Happy Halloween everyone.. Here I am with one last Halloween related post before the strike of midnight here on Oct 30th... Have fun tomorrow and do not eat too much candy, or else, you'll get fat like me. That would not be good.
Anyways... I was able to squeeze yet one more Disney resort for a Halloween event photo pictorial. Note I am not saying a... "disney" halloween because here at DLP, it just isn't a "disney" halloween at all. In fact, there are so many things that are wrong about DLP (more on that later) that frankly...we should start calling this place Parc Faux-Disneyland.
Immediately after getting off the RER train, I was constantly assaulted by cigarette smoke coming from right and left. It's amazing and quite sad that after all the warnings about this filthy habit, parents go around DLP leaving a trail of smoke behind them, and with small children in tow. Are they that ignorant about the 2nd hand smoke offects on their kids? It's sad and it makes me want to apologize to all these kids for the enviromental abuse they have to go thru. Worst, these kids will probably follow on theior parents' footsteps and get hooked on that habit as well.
#1 thing DLP does not do right: Controlling smoking in the parks to smoke areas only.
I got to DLRP on Sunday afternoon on the 28th, and apparently it was a day where crowds swell at DLRP. DLP was jammed packed and WDSP was to a lesser extent... very busy as well. Since I was going to be there for a few short hours.. I was a man on a mission.
First up, getting my Fantasy AP renewed. For some reason, the CM at the ticket window was having trouble getting my credit card billed, so after 10 mins or so, I was told to go to another window, where the other CM was more knowledgeable about her job it seemed, and handled the transaction with TDR-like efficiency.
So fine, I buy my renewal AP, and head over to the AP processing center *INSIDE* the park. In 10 mins, I had my new AP. Then I proceeded to explore the Halloween decor. Here at DLP, they have been going with that Pumpkin men motif for several years now, and frankly, I think it's time they went for a different approach. Maybe... a Disney themed one? (while on Main Street and as an added delight, I was able to catch the Character Express train that goes down the parade route several times a day, using TDL's Party Express event music. Aaaah! The memories..)
#2 thing DLP does not do right: Halloween in a "disney" enviroment.
The decor is plentiful and sometimes, a bit too odd and grotesque to be a part of the Disney theme. If it was pretty, I could deal with it, but most of what they do here is neither pretty or scary. A big misfire if you will. Many of these pumpkin men statues are grossly out of place in these surroundings, and worst! Many of them block the way of guests since they are poorly placed in the middle of sidewalks as to make them blend with the crowd. While I understand the purpose of the (bad) story they are trying to tell a story.. but some of the statues are simply a safety hazard. I witnessed a lady tripping over one of them on Main Street. The decor in the Main Street area is just too messy and too gaudy for my taste. Thumbs down here.
Now let's move on to Frontierland, where that horrible pumpkin tower is sitting smack in the middle of DLP's most elaborately themed land. Again, it's a horrible eyesore and should be demolished for good. At least this year, they did not damage Big Thunder Mountain with what I call the Pumpkin men skyway ride. Good call.
Further into Frontierland.. we have what appears to be the kingdom of the Pink Witches. Again, the decor is totally unrelated to Disney in every sense. I mean... Disney has some of the most memorable and scary characters of any animated studios, yet! they decide to go in an odd direction, and plop some Disney faces in the mix in hopes that people like me won't notice how badly misplaced Dingo (who the heck came up with that name?!?!) and Minnie look amidts a sea of pink and purples.
At the end of the trails is the newly rebuilt Woody's Roundup area. Too bad I was not able to go in there to check it out, mostly because the area is being used as a grotesque makeup and hairdo makeover studio for Halloween, pretty much like Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at DTD, where kids come out looking scary and painted in wild colors. There is this big difference though.. the halloween makeup and hair styles here are much much more elaborate and fun than the rip off "dress up" results I see at the overpriced BBB at WDW. It's obvious the CMs doing the halloween makeovers here are true stylists and makeup artists, as opposed to your average "Rosa from the barrio with a hairbrush and chewing gum" at BBB, while making your little girl look like Princess Jonbennet. Some of the kids' halloween makeovers here were truly inspired works of art. Kudos! Did not take any kids pics in makeover disguises because I do not want to be accused of something...you know.
Moving on... This year, the usual Halloween Villains Parade was been given a hiatus. Instead we get a little Halloween preshow called "Stitch and the Pink Witches". Here, we see some girls dressed in a pink witch outfits doing a little dance. The former Cinderella float from the old parades has been repainted and turned into a witch pumpkin carriage. Interesting. Then finally! A bit of Disney...with Clarice, Daisy, Stitch, Lilo and Chicken Little dressed for halloween in a little sing along moment utilizing the "Boo to You" from the MK's Halloween parade, and the "Happy Happy Happy Halloween" song from TDL's halloween a few year ago (remember, they debut a new song for halloween yearly at TDL, at DLP..they borrowed. No Halloween-lo-mein song this year). The halloween costumes for the characters is drab. I was glad to see the nice new 15th anniversary parade follow this poor attempt at bringing a little Disney into the halloween theme. Maybe it is a good thing they do not do a Disney halloween after all.
Finally, I got to see the regular Once Upon a Dream parade the way it's intended, with a short show mode movement, and even a confetti blast. Furthermore, now I know where the anniversary song ("Just like We dreamed it") is performed since I have only heard it on CD, but its the music used for the show mode. Mind you, this show mode is not a huge extravaganza of dancers and audience participation a la TDL, but it was Ok for what it was and especially for this crowd since no one would do a little dance to the music as they are more preocupied with their constant smoking instead. So whatever.
#3 thing DLP does not do well: parade show modes. Even Fantillusion's show mode at TDL was much nicer than the ones they do here in the same parade. Come to think of it.. it's amazing how much TDL stuff we can find here...but then again, can't go wrong when TDL's music is used at other parks. Just look how the current TDL parade song saves the current stale MK parade in the afternoon.
After the parade, I decided to quickly make it to the Studios... and after some hazzle to enter, I was able to go into the park. You see.. after being delayed again to enter, a CM took my newly bought AP and disappeared with it for about 10 mins... Irritated by the lack of info as to why this was happening, I later found out my AP was actually blocked from use on this day and week!!! I argued why would they sell me this AP on a day when it's blacked out for use? After a tete a tete with the lead CM, I was allowed into the Studio park. Gee! It's only supposed to be this hard to enter a park when you have to submit yourself to a turnstyle finger print reader! No such gizmos here though, so what gives?
First up.. TOT. 99% finished it seems. Very similar to the DCA one in look, albeit, I don't remember DCA's TOT having long balconies as this one does in the center of the building. The Hollywood placemaking is coming along nicely, and while most of the work they are doing is plain old facades, the level of details on some of them put the MK park's theming to bloody shame. Once you come out of Studio 1 and see "Partners" there, the effect is quite stirring with an impression of Hollywood in the background.. Compared to the bare area it was before... Now, the entire corner is beginning to look like a Disney park should look. I momentarily felt transported to the golden days of Hollywood. Once finshed, the difference between the newer areas of the park and the ugly south corner will be quite obvious and disturbing to say the least.
While there, I did not ride "Crush's Coaster" because I wanted to get back to DLP and catch the night time look of the 15th anniversary decor. However, the wait time was only 40 mins and would have gladly done it, unlike some FP lovers and advocates. Still, I was able to ride R&RC and check out some of the new areas of the park lit up at night... including the TOT. And like DAK at WDW, the night time feel is quite different and quite nice here when compared to the daytime. I was even impressed by the subtle light movements on the Crush Coaster's mural that effectively simulated how the sun light filters thru underwater. It those little details that bring it home for me.
Finally, I left WDSP and returned to DLP (having the same black out problem again, and only being admitted because I was smart enough to have had my hand stamped as proof of earlier same day admission, along with my same day of purchase receipt), and got back inside DLP just in time to watch my first night time viewing of the fabulous Candleabration show.
Now...the anniversary decor on Main Street, with "DLP 15" banners that in the daytime just overpower the area's old fashioned charm. But at night, these banners glitter with spectacular LED and fiber optic lighting and folks... it's FABULOUS to look at. If only the MK came up with similar Xmas decor, it would truly be spectacular! (Note: DLP does the same castle xmas lights the MK will unveil this year..and that should be spectacular as well)
Then to top my visit to DLP.. it was my first chance to see "Candleabration" at night. Folks, this is the only way this show should be presented. I saw it in the daytime and it was a waste of my time. At night though... this is truly quite simple but yet, quite spectacular too.
The music swells and the lighting goes out all over Main Street and thru the Hub. Everything goes dark. The little song and dance number is OK, but it's nothing in comparison to the beautiful lighting ceremony happening on the castle. The way the castle shimmers in strobe lights, in conjuntion with lights in the trees of the hub, is great to look at. I love the way each candle lights up and the type of light technology used to make the candles appear to flicker. If you are a true Disney fan, I dare you NOT to get misty-eyed as you watch this ceremony live... as it's truly a most magical sight, as Mickey so boldly proclaimed at the beginning of the show. I was floored by the cheer simple beauty of it all, especially when you look back to Main Street and see the banner lights sparkling all the way to Town Square. This is Disney at it's best, exceeding expectations. Yet in a bizarre way, it also is a prime example of "less is more". KUDOS KUDOS KUDOS!!! Can they please do the same show at the MK for the 40th in 2011?
One little complaint here though... as beautiful as this show is, it's also quite challenging to watch due to the excessive rudeness of most guests. Unlike at TDL, where CMs will quickly ask guests to avoid sitting children on shoulders and ask you to remove big hats to allow those in the back a chance to enjoy as well... here at DLP, it's a free-for-all. If I had a dollar for every child that went up on dad's shoulders or for every skinny girlfriend who did the same with her boyfriend...I would be $1,000 rich today. People's Me Me Me sense of self entitlement is alive and kicking here and I for once can't think of a better example of that than trying to watch this show with a 1,000 other guests sitting over their companions' shoulders. HOW RUDE can people get? Needless to say, as soon as I moved to a better spot, 10 seconds later, a person in front of me would block the view with another huge child/petit adult female going up on someone's shoulders.
#4 thing DLP does not do well: crowd controlling. They could learn from TDR's ways here, and the european guests could learn to be more respectful of others' right to enjoy as well. Very annoying behaviors here, or probably I have been visiting Japan way too long. Then again, some complain about the same habits in DL in CA, but I am yet to experience the intensity of the problems there.
Anyways... DLP was to be opened until 10pm, but without TDL's (Yes! TDL's) Quarter-Fantillusion not being presented tonight, and no Wishes Fireworks...it was not worth it to stay any longer and I decided to leave by 7:45pm, espcially because I was over the unruly crowds, the constant 2nd hand smoking assaults, the lack of people who would pause if they saw you taking a photo... etc etc.
One final comment. Both parks were very crowded but I was glad to take a note of one item here: cleanliness. Compared to other visits with less guests, I noticed the park was actually being cleaned to a degree. I didn't see too much waste accumulating as it happens here often.. so that was good to see. Also.. the lights were on at the DL Hotel, which has not been the case in my last few visits. For a change, it's nice to see the lights that were out on other visits (like 40% of them) have been replaced. If only all of that messy Halloween decor was gone, the park would look quite great. Oh well, that's all gone come november 2nd thank goodness.
Now for your enjoyment... here are the photos of my visit to DLRP. The cover most everything I commented on above and include captions with even more commetary and observations, both good and bad. The night shots were hard to do because of the crowds and the low lighting levels, so apologies. But let me give you more reason to check the pics out.. you will see what I consider to be the worst "Disney Look" violation I have witnessed in my 35 years of visiting Disney parks around the World. Needless to say, I was shocked to the core.
#5 thing DLP does not do well: enforcing the Disney Look and Traditions... I mean, will it kill the french to go without wine for 10 hrs of the day? ..And bleached mohawk hairstyles do not look great on stage, and especially on Main Street.
Here are the photos... ENJOY!!