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Disney Hopes Bug Adds Life to Park

Entertainment: New California Adventure venue, based on a popular animated film, is designed to boost attendance of young families.

October 08, 2002|SCOTT MARTELLE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Signaling a significant shift for its low-drawing California Adventure amusement park in Anaheim, Disney officials on Monday opened a new kid-friendly attraction based on the popular "A Bug's Life" animated movie and announced plans for a spring stage show based on the "Playhouse Disney" television show.

Disney officials described the new attractions, along with the Tower of Terror ride being built for a 2004 opening, as part of a general and long-running evolution of its amusement parks.

"We're hoping with the addition of 'a bug's land' and Tower of Terror, and with continuing creative development, that Disneyland Resorts will continue to grow and prosper," Disney chief Michael Eisner told employees, invited guests and California Adventure patrons. "I'm unbelievably enthusiastic about what's going on down here."

The spring "Playhouse Disney--Live on Stage" show will extend Disney's overtures to young families--a demographic group noticeably absent since the 55-acre California Adventure opened in February 2001, and which has failed to meet initial attendance projections.

Little of that was on the minds of hundreds of youngsters and their families who defied a sweltering sun Monday morning to pour into the new Flik's Fun Fair, based on the award-winning "A Bug's Life," which had merged with the existing It's Tough to Be a Bug and Beautiful Valley Farm attractions to create "a bug's land."

"The rides are really cute," said Alyssa Hansen, 9, of Irvine moments after alighting from Heimlich's Chew Chew Train caterpillar ride through a forest of food--including a watermelon rind that drips "juice" and smells like the real thing.

"I like that they've done this--it seems more like traditional Disney," added her mother, Janice Hansen, 37.

"I think it will encourage families with young children to come here," she said. "I think [Disney officials] listened to what the people said they wanted."

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