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  • [Idea] How to improve DLR's surroundings re: the "Disney Zone"

    Anybody who's visited both DLR and WDW knows that when it comes to environment and park surroundings, these two Disney properties are polar opposites. My interest in park surroundings concerns what Mouse Planet's Mike Scopa calls "the Disney Zone":
    The Disney Zone is a state of mind in which Disneyland and Walt Disney World guests no longer care about problems or the time of day. They are released from the stress of everyday life, and stress is most likely replaced by a feeling of carefree happiness.
    I argue that a place's surroundings-- much like an attraction queue-- are almost the sole contributor to the mindset with which we enter that place. This is not a new concept. Most of us here have mulled this comprehensively in our own minds.

    The question of DLR's surroundings in regard to the Disney Zone was never a big one to me as a lifelong Disneylander until I visited WDW for the first time a few years ago. While I prefer DLP to MK in a strict park-to-park comparison, WDW wins the Disney Zone comparison hands-down.

    Like most DLR vets, my first thought when driving into WDW was it's sheer size. Miles and miles of unpaved, unthemed, and mostly untouched forest. I had read about this, of course, but the real experience was still overwhelming.

    Convenience issues aside, WDW's immense size and dense forestation creates a tangible physical separation between Disney World and the real world, thus greatly enhancing the psychological transition. The journey from the resort boundary to the TTC, then over the lagoon by ferry or monorail is both physical and emotional. So by the time you reach MK, you're quite immersed in the Disney Zone.

    Compare that to the DLR experience. Again, convenience issues aside (I really love that I can jog from DL back to my hotel to grab that mini DV tape I forgot), the experience couldn't be more different.

    In Anaheim, many parts of the parks are readily visible from the streets outside them. The cheery Anaheim resort decor aside, you're in SoCal and there's no mistaking it (no offense to you SoCal residents, but the greater LA area isn't exactly the most magical or inviting locale, sorry).

    The physical line between reality outside the park and the fantasy inside is very thin. One minute you're being honked at by rowdy drivers on Harbor, then at the base of Main Street Station the next (I know, depending on crowds). The transition is even more jarring when you leave the park after spending several hours to a full day in the Disney Zone.

    My point is that in Anaheim, the process of entering the Disney Zone- at least as far as park surroundings are concerned- is woefully lacking. Don't get me wrong- I understand why. Disney only has so much property to work with there.

    The question is how can DLR, assuming that at some point there is a budget for it, influence its surroundings to improve this Disney Zone immersion process? Is this a big deal for anybody besides me? Is it only an issue for those that have been to WDW and really appreciate the spacial and vegetational role in the process there?
    Last edited by JungleBumCT; 12-28-2008, 12:51 PM. Reason: italicize quoted text

  • #2
    Re: How to improve DLR's surroundings re: the "Disney Zone"

    I'm not sure what improvements can be made for the future, but I think Disneyland Resort has already made some significant progress in this area. The transition from the old parking lot with high tension wires going right through the middle of the lot into Main Street was extremely abrubt. Today, if you park at Mickey & Friends, you have a nice tram ride (or walk) to Downtown Disney, and Downtown Disney is a nice transition from the real world to the world of Disney.

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    • #3
      Re: How to improve DLR's surroundings re: the "Disney Zone"

      Originally posted by DannyB View Post
      I'm not sure what improvements can be made for the future, but I think Disneyland Resort has already made some significant progress in this area. The transition from the old parking lot with high tension wires going right through the middle of the lot into Main Street was extremely abrubt. Today, if you park at Mickey & Friends, you have a nice tram ride (or walk) to Downtown Disney, and Downtown Disney is a nice transition from the real world to the world of Disney.
      I second that DannyB. Although I have never been to WDW, I'm sure it does a better job of taking people into the so-called "Disney Zone" because of one reason and one reason alone. It is bigger!!! Being that Disneyland is in Southern California, there is not a lot of real estate to make the transition longer.

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      • #4
        Re: How to improve DLR's surroundings re: the "Disney Zone"

        If you have an issue with keeping California out of the Disney Theme Parks, then you must be substantially bothered by the California theme of Disney's California Adventure.

        When they expanded out into the original parking lot, Disney also worked with the City of Anaheim in giving a "Resort" feel to the surrounding streets of Anaheim, and Anaheim dressed up the streets with vegetation, more floral, decorative features along the street, even the manhole covers got a set dressing. There is also a growing Anaheim Walk of Stars, Disney and Resort Banners in the streets surrounding DL, and don't forget the sign ordinances which restricted the area hotel to have signage reduce to a certain height and size, which also impacted the DL Hotel in removing it's signage from the top of there own hotel. The DtD district, even though it is rather plan and fairly uninspired (especially in relation to some of other LA area shopping discticts, such as The Grove in Beverly Hills) still is a major improvement to the walk/tram ride previously found. In addition, the Tram drive from the parking structure, is dressed up rather nicely.

        I remember the large pink and white oleanders that used to surround the perimeter of DL, but the issues you bring up, have more to do with the City of Anaheim not doing enough, rather than Disney not doing their job. I start to get that Disney feeling once I see the Matterhorn. and it hits when you enter DL. With DCA, not so much, but that's substantially what the issues have been with DCA from before opening day, nearly 8 years ago. However with the redo of the entry to DCA, Disney is attempting something they have NEVER done to one of their own parks. That's a pretty substantially "correction".
        Last edited by Aladdin; 12-28-2008, 02:21 PM.
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        • #5
          Re: How to improve DLR's surroundings re: the "Disney Zone"

          As great as the WDW complex is, I sill prefer the intimacy of Disneyland. I know that the real world is just outside the berm, and isn't miles and miles away as it is at WDW, but Disneyland is the original, and I feel just as much in the "Disney Zone" there as I do at WDW. Strange, but true.

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          • #6
            Re: How to improve DLR's surroundings re: the "Disney Zone"

            Originally posted by Aladdin View Post
            If you have an issue with keeping California out of the Disney Theme Parks, then you must be substantially bothered by the California theme of Disney's California Adventure.
            Weak argument. The real California and the idealized, nostalgic version of it that DCA portrays have about as much in common as the real Africa or Asia does with the Jungle Cruise.

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            • #7
              Re: How to improve DLR's surroundings re: the "Disney Zone"

              Walt Disney was a genious. He designed Disneyland to keep the real world from not being seen from within. And this was when the surrounding area was nothing but orange groves. Hotels and restaurants quickly were developed after DL was built. And to this day his efforts to conceal the outside world from within DL still work. The man was brilliant.

              And he was also very smart when it came to the Matterhorn. If you aren't a local you might not understand this, but the Matterhorn probably is one of the most unique billboards ever created. As a child I remember going on errands with my mom and sometimes she would take a different route just to avoid me seeing the Matterhorn. Otherwise I'd be whining and pleading to take me to Disneyland! And what better advertisement to those driving up and down I5 than to see the Matterhorn right next to the freeway.

              Walt knew what he was doing very well when he put in the Matterhorn.

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              • #8
                Re: How to improve DLR's surroundings re: the "Disney Zone"

                One factor may be a person's spacial/social preference. Urbanites are ok with crowds, busy streets, and are used to being in locations that non-urbanites consider tight and cramped.

                Rurally-inclined people look claustrophically at urban areas and see them as a huge ball of stress. It seems to me that most people on the MC DLR boards are SoCal residents who are likely more urban-friendly and are comfortable with both the abrupt transition and cramped nature of the resort. The decorated streets and the berm are good enough for them. That may be why this thread doesn't seem to be resonating. I wonder if it would over on the WDW side of MC?

                Originally posted by DisneyIPresume View Post
                Walt Disney was a genious. He designed Disneyland to keep the real world from not being seen from within. And this was when the surrounding area was nothing but orange groves. Hotels and restaurants quickly were developed after DL was built. And to this day his efforts to conceal the outside world from within DL still work. The man was brilliant.
                I'm not necessarily complaining about being able to see parts of DL from the outside world or the other way around. It's a factor, but an indirect one. If you're at DL, you understand that the real world is just behind that berm. That won't change.

                I'm just speculating (out of pure fun) what could be done by either Disney or Anaheim, given the motivation and budget, that could improve the transition between reality and fantasy at DLR. Making the surrounding area more "resorty" definitely helped.

                In my fantasy world, Disney acquires a good chunk of surrounding property (not feasible, I know- remember this is fantasy) and "Disneyfies" it. Maybe even theme up that stretch of I-5 that runs through the area. Expand the monorail system so it's actually a practical mode of transport rather than a novelty.
                Last edited by JungleBumCT; 12-29-2008, 07:26 AM.

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                • #9
                  Re: How to improve DLR's surroundings re: the "Disney Zone"

                  Originally posted by JungleBumCT View Post
                  Rurally-inclined people look claustrophically at urban areas and see them as a huge ball of stress. It seems to me that most people on the MC DLR boards are SoCal residents who are likely more urban-friendly and are comfortable with both the abrupt transition and cramped nature of the resort. The decorated streets and the berm are good enough for them. That may be why this thread doesn't seem to be resonating. I wonder if it would over on the WDW side of MC?
                  This is an interesting thought. And I think you may be right. DLR visitors are mostly locals who know that DL sits within the LA metropolitan area and who know that open space is at a very small minimum.

                  In fact, particularly on crowded days, I've joked that DL is LA's Manhattan. And when you think of it in the way you have viewed it, this totally makes sense. The locals accept the crowds and the fact that it is in an urban area. And it is easy within the DLR to get from one place to another by just walking and/or taking a train, tram, or monorail -- just like in Manhattan.

                  I don't think I would think of Manhattan whenever I go to WDW. But at DL the comparison makes a lot of sense.

                  It"s interesting but in layout, the DLR is more like the east coast and WDW is more like the west coast.

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                  • #10
                    Re: How to improve DLR's surroundings re: the "Disney Zone"

                    In my fantasy world, Disney acquires a good chunk of surrounding property (not feasible, I know- remember this is fantasy) and "Disneyfies" it. Maybe even theme up that stretch of I-5 that runs through the area. Expand the monorail system so it's actually a practical mode of transport rather than a novelty.
                    I like that fantasy. It could start with Disney donating the monrail to OCTA. OCTA could then use powers of eminent domain to condemn the surrounding properties in order to expand the monorail system and voila you have the desired Disney Zone. ;-) Of course I know this won't happen but I can dream.

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                    • #11
                      Re: How to improve DLR's surroundings re: the "Disney Zone"

                      Originally posted by toemblem View Post
                      I like that fantasy. It could start with Disney donating the monrail to OCTA. OCTA could then use powers of eminent domain to condemn the surrounding properties in order to expand the monorail system and voila you have the desired Disney Zone. ;-) Of course I know this won't happen but I can dream.
                      Keep dreaming.

                      There was already plans by OCTA (or whoever the correct agency was) to install monorail/light rail transportation throughout Orange County. But such plans were voted down by the citizens of Orange County. There was a huge "nimby" contingency that didn't want it.

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                      • #12
                        Re: How to improve DLR's surroundings re: the "Disney Zone"

                        You want to talk jarring and unattractive surrounding areas? Try Tokyo Disneyland.

                        The Tokyo Disney Resort is built right next to ugly and dingy rail lines and a cement freeway. Once you get on to Disney property things are clean, but it's really just parking lots, roads and basic automotive infrastructure that ring the parks. The Tokyo Disney parks and hotels are fabulous, but you walk 10 yards past the main entrances and BAM! you are in this charmless industrial area of suburban Tokyo.

                        Anaheim is far more attractive than the part of Tokyo that Tokyo Disneyland is in.

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                        • #13
                          Re: How to improve DLR's surroundings re: the "Disney Zone"

                          I understand the 'Disney Zone' or lack of a 'Disney Zone' at DLR, but if you compare the way the area looked in the early 90's with today the difference is substantial. I was shocked the first time I visited after the Anaheim Resort Area was implemented. The sign restrictions of the outside world also help. I LOVE Disneyland Resort and as someone else stated, as soon as I see the Matterhorn I'm in my Disney Zone!

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                          • #14
                            Re: How to improve DLR's surroundings re: the "Disney Zone"

                            Originally posted by DisneyIPresume View Post
                            Keep dreaming.

                            There was already plans by OCTA (or whoever the correct agency was) to install monorail/light rail transportation throughout Orange County. But such plans were voted down by the citizens of Orange County. There was a huge "nimby" contingency that didn't want it.
                            You are referring to CenterLine, which was a standard light rail system and nothing involving a monorail. It wasn't planned to go anywhere near Disneyland, and it was basically a 10 mile long "train to nowhere" that would have puffed up the egos of the OCTA board and sucked hundreds of millions of dollars out of the taxpayer approved funds for roads, commuter heavy rail, buses, and freeways.

                            There were very few people living near the proposed route, so the overwhelming disapproval by OC citizens had very little to do with NIMBYism and much to do with taxpayers not getting jazzed up about an expensive and worthless train that very, very few taxpayers would ever use or need. Or want.

                            Look to Portland, Oregon for an example of a compact city that has used light rail, electric trolleys and aerial trams to great effect in the civic core. But don't look to Orange County's sprawling suburbs and the silly and ego-infested CenterLine plan for a reasonable use of rail transit.

                            If and when the High Speed Rail arrives at the proposed ARTIC station, only then might a short rail feeder line from the station to the Resort area have any impact on Disneyland visitors and removing them from their cars.

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                            • #15
                              Re: How to improve DLR's surroundings re: the "Disney Zone"

                              ^

                              Was Center Line the light rail system that was supposed to go between the Anaheim Resort District and South Coast Plaza and then down in to Irvine (I think)?

                              If so then that's what I was talking about. I said nimby's because I recall reading the editorials in the OC Register at the time and that is what the people who voted it down were accused of being.

                              Of course the editorial section is not the place to go to for the most accurate news.

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