Today we have the first of our New Years Updates, the first from EPCOT at Walt Disney World.
It was a busy yet fun night as we rang in the new year with fireworks, DJ's, more fireworks, more DJ's and lots and lots of people.
Written by Renée Girard
Here we go! EPCOT NYE!!
Magic Kingdom full signs up at the Epcot monorail entrance.
Lines to get into Epcot just after 8pm. Crowded, but not too bad.
We're in, let's do this!
75 minute standby line for Spaceship Earth at 8:30pm.
Epcot wait times as of 8:35pm.
200 minute line for Test Track as of 8:45pm.
Dj stage with a countdown clock on Spaceship Earth in Future World.
People camped out for a prime viewing spot for the fireworks at midnight.
Dance party in the U.K.!
The New Year bar and menu in France.
The Morocco bar is the best themed pop up bar so far! Very cool!
Japan bar and menu.
We are about to experience the Silent DJ Groove in Japan!
So fun! Silent DJ Groove is awesome. 2 different DJs to choose from. Everyone is having a blast!
Still dancing away to the hits in Japan!
Moved on to America, where there's another dance party happening at the American Gardens Theatre.
Lasers and dancing in Italy!
Yeahhhh, Epcot is a little busy...
Any guesses to how long they've been camped out for the fireworks?
New Year's Eve menu in Italy.
China is lit!!
Don't care about the fireworks? Frozen Ever After is only a 30 minute wait!
Loved the fire and fog at the dance party in China!
People camped out on the lawn in Future World for the fireworks.
IllumiNations has begun. New Year's Eve countdown finale fireworks soon!
IllumiNations is over, time for New Year's Eve countdown!
The Epcot New Year's Eve fireworks were amazing! Definitely one of their best shows.
Yes it was crowded but we made it out and home safely. Happy New Year from the east coast!
Over the weekend it was time for the 3rd Annual Avengers Half Marathon, a race I hadn't planned on running until a few days ago. But I'm glad that I did, not only was the race MUCH better than the first Avengers Half Marathon in 2014 (click for that review from 2 years ago) but it also allowed us to get some backstage pics of Tower of Terror AND Star Wars Land.
We also have some Star Wars Land pictures taken from the parking structure after the race down at the bottom.
Written by Gregg Condon
So as I mentioned above, I hadn't actually planned on running Avengers until Thursday. Without getting too political, I found myself in a funk after Tuesday night, not just with the results but by it's aftermath that still continues. So I was happy I was still able to register at the last minute and join the race, because it was EXACTLY what I needed.
Considering how busy Disneyland (and other theme parks in Southern California) were over the weekend it seems I wasn't the only one in need of some escapism.
Keep in mind, some of the race pics were taken on my old point and shoot camera so the quality may not be up to our usual standards. But the Star Wars Land Pics taken from the Parking Structure were from the DSLR.
I had run a 1/2 Marathon 2 weeks ago and while my time for Avengers was essentially the same as that one I didn't really push myself for this one as much as I probably could have, I was just having too much fun on the course. (I need to remember this for when I run the LA Marathon in March, but also still wanting to have a good time for that one)
Of course, because much of the race goes backstage I was able to get some pics of Tower of Terror. It really IS tacky in person.
Having not actually been to Disneyland in 2 years I wish there were some rides open. I mean, if they can have character stops, why not ride stops. ;)
Of course, having heard from some friends who have been AP's since 1992 that this was the busiest weekend they've EVER seen at DL (Holidays included) made me rethink visiting soon.
Have heard that the new Holiday World of Color is nothing short of breathtaking.
I will admit, I got a bit emotional entering the gates of Disneyland for the first time in 2 years.
I was shocked we got this close to Star Wars Land construction ... definitely just dirt on this side.
Throughout the race it was awesome to see all of the amazing volunteers, the spectators and fellow runners. All races, religions, orientations, just together to have an amazing time. I wasn't in the race for a new Personal Record, I just wanted to have fun.
More Tower of Terror. You know, in theory I'm really not opposed to the makeover of the ride (and YAY for random drop sequences) but this is just REALLY bad show. They should have just closed it already.
Towards the end, two different schools playing together ... what it's all about.
Had such an amazing morning running through the parks and Anaheim. The course was SO much more improved than the inaugural race 2 years ago (I didn't do last years race) and again it was just the RunDisney therapy I needed.
Ok, you've waited long enough, here are some pics of Star Wars Land for you to enjoy. It helped that they parked the runners on Minnie, so I didn't even have to go that far from my car to get these. ;)
This was my first time seeing it in person and I have to admit, pictures really don't give the scope of this justice.
At least it's not all just dirt anymore. ;)
Thanks for reading, we hope you enjoyed the update and a rare Disneyland update from us. I guess in the future when we're in the area we'll have to take a detour to track Star Wars Land construction, even if it's just from outside the park.
Today we're going to have some fun and speculate and imagine if Disney had gone in a COMPLETELY different direction when they tried to "fix" Disney's California Adventure.
What if they'd stuck to the original concept of making the park different than every other Disney park but still invested money to fix it ...
Written by Gregg Condon
February 8, 2001 - A brand new Disney theme park opens in Southern California. We've seen it being constructed in the former parking lot for years. The intamin roller coaster. The signature mountain that looks like the head of a bear. We've heard about the designer restaurants from Robert Mondavi and Wolfgang Puck. Themes around Soap Opera's and Parades that didn't feature Disney Characters. This was going to be the anti-Disney Disney park. Full of new experiences, more shows and alcohol.
And then nobody showed up ... and Disney panicked.
After the initial failure of DCA 1.0 there were a couple of different ways Disney could have gone. The one direction we're going to talk about below, and then the direction that Disney eventually took.
So first let's start off with the direction Disney took:
Almost immediately they started shutting restaurants like Wolfgang Puck and Robert Mondavi, but in addition to that they also started cutting hours. Most days DCA would close at 6pm. So it's really no surprise that restaurants that are targeted to adults wouldn't do well if people couldn't actually have dinner there.
In addition to shutting restaurants that were targeted to adults they immediately started adding Disney characters to the park. Meet and greets, quickly put together parades and shows and bringing back the Electrical Parade.
The list of closures during the first year of DCA included Superstar Limo (no surprise), Soap Opera Bistro, Eureka Parade, Steps in Time, Lights Camera Chaos, Vineyard Room by Robert Mondavi, Avalon Cove by Wolfgang Puck, and Maliburitos (seriously, did ANYBODY ever get a chance to eat here?)
What came in it's place were some cheap replacements (X-Games anybody), the Christmas show LuminAria and many others.
Soon after the re-theme of DCA began with the addition of A Bugs Land in 2002, Tower of Terror in 2004, Monsters Inc in 2006 (retheme of Superstar Limo), Toy Story Midway mania in 2008 and then the conversion to DCA 2.0 starting in 2010 all the way to it's re-dedication in 2012.
Through all of that, including a multi-billion dollar expansion and improvement, the attendance of Disney California Adventure went from 5 million in 2001 to about 9.5 million in 2015.
But what if they could have kept the original design of DCA in 2001 and expanded using it's original intention of being a different kind of theme park ...
So let's go back to 2001 ... instead of shuttering adult themed restaurants and closing the park early let's say DCA does indeed cuts their hours but does it in a different way.
Now nobody is ever going to deny the original DCA was built "on the cheap". But on the same note I don't think anybody could deny DCA looked MUCH better at night than it did during the day. MUCH better. So let's say Disney capitalized on that.
Instead of opening the park at 10am and closing at 5pm or 6pm every day and thus insuring the high-end restaurants would remain empty, let's say DCA opened at 3pm or 4pm every day and stayed open until 10pm or midnight every day.
Stay with me here ...
As was mentioned above, DCA was supposed to be different, it sold alcohol, brought in high-end brands and was generally made to cater to adults. Not just with food but with rides.
When DCA opened there were only a handful of rides somebody under 40 inches could ride, and they weren't exactly thrilling (Sun Wheel, Carousel, Superstar Limo, Golden Zephyr). At the same time they had the first looping coaster at a west coast Disney park, an S&S Space Shot and other rides that were geared towards adults.
And let me say, having drinks at the cove then riding Screamin' and then drinks and then Screamin', repeat, repeat, repeat is a LOT of fun. =)
So instead of totally changing to become Disneyland 2.0, what if DCA became more of a true "pleasure island" theme park, the possibilities could have been endless.
Sure, the eventual re-do of the front area of the park was somewhat inevitable. It was ugly and needed to be done.
Tower of Terror would have eventually been added, but let's just imagine that instead of a rushed version to get an E-ticket into the park they actually built an amazing original version of it that rivaled it's counterparts in Florida and Tokyo.
Superstar Limo was always never going to last. But instead of having to do a cheap overlay of a children's movie and bring in the Millionaire show what if they had built Rock N Roller Coaster with Red Hot Chili Peppers or No Doubt?
Remember when they first started doing the Food and Wine events at DCA? That was the first time they had brought in a big chunk of DCA's original targeted audience. And the first year it was done very quickly. Imagine if they would have been able to continue to expand events and attractions geared towards adults instead of just Disneyfying the entire park?
But by that time the writing was on the wall. Instead of them seeing the success of those events and being able to expand them, those at the very highest levels had already deemed that DCA needed "fixing" (it did) and the way they were going to do it was to make it like every other Disney theme park.
Could you imagine now, instead of Cars Land that was built (as amazing as it is) if a more grown up land, say based on Marvel or Star Wars Land or even Avatar was built in it's place?
Or instead of having 13 years of Aladdin and now Frozen you had actual "Broadway" type shows in the Hyperion theater? Selling "Show/Park" combo tickets. Allowing people to come into the park before the show, have a nice dinner at one of the parks many restaurants (maybe eventually something like the Carthay).
Seeing touring shows of Wicked or Lion King or any other number of amazing touring productions that make their way through Southern California each year. Even nighttime events like Mad T Party but themed to the show that's playing in the Hyperion.
Obviously none of us know what could have happened had Disney stuck with the DCA concept while in the meantime continuing to improve it. It's hard to tell if an actual "Pleasure Island" type theme park would have actually worked. But the possibilities would have been endless instead of shoehorning themselves into a limited California theme (which let's face it, no longer makes ANY sense).
Imagine with the amount of AP's they have now how a true nighttime park would benefit them, and maybe even after spending all that money to "fix" DCA They wouldn't have to have DCA only Annual Passes.
Maybe one day Disney will give us a park that is different but actually invest the money in that park to make it successful from day one. Instead of being reactionary and adding cheap overlays and last minute shows they do it right the first time.
But sadly it likely won't be in our lifetime.