Besides It's A Small World, there were a few things that I saw (or did not see, fortunately) at Disneyland last Friday.
The Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough
Now this is the kind of restoration I want to see at Disneyland. The new walkthrough takes an old classic and utilizes new technology to resurrect it while keeping true to its original vision. It's one of those little things that Disneyland used to be known for. It's one of those little things that completes the Disneyland experience.
Here, a marketing tie-in (for the DVD release of Sleeping Beauty) is used for good rather than evil. Disneyland absolutely needs more A and B tickets like this. Give us our People Mover, our Skyway and our Disney Gallery back as well!
Toy Story Midway Mania
Before this attraction ever opened I was commenting on how great the building was coming out. I saw it in person last May using some free tickets I got from work. It looked good then and it looked good now. If that's how the rest of Paradise Pier is going to look, sign me up for a visit to DCA in 2012. This was the first time however, that I actually had the opportunity to ride it.
While the ride itself is simply 3D screens and painted flats, Potato Head is a mesmerizing audio-animatronic. I only wish WDI could put animatronics like him back into the attractions!
The main attraction is interesting, but just not my cup of tea. I was more fascinated by the ride system, how everything was controlled and managed by the computer software that powers the shooting game, which is actually pretty good in the context of a video game. It was easy to get a hang of the physics and the process of shooting down plates and balloons came naturally to me. I ended up beating my girlfriend by a wide margin even though she had played countless times already.
I found the shooting method to be odd though. I would have envisioned a trigger or a button to push. Here, you have to grasp the knob and pull the string in a rapidly repetitive motion to shoot. Needless to say, my right arm has had more than enough practice for this game.
I just hate 3D effects though. 3D has never looked good to me. After all these years it's the same old glasses on the same old screens. I go to Disney theme parks for their fully realized environments and captivating stories, not to play video games. If I want to play games I've got a Wii at home. A 3D attraction could never be more three dimensional than The Haunted Mansion or Pirates of the Caribbean.
At the end of the day, however, Midway Mania is a great addition to a struggling theme park. It didn't replace anything substantial and offers something else to do in this Frankenstein of a park.
Oh, what a glorious sight! When I heard that McDonald's was getting the boot from Disneyland, I felt like shouting, "And don't let the door hit your ass on the way out!"
I made a point to visit the former spot of the Fry Cart, and now that you can experience its absence, you realize how much it intruded on the area. Not only is the cart gone, but so is the awful smell.
Thank you, Disney, for not renewing the McDonald's contract. We can now breathe a little easier in Frontierland.
Blue Sky Cellar
What a marvelous idea. Not only does the Blue Sky Cellar give us model and concept art junkies our fix, but it allows Disney to advertise some upcoming attractions to park guests in a way that doesn't feel like a hard sell. It's win-win.
While there is no doubt in my mind that DCA will be vastly improved over what opened in 2001, I can't help but be disappointed how much Pixar is going into the park. Even if I can't get into the world of Cars, I think I will be able to appreciate the investment and work that is going into the new land.
I'm most excited about the entrance plaza and especially the Red Cars. As a mass transit advocate the sad story of the Red Cars hits home. It's wonderful that as rail is getting a new lease on life in California, WDI has decided to create a tribute to the trolley that built Los Angeles. Bravo.
But it's only until some new Disneyland concept art is installed inside the cellar that I will be really excited about visiting it.
Operations and Maintenance
Main Street is currently undergoing quite a bit of refurbishment and the work that has been done looks great. The paint is gorgeous and there only a few burned out light bulbs.
Tomorrowland on the other hand is continuing to age badly. Space Mountain's queue continues to deteriorate. Its dome is so dirty that even a heavy downpour can't make a dent in the dirt, but can only spread it around. Paint is peeling everywhere, on railings and even up high on buildings such as Star Tours. As always, the rotting People Mover track is a sad sight.
Renovate Tomorrowland already. This corner of the park urgently needs it. It's time for a New New New Tomorrowland.
Despite poor wages, cast members can do nothing but smile even in this economy. While there will always be cast members whose spirits have been crushed and look like they want to throw themselves in front of a Matterhorn bobsled (I don't blame them!), many are friendly, personable and some even seem to take pride in what they are doing, especially the Disneyland Railroad cast members.
I always feel for the old dudes working at the park, though. They do such a great job, but they can't be getting paid much. I hope they are all retired, just working at Disneyland after a career of making it big. But I feel for the old timers who I imagine trek over to the Katella lot after work, collapse into their 1989 Accord and drive home to their studio apartment.
These guys are the soul of operations. Their interactions with the guests are always great, and I'm not talking about Maynard.
I don't know what it was about Friday, but the assholes were out in full effect. Two groups were especially problematic.
Two guys on Small World talked the entire length of the ride about how gay and stupid the attraction was, and their comments weren't just about the new characters!
On Indiana Jones a group with an obvious smell of alcohol coming off of them carried on throughout the queue. I've seen my fair share of rambunctious yahoos at Disneyland so it wasn't a big deal at first. They even asked me to take their picture for them and I obliged. Then they got on the ride.
First, they take flash pictures of themselves, blinding everybody in the row behind them. They do this not once, not twice, but thrice. I had to lean over and say, "Enough with the flash pictures already!"
Once the ride got underway, the drunk chick in their group starts flailing all over the place and putting her hands up in a way that grazed my forehead. It was insane. Once at the exit, they went left. We went right.
I had thought about alerting security about this obviously drunk off their ass group parading around Disneyland and how they were pissing off everybody they came into contact with, but then I would just be a square.
Except for It's A Small World, I've found that some things have improved at Disneyland in the past year. However, there are still many fixes to make before Disneyland is the happiest place on Earth again.