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What will Disney do for DCA’s 20th anniversary?

What will Disney do for DCA’s 20th anniversary?

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Proud Member Since 2016
I have a question for people that lived in Southern California in 2001ish. What was morale like among Disneyland fans and theme park enthusiasts in the area at that time knowing that Disneyland got DCA while WDW had been getting this:


Well-Known Member
You had two main camps.

The Disney can do no wrong folks, aka the apologists. It was fun to see them try and justify DCA version 1.0, they were in the minority.

Then you had those who realized what a pile of manure SoCal got. Most just saw the parks in many weeks of previews and didn't go back, though some folks upgraded their AP's in late 2000 before they realized the DCA was so bad. Thankful Disney refunded the payment in an extension of your AP. Yes, it was that bad that Disney had to address all the AP holders demanding refunds. I will see if I can find the history on that story.


Well-Known Member
And from the infamous Marcie, who worked at Disney's PR department, aka spin city. June 2001

Interesting news, but nothing new as to what is going on behind-the-scenes at Disneyland. For anyone who hates DCA and more importantly Paul Pressler and Co., they will eat this news up as proof the park is suffering in attendance. In fact, I'm sure Al Lutz is having a field day today. To Al, Happy Poo-Poo DCA Day to you!

Now, here is the reality of this news. DCA is not suffering from attendance. This move is designed to head off any further negative image this park is getting that it does not cater to the kids. So, for Southern California kids, they get to come free with a paid admission of an adult. Now, kids ages 3 to 9 can't come without an adult, so guess what, to further entice the adults they get a discount too. While the execs know that one of the perks out of this will be an attendance increase, the first and foremost reason for this offer was to drive family and more importantly kid business. This offer coincides with the latest marketing message about "Being Kid Enough" to visit.

If the park was really suffering and they needed to drive up even more attendance that what they are already experiencing, the discount would have been directed to the adults like every other Resident Salute offer from the past several years. This offer was to get the kids in the park and then have them go back to their friends and tell them what fun they had at DCA.

DCA's attendance has beens steadily going up over the past 2 weeks and there is no doubt once DEP opens that the attendance will climb even further. Plus, the booking trends at the Walt Disney Travel Co. are still record breaking, so there is no truth to any claims that will be posted that this offer is proof that attendance is bad at DCA.

Disney simply wants to avoid what Island of Adventure has been unsuccessful in shaking since opening day over two years ago and that is the Florida park is not kid friendly. That has hurt their attendance badly and they have not been able to recover since that stigma has been attached to the park. Disney is doing everything in their power to keep that stigma from being permanently attached to DCA, thus killing the family market visitation.

Please don't fall into the negative trap of the Al Lutzs on the Internet or in the news media that is going to jump all over this press release as DCA's failure. That is simply not true, there is no evidence of that. This offer targeted at the kids. <<


Well-Known Member
An 11-21-2001 company e-mail...

Dear Disneyland Resort Guest:

Thank you for your recent letter to the Disneyland Resort.

Disneyland Resort Annual Passports will now include a most sought-after benefit
- park hopping between Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure theme parks.
The new Two-Park Annual Passports start as low as $99 per person for the year
for Southern California residents (living within zip code ranges 90000 to
93599). The Two-Park Deluxe Annual Passport for all guests is $149 and the
Two-Park Premium Passport is $199. Guests, who had previously purchased a
2-Park Annual Passport after July 31, 2001, can either upgrade to the next
package level, or extend their Passport by 90 to 120 days. Options vary
depending on the level currently held. Please inquire at the Guest Services
Window or the Passport Processing Center for more information.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to write. We hope you will have the
opportunity to visit the Disneyland Resort in the near future and trust your
visit will be pleasant in all regards.


Diane Elizabeth
Disneyland Resort
Guest Communications


Well-Known Member
A very good LA Times from August 24th, 2002

Theme Parks Still Looking for Visitors

Eighteen months after its grand opening, Walt Disney Co.'s California Adventure is struggling more than its counterparts, still trying to find an audience at a time when the nation's theme parks are grappling with how to attract patrons in a weak economy.

Figuring that Americans would take more driving vacations and shorter trips closer to home and thereby boost attendance, many theme parks confidently headed into the summer--only to realize the anticipated throngs of local visitors didn't fully materialize and heavy discounting would be needed to keep turnstiles cranking.

Nationwide, attendance this year at theme parks is expected to be down about 15%, analysts said. At Disney's California Adventure, attendance is forecast to be off 20%, while its companion park, Disneyland, probably will see no change in attendance figures.

At California Adventure, which has never reached its original target capacity of 30,000 guests in one day, a summer promotion touting free admission for Southern California children was rolled out for the second year in a row.

"People still don't get what [California Adventure] is about," said Tim O'Brien, a senior editor at Amusement Business, which tracks attendance and other industry trends. "And that's an extra dose of hurt on top of all the external factors everyone else is dealing with, like Sept. 11 and the weak economy."

The 55-acre park opened in February 2001 as part of Disney's $1.4-billion expansion of its Anaheim property around Disneyland. Beset by the recession, the tourism slump after Sept. 11 and some problems of its own making, California Adventure has yet to come close to meeting original attendance projections of 7 million visitors a year.

Disney executives quickly made changes to the park by removing some of the edge from what was billed as an edgier, hipper alternative to Disneyland and making Disney characters more visible--something they originally said they wouldn't do.

Answering Complaints

Paul Pressler, chairman of Walt Disney Co.'s Parks & Resorts Division, said California Adventure has responded to some visitors' complaints, including that there isn't enough for small children to do and that it is short on thrills. Four kiddie rides will debut in October, and a Tower of Terror attraction--copied from the popular ride at Walt Disney World in Florida--will arrive in 2004.

"We didn't anticipate some of the changes we'd need to make, but we've listened closely to our guests," Pressler said. "We had some perception problems in the beginning, and we're still trying to overcome them."

Now almost through its second summer season, the cost cutting at the park, spurred by low attendance, is more apparent than ever. The largest food court there has been closed since Christmas, as have one other food area and a restaurant. Hours have been cut at other restaurants, with some open only on weekends, making it difficult to find places to eat.

Pressler said a lack of demand this summer has prompted the closures of some restaurants inside California Adventure, which also has shorter operating hours than Disneyland and tends to clear out after the Main Street Electrical Parade as guests flock back to Disneyland for an additional two or three hours. The wildly popular event was pulled from retirement last year; park sources said the initial boost in attendance it garnered has begun to taper off.

'Go in, Get out'

"If we come over here for anything, it's just to see the parade and then we're out of here," said Tony Quinn, a longtime annual passport holder who lined up for the nightly show in California Adventure with his wife and two small children. "They don't have the big family rides, the fireworks or anything close to the Fantasmic [light show] that we can get over at Disneyland. Here, it's go in, get out. Disneyland still holds us all day long."

Pressler blames some of the attendance issues on the drop-off in international tourists--which make up 20% of the two Disney theme parks' overall visitors--and guests being more careful this summer with their spending.

But Disneyland continues to perform solidly. Last weekend, Disneyland's attendance topped 50,000 on Saturday, while California Adventure's skimmed the 17,000 mark, said management sources. Disneyland has never discounted admission during the summer, nor has it offered free admission for children.

"We're still struggling with getting awareness up" for California Adventure, Pressler said. "Once people go, our feedback is always very positive. We just need to bring in some added horsepower, and I think the new things we're doing like Tower of Terror will really help get us where we want to be."

New Attractions Key

Especially in tough economic times, industry experts said keeping new attractions brewing is the key to strong attendance--a lesson Six Flags Inc. learned the hard way this summer. The company's chief executive last week said sagging attendance at the company's three biggest parks in New Jersey, Texas and Ohio--where no new attractions debuted this summer--reduced revenue by $25 million in the second quarter compared with a year earlier.

Confident that the summer would be brighter for the company, which operates more than 30 parks worldwide, Six Flags also cut discounts that probably contributed to the 11% drop in attendance, said Glen Reid, an analyst with Bear Stearns in New York. Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia enjoyed slightly better attendance over last year, mostly because of the opening of X, an extreme roller coaster.

"Everyone was a bit surprised at the poor performance because we all thought being in the regional theme park market, Six Flags would be more insulated from this kind of economic downturn," Reid said, noting that the company's stock tumbled 57% after its earnings announcement. "Everyone was wrong, and now it's a matter of waiting it out."

Deep Discounts

Other theme parks have kept attendance somewhat steady this summer by offering deep discounts. Sea World in San Diego and Busch Gardens in Tampa, Fla., for example, have offered free admission for the rest of the year to guests who purchased one full-price ticket in the spring.

At Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, where healthy crowds are turning out for a new roller coaster, discount coupons routinely are offered through grocery stores and fast-food chains. At times, Knott's gives discounts to guests who bring a Coca-Cola product.

Similar offers have helped boost attendance by as much as 28% at Universal Studios, which since mid-June has allowed kids 15 and under free admission with a paying adult. Spokesman Eliot Sekular said the summer has been one of the strongest as a result, with the park also opening two attractions, including one featuring Spider-Man.

"When you see such large-scale campaigns for discounts to locals, you know there's still plenty of room to fill inside that park," said Carl Winston, director of the hospitality and tourism management program at San Diego State University. "They simply wouldn't be giving away free tickets if they didn't have to, and this summer they all pretty much had to."<<


Well-Known Member
I still find it amazing how they made a themepark that has more of a "locals" attendance as a cartoon parody of the state the people are from. I still don't understand what they were thinking.

The sad thing about DCAs anniversary is the things that were fun from the opening of the park (Soarin, California Screamin) are completely changed and for the worse IMO. GRR is an OK rapids ride but nothing memorable. DCA keeps changing what it wants to do so how can it have a sense of history? It's amazing how much Disneyland grew and evolved in its first 2 decades vs California Adventure.

My family went to California Adventure the first summer it was open. We were there until maybe 2pm. I remember my family was not impressed, Soarin' Over California being the standout. We did not go on Superstar Limo and did not know that ride existed. I wasn't aware of it until many years later.

I think you have to understand that Disneyland meant a lot to the locals (my parents age) who had been going since opening and seen all the changes and improvements. Imagine the excitement a new park would have at Disneyland and what a let down the end result was.
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Well-Known Member
FINALLY caught up. What a roller coaster the 2000s were for Disneyland fans.

This was certainly a fascinating post. One thing that really stood out to me was the fact that TDA was too cheap to replace the sign on the Wolfgang Puck restaurant. That is mind blowingly cheap and they should have been ashamed of themselves.
Isn't luxo on the Paradise Pier sign still broken?


Proud Member Since 2016
Here is a good thread from 2002

I can't believe someone actually thought all of the negative press was "propaganda". If multiple bloggers and reporters were all saying the place sucked, just maybe it truly did suck.


Proud Member Since 2016
If Pressler had his way, DCA probably would have had zero attractions on opening day, and nothing but shops and restaurants. I feel like he only greenlit the carnival rides because people expected "rides". There is a major difference between a true "ride" such as Splash Mountain or Haunted Mansion vs the crap they put in DCA on day one such as Jumpin Jellyfish and Maliboomer. If he truly cared about DCA from the beginning, and really wanted a drop ride, DCA would have had a ToT clone from DHS on day one instead of the watered down version the park eventually got and the off the shelf version seen on Paradise Pier.

Mr. Johnson

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
18 years ago Disney’s California Adventure officially opened :
18 disappointing years of being both the park that tried to honor Californian history by making fun of it (with puns) and an IP dumping ground for whatever does not fit in the park across the way.
“TDA execs, and Imagineers beyond...
Give us a sign the green light is on.”


Proud Member Since 2016
18 years ago Disney’s California Adventure officially opened :
18 disappointing years of being both the park that tried to honor Californian history by making fun of it (with puns) and an IP dumping ground for whatever does not fit in the park across the way.
“TDA execs, and Imagineers beyond...
Give us a sign the green light is on.”
View attachment 348720
Somewhat unrelated, but can you imagine how Katiebug would have reacted if she stepped foot in DCA 18 years ago?
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