Hello, all! With college finals looming on the horizon, I could think of no better excuse to skip a couple of classes than a free trip to the Happiest Place on Earth! On Tuesday, I headed to the park for 12 hours of fun. Although I arrived alone, a sort of snowball effect resulted in the formation of a group of seven very cool MiceChatters by late afternoon. What follows is my account of the highlights of the day - and I believe Justin (aka SeaWolf38) will be posting some of his own awesome photos in this thread at some point, as well. As always, click the images for larger versions - I apologize for the small thumbnails. Long story...I can tell you if you really want. Also, as usual, it's probably best to avoid my TRs if you dislike backstage stuff. While there isn't going to be a LOT of it in this particular TR, there will be a few behind-the-scenes views thrown into the mix.
All righty! The day started with a 4:50 am alarm clock. Yuck! There was a lot of this at first:
...but that's okay. Getting to the park required the use of no less than four different vehicles over the course of three hours, which afforded plenty of time for me to vividly imagine that I was sleeping or studying or something.
On the way, I actually met a cast member who said he works backstage near Toontown. Friendly guy...said he'd been a CM for, like, fifteen years! very impressive. Anyway, I arrived at the park around a quarter till 9, printed email voucher in hand, and went straight to the ticket booths. Unfortunately, another birthday-guest-to-be was blaring rather unpleasant music through his phone for everyone else to hear, but the annoyance was short-lived. I got my birthday ticket, got my birthday pin, and headed into the park!
I wish they'd let me tell them I prefer Joe, not Joseph, but it's all good. Anyway, at that point, Justin was just outside the park, so I waited for him in Town Square. Seeing him again was awesome - really a great guy to hang out with.
And then we were off! The Astro Orbitor was shaping up pretty nicely...I can't say I'm totally in love with the new color scheme, or with the idea of opting for costly cosmetic changes instead of an outright replacement, but it's better than it could be. Here are some shots of it from various points in the day:
We hit various attractions...Indy, Big Thunder, HM, and Pirates, I think. Here's a cool shot of the rooftops of Fantasyland - either Pinocchio or Village Haus, specifically.
We then met up with David (aka startours1)!
Despite the fact that we generally weren't huge Fantasyland fans, we headed over there so I could experience the post-refurb IASW for the first time. It'd been five years since the last time I'd ridden it at all, and in that time, my perceptions of Disneyland had changed somewhat, so it was certainly interesting to ride it again.
The clouds started to burn off as we stood in line! This was nice in a way, but it did get a bit warmer than I'd hoped it would. ::shrug:: Oh well, it's all good. Into IASW! My thoughts? Well, I can appreciate the artistry of it a bit more now, but I'm still annoyed by the way the ride's mechanisms, service walkways, unthemed ceilings, and so forth are all so easily visible. I'm a huge backstage nut, of course, but that's only because Disney usually does such a good job of hiding that stuff. Figuring out how the magic works is only fun for me if there's magic in the first place, and I must admit that the magic of IASW is somewhat diminished for me by the obvious presence of those elements.
That being said, I finally truly understand all the "SAVE THE RAINFOREST" sentiments. That truly is a lovely scene...I didn't remember how nice it was. Very multilayered, very colorful, a little less saccharine. Kudos to Disney for keeping it in some form. Also, the Lion King characters are probably among the least intrusive additions...they could easily just be more animals that happen to resemble those well-loved characters.
The same can't be said of...gulp...Lilo and Stitch.
Or Woody and Jessie. I'm sorry, but I don't see the logic in making them larger than the other dolls and stylized to look different from them. Either one on its own could work fairly well - the larger size could be a simple use of forced perspective if they were supposed to be the "real" Woody and Jessie, i.e. the characters about whom the TV show was made, of whom toys were made, about whom the Pixar movies were made. But then they'd need to look like the other dolls. Conversely, the weird way in which they look different from the other dolls could make sense if they were supposed to be toys, not real people. But then they'd have to be small. Not big.
Am I missing something here?
Oh well. After a spin on the Matterhorn, we headed into Tomorrowland. They've been working on the monorail track, and this one spot looked downright nasty! It was cool.
After battling all-around indecisiveness all day, we were treated to a delightfully assertive decision on Justin's part. I'd said I wanted to finally ride the Mark VII monorails for the first time, so he suggested we take care of that. So we headed over to the station and boarded monorail orange. Justin made yet another astute recommendation and said we should ask for the bubble in back. It was awesome! And while I'm frustrated by Disney's mechanical gaffes when it comes to the new monorails, I must say that I absolutely adore the design of both the exterior and the interior, aesthetically speaking. It does a perfect job of paying homage to the early designs while still moving forward in a very appropriately futuristic way.
Due in part to sitting in the bubble, I got a variety of backstage photos. Most of them actually turned out terribly, so I won't bother posting many. I was having an off day.
Awww, good old Rocket Rods and PeopleMover. Space Mountain came next, I believe, which David decided to sit out. There's Justin in the front left and me on the right. Much fun, as always! Except for the random preteen girls sitting behind us, who decided it'd be fun to scream as loud as possible throughout the ride. But we didn't let it put a damper on our spirits.
We then snuck up the exit for Innoventions so we could take a look at the construction and so forth from above. We speculated that these are going to be planters with benches along the inside edge.
There was also this tempting view over the nearby gate to backstage.
Okay, I should leave the rest for part 2 (and perhaps part 3?), but funny story first! So we were walking down the ramp again to Tomorrowland when my hand brushed past the lens I had on my camera. A thought raced through the lens cap's mind - this was its chance for freedom! Its moment to shine, to fly the nest, to be independent! So lickety-split, it popped right off the lens and hit the ground running. Perfect rolling motion on its rim, high-tailing it down the ramp. It could imagine the stunned looks of those stupid Disneyland freaks behind it, trying to figure out if they should go after it.
Then tragedy struck.
The little lens cap that could was so preoccupied with its internal gloating that it forgot to swerve left, and it went right over the edge of the ramp. It must have been at least a ten-foot drop. Its life flashed before its eyes! Being taken out of the box for the first time...all those times it didn't quite latch onto that 24mm lens where it was serving its life sentence...the humiliation of having a leash attached to it, so its incarceration could be even more ironclad, and the greater subsequent humiliation of the leash later coming off, leaving only the unattractive stub of adhesive material behind...all these images were so vivid in its mind, until a green wall that smelled somewhat like a Christmas tree came flying at it, and it blacked out. The next thing it remembered was being cradled by its former captor, who was grinning like an idiot and blabbering on about how it would now always smell like the bushes at Disneyland. The guy must have run all the way down the ramp and, with the help of his friends, retrieved it! Wow...maybe captivity wasn't so bad after all. It had learned its lesson...there's no place like home!
Of course, later in the day, it remembered that that was an MGM movie, not a Disney movie, so it proceeded to try to escape, like, three more times. And then Justin's lens cap caught the disease, too! It was pretty much a pandemic.
Wow. I'm a freak. I'll post part 2 when I can! In the mean time, Justin, you need to get crackin' on those photos. And wettham1783, you should post some shots, too!
EDIT: Link to PART 2