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(1995-2003) Could it ever get this bad again?

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  • (1995-2003) Could it ever get this bad again?

    Hello, a while back, I wrote a post on how 1985-1995 changed Disneyland and how the older generation felt going into it. In this post, I focus on 1995 to 2003 and the damage it did to Disneyland due to the business decisions of Paul Pressler and Cynthia Harris. DCA did have a lot to do with it as well but for now, I am solely focusing on Disneyland. After Frank Wells had passed, Michael Eisner began to have less involvement in the parks and brought in Paul Pressler in November 1994 to oversee Disneyland. For the most part of 1995, things were good with the opening of Indiana Jones Adventure and the 40th Anniversary celebration. Things began to take a turn in the summer of 1995 and began spiraling out of control in 1996 and so fourth. Cynthia Harris took over in 1999 and things only seemed to get worse. Many of you experienced these times, the Disneyland “Dark Ages” as it was called but also many of you might be too young to remember so I’ve compiled a thorough list of everything that went down from the summer of 1995 to late 2003.

    Summer 1995: The Peoplemover closes forever
    Alpine Gardens closes

    1996: The Penny Arcade starts to disappear as plush toys and Candy Palace move on in
    The One of a Kind shop closes
    The Main Street Electrical Parade has it’s farewell season
    Triton Gardens replaces Alpine Gardens
    Three shameless movie promotions debut: Dalmatian celebration
    Hunchback Festival ofFools
    Toy Story Funhouse
    The Enchanted Tiki Room length time is shortened by 3 minutes
    America the Beautiful returns to Circle-Vision for a limited engagement
    Toontown attraction interactive elements begin to disappear with no intentions of replacing them
    Soundtrack is added to Space Mountain
    Aladdin’s Oasis restaurant closes
    The park begins to sell major amounts of generic merchandise and plush and less unique items
    The park also begins to cut cleaning maintenance as well as ride rehabs causing rides to fall into disrepair

    1997: Electrical Parade is replaced with Light Magic!
    Circle-Vision as we know it closes forever
    Rocket Jets close
    Captain EO closes
    North side of the Mary Blair murals are covered over
    Mike Fink Keelboats has an onboard accident and closes forever
    Pirates of the Caribbean is changed to be more politically correct
    Hercules Zero to Hero Parade debuts
    Space Mountain’s Speedramp entrance catches fire and is taken down with no replacement
    Starcade’s upper level is closed off
    Aladdin’s Oasis reopens as a storytelling Character experience
    It’s a Small World Holiday debuts

    1998: A piece of metal falls off the Sailing Ship Columbia killing one person and disfiguring another
    Plaza Pavilion closes with no replacement
    ​​​​​​Cascade Peak, a Frontierland landmark is torn down
    Mulan Parade debuts
    Animazement show debuts at Fantasyland Theater
    The New Tomorrowland debuts:
    Rocket Rods
    Astro Orbiter
    Honey I Shrunk the Audience
    The American Space Experience
    Cosmic Waves
    Innoventions
    Observatron
    Tomorrowland Terrace update
    Submarine Voyage closes with no replacement

    1999: Swiss Family Treehouse closes
    Radio Disney live booth comes to Tomorrowland
    Fastpass system debuts
    Tarzan’s Treehouse replaces Swiss Family Treehouse
    New Orleans Holiday begins
    Star Tours adds extra indoor queue
    Woody’s Roundup debuts at The Golden Horseshoe and is immediately cancelled
    Fantasy in the Sky fireworks has it’s last show
    Fantasyland Autopia closes

    2000: Autopia is updated connecting the Tomorrowland and Fantasyland versions
    The Enchanted Tiki God Uti falls into disrepair and is thrown away
    Believe...There’s Magic in the Stars replaces Fantasy in the Sky fireworks
    Parade of the Stars debuts
    Rocket Rods closes forever with no replacement

    2001: Country Bear Playhouse closes forever
    Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough closes with no replacement
    Haunted Mansion Holiday debuts
    Disneyland Monorail is extended for DCA and Downtown Disney
    Minnie’s Christmas Part show debuts at Fantasyland Theater
    Tomorrowland Terrace Stage is renovated into Club Buzz Stage
    Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln is updated and adds 3D sound headphones (you heard right)

    2002: Cosmic Waves closes down
    Mickey’s Detective School debuts at Fantasyland Theater

    2003: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad breaks down and injures multiple guests and killing one
    Jolly Trolley closes forever with no replacement
    Tom Sawyer Island gets extensive makeover
    Fort Wilderness shuts it’s doors forever
    King Arthur Carousel gets extensive makeover
    The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh replaces Country Bear Playhouse
    Critter Country gets “Pooh”fied with Pooh decor and Pooh Corner replaces all shops
    Teddi Berra’s Swingin’ Arcade closes
    The American Space Experience closes
    Space Mountain closes for major update

    In October of 2003, Matt Ouimet becomes Disneyland President and all seemed to be getting well again.

    Throughout 2004, ride maintenance and park cleanliness become a factor again as Disneyland prepares itself for a highly successful 50th Anniversary.

    Yes, it’s been almost seventeen years since Disneyland at it’s very worst but do you feel that with COVID happening and Bob Chapek as Disney CEO, things can ever resort to the “dark ages” again?

    Last edited by MAC1986; 06-16-2020, 03:04 PM.

  • #2
    I think that with the hit to the industry and economy due to COVID-19, we will definitely see scaling back in the parks over the next few years. What that means exactly, I don’t know, but it would make sense that the company will be looking at ways to make up for months of lost revenue and an uncertain future for tourism in general.
    The 2020s could be a down decade for the parks.

    Things I now don’t expect anytime soon:

    -Large scale Tomorrowland update
    -Any new attractions after the current projects are finished
    -The E-Ticket Avengers attraction in DCA

    While general ride upkeep will probably also become an issue, some lessons like the fatality on BTMRR a couple years back make me think that safety related ride maintenance will not be interrupted, but things that affect show might end up lacking.

    Chapek’s track history could very well have an impact on these things as well, but I think that the pandemic will be what makes the biggest impact overall.
    Mike_M

    Disneyland Trips
    Walt Disney World
    Disneyland Paris

    1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989
    1990, 1992, 1993

    2000, 2001, 2006, 2007, 2009
    2010, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2016, 2017, 2/2019, 11/2019
    2020

    Comment


    • #3
      Now yes...think after Mickey. Disneyland wont be seeing much change.

      Marvel Phase two will be delayed a year or two so we will get that at some point soon but the years won't have as many changes as they would have before
      Happy Halloween!!!

      Comment


      • #4
        Thank you for compiling these posts. I enjoyed the last one too though I didn't comment because my thoughts had already been said so well by others, especially Mike M.

        I think due to the pandemic and long closure the parks will be terrible for quite some time. My husband and I used to go once a week and just last night we were talking about whether or not we'd want to go that route again. Sadly, we agreed that it might be a few years before Disneyland would be as fun as it was last year for us.
        "I wish they all could be California Bears!"

        Comment


        • #5
          ^ I agree with Sun Bonnet and Mike M. An additional factor affecting DLR for the next several years will be Disney's loss of revenue from its film business, due to an increase in COVID-related production costs and the decline of theater attendance. The predicted slow recovery of employment, especially in California's film industry, and the public's uncertainty about the future, will further depress consumer spending on premium-priced entertainments like DLR. Add the expense of park operations and Disney's ginormous overhead (even with the current downsizing), and the result is likely to be a large loss of profits -- accompanied by a major scaling-back of DLR offerings, staffing and services. Depending on the spread of the pandemic and its long-term effect on the economy, it is not inconceivable that DLR will become such a financial burden that Disney licenses its operation to another company (such as OLC).
          "Disneyland is often called a magic kingdom because
          it combines fantasy and history, adventure and learning,
          together with every variety of recreation and fun,
          designed to appeal to everyone."

          - Walt Disney

          "Disneyland is all about turning movies into rides."
          - Michael Eisner

          "It's very symbiotic."
          - Bob Chapek

          Comment


          • #6
            "Could it ever get this bad again?" Considering who is in charge and judging from the actions over the past several years by senior management, I would have to say you ain't seen nothin' yet.
            “Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us, these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them
            so many years of our own lives.”


            DL Trips: '58, '59, '61, '65, '66, '67, '68x2, '69x2, '70x2, '71x2, '73x2, '74x2, '75x2, '76x2, '77, '78,x2, '79x2, '80x2, '81, '82, '83, '88, '89x3, '90x2, '91, '93, '94, '95x2, '96, '97, '98x4, '99, '00, '01, '02, '03, '04, '05, '06, '07x2, '08, '09x2, '10, '11, '13
            WDW Trips: '81
            EPCOT Trips: '93
            Tokyo DL Trips: '86

            Comment


            • #7
              This was an interesting read, I had a gap in my DL visits from about 1991 until 2013 so I missed all of this and you can bet when I returned in 2013 it was a jaw dropper seeing some of the changes. I think we are going to see a downturn in attendance until about a year after a vaccine therapy is available then we will see a return to normal levels but a lot of this depends on DLR management as they could botch it and see lower attendance for much longer. I hope they are not so bold to start jacking prices to try and speed up recover because there is definitely a limit and I feel they are possibly now crossing it. Once you jack up the pricing you can't bring it back down quickly or you lose your shareholders etc. They need/should be taking advantage of this moment in history to reset their current strategy of gouge the guests and reduce the benefits and instead provide more incentive to the guests not less.
              Last edited by Starcade; 06-19-2020, 09:09 AM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Don't forget ESPN, one of Disney's main streams, has been severely underperforming for awhile now, and is currently hemorrhaging money.

                With that, and in light of everything else people have pointed out here, it can get much, much worse.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by stovk View Post
                  "Could it ever get this bad again?" Considering who is in charge and judging from the actions over the past several years by senior management, I would have to say you ain't seen nothin' yet.
                  Sadly, I agree........

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by micromind View Post

                    Sadly, I agree........
                    Same - Sadly, I agree........
                    With today senior management
                    We already seeing getting worst .
                    IMO
                    Soaring like an EAGLE !

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I don't think necessary upkeep will be squandered. Granted, construction was briefly halted during the shutdown. But, some cosmetic upkeep was still being done while the park is closed(trees trimmed, gardens planted, etc.). And the stalled refurbishments and construction has sinced resumed. I don't think we are going experience another downward turn of Safety in the parks, like the 90s-early 2000s. Even under Chapek's regime and his faults, he doesn't appear to be that mindless over neccessary upkeep.

                      However, future pending cuts may be severe depending on this summer. Don't forget, 2019 was also considered a partial disappointment, as Galaxy's Edge rollout was a misfire. Massive layoffs might be looming later this year. Some major projects like the DLH 4th Tower and Avengers Campus Phase 2 may be cut down, postponed or canceled altogether. And some minor things may "decline by degrees"(Kevin Yee's famous catchphrase) and cause some uproar for the fans.

                      The silver lining here, is that Josh D'Amaro is now the head of Parks worldwide. Even if his Disneyland stint was short, he was still well liked during his tenure, and was very friendly to the Cast Members. This is the 1st time, since Tom Staggs, that the Parks' head has been positively praised (and let that sink in).Even if he can't control the budget or decisions by the Bobs, there is still some hope for the parks' future.

                      Originally posted by J. Thaddeus Toad View Post
                      Don't forget ESPN, one of Disney's main streams, has been severely underperforming for awhile now, and is currently hemorrhaging money.
                      And the big irony, is that ESPN will (indirectly) bring revenue and publicity to the company, just because WDW's ESPN center will host the NBA.

                      Oh Irony, you can really be a crazy thing...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I agree with these being the dark ages of Disneyland... I think it slipped back a year to 1994 when the Skyway was closed. We did gain Indy in '95 but it was around this '94/'95 time-frame when things began to slip. I don't think it will happen again - even with COVID. After a year or so, park building should be accelerated. During downturns is exactly when big money should make moves because they can build things very cheaply and reap the benefits once things recover. I'm looking forward to some Tomorrowland updates! Let's goooo!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          With all of these ridiculous IP Reskins of classic attractions, I would say that starting with the Guardians re-skin, or even the Subs, we have entered another dark age, one that has shaken my love for this place to the core. I will always love the art, dedication and innovation that is Disneyland, but lets be real here - how long until we start talking about doing an IP Reskin of Pirates of the Caribbean?

                          If they wanted to do a re-theme, of an entirely new idea NOT attached to a IP, I think all of us would be atleast a little more open minded about the changes. Walt took the OG Tomorrowland that had at the time a very popular IP based ride/walkthrough, 20,000 leagues under the sea, and ultimately replaced it with an entirely new concept - Adventure through Inner Space. I'm sure people were sad to see it go back in the 50s/60s, but i'm sure that when Adventure Thru inner space opened their minds were blown, because they had very little expectations due to NOT knowing what it was going to be about. These IP reskins have the opposite effect, if you've seen the movie. You know the characters, general storyline, and the fun becomes "How do they make this movie into a ride".

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by mp3piratesavvy View Post
                            With all of these ridiculous IP Reskins of classic attractions, I would say that starting with the Guardians re-skin, or even the Subs, we have entered another dark age, one that has shaken my love for this place to the core. I will always love the art, dedication and innovation that is Disneyland, but lets be real here - how long until we start talking about doing an IP Reskin of Pirates of the Caribbean?
                            Historically, Disney has done IP reskins with profitable franchises only (think GOTG vs Haunted Mansion).

                            A new Pirates movie was just announced with Margot Robbie in a separate storyline from Sparrow, in an attempt to launch a new series. If it's successful, theres a good chance you will see updates.

                            A Jungle Cruise reskin is more likely, if the movie is successful, as the ride is seen as having problematic elements.
                            The wild card in all this is the pandemic, and how that plays out. Highly unlikely you'll see any new changes to anything as long as a vaccine or effective therapy doesn't exist, Splash included.


                            Originally posted by mp3piratesavvy View Post
                            If they wanted to do a re-theme, of an entirely new idea NOT attached to a IP, I think all of us would be atleast a little more open minded about the changes. Walt took the OG Tomorrowland that had at the time a very popular IP based ride/walkthrough, 20,000 leagues under the sea, and ultimately replaced it with an entirely new concept - Adventure through Inner Space. I'm sure people were sad to see it go back in the 50s/60s, but i'm sure that when Adventure Thru inner space opened their minds were blown, because they had very little expectations due to NOT knowing what it was going to be about. These IP reskins have the opposite effect, if you've seen the movie. You know the characters, general storyline, and the fun becomes "How do they make this movie into a ride".
                            There was always something cool about experiences solely unique to Disneyland.... things that could only be seen if you visited the park. I think we know where Iger and Chapek stand on that, though.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by J. Thaddeus Toad View Post
                              There was always something cool about experiences solely unique to Disneyland.... things that could only be seen if you visited the park. I think we know where Iger and Chapek stand on that, though.
                              This is true, however I’d say that having IP in an attraction doesn’t disqualify it from being unique.

                              Radiator Springs Racers, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, GotG:Mission Breakout, Incredicoaster, Monster’s Inc, Roger Rabbit... These are all unique to Disneyland/DCA only, and still enjoyable despite their IP ties.

                              I’d also say that a majority of the attractions at DL that have a twin in another park are the superior version which makes them unique as well.
                              POTC, HM & Space Mountain are definitely better than WDW’s versions IMO. I also suspect that when Splash get’s rethemed, the Bayou setting will make much more sense at DL/NOS and restore DL’s Splash as the better version.
                              Mike_M

                              Disneyland Trips
                              Walt Disney World
                              Disneyland Paris

                              1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989
                              1990, 1992, 1993

                              2000, 2001, 2006, 2007, 2009
                              2010, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2016, 2017, 2/2019, 11/2019
                              2020

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Mike_M View Post

                                This is true, however I’d say that having IP in an attraction doesn’t disqualify it from being unique.

                                Radiator Springs Racers, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, GotG:Mission Breakout, Incredicoaster, Monster’s Inc, Roger Rabbit... These are all unique to Disneyland/DCA only, and still enjoyable despite their IP ties.

                                I’d also say that a majority of the attractions at DL that have a twin in another park are the superior version which makes them unique as well.
                                POTC, HM & Space Mountain are definitely better than WDW’s versions IMO. I also suspect that when Splash get’s rethemed, the Bayou setting will make much more sense at DL/NOS and restore DL’s Splash as the better version.
                                I would venture the guess that most people who aren't Disneyland fanatics like us here on this site, probably went on Splash Mountain and left the ride not even knowing that it was based on a film. I didn't even find out what SOTS was until my grandmother showed me her copy of it about 10 years ago. I won't go into the politics of that discussion, and I don't mean to bring that here, but I would guess most people ride the ride, leave it thinking it was its own unique ride with no IP attached.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Duplicate
                                  Last edited by Mike_M; 06-29-2020, 05:21 PM.
                                  Mike_M

                                  Disneyland Trips
                                  Walt Disney World
                                  Disneyland Paris

                                  1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989
                                  1990, 1992, 1993

                                  2000, 2001, 2006, 2007, 2009
                                  2010, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2016, 2017, 2/2019, 11/2019
                                  2020

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by mp3piratesavvy View Post

                                    I would venture the guess that most people who aren't Disneyland fanatics like us here on this site, probably went on Splash Mountain and left the ride not even knowing that it was based on a film. I didn't even find out what SOTS was until my grandmother showed me her copy of it about 10 years ago. I won't go into the politics of that discussion, and I don't mean to bring that here, but I would guess most people ride the ride, leave it thinking it was its own unique ride with no IP attached.
                                    I’ll say that if the average guest doesn’t know the source IP for some rides, is it really that big of a deal when existing IP is used? I’ve said before that I don’t need IP to be used for all new attractions, but it doesn’t automatically disqualify an attraction for me if an IP is used. This strengthens that idea for me.
                                    Mike_M

                                    Disneyland Trips
                                    Walt Disney World
                                    Disneyland Paris

                                    1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989
                                    1990, 1992, 1993

                                    2000, 2001, 2006, 2007, 2009
                                    2010, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2016, 2017, 2/2019, 11/2019
                                    2020

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I think it will be a "dark" few years but I think that shade of that bleakness depends entirely on what kind of a fan you are.

                                      There are going to be slashed budgets all over the place. just look at the following
                                      • Virus uptick has had a substantial impact on how many view the virus, airline stocks recently tanked again a window into a world with limited to no tourism for a substantial period of time
                                      • Economic recovery is sputtering, we are still in the deferral period,deferred car payments, mortgages, lines of credit, etc. etc. when all those come due people are not going to have extra cash for pricey vacations
                                      • Disney's other divisions are all hit, movies are sitting not finished, Disney+ started dropping subs so they need to produce content which costs money
                                      • The stock price is a volatile mess, and profits need to be squeezed out of the stone in order to keep it up and shareholders happy
                                      All of this means less money for the parks division, which is actually the safest division to cut the most from. Cut new offerings, trim back on maintenance, trim back staffing, and people are still willing to come through the gates.

                                      I think they will obviously complete a lot of the projects that have already been started, but after that I would not expect a massive change to anything in the park for years, I'd even guess that Splash...despite the announcement, may stay as is for a year or possible more before shuttered for a renovation. We have had an pretty unprecedented expansion across all the US parks as of late so a downturn or slow down was likely coming anyways.

                                      The little things though...I think those are going to go and go quickly, and in tandem with that the prices of in parks merchandise and food is going to spike. I expect fewer parades a day, some days with none, only super peak time fireworks at any park, higher wait times due to lower staffing (which also has the benefit of making the park appear busier), general lower maintenance across all rides especially ones requiring more extensive closures for refurbs, and finally lower general maintenance (less repainting, replace of bulbs etc etc)

                                      All in all not a super report card.

                                      I'll add in, if you are a fan of older rides and rides not based on immediate and recently released IP the future could be even bleaker. Splash aside, it would not surprise me to see a wave of new IP coming in as it's cheap and easy to overlay a ride to make it "new" with an IP. Just think about how little the costs for the Incredicoaster probably were. Couple that with the fact that Disney is probably very reticent to even touch the non happy friendly movie past for fear of being called out in this climate and we move more and more into movie land.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        From the rumor I’ve heard , anything announced but not in construction is cancelled or close to it. That includes avengers e-ticket, much of Epcot. We can assume the exception to that is splash.

                                        But I don’t think anything new moves forward while they’re functioning at limited capacity, excluding refurbishments and light plussing in progress like Snow White. As long as there’s no vaccine or effective therapy, everything is staying as is, aside from entertainment which will be cut.

                                        Comment

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