Finally it seems like we’re getting nothing but good news coming out of Disneyland. I try to follow along with all the latest news coming out of the Disney parks, and it seems like there has been a long dry spell lately. For the last decade all the news has been grim; slashed budgets, ride closures, peeling paint, decaying buildings, “new” rides that are really just crappy reworkings of something better. A lot of this was because of Paul Pressler and his insistence on cutting costs above all else. But a couple of years ago Paul left to run the Gap, and everyone he had hired slowly left the company and some new blood finally flowed into Disneyland management. And with that new blood came a new commitment to spending money on things like preventive maintenance and upkeep, the things that keep Disneyland from grinding to a halt.
So now things look to be turning around, just in time for Disneyland’s 50th birthday. Al Lutz’s recent park updates really have reflected that. For the last year I’ve watched as just about every building at Disneyland got covered in scaffolding and repainted. New rides like Buzz Lightyear have been approved. The silly concept of opening less popular attractions late and closing them early has been done away with. The Enchanted Tiki Room, which was once dilapidated and on the verge of closing, is being fully restored to its opening-day condition. The submarines, which have been closed over six years, are seriously in consideration to be renovated and reopened with charaters from Finding Nemo. And just in this latest update, more good news. Space Mountain, which is being rebuilt from the ground up because the track was rusting and falling apart, was originally scheduled to reopen in September. But now a boatload of overtime pay has just been approved so it can be open by July. They’re also showing their commitment to preventive maintenance by completely ripping up and replacing the trackbed for the railroad that circles the park.
See? Nothing but good news. What a change. Unfortunately we’re stuck with some of the bad decisions made during those darks years. Like a Winnie The Pooh ride that could have been so much better with a larger budget. The creaking remnants of the “New Tomorrowland”, like Innoventions and the Rocket Rods track. And of course, the great albatross across the way, Disney’s California Adventure. Whose problems are so deep-rooted that they could only be fixed by tearing out 80% of the park and starting from new. But I’m confident that things are only going to get better at Disneyland, and that we’re finally out of the tunnel and in the light.
For more updates go read Al Lutz and Jim Hill, and tune in to the MousePod. Our family is holding off going back to Disneyland until Sammy is really old enough to understand what’s going on and enjoy himself. It looks like the next time we’re there we won’t even recognize the place!