear? That seems unlikely even at Disneyland.
The trees were so over-grown in the north area of Plaza Gardens that one of the castle spires did become invisible to guests, what few of them were in that area. And, not only was it unseeable; it was forgotten.
When the area was cleaned up, as if by magic, the shy spire was front and center again. Well, sort of…
There it is! The dark spire behind the new Royal Hall roofline, but in the foreground of the brightly lit tower. Get a look at it in person when you can. It may be in retrograde already.