With this year’s version of the D23 Expo right around the corner, it is anyone’s guess as to what Bob Iger and minions will announce when it comes to theme parks, especially Disneyland. Plenty of folks out on the Internet have their opinions to share. Odds are, someone will come close to what actually is revealed to the Disney faithful as they gather for the convention hall version of chautauqua.
Disney has a history of notoriously playing its cards close to the vest. After getting badly burned after sharing plans for the much maligned Disney’s America and Westcot theme park projects, anyone prognosticating the release of details for anything new from the company has very good odds of being wrong once Disney finally owns up to what is has in store for guests years down the road.
Mind you, the company is doing just fine mining all of the exploitable disposable income we don’t mind parting with. For example, Disneyland’s 60th has been good for business with only a new night-time parade, updated fireworks show and a revamped water show (in World of Color). But in the words of Clara Peller, “Where’s the beef?”
On the whole, Disney has been doing just fine since the last infusion of capital to the Disneyland resort with the makeover in California Adventure to Buena Vista Street and the addition of Radiator Springs (a.k.a. Carsland). On a consistent basis, Fast Passes for Radiator Springs Racers are gone well before noon and stand-by ridership is always more than an hour long. The recent plussing of Condor Flats from concrete wonderland to the more guest friendly (and landscaped) Grizzly Peak Airfield can only help make folks feel more welcome. Given time and proper budgets, more of DCA 1.0 will vanish into history. Anything to help get guests to stay longer is a good thing and this park has always had that as a goal.
If I were permitted a gaze into the Mouse’s crystal ball, I would have to imagine that improving the overall initial guest experience will loom large in any plans for the future. That means better parking and better access to the Disneyland resort. On a recent visit, I found myself parking outside of the usual space in the Mickey and Friends parking structure in what usually has been Cast Member car pool parking. It is no secret that as more guests visit there are fewer and fewer places to put their cars. Even with the happiest parking structure in Orange County and the myriad of overflow parking lots about the surrounding area, this challenge is much too big a target to pass up doing something about. Fix that, make for better and easier access for guests and Cast Members and Disney will have a winner to make suits and shareholders sleep easier. The recent announcements of property acquisitions and the promise of big investment dollars by the company should foretell infrastructure as king over the Magic Kingdom.
To be sure, plans must be a foot to take advantage of both the Star Wars and Marvel franchises. With Harry Potter coming to Universal Studios in California, the gauntlet has indeed been tossed. Changes? Sure to be in the works. Yet, if you can’t park the family car easily to start the day, what lies inside the berm matters little.
“I don’t believe there’s a challenge anywhere in the world that’s more important to people everywhere than finding solutions to the problems of our cities. But where do we begin — how do we start answering this great challenge? Well, we’re convinced we must start answering the public need.” Walt Disney