Hello everyone, it's great to be posting again. This week I got to spend a couple days in the park but sadly me X100 was on the fritz so most of my photos didn't turn out. But on to the report.
I had arrived a day early in Anaheim to surprise my parents who were already in the park, waiting for the rest of my family to arrive the next day. My dad was always a huge fan of the Monte Cristo so my first stop was to take him to the Jingle Jangle Jamboree for Monte Cristo Bites I had heard about on MiceChat two days earlier. When we were walking through the Frontierland area and we asked a CM about food in the JJJ and they said they weren't serving any. I thought this was odd so when we got up to JJJ we walked all the way to the back and sure enough there were Monte Cristo Bites and Candy Cane Cotton Candy. We got some bites, which although good must be better early in the day. We got around 11 bites and they were delicious. Mostly comprised of ham with some turkey and cheese, and provided with powdered sugar and sweet jam for dipping this was one of my favorite new eating additions to the parks since Chili Cone Carne at Carsland.
While we ate we watched the 5:00 Billy Hill and the Billies Christmas Special which I recorded and will post to YouTube and add a link so you can watch it was well. It was well performed even with a small crowd and its a wonder why I haven't stopped to watch them perform before.
My family decided to retire early so I decided to go to the one place most readers avoid which is Innovention's in Tommorowland. I know that nearly the entire building it outdated and the only top floor exhibits which are entertaining are sponsored by SIEMENS (side note I am forgetting the name but the company that sponsor's It's A Small World is actually an electrical sub-division of SIEMENS who provided the new lighting facade for Small World Holiday a few years ago). As with the last man years you enter through the top of the building instead of the bottom. When you first walk in you are greeted by a wall of sponsors and typically to your left is a very large vehicle display area sponsored by HONDA. This is what I got to see:
I wish the would at least have walled off the area so 20% of the top floor wasn't just a blank space. The next thing I noticed is how many people were in Innoventions. Usually this place is a ghost town but even the oldest exhibits on the top floor had quite a few people interacting with them. The Nano Lab had a good 10 people interacting with it, and even the old exhibit which shows you what you will look like in X years based on your health choices had a good 15 people there with every monitor and chair being used. That's where I started noticing something. Exhibits that had been decaying for the last 2 years were repaired and new chairs were installed. I thought that was interesting because of the rumors of Innovention's being given the wrecking ball next year. More on this in a moment. Ironically the newest exhibit sponsored by XBOX had only 1 person in it. I then went down stair's to the Dream Home which had lot's of people in it.
The last few visits to Innoventions had left me with CM's who could care less about the technology and weren't excited. This time every CM was not only friendly and helpful but they were doing demonstration's in every room which hadn't been the case in my last visits earlier this year and at the end of 2011. They were extremely knowledgable about the brands and technology being used and some of the magic behind the technology which doesn't really exist (for instance most of the HP Digital Photo frames are HP Computer Monitors embedded into the wall with frames built around them). I won't mention any names of CM's as I promised not to do so, and since this is from CM's and not Imagineer or an official Disney Release take the following RUMOR with a grain of salt:
The CM's I talked to were very frank about the aging technology in most of the dream home and apparently Disney has gotten a variety of complains over the last years about that. They explained that the Microsoft Surface table was still running software v1.0 which is absurd considering the new Microsoft Surface Tablets that had just been released. Some of the CM's when I asked were also kind enough to explain their current perception of the state of Tommorowland and it's future. From their understanding Innovention's will still be around for at least 2 more years. They explained that most of the sponsor's had renewed contracts for at least 2 more years with Disney with the understanding that their different exhibits in Innoventions need to be overhauled with current technology. I was explained that a few of the older exhibits on the second floor had been receiving maintenance which was unheard of in the building. I was also shown area's in the Dream Home which had received repairs to the set design. Keep in mind none of these repairs are major, they definitely are minor like paint, and cushions but here is a fairly obvious example. Here are two pictures of the television in the Dream Home during Holiday 2011:
As you can see the cable management was extremely visible to the public and would not be part of any Dream Home I would make. They recently covered the wiring up with a well suited black shadow box around the television. Again minor but still an improvement.
As you can see it's a minor fix to a visual problem but it shows that Disney is beginning to slowly fix what visual issues with the venue. CM's continued to explain that new Windows 8 products would be replacing the out dated ones. You might be wondering about the big empty Honda Space, from what the CM's understood that space still belongs to Honda however will be replaced with the a new Siri enabled Honda vehicle. For those of you who don't know Siri is the Beta Personal Assistant on Apple iPhone's, iPad's, and iPod Touches, also Bob Iger CEO of Disney is on Apple's Board of Directors. The exhibit is also suppose to show sketches and plans of what a Honda vehicle of the future would look and perform like. I asked about the supposed Iron Man attraction and they said they were aware of it and that it was being built but Innoventions was not going to be effected for it's construction. I was explained that the Autopia, which dropped its Chevron sponsor and the Nemo Subs would soon be heading to Yesterland and the Iron Man attraction footprint would replace both attractions. I was honest with the CM's about how most people feel about Innoventions and they agreed, but added that Disney still makes a substantial amount of money from the sponsorship of the pavilion and that Taylor Morrison (who helped design the Dream Home), still gives away a dream home every year and the first step is a walk through of the Innovention's home for the winner so the winner can get ideas of what they want built in their home. On that note the CM's wouldn't say which other companies, but there have been some guided tours of the Dream Home and second floor for new potential sponsors.
Anyway that's the end of the RUMOR section of this and I will continue with my trip report:
The next day my family experienced Carsland for the first time ( I had been lucky enough to go to a Preview-Day for the ride, and sleep on the Esplanade for the official opening of Carsland). I hadn't realized that there would be a substantial line for RSR fast-passes, which I had not witnessed on my trip earlier this year. The good was I only waited about 15 minutes to get a FastPass (I was in the portion of the line right behind the Carthay Circle), the bad was I felt sorry for the poor souls who actually were at the end of the FastPass line near Tower of Terror, the ugly was the bend right in front of the Carthay Circle was not being monitored so lots of people were just walking right into the FP line and getting vocally angry at us when we told them politely about the line and where the end was. Luckily the next day this was remedied by a few more Disney Security CM's monitoring that specific portion of the line.
RSR is always fun but I was equally excited to take my family on Luigi's Flying Tires who had been on the Flying Saucers many years ago. Let me explain, when my GF and I had gone on opening day we had learned how to accelerate the Tires and techniques for the beach balls. The current LFT experience was beyond a let down. First there are no beach balls, which helped add to the interactivity of the ride. Second they are not fanning the same amount of air under the tires as they did on opening day. I know this because of the actual feeling of lift was different in the tire, some tires were actually occasionally grinding the floor of the ride) and the same techniques we had used earlier this year barley got us to move. Even a child who was use to Fantasyland rides would say this was slow. I really hope if they don't put the beach balls back they at least increase the air flow to get to at least bumper car speeds.
Tow-Mater's Junkyard Jamboree was great, 5 minute wait and a quick burst of fun. I have never really been a spinning ride fan, but the way this moves and whips you around is great. I have never rode this by myself, but my GF's brother (who is 21) rode alone and he was sliding all over the seat from under the lap bar and hitting the sides which aren't exactly padded. I would say bring a friend on the ride and you can use each-other as padding when you get whipped around. Still a very fun ride.
We then took our family to Toy Story Mania in the back of the park for one of the funniest moments in my ride history at any Disney park. My family is competitive in a fun sense and TSM is a fun way to both be collaborative and competitive with the different way of accruing your points. We had just finished the first few stages and I was well on my way to being the leader i our car when we arrived at the Buzz Lightyear Ring Toss Stage and this is what I saw:
My GF and I were cracking up and I responded this explain's why some of the new rides break down so much in jest.
When we were done in DCA we headed to Disneyland and went on PoTC. I wish I had photos to explain the different between this night on the ride and the next day. On this night of PoTC, was the brightest I had ever seen the interior of the ride. I could clearly make out the usually well camouflage ceiling, the strings attached to different props and even background elements which were nearly impossible to see were lit up. The next day however the opposite was true, it was about the darkest I had ever seen the ride. The beginning of the ride where the skeleton talks to you was barley lit, the treasure room scene was very dark (there is a painting of a half naked female pirates whose chest is covered by her long hair, our group always makes jokes about it, it was so dark you couldn't even see the painting), in the room where Barbossa is shooting at the Spanish Port there was so much fog you could clearly identify the light beams from the projectors and the scene to the left with the two individuals sword fighting wasn't running.
Don't get me wrong I love PoTC and I even find it intriguing when the lights are up from a technical background to see things I had not noticed before.
We went on Big Thunder Mountain which was great (especially since we knew we would be missing it next year and we were reading/discussing some of the TV show rumors while we were waiting in line) and then ended the night with the Haunted Mansion. The Haunted Mansion experience was great we were part of the last group let in and a CM shut and locked the HM ground gate behind us which I thought added a great touch. There were only a handful of us in the stretching room and the CM's had a good time entertaining us with a variety of HM lines.
We then rushed to Fantasyland to ride It's A Small World. It's a great consistent ride, one item to note that I wasn't able to pull my camera out in time. Towards the end of the ride there is a door that is usually down unless CM's are shuttling Small World boats into their BOH. When we went by it was open and inside was the neck and head of a smiling green sea monster. I can't remember if that is in the non-holiday version of It's A Small World but non the less he was in their BOH looking at the guests as we sailed by.
On our way out of the park which was pretty much deserted I stopped to show my GF the "bricked up" sewer on the River's of America in front of the HM where I had read somewhere that had been originally imagined to be the entry way to an underground passage to Tom Sawyer's Island.
The next day was great riding as many rides as we could. To not bore readers I will just explain a couple highlights.
We ate at the Carthay Circle for dinner (this is my favorite place to eat and my GF and I had been customers #1 & #2 during the grand opening so it holds a special place in my heart). I noticed that there were some seasonal offering's on the menu which I wanted to try. I started off with the Autumn Pumpkin Soup.
It was mildly sweet and the texture was rich and smooth. Absolutely delicious. My GF is partial to ducks therefor would never let me order the Fire-Cracker duck wings. Luckily her brother had no such obstacle so I tried one of his.
The duck was cooked just right, but honestly the winner here is not the meat, its the sauce. I have had lot's of wings with a variety of sauces but the Fire-Cracker sauce they use is outstanding and cannot be understated. Its thick and rustic, and gives you a sharp fire after burn on the back of your throat. The herbs on the wing help mellow out the spices perfectly.
For my entrée I went with the Lamb on top of the Autumn Vegetables.
The lamb fell right off the bone and was cooked perfectly. The autumn vegetables were crisp and absorbed the sauced and made for a perfect compliment. I got to taste a bit of the swordfish from my GF's mom's plate and it was tender and had been cooked just right where the fish holds together and the fish and herb oils diffused into the fish. We were to full for desert but we had learned the brownie/ice cream desert that I reviewed in the summer was no longer on the menu.
After a wonderful evening, we got a great WOC experience with the familiar Prep & Landing Holiday opening, and no wind so the water screen worked perfectly.
Overall a great trip. Like I said earlier I will be posting the Billy Hill Christmas Special on YouTube and I also found my Midnight Snack video from the Disney Parks Blog event during Leap Day and will post that as well since I haven't seen anyone else do so.