Friday, October 30, 2015

Abandoned Desert Water Park

Author's note: This was the first post I ever wrote for Disneyland Report. Soon after I decided to adhere to a Disney theme, and this post was removed. However, I thought it was fitting for a Halloween post, so I'm bringing it back. I'm not sure about the state of the water park today, but this would have been from my Vegas trip around August 2012. 
Happy Halloween!

You're travelling down Interstate 15 just east of Barstow; Las Vegas bound. There are towering water slides sporting bright colors. Is it a mirage? No, it's the Rock-A-Hoola Water Park!

Or so it was.

This ambitious water park had a mere 6-year run before it faced total abandonment in 2004. Rock-A-Hoola featured 18 water slides, a lazy river, and other typical water park attractions. It was built by Bob Byers in 1998 as part of his famous man-made Lake Dolores water park, the self-proclaimed first water park in America. Rock-A-Hoola had a 1950's theme, paying homage to the musical greats of the 50's, as well as the historic Route 66, where the park stands. Guests could ride such attractions as the Doo Wop Super Drop and Big Bopper while listening to classic 1950's music played around the park. The park also featured a video arcade, cafe, and gift shop.

A few years after the park's demise, Rock-A-Hoola remained in remarkably good shape. The slides were left intact and there was a surprising lack of vandalism. That is, until no foreseeable future came to the park, and it was abandoned by security. Rock-A-Hoola's location on one of America's busiest highways between two of America's busiest cities make it one of Route 66's most curious landmarks. The park may be closed for business, but you can still check it out today.

The buildings have rotted away in the desert winds, and the paint has been done over by graffiti.

The Lazy River once carried people around the park. Now, it houses battered beach chairs and the broken shambles of old water slides.

The Lazy River Cafe used to feed hungry guests. It now stands as an eerie centerpiece for the park, with dilapidated soda fountains at each window.

Check out other images we took at the desolate Rock-A-Hoola Water Park:

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Fate of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

A couple of weeks ago, I went on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride with my sister. While standing in line, a kid noticed my Mr. Toad shirt and timidly asked where I bought it. I told his parents which store it was; evidently this was his favorite ride. As I saw the kid climb into his own motorcar (the true way to experience the ride) I thought back to my own childhood. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride always stood out among the dark rides. While Snow White's Scary Adventures and Pinocchio's Daring Journey are also dark and somewhat frightening, Mr. Toad is a special blend of madness--swerving, spinning, explosions, and even getting run over by a train and going to Hell--that's just awesome when you're a kid. While the other Dark rides (namely Peter Pan, Alice, and Snow White) have lost their initial object of making the rider the main character, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride still puts the riders directly behind the wheel of Toad's motorcar, as they romp through Toad Hall and the English countryside from The Wind in the Willows.

So I got to thinking... will future generations remember this ride? Most people have probably never seen the short film it was based on. Wind in the Willows was released during a slow period for Disney; the post-Dumbo slump which saw a dramatic cut in the animation budget due to World War II. Thus, a delayed production and limited staff never allowed it to develop into the movie it was intended to be, relegating this classic to a half-hour short. Having released in 1949, the cartoon was still fresh in memory when Disneyland was constructed--perfect for an opening day attraction alongside the likes of Peter Pan and Dumbo. But today it's mostly forgotten, and sticks out as an obscure theme for an attraction. None of the characters would be seen strolling around the park; they appear only on pins and a reference in the Storybook Land Boat ride. It really does beg the question whether this ride is becoming obsolete.

If it were my decision, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride would stand until the end of time. I loved this ride as a kid, like countless children before me. And as I've learned from my last trip to Disneyland, it continues to be a favorite. Part of the magic of Disney is keeping the old alive and seamlessly integrated with the new. And Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is the embodiment of old Disney magic capturing the hearts of children and adults today. As Disneyland has made quite painfully clear over the years, virtually no attraction is safe from demise--the old must make way for the new. But the attention that they've shown in modernizing and keeping relevant the 1955 attractions is very promising. I have no doubt that a ride like Mr. Toad can stand the test of time, just as well as Dumbo the Flying Elephant or The Jungle Cruise. Maybe soon we'll see another Fantasyland overhaul: a complete re-imagining of all of our favorite dark rides. Who wouldn't want to see a grander, full-scale Toad Hall? Bumpy roads and sharper turns like Indiana Jones--scenes from the movie brought to life with projection and updated animatronic technology like we've seen on Alice in Wonderland and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in recent years. All I can do is maintain hope that I will never see the end of this glorious ride. Don't follow in Disney World's footsteps, Disneyland. Long live Mr. Toad!

If you have Netflix, do yourself a favor and watch The Wind in the Willows, it's on instant streaming as of 10/26. Help keep this Disney masterpiece alive, and may Mr. Toad's Wild Ride never close its doors.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Disneyland Raises Prices Again

Sigh, this is becoming an almost yearly post. This time, Disney has cut the Premium and SoCal passes out altogether, introducing the Signature and Signature Plus passports. The new highest price point for a Disney annual pass comes at a whopping $1,049. The cheapest option, the Southern California Select, now costs $329.

This is an experiment to see how much they can charge for tickets and still make a profit. Of course they're trying to squeeze as much money out of us as they can. And of course they need to cover the cost of Star Wars Land, which will be Disneyland's top priority throughout next year. And because of the construction, several attractions will be closed next year, namely the Rivers of America and Disneyland Railroad. My advice is that if you don't think the price change warrants admission, don't renew. Some people, particularly Premium passholders, will be upset with the change and I understand completely. However, I will probably be renewing my pass anyway, because I love Disneyland. If you feel like you're being gouged, or you don't enjoy going to Disneyland several times a year, simply don't get a pass.