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October 3rd, 2007


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08:17 am - something-by-the-sea
Mint Julep on, er, tap.
Disneyland's French Market restaurant in New Orleans Square is the only restaurant I've ever heard of what has Mint Julep right on, er, tap, next to the Fanta and ginger ale. Course, it's not the real drink, instead it's a bright neon green non-alcoholic beverage that tastes slightly fruit-like with a real mint aftertaste at the end. Still, you always get it when you go to Disneyland because that's the only place you can get it (and don't tell me otherwise if you know any better; I'm living in my happy space here.) I do recommend getting another beverage with your meal, though, just in case.

That's the only picture I actually took at Disneyland proper; I was too busy having fun. I did take some pics at Calfornia Adventure, Disneyland's second park in what used to be its parking lot (hence the nickname Parking Lot Land.) It's a little park that holds quite a bit of potential, though it's had its share of problems (including the fact that it really is a little park.) However, one of the major craw-sticking points that the Purists trot out, again and again, is the Paradise Pier section of the park, which aims to recreate a boardwalk-based amusement park like the ones that used to exist at Long Beach and elsewhere.

The purists take offense with the fact that these boardwalk parks were what inspired the creation of Disneyland in the first place. Walt was disgusted with the state of those parks in the 50s, and detested having to take his kids to those seedy places and then avoiding gum and other gunk on the sidewalk, putting his kids on the same old boring rides, and then sitting on an uncomfortable bench watching them since there wasn't much everybody in the family could enjoy together. So he then decided, by george, he'd build an amusement park himself and exclude all that he found wrong with the current parks. (He may have visited Knott's at one point and said "Ah-ha!" when he saw their themed Ghost Town attractions.)

Well, sure -- but it doesn't mean Walt absolutely detested the boardwalk parks. There was something in them that he must have enjoyed if he wanted to improve upon the concept, and I think that Paradise Pier is a reasonably successful attempt to create a boardwalk park-style setting that Walt may very well have enjoyed taking his kids to. So there.

Mermaid bench decoration, California Adventure
While California Adventure was built during the time when everything was strictly budgeted to the last cent and the accountants, not the Imagineers, held sway over everything, they still found the time to put in some nice details, such as these decorative bench ends, reflecting the mermaid-neptune-clamshell aspect of a seaside park. I liked that.

Sun Wheel with clouds Sun Wheel, California Adventure Urp
The Sun Wheel is California Adventure's version of Coney Island's Wonder Wheel, right down to the swinging cars. As I mentioned before, the Sun Wheel's swinging cars are more vicious than Coney's, which is a rather odd change of pace considering Coney was known for its super-tuned versions of regular thrill rides, such as the Breakdance. Each swinging car was helpfully equipped with its own motion sickness bag, which amused me to no end.

Paradise Pier at night
The park really does shine at night, as a good seaside park ought to. Lots of lights and swirls around its architecture. While it may not be the quintessential experience and lacking a bit in the ride department (the big attraction is, of course, the California Screamin' coaster which is indeed a hoot and a holler) it's a fair attempt and once they've put in the Toy Story Midway attraction in 2008, I think this place will see a bit more traffic and get a bit more love.

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Comments:


[User Picture]
From:limax
Date:October 3rd, 2007 01:32 pm (UTC)
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I've had that Mint Julep. Disgusting. Ew. Bleah. Seeing as I can't compare Coney to CA Adventure, I woudln't know. My agoraphobia gave me some trouble the first couple of times I rode the sun wheel, but the last time I was much better, although my kids were screaming. That might have had something to do with Tower of Terror, which we had ridden earlier in the day.

I think that California Screamin' used to be a LOT better before they added the "GET READY SCREAMERS!" announcement, which makes me sick every time I hear it. I loved the idea of not knowing when it was going to take off. During spring break, when we were last there, they had music by the Red Hot Chili Peppers piped through the speakers in the train, which I found was pretty cool. I heard they have since taken that away, and also from Space Mountain. With the advent of Fast Passes, the people at Disneyland have taken something away from us. Being entertained in line. I was appalled when we didn't have any time in the long corridor down to the Space Mountain platform... it was just "Run as fast as you can down the 50 gangplanks!" I miss my youth.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:October 3rd, 2007 02:18 pm (UTC)
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Disney made some mods to California Screamin' without the manufacturer's permission, so much so that the manufacturer has now disavowed any and all liability on the ride. I'm reasonably sure the announcement was added for liability reasons, just to ensure everybody's head is back against the headrest before the launch (most launched coasters I've ridden now give you ample warning -- which, while removing the surprise aspect, doesn't exactly present a potential neck problem. X-Celerator at Knott's has the drag racing Christmas tree, for instance.)

You may be one of the few people who enjoyed Space Mountain's numerous tunnel switchbacks. Later on Disney made sure to theme the queues of their new rides; the Indiana Jones line is varied and entertaining and has tunnels and twists and turns and -- if you're lucky (we weren't) -- the pole in the spike room. That's entertainment. The Space Mountain queue is rather, well, not so much fun. Waiting in a cramped, glowing blue corridor to get to the loading area for Space Mountain may not be everyone's cup of tea, and indeed we had at least one person in our group who grew claustrophobic if in a small space with a lot of people and not much in the way of movement. As it was, the Space Mountain line was mostly outside on the terrace; a cast member at the building entrance let people down the corridors in groups.

The RHCP are gone from the ride soundtracks (the band didn't like the way their music was being used in the "family friendly" ads, apparently) and in Space Mountain's place is an appopriately cosmic-sounding track; California Screamin' has an out-of-place soundtrack which alternates between semi-psychedlic wah-wah guitar to calliope midway music. If any ride deserved that Dick Dale surf track, it's California' Screamin.
[User Picture]
From:limax
Date:October 3rd, 2007 02:48 pm (UTC)
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I just remember when we visited in 1998 that the news feed that they had on the monitors were quite amusing. I can't remember what they had when I visited there in the 1980's. Oh, and I got the kids screaming at me in the line for Indiana Jones. I was stepping on the diamond-shaped tiles that it said not to step on. (Did I mention that we had taken them on Tower of Terror? It colored all three days that we spent there... ugh)
[User Picture]
From:annilita
Date:October 3rd, 2007 02:57 pm (UTC)
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I am amazed at how long the line is for the Indian Jones ride. Not how many people were in the line, mind, but the actual line area itself. There were a few points where we were starting to think it was all a cruel joke and there wasn't actually a ride at the end of it all. My 2 BILs (who isn't too clever on the best of days) went on the ride together and they saw all the people walking by going the other way and thought they were seeing a switch back and jumped the rope and found themselves back outside and had to start the line all over again. I have a theory that it's all a ploy to slow people down and free up spaces on other rides. If people are spending at least 5 minutes in line if they get a straight shot and 30-45 minutes if there are people in front of them, and then another 5 minutes walking out of the attraction when it's done, then they are still having an experience without taking up space on another ride, ride?

I HATE standing in the lines, even if it is 'entertaining'. We went to Disney World when I was 13 and the hour-long waits were just boring as hell. I think Fast Pass is brilliant!

The music on California Screamin' was my only complaint about that ride. That and the barf on the exit stairs, but I don't think that's a permanent fixture of the ride.
[User Picture]
From:ron_newman
Date:October 3rd, 2007 01:50 pm (UTC)
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Did they build a lake, or use one that was already there, for the boardwalk attraction?
[User Picture]
From:limax
Date:October 3rd, 2007 02:10 pm (UTC)
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It's man-made. That whole area used to be the parking lot for Disneyland.
[User Picture]
From:annilita
Date:October 3rd, 2007 02:46 pm (UTC)
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We had a great time at California Adventure. Not only was the Sun Wheel cool (I took Kai on one of the static cars, only to watch a little girl in a moving car near us scream in genuine, abject terror the whole time. Srsly, people, DON'T put small children in the moving cars!), but I really liked that they had quite a few rides the kids themselves identified as OMGMUSTRIDES, unlike some of the rides over in Disneyland where they didn't know what they were getting into until the ride started because the rides were hidden inside buildings or underground, and I think the identifiability factor ratcheted up their excitment.

Also, the kids loved the Muppet Show even though they've only seen a couple of Muppet movies and never the show itself. And, the Bugs Life area was their favorite of the whole trip, mainly because the rides were exciting without being evil and there were no lines at all because everyone was over in line at the Nemo attraction in DL proper.

I totally cannot wait to go on California Screamin' again.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:October 3rd, 2007 03:58 pm (UTC)
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I think people seriously underestimate the severity of them swinging cars. I know I did, which is why the barf bags amused me so yet enlightened me well.

FastPass is great for getting more out of the day (which is of course what Disney wants; the less time you spend waiting in line, the more time you have to spend money in the shops and restaurants...) It's entirely optional, of course (so Limax can wait in the queue if he so desires :D ) but quite often it's very easy to grab a FastPass for a ride, get in the regular queue anyway, ride your ride and then by the time you're done, it may be time to bring in that FastPass and get an almost immediate double ride. Bonus!
[User Picture]
From:limax
Date:October 3rd, 2007 10:09 pm (UTC)
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Well, by the time we made it to Space Mountain, all the fast passes were gone, and this was our last day in the park. (I know... plan ahead next time!)
[User Picture]
From:skeetlj
Date:October 3rd, 2007 04:58 pm (UTC)
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Okay, I don't mind not having an equivalent to California Adventure -- I mean, taking your chances in the shootin' range they call Orlando is pretty much as much of a Florida Adventure as there ever will be. But nothing like New Orleans Square at WDW?

UNACCEPTABLE.

Sure, the real New Orleans is... oh, about 10-12 hours' drive away. But they put an American pavilion in at Epcot, so clearly they aren't concerned with such common-sense issues.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:October 3rd, 2007 06:19 pm (UTC)
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One of the main criticisms of California Adventure is that, in one context, it's needless -- why have a park in California showcase the wonders of California? Wouldn't tourists rather visit the real wonders instead? Sure, some of the DCA theme is historical and it all does indeed capture the flavor of California, but the argument is vaguely compelling. Some of the WDW attractions have similarly tried to keep a Florida theme. Pleasure Island's first theme was Florida-based; Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon too, I believe.

But why no New Orleans Square? Okay, here's the deal. Put your Story Time helmet on.

When WDW was planned, the idea was to incorporate much of the elements of Disneyland into the Magic Kingdom, but to also make sure that certain attractions and elements stayed unique to each park -- so that there'd be something in California you couldn't find in Florida, and vice-versa.

With this in mind, the Imagineers planned an entirely new area for their Phase II expansion project. The main idea would've been Thunder Mesa, an attraction built within WDW's Frontierland. It would have mostly consisted of a gigantic show building shaped like, well, a huge red mesa, inside of which you'd find "The Western River Expedition", a Pirates-like boat ride with the same scope and scale as Pirates; a train ride throughout, access to the top for sightseeing (Look, kids! That's the top of It's A Small World!) as well as a runaway mine ride. Pirates of the Caribbean, they reasoned, would stay in California, and Thunder Mesa would stay in Orlando.

As Thunder Mesa was a Phase II addition to be built later, the park opened without Pirates and, in lieu of New Orleans Square, the bicentennial-ready (well, it was a few years before ol' 76) Liberty Square, containing the Hall of Presidents show and -- oddly enough -- the Haunted Mansion. Disneyland, of course, has no Liberty Square, and no full-fledged Hall of Presidents. I think however they definitely got the better part of the deal.

However, after WDW's Magic Kingdom was open for a while, the park discovered that one of the most common guest questions was "Where's the pirate ride?" So finally the decision was made to push Thunder Mesa back further and fast-track a lower-budget version of Pirates for Florida, sticking it in Adventureland. Eventually, what with the gas crisis keeping tourism income low and inter-Imagineer politics (the Old Guard such as Marc Davis butting heads with the New School featuring the likes of Tony Baxter), Thunder Mesa was pretty much done in.

And now the Paul Harvey denouement! One of the elements of Thunder Mesa actually did come to fruition after some changes and redesign (to Marc Davis' extreme displeasure) by Tony Baxter: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. And now you know the rest of the story, etc.

Additionally, I think that thematically New Orleans is just a little too close to Orlando to be "exotic." A Philadelphia/New England colonial theme, though, worked. What else would've worked in Florida, d'you reckon?
[User Picture]
From:skeetlj
Date:October 4th, 2007 02:03 am (UTC)
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Holy history lesson, Spatman!

Seriously, though, that's the kind of stuff I find fascinating, probably because it's the kind of information that Disney shares grudgingly, when at all. I guess Thunder Mesa would have made a nice symmetry: New Orleans Square in California, and an Old West area exclusive to the east coast.

The Haunted Mansion is actually one of the sticking points that keep me from total park fanboyness. More specifically, the fact that they deck out the Disneyland version with the Nightmare Before Christmas treatment but not the Magic Kingdom version. Excuse me while I grrrrr. Grrrrrrrrrrr.

(A second complaint is that they paved over the wonderfully cheesy 20,000 Leagues ride for... an autograph grotto and play area. I only got to ride in that retro-futuristic submarine once. But where is that? Not here, not there.)

I think I have to disagree about New Orleans not being exotic enough, however. It's technically within driving distance, although certainly not easily so. (640 miles, about 10 hours.) But the stereotypical park visitor isn't from the area anyway. And New Orleans isn't really similar to any other American city, in the southeast or otherwise. But hey, they only ask for my money, not my opinion on how they should spend it once it's theirs.

What else would have worked in the Magic Kingdom? Hmmmmm. Maybe, and this is weak, some generic "big town" area (with aspects of New York, Chicago, and so on) to act as a counterpoint to Main Street. I usually stick to just complaining, you see, rather than coming up with alternative ideas...
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:October 4th, 2007 12:42 pm (UTC)
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Walt had plans for an annex off Main Street in California called Edison Square, where the emphasis there would've been more of the technology-minded urban turn-of-the-century America, probably with less painted wood and more green painted metal.

There's a lot of ideas for the park that never came to be; the subject fascinates me as well as a lot of other folks, it looks like.

The retro-futuristic subs you're thinking of are the California version, which claimed to be the "world's 7th (or whatever) largest submarine fleet" even though they don't go completely underwater at any time (the sub pilot is always up above water These are the ones used in the new Finding Nemo ride, painted their bright yellow-and-gray color scheme that they had been changed to in the 70s-80s, I want to say. The subs in Florida, of course, looked like Captain Nemo's Nautilus.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:October 4th, 2007 12:43 pm (UTC)
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here, I think I forgot these: .)
From:zhym
Date:October 3rd, 2007 05:23 pm (UTC)
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California Adventure was built during the time when everything was strictly budgeted to the last cent and the accountants, not the Imagineers, held sway over everything

Does the use of past tense in this sentence mean Disney's getting better about this post-Eisner?
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:October 3rd, 2007 05:50 pm (UTC)
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Most definitely now that John Lasseter's large and in charge. He's making sure the American theme parks are not getting short shrift. Things actually started getting better before, but John's a major force (he was a former Jungle Cruise skipper, if memory serves) behind the push to budget more. The "Toy Story Mania" attraction's gonna be a big-bucks endeavor, for one.
[User Picture]
From:dogofthefuture
Date:October 3rd, 2007 06:31 pm (UTC)
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Having been on the swinging ferris wheel cars at California Adventure, I think those motion sickness bags are a damned good idea. I damn near lost my lunch, and I don't generally get motion sickness. They didn't have them when I was there.
[User Picture]
From:nolly
Date:October 3rd, 2007 07:36 pm (UTC)
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I'll have to try the Sun Wheel if I even go back to CA Adventure. I was underwhelmed by CA Screamin', but loved the Hollywood Hotel Tower of Terror. Other than that, the park felt far more kid-oriented than Disneyland proper.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:October 3rd, 2007 07:54 pm (UTC)
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I loved the Tower of Terror. I loved it in Orlando and I loved it in Anaheim. It's just a fun ride with one hell of a smooth drop/rise/random crap sequence, and exquisite theming.
[User Picture]
From:zorndeslammes
Date:October 3rd, 2007 10:20 pm (UTC)

re:

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The purists take offense with the fact that these boardwalk parks were what inspired the creation of Disneyland in the first place. Walt was disgusted with the state of those parks in the 50s, and detested having to take his kids to those seedy places and then avoiding gum and other gunk on the sidewalk, putting his kids on the same old boring rides, and then sitting on an uncomfortable bench watching them since there wasn't much everybody in the family could enjoy together. So he then decided, by george, he'd build an amusement park himself and exclude all that he found wrong with the current parks. (He may have visited Knott's at one point and said "Ah-ha!" when he saw their themed Ghost Town attractions.)

Don't forget his avowed love of the park that inspired Disney over in Copenhagen.

I'll be in Anaheim in about 4 weeks. I can't wait.

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