Normally, my wife and I showcase our adventures via video podcasts -- which lately have been posted over in MicePod. If you're interested in seeing them, you can subscribe on iTunes -- visit us by clicking HERE.
You can also find Quicktime versions of the show at HorseAndRabbit.com Adventure's mainpage. And, obviously, you can learn more about us at our main site: HorseAndRabbit.com.
Despite doing video reports, we have always been fans of the Trip Reports we see here on MiceChat. And we've enjoyed hearing what folks have said about the adventures we've shared with Kuzco_chik when she's posted TRs here.
So, I figured it was high time that we posted our own report! Off to Disney's California Adventure... and Toy Story Midway Mania!
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If you've gone to the Disneyland Resort with me, you know I always like to be there early. We're not talking about "shortly after the rope drop." Or even "when the gates open." No, I'm talking early, early. So early that we're waiting for the parking structure to open up. So early that the CMs who work there are giving me evil eyes because they have to be at their Disney best way before they expected to be.
Prior to me posting this, only a half-dozen people have known this about me. And less than half of those poor souls have every actually tried to join me that early. Most are like my wife, Horse_Bunny -- who say they want to get up there early, but really want to sleep in a few hours longer.
So, when my wife is up and ready to go several hours BEFORE either park is open, it's a very good sign she's excited. Especially when it's a podcast project trip. And for a Tuesday morning, she was ready to go well before I was.
It was a miracle.
So, with our collection of video and still cameras loaded into the car... we were off. Okay, okay, so we had to stop by Jack in the Box to pick up breakfast, but that's tradition. And, an hour and a half later, we were pulling up to the Mickey and Friends parking lot. No dirty looks from the Cast Members. But still pretty early. Early enough that we were within the first few rows parked.
And... parking outside.
I'm not quite sure when this started. Once upon a time, the first cars into the lot at least parked within the parking structure. When M&F opened, it was nice to actually park in the shade instead of in the blisteringly hot sun. Sure, we were a few steps from the Tram stop... but you know what a bag of breakfast remnants will smell like by the end of the day in a warm vehicle. Ew.
Time for some photos, since this is getting a little too text heavy!
Welcome to the Disneyland Resort!
Of course, we were going to the Resort for one reason:
And here comes the Tram!
Now, I know I said I was glad that we were there early. Early here means "about the time Disneyland opened the gates." Which would normally be too late for me, but we were still way to early to enter DCA. And that's where we were headed.
However, the Green Army Men weren't even up yet. I guess Andy hadn't let them out of the bucket, yet. Their stage was there, empty and lonely. It was kinda sad, really.
Next trip, if I have to park in the sun, this is the spot I want:
Some trips, we're going just to go to Disneyland. Others, we're planning on visiting the entire Resort. But there are times (a lot of them, really) that Horse_Bunny and I head up to Anaheim just to visit our dear Disney's California Adventure. And that's what we were doing today.
So, the only reason we entered Disneyland at all was to pick up a wheelchair for my pregnant wife. And then, it was back out to the Esplanade to wait for opening -- if we're going to go on a new attraction, we're going to be one of the first in line in the morning.
Of course, not without a nice shot of the C-A-L-I-F-O-R-N-I-A letters. Frankly, I kinda like them better with the Dream Clouds:
DCA's gates opened around 9:30am, and we quickly rolled through Condor Flats into the back walkways of Grizzly Peak Recreation Area. We waited here a few minutes, then we were on the move all the way to Paradise Pier and the actual queue. We zipped past Mr Potato Head (who was missing an ear and had his hands up. I wondered if someone behind the curtain had him at gunpoint), through row after row of twisty-turny gates and finally came to rest...
Right here, two feet beside Wheezy. Horse_Bunny still is anti-penguin, apparently:
There's no photographs of Midway Mania itself -- because at least one of us had to be playing while the other was videotaping. If there was a FastPass for this attraction, or if we liked the ride enough to stand in line again, we probably would have had more photos.
We really didn't like Toy Story Midway Mania. There, I said it.
Very little time is spent making the transition from the Paradise Pier boardwalk reality to that of the Andy's room simulated version. Let me rephrase that... no time is spent making that transition. You simply jump from a real boardwalk to a fictional one.
Granted, I've seen similar (or worse) leaps at Disneyland before, but I would have hoped that an attraction designed specifically for Paradise Pier wouldn't have needed one. I guess they could have removed all of the toys scattered around and sold it off as Paradise Pier instead of a toy box. Sure, we have giant toys hosting the games -- but we already have that with Mr Potato Head out front (not to mention the walkaround characters).
Or, you could have seen the Midway Mania Box through a window while in the queue, before you ride, instead of at the end. Granted, most general tourists wouldn't notice and really wouldn't care. In fact, all of the thematic discussions that we have here on MiceChat would fly over the regular visitor's head. Is it important to have a good theme and good storytelling? Yes. But good or not, most people won't notice.
The first screen we came to displayed a black screen with large white letters on it. Basically, the TSMM version of a "blue screen of death." I won't dwell on this issue, since it's a new attraction and bound to have problems. But it's too bad that the screen couldn't have been turned off instead of showing a DOS prompt.
I don't remember anyone commenting on this before, but the vehicles spin and move pretty quickly while moving from spot to spot. I was expecting something more on line with a regular dark ride, and instead encounted turns similar to a Tilt-A-Whirl. On Mad Tea Party, you expect it -- you can see what you're in for while in the queue and can control the speed if you want to. With Roger Rabbit's Car-Toon Spin, it's mentioned in the name itself. Plus, you get several views of the inside of the attraction while in the queue and, again, can control the speed. But here, I don't seem to recall any warnings about the motion.
Frankly, I wouldn't have been too concerned about this, except my pregnant wife is being VERY cautious. She's having the usual morning curse of early pregnancy, plus is so super protective over our li'l one that she won't even go on something as milktoast as Jumping Jellyfish. This really made her sick to her stomach, bounced her around a lot, and really made her miserable.
So, because of that aspect of this trip, the motion really did seem a little too jerky and spinny for something without a warning. Does it really need to move in that fashion?
The gameplay itself was pretty fun, and I love being able to rapid-fire with the pull-string mechanism. Horse_Bunny (when she wasn't feeling sick) and I liked the added touches of being able to shoot the characters themselves, or shoot at the curtain and decorations to see our projectiles stick there. The images were crisp (unlike most 3D films at the parks), however the 3D effect wasn't very apparent.
And the Toy Story connection? Seeing as how the characters are only on the screen for a few seconds (except at the intro and exit scenes), and how the audio is so cluttered you can't hear a thing they are saying... it wasn't really necessary to make the attraction themed to Toy Story in the first place. In fact, it runs contrary to the 1928 theming established at the new vendor locations across the boardwalk.
But, what am I going to do about it?
So, there you have my take on the attraction. It's not nearly as great as everyone seems to think it is. It's a fun ride, and a nice diversion, but it's not a good representation of the "great things to come" to DCA. Then again, it probably never was intended to be.
Is anyone still reading, or did I just lose my audience? Well, I'll go ahead and post the rest of this, just in case anyone is still with me.
So, up a flight of stairs, and we found ourselves in someone's living room:
... who apparently collects trinkets:
... and has a bowl full of shells.
I know there are curses about removing samples from the Petrified Forest or from Volcanoes National Park, but apparently the beach near Paradise Pier doesn't have anything like that. Unless, of course, there's some story that if you take shells, your toys will come to life and make you play carnival games. Hmm.
This looks familiar:
Does anyone else think it's strange that you can see the rug through the bottom of the box?
Once we were done with Toy Story Midway Mania, we started on the next phase of our podcast project -- an overview of Paradise Pier. While I took some lopsided, shaky footage, Horse_Bunny started snapping shots of everything she could set her lens on.
In case you forgot where you were:
California Screamin' was down all morning:
Horse_Bunny is scared of cranes. But she's patriotic. So...
Paradise Bay, or just a random body of water? You decide.
The Sun Wheel waits for more innocent victims to try the Swinging Gondolas.
A mermaid shows off the housewarming gift Ariel gave her when Avalon Cove first opened. Years later, that Little Mermaid would steal her restaurant. Sometimes, life is not better down where it's wetter:
Anyone know where this is?
Even King Triton worries about poking his eye out. Thus, the safety trident:
Hey, it's like we're at home!
A nice shot of the Midway Mania paint job. And a bad shot of me:
A flower grows in Paradise Pier:
Have to have at least one shot of the TSMM sign, right?
And a handful of Mr. Potato Head photos, to remind people why we went in the first place:
I guess you can't get turkey legs for breakfast:
Why is Paradise Pier so punny?
This won't make sense unless you know I'm the rabbit of HorseAndRabbit.com:
I rarely go into this store since this guy creeps me out:
Austin Powers must have to stand in a different line:
I see the Sun Wheel finally found those victims it was looking for:
Horse_Bunny hopes she will get at least one last ride on this before it's demolished. Hmm, if the baby comes early...
Apparently, someone was so hungry they didn't wait for pizza:
Is this supposed to be our governor?
Tom and Huck should have installed these signs on the Island:
Orange you glad we took this photo? You may groan now:
This birdie was a real attention whore:
Paradise Pier has some decent landscaping:
This guy was caught wearing his 3D glasses around the Pier:
Mullholland Madness really has bad sightlines for photographs:
Corn Dogs Rule. Yes, they really do:
Every Disney cartoon that takes place at a carnival or midway includes one of these. Therefore, Paradise Pier also had to have one:
Apparently, there wasn't much wind while we were there:
... I didn't notice, because I was working:
And that was our day. Sure, it was short, and sweet -- but we saw what we wanted to do and had enough footage for our podcast. Swinging by Taste Pilot's Grill for a quick bite to eat (still no tomatoes -- wouldn't you think that a California themed park would be using untainted California tomatoes?) we finally made our way out to the Tram loading zone.
But our day wasn't over... because just beyond the security checkpoint, we ran into these strangely tinted figures:
It made for a nice way of ending the day (and, conveniently, a good way to open our new podcast) at Disney's California Adventure. It also, hopefully, will make for a nice ending to my Trip Report. Since, well, it's done!