Drained Lakes and No Excuses – A California Adventure Update

I’m happy to welcome Mark Storer as a guest columnist on The Disney Blog. He recently visited Disneyland’s neighbor and files this report. Unfortunately his camera malfunctioned, so you’ll have to make do with his well written imagery. – Ed

It’s no secret to most readers of this blog that Disney’s California Adventure has never quite met expectations. It has consistently fewer visitors than Disneyland and thematically, has a tougher time hanging together. That’s not to say there aren’t some great things in CA. Soarin’ Over California is one of the most thrilling and imaginative rides I’ve ever been on and the Animation Pavilion is truly a lot of fun and full of a lifetime of memories for anyone who grew up with Disney.

But whether it’s the fact that attractions require a good deal of walking between them or perhaps that a good portion of the park was given over to a kind of “boardwalk” that is supposed to be reminiscent of a California that never really existed with the exception of the Santa Cruz boardwalk, CA just hasn’t caught on. Changes, however, are on the way.

My recent visit with my family yielded an emptied pond, blocked off as best as could be by walls with the typical Disney teaser of an attraction coming soon. The pond area takes up the southwest portion of the park and is the centerpiece for the California boardwalk area where the Ferris wheel and a few other attractions are. Now, however, the pond is nothing more than a shallow depression filled with… well… gear. Lights, scaffolds, switches, fountains, a number of things fill the area now and the teaser tells us that “A World of Color” is coming soon with references to Walt Disney himself, several pictures adorn the wall, and a hearkening back to the pre California Adventure era for a lot of us when there was an attraction at the Disneyland Hotel called “Dancing Waters.”

Dancing Waters was an adult’s favorite and as kids, it was the kind of thing that you never really wanted to see—until you saw it. An operator sat behind a board, a kind of cockpit, where he spoke to the audience and explained a bit about the magic that was about to appear. Lights, music—classical, pop and rock-were used and fountains positioned throughout a small pond area were electronically generated and the water quite literally danced to the music. It remains one of my favorite Disney memories.

It appears that whatever is about to occur at the pond area in CA, it is reminiscent of Dancing Waters. The technology that is going into it, however, looks a lot more impressive and darned site larger. If indeed it is some reincarnation of Dancing Waters, then it’s bound to be exciting.

Still, as annual pass-holders and having an 8 year old who loves Disneyland but has never fully warmed to CA, it’s clear that the changes taking place need to continue. It will be interesting to see if CA can be resurrected, or at least serve as a kind of match for its big brother across the courtyard.

Find Mark Storer over on his website where he talks about writing, reporting, and marketing

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