By Richard Rushfield
Branding its new theme park with the name of the Golden State must’ve seemed a pretty good idea when the Disney company opened its new money factory in 2001. After all, who doesn’t love California? And who could’ve guessed that the answer to that question would be: everyone.
Individuals, of course, can run from the inferno and have been faster than U-Haul supply can keep up with them. But if you’re a city, a county or a theme park, you can’t just throw the dog in the trunk and tie your kids to the roof and strike out across the desert for the greener climes of North Dakota.
As the narrative power of the California dream went up in a mushroom cloud, Disney had two realistic choices for its park:
• To update it to a more familiar vision of the adventures of the great state of California complete with High Desert Methlabland, Child Actor Exploitation Land and Undocumented Laborers Raising the Children of Movie Producers and Tech VC’s Land.
• Like the city of Fillmore, embark on a crash De-Californication plan, attempting to bury any hint of the park’s namesake once visitors pass through the gates.
Were it me, I would have gone with the first option, but who can argue with the wisdom of Theme Park Executives?
According to The Daily News, Disney has just completed a billion dollar, De-Californicating makeover of the ill-named park:
The revamp replaced many California-themed rides with rides that have Disney storylines.
The Mulholland Madness roller coaster, named after an infamous California water baron, is now Goofy’s Sky School.
Golden Dreams, an audio history of California, is now an animatronic ride called The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure.
A replica of the Golden Gate Bridge spanning two banks of stores that lined the entranceway has been made over to evoke the Los Angeles neighborhood where founder Walt Disney got his start.
And Cars Land, a 12-acre area based on the Pixar movie “Cars,” opens Friday with three new rides and a re-creation of the fictional town of Radiator Springs on Route 66.
It seems well past time for the state to open up an office of De-Californifacting, to assist businesses and communities in downplaying their attachment to the state. In the meantime, if we run into Fillmore or Disney on the streets, we promise to look away and not say hello.