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Review: Disappointing Goofy's Sky School coaster marks end of Paradise Pier makeover at Disney California Adventure

Review: Disappointing Goofy's Sky School coaster marks end of Paradise Pier makeover at Disney California Adventure
(Brady MacDonald / Los Angeles Times)

The

makeover of an off-the-shelf roller coaster at

amounts to little more than a Band-Aid meant to hide an unseemly scar that earned the

Anaheim

theme park its on-the-cheap reputation.

I took a spin on the "refreshed" Wild Mouse-style coaster over the weekend and found little has changed from the previous

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Mulholland Madness

version of the ride. The minor cosmetic surgery performed on the coaster amounts to nothing more than a fresh coat of sky-blue paint, a few Goofy billboards and a propeller slapped on the front of the cars.

will officially open Friday, along with the

Paradise Garden Grill

and the

Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta

restaurants as part of a $1.1 billion makeover of Disney California Adventure.

Inspired by the 1940 cartoon short "Goofy's Glider," the remade ride's new flying- academy back story follows the clumsy anthropomorphic dog's attempts to teach a group of novice pilots how to fly. Naturally, things go awry.

I didn't expect much from the re-imagineered ride, found at any freeway fun park or traveling carnival. But I could not have imagined much less from the team at

Walt Disney

Imagineering.

An ordinary Wild Mouse coaster doesn't belong in a Disney park and is an embarrassment compared with the

Space Mountain

,

Big Thunder Mountain

and

Matterhorn

coasters across the way at Disneyland. Simply put, the ride should have been removed rather than remade.

The best thing that can be said about Goofy's Sky School is that the modest makeover successfully integrates the ride into the 1920s and '30s seaside amusement park motif and Victorian and Craftsman architecture of the re-imagined

Paradise Pier

.

The removal of the

Caltrans

maintenance-yard theme of Mulholland Madness eliminates the final eyesore from a Paradise Pier landscape that once included the

Orange Stinger

wave swinger, the

Maliboomer

drop tower, the

Burger Invasion

fast food stand and

Dinosaur Jack's Sunglass Shack

.

The transformative change of Paradise Pier accomplished over the last three years has been both striking and essential. The addition of the

Toy Story Midway Mania

,

Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure

and "

World of Color

" attractions, along with the retheming of the

Silly Symphony Swings

ride, the boardwalk games and the updated restaurants, have turned Paradise Pier from an industry laughingstock into a symbol of Disney's commitment to reinventing the park.

While Disney will declare the makeover of Paradise Pier complete, much of the themed land still needs attention. The queues of

Mickey's Fun Wheel

, the

California Screamin'

coaster and

King Triton's Carousel

still don't match the 1920s and ’30s seaside amusement park motif. Likewise, the

Man Hat 'n' Beach

and

Point Mugu Tattoo

retail shops retain the old strip-mall architecture and bad California puns that typified DCA circa 2001.

Maliboomer's merciful removal has left a gaping hole hidden by a "park" that's more smoker's lounge than inviting respite. And the promised conversion of the

Jumpin' Jellyfish

parachute ride to a Green Army Men theme has yet to materialize.

Long-term plans, still in the embryonic stages, call for a D- or E-Ticket ride to one day occupy Maliboomer’s space, according to

, with a second attraction envisioned for the unoccupied eastern helix of the Screamin' coaster.

Similarly,

suggests the Goofy makeover is merely a placeholder for a true E-ticket-type attraction when money frees up for future expansion. Let's hope that's the case.

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