More Magic in Store at Disney California Adventure Park

A $1.4 billion expansion plan is under way to make the Disneyland Resort a multi-day destination By: Vy-Vy Dang-Tran
An artistic rendering of the new Disney California Adventure park entrance // © 2010 Disney
An artistic rendering of the new Disney California Adventure park entrance // © 2010 Disney

The Detials

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Extensive renovations are currently under way at Disney California Adventure theme park as a part of the brand’s $1.4 billion plan to make the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif., a multi-day destination.

During a presentation with select travel media, Randy Garfield, president of the Walt Disney Travel Company and executive vice president, worldwide sales and travel operations, for Disney Destinations, revealed the strategy behind the colossal project and his hopes for Disney to come out on top after the recession.

“In the 1990s, we went through what has been called ‘The Disney Decade,’” Garfield said. “Now, despite the economic downturn, we are embarking on the brand’s biggest investments — and that shows not only the deep emotional connection we have with our guests and our presence in the travel industry, but that we’re willing to invest in the future,” he said.

Disney celebrated the plan’s first major achievement at last week’s premiere of World of Color, a state-of-the-art water-and-light spectacular in Paradise Lagoon at Disney California Adventure park. A pioneer in its genre, the show features 1,200 programmed fountains that spray water up to 200 feet, making a water-screen nearly the size of a football field to entertain guests with the likes of classic Disney icons, such as Simba from “The Lion King,” and new Disney-Pixar characters, such as Dory from “Finding Nemo.”

The hope is that World of Color — and other new innovations at Disney California Adventure — will change guests’ perspective on the two Anaheim theme parks.

“It’s about changing guests’ behavior when it comes to the parks,” said George Kalogridis, president of the Disneyland Resort. “Whereas now they park-hop between the Disneyland theme park and Disney’s California Adventure park — we want them to spend two full days at the resort, one at each park.”

Other projects in progress at Disney California Adventure include an updated storyline for the park’s Orange Stinger swing-attraction; a brand-new 12-acre Cars Land, inspired by the Disney-Pixar film; and Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, a ride set to open next year. Disney Imagineers have also announced a re-doing of the park’s entrance — it will be inspired by Buena Vista Street in the 1920s, as Walt Disney saw it upon his arrival in Los Angeles.

In the coming years, the classic Disneyland theme park will also experience a few transformations.

George Lucas and Industrial Light & Magic are collaborating with Disney to develop a brand-new storyline for Star Tours. The updated ride will feature digital 3-D projection and fan-favorite characters from film destinations, such as the desert planet of Tatooine and the urban city planet of Coruscant.

“We want to enhance the classic attraction with fresh and exciting ideas that are relevant to guests today,” said Kathy Rogers, senior show producer for Walt Disney Imagineering.

In terms of updating the resort’s accommodations, widespread renovations at the Disneyland Hotel are set to be completed in 2012 and include giving the pool area and hotel interior a mid-century design.

“We want to take the property as a whole and give it a connecting storyline that embraces Disney’s classic images and icons from the 1950’s world of Walt Disney, himself,” said John Maruro, development manager for Walt Disney Imagineering.

Overall, guests can look forward to a greater value during their stays at the Disneyland Resort. This summer, discounted passes for Southern California residents run $108 for three days ($36 per day for one park — with a $21 Park-Hopping upgrade). Guests visiting from outside of Southern California will be able to enjoy a five-day Park-Hopper pass for the price of three days, which allows maximum flexibility for guests who want to spend their time at the beach, in Hollywood or visiting other attractions near the area.

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