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More 2nd Spoonful!

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by , 02-05-2009 at 04:17 PM
Creepy and delightful! My wife said it best upon our exit- “That was like a whole different attraction! I can’t believe Disney would take the time and expense to redo this for just a few months of the year!” I’ll say she hit the nail on the head. When Disney does it well, it stands high above its competitors in providing breathtaking experiences- and the management in California really knows how to please its audience and keep them returning all year round. (We’ll be seeing the new and improved Huanted Mansion in its original version in Florida in a month. Can’t wait. Watch for a future trip report.)

The compactness of Disneyland is a mixed blessing. Just around the (river)bend was [I]Splash Mountain[/I], our next destination. Yet because of it, the transition between the mansion and Critter Country is jarring, despite all attempts to ease us from one place to another. (In this man’s opinion, it is another area where Disneyland Paris excels. Each land feels so separate and distant from the others, a unique combination of enough land and excellent planning on the Imagineers part. Every Disney geek needs to see this park once to believe its beauty!) On the positive side, the smaller space demands creativity in planning expansion and gives “Walt’s park” an intimacy lacking in the other Kingdoms. Aspects such as landscaping take on a new importance, as tree and building placement becomes necessary tools to define and inhibit sightlines. (Something not well used or maybe even considered when designing California Adventure! There is hope this will change.)

Rounding the path into Critter Country was as if we journeyed outside the city to enter a whole new place. Even when it was Bear Country back in 1972, this area of the park has always enjoyed a unique feel. It is a beautiful segment of the park, providing a respite from wide open spaces and large crowds. There is nothing like it in Florida’s Magic Kingdom- and they are left worse off because of it. The restaurant on the river provides an additional retreat from the energy and pretty good food to boot. That said, let’s be honest here- Disney management made a huge mistake by ripping out all of the classic [I]Country Bear Jamboree[/I] to put in a silly old bear. Don’t misunderstand. Pooh needs a place, and this area of the park needs a dark ride to delight the younger visitors. I just think one theater should have been spared, forcing a more creative use of the space to add a journey in honey pots- and satisfying the need for a little more history to exist in the park.

This small land was wonderfully and tastefully decked out in its Christmas best. We ventured under the Christmas tree hanging at the entrance to walk through Splash’s queue. Combining the funny little story, thrills, and fun, [I]Splash Mountain[/I] reinforces why Tony Baxter is one of my most appreciated Imagineers. Our group left the attraction in various degrees of wet to drenched, both enjoying and thankful for the warm bright California sun. As we cruised back to Indy for a second ride, we took in the views. For the most part, Disneyland has aged well, (Tomorrowland being the sorry exception).

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