Today my friend Alan and I went to Disneyland and DCA by ourselves, without the twins. We went specifically to ride Pirates and Mansion, and just enjoy the Parks for a few hours. I have some things to say about both these upgraded rides.
PIRATES: we were there at Park Opening, but when we got to Pirates the line was all the way back into Frontierland and the ride did not open for another 1/2 hour after Park Opening. The line was all the Early Entry Hotel people. Once the doors opened, the line moved fast and we were inside within 10 minutes. The ride was great, no stops at the drops and we went all the way through with no boat jams even at the end climb. The only new effect that was not working were the air cannons on the Wicked Wench, but every other effect worked fine. The waterfall effect went all the way down to the water so it looked very real. The only problem was the boats where running too close to each other, without touching, but the sync was off and we saw the Davy Jones Image twice. Once from a distance, which was very cool, but then again right as we got to the falls, and the light from the rear projector was right in our eyes kind of spoiling the effect. That was the only problem. Alan noted that he didn't think the new music in the "Battle Scene" between the ship and the fort was punched up enough to indicate a battle was in progress. It was OK, but too tame for the scene being shown. The new sound system is great as is the new show lighting. There is definitely more fire in the city burning scene and it is much better now. The new A/A's are fantastic and look very real. I was impressed.
MANSION: I had been led to believe that the new effect of the ghosts in Madame Leota's room had been turned on, but today anyway, it was just the same old hanging musical instruments, and no change to Leota's spiel. The new attic was hard for me to see because of my current vision problems, so I could even see the portraits, let alone the husbands heads disappearing. The new bride came across much better and I didn't have any problems with her. The only problem we both had, is that with only the attic effects working, nothing else being changed or added there is no story anymore at all. Who amongst the regular guests is going to figure out the Axe Murdering Bride? If you are not at the correct place at the correct time, you never see the ace. We didn't. And with all this supposedly new darker storyline in place, and the stuff in the attic, the abrupt change from going the this ace wielding brides and headless husbands into a graveyard that has nothing but happy ghosts all dancing and singing to Grim Grinning Ghosts, just doesn't work anymore. I have no idea what they can do here, but the change is way too abrupt and disconcerting as it is being played out now. So, as to this change, not impressed at all. I do not think that a few table scattered around the room, with different stuff scattered on the tables, and no real narration anywhere that is any different from what we have always heard before, except for the bride, which doesn't quite fit either. She is way too "Cartoony" for the story they are trying to tell. I will of course wait for all the other new stuff supposedly is installed. For now, not impressed and whatever it is they are trying to do in there, is a total failure as far as I am concerned.
We wandered all around Disneyland, then went over to DCA and rode TOT, which for the first time in ages, was using the outside switchback queue lines and it took us about 20 minutes to even get to the lobby. From there it seemed to move faster and the queue lines were non existence at the elevator, we walked right up and were sent to the elevator right in front that was loading and it was only partially filled so we got the center back row, and we were off on the ride within seconds. No huge crowds on the exit stairs (we were in the right side library so we were sent to the upstairs boarding area) and no huge crowds of people exiting other cars, nor was anyone waiting to see their pictures. Strange.
We walked all over, then left and drove to Wilshire to see the Animotronics in Movies exhibit. Now, we had already seen the artwork and photographs on display in the lobby when we went to see Tron a few weeks ago, so we skipped that and went to the 4th floor. Not what I expected. It was good, and there are interesting things, but nothing is working. They could have powered some of the larger figures to just move in random patterns as they mentioned in one of the videos that are playing around the room that the big Hero Aslan Lion was never turned off during filming. Even if he was just sitting off to the side in the soundstage, he was always looking around, and moving his head, eyes, mouth, ears, etc. all the time. This way the children could treat him as a living lion rather than just another robot. We saw everything and were in and out in about 1/2 hour. Parking is horrendous and we ended up parking on a clear side street that had 2 hour parking weekdays from 6am to 8pm and you didn't need a special permit to show you lived on this street. Free Parking in the buildings across the street is only for the night they have the special showings and it has to be after 6pm when that office building is closed for the day. Is it worth it, yes. It's free and you see some incredible stuff that really shows the genius behind these Animatronic figures, face masks and puppets. My favorite is the biggest display which is a full sized Predator being attacked by a full sized Alien. It is very impressive as the Alien is totally off the ground, with feet firmly locked onto the Predator and the tail heading straight for the chest plate, which already has holes in it from previous hits. The Predators face mask is off and his mouth is wide open, showing all the teeth and mouth parts. Incredible. Cameras are not allowed, but Alan managed to get one shot of that display for me with his camera. But I am not going to display it, as you really have to see this for yourself. The show is free and runs through August 20th. The Academy is on Wilshire at the intersection of Peerpoint Ave. Yes, it's worth a look see. Lots of familiar movie monsters, both good and bad, are there. Lots of Dark Crystal stuff, Star Wars, Spiderman, Narnia, Cats and Dogs, King Kong, Mighty Joe Young and some movies I never even heard of.
I will be at the Park again Sunday morning and then up at the Crowne Plaze hotel for the NFFC thing. Maybe I will see some of you at the Park in the moring, or at the convention in the afternoon.