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Monday, September 2, 2013

Disneyland's Cheap Fix To A Bigger Problem

All Disneyland fans know that the section of the park known as Frontierland is "lacking". It's been that way for years having gone the way of westerns on TV and in the movies, a once thriving subject matter now virtually extinct. With Mrs. DisneylandTraveler's father now living with us and his failing mind now locked into past memories rather than the present, we have watched our fair share of Bonanza and Gunsmoke episodes recently which show up on obscure satellite channels fixated on a viewing market that focuses on the elderly. Those shows were really great (seeing them again after many, many years, I forgot how good they really were) and Disneyland's Frontierland once reflected the popularity of the western on TV and film.

Frontierland in Disneyland has been neglected to the point of embarrassment, even more so now that it's one signature ride attraction - Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - has now had its scheduled 10 month refurbishment extended to perhaps early next year. What's left? The Shooting Gallery? The Mark Twain? Not much. Then there's the Golden Horseshoe Saloon, which has provided great entertainment for countless people through the years. Since it is a building in which presence of Walt Disney is still felt, its historical significance to the park is great. 

Walt had his hand in producing the original Golden Horseshoe Revue which ran through thousands of performances. I saw the revue as a kid with my parents. For the last dozen years or so since Mrs. DLT and I have been making extended trips to Disneyland frequently, we have always made it a point to Billy Hill and the Hillbillies at least once a trip. It's a great act and if you catch the boys on a good day with the right amount of audience participation, their show can easily be a trip highlight. Since Mrs. DLT and I tend to make our trips to Disneyland during low attendance parts of the year, we haven't seen the Billies do their act in the outdoor Festival Arena venue where Disneyland has banished them at times in a continuing effort to turn their intimate act into some kind of carnival. Billy Hill and the Hillbillies belong in the Golden Horseshoe. That's it - nowhere else in the park.

So during the past few weeks, with the Hillbillies still out in the Festival Arena, Disneyland has been doing a test within the confines of the Golden Horseshoe. Instead of a live performance, they have been working on an interactive game with real life cast members acting out parts of the game in various old west characters. The people that have posted about it in various Disneyland forums have said the game is a lot of fun and I believe them but here's the problem.

The people that generally have written about the game are generally local annual passholders who are always looking for something new and different in the park because they show up in Disneyland on a regular basis and need something new to keep their interest moving ahead.

I posted in MiceChat that the interactive game is pointed directly at the local annual passholder and probably holds little interest to the Disneyland guest who is a vacationer or only get to the park once every year or two. For the occasional visitor, Disneyland is about rides and major attractions not interactive games which take time away from the typical park attractions. One guy posted that my feelings toward annual passholders was contemptible. My reply was easy enough - I am an annual passholder, just not one who shows up at the front gates every week. For Disney, an interactive game is the "perfect" attraction because it has little in the way of development cost, little in the way of construction cost, no cost for maintenance and upkeep, no cost for liability, and when people get tired of it, the game is pretty much disposable. It provides Disney with a cheap fix for the bigger problem of a neglected Frontierland. Using the beautiful Golden Horseshoe for a "game" seems work against the beautiful historic venue. Frontierland needs the Golden Horseshoe because it has so little going form it. To use it for game playing seems a waste.

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