*trumpet fanfare* it's trip report time. I tried and failed to remember the exact order I did stuff in so I'm gonna do it kinda half in chronological order and half sub-headingy, but it may have got slightly mixed up in my head, not that it really makes a difference if the important stuff's there... I didn't forget my camera but the photos aren't on my computer yet so I'll post those separately. Here we go.
First thing's first, the coach journey and hotel. Both were, well, fine. The rooms were basic, and the continental breakfast wasn't the tastiest thing I've ever eaten but for the price I couldn't complain. The coach took us to Disney at 9.15am each morning (10 minute drive) and picked us up at 10pm but we could stay later and get the RER back if we wanted. No complaints there then, we got to the parks for opening every day (in fact on the first day we got to Disney for 9am after setting off early).
We had a one park ticket for Day 1 and a 2-day HOPPER PASS for the other two days, which was an incredibly pleasant surprise as I had been told otherwise. Naturally, Day 1 was Disneyland Park, and knowing about its immense popularity we waited for Frontierland and thus BTM to open outside the gates and rushed to the entrance - broken down. Oh well, fastpasses it was and off to Adventureland for Indy and Pirates.
Yeah, ok, not the best first ride for a DLRP trip but we weren't first-timers so it was ok. The ride was, well, there's not much to say, a moderately thrilling rollercoaster beautifully themed and in dire need of some special effects.
Ah, Pirates, I love it so, such a wonderful queue, such a wonderful ride...but not without its faults. We all know the good aspects of Pirates, and as with many trip reports, it becomes about the gripes. First off, and this is a very minor annoyance, in some places of the queue you could see the ceiling. It is probably (tough I don't know) impossible to light the end of the queue/station area adequately without also lighting up some of the warehouse ceiling, but it just kills it very slightly for me. In the ride, like PM, you don't really look up, but in the queue ya do (also, the cloud projections above the lift hill building entrance not only are a bit rubbish, but reveal the ceiling).
Next, and this isn't so much a complaint as a confusion, they've taken the wench for a bride auction (in French of course) sign down which I don't understand as it makes the situation a bit clearer (I'm presuming the audio in the ride is discernible to French folk). Also, I must admit, the AA swordfighting pirates looked absoloutely terrible, their swords being about 50ft away from each other but with swiping and clinking sounds playing loud and clear. It was almost funny!
And the final scene; I think the audio problem has gotten worse. The only, and that's the only pirate I could clearly hear singing the song was ahead of the backing track and it was painful, he was singing as though he was conducting, slightly ahead of the beat, but a conductor does it for a reason (and doesn't make any noise). For the record, it was the bearded one with the squeeze box in the little band. The flames on the torches were not working, in fact, the whole final scene was a bit of a shambles, and this makes me very sad. And a final thing, PLEASE Disney, don't put the movie stuff in there!
Big Thunder Mountain
Howdy folks! I like BTM a lot, but it is a hard ride to get on due to its populiarity, hence we did it only twice compared to, for instance, SM's 5 times. Despite the hellish queue (even the FP one isn't nice) BTM is the ultimate mine train ride, and probably the best in the world (it having that slight edge of underwater tunnels, extra speed and better cars over the US versions). It's wonderful, we know, so here come the gripes. Water splash. Not working. Spinning possums. One absent, one not working (the biggest one). TNT explosion, no evidence of any kind of event happening on that lift hill. Glow-in-the-dark bats, not moving. This can't continue, BTM is an incredible ride, but those little touches (and in the TNT lift hill case, important finale) are letting it down. Don't get me wrong, it's a great ride, but it's not what it could be.
The Fantasyland Dark Ride Trio
Ah, Fantasyland, our next stop - I'm sorry but WDW's Fantasyland is like Flamingoland compared to this. The dark rides, for me, went in this surprising order:
2. Peter Pan
3. Snow White
Snow White is obviously the least impressive of the three, but I enjoyed Pinocchio alot more and thought it worked better. Peter Pan is cool cos you're suspended in a boat, but once you get over that, I don't think the ride is actually that good, and certainly not as good as Pinocchio. I think what makes the marionette's attraction the superior is that it has narrative drive, Jimeny Cricket appears at various points as you get into deeper and deeper waters, it feels like a progression, not an out of order ghost train (Snow White) or a gimmicky suspended ride (Peter Pan).
It's A Small World
One just has to ride it... I loved IASW, it was (mostly) in great shape and looked good, and as for the twin towers, firstly, you wouldn't really notice them unless you were looking (I was) and secondly, who cares?!
Discoveryland was next, (I always seem to end up travelling clockwise around the place), and FPs for Space Mountain were followed by a trip to Star Tours. And it was amazing! The queue was looking good, and we had a fantastic audience for the main ride, screams and all, so it was incredible fun (we were also sat on the edge so we felt the movement quite alot). All this ride really needs, I think, is a High-Def projection and a remastered movie. The queue is the ultimate Disney queue, no cattle-pen back and forward and amazing retro (well retro in 2008 anyway) queue theming which is entertaining and funny and feels like the Star Wars films (albeit being perhaps a little too clean compared to Lucas' 'used universe').
Ah, lunch. As I passed the menu for Buzz's Pizza Planet restaurant outside I saw 'Pizza Burger'. Inspired! I had to sample this amazing concept so in I went, having no idea what it was like inside. It's a strange path to get there to be sure, and the little lobby with the car and robot models is, frankly, disgraceful. The models are bad and it's just terrible. As for the inside, well, it's ok. It kind of feels like what Pizza Planet from Toy Story would actually be like in real life, tacky, cheap and loud (minus the cheap as everything is ridiculously expensive at DLRP, naturally). The Pizza burger was very nice, but it's time they demolished this ugly place for future development (Around the World in 80 Days Soarin' style, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, so much potential).
Honey, I Shrunk the Audience
TURN DOWN THE FRENCH AUDIO! Or at least put it on headphones too. It wouldn't be so bad if the French wasn't slightly ahead of the English. With a show that uses very old technology, it relies on the wit and the quality of the script, and not only do I not think that is very present anyway, any of that is lost since you can't hear what the heck's going on unless you're French. Demolish it! NOW!
Space Mountain: Mission 2
Here's a biggy. SM (hopefully one day that will mean Splash and M2 will mean space, but that's just hopefully) has a terrible queue now that the windows are gone (not saying they should be there as long as the new queue is good, which it isn't) and those strange, bare corridors and odd room with two pictures, nice light fittings and bathroom tiles. Oh well, the ride is still excellent. Rough, yes, visible track in places, yes, highly inferior musical 'score' (it's not really a score if it's done on someone's computer at home I say), yes, highly highly inferior theme, yes, but it's still a great and high quality ride that I enjoyed. And this time, the audio worked every time. That may have been luck, but I rode 5 times so maybe it's sorted.
We didn't do Buzz as the queue was always long and there were always better fastpasses to get, but from what I remember last year, it was, well, ok. When the evening came (I'm excising parts of Day 1 as I can't remember what exactly we did, but it involved at least one more ride on the highly addictive POTC), it was PM time.
Mwahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! But seriously, nice to see an actual queue for this ride; I think we waited about 15 minutes. The stretch-room ceiling was fixed (it had a hole in it last time), and you could see the Phantom and his hanging victim really well and clearly. As for the ride, I always have a bit of a gripe with the near-constant ghostly spooks that interrupt our tour, but I have to grin and bear it. PM is a brilliantly designed and spooky ride in dire need of some TLC. What it needs is a make-over in the style of DL's POTC make-over, as in new sound and lighting and all that (obviously without new characters). Fixed effects, phantom canyon restored to its former glory, a better final bride (as in not one that is clearly a skeleton on a pole hanging akwardly). Also, a clearer story would be nice, but language constraints restrict that a bit.
Okay, that's Part 1, and since I have to go now, Part 2 will be coming later, and it includes...Tower of Terror, mwahahahahaha. And if that's not enough to leave you wanting more, you will want to read about the two hour Crush queue catastrophe, an adventure in three volumes! Stay tuned!