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What Bugs Me

Jim Hill

Jim's musings on the history of and rumors about movies, TV shows, books and theme parks including Disneyland, Walt Disney World. Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood.

What Bugs Me

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You know, there's just no pleasing some people.

For the past 18 months, all we've been hearing from some very vocal Disney Company critics is the same tired mantra: "There's just not enough for kids to do at Disney's California Adventure." But now - on the eve of the official opening of "Flik's Fun Fair" - these same folks have been chiming in about DCA's latest addition. And what's their verdict? : "This place is just for kids."


Or they say "It's just too small" or "I can see the Tower of Terror from inside the new area. Which spoils the illusion for me."

Look, it's time to face facts, folks. In spite of all this talk about "Disney Magic," nobody in the corporation actually owns a magic wand. So Sorcerer Mickey isn't going to wave their hands and suddenly fill DCA with brand new, exciting, state-of-the-art attractions.

So it's going to take a while for Disney's California Adventure to mutate into a totally pleasing theme park. So some patience (You remember patience, don't you? It's what we all used to have before Disney installed those "Fast Pass" machines) is in order.

So rather that continuing to *** about DCA not being the second coming of "The Happiest Place on Earth, "couldn't we all - just for a second - celebrate the fact that something new and fun is about to be unveiled at California Adventure? I mean, what is there to be gained from continuing to damn "Flik's Fun Fair" with faint praise?

So you can see DCA's Tower of Terror from inside "Flik's Fun Fair" (and practically everywhere else in the park). Big deal. In a few months, once the bamboo grows in, this visual intrusion won't be as big a problem. At least in this part of the park.

And as for "Flik's Fun Fair" being just for children ... Sure. Children of all ages. By that I mean: If all of you over-sized "kids" out there can have a blast spinning around in a giant teacup over at Disneyland's "Mad Tea Party," why it suddenly undignified to climb into a large ladybug over at "Francis' Ladybug Boogie"?

Which bring me to something that truly frustrates me about some Walt Disney Company critics: Their hypocrisy. These folks will go on and on about how "Flik's Fun Fair" is awful because it's supposedly loaded with all of these lightly rethemed off-the-shelf carnival rides. They'll say that " I wish that the Imagineers had been allowed to build something spectacular for DCA. Like Disneyland's Fantasyland. A place that's loaded with charm, great theming and fabulous rides."

Say what? I mean, let's be honest here, folks. More importantly, let's take a look at Disneyland's Fantasyland without those rose-colored glasses. Dumbo the Flying Elephant? That's a lightly rethemed carnival ride. The Mad Tea Party? That's another amusement park favorite that's had elements of Disney's animated "Alice in Wonderland" folded into it. The Casey Jr. Circus Train? That's another classic carnival attraction - the kiddy train.

So why do Disneyana fans say that the carnival rides over in Disneyland's Fantasyland are supposedly loaded with "charm" and "great theming" ... while insisting that the new off-the-shelf stuff over in "Flik's Fun Fair" is cheap & pedestrian?

I have a theory, folks. I feel that a significant number of Disneyana fans truly believe that Walt could do no wrong. So - if Walt Disney chose to put lightly rethemed carnival rides in his Magic Kingdom back in 1955 ... Well, that's gotta be the greatest idea since sliced bread.

I also feel that - over the past five years - an equal number of Disneyana fans have come to think of Michael Eisner as the anti-Christ. An evil man who's deliberately out to destroy everything good that Walt Disney ever created. So if "Flik's Fun Fair" was built on Eisner's watch ... Well, there's just no way that this addition to DCA could ever be any good.

And the truth is ... Walt Disney DID make mistakes. (Holidayland & the Phantom Boats at Disneyland come immediately to mind). And Michael Eisner ... isn't evil. He's just a businessman. Not the second coming of Uncle Walt, but just a businessman.

So DCA wasn't exactly a smash hit with the public when the park opened back in February 2001. Faced with that lackluster response, the Walt Disney Company moved quickly to address that situation. Shows and attractions that really didn't work (EX: "Light, Camera, Chaos," "Steps in Time" & "Superstar Limo") were shut down. While new, more guest-friendly fare - like "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire - Play It!" & "Flik's Fun Fair" & "Twilight Zone Tower of Terror" - were fast-tracked for the theme park.

So what's the right thing to do here, folks? Continue to *** & moan because Disney's California Adventure isn't Westcot? Or reluctantly acknowledge that the Walt Disney Company has been making an effort to fix the park? Begrudgingly admit that things have - slowly but surely - been getting better at DCA?

I mean, would you people really have been happier if Disney had left this area a parking lot?

And as for "Flik's Fun Fair" being too small and too tight ...Well, it is. Right now, anyway. But further on down the line, if the Imagineers have their way, you can look for this Pixar themed area to expand out beyond that oversized cereal box. To swallow up what remains of Bountiful Valley Farm. And - perhaps - maybe even swallow up DCA's Pacific Wharf area further on down the line.

And what sort of theme would this proposed California Adventure addition have? Well again, if the Imagineers have their way (And that's a really big "If," kids): Picture a "Bug's Life" mini-land that's right next door to a "Toy Story" themed courtyard kitty-corner to a "Monsters, Inc." Avenue that eventually leads guests to a "Finding Nemo" meet-n-greet area.

That's right, kids. Provided that WDI can successfully sell this concept to Eisner & Co., the back most portion of DCA's "Golden State" district will eventually become "Pixar Land." Or "Pixar Point." Or "Pixar Place." Or something like that.

Of course, in order for this to happen, there are a few sizable obstacles that still have to be overcome. Chief among these is the incredibly silly, on-going feud that Michael Eisner is currently waging with Pixar CEO Steve Jobs.

And what's that all about? Come back tomorrow, folks ... And I promise that I'll give you the skinny on why a tiff over "Toy Story III" may result in one of the most successful business arrangements in Hollywood history being cast aside.

Talk to you then, okay?

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