New plans for Disney’s California Adventure

The L.A. Times reported yesterday on Disney’s new plans for the California Adventure theme park. The idea now is to redo the park so it’s themed literally around Walt Disney’s personal California adventure. For example, the entrance will resemble Hollywood in the 1920s and, as you make your way through the park, you’ll encounter rides and attractions themed around milestones in Disney’s life: The Mickey Mouse “Fun Wheel”; the “Silly Symphony Swings”; a re-creation of the Carthay Circle Theatre where Snow White premiered; a Wonderful World of Color water show, and so on.

How Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree and the rest of the Pixar-themed attractions will fit in with the Disney nostalgia remains to be seen. If it’s not too late I’d like to offer several suggestions of my own:

I’d love to see some reference to the Alice Comedies and Oswald The Lucky Rabbit in the 1920s shopping plaza.

Maybe a ride based on Victory Through Air Power?

How about a a place to play polo?

I always thought they should turn California Adventure into a Retro-Disneyland, recreating the retired rides and attractions from the 1950s and 60s: The Carousel of Progress; The Mickey Mouse Club Theatre showing 3-D Jamboree; The Flying Saucers, and the Monsanto House of the Future. Wouldn’t that be cool?


  • Steve Segal

    Jerry, those are excellent suggestions. Disney should hire you.

  • http://eggheadcheesybird.co.uk Alex

    A log-flume ride where you climb up the steep production costs for Pinocchio only to come crashing down to earth at the box office?

    A hammer-ride in which you slowly crush the Fleischer studios into the ground?

    A ghost train where angry picketers hound you?

    I think it’s a good idea.

  • Mike L

    On the one hand, this is a really good way to connect younger generations with the roots of modern animation and show them where all of this magic started.

    Sadly, on the other hand, it sounds like Disney as a company is using Walt’s legacy as a way to draw proffits. Obviously I never knew walt…. I was born in 1980…
    But… from everything I’ve read and seen… He was against EVERYTHING the company is doing now… and his point was to make people happy.

    I would like to believe that for Walt, business-aspects (proffitability) never came into the equation unless a decision needed a tie-breaker.

    Sequels, merchandising craziness, layoffs, and many of the dealings with other companies (especially the intended sequels to the Pixar’s films without their knowledge) all seem to be a massive departure from where his dream started.

  • Mr. Semaj

    After years of being a company write-off, Disney’s California Adventure finally has a purpose.

  • Jay Sabicer

    Funny you should mention Oswald and the Flying Saucers: The main thoroughfare into the park will have an Oswald filling station. Also, in Car’s Land there will be a Flying saucers ride, using Luigi’s tire shop as it’s premise. The House of the Future currently resides inside Innoventions, where the Elias family resides.

  • http://www.alanrhodes.com protogenes

    Wow, do we get to beat up strikers in Labour Unrest Land?

    Are you frozen when you leave…?

  • Jason

    I think it’s a great idea to refashion DCA into a true Disney Park. The plans look pretty cool. But the Muppets need to go; that was an unnecessary acquisition, and the attraction is dated as hell (and poorly attended, I understand). I think the Carousel of Progress and a revival of the Mickey Mouse Club are brilliant ideas. On another note: the people here making snide remarks about that long-ago strike need to cool it. Walt pampered his employees; they got recreation areas, air conditioning (rare in those days), meals delivered to their offices by waiters – the Disney Studio was far from Termite Terrace, and that was one reason Walt took the strike so personally. Read up on the matter and educate yourselves. You’re not being nearly as clever as you think you are.

  • http://www.cementimental.com Tim Drage

    “I would like to believe that for Walt, business-aspects (proffitability) never came into the equation”
    I would like to believe the moon is made of cheese.

  • http://www.thejunction.de Chan TheJunction

    whoa great work. i wanted to have a talent too ^^

  • Nic Kramer

    How about a ride where they make fun of sour blog posters like some you guys.

  • http://www.spiteyourface.com Tony Mines

    “I would like to believe that for Walt, business-aspects (proffitability) never came into the equation unless a decision needed a tie-breaker.”

    And I would like to believe that his head was made from purest gold, and is even know whirring away at the centre of some dream conjuring whizzimajig, creating a calvacade of new cine-wonders based on archaic pre-war ideals for us to cling desperately to in our long dark nostalgic hours.

    How about a merry-go-round where they give you a placard and you rotate around the parking lot for like nine hours.

  • http://www.joelstapley.com Joel Stapley

    How’s about bringing back Captain EO!

  • top cat james

    An animatronic Bob Iger sealing up Uncle Remus in the Disney Vault.

    A Three Caballeros singles bar where you can chase and grope Latina lovelies.

    Art Babbitt’s Strike Studio-now the whole family can create their own indiviual picket signs. “There Are No Strings On Me” or on the limits of your imagination!

    Unca Walt’s Shooting Gallery-help your favorite animation mogul extract revenge on his many real and imagined enemies;dozens to choose from: Make Mintz-meat out of Charles! Grind Ub into a nub! Obliterate Bill into Peet moss!

  • Paul N

    I’m on board with recreating closed attractions as long as it includes “Adventures Through Inner Space”.

  • Nic Kramer

    Brother, Sometimes I wonder why we have a comment section in the first place? Most of these comments are nothing but downers. Don’t you guys have something better to do than make fun of the studios dark history and act like your writters for Mad TV or Family Guy?

  • Killroy McFate

    Sure. But we’re cartoonists. Irreverence is in our DNA.

  • http://www.taberanimation.com Taber Dunipace

    Who’s that in the reflection, taking the picture? Look like Lasseter himself! Or at least that’s one of his shirts someone stole.

  • Mike L

    My cynicism is derived not from the strikes… but from the more recent (last 10-20 years) decisions.

    Perhaps I should apologize for leaving my comments in a comments section, which reflect my actual thoughts… nah… not gonna happen.

    I am not interested in animation because there is market potential, or because it is a well-paying industry. I enjoy the looks on people’s faces when they see something I’ve brought to life. My particular work trains people and saves lives… which is even more rewarding.

    I do know that religion was left out of Disney as a marketting decision. But even that was a tough decision, where business/survivability won out. Those talking about “reading up on Disney” have obviously not heard of the times that the employees worked without pay, not knowing if animation as an industry would survive.

    Here’s a suggestion… instead of discounting someone else’s opinion, why not offer an alternative opinion. Or is the art of conversation truly dead?

  • http://deleted Dan

    Sounds expensive. I’d like to see statues of all the animators that made Walt Disney.

  • Angry Anim

    Put me down for “Inner Space” also, please.

  • Peter Vincent

    Now I want to see Disney’s California Adventure. And Jerry, those really are excellent suggestions.

  • http://scuzzbopper.blogspot.com Ken Priebe

    I’d love to see a ride based on Mendolsson’s Spring Song, the Brewster-color film that got Cy Young hired at Disney. (It already has a train theme built into it! Heheh….)

    A fun interactive attraction would be “Make your own Alice Comedy!” Let kids act in front of a blank screen (with a host giving them specific directions) and then surround them with the 1920s cartoon characters on the screen, using modern compositing technology to make everything look grainy & old school.

    I hope they keep the ‘Tough to be a Bug’ 3D show, Soarin’ Over California, and Talk with Crush the Turtle….those are the best attractions in that park.

  • reader A

    Brother.

    One can easily discern the age emotionally and chronologically of most of the posters here.
    One thing Disney was not, ever, was cynical and too-hip-for-the-room. All these supposed clever comments are too easy/dumb and were old stuff 40 years ago. But supposed “irony” is always a new shiny toy to adolescents.

    I like all your ideas except the “Air Power” one, Jerry.

  • http://Mr.FunsBlog Floyd Norman

    A downer?

    You guys are making me laugh out loud. Keep in mind Uncle Walt had a sense of humor too. I could tell you about some meetings with the “Old Man” that would make you laugh. However, that’s a story for another time.

  • http://cartoonresearch.com/gerstein David Gerstein

    Hey, Jerry…

    Great ideas—so great that Disney apparently beat you to one of them. Here’s an LA Times article in which we see Julius the Cat and Oswald refs already planned for that shopping plaza.

    • http://travel.latimes.com/daily-deal-blog/index.php/disney-shops-to-refl-973/

  • Mike Lucy

    I think this is a great idea.

    By the way, you can see the Carousel of Progress in Florida at Walt Disney World, the Magic Kingdom.

  • Solid

    Parkgoers could even rat out Commies in Finger Dave Hilberman Land. Or bomb “Those Communists Down by the River”, as Walt called UPA…or we could just pretend none of that ever happened, the way corporate America wants us to.

  • http://portapuppets.does.it uncle wayne

    Sure zounds like Funsville!! As an avid Disney World goer (at least once yearly)….it’d be fun to trek back to Calif.!! Just for this!!

  • Saturnome

    I’ll be the first in a Oswald ride or anything celebrating Walt’s legacy that way. I doubt that would happen though, I kinda like Oswald’s underground status. He’s more suited to internet-exclusive shorts than big rides.
    They need to put some museum around there.
    And, of course, a Mickey Mouse Club theater! Isn’t it the best way to celebrate Disney?… and makes a couple of bucks on a rainy day?

  • http://okgrillo.blogspot.com/ Oscar Grillo

    “Education for death”?

  • Matthew K Sharp

    And just as you’re passing the Oswald exhibit, a man dressed as Charles Mintz comes along and signs your entire family away…

  • Chris S.

    Jason:

    Sorry man, but Muppet Vision 3D is THE only reason to enter DCA. I understand that the attraction isn’t drawing the crowds it should but with Disney’s heavy investment in the franchise, and with new specials and a feature film in the works, it would be premature to write our furry friends off just yet. They could always update it with a new Muppet 3D film, but the way it is now is so perfect why would they want to? I’m all for redoing the que area though, as even with it’s latest update is not very appealing. Maybe going with the 20′s- 30′s theme the Muppets could be dressed as popular stars at the time like Kermit as Chaplin from the Henson lot? or emphasize the “3D technology!” with the characters in retro 60′s B-movie poster paraodies.

  • Pez

    Jason Said:

    “But the Muppets need to go; that was an unnecessary acquisition, and the attraction is dated as hell (and poorly attended, I understand).”

    I say, hold on a minute there. If there is one reason the Muppets attraction needs to stay it’s that JIM HENSON actually did a lot of work on that before he died. I think it might have been the last project he worked on with Kermit. If there is any reason for it being ill attended it is most likely due to children not knowing who the Muppets are. I think that it captures the essence of the old Muppet show quite well and serves as a great introduction to some of Jim Henson’s best characters to the younger generations. A lot of kids don’t know who Bugs Bunny is, does that make him out of date!? Does that mean Six Flags should stop using him!?

    Muppets and Tower of Terror are the only things worth going to over in DCA in my opinion.

  • Paul N

    “They need to put some museum around there.”

    Ironically, the garage Walt worked in when he first came to California is in a museum about two miles from Disneyland:

    http://www.ci.garden-grove.ca.us/?q=/HistoricalSociety/disney

    The historical society has all kinds of Disney ephemera inside, rather than setting it up like it might have been when Walt was working in it, but it’s still cool to see.

  • http://blog.ninapaley.com Nina Paley

    The model ferris wheel in the photo looks like the Wonder Wheel in Coney Island. See those wavy tracks inside the wheel? Half the cars go zooming around on them, like a roller coaster when the wheel turns. Be warned!

  • Tee

    There is something in the new Walt Disney Plaza, which is the 20′s redress of Sunshine Plaza. Many of the stores, shops and eateries are named after things in Walt’s life. Near the front is a gas station that is named Oswalt.

    As for Muppets, it ain’t staying. A Narnia attraction is taking it’s place in a few years and the are known as Hollywood Backlot will be renamed Hollywoodland.

    If you’d like to find out more I’d suggest going to Miceage.com or Blue Sky Disney over at blogspot, those sites have reported on this stuff for the past two years or so. Blue Sky Disney has had particularly acurate reports known as “Blue Sky Buzz” that have provided a wealth of Disney geekdome. Take a look at those sites and their past updates for more info.

  • Jackson

    Another chapter of Walt’s past directly mirroring our present might include “Go Broke in Marceline Land”, where park attendees try to make payroll while grinding out the likes of “Tommy Tucker’s Tooth” while eating from the same can of chili for a solid week.

  • Anna

    noooooo! I want the Muppets to stay!! That was the BEST part of the whole park for me (4 hour lines for Pixar-themed rides ruin the rides themselves)

    Where would Twlight Zone tower fit in if they changed everything tho? “A giant fall thru profits” ride? “Disney in late 90s fail of movies” DROP?

  • Keith Paynter

    You know, for a second there I thought I was looking at the miniature set for 1941.

  • Galen Fott

    Just got to chime in with a little Muppet love, too. MuppetVision 3D is one of the best things Jim Henson ever did; it goes without saying it’s one of the best attractions ever to appear in a Disney park.

    That said, I’m not sure how it could fit in with this new plan for California Adventure.

  • Paul N

    Nina, that’s how the ferris wheel that’s there now is set up. Those gondolas are the scariest ride in the park! :0)

  • Douglass Abramson

    The Cars area isn’t as much as a stretch as you might think. Its getting in as a Route 66 reference. The road connecting the Midwest of Walt’s youth to the Southern California of his professional life. Its the Little Mermaid ride that doesn’t quite fit. The Tower of Terror still fits because its supposed to be a Hollywood hotel. I’ve always enjoyed the park, but I am very excited by these plans. Hands of the Muppets though.

  • Pedro Nakama

    How did Disney get a billion dollars to bail out their park.? I thought all that money was going into the banking industry.

    We need to bail out Mother’s Cookies!

    Great ideas Jerry!

  • Brooke Keesling

    While we’re all making wish lists:
    Could they please bring the Mary Blair mosaics back? Oh, and ‘Adventures Thru Inner Space’- that was such a great ride to kiss boys on in the 70′s :)

  • http://bwhitecartoons.blogspot.com Bill

    What about putting the animation exhibit in a recreation of the original Hyperion studio with the big Mickey logo on top?

  • Ed Thompson

    The miniature looks like the set to the movie ’1941′.

  • Gunther Lessing

    An attraction where you get in a little car that looks like John Lassetter’s shoe and you crash it into the asses of the moneymaking animation directors until they leave?

  • Steve Gattuso

    “We need to bail out Mother’s Cookies!”

    Damn skippy. Circus Animals must be saved!

    Meanwhile, I still think DCA would have been more fun if it included more of California, like “Mr. Toad’s Wild Drive-By,” “Autopia – 405 Version” (where you travel only six feet, but it takes ten minutes to do so), and “Hollywood Blvd.”, where you drive your car past rows of cheap souvenir stands. Though I understand that another name for the last one was “Paul Pressler’s Disneyland.”

  • Tee

    Yeah Gunther,

    Perhaps you should have seen American Dog for the pretty, but hopeless mess before you blame Lasseter for trying to give the audience an actual story they would like? Same goes for Rapunzel. It’s beautiful. It’s first act works. Second act is ok. Third act needs to be totally redone. And for the record, my favorite living animator is Keane, but he’s simply not been able to get it right and he’s had seven years. In development over at the Hat that is a lifetime. I trust Lasseter, he loves Disney. He doesn’t want to give the audience a film that they won’t go see over and over again. You’ll get your first legitimate shot at what he’s done this November. Bolt is a very fun, good movie. Is it as good as Mermaid? No. Aladdin? No. But it is miles above the drek that had been turned out since their last hit, Stitch. Now, next years Princess? That remains to be seen, but I can tell you it comes the closest to reaching back into the second golden age. More than any film since and that includes Stitch.

    In a couple years you may have a good reason to rant about Lasseter destroying and getting rid of animators, but that’ll be after some of what he’s been in charge with is out. Not before. Sigh.

  • Tsimone Tse Tse

    It appears that DCA is going for the transformation towards the success FL’s “Hollywood Studios.” When the actual “working studios” concept failed they created “Sunset Blvd,” a visually appealing section that is the most crowded area of the park. Not just because it has two e-ticket thrill rides (RnRC & TZ’sTT) but because imagineering got ’20′s-40′s SoCal theming down pat – there is even a Carthay Circle Theater (even though it is just another shop-gee couldn’t you put flat screens up that showed Snow White?). And the entire street is even better at night.

    By getting away from the big boring utilitarian soundstage box look DCA to WaltD’sCA, they might have a 2nd theme park that pulls us the same way as the others.

  • Jason

    Muppetvision was clever – A LONG TIME AGO. The newer stuff (like Mickey’s Philharmagic, or the Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor) puts it to shame. Remember: Walt himself never wanted his parks to be museum pieces. (Of course, he wouldn’t have bought up ANYONE ELSE’S characters, period. He’d have faith in his people to create fresh new ones. God, I’m glad Eisner is gone).

    Also, Disney is not in the business of lionizing Jim Henson. If his product can’t deliver, (and it certainly hasn’t so far. I was at WDW last month and saw the 3D show again; I and 4 whole other people were in the theatre during a busy day at the park. Then I went to the Muppet gift shop – or what’s left of it. I asked one of the CMs there why most of the shop is filled with Disney merch and very little Muppet. She said “Muppet items don’t sell very well.”), it should be sold off or mothballed. Or maybe cryogenetically frozen, for that far-off time in which SOMEONE will find SOME WAY to make a dime off those old things. I mean, has anybody else here seen that awful Wizard of Oz muppet thing? Or Muppets From Space? Or those DC specials? Seriously, the attempts to force those characters onto an unwilling public has gotten embarrassing IMO. And DCA deserves better, if it’s going to seriously revive. The Muppet thing drags it down. JMHO.

  • Jason

    And another thing: how come there’s so little reference to Mary Poppins at ANY Disney park? That film was huge. It was arguably Walt’s greatest. But there are no rides based on the attraction, no gift shops, barely any mention of it at all. I don’t get it. It won major awards, made a ton of money. Yet it’s the forgotten child at Disney. I think DCA should get a ride or SOMETHING based on Poppins. It would make more sense than that by-now-overly-discussed Muppet show.

  • Mortimer

    Could be the original Mary Poppins is too concretely moored in its iconic live action leads. You wouldn’t want it updated in a ‘High School Musical’ vein, would you? Perhaps they could do something with the great animated sequences from that film, though they probably don’t focus test high enough with contemporary audiences to keep them on the radar.

  • http://www.rosscarroll.com Ross Carroll

    Absolute feck’n genius! I love it. And I’d make the trip over from Australia just to see it and revisit Disneyland again. My first trip was just way too short and they were renovating a lot of the rides.
    I think a great addition would be a musical Barnyard where the animals are life size but done like the original black and white Mickey cartoons.
    Kids could use play the teeth on an open cows mouth like a xylophone or wind up a tail on a cow and it’s mouth opens and plays (umm, is it `turkey in the corn’?) Something along the lines of the old mischievous Mickey of yorrrr. It may annoy PETA but then what doesn’t?

  • http://www.abc.com David Derks

    I’m looking forward to all the changes that will be happening at DCA. I suppose I’m one of the few people who have enjoyed it since it opened: it’s never crowded and the kids get the park all to themselves (although I know that was never the intention of the designers). What I’ve seen during Imagineering week at the studio and the Blue Sky Cellar is exciting — and Toy Story Midway Mania is a hoot.

    My only complaint about the park since day one is the lack of shade. It’s gotten better over the years with new trees and other structures but I still get overheated in the afternoon. That’s the one thing I love about theme parks in Europe; their parks are full of gardens and make for nice afternoons (Efteling, Tivoli and Phantasialand come to mind).

    In a few years the park will look great but there’ll be long lines, crowded walkways and no place to sit during the parades if you get there late. The Disney Company will be happy but I’ll look back at 2001 and say “Those were the good old days.”

    I’m sure Jerry will get his wish and more vintage Disney will be woven into the park.

  • Pez

    Narnia! Now there a good replacement for an attraction based on characters that have stood the test of time. Well I guess I’ll be sneaking a camera into Muppetvision.
    I don’t understand why so many are hating on the Muppets?! I thought they were fairly beloved still. The season Dvds seem to be received well and those Palasade toys were awesome. New Muppet Movie coming soon, seems like the ride would be a good promotion for the Movie.

  • http://www.yaytime.com dave roman

    I’m a huge Muppet fan but will admit the 3-D show is pretty dated. I don’t mind the parks having museum pieces though. Part of the charm for me is seeing stuff that feels dated as well as the new things.

  • Dave

    Rather than trashing Disneyland’s Country Bear Jamboree in favor of the Winnie the Pooh ride, they should have just moved it over to the wilderness area in California Adventure.