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DCA: AN interesting look back at the last 4+ years


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  • DCA: AN interesting look back at the last 4+ years

    Since MiceChat has only been around for a few months, I thought I would go back and post some of my old stuff I wrote, and also include some old news stories... It is amazing some of the stuff that has been said about the park....

    By the way, I was going to make this one big post, but have had a couple of problems, so it will be a series of posts.... ENJOY :ap:

    ALso, I am not providing many links due to the fact that most of the links are dead.. sorry.

    Let's start with something I wrote about a year ago...

    Originally posted by Darkbeer

    Why is Disney's California Adventure a failure?

    We can talk about the original attractions, the attractions that were added or removed.....

    But really, if you talk to Disney Managment, why do they feel that it is a failure, and not just for DCA, but also for Disneyland Park.....

    And the answer is tickets sold, but not the number of tickets sold......

    Let's go back to December 2000, when DCA was still under construction, and Disneyland tickets cost $43 (adults)... they were $41 in early 2000, but were raised in November...

    Also in November 2000, they started to sell the new 2-park Annual Passes, mainly to those who already had a Disneyland Annual Pass, allowing the upgrading.... a Premium 2 park AP was $100 more than a Disneyland Park only AP...

    But in January 2001 they stopped selling Annual Passes to anyone, due to the expected crowds that would should up at DCA's door.

    The ONLY people who could parkhop were guests staying at one of the 3 owned Disney hotels.

    Almost everybody was expected to buy a Full Price ticket, or a slightly discounted multi-day ticket, but you would have to decide prior to use which park you would visit that day...

    The Execs talking about how they would have to send the DCA overflow over to Disneyland. Go back and find the January 14th, 2001 Los Angeles Times article titled "The Most Jam-Packed Theme Park on Earth?; Attracting visitors won't be a problem for Disney's soon-to-open California Adventure. But coping with the expected hordes may be another matter" written by E. Scott Reckard. The article states that senior Disney officials that there will be days that DCA will have to turn patrons away.

    George Kalogridis, then senior vice president of Disney operations in Anaheim is quoted in the article as saying ""Come early in the day or come later, after the park clears out again, hopefully, with Disneyland right across the esplanade and Downtown Disney right there, we won't have to turn people away from the resort."

    This is also the news article that talked about company projections showing that DCA would get about 7 million visitors a year. Barry Braverman stated that "Disney Imagineers worked backward from the projected attendance level of 7 million a year"

    DCA was supposed to draw full price admission, and get up to 30,000, if not a bit more than that daily in the summer and weekends.... While not the capacity of Disneyland, it was still supposed to bring in a lot of admission dollars....

    What happened, first they started to sell ParkHoppers to the Good Neighbor Hotels, then to anyone, brought back the AP's.... offered a MAJOR discount just 4 months after opening (One Adult and One Kid for just $33, instead of the $76 they wanted when the park opened, that was less than 1/2 the price...)

    Then in the fall, they dropped the price of the 2 park AP's to the DL only price, and eliminated the DL only AP, basically giving DCA for free to AP holders..... Yesterday, a 2-park Premium was still cheaper than what it cost when they went on sell in November of 2000 ($279 vs $299), now with the price increase the Premium AP is $329, or just a $30 increase in about 4 years.

    Then we had all the 2 for one promotions, heck for a 16 month period from January 2003 thru April of 2004, 13 months offered the "Pay for Disneyland, get DCA for free" to Southern California and Baja California residents...

    Now we have the 5 days for the price of 3 (plus 6 for 4, etc.) ParkHoppers on sale for the last 2 years straight (plus previous times)....

    While a few more folks have come to the DLR, and some have bought an additional day or two in a hotel (one of 3 Disney owned, or at a Good Neighbor location...) BUT...

    If you look at the statistic of...

    "Amount paid per person, per day to enter the park", that dollar amount has gone DOWN, which has hurt BOTH parks.....

    And that is probably the biggest failure of DCA in the eyes of TDA....
    Last edited by Darkbeer; 03-29-2006, 11:34 PM.
    Check out my Theme Park Photos at

  • #2
    Re: DCA: AN interesting look back at the last 4+ years

    This has got to be the most popular topic of the last 4 years.

    Great summary Darkbeer!!!!

    Snaps for you (snap) (snap)

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    • #3
      Re: DCA: AN interesting look back at the last 4+ years

      First off, sorry for the error in the quote symbol, but the computers (three different ones) I have been using have been freezing up when I try and edit...

      Next is a old Powerpoint presentation I posted recently in another thread her at MiceChat, but though it should be placed in this thread also...
      Check out my Theme Park Photos at


      • #4
        Re: DCA: AN interesting look back at the last 4+ years

        Somebody was kind enough to send me an internal PointPoint presentation file from over 5 years ago. I totally trust this person in the fact that this is the real Mc Coy, and not a fake. If I could share my source, I am sure you would agree that it is a true document.

        Sorry, guys I will not post the file, nor will I share it. I am sorry, but you are going to have to trust me on this one. I will clearly identify my comments with brackets [like this]. I am also only going to post selected information, mainly related to the infamous comment, and other points discussed over the last few years.

        I received a 10 slide presentation, based on the wording, is an internal WDI presentation.

        The first slide is the title slide...


        Slide 2 is titled "1995 Company Mentality", which had 7 points.

        Point 2 is "Can we do a "E" attraction for $70M?"

        Point 6 is "With Paul Pressler's arrival our client became the "parks", not MDE."

        Slide 3 is

        1996 KEY TO A CHEAPER PARK

        Facility, Show or Ride - Pick any 2.

        Capitalize on an improving ride industry.

        Take known technology & theme it with paint color, lighting & graphics.

        Take advantage of engineering already spent by others.

        "Direct Lifts"

        If it's good enough for Six Flags ....

        The "Guiding Principles"

        As to the second point of Capitalizing, [To me, this is looking at outside companies, such as S&S Power, since the outside vendors have been making better products in the last decade or so]

        And the fifth point, "Direct Lifts" [and as described in a later slide, this is taking attractions from other Disney parks, such as Muppets 3-D (the example they used)]

        Slides 4 and 5 talks about the Guiding Principles.

        The 4th slide is titled "How can Disney's California be realized for less than traditional practice?"

        Then we have 11 points for the sub-category "Park Planning/Design/Theming" (the next slide has the other sub-category).

        Point 1 is "No berm around the park", other points mention outside visual intrusions are OK, themed facades are faux, show-like, not immersions or period reproductions, that only the entries and front facades are to be themed, and to keep the Monorail as is.

        Slide 5 contains 5 "Backstage Philosophy" points, including "First cost before life cycle savings"

        Slide 6 is titled "Embracing the Industry... Their way"

        5 points, my favorite is "We don't have any lawyers & we don't want to get any."

        Slide 7 is titled "Our Experience", with the category of "good" and 11 points

        Slide 8 is the category "Lessons Learned" and 6 points.

        Slide 9 is just a title slide, "Would we do it again?" and nothing else.

        Slide 10 starts with "Yes" in large letters, and then the sentence "The pros far out weigh the cons. But..."

        Then we have 5 points, my favorite on this page is, "Have attractions partners sign(underlined) in advance of the buy." [I read this as get the prospective sponsor to pay up before spending the money, or at least be guaranteed that they will pay for it]

        [OK, this is the end of the PowerPoint presentation. So what have we learned, that the statement "If it's good enough for Six Flags..." was actually made at a meeting inside the Disney company, and not made up, as some folks wanted us to believe! That Disney had serious cost control issues while designing and building DCA. That Disney made the decision to use "Off the Shelf" rides instead of designing and building their own. That Disney is looking to keep the costs down on new "E" attractions (the $70 million comment, and now the LA Times report of DCA's ToT costing $75 million). That Disney purposely cut back on the theming at DCA.]

        A second post going into more detail...
        Check out my Theme Park Photos at


        • #5
          Re: DCA: AN interesting look back at the last 4+ years

          Next is a CLASSIC Los Angeles Times archive article from January 14th, 2001, and what it said about DCA

          It was titled...

          The Most Jam-Packed Theme Park on Earth?

          And was sub-titled...

          Attracting visitors won't be a problem for Disney's soon-to-open California Adventure. But coping with the expected hordes may be another matter."

          The most innovative attraction at Walt Disney Co.'s new California Adventure may be the simulated hang-glider ride over the natural and man-made wonders of the Golden State. Soarin' Over California is estimated to handle 1,250 riders an hour--but on busy days that means as many as half of the park's visitors won't be able to get on.

          It's just one example of what is looming as a major issue for the new park: overcrowding.

          California Adventure park, set to open Feb. 8, will allow only about 30,000 people within its gates at one time--almost half the number at adjacent Disneyland.

          One complication is the popular Fastpass program, which allows patrons to avoid lines at major rides by reserving ride times. The problem, park managers and employees say, is that all those people no longer standing in line for hours make parks seem even more crowded on busy days--a factor that contributed to Disneyland's shutting down its turnstiles at midday several times during the holidays.

          Senior Disney officials acknowledge that there will be days when California Adventure will have to turn patrons away, particularly in the first weeks after the park opens, during spring break and again in the summer.

          Disney hopes those denied entry will stay at the resort and visit Disneyland and the new Downtown Disney's shops and restaurants. The risks are that people may flee the resort and those who do get inside California Adventure on crowded days will feel cheated out of experiencing a full range of attractions.

          When that happens at Disneyland, "complaints go way up at City Hall," said a ride supervisor at the park. "People want their money back. And spending goes down on Main Street at the end of the day because people are walking out unhappy and not buying souvenirs."

          Ride capacity is an issue because Disney succeeds so well in packing its parks. Disneyland patrons can experience 12 or 13 attractions on slow weekdays, and even on a day when 50,000 people crowd the park, they can fit in as many as nine rides, a number considered acceptable by park officials.

          But California Adventure, part of a $1.4-billion Disney expansion in Anaheim, has 23 attractions, counting minor exhibits such as farming and tortilla-making--just a third as many as Disneyland.

          "Come early in the day or come later, after the park clears out again," said George Kalogridis, senior vice president of Disney operations in Anaheim. "Hopefully, with Disneyland right across the esplanade and Downtown Disney right there, we won't have to turn people away from the resort."

          Indeed, elaborate stage shows, "edgy" street entertainment, fancy dining and wine bars are designed to take up the slack while Disney positions the new park as an alternative to the Magic Kingdom in hopes of extending visitor stays beyond one day.

          Company projections show Magic Kingdom attendance falling by 500,000 per year, to about 13.3 million, and California Adventure visits rising to 7 million. Thousands more visitors each week are expected to stop by Downtown Disney, which has no admission fee. Separate admission is needed for Disneyland and California Adventure; each one charges $43 for general admission and $33 for children 3 to 9.

          Although Disney prides itself on anticipating and satisfying customers' wishes, executives acknowledge that no one will really know how many people the new park can handle until operations begin.

          Some insiders worry the company may have overestimated the capacity of the new park's rides. Certainly, no California Adventure attraction can handle as many visitors as Disneyland favorite Pirates of the Caribbean, a workhorse that on smooth-running days can handle nearly 2,800 riders an hour--more than 40,000 a day.

          In designing California Adventure, Disney Imagineers worked backward from the projected attendance level of 7 million a year, said Barry Braverman, Disney's chief creative supervisor on the project.

          Disney designers used industrial engineering models to determine how many rides, shows, restaurants, parades and restrooms would be needed to accommodate the expected crowds. But because the park has fewer attractions than Disneyland, there's a smaller margin of error. If a couple of major rides malfunction on a busy day, Braverman said, "We'll just have to count on the [live] entertainment being good."

          Kalogridis and others who went on Soarin' Over California during staff previews last week said it sometimes took as long as 12 minutes to unload one set of riders and load the next group. The target time is 2 1/2 minutes.

          If pessimistic predictions are correct, about 16,000 people a day can experience Soarin' Over California if it operates without a hitch from 8 a.m. to midnight. If the official forecast is correct, it still means just 20,000 maximum.

          Kalogridis said the hang-glider ride turned out better than expected. Had Disney realized how popular it could be, it could have increased its capacity, he said. Improvements are being made to software that indicates when seat belts are properly fastened, which should bring Soarin' Over California's loading cycle close to the target 2 1/2 minutes, he said.

          Another projection that has raised eyebrows is that the Sun Wheel, a scary Ferris wheel with moving cabins, will accommodate 900 riders an hour. That can be achieved only if every cabin is completely filled with six riders. So workers have been told to aggressively combine parties--a policy that often draws objections from patrons.

          "If you're in a party of four, you'll be hearing: 'Party of four, meet your new friends, party of two,' whether you like it or not," an employee predicted.

          Executives say the preview days allow them to work out bugs on many attractions, such as a stalled train on the California Screamin' roller coaster last week that forced closure of the high- capacity attraction for the day.

          A separate capacity issue has to do with parking. California Adventure and Downtown Disney occupy what once was Disneyland's main parking lot. Even with the addition of a $100-million parking structure that holds more than 10,000 cars--said to be the nation's largest--the net gain in spaces is just 4,500 cars.

          Kalogridis said that will be enough to handle the expected new throngs, even if 30,000 more park-goers show up on a busy day. Noting that the departure of an army of construction workers will free up thousands of parking spaces, he said the company believes its original parking projections will prove adequate.

          Then there is Fastpass, the system that lets patrons avoid lines by reserving ride times on major attractions. California Adventure, which has six rides with Fastpass, may feel more crowded on busy days because of the system--and some say Disney staff may have to close the gates even before 30,000 people are in the park.

          Park employees, who have been given "countdown" watches showing the days to California Adventure's opening, are bracing for big crowds, at least until initial curiosity over California Adventure is satisfied.

          "History has taught us that attendance the first year will be heavy," said Kalogridis, a veteran of Walt Disney World in Florida, where Disney has four parks. "Certainly, there will be huge interest in Southern California, where it's been 45 years since a new Disney park opened."


          Too Popular? Disney's California Adventure should bring in the crowds. But that will create a challenge for the new park, because on busy days some attractions won't be able to handle the demand. Estimates of the number of patrons who can be served per hour on some Disneyland and California Adventure rides: Disneyland

          Rides______________________ Capacity (riders/hour)
          Pirates of the Caribbean____________________ 2,775
          Big Thunder Mtn Railroad____________________ 2,250
          Haunted Mansion______________________________2,150
          Indiana Jones________________________________1,850

          California Adventure

          Rides______________________Capacity (riders/hour)*
          California Screamin'________________________ 2,200
          Grizzly River Run____________________________2,100
          Soarin' Over California______________________1,250
          Sun Wheel______________________________________900


          * Estimated

          Source: Walt Disney Co.
          Check out my Theme Park Photos at


          • #6
            Re: DCA: AN interesting look back at the last 4+ years

            Always fun to re-read the classics, then point and laugh.

            Unusually and exceedingly peculiar and altogether quite impossible to describe...


            • #7
              Re: DCA: AN interesting look back at the last 4+ years

              Now, let's look at some news stories that came out in the first year or so...

              First, from an Orange County Register article from October, 2002

              Try to turn California Adventure into something more than an oft-vacant sideshow for Disneyland.....

              Look at California Adventure, the signature of Pressler's reign as theme-park king. The ailing park surely suffers from a lack of amusements - an obvious result of its relatively low-budget construction, if you can say that about a $1.4 billion park.

              Pressler's bet that a quirky mix of rides, eateries and retailing would make the new park a draw was a flop.

              For Disney, California Adventure is not the sole Disney ailment.

              Keonig(sic) said Pressler does deserve a good share of the blame for the alleged lack of creative ambition at the Disney theme parks. He said California Adventure, in which Pressler played a central role, suffers from a much deeper problem than temporary economic woes. It's a conceptual problem, he said: The mostly local people who attend Disneyland simply don't want to attend a theme park about California.
              Next is an article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

              Disney's California Adventure park in Anaheim got off to a slow start when its attempt to appeal to adults with gourmet restaurants and nostalgic carnival attractions failed to catch on. The park has been retooling by adding more rides for younger children and returning to more tried and true Disney themes.
              And from a great article (back then it was CBS

              California Adventure, completed for $1.4 billion in early 2001, never quite caught on, as low attendance has forced Disney to constantly revamp the park. The price tag is considered low for a theme park, since new parks in eastern Asia are costing $4 billion to $5 billion but are financed and designed by other companies that take out licenses with Disney.

              California Adventure -- developed solely by Disney -- was seen as being long on retail outlets, such as a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, a sourdough bread bakery, a winery and a series of restaurants and shops made to look like a Hollywood studio. And half the $1.4 billion spent went toward construction of the Grand Californian Hotel.

              Conversely, it was considered short on attractions, especially for young children. California Adventure is revamping a sizable portion of the park and putting in a new attraction called A Bug's Land, based on the movie "A Bug's Life." It's due to open early next month.

              Al Lutz, a longtime Disney parks observer and creator of the Web site, regularly monitors park activity to gauge attendance and park improvements. He says Disneyland continues to draw the same numbers of crowds it always has, in the 25,000 range, but California Adventure lags at 4,000 on weekdays and 10,000 to 15,000 on weekends.

              Lutz said it showed that the decisions made on California Adventure, primarily under Pressler's purview, were not the most sound.

              "I think he approached them as retail operations and didn't look at them for what they are," Lutz said. Each theme park needs strong elements of showmanship to interest attendees, he added.
              And from a September 27th, 2002 article in the Orlando Sentinel...

              Harriss' tenure at Disneyland has included that attraction's coolly received second theme park, California Adventure. That attraction, which opened last year, has resorted to discounting tickets to attract tourists.
              Check out my Theme Park Photos at


              • #8
                Re: DCA: AN interesting look back at the last 4+ years

                And a great Jim Hill Media article, where he interviewed an WDI CM...

                Check out my Theme Park Photos at


                • #9
                  Re: DCA: AN interesting look back at the last 4+ years

                  And from a November 2002 article (selected paragraphs only)

                  Walt Disney Co. is betting small insects and a big building will help its troubled California Adventure theme park find a following nearly two years after it opened at a cost of $650 million.

                  California Adventure, the adjacent Grand Californian hotel and the Downtown Disney shopping district cost a total $1.4 billion. The park itself cost an estimated $650 million. By contrast, the new DisneySea park in Tokyo -- paid for by licensees -- went for roughly $3 billion.

                  To get California Adventure numbers up, Disney will have to acknowledge the theme needs to be reworked. Much of its business is local, and there are few park visitors who want an education on their own state, analysts say.

                  "In order to turn this around, they have to turn their back on the concept," said Jim Hill, a longtime Disney observer who operates a Web site devoted to company news. He says there are a number of proposals under consideration to add new attractions at the park, all of which will result in the California theme getting shunted aside.

                  "Everything that's on the table is stuff that's fun to ride. It has nothing to do with the California theme," Hill said.

                  To be sure, California Adventure has gone through the growing pains associated with many of Disney's parks. But some observers say it's worse this time.

                  One of them is John Cora, Disney's former vice president in charge of resort development, who was responsible for putting in many of the attractions at the new park. He left the company shortly after it opened in February 2001, and now is a theme park consultant based in Oceanside, Calif. Cora says he had an amicable parting with Disney.

                  Cora says Disney's highest priority in developing the park was to keep costs down.

                  "That was the bottom line," he said, adding he differed with management over how much and where to spend money on the park.

                  California Adventure, the adjacent Grand Californian hotel and the Downtown Disney shopping district cost a total $1.4 billion. The park itself cost an estimated $650 million. By contrast, the new DisneySea park in Tokyo -- paid for by licensees -- went for roughly $3 billion.

                  Cora says that the underlying problem is that to round out the park, California Adventure had to put in an inordinately large number of high-end restaurants, stores, and other retail outlets. Patrons balked at the prospect of spending $45 to get in, and then spend more on goods and food.

                  That was the influence of former Disney parks chief Paul Pressler coming through, Cora says. Pressler had extensive training in the retail sector and left Disney to become chief executive of Gap Inc. in September.

                  "Part of the problem is Paul came from retail. He thought retail and still thinks retail," Cora said. "We spent enough money overbuilding retail and food (operations) to add three or four more major attractions to the park."

                  Some of those facilities are closed or have been replaced. Along with the Soap Opera Bistro and Mondavi winery, Wolfgang Puck operated a restaurant in the heart of the park for a time but eventually left. Disney is operating another restaurant there now.
                  So we have one of the key players in building DCA saying things like cost was the number one issue, and that they overspent on food and retail (So much so that they could have added three or four more attractions for the same price!!!)

                  Check out my Theme Park Photos at


                  • #10
                    Re: DCA: AN interesting look back at the last 4+ years

                    And from a LaughingPlace interview with Cynthia Harriss

                    Check out my Theme Park Photos at


                    • #11
                      Re: DCA: AN interesting look back at the last 4+ years

                      And then Consumer Reports looked at Theme Parks in May 2003...

                      Ok, I got a copy of the article online, so here are some tidbits, first how the ratings worked...

                      Check out my Theme Park Photos at


                      • #12
                        Re: DCA: AN interesting look back at the last 4+ years

                        Like this one, 'goonie?
                        Company projections show Magic Kingdom attendance falling by 500,000 per year, to about 13.3 million, and California Adventure visits rising to 7 million.
                        Reality, in millions:
                        DCA 2001 - 2004: 5; 4.7; 5.3; 5.6.
                        DL 2001-2004: 12.3; 12.7; 12.7; 13.3.
                        DL 2000: 13.9

                        TDS 2001 - 2004: 4 (opened in Sept.); 12; 12.1; 12.2.
                        TDL 2001 - 2004: 17.7; 13; 13.2; 13.2.


                        • #13
                          Re: DCA: AN interesting look back at the last 4+ years

                          Here is an intereview from Yahoo of Roy Disney in December of 2003

                          CONCERN OVER THEME PARKS

                          Eisner, he argues, has not invested in theme parks as he should, and the board of directors was ineffective.

                          "The upkeep down in Disneyland is sickening," he said, adding that the company under Eisner had built "half a park" but charged full-park prices at California Adventure, the theme park opened next to Disneyland in Southern California.
                          You know, it is funny, many of us have made points like..

                          Disney upkeep is not what it used to be...

                          DCA was built on the cheap

                          DCA is a half day park / not enough to do

                          The pricing structure is wrong, that DCA is not worth the same price as Disneyland.

                          But many folks said we were wrong, it is nice to see that a member of the immediate Disney family agreeing with those comments....

                          I also want to point out, Disney has been trying to fix DCA, including the addition of ToT... But ToT is not the CURE for DCA, there is still a lot to do to make it a park that is worth close to the Disneyland price...

                          Let's look at what Marty Sklar said at the IAPPA in November of 2003, as reported on Jim Hill Media ...

                          EISNER UPDATE: I am just amazed to see how the support for Michael Eisner within the entertainment community has begun to erode. It seems like -- these days -- nobody has a kind word to say about the guy. Take -- for example -- this quote from Harvey Weinstein, the co-chairman of Miramax Pictures. When asked to describe what it's like to work with the Walt Disney Company in general (and Michael Eisner in particular) these days, Harvey had this to say:

                          "All the great executives have been driven from the company. I think there is no camaraderie anymore, no great esprit de corps that I found earlier. I think there was more risk-taking, a more fun company. I don't know why, and it's sad that it is."

                          And even formerly loyal lieutenants like Marty Sklar, Vice Chairman and Principal Creative Executive of Walt Disney Imagineering, have begun openly carping about how terrible it is to work at the Walt Disney Company during the waning days of the Michael Eisner era.

                          Want proof? Take a gander at this Marty quote that an unnamed someone sent from an IAAPA seminar Sklar spoke at last month. When asked about what his thoughts were about Disney's California Adventure. Marty replied:

                          "I think that you're nuts to build a park next to Disneyland that's half the size and charge the same amount of money."
                          Check out my Theme Park Photos at


                          • #14
                            Re: DCA: AN interesting look back at the last 4+ years

                            Next, we have a Motley Fool article from July, 2004...

                            An interesting opinion piece by Rick Aristotle Munarriz that deals with his 2 week trip out west, in which he visits DL, DCA, Knott's and more. (FYI, he is an investor in both Disney and Cedar Fair)

                            First, lets see his thoughts on Disneyland...

                            Disneyland rocked. While Tomorrowland felt hollow without Rocket Rods, Space Mountain, and the submarine voyage, Disney's original theme park was essentially the same vibrant oasis of guests, attractions, and long operating hours that it has always been during the summer.
                            About right, many people complain about Tomorrowland, and with good reason....

                            Now, let's see his thoughts on DCA...

                            Across the way, the same couldn't be said for Disney California Adventure.

                            A lot has been written about the shortcomings of Disney's second West Coast park. Sadly, it's all true. It remains an incomplete destination. It opens later and closes earlier than its sister park as a silent bow of admission that it is not a full-day park.

                            The park's newest attraction, a scaled-down version of Disney World's Tower of Terror, is helping. It's the ride of choice after the rope drops at 10 a.m. A summer promotion with McDonald's got us Big Mac-consuming guests in an hour early, which proved to be plenty of time to knock off three quick rides on the new attraction before the rest of the park opened, but why did Disney give in to the cloning process? It's not a regional operator like Six Flags that can afford to dilute the magnetism of a new ride by copying it. Why would the masses that have already experienced the ride in Florida over the past 10 years head out to California? California Adventure has just one worthwhile original attraction, but that distinction will vanish once Soarin' Over California opens in Florida next year.

                            Yes, attendance is bouncing back at the park after horrifically sandbagged levels, but rather than wonder whether the park's initial flaws were the result of the concept or the execution, one is left wondering why Disney continues to open incomplete parks. Isn't it humiliating enough to have to list strolling characters as park attractions on the official website?
                            But some of the most interesting comments dealt with Knott's Berry Farm...

                            Tied up in Knott's

                            We had chosen to make Knott's our hub for the first half of our trip. Cedar Fair is cool enough to furnish its investors with discounts at the adjacent Radisson, and the central location made it ideal to check out other area attractions before hitting the park for a couple of hours after the school groups board their yellow buses and move on.

                            The park itself is an endearing showcase of contrasts. You have a low-capacity stagecoach ride powered by four live horses galloping past spinning flat rides and tower-drop thrill rides. Trains and gold mine railcars circle gently around on their rustic tracks while a half-dozen varied roller coasters take a more adrenaline-fueled approach.

                            We weren't catching the park at its finest hour. A walled-off lake was drained as the park was laying down the groundwork for its next coaster. It forced the closing of two minor attractions and created a bottleneck at the entrance, but as a unit holder, I accepted it as short-term pain for long-term gain.

                            I relished the enthusiastic ride operators, and we had such a good time that we wound up spending more days at Knott's than we did at the two Disney parks combined.
                            WOW, his family decided to spend more time at Knott's than Disneyland and DCA combined.......

                            However, it did fall short in some ways from the standards set at Cedar Point's peninsular thrill haven. There was no complimentary ride reservation system like the flagship park's FreeWay option. Some of the attractions weren't being run at full capacity despite queues that warranted that. At Cedar Point, the Midway Market buffet is a quality eatery, while Knott's Auntie Pasta's smorgasbord is a culinary disaster. When Cedar Point's new coaster proved to be temperamental last summer, the website provided daily updates. Over at Knott's, its newest coaster was down for three weeks, yet it was still being touted on the park's site as a featured attraction. Truth be told, earlier this week the Knott's site even had rides listed that have been closed for months.

                            Yet we also appreciated the wider variety of rides at Knott's. That park was shadier too, save for the incomprehensibly uncovered overflow area at the tiny pass-processing office. While I'm not sure how -- or even if -- the ride closings and in-park construction will hurt the 2004 summer season, the park is sprucing itself up nicely for a knockout 2005.
                            While I like the FreeWay system at Cedar Point, it is a bit of a pain, you get in line between 10 and 10:30 AM to get a hand stamp at 11 AM (Heck, a one hour wait beats a three hour wait), I don't see it working at Knott's, there is no real need for it, as the queue's usually move fairly quickly.

                            As for Auntie Pasta's, if you are looking for All you can eat Pizza and Pasta, plus Salad, it is OK for a family. I much prefer the Ghost Town Grill or the Chicken Dinner restuarant for meal choices. Or even Amber Waves at the Radisson (Now called the Knott's Resort Hotel).
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                            • #15
                              Re: DCA: AN interesting look back at the last 4+ years

                              I will stick to my opinon: I saw that Power Point presentation post years ago and STILL think it's phony. Sounds like somebody took all the nitpicks they had of DCA and decided to make a fake presentation that looks like the company actually was intending, I mean, COME ON, do you really think they actually would say "Off the Shelf"?!...

                              ...otherwise, its a good jumble of past posts...


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