Two New Disneyland Attractions Will Be Months Late

Times Staff Writer

The premieres of Disneyland’s two flashy new projects for the 1986 season--a video starring pop singer Michael Jackson and a spaceflight attraction developed by “Star Wars” director George Lucas--will be months late, Disney officials said Monday.

But delays of the multimillion-dollar ventures come from technical problems and do not involve finances, said Bob Roth, a spokesman for the Anaheim theme park.

The Michael Jackson film, “Captain Eo,” has been delayed by problems with the design of the theater in which it will be shown. The delay on the spaceflight attraction is basically a corporate decision by Disney executives to hold back its opening date until well after the Michael Jackson video premieres, Roth said.


“You don’t want to open two major attractions too close together,” said Roth. “Besides, a new attraction prior to summer is not that critical, but the opening will help us in the fall.”

The two new attractions--jointly developed by Walt Disney Co. of Burbank and LucasFilm Ltd. of San Rafael--will be in the Tomorrowland area of the park, which has been hit by shrinking popularity and lower attendance in recent years. Although Disney tries to “constantly update that area of the park to make it Tomorrowland instead of Todayland or Yesterdayland,” Roth said, it has been more than two decades since it had a complete remake.

The $17-million “Captain Eo,” originally scheduled to open earlier this month, now is scheduled to open in September. The video, which is sponsored by Eastman Kodak Co., will premiere at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center, followed the next day by its opening at Disneyland.

Disney is negotiating with Jackson, executive director Lucas and director Francis Ford Coppola for personal appearances at both premieres, Roth said.

Although the 17-minute film completed shooting months ago, the 700-seat Disneyland theater in which it is scheduled to be shown has faced construction problems, Roth said. “The main thing is to incorporate the special effects of the film into the theater itself,” said Roth. Laser lights, for example, will appear to come off the screen into the audience.

Another stumbling block is the theater design, which contractors are trying to build to complement the 3-D film, said Andrea Jaffee, a spokeswoman for the film.

The unrelated spaceflight attraction, which also features a video, originally was scheduled to open in the fall of 1986 but now is not expected to open until January, 1987, Roth said. The attraction is designed to give park-goers a feeling of being in space.

A spokeswoman from LucasFilm refused Monday to comment on the delays.

Amusement industry analysts say they do not expect that the postponed openings will harm Disneyland’s attendance. “A lot of people are still in love with Disneyland’s gate giveaway,” said James Harmon, a partner at Management Resources, a Tustin consulting firm. For more than a year, the park has been handing out prizes to visitors ranging from free bags of popcorn to free Cadillacs.

Because of the delay in the new attractions, Disney has decided to extend the prize giveaway until the “Captain Eo” attraction opens, Roth said.

It was less than a year ago that Disney opened its most recent attraction, “Videopolis,” a teen nightclub in the park. Industry officials say this type of entertainment attraction--with video screens, flashing lights and popular rock music--is quickly replacing costly iron and steel rides.

“They can get more bang for their buck with things like these,” said Harmon, the consultant. “I’m not sure the big iron ride makes sense anymore.”