Disney's California Adventure getting better

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

LA Times columnist Matt Lait finds improvements at the often criticized California Adventure in his trip report.

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The only thing you can get lost in at IOA is the enormous spree of shops strewn about the park paths, which is a good thing for Universal. Other than that, they're pretty straight forward with moving people throughout the park. I was at the highest attendance day during spring break. Sure the paths were crowded, but NEVER was I lost, or had trouble getting anywhere throughout. The only thing you can complain about at IOA is the queue lines are so heavily themed at some times that it makes it almost a little uncomfortable. (I.E. Poseidon's Fury)
*** This post was edited by one sided soldier 4/24/2004 1:19:49 PM ***
Firstly, I'm not talking about the park on a light or even average day. How can you truly critique a park's design and crowd control if you're not looking at it at peak capacity? Of course there's absolutely nothing wrong with it on an empty day. On a packed day, there's a lot more wrong with the place than any Disney. I've experienced Disneyland and DCA when packed during the holidays, and I've done the same at all the Orlando parks. I've also been to them all when they're comparatively empty.

Perhaps we can cross off dead-ends. In retrospect that's not a problem at IOA.

I stand by the opinion that the paths are far too narrow, this is so blatantly obvious where there's no "buffer" area where attractions are. Spider-Man and Dueling Dragons' entrances can clog the paths for hundreds of metres either side because people get there and just don't move (which is fair, but I'd have thought it was the norm to take this into account when designing a park). This is also what causes the bottlenecking I also mentioned. Jurassic Park slows down because of Dueling Dragons etc. etc.

There is too much walking, if you're not going in a strict circular pattern. It didn't really affect me - when I was over there I was backpacking around America, so it's not as if IOA was too much for me or anything - but I was definitely walking around much, much more than in an average day at most theme parks. If you want to go on rides in an order based on what is most sensible rather than in an anti-/clockwise direction then it's next to impossible to do without racking up the miles.

I never got lost in the park, never tired (no more than any other park, anyway), but I did get incredibly frustrated because there was only one way to get anywhere, and the narrowness of the paths meant it was very slow, which is where Disney's hubs and multiple wider paths come in handy.

The key problem I think with IOA, aside from my opinions about the capacity or design, is the fact that there's no room to grow. They built themselves an all-inclusive, complete theme park on day one. I ask what they propose to do for the other six days. It'll always be a popular park, because of its destination nature, but attendance won't go up from what it is. I have no doubts that as DCA fills out; it'll get up to around the 10 mil mark for attendance - without the help of free tickets.


I'll agree with you on that last part. The Circular layout is both good and bad, however, I see the same thing at Epcot's World Showcase, if not even worse.

The fact of the matter is, Disney planned the Fast Pass integration a lot better than IOA did. I have never seen so many confused people looking for the Express pass centre as I did on that horribly busy day.

I don't think the paths are too narrow though. I think Disney may be too open sometimes, causing you to lose the feel of the area.

Auscoasterman, your comments puzzle me.

If you hate narrow paths than you must hate Disneyland as it has some real narrow pathways realitive to the number of people it draws. I've never expereinced any crowding issues at IOA. But Disneyland sure has them in front of Indy.

And EPCOT is a huge park. Too much walking at IOA? Not even close. EPCOT would win that award for sure. And that park even has the dead ends you mentioned!

As far as DCA goes...I do think it is a horribly laid out park. There have been crowding issues already with ToT and that's just during the preview days. There's only one path to it, and it's (surprise) a dead end! On top of that, it's right next to a theatre that lets out several thousand people all at once. The park is laid out all wrong really. And the Grand California hotel, while nice, takes up a huge chunk of real estate that should have been reserved for the park.

I'll take IOA's layout any day over DCA.

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