The Walt Disney Co.'s decision to pump $1.1 billion in a massive overhaul of the California Adventure theme park in Anaheim, Calif., over the next five years was met with hallelujahs by those who sell Disney vacation products.

"This will go over very well with my clients who are real Disney lovers," said Denise Keesler of Magical Journeys in Davison, Mich.

California Adventure, which opened in 2001, was never a huge hit with vacationers, who still preferred to spend most of their time in Disneyland, the original Disney park next door, she said.

"There were a couple of good rides [at California Adventure], but it just didn't have that Disney magic and something to hold it together as a strong theme."

The inspiration for the new park will be a more significant connection to Walt Disney, said Disney officials.

"[Designers are] going back to the days when Walt Disney first arrived in Los Angeles [during the 1920s]," said Disney spokeswoman Jennifer Liu. "It will definitely have an old California feel, and we're looking at the Hollywood aspect of it."

The investment in California Adventure is intended to help make the greater Disneyland resort area a vacation destination and not just a one-day jaunt, Liu said.

"The idea of even creating the second park is so people will stay for more than one day," said Liu. "With Disneyland originally, people came for the day and left, or stayed overnight. But by expanding the resort, the whole idea was to extend people's stay in Anaheim and Southern California."

Rebekah Mahken of Mei & Mouse Fun Travel in Snowqualmie, Wash., expects to be booking some extended stays for her "Disneyphile" clients, who she said are already buzzing with excitement about the plans for California Adventure.

"They didn't feel it had the high levels of quality that Disney is known for," Mahken said. "Now, they've gone back to the drawing board and made some exciting plans, and I think it will become a true multipark experience."

Mahken is thrilled that part of Disney's plan is to add 250 rooms to the Grand Californian, the parks' popular hotel, a move that also will boost sales.

The new attractions scheduled to open over the next five years at California Adventure are:

" Cars Land, a 12-acre area inspired by the Disney/Pixar movie "Cars," which will include the virtual ride Radiator Spring Racers and two additional family rides.

" Parades Pier, which will host the new 4-D Toy Story Mania! ride, slated to open next summer, as well as a major Little Mermaid ride. The pier will also feature a new 9,000-seat viewing areas for shows.

" World of Color, a nighttime water, lights and music show.

" A new entry plaza and gateway inspired by the Carthay Circle Theatre, where "Snow White" premiered in 1937. This area will also house the new Walt Disney Story interactive tribute attraction.

" Hollywood Pictures Backlot, an updated show venue.

" Golden State, where new dining options will be built, with a focus on California farmland and its ethnically diverse cuisine. This area will also host food and wine festivals.

" A Preview Center, slated to open in late 2008, which will give guests a sneak peek at developments in the park.

Liu said the company did not intend to lower the cost of admission to California Adventure during the reconstruction.

"A lot of the areas where the construction will take place will be in areas that will be away from where guests will actually be," said Liu. "Whenever we have an attraction that goes into refurbishment, we do make amends, so that it will not deter from [guests'] normal day at the park."   

To contact the reporters who wrote this article, send e-mail to Laura Del Rosso at [email protected] or Michelle Baran at [email protected].

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