Last edited by Dadde : Today at 11:41 PM. Reason: ETA: As I wrote this, a few folks posted similar threads, which renders the sentence below ("Didn't see any threads titled similarly, so here we go...") pretty much moot!)
Logging in about 30 minutes after getting back from DL's "sneak peek" day. Didn't see any threads titled similarly, so here we go...
Muggy morning, and overcast. Amazing to see so few cars in the Mickey lot structure. In the gate in moments. CM scanning and admitting added "Welcome Home" as we turnstiled. Mrs. Dadde commented much later on what a nice little touch that is.
Upon emerging from the tunnel to the flagpole square, noted that overy other human had a badge, lanyard, clipboard, and MILES of cable. Tons of scaffolded platforms and klieg lights around the perimeter of the square.
Crowd quickly grew to four-five deep. Noted huge TV lights monted on the roofs along Main St. (You can see these in Al's parade photos.) Man, those lights throw some serious heat down on the crowd.
Immediately became apparent that there was some serious disconnect between CMs. Found this out by asking after a rumor that we heard that, contrary to what the printed daily schedule said, the parade would in fact more than just once at 9:30. Different answers from different CMs.
Also noted that the CMs were heavily outnumbered by suits and a crew of folks with "Staff" badges wearing blue polo shirts. It seemed to us that these blue-shirted folks were assigned out to the various media crews, to guide them around. Apparently the heavier media crews got themselves babysat by the suits.
No need to review the parade except to comment on a couple of things. First, we did get some parts missing previously (Sebastian, etc.), but some remained MIA (confetti blasts). Secondly, the articulation on the float elements that are audio-animated is amazing. In fact, now having learned that the Simba and Nala characters were puppets, it makes it even more remarkable how synced the fluid the animatronic characters were. (The Lion King figures were off a bit.) Third, while it was a very well-put together effort it really didn't bring the "wow" factor we wanted overall.
As anticipated, we crossed over thousands of cables, passed through hundreds of area lighted for television. The number of suits and blue-shirts was staggering. And the regular-folks crowd numbers seemed, to this local long-time park visitor (maybe 4-5 times a year), to be about the same as a lightly attended off-season weekday.
That is to say that despite the highly promoted "no lines, exclusive admittance" ambiance touted by the giveaway conduits (radio stations, etc.) there really wasn't any specific feeling of priviledge extended to the guests. CMs may have taken the time to comment on the elevated status we in attendence had attained - "Unload to the right, and thanks for being our special guests today..." - but everyone was in SOP mode.
True, lines were very short. But it wasn't like every ride was a walk-on.
It was a great day just to take it easy and do things we normally wouldn't, like take in the Snow White show. (As described in a column a while back, by Sue I think, it was OK but nothing to write home about.) We also took a spin on the Monorail, where the pilot was kind enough to advise the riders that the parade would be running a second time. (It was that comment that led to the multiple and varying answers to our verification queries to the CMs, suits and blue-shirts.) Very cool views from the platform over the work-in-progress lagoon.
The look of the park is indeed fairly pristine, as one would expect. Unless you as hyper-attuned to detail like MiceAge regulars are, the park would simply appear to be is perfectly normal old self. Minus any obvious flaws, of course, like chipped paint, obvious need for repairs, etc. All those were patched, coated, painted, tweaked. The park looks terrific.
We decided to skip over to DCA for a while - we had been given a set of tickets for there along with our DL passes (Thanks, KLOS!) There everything was, naturally, a walk-on. Soaring, Screaming, Tower: every single one was absolutely free of wait times. In fact, the turnstile CM for Soaring announced via PA to all within earshot of the entrance that "...this will be the one and only time you will ever ride [the ride] without any line..."
We also noted that, while any and every television outlet had been placed in DL, any and every radio broadcast team was relegated to DCA. Easily understood - no visuals, don't need to be on the scene in DL - but must have made those folks feel pretty second-class. On the upside, I got to thank the fellow at KLOS's table for the tickets! (I'm pretty sure it was Gary Moore.)
Back to DL. We swung over to the Jungle Cruise. New additions look good, but the ride was pretty much status quo. The press releases touted "a whole new spiel" from the boat pilots, but we sure recognized a bunch of the same old jokes on our trip. We sat in the back of the boat, and...
...the new pirahna effect managed to soak us pretty good.
A five-minute wait for Indy, then train to Toon Town. Crisp, fresh paint looks fabulous. Then Snow White show, then 10-minute wait for the Matterhorn. Then to shops in Tomorrowland, which seemed to be populated as much as they are on any day.
Fifteen-minute wait for Buzz. (Earlier in the afternoon an "official" opening announcement for Buzz had taken place. We didn't see the ceremony, but we heard Tim Allen was to be present to address the crowd. What we did see was more cable, lights suits, etc. Hundreds of 'em!
Almost 5:00 PM when we exited Buzz, so we headed back to DCA. In interesting note: Since the changeover from the hoi-polloi to the creme de la creme was apparently taking place right at 5:01, every shop on Main Street closed in sychronisity. No hanging around today, so no impulse buys for us!
Back to DCA, for the walk-on Screamer. Then out to Downtown Disney. Found ourselves swimming upstream against a tide of lanyard-wearing types heading to DL. A few celebs mixed in, like Kelsy Grammer, who is damn tall, if you please.
Grabbed a very nice dinner at Naples. Back to a now deserted parking lot. Almost stayed so we could go to the top of the Mickey structure to see the new fireworks, but that meant an hour's wait. So we simply marveled once again at the amazing design of the exit to the freeway, and came home.
A final thought:
Disney-philes (like you, gentle reader) will tot up all the little, subtle things that are right along with the big ones we noticed. But for us, Mr. and Mrs. Regular Folks, there doesn't seem to be more than a whole boatload of signage to reconcile the reality of the park to the heavy breathing of the hype. If someone asks "Should we go right away to see all the new stuff? Is it that intense?", I will advise them to wait and pick a day down the road, like in Fall after school starts.
This is not at all meant to take away from all the effort made backstage, onstage and at TDA to do everything they have done. All the long-term planning kick-started to new life by Matt Ouimet, the months leading up to now, were of tremendous value. Buzz is way cool (221,090: not bad for a rookie), major rehab finished, etc. I'm just sayin' that one need not drop everything to get there NOW, if you are not, like you and us, really into Disneyland.
Happy to answer questions if posted...