Sunday, February 10, 2008

Back to Carnie Basics for Struggling Disney Park

As many know, Disney’s on-the-cheap Calif. Adventure, meant to duplicate the patronage of its next door neighbor, Disneyland, earned a rating of Fiasco+ when it opened in 2001, sometimes looking more like a “ghost town,” as reported in today’s New York Times by Brooks Barnes. How ghostly? Average annual visitors: 6 million, compared to 15 million for the sainted giant next door.

Now they are again trying to reboot the place into a turnstile-spinning success, sinking $1.1 billion over five years of upgrades. They’ve got a new ride about to premiere called Toy Story Mania. At its inception, Disney planners and thinkers took an open-minded walk around the midway at the L.A. County fair and decided to build on fundamental fun — like the dart balloon toss. Beyond that, of course, Pixar and a cast of computer geniuses have been engaged to develop a blockbuster attraction.

Disney fans are all abuzz. Maybe this time. Who was it who said, “ah, the fundamentals.” Comedian Don Rickles provides the voice for Mr. Potato’s total vocabulary of 750 words, so that he will “talk” to various patrons. Sounds like a blast.

To read all about it, grab a copy of the Times. Superb in-depth coverage of how this ride was created, step by step ... When the market speaks, super showman respond.

[New York Times photo, above, by J. Emilio Flores]

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