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Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Foxx Fur, whose Passport to Dreams blog I return to time and time again for her detailed dissections of Disney’s theme park & resort design, is out with a wrap up of how good (or bad) 2014 was for Disney’s domestic theme parks. Okay, technically, the full reviews ended in 2011. Foxx Fur just hasn’t had the heart to continue them since then, too depressing. Instead this year, we get a take down of epic proportions on three huge mistakes Disney made in 2014.

To be fair, there is some good stuff to be happy about in 2014, New Fantasyland finally opened its final attraction “The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train” and it is a charming dark ride (albeit with some unforgivable errors at the end) and the Magic Kingdom also got a parade it deserves in “Festival of Fantasy.”

But three major changes are pretty much unforgivable from the author’s perspective.

I haven’t been to Disneyland in much too long. When I was last there, you could still visit Walt Disney’s un-used apartment above New Orleans Square. It was great having that previously private space open to guests, even if it was as a store. When it became the Dream Suite, that space was lost to guests. I knew that the expansion of Club 33 in 2014 cost guests another space (the Court of Angels), but I didn’t realize how badly it mangled Walt Disney’s vision of New Orleans Square destroying perspective and genericizing facades that were previously some of the best examples of Imagineering in any of the parks.

blue-bayou-retro

Early Disneyland food options were limited mostly to carnival food and chicken dinners. Most of the restaurants were run by third party operators that Walt had brought in when he ran short of money building the park. These food locations often competed against each other to attract guests and gave park management an awful time trying to control quality and service.

One operator, Don DeFore, ran the Silver Banjo Restaurant. It was located in a small part of Frontierland and DeFore felt it was too hard for guests to find. To help attract guests, he would boil onions and blow out the smell with a fan. He even went as far as creating a sandwich board sign which he placed out on the main walk way. It all infuriated Walt who thought the signs and smells cheapened his park.

This led Walt to take over all the food operations, a move which he accomplished by 1965. He also decided Disneyland would up its game with the addition of a restaurant attached to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction he was building. This restaurant would help convince the public that top quality dining experience could be had in the park.

Jennifer Huffman of the Napa Valley Register takes readers inside Disneyland Park's Club 33 (and backstage), and there's even a photo.A short walk later we arrived at the unassuming, pale green door to Club 33, hidden in plain sight in the middle of New Orleans Square. Ornate wrought iron railings with hanging flowers set the