Wednesday, January 5, 2011

California Adventure in California. Why? Because.

Yesterday, the big cement CALIFORNIA letters were removed from the entrance of California Adventure, beginning the remodeling of the California Adventure entrance. 

A sketch of the future entrance at California Adventure 
So, what did the imagineers think to change the entrance to? A retro, 1920's look.

Apparently, Hollywood Studios over at Walt Disney World exists in a 1920's bubble, because California Adventure's proposed entrance looks identical to the one in Orlando.

Which brings up a bigger issue, in that California Adventure is like Hollywood Studios in more than just that one way. Both parks have a "Tower of Terror" attraction, "Toy Story Midway Mania," "Playhouse Disney—Live on Stage!" (soon to be some Disney Jr attraction) and "Muppet Vision 3D." That's quite a few attractions for two parks that are supposed to be different.

The current entrance at Hollywood Studios in Orlando
Now, the two parks do differ in quite a bit of ways, having different landmarks designating each park, but that would detract from my point.

If you've looked through my past posts, I'm not the biggest fan of California Adventure. I've always though that it's like been the U.S. pavillion at EPCOT, just on a full-size park scale with a billion dollar price tag. If people want to see California in California, then they'll take a drive around the state they're already in. And the things that intrinsically make California Adventure what it is are either run of the mill (Grizzly River Run), or the opposite of what should be in a Disney park (Paradise Pier in general).

So what are the best parts about California Adventure? The things that are most like Hollywood Studios. "Tower of Terror" is the most thrilling ride at both parks in Anaheim, the new entrance is going to be fantastic, and "Midway Mania" always has the longest line in the park.

Besides that, nearly everything that's going into the re-theming of California adventure that isn't Cars Land (Which is also rumored to be moving into Hollywood Studios in the near future) is to make it looks like a 1920's Hollywood. HOLLYWOOD. The park wants to be Hollywood Studios, as it should be (a Rockin' Roller Coaster in CA wouldn't hurt). So just let it.

DCA's Version
When Disney and MGM split ways, Disney missed a great opportunity, because at that point, they could have switched the names of the two parks, "MGM Studios" being renamed "California Adventure," and "California Adventure" becoming "Hollywood Studios." The park in Florida could have expanded, making it more than just a half day park, and the one in California would have a less specific theme to work with, giving it more freedom and making it a better all around park.

But alas, they didn't, and it probably would have cost a lot if they had, seeing as at California Adventure they'd probably have to take out Grizzly River run (shucks) and retooled all the other California inspired areas of the park.
WDW's version

But one thing still rings true: the Hollywood part of California Adventure seems to be taking over the rest of the park, and rightfully so. It's got the most potential and one of the best rides. And if, as an LA Times article discussed, phase one of the California Adventure upgrade/expansion is successful, phase two will go into effect, making the Hollywood portion of the park even bigger, with a Hollywoodland era around the "Tower of Terror" speculated to be built along with a  Club 33-esque Carthay Circle Theater club.

I'm not complaining that California Adventure is becoming a Hollywood Studios West (even though Hollywood is in the West), in fact my feelings are the opposite. If the California Adventure is going to copy Hollywood Studios with such dedication, it should just pull a Magic Kingdom and do a blatant loose interpretation of it. I don't think anyone would be sad to see the park stop going along with an uncreative theme thought up by a money crazed, cheap CEO who is remembered in such a negative light.

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