Rumors and Commentary

What Comes Next For California Adventure?

Pixar Pier, California Adventure’s latest update, opens today (June 23rd).  Media have had access to the land over the last few days and the reviews coming in are pretty negative.  Frankly, I’m not surprised as I have next to no excitement for this project and think it was a waste of time and resources.  I’ve already outlined my thoughts on Pixar Pier in this post so I won’t rehash that here.  Instead, I wanted to take a look ahead at the near future and distant future of California Adventure.

Any look ahead is supposed to look into the past for patterns, at least that’s what my English teachers usually told me.  A brief synopsis of California Adventure is as follows: Park opens in 2001 and sucks.  Park gets slightly better over the next few years with minimal investment.  Park gets much better with large investment around its 10 year anniversary which lead to the opening of Cars Land, Toy Story Mania, a remodeled entrance, and Grizzly Peak becoming more cohesive.  Then, the park continues to change but instead of fixing what’s broken they start to tinker in the name of corporate synergy.  This has made for fun attractions but less cohesion in the park.  That trend continues through the opening of Pixar Pier.

California Adventure is not the only park that has been affected by Disney’s (new-found) love of synergy.  With the company making more and more acquisitions, there seems to be a push to get those into the parks.  Star Wars will be inside of the hallowed Disneyland.  Epcot is getting a Marvel attraction that isn’t cohesive to the park at all.  Not all of these moves are bad but I’m of the opinion that they will hurt the parks long-term.  California Adventure, with Mission: BREAKOUT! and now Pixar Pier has definitely been the park affected the most.  Both new areas are taking the spots of attractions and lands that weren’t broken and, in some cases, loved.

It’s not that these additions are always bad.  Most everyone will admit that Mission: BREAKOUT! is fun but it has nothing to do with California which is the park’s theme.  The same goes for Pixar Pier to an extent.   So, what comes next will likely be more of this.  In fact, we know that more Marvel attractions, and a whole land, are on the way.  While these attractions could be set in California to help the park’s cohesiveness, it doesn’t seem to be a priority and would likely feel forced.

Marvel Land will definitely hold at least a few great attractions that are enjoyable but it will also further diminish a park that seems to have lost its identity.  Instead of being a park with a direct theme, California Adventure seems to be on its way to becoming a studios park showcasing the best of Disney.

Outside of the addition of Marvel Land, the next project that would seemingly be on the docket for California Adventure is Hollywood Land.  The area where Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! resides is a black hole in the park and is undoubtedly the park’s weak spot.  Being already called Hollywood Land, and sitting right next to the Hyperion Theater, points to something that may stay on California Adventure’s theme.  The new Mickey dark ride coming to Hollywood Studios seems like a perfect fit for that area, paying homage to one of Hollywood’s greatest stars and Disney all in one shot.

Can there be a compromise between the park’s theme and these new additions?  Yes, but it needs to be done with more care than what Disney has done recently.  Cars Land works for a couple of reasons, the main one being that it is a spectacular land.  The second being that the land is set in a desert, making that fit in with the California theme even if Radiator Springs isn’t actually in California.  Pixar Pier essentially gets a pass for this too because it still is a pier, even if the Pixar tie-in dumbs the area down.

I don’t see the current trend slowing down anytime soon.  While I still enjoy the park and think the attraction lineup is quite strong, I think it may have already hit its peak thematically.  Instead of being a park based on adventures that guests can have in California, the park will strictly be adventures inside of a park that is in California.

What are your thoughts on the future of California Adventure?  Let us know in the comments! If you enjoy what you’re reading on Wandering in Disney please subscribe to the blog and like our Facebook page.  You can find both of those on the right side of this page.  Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!

– Andrew

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