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Disney: Day 1


We landed in Anaheim at 1 p.m., checked into our hotel, and headed off to see what we could knock off at Disney’s California Adventure. For the most part, the park wasn’t crowded, though there was a clot around Grizzly River Rapids because of the incredible heat (high 90s).

I wasn’t optimistic that we’d get everything done with such a late start, but, in the end, we hit every attraction that we wanted to see. The only downside to the whole experience is the construction currently underway in the park’s central hub—a massive redesign that will make the park nicer but does cause some traffic confusion right now.

We Fast Passed Grizzly and ate a nice lunch at Wine Country Trattoria before Fast Passing the ride again. Then we managed to do all of this before 7 p.m.:

Two rides on Grizzly
The Little Mermaid ride (a new attraction; see below)
Toy Story Mania
Mickey’s Fun Wheel (formerly the “Sun Wheel” ferris wheel)
Soarin’ Over California
a walk through A Bug’s Land
Monsters, Inc. ride
a rest in the animation building
soft serve on the pier

Then we grabbed a beer on the docks and waited for the World of Color show to start. World of Color is a water-and-light extravaganza. It’s impressive but also a bit hokey. There’s no storyline, just a series of themes, colorful visuals, and the usual blast of Disney fire. I much prefer the more intimate Fantasmic! show at Disneyland. The story in that one may be a little thin, but the visuals are better, the array of mixed media is more exciting, and World of Color is actually too long for its own good. I would recommend trying WoC but not paying for the meal package. And if you ever have to choose between WoC and Fantasmic!, I’d go with Fantasmic!, hands down.

That’s pretty much everything we wanted to hit. California Screamin’ is closed for refurbishment, and JC is no fan of Tower of Terror. The only thing left that we have not done over there, that is definitely on the agenda, is a corn dog. You can get them in Disneyland, but I rather like getting them from the corn dog shack in DCA.

For those wondering about the new Little Mermaid ride, it’s pretty good, but your enjoyment of it is probably dependent upon how much you love the movie and characters. It’s not one of my favorites (Why does Ariel have to change anyway? Why can’t the prince grow a tail instead?), but it is well-done.

The ride itself is a continuous loader, with seats shaped like clamshells, very similar to those in Epcot’s version of the Finding Nemo ride. The shells move around and through an elaborate dark ride that reminded me of it’s a small world with its multi-character musical staging. I found the Ariel character a little creepy, but Ursula was very cool. I probably won’t want to do it again on this trip, but I’d ride it with someone who hasn’t seen it.

Paradise Pier appears to be fully renovated now that the restaurants and Little Mermaid ride are complete. Most of the rides have been re-themed around classic Disney cartoons rather than the original California motif. Likewise, the hub construction will result in a classic Hollywood look, which has already been applied to the main entry turnstiles. If you’ve been to Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly the MGM park) at Disney World, these turnstyles will look familiar. I think it’s an overall improvement that will make the park more pleasant, though a part of me misses the Golden Gate Bridge that used to crown the entrance.

Also forthcoming at DCA is Cars Land, which seems to be modeled after the Toontown idea, a section of the park with its own theme. The landscaping looks amazing so far, though I don’t expect to spend much time there. Cars is my least favorite Pixar movie, but apparently it’s a huge money-maker for Disney. If it draws people away from other park attractions I like, great. Let them have it.

Here are some photos from the day. Tomorrow: Disneyland!

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From → Disneyland, Travel

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