Saturday, October 21, 2006

Taking a Seat



When Roy E. Disney accused the Eisner regime of building Disney's California Adventure "on the cheap" it was very clear what he was talking about. Here was a park filled with off the shelf amusements contracted out to less than stellar vendors, no distinct themed areas and nary a penny spent on new show technology, save perhaps Soaring Over California's remarkable hovering benchseats.

But what the park's few guests may not realize is that the 'cheap' across the street from Disneyland went far deeper than Wal-Mart style thrills, mall esthetics and empty sightlines. When it came to the comfort of patrons, DCA proudly demoted the guests to third world refugees by not fully budgeting for one of the most rudimentary of theme park provisions: Outdoor seating.

We all know what happens to guests non-plussed by their stroll along Paradise Pier. They leave and never come back. But what about the few remaining souls who haven't yet given up the faith? What happens when, after searching vainly for any element of charm in the park, guests now need a quiet place to rest their weary feet?


It appears that when it comes to taking a break from your glorious California Adventure Disney would rather you please remain standing.

48 comments:

John said...

Ack! I can't believe I'm defending California Adventure. I refuse to put 'Disney' infront of the CA, because I don't think it deserves it. But your post is a little unfair when literally right around the corner is a street lined with a bunch of benches. Plus the whole 'sun plaza' is pretty much one big bench.

If anything I'd say that last photo shows what Disney is guilty of... poor themeing. Who the hell puts a big blank wall on the approach to one of the park's signature attractions?

-John
http://www.thedisneyblog.com

Anonymous said...

I haven't been to either of the West Coast parks, but one of the most memorable things I have ever done at WDW was playing checkers with my son in Frontierland. We just happened to notice the tables with checkers on them and played. It was a great way to decompress from the theme park hustle for a few minutes.

If DCA is missing these kinds of quiet areas, that's a real shame.

barry said...

It's not as if poor Disney's California Adventure at the Disneyland (R) Resort hasn't already been run over by a semi truck, chopped up into little pieces, ground into hamburger, and burned to ashes by public criticism. Now you have to pick on it for not having any place to sit??!! That's what the eating establishments are for: places to sit...and...er....buy things to eat!! That's why there were so many restaurants when the park first opened:.....to give people places to sit when they weren't shopping. It's a sound business model that has packed people into shopping mall food courts around the country and it's prefectly good for our park. No one needs benches. That was a Walt thing.

/bsdb said...

Conspiracy theories work well here.

Disney would rather guests keep mobile so that 'undo attention' will not be paid to the surrounding dearth of detail.

Focusing on moving targets is always more difficult.

Travis said...

Besides being disappointed by the park's boring atmosphere, we found the park also lacking in something really important in any outdoor attraction which is open in the summer - shade.

Devin said...

Gee...sometimes the simple things are the most important aren't they. I know you guys have been getting some heat in the other posts for pointless posts, but I'm glad to see this one. I didn't know this problem exsisted, since I live in Florida, but you noticed something that Disney has started to overlook. I believe its RCT3 where the guests complain if you don't have enough benches and trash cans to accomodate the crowd. That falls under bare essentials for your park. Keep up the good work guys. This is my favorite reading material. You'd really make my day if you'd do a post on the decline of lighting maintence at WDW and one on what could have been with WDW transportation.

garth said...

We sat in that VERY uncomfortable spot. Ugh, not good memories.

Anonymous said...

Right on. People need a place to sit--and preferably in the shade--to overcome the SHOCK of the disaster that is DCA. It's an abomination from top to bottom and needs to be dismantled and re-thought. Hell, the PARKING lot previously there was more entertaining (and had more places to SIT!).

Mark said...

My partner and I headed to the West Coast in April to visit Disneyland for the 50th celebration. We've been to the Orlando and Paris parks many times, so we were very excited to see Walt's baby for the first time and throw some love Walt's way. I had read the not-so-glowing reviews of California Adventure since the park opened but I was determined to keep an open mind. It was Disney so it couldn't be all bad-right?

Boy! Were the bad reviews right on the money!

CA is a terrible park, a giant and boring concrete carnival with no soul. The theming doesn't make sense, half the stores were closed on our visit, and the park was so deserted it felt like we were the only ones there! We spent half a day in the park and the whole time we were there I just wanted to head back across the esplanade and get back to DL.

Gone is the whimsy. Gone is the storytelling. There isn't one trace of Disney magical touch and less of the famed attention to quality.

We enjoyed California Screaming and Grizzly River Rapids, and Soarin was a delight, but if we head out West again to visit the park we fell in love with-- be rest assured California Advetnure will NOT be on our agenda.

I love Disney parks, but I won't be duped again into parting with my hard earned money for a sub par experience.

Will Robison said...

I really can't comment. I made one loop around the "park" and never went back.

Klastorin said...

Travis... you are so right... half the park is completely devoid of this attraction and in the full heat of a southern california summer it's sorely missed... I imagine when disneyland first opened and the trees were saplings this was a problem there too, but at least the infrastructure (viz. trees) was put in place so that now we have lovely arbors throughout the park. at dca we could wait a hundred years, and those wide open spaces would still remind us more of the gobi desert than disneyland. barring some miraculous transformation, that is.

Theresa Z said...

Again I say...California Adventures needs more mouse! I said that on my first visit and on my last, although, some attempts have been made to bring the Disney magic over to the ugly step-sister side of the park, it's not enough to keep me there all day. Whereas, at Disneyland, sit my ass on a bench all day and I'm happy to do nothing more than stare at everything.

On a side note, this past spring, my seven year old niece, upon seeing me, hugged me tight and said..."Auntie, you smell like Disneyland!" I took it as a compliment, now, had she said I smelled like California Adventures, I'd have to disown her. ;)

nova said...

I'm always surprised to read some bad comments about DCA. Okay, I don't visited it yet, so I can't give a meaning.
But someting you probably don't realize is there is in disneyland Resort Paris the WORST Disney park ever: the sooo cheap Walt Disney Studios. Nine poor attractions (of wich the most are shows), no decoration, no magic. I think that you can not immagine that shame.
So to get an idea of that, take a look on google, youtube, flickr...

http://parcorama.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

I was just at DCA last night, and even with the "Trick-Or-Treat" theming, it was pretty bleak. I DID notice, however, a bunch of benches in areas that I don't remember having them in the past.

However, these benches were so cheap that merely bumping into them caused them to move. They were literally either plastic or hollow aluminum. Which means in 2 or 3 years they'll be destroyed.

Shawna S said...

I realize I'm in the minority here, but I love California Adventure. My sister and I split our annual visits to Disneyland between the parks and have built great memories over the past couple years at Californialand (as we call it). I do, however, completely agree that the lack of seating and shade is really, really annoying. Our solution is to always loop back to the Sorceror's Workshop area with all the screens for some sitting on the floor and singing along in blissful air conditioning. There are benches in there too, but we like being on the floor where the little kids come running up to you and tell you to get up and dance with them. I'd say there's definitely some Disney magic in that section of the park. And we'd be devastated if our mainstays - Muppet 3D! California Screamin'! The orange swing and the ferris wheel! were to go away. This from someone who grew up on the original, pre-California Disneyland.

More seating throughout the park would be great, though.

Anonymous said...

You can easily take the exact same pictures at the opposite parks.

Those people are sitting on the ground within 50 feet of benches. And the Main Street photos is the ONLY bench along the length of Main Street (though there are plenty of benches and places to sit at either end).

People sitting on the sidewalks eating is not at all uncommon on Main Street.

Anonymous said...

Benches are for sitting on to enjoy the ambience. There's nothing to see from where those people are sitting (the Steel girders of the back of the Hyperion theater?), so there's no benches. Yes there are plenty of benches in far more picturesque places.

I don't doubt that this post may contain some truth, but that single pictures probably not the strongest evidence.

pariartspaul said...

Well I do agree with the point of this post, and it shows just how we've all actually got used to Disney treating people like cash cows. Sitting on the pavement? Well, the customers DO it so it must be okay. (I refuse to use the term "guests" because that's not how they are treated.)

But seriously, even though some are defending the picture by stating that there IS a bench somewhere near this place... the point is that we should never see a picture like this from a Disney park. There should be like 6 benches in that spot, as well as themeing. I think it is shocking.

Hmm.. there's nothing to see there, so why put benches? How about so people can sit?!

Treat people like cattle and they become cattle. Walt Disney never would have allowed this in his park. When he used the term "guest" he meant it.

People go to a Disney park to experience a DISNEY park. And that does mean Walt.

Ghostbuster626 said...

It's reasons like this that I have never been to DCA nor will go to DCA untill they get their act together.

Digital Jedi said...

I'm reminded of something I read at here. The context is the night Walt's associates took the idea of Disneyland to the existing amusement industry of 1953:

Harrison "Buzz" Price Said:
>>>And then there was this revolution. About six weeks ago, I had the rare privilege of to discuss this revolution with one of the men actually there that night. He's here with us today. Mr. Harrison Price.

He said, "Before Walt came along, the entire industry was getting one dollar per capita. The main thing that Walt did was to figure out how to get the per caps up to $4.50 in the very first year. And by the second year they were up to 6 dollars. The rest of the industry was astonished."

How did Disney do this? Well it was very simple. It comes down to stay time. Before Disney, the stay time at an average amusement park was less than two hours. But Disney created an environment with an ambiance that was so refreshing and pleasant that the stay time went up to an unheard of seven hours. And because the stay time went up, the per capita's on food, retail, and ride tickets went up. And the place was an attraction in itself so he could charge people to get in, which wasn't done elsewhere. The result of all this theming, landscaping, and entertainment balance was a revolutionary new and different income profile not seen here, very clearly.

There were two other things about the planning that also seems especially important, and each involves putting the guests' experience first:

1. Walt planned the circulation patterns first. That's the place where the people walk. They planned that as a first priority. Up to that point, designers usually focused on the positive space. That's the thing being built; rather than the negative space, the place where people will be. And he planned every attraction from the perspective of the guest rather than the operator or the manager. Walt focused on the people.
<<<

Seating seems like small thing, especially to someone like me who's constantly on the move when I go to a park. The only times I sit are when I'm eating or in a show.

But I had the unique perspective of taking a physically challenged child to the Disney recently. I took the benches for granted, but I don't know what I would have done had I had to sit on the ground for the constant diaper changes and breaks. And then there are people like my dad, who just enjoyed sitting at Disney and enjoying the ambiance. A person who doesnt want to ride Space Mountain can have seat while his kids or wife go in, and he can enjoy the ambiance of Future World.

Like the man said, it's about entertainment balance. Make them enjoy the simplest things, and the stay time goes up. Make the stay time go up and the money spent in shops and eating places go up. This all makes the money go up, because people want to have that experience again and again. Simple. Elegant. Proven.

nobody said...

I love this blog as much as I still love Disney! but...

I just noticed that you're not offering full feeds anymore. Why is that? I don't really understand, because you've offered full feeds since you started the blog, and you don't have any ads on any sidebars, and you don't need to worry about bandwidth.

Please, bring back the full atom feed!

fullfeeds.com

Mr Banks said...

To above "nobody". This blog is still set to offer full atom feeds so I don't have any idea why it mysteriously decided to stop offering them. If anybody out there knows how this problem can be fixed I'd be thrilled to get the information. Hopefully this is only a temporary problem and will be rectified through Blogger.

Cheshirekatz said...

Like other baby boomers when I first started visiting Disney 30 years ago I was young and spry and flew from attraction to attraction. Now that I am getting old and gray I require resting spots to watch the kids and grandkids fly from attraction to attraction. A large part of the pleasure of Disney was just sitting and looking, soaking up atmosphere. Sadly Disney seems to have decided that if they can't make money off it, it ain't worth having. It used to be Disney was the guiding light for all amusement parks. Now I have to say they should have taken a look at a place like Busch Gardens in VA before designing another park. How far the mighty have fallen!

pariartspaul said...

Cheers to digital jedi above and thanks for referring to Walt Disney again. There is a lot of great material available on Walt’s business philosophy about the parks. These days fans are more familiar with his strategies than Disney management is. As we all know, during the last 15 years or more WDI had thrown Walt’s experience out the door, thinking it not relevant to today’s audience. I know from experience that more often than not at WDI, a mention of how Walt Disney would have approached something would more often invoke laughter rather than serious thought. Walt is often seen as nothing more than some quaint and curious historical figure rather than the 20th century revolutionary business genius he was.

With WDI in a period of change, I would love to see an effort to get a little more of Walt Disney’s philosophies back into the stream of thinking there. Just about everything he ever said or wrote about the park is available and tucked away in the WDI library, and there it all sits, just waiting to be re-discovered.

I would love to see one of the main functional conference rooms at WDI rededicated to Walt’s business philosophies, where material is actually out in the open… maybe on boards or something. As new decisions are being made, they could at least be made with some reminders of the ‘proven strategies’ Walt used.

Actually, I would go even further and start putting some of Walt Disney’s business quotes up in the halls of WDI as a reminder of how everything started. (How about starting with that ghastly main hallway at WDI? You know… that one with all the horrible artwork on it…. is it still there? It has needed a fresh new coat of clean white paint for years now!)

moochie said...

Thanks for the hilarious article. I think, however that you're being too specific. The real point is simply this: DCA is absolutely terrible. There's nothing fun in it and there's no reason to ever go there. I hope they knock it down. Seriously, the place is just lame and I don't even consider it a park. I'd rather go to the dentist.

dan_steinberg said...

pariartspaul said...

But seriously, even though some are defending the picture by stating that there IS a bench somewhere near this place... the point is that we should never see a picture like this from a Disney park. There should be like 6 benches in that spot, as well as themeing. I think it is shocking.

I hope everyone here remembers the story about Walt and hot dog wrappers (buying a hot dog, eating it while walking and putting a trash can where he finished so that guests would find a trash can exactly in the right spot to toss their wrappers) or the story about Walt and paths (waiting for weeks after putting in grass to see where people had cut across it, then putting a path there because that's where the guests wanted to go). Seems to me that if Walt were still around, there'd be benches in that spot. Though if Walt were still around, I bet there would have been benches there from the beginning...

Anonymous said...

If Walt were still around, Dan Steinburg, I bet California Adventure would not be. Instead, something truely magical would have resulted. come to think of it, bet this blog wouldn't be around since "Walt's way" would be "the only way" if he were still with us.

PARISINJUNE said...

My question is, why are you worried about benches at DCA if the park is to be getting a $70 mil. makeover.

I'd be more interested in why Disney doesn't seem to be concerned that members of it's board are working for President Bush, whom is slaughtering 30,000 innocent Iraq citizens- half of which are children under the age of 15, and all for the furtherment of his personal oil agenda. Or why no one at Disney-Iger, sees that probably not too long into the future this issue will take a major bite out of his/ the company's butt. Disney needs to either eliminate these directors or get out of Iraq. We are in the business of family, not murder under a deceptive banner for democracy.

Adam Villani said...

Have you visited Holiday World in Indiana? The theming is nowhere near Disney level, but the cleanliness is stunning. They have trash cans on the pathways literally every 30 feet; I paced it off.

finishdish said...

Where's the "Re-Imagineering" in this article? Where's the "Re-Imagineering" on this website?

Again, this is just another bitch session. Please use this most excellent forum for more constructive efforts. Please.

Or don't.

Mr Banks said...

How's this, finishdish:

I hereby re-imagineer.....drumroll, please...seats!

Apparently the inference was lost on some readers. I apologize.

finishdish said...

Mr. Banks,
Your solution lacks imagination. I also suggest that if seats were to be installed, you would declare them to be an eyesore. And of course write an article about it.

micsaund said...

When I was in CA in June of 2006, I visited DL for the first time in 20 years and DCA for the first time ever.

I must say that I was disappointed with DCA. Not completely, but it just was not what I expect from a "Disney experience" (and pricetag).

After waiting for the ToT Fastpass, I must agree wholeheartedly with this post. There was NOWHERE to sit near the ToT and as anyone who's been there knows, there's not a whole lot to do in that area of the park either.

With my feet killing me, I didn't want to walk all over the park to blow 40 minutes, so I figured I'd have a seat, rest, and enjoy the ambiance. Nope. I ended-up semi-sitting/semi-balancing on a concrete post for 40 minutes just to get off my feet for a bit. The flower boxes were covered with people sitting (no room). The curbs were much more covered than in the photo above (it was the week before Easter) and the little butt-destroying post was all I could find.

/bsdb said...

micsaund said:

I ended-up semi-sitting/semi-balancing on a concrete post for 40 minutes just to get off my feet for a bit. The flower boxes were covered with people sitting (no room). The curbs were much more covered than in the photo above (it was the week before Easter) and the little butt-destroying post was all I could find.

Whoa. DCA visitors would rather plant their behinds like tulip bulbs or risk an inadvertent cement colonoscopy than shop for overpriced unimaginative "Disney Parks" souvenirs. The FastPass creators are nothing short of sheer marketing geniuses!

"Permanecer sentados por favor" my ass.

PARISINJUNE said...

Can someone answer me a question-- How much money did Dick Cheney's Enron/Energy disaster cost our company? How much money on a daily basis was it costing us to actually continue running things at status quo? How much did it eat into our profits and bottom line of which could have been spent on daily upkeep, expansions... and how many times did we have to raise our prices (and not just at the door) to account for that--especially during the holiday season. And worse, how much more money did we lose because our AP holders had to pay for their own personal bills--money they could have been spending in our parks? I have friends that paid as high as $700.00 in just one month alone--and ended up cancelling their regular flights schedule to the parks in order to pay for Dick Cheney's mess. And you may want to remind yourself just how much the average person spends at our parks--and when you're flying in to be there, you're not just there for one day!
If it were me I'd impeach your idiot president and his VP--his bottom line is stealing yours!!!!!

Mansion Butler said...

I don't remember ever having trouble finding somewhere to sit in DCA. If it's true, it is a problem, I just don't remember it.

I've got to disagree with "no distinctly themed" areas, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Finding a place to sit, especially a shaded place to sit in the Florida parks, can make the difference between an enjoyable day and one where you are just plain hot, exhausted, and tired and don't even care about having fun anymore. One thing I have always tried to do is seek out the hidden gems of secluded seating at the parks. There's nothing like getting off the beaten path for a snack and giving your feet a fifteen minute break.

Rich-
http://happiestblogonearth.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

parisinjune, while I don't disagree with you in principle, I'm having a difficult time connecting the corporate and political actions of Dewey, Cheatem & Howe with the lack of places to sit in DCA. WDC has more money than god; three or four dozen fairly nice benches and the installation thereof could almost come out of the petty cash drawer.

Is Machiavelli's Prince still required reading in MBA courses? I know Art of War by Sun Tzu was all the rage for a while. The one thing I truly remember from both books is "you can't lead from the back". DCA is proof that the suits in WDC are content to do just that.

Wasn't Machiavelli also the one who said you have to spend money to make money? When did "good enough" become good enough?

Cheshirekatz said...

Disney seems to have money to spend on a finger printing system for tickets (what is THAT all about) but lacks extra money to keep the parks up.

And after reading about the finger printing (reading or whatever), I don't want to go back to Disney at all. The company I used to work for did it to employees and I HATED it. I don't want Big Brother watching me when I am on vacation.

Ted said...

More importantly to pariartspaul when did this blog become a political blog for someone to spout off lame conspiracy theories.
Please explain how ANY of this has to do with Disney?!?!
Did Disney give money to the Bush administration or to Republicans in general? ABSOLUTELY! They are the party currently in power and Disney has to "grease" the wheels when it comes to regulation, the FCC, the SEC, etc. Everyone does it. Will they give money to a Democratic administration when they are in power? YES.
If they give money to a politician that then votes for a war, does that make Disney evil? ABSOLUTELY NOT! The two things have nothing to do with one another. Politicians vote on HUNDREDS of different issues each and every year. Disney can't be responsible for EVERY decision said politician makes.
Grow up. And live with the rest of us in the REAL world!

Anonymous said...

I totally disagree. Like the first comment says, the Sun Plaza is a giant themed bench. C'mon people. DCA really isn't that bad of a park. It could be even worse. It could be Walt Disney Studios Paris.

pariartspaul said...

In response to Ted's comments above - I think you are reacting to parisinjune's comments, not mine.

Ted said...

Sorry pariartspaul you are absolutely correct! I was mistaken due to the similarities in your names.
Sorry ;(

PARISINJUNE said...

Thanks for the reminder that the Sun Plaza is just a giant themed bench. I wasn't aware that my perspective was out of focus. I suppose life would be easier if everyone would just "get real". After all,
--Walt was just a man that liked to draw cartoons.
--Nixon, was just one President.
--The Mona Lisa, some girls face plastered on canvas.
--Jesus, just a carpenter who liked to yap.

So, the next time I run into Maurice Sendak, I'll be sure to remind him not to get so emotional while talking about his childhood writting inspirations
-because, well, Mickey is just a mouse.
And the next time someone comes to me to replay their amazing trip to Disneyland, I'll be sure to remind them to calm down and "get real, It's just a theme park."
My only hope--is that God sees things in just the same way!

Anonymous said...

Many Disneyland guests 'use' the place (DL) as a park ... as in Central Park ... enjoying more at a leisure pace than the frenetic pace people use WDW. Places like Big Thunder Ranch at Halloween and Christmas provide that great place for relaxing -- also now at Princess Fantasy Faire

Ted said...

I'm I the only one that has no idea what parisinjune's above comment means?!??

Anonymous said...

And the Main Street photos is the ONLY bench along the length of Main Street (though there are plenty of benches and places to sit at either end).

except the photo isn't main street, it's frontierland
so...

Anonymous said...

Hey! I'd wait untill 2012 to see if Disney pulls together CA! I mean they are do like a billion dollar project on it that is supposed to add more heart to the park! I saw concept art on the new HUGE plaza, and I remember seeing benches! Bob Iger really is trying so research that topic then see if you think that will be good for the park!