Friday, February 01, 2013

Plaza Gardens vs. Fantasy Faire

I was so upset when I found out that the Fantasy Faire was going to replace The Carnation Plaza Gardens, the historic musical venue that fit in perfectly with the Main Street, U.S.A. theme. Most turn-of-the-century towns boasted a bandstand where folks gathered to listen to music and to dance. This type of facility would have been the heart of any town's social life. Even at Disneyland, The Plaza Gardens were once a vibrant area, which sadly seemed to lose a bit of gas as the years went by. The food service counter was removed, the amount/quality of entertainment seemed to decrease, and other than the weekend swing dancing, this area seemed to be a very large "parking lot" for those weary from a day of walking through the park. That adds up to a very expensive place to sit for the bean counters!

Enter the Fantasy Faire. These are the most recent construction shots from my visit during the Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend.

It is shaping up quite nicely, and I am sure that once it is done, it will be a perfectly lovely spot.

Still, I have so many regrets that the Fantasyland theme is spilling out past the borders of the Sleeping Beauty Castle. Over at DCA, The Blue Sky Cellar Preview Center for Imagineering has an exhibit with a model and the plans for Fantasy Faire.

When it comes to models and miniatures, I absolutely go nuts. It was so cool to see this scaled down version of what would inhabit this space.

There is a video looped throughout the day, with Imagineers discussing the project.

Pointing to the Herb Ryman map that "sold" the Disneyland concept to the banks, Imagineer Kim Irvine uses that as proof that Walt intended the boundaries of Fantasyland to extend beyond the castle. Even though it might seem plausible at first, if you look at the map, you'll notice that yes, the castle is surrounded by a wall. Not a row of buildings, but a wall that separates Fantasyland from the other lands.

One could deduce that each land was to have definitive boundaries so as to keep the theming inside of those boundaries. This is where my main objection to Fantasy Faire lies. It makes the distinction between Fantasyland and Main Street even more blurry; yet, one could also argue that the Snow White Wishing Well does the same thing, and I can tell you right now I don't want to give that area up! So what's a Disneyland admirer to do?

First, I think it's time for the Imagineers to stop trying so hard to tie the "Walt originally intended" phrase to each project. The fans who are stuck in the past and don't want any changes aren't going to believe it, and the newer fans who love change and newfangled attractions, well...they probably don't care what Walt would have done because that was over 60 years ago and times (and people) have definitely changed.

Looking at the plans and attempting to be positive, I actually found much to like. Apparently, there will be a few cool animatronic features on display, such as this Figaro (from "Pinocchio") and bird animation:

Clopin's Music Box appears to showcase an interesting little dancing man, in the same vein of the Buddy Ebsen animatronic that spawned the whole durn thing. Clopin is a character from "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

There will also be a slight nod to the former location in the crest medallion which bears the initials "CPG."

The Royal Hall is where guests will be able to greet the Princesses. Personally, I have always preferred the element of surprise; will I run into a favorite character/princess, and if so where and when? Toontown kind of killed that with the addition of Mickey's House. I find that meeting Mickey becomes a lot less special when you know exactly where and when to find him. Still, for those who have made a big sojourn to Anaheim for their little darling to meet Mickey Mouse, it's nice to know that your hard-earned money hasn't gone down the drain and that you have a guaranteed photo opp at your finger tips.

The Royal Theatre is the rethemed Plaza Gardens, and will feature two shows a day. One will be about "Beauty and the Beast," the other about "Tangled." Supposedly swing dancing will still be brought back here at night. Notice the sign for Maurice's Treats.

The day I was at Blue Sky, there was an Imagineer that had worked on the project standing nearby, answering questions. I remembered that I had seen a sign for a fictional restaurant in one of slides that bore a similar name. It turned out to be "Mauri's Lobster Dinners" at Fowler's Inn.

For the life of me, I couldn't remember where I had seen that image, and I asked the Imagineer if he knew who came up with the name for Maurice's Treats? He was extremely sheepish, and shyly admitted that it was his idea, as if I was going to burn him at the stake for doing so. I quickly let him know that wasn't my intention, but rather I was trying to figure out if the name "Maurice's" was inspired by a vintage sign at the park or by something else. He explained the name came from Belle's father in "Beauty and the Beast."

Naturally, there will be a retail opportunity, Fairy Tale Treasures.

That's it for now. What are you thoughts on the changeover?

See more vintage & current Blue Sky Cellar photos on my Blue Sky photo web page.


K. Martinez said...

The Enchanted Tiki Room's entrance and facade are located outside the gates of Adventureland and House of the Future was outside the entry to Tomorrowland. Both of these attractions were created when Walt was alive. It never bothered me that they were outside their respective borders. To me the Hub is where all the "lands" converge.

I'll still miss the old turn-of-the-century park feel to Plaza Gardens, but times change. As an older man, I have no interest in the Disney-Princess thing so it will probably be a quick walk-through for me just to see the architecture and details. That I can appreciate. I would still prefer the Carnation Plaza Gardens, but not because of Fantasy Faire's "theme violation".

Major Pepperidge said...

I like the basic look of the buildings, although I wish they would tone down some of those colors. Cobalt blue roofs? The trend toward more bright (cartoony?) colors continues. I know, I'm being picky, and it will probably all look fine once it is done.

PsySocDisney said...

I kind of find it odd that they're so intent on justifying their plans for the Fantasy Faire. No one /really/ knows WWWDD (what would walt disney do?) but everyone seems to think that they do. It's like they have a secret guilt for closing Plaza Gardens and if it seems like Walt would have done it, and they let everyone know then they can sleep at night. It's so weird to me.
I think it's possible to have a really good Fantasy Faire. I agree with Major about the flashy colors but a lot of the elements seem innovative and exciting. I will avoid the Princess M&G but the area has definite potential!

K. Martinez said...

Strangly, I like the colors. Especially on the "tournament" tent. It reminds me of the original Fantasyland with it's colorful pastels.

Daveland said...

Looking at the model, the colors didn't bother me at all; I also felt (like K.) that there was a bit of the old Fantasyland look to it. I am sure the finished product will look spectacular. They seem to be lavishing a lot of attention on this small area.


In 1972 WED had plans to relocate Plaza Gardens over to a new complex attatched to the Circle-Vision building exteneding into the old Alpine Gardens at the entry of Tomorrowland. I show a picture of the model with the new dance and bandstand and eating area in my earliest TOMORROWLOUNGE BLOG post. The plans however do not say what was to have been done with the space the old Carnation Gardens occupied.
When Canation Company ending it's sponorship but before Nestle
continued the contract, WDI had designed an all new Carnation Gardens called EDISON ELECTRIC GARDENS. The area was basically the same format but was to be themed with a large amount of "new electric lights" almost like a pavilion showcasing the possibilites of elctric lights.