Malinís Disneyland Trip Report 2009.
September 8th though to September 17th.
Introduction: This is my first Disneyland Trip since the 50th Anniversary in 2005, and my purpose of being in town was to check out the first D23 Expo and some of the newer attractions like the Subs and Pirates Lair. For those that are unaware I am a frequent visitor of the Disney parks with several trips to Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland all under my belt. So I like to think I have a good understanding on how the Disney parks operate and what to expect out of them. Do expect me to throw in some comparisons to other parks along the way, although I will do my hardest to judge the Resort on its own merits too. This Trip Report is going to be split into three different parts with three different categoryís on Disneyís California Adventure, Disneyland and the D23 Expo. Along the way I will also add in discussion on the other small things like Cast Members, Downtown Disney etc. I am going to stop myself also from giving you a minute by minute report of what I did and instead comment on the things I wish to discuss.
Disneyís California Adventure:
First I would like to point out I have always thought Disneyís California Adventure or DCA as its known to a lot of people is a fun park and does not deserve some of the harsh criticism it has received over the years. Its certainly not perfect either but its improving with time and I have enjoyed visiting this park though out the years, to see the progress being made.
Entrance and Sunshine Plaza
This area has got to go, I have never been much of a fan of all the murals and tacky display signs. Love the idea of place making the area to resemble Waltís first journey into California. It will give the area a much more elegant look and will be a much more fitting tribute to Waltís legacy. One thing I will miss however as Iím assuming it will not fit in with the new area, is that great selection of California inspired pop music being played quite loudly though this section of the park. Anyone got a full list of artist and titles of songs let me know. Iím guessing Disney will want some kind of new score to reflect and blend in more with its surroundings once the new entrance is finished.
Just my observation but is it not also a poor decision to have the High School Musical 3 show right at the entrance to the park.
This is not only a DCA issue but also very much a Disneyland issue, but where are all the Characters? The main Characters like Mickey are easy to spot but not so much for any of the ones that donít make up the main list of stars. Even Characters that are quite common at other parks are rare to find here like Pinocchio, Captain Hook and Daisy Duck. On the plus side the Characters appear to have more freedom here and get to interact with the Guest much more like Minnie pushing a stroller on Main Street and Brer Fox waving to Guest sailing pass on the Columbia. itís the small moments like this, that really create happy memories.
Hollywood Pictures Backlot
I love the theming here and it sure beats the ugly soundstages that make up the Studios in Paris.
The Animation attraction has always impressed me, wished WDS and Disneyís Hollywood Studios had an attraction just as fitting to Disneyís rich Animation legacy. Also love the layout here where each Guest has the option on which attraction he/she would like to enjoy, instead of being directed from room to room by Cast Members. It means if I donít want to watch Turtle Talk but would like to take part in the interactive activities I can. The gift shop is best avoided however as it has so much cool collectable stuff to buy I spent a small fortune.
Muppets 3D is still a fun attraction but I think itís time the movie was updated. Disney own the brand and could easily for a small fee create a new movie and add some new in theatre effects. I love the Muppets and I think if Disney were to do this is could create a new attraction for two parks which would save on cost. 3D attractions will always have a limited shelf life but it doesnít mean we still donít enjoy them.
How is the Tower of Terror viewed by Californianís as it seemed to have a shorter wait than both Soarin and Toy Story Midway Mania. Maybe its just my timing but the attraction was a walk on. It might be like Pirates and has a good capacity rate, but itís still a fun attraction what ever the reason. Amazing theming, good storyline and fun and intense drops.
Is the Aladdin Musical a must see or what. I absolutely love this show, great musical numbers, hard working cast and possibly the best venue in any park. The Genie perfomer always ends up telling great jokes and being a hit with the crowd. But why is this show restricted to Weekends only. Yes most of the Annual Passholders who make up the majority of Guest work or are at school on Weekdays but it should still be offered in the Week for the few tourist that do visit in the off season. Its actually the only real show either park actually has at the minute and its on hiatus for most of the week. And talking of show based entertainment, is it not about time the Resort offered something in the way of some real shows with real perfomers and dancers instead of silly Princess and Jedi interactions. Both parks have the venues, but are currently being wasted by stuff that could probarely go into smaller venueís. How about a classic Character show like the Golden Mickeyís!
Riding Monsters Inc has given me more appreciation for the attraction based in Tokyo. Thatís not to say this attraction was terrible. I thought Imagineers did a good job replacing Superstar Limo with what is a cool little dark ride. Iím also glad this version hasnít used any lame gimmicks like the flashlight which adds nothing to the ride and in a way is distracting. With no Rockyís to look for the Guest can sit back concentrate and on whats going on. Where Tokyoís is much better is that its show scenes are much better and it uses actual AAís. But I feel its wrong to compare the two as Tokyoís was built from scratch.
Blue Sky Cellar
If you have a bit of time to spare and want to escape the heat than this is the best possible place to go and chill out . The artwork and displays are fantastic and the future despite the usage of Characters looks bright. I love the idea of the park having a preview centre as it shares first hand with the Guest all the cool stuff Disney are going to bring to the park over the next few years. The attraction features a short video on the Imagineers discussing the expansion and in a short clip of only seconds shows Bob Iger showing actual emotion and personality, and you could tell he was generally excited over what he was being shown. Thatís the side of Bob Iger I would like to see a bit more.
I donít usually spend much time here, really only to catch the 3D show, but this time I spent a little more time and checked out Flikís Fun Fair for the first time. Iím not in the target audience but I felt it was ok. Some cute stuff to look at and a few carnival rides, which keeps the youngsters happy. I did ride Heimlichís chew chew Train and loved the narration.
Wow a lot of work going on here and while Iím visiting during the middle of it all, I think whats been done to Screamin and Mickeyís Fun Wheel looks good and I really want to see the finished product. Paradise Pier in the dark with the lights reflecting of the lagoon is one of my favourite images. It was also cool to be able to view all the work being done in the lagoon for World of Colour, this is going to be a massive show.
I did have a bit of concern involving Toy Story Midway Mania, as I just donít feel it fits in right at Disneyís Hollywood Studios at Pixar Studios. Iím happy to report however it fits in perfectly with all the work being done on Paradise Pier. The attraction also appears to be better with Mr Potato Head outside calling Guest in to join the queue, he even convinced me too when he called out to the guy walking pass with the rucksack. Iím now a bit more upbeat about this attraction coming to Tokyo DisneySea, and Iím eager to improve on my score, also I hadnít notice it sprays you with water if you hit certain targets.
Easily my favourite area of the park. The level of detail is stunning and is up there with anything built at Tokyo DisneySea or Disneyland Paris in my opinion.
Grizzly River Run is a lot of fun, especially on a hot day, but it needs some AAís or something. Maybe the same AA Bears that are on the concept art for Hong Kongís Grizzly River Run.
Pixar Play Parade
I really liked this parade, and I think itís a perfect match for the park. It has some cool surprises like being splashed with water. Not sure how long its been gone, but I recall watching a video and it also featured a Ratatouille float.
That will do for now as you can tell I rate DCA very high and Iím very much looking forward to a return trip once the Entrance, Little Mermaid, World of Colour and Cars Land all finally open up. I think this new line up will make DCA come into its own and while it will still fall behind Disneyland, I hope it will at least win over public support. Next time I will continue with my views on the D23 Expo.