Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Disneyland - Plaza Gardens Requiescat in Pace

An icon of the Hub is soon to be gone.
I saw the skeletal remains of its old red and white, metal "circus tent" roof protruding over the construction wall on my trip to the Park last Sunday.
The colored metal pieces had been removed, leaving only the empty frame behind.
Perhaps the Disney folks are carefully dismantling it so that it may be reconstructed someplace else in the Disneyverse.
Probably not.
Walt danced there, under the circular roof and across its sparkling floor.
Louis Armstrong blew his trumpet from the tiny stage.
The Osmond Brothers made their debut.
Les Brown and his Band of Reknown used to perform before a floorful of happy swing dancers.
The original Mickey Mouse Club Mousketeers had many stints there as well.
The dance floor under the canopy was an area of the Park that had remained relatively unchanged over time.
The sparkling electric sign over the entrance was as much a feature of the Hub as the Castle drawbridge, the Frontierland entrance, the Adventureland sign or the popcorn wagon.
The little wooden bridge that led to Plaza Gardens was tucked beneath shady trees and crossed a winding brook.
Peace amidst the busy, crowded Park at almost any time.
Indeed, to this day it remained one of the few "parklike" areas in Disneyland, where guests could just sit and be refreshed.
Years ago I wrote a lament for this beloved corner of the Park once before, never, ever expecting to later be writing of its utter and complete demise.
I believe Walt wanted the Park to grow, to ADD new things, as long as imagination is left in the world.
Adding or "plussing" something was one of his many traits of genius.
I'm not so sure he would favor seeing "Fantasyland" intrude upon Main Street's Hub when presented with a storyboard or design drawing.
He probably would have coughed and raised that dark eyebrow the moment some overzealous Imagineer ridiculously suggested taking the Rocket Jets down from their old spot and planting them on the Hub, too.
Growing and adding new things is not the same as ripping out old things.
I suppose Sleeping Beauty Castle has had its day.
Maybe we can dismantle it and put up a "meet and greet" area for other "non-princess" Disney characters.
I mean where do you go these days to see Gaston, or Mr. Smee, or Horace Horsecollar, or any cast member from "Watcher in the Woods," "The Black Hole" or "The Black Cauldron" and other such "classics"?
That mountain over there with the bobsleds?
Don't repaint - REMOVE! REPLACE!
Enough with Pirates and Ghosts and Peter Pan!
We can yank 'em all out and put in attractions that have more "crossover" appeal, like "Wizards of Waverly Place Magical Hollow," "Phineas & Ferb's Platypus Manor" and "The Suite Life On Deck's Cruise of Terror."
Imagine an audio-animatronic Mr. Moseby, Zack and Cody in a dark attraction based upon rehashed "Love Boat" episodes and overgrown twins that have lost their appeal.
The heart thrills at the thought.
And Main Street.
What the heck is that place all about?
Does anyone really care about turn-of-the-century America anymore?
Let's lose the 1890s facades and trick out a West Coast version of Times Square!
Slap up some skyscrapers on either side of Main Street, with gleaming steel and glass.
Penny Arcade?
PUH-LEEZE.
We've installed "Studio 54," a 1970s disco tribute bar and nightclub in its place!
Come on in kids, it's a blast!
There's a life-sized "K.C. and the Sunshine Band" animatronics stage show that repeats itself every 15 minutes!
Put on your Boogie Shoes 'cause that's the way aha, aha, we like it!
Over on the east side of the street, the lame old Market House has been transformed into the Guggenheim West!
Immerse yourself in a post-modern, cutting edge retrospective of International Abstractionism, along with some classic Kandinsky!
Oodles of family fun await!
And the horse-drawn streetcars of yesterday are now the Manhattan Taxis!
Take a memorable journey through the streets of New Main Street in the back of a smelly cab operated by a guy with a thick accent and a meter that never stops!!

Sorry.

I got a little carried away there.

Carnation Plaza Gardens, I will miss you.

Thanks, as Bob Hope said, for the memories.

---Mike

9 comments:

Jonathan said...

Sad. I have some fond memories there.

Most memorable were Summer nights when "real" jazz bands used to play there (late 80's). I was a Supervisor in Adv/Front Foods. After the dinner rush, I would take a short break to wander over there, visit with my parents (Annual Pass holders), and listen to a tune or two. Caught some great bands!

Micha said...

Oh the memories! Watching the World War 2 generation dance to Big Band music in their senior years!

What are they putting in? Meet n greet junk? To me DCA is the epitome of people trying to be Walt Disney and getting it wrong. Only natural it will move to Dland as well. :(

Connie Moreno said...

I can only hope for the best and keep my fingers crossed....or I'll go nuts thinking about it!

Annie said...

I feel the same sentiment you guys do :/ it's a shame they couldn't have just repurposed it for something vs tearing it down.

Kevin Kidney said...

Great post. My thoughts exactly.

Anonymous said...

And "memories" they are. Well written as usual.

The list of talent that played there should have made it a cultural, if not a historical, landmark placed on the national register. Right off the top, I remember Count Basie, Tex Beneke, Buddy Rich, and the Bennie Goodman band. I took it all for granted being a cast member. Never gave it a thought that someday it would all be gone.

Each generation will enjoy its own version of Disneyland. But I'm happier with mine. #4

Boaz16 said...

Thank you again for writing what goes thru my mind as I ponder these subjects. Working mostly nights in the kitchen at Casa Mexicana from '86-'99 I was able to enjoy the music on my breaks/lunches. It was a great reprieve from the frantic pace of trying to crank out rice & beans for the seemingly never-ending line of hungry guests. To hear the musicians warm up backstage and then blow the red and white roof off of Carnation are some of my fondest memories. I am surprised more cast members didn't take advantage of the opportunity to hear the great music but it seemed they were more interested in watching tinkerbell crash into her tower behing Village Haus and BTMRR.

Boaz16 said...

This also reminded me of the time when a teamate of mine from the 3Bo6 Disney softball team had a bad night hitting and fielding. He blamed his bad play on the fact that he had to mop the dancefloor at Carnation on that hot afternoon. I never knew before that day that mopping Carnation was the most physically taxing job in the park! He never heard the end of this "excuse".

A113-Dean said...

Amen Mike!!!