Pros and cons from my trip to Disneyland yesterday; I haven't been in over a year, so I made plenty of observations. Here are the cons. These are mostly nit-picky cons.
- Splash Mountain: I've been on Splash before when ALL of the animatronics were broken, motionless, and bent in all manner of odd positions; the hitchhiking gator's head was in such an odd shape that his head was falling from his body with wires exposed. The second my family got off, the ride had closed down and maintenance workers were busy working on the problem, and if memory serves, they reopened the same day in top-notch condition. That's awesome. Yesterday was just ridiculous. Aside from a motionless Br'er Bear, possums, cancan dancers, dancing fox, the alligator munching on Br'er Fox, and railroad handcar, I noticed many other issues. For starters, the roadrunner is missing, many of the geese are out of sync with the music, the Laughing Place was so dark that you can barely see the beehives or the dog spinning in the rowboat (or the chicken a little ways down the flume), the raccoon is still missing, and one of the alligators in the finale was missing. Splash Mountain is definitely one of my favorites, and it's so sad to see it in this condition. Fortunately, the vultures were working and were in sync with their dialogue. That's a rare plus.
- The Rivers of America: Just some knit-picky stuff. On the side opposite of the island (close to the Indian Village), you can CLEARLY see the Fantasmic Crocodile's tail protruding from a very visible barge garage. At first it looks like the sea serpent from the old subs, so I got excited; but then I realized what it truly was haha. Many of the obviously fake animals were covered in bird poop, the audio was very quiet (which isn't too much of a problem, I was talking to my friend the whole ride anyways), and the skunk and raccoon duo were missing. Everything else was fine. I really like Br'er Frog's vocal cameo.
- Paint is peeling in really weird places. It's only noticeable if you look hard enough. My BIGGEST cleanliness problem arose from two dark rides: Buzz & Snow White. WOW. Buzz's queue is TRASHED. Gum is on the carpet, popcorn remains are everywhere, napkins and cups are all over the place, especially in random alcoves close to the stanchions. The ride itself was fine (although Buzz's mouth was briefly out of sync in the finale), and it was just disgusting. Snow White's queue was fine up until the last portion of the line before boarding. There was trash EVERYWHERE. Fortunately, the ride operator asked us if the queue was trashed. We told him yes, and he immediately called a janitor to come take care of the problem. That's a good cast member; wish I got his name to compliment him at City Hall. The ride itself was fine, as was Pinocchio. The overflow queue of Star Tours is pretty messy too, although nowhere near as bad as Buzz.
- The music on Space Mountain went out a few seconds before the ride ended. Not too much of a problem. It was just really creepy riding through there with ONLY the swooshing of the ride vehicles and the occasional "laser" sound effect haha. I was expecting the lights to turn on, but they didn't, which was kind of a bummer.
- Tomorrowland...it needs help. Again, just the stereotypical fan begging for a remodel, but really, it needs help. The foliage is drying up in the Star Tours queue, Buzz is messy, Innoventions needs to go, the Starcade is jumbled (pretty much not even an arcade anymore), the windows on the second-floor of the Starcade are scratched and covered in graffiti, and pretty much every bit of paint is peeling somewhere. I'm hoping that the rumored refurbishment is in the works. It'd be a perfect fit for the 60th Anniversary. Aside from Avengers 2 and Star Wars Episode Seven, 2015 is going to be a big year for Disney, and I can see a Tomorrowland rehab happening with relations to the before-mentioned films. It really does need it. I didn't really notice the PeopleMover track. I've kind of just blotted it out of my memory.
- Some of Pizza Port's cast members are very rude. When my friend asked how a server was doing, she glared at him and sternly said "FINE."
- Alice. Fix it.
- Crowd control for the parade. Now, I understand that it's a busy time of the year, and I understand that it's very stressful maintaining smooth crowd control without interfering with the parade route. However, we could not find any means of street-access AT ALL. Either we were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or there were much fewer this time. I'm not sure. I am sure that it wasn't fun sitting through the parade two times in a row with nowhere to go.
And now for the pros.
- WOW. I encountered friendly cast members EVERYWHERE (except for the Red Rocket server). I work with an exchange student program, and as a part of the tour, I had to give all 23 of them $18 a piece. Unfortunately, I was given the money in four hundred dollar bills, so I had to find somewhere to break it. I talked to the cashiers at the Emporium and they very kindly referred me to City Hall (duh, why didn't I think of that?) and even threw in some awkward teenage humor which is always a plus for me (I'm 19). The cast member at City Hall who broke my change was FANTASTIC. She not only broke the bills flawlessly, she individually put each clump of $18 into individual envelopes. Wow. I can't believe how helpful and friendly she was. I'm still speechless. I even enjoyed a nice conversation with her while helping envelope the bills. I complimented her right away since I was already at City Hall. Hopefully it made her day when I called her the best cast member ever haha. We had a wonderful Jungle Cruise skipper, a very helpful cast member at the Star Trader, Maynard (although we unfortunately didn't interact; I saw him messing with a family humorously but creepily outside the Tiki Room), the Dole Whip cashiers, the Bengal Barbecue cashiers, the before-mentioned Snow White operator, all of the food cart cashiers, and many others. It was wonderful. Also; I want to dismiss the rumor that the Haunted Mansion servants no longer scare people. False. While in the Portrait Corridor, a butler emerged from the chicken's exit area and scared the LIFE out of two kids and their mom on purpose. They didn't cry, they were dying of laughter. It was awesome. Many of the other cast members here were wonderfully solemn.
- I'm glad that the Steve Martin and Donald Duck short is still around. Always enjoyable. Didn't stick around for Mr. Lincoln, but we did stick around for almost the whole short. Main Street looked and felt wonderful as a whole. Fantasyland and every land on the western side of the park looked GREAT, almost as if brand-new. The carousel was sparkling, Monstro was fine, Dumbo looked polished, the Matterhorn's new paint job is great, etc. The storybook village felt brand-new to me almost.
- Honestly, the new safety bars aren't noticeable unless you're looking for them. I did see some ugly guardrails on top of Peter Pan's Flight, but I'm sure they will be fixed soon. The castle guardrails match the castle quite well, and the Toontown hill rails look fine (except for the peeling paint). I actually really enjoyed the Jungle Cruise-netting. Aside from it not being too much of a distraction, it was a comfortable spot to lean my elbow on.
- The Haunted Mansion lighting was particularly dark on the inside...it didn't really bother me. Everything was working fine, especially in the ballroom/grand hall. Wonderful animatronic-lighting and animatronic movement. For the first time in a long time, the ghost hanging onto the chandelier with the cane was actually transparent. Most of my memories of him show him to be half-transparent and half-physical-looking. Although not all of them were working well, at least two or three of the pop-up ghosts actually leaped up at a reasonable rate. AND...they almost all had different faces! Hooray! If memory serves, there was a time when they all had a toned-down Hatbox Ghost-type face with a wig. There was one, but the rest either resembled the hag-looking face, or one other which I forget. My one complaint would be the graveyard scrims. They were very blurry and kind of obstructive to the view of the ghosts.
- The pirate with all the hats had ALL the hats! He wasn't moving like he used to, but I'm not going to complain. The Pooped Pirate's new hairdo is good too. And I noticed something I have never noticed; the pirate on the cannon in the arsenal scene was moving back and forth. Kind of cool.
- The Jungle Cruise animatronics looked great. Even though the piranhas kind of slowed down and stood in midair for a brief second after attacking, they even looked great. I never noticed the eyes on the African bull elephants. If you can, look at their eyes; it's little details like those that make Disneyland so great.
- I really enjoyed the interior of Bonanza Outfitters and the Emporium. I've never really admired shop interiors until yesterday.
- Big Thunder's new paint job looks very good, and the excuse for blocking off Big Thunder Trail is very fitting and clever.
- Here's a pro about the Rivers of America: the beavers. They look real.