Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
This May 2012 photo released by Disneyland shows characters Lightning McQueen, left, and Mater at the 12-acre Cars Land, a replica of Radiator Springs, the town in the popular "Cars," film franchise at Disney California Adventure park at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Disneyland Resort, Paul Hiffmeyer)
Disney launches California Adventure redo with Cars Land
First Published Jun 15 2012 11:37 am • Last Updated Jun 15 2012 01:58 pm

ANAHEIM, Calif. • Disney is done with its do-over of Disney California Adventure.

Wednesday marked the end of a five-year, $1 billion-plus overhaul to correct problems at the park. The venue, which was supposed to turn the Disneyland Resort into a multiple-day destination like Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., had become a source of embarrassment for the company almost from the moment it opened in 2001. Visitors grumbled that it had little connection to Disney and complained that it seemed built on the cheap.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger recently admitted the park had been "a brand eyesore." He told investors the revamp will fix what was "clearly a problem" and lift business across the resort area, which includes Disneyland next door.

Theme parks are more than just fun and games for Disney. Five park locations, including Tokyo, Paris and Hong Kong, along with cruise ships and vacation time-shares generated $11.8 billion in fiscal 2011, almost 30 percent of the company’s $40.9 billion in annual revenue.

Disney had expected California Adventure would lead people stay in its hotels, extending their stays in Anaheim. Instead, it became a place for adults to get an alcoholic drink, or kids to spend a few hours on generic-themed rides, before going back to Disneyland.

The park’s revamp has debuted in spurts since 2008. Most of its new features rely on characters that come from Disney’s $7.4 billion acquisition of Pixar Animation Studios, the San Francisco-area studio behind "Cars," ‘‘Toy Story," ‘‘Monsters Inc." and "A Bug’s Life."

The park is now "a worthy companion to Disneyland at this point," said Al Lutz, a hard-nosed critic who is editor of the Disney blog called MiceAge. Lutz credits the overhaul with boosting attendance at Disney California Adventure, which is estimated by the Themed Entertainment Association at 6.3 million last year, up about 12 percent from 2007.

Disneyland attendance grew 9 percent over the same period to 16.1 million.

Having multiple parks in the same location gives Disney a way to charge visitors for "park hopper" privileges and to sell more single-day tickets that give access to one park only. The successful formula, started in the six-park goliath in Orlando, has been repeated in Tokyo and Paris as well.

The revamp replaced many California-themed rides with rides that have Disney storylines.


story continues below
story continues below

The Mulholland Madness roller coaster, named after an infamous California water baron, is now Goofy’s Sky School.

Golden Dreams, an audio history of California, is now an animatronic ride called The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure.

A replica of the Golden Gate Bridge spanning two banks of stores that lined the entranceway has been made over to evoke the Los Angeles neighborhood where founder Walt Disney got his start.

And Cars Land, a 12-acre area based on the Pixar movie "Cars," opens Friday with three new rides and a re-creation of the fictional town of Radiator Springs on Route 66.

Tiny details such as radiator caps on stanchions or references to Pixar cofounder Ed Catmull (a neon sign says "Catmull Oil") give Pixar buffs endless fodder to revel in.

"If you’re a little kid and you just want to have that visceral enjoyment ... you’ll have that, but if you’re a Disney-phile and you really want to get those deep, deep, deep stories, they’re here too," said Lisa Girolami, senior show producer of Walt Disney Imagineering, on a recent tour.

Along with encouraging longer stays, the investment helps Disney’s image, since the parks are a way millions of people are exposed to the Disney brand every year. Gate prices also rose last month, to $200 for a two-day "park hopper" pass for visitors aged 10 and up, compared to $173 previously.

"When you spend more time in a park, you spend more on drinks and food and souvenirs," said Gene Jeffers, executive director of the Themed Entertainment Association. "The perception of the value you got for that ticket goes up quite dramatically and it helps with repeat visits."

The new touches are part of a wave of investment by Disney in parks and resorts that is expected to top $3 billion in the fiscal year through September, the highest in company history.

Among the recent projects:

• the Aulani resort in Hawaii opened in August 2011;

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.