Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Thoughts on Disneyland Attractions

We went to Disneyland last week. Here are a few thoughts on the latest attractions:

1. Haunted Mansion

We missed the “Nightmare Before Christmas” version of Haunted Mansion. Anybody been on it? If so, what did you think?

2. Toy Story Mania

They’ve got the Toy Story Mania ride coming to DCA (Disney’s California Adventure) this summer. So I think that will be the next injection of Disney characters to add to DCA.

3. Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

The main new attraction was the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. It basically tells the story of Finding Nemo. They managed to mix it up, so it doesn’t feel the same as the Nemo ride in Epcot (although the “Mine” seagulls still greet you in line). It’s still the old Submarine ride. So basically, it just feels like all the original rides in Fantasyland (Snow White, Mr. Toad, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, etc.). Nothing super special, but it’s still fun. It’s definitely a kiddie ride, but the lines were 45 minutes, while everything else was 10 minutes or less (The exception was Indiana Jones which opened mid-day; we fast-passed in on IJ at a 30-minute wait. We were in on a Thursday during dead season. I know when to go because I used to work at Dland; it would have been perfect lines had it been raining).

4. Pirate's Lair

They turned Tom Sawyer’s Island into Pirate’s Lair. It looks temporary, because they just covered up “Tom Sawyer” on the sign rather than replacing the signs. This was a much-needed change, because nobody was going on the island anymore. We got to take a raft over with Jack Sparrow. The actor they hired is perfect! He’s got the voice, tone, look, gestures, and awkwardness down perfectly. We passed him again on the island, and he wished us a Happy Anniversary (we were wearing the free buttons we picked up from City Hall). Here are all the major changes I noticed that they did to the island.

o Jack Sparrow wanders the island and does signings at the cannon on one end and at the Pirate’s Den (a treasure trove) on the other end of the island. Jack’s there almost all day with a two-hour break in the middle.

o They added the Pirate’s Den with a bunch of fake treasure piled up. I guess you could get a picture with it, but I’m sure that area is more fun when Jack’s there.

o Three pirates sing pirate songs regularly. They do this on the Fantasmic stage.

o They turned the blacksmith house on the Fantasmic side of the island into the Turner blacksmith house. I think they only changed the sign and put a bunch of letters on one of the walls (I think they were invoices).

o They made the play area with the bridges a little more piratey. One “game” they added was where you spin a large wheel to pull a treasure chest up out of the water with some chains. Of course, there’s a skeleton still holding onto the chest. When you stop spinning, the chest goes back down.

o Another “game” was where you pump water out of a small sunken ship to uncover… more treasure! When you stop pumping, the water fills back up.

o They also added the large spherical cage from Pirates 2. It is made out of skulls and bones. A good photo opp, because you can climb inside.

o It seems like they just added more remnants of broken up ships all over the island. Nothing special, but fun to look at.

o The fort is closed. I think they may be retiring the fort until they open the island back up as Tom Sawyer’s island. My guess is that they’ll go back to calling it Tom Sawyer, open the fort, but they’ll keep all the piratey things and Jack Sparrow visits. It’s a great way to make sure Jack doesn’t get mauled by crowds (people have to go over there just to see him, smaller paths, etc.).

5. Princess Fair

They turned the old Fantasyland Theater (next to Toon Town; it used to show plays from Disney movies) to the Princess Fair. They are very smart. This seems to be a permanent change, because they tore out some of the seating area to add in more dance space in front of the stage, and to build the Princess Garden in the front, before you get to the stage. Here’s what they got:

o For the first time in a long time, the restaurant on the side is open. Why? Because now there are actually a ton of people over there hanging out and doing the different activities, like…

o So they got the Princess Garden in the front. There’s a nice long line for it. Basically, you get in there and you get to hang out with three princesses who are sitting on different garden benches. I saw Jasmine, Mulan, Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty. I assume they also pull out Belle and sometimes Pocahontas. Before their shift in the garden, the three princesses…

o There is a stage that they kept from the old theater. A bunch of unknown princesses and princes come out to teach the crowd of little girls how to dance and how to bow (for the 3 boys there) and curtsy (for the 40+ girls there). Then the three princesses come out, dance, and then they do a maypole dance. So they pulled out some of the seating area to make the dance floor. Then they left some seating in for the parents to watch their kids (and the show). There are areas up high on the sides for those doing activities to watch as well (that’s where we were perched). And on the sides they have activities...

o They have benches down the side areas where kids can do free activities. Looks like it’s limited to making a crown and coloring princesses. Everything else costs bookoo bucks.

o On the left side (in addition to the activities) they have the restaurant, and on the right they have a major merchandising area (also with activities over here too). So you go to the right to buy your dresses, shoes, hair pieces, wands, gloves, purses, wigs, and toy figures for each of the major six princesses (Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty (Aurora), Ariel, Belle, and Jasmine). They also have cast members who will do your daughter’s hair for way too much money.

6. Overall Thoughts

o They would get extra genius points if they did the same that they did with Pirates Lair with the Princesses. I know they are already trying something similar with the Princess Fair, but it’s much cooler to go to an island and have pirates walking around. It would also be cool to have a Princess garden island where Princesses can wander without getting mauled. I suppose they could only do that in Disney World, because they have the land.

o Also, I was very surprised to not see any promotions of Enchanted or National Treasure, both highly successful Disney movies from last month. I’d think they’d be on top of that.

o Plus, it’s great that they’re marketing “Disney Princesses,” but I saw three boys out of 40 kids watching the show. They don’t even bring out Aladdin, Philip, Mr. Charming, the Beast, or any other princes. They should do this with princes as well or…

o Why are they marketing “Disney Princesses” but aren’t marketing “Disney Heroes?” I’m actually going to write Iger, Jobs, and Lasseter a letter on this. Boys would love a show, appearances, cartoons, and merchandise that combine all their heroes: Aladdin, Tarzan, Jack Sparrow, Hercules, Ben Gates, Buzz Lightyear, etc.

- The Emperor

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