I just got home late last night from my first trip to WDW in years. I had the chance to do all the new (to me) attractions (Expedition Everest, Nemo show, Lights/Motors/Action show, Seas with Nemo, Haunted Mansion "re-haunting," Gran Fiesta tour, new O' Canada movie, WDW's version of Soarin', etc.), as well as experience Behind the Seeds, MNSSHP, the Food and Wine Festival, and Epcot's 25th. I've got a lot of thoughts -- and photos, but I'm a bit of a luddite when it comes to such things, and don't really know how to post them.
Anyway, here's the first segment -- more to come later.
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Loved it. The queue is fantastic, and the line moved quickly. The steaming train engine effect in the load worked perfectly. The ride itself is smooth as butter, and the Yeti is far more daunting in the flesh than on YouTube. Because I enjoyed EE so much, I hate to carp, but... if they only tweaked a few things, this attraction's place in the pantheon of true Disney classics would be cemented.
For one thing, it's a bit short. I don't think there's much that can be done about that at this point. However, the theming of the ride itself (as compared to the impressive queue) can stand to be beefed up. The first part of the ride, while traversing a nicely landscaped area, is boring. Couldn't they add some Himalayan village buildings and/or sherpa AAs? Just a few simple pieces would make all the difference in the world. (The barrenness of EE, themewise, is particularly apparent when it's compared to, say, BTM.) The climb to the peak is nice, but the fog effect only worked once out of five ride-throughs.
The backward portion of the ride was, to me, the most fun (and disorienting) part -- but why are there so many places where riders can clearly see the infrastructure of the mountain? This was pointed out by many when EE first opened, and it still hasn't been rectified. It really snaps you out of your suspension of disbelief. Cover up the light leaks, and add a few subtle effects -- like a cold blast of air -- and the inside of the mountain will be as compelling as the outside.
I don't want to sound disappointed... I was really impressed by EE overall, and it's now near the top of my all-time favorite Disney attractions. But when something's this close to perfect, it's frustrating that the extra few steps aren't taken to push it over.
Hester & Chester's Dinorama
I'm going to pretend I didn't see that. No, seriously... what were they thinking? It's like a bad joke or something. Just because something is ostensibly done "deliberately tongue-in-cheek" doesn't insulate it from being tacky. TriceraTop Spin is pretty and colorful, but it just doesn't belong in DAK. Similarly, while Primeval Whirl is zippy and fun (and I do like the name), it's also frankly an eyesore, and really has no place in this park. And, I can overlook a little scuffing around the edges, but Primeval Whirl was just in horrible shape. The queue structure had chipping paint and rust everywhere, and the vehicles smelled like the inside of a gym bag. This whole mini-land needs to be razed to the ground, and stat.
Mrs. Huxtable's "How? That's proprietary." makes me laugh every single time. Not sure why. Anyway, I think the last time I was on this ride was back when it was still Countdown to Extinction -- a much better, and ominous, name. First of all, "Dinosaur" is so ridiculously generic. Why not call simply Expedition Everest "Yeti"? Or Splash Mountain "Critters"? I know they wanted to tie into the movie of the same name, but let's be honest -- I can probably count on two hands the number of people who even remember the movie now. As someone who saw it in the theater and also has it on DVD, I still can't say I remember anything about the movie other than its cool meteor strike scene. I mostly think of it as a 3D "Land Before Time." As for the ride itself -- well, it's a poor man's Indy. There are way too many places in the ride that are just dark and devoid of content. And Wallace Langham's voiceovers are frankly really annoying. "We're not going to make it! We're not going to make it! ... We made it!" Ugh. Dinosaur could really be great, but a lot needs to change.
Nemo - The Musical
Wonderful. Great sets; great effects; great acting. I'm not the biggest fan of stage shows or musicals, but this one is something special.
This was probably the fourth or fifth time I've done this, and I just found it boring. The Big Red/Little Red storyline seems incongruous now, and I can see most of the same animals at my local zoo. The Safari is no longer on my "must do" list of things at DAK.
It's Tough to Be a Bug
I skipped it this time. Being jabbed in the backside and stink-bombed lost their novelty the second or third time around.
I'd never eaten there before, but was glad I did so this time. While the ribs weren't quite at the same level of your local off-the-beaten-path, hole-in-the-wall place with legendary, falling-off-the-bone ribs, they were pretty darn good. I'll go so far as to say they're the best theme park ribs I've ever had, and one of the best counter-service food experiences in WDW. I'll definitely be eating here again. (The accompanying beans are a bit too gluey and sweet, and the cornbread dry and crumbly -- but the ribs more than make up for it.)
Yak and Yeti
The building looks quite nice. I'm looking forward to seeing the interior.
That's it for tonight... more later.