Friday, August 15, 2008

Disneyland - Carnation Plaza Gardens - A Lament


But never forgotten.

Carnation Plaza Gardens at the northwest corner of the Hub was a great food service location throughout its history.

Now its famous band shell sits alone, the food is gone and Plaza Gardens has become a walk-through area (leading to the Plaza Zocalo and Frontierland).

Sure, there are still some tables over there (and some red and white umbrellas), but why? Guests who come to enjoy the entertainers in the band shell have no place to grab a hot dog, fries, an ice cream or a drink (absent a trek down Main Street or into Frontierland).

Plaza Gardens has special meaning to an old sweeper, since I would walk through this area every day on the way to Custodial Control---Day Custodial's main office. There was a door to the back area just to the left of the food service location pictured above. I think it's still there, actually, but I'd have to go back and check during my next visit to be sure. Anyway, I purchased many a Coke and a cup of coffee on my way past Plaza Gardens while heading for my assigned area. The bussers and food service people in this area were familiar faces.

Inexplicably, Plaza Gardens has been stripped down to only its famous stage and canopy. I imagine this was for "traffic flow" purposes, since the West Side of the Park is devastated nightly by the Fantasmic show (so perfectly themed to FRONTIERLAND!) and an additional means of egress is necessary to help funnel the hordes trying to escape New Orleans Square and Frontierland after the show lets out. A traffic tunnel has been carved out and the former Casa de Fritos location was greatly expanded---both of which occupy the area where Custodial Control's little offices were located.

Sure, the traffic moves more smoothly now. Sure, the bathrooms are bigger and better than they used to be. Sure, there are a lot less french fries on the ground.

But I must admit to an emptiness inside when I stray through this area today. It is similar to the feeling I get when I walk past the Aladdin travesty that was once the Tahitian Terrace. Or hear Tarzan's jungle call as I struggle through the crowd in front of what was once the Swiss Family's treehouse.

Maybe you know this feeling. If you are a long-time Disneylander, I'll bet you do.

You know, it is that bilious feeling when you get to the end of Main Street and make a right turn into what used to be the open, flower-filled entrance to Tomorrowland and instead you collide into rust-colored jutting rocks and a mangled version of what used to be the Rocket Jets. And you think, "Who in the hell thought that taking the Rocket Jets down from their tower in the center of Tomorrowland and moving them to Main Street (in FRONT OF the Peoplemover tracks) would be a good idea???!!"

Or that feeling when you search in vain for Circlevision 360 or glance skyward in Fantasyland for the colorful cars of the Skyway.

It is how you feel when you see that Mission to Mars has become a foul-smelling, poorly air-conditioned Pizza Planet.

It is the difference between the disaster of Light Magic (and all its funky lighting fixtures that have now clogged both sides of the skyline on the path leading to It's a Small World) and the unbridled warmth and joy of The Main Street Electrical Parade.

It is Winnie the Pooh taking over Bear Country and cruelly hanging Max, Buff and Melvin, now forever motionless on the wall, as a testament to the coup.

It is Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln becoming A Few Moments With Mr. (Steve) Martin.

It is Toontown.

It is Jack Sparrow.

It is Jack Skellington.

It is a rotting Keel Boat.

It is a Festival of Fools.

It is Chevron taking over the Autopia (pull out some pictures of the old attraction's vehicles and layout and compare them to what is there today).

It is Innoventions instead of America Sings.

It is the People Mover traded out for Rocket Rods.

It is the empty waters of the Motor Boat Cruise.

It is the Hungry Bear Restaurant looking kinda lonesome and out of place in Critter Country.

It is what brought you the (thankfully) temporary pastel paint job on the facade of It's a Small World and what may be behind whatever they are doing to that attraction as we speak! Poor Mary Blair!

It is Cascade Mound instead of Cascade Peak.

It is knowing that the proud Columbia and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad somehow once became lethal.

If you do not know the feeling, consider yourself fortunate.

If you do, you have company.

Of course, the Park remains magical and always will.

I always expected it to grow and add new things, but never at the expense of what it means to be truly Disneyland.

I think the new regime might finally be getting the picture. The re-opening of the walk through attraction in Sleeping Beauty's Castle is one of many steps recently taken back toward the core of Disneyland. The Subs, after all, are back. And the Park is immaculately clean as of late.

Here's to every step in the right direction! And a fond farewell to many things and places that are no more. Adieu.