On Monday, September 6, 2010 the Maliboomer launched its last rider up into the skies above Disney California Adventure at Disneyland Resort. On September 7 the Maliboomer closed as part of the re-theming of the Paradise Pier section of the park. Why is Disney demolishing this perfectly good ride?
Understanding why Disney is demolishing the Maliboomer is linked closely with the origins of the Disney California Adventure park. Taking a cue from Walt Disney World, Disney expanded the Disneyland theme park into the Disneyland Resort in 2001. As part of that expansion a new theme park was built: Disney California Adventure.
Disney theme parks are typically known for rich theming and attention to detail. Disney California Adventure’s origins were different. The leadership at Disneyland in the late 1990′s decided to build a low cost Disney theme park next to Disneyland using as many off-the-shelf rides as possible. Maliboomer was one of the off-the-shelf rides.
The park was built for $700 million at a time when the richly themed (and much more successful) Tokyo Disney Sea park was built for $4 billion (also opened in 2001). Many compromises were made to get the cost lower, and Disney guests were not fooled. Disney’s expections for California Adventure were high, but guest attendance was far below projections.
Disney had to decide whether they wanted to let California Adventure languish or to re-invest in the park. They chose the latter. In late 2007 Disney announced an unprecedented park-wide “re-imagineering” (see Disney to fix a major misstep). Disney is investing $1.1 billion into Disney California Adventure to improve the theming with the hope of reversing almost a decade of underperformance. Early indicators on the re-imagineering initiative are positive as seen by the huge crowds drawn to see the spectacular new World of Color show this summer.
The Maliboomer was part of the original opening of the park in 2001, and soon after opening the infamous “scream shields” were added. Others have speculated that the shields were not so much for sound protection as to protect others on the ground from, well, people who got sick on the ride. I did correspond a few years ago with a Disneyland fan who was walking under the Maliboomer one day and a ladies’ purse heavy with contents came falling from above - and came close to scoring a knockout blow to his head. He seriously speculated whether he would have survived.
I personally have always thought that the Paradise Pier area was the weakest and most “un-Disney” part of the park. While there are many rides at Disneyland Resort over the years that I have been sad to see taken down, Maliboomer is not one of them. As Disney transforms this park into something worthy of being next door to the incredible Disneyland park, Maliboomer’s demolition is a step in the right direction.
Nevertheless, on our recent trip to Disneyland Resort in July we bade our farewells to Maliboomer with a final ride. My eighteen-year-old son’s girlfriend surprised me by chickening out at the last minute. And my wife surprised me by not chickening out. Regulars at California Adventure know that it is not the scary looking Maliboomer of which to be truly afraid, but the nearby and innocent looking Mickey’s Fun Wheel and their “swinging gondolas” – also know by some as MFWOD (Mickey’s Fun Wheel of Death).
So once Maliboomer is gone from the Disney California Adventure skyline, what will take its place? So far Disney has not said. It appears that the demolition is not so much to make room for something new as it is to just change the theming of the area. Being that the ride is nestled inside the tracks of the California Screamin’ roller coaster, it is not clear if it is even possible to build a new ride there.
Now if we can only get Disney to take out those awful carnival games in Paradise Pier!