This is another Disney Blog by a Disney fan who wants to talk about whatever he wants. Disney related, of course.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Can you find me?

Many people pass through New Orleans Square on any given day. All make sure to visit Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion. Many will eat at the Blue Bayou, French Market, or Cafe Orleans. How many of these thousands of people stop to visit my one of my favorite food stands in any Disney park in the world.

The Mint Julep Bar has been ingrained in my memory since I was a child as a fun place to stop for a treat. My parents would make a point at least once a trip to buy fritters from this little stand. In the years that have passed since it has remained a family tradition and is now a tradition with my own family.

Mint Juleps are a favorite of mine. You can get them at other locations in New Orleans Square but they just seem to taste better when they come from the Mint Julep Bar. The Cinnamon Crisp is another excellent choice. Funnel cakes are another popular item from this bar. You will find many that say there isn't a good cup of coffee in Disneyland but I have always liked the espresso here.

The menu may be limited but that is part of the charm. This little out of the way stand on the backside of the French Market is a special find for anybody that finds themselves next to the New Orleans Square Train Station and thirst for a unique beverage.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

DCA vs. A Parking Lot

If you spend any time at all checking Disney message boards, and if you are reading this you do, you have seen threads started by Disney Fundamentalists announcing they would rather have a parking lot than Disney's California Adventure. Do these people truly wish that DCA had never been built? I think we should try to find some reasons why they would believe this.

The parking lot was closer than the current parking garage. It was cheaper to park your car for the day in the parking lot than it is for a one day admission to DCA. You never ever saw a Pixar character in the parking lot. They had the great segment in the Monorail spiel about finding your car as you passed by the parking lot. Those are about all the pro's I can think of for leaving the parking lot in place. (I am not saying I agree with any of them I was just trying to look at this from the view of a DCA hater.)

I tend to view California Adventure more as an undiscovered gem in the Disney universe. I am not saying that this park compares on any level with the masterpiece across the esplanade, but it still a special place. If the Animation Building did not contain any of the shows that it currently hosts I would still visit. The lobby is spectacular. All the classic movies and songs make this a great place to sit and dream.

Even if it isn't as good as the older version at Disney MGM Studios, Oops, Disney's Hollywood Studios, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is a wonderfully themed attraction that provides an engaging story and thrills that make you scream. The best part of this attraction is that in Florida you always have a line and in DCA you can almost always walk on. I have only once had a line over 30 minutes staring at me when I walked through the gates.

Soarin' Over California is amazing! I don't think that I have to provide any further explanation to support that statement. If I must I will say that Disney built a very unique attraction that almost, but not quite, makes up for the removal of the CircleVision 360 from Tomorrowland. On both coasts this attraction packs them in.

If you want detailed theming, a thrill, and a little soak, Grizzly River Run is just past Soarin'. It is safe to say that this is the best river rapids ride I have ever seen. It is fun to ride and it is fun to watch. This was a great addition to the Disneyland Resort.

I have only touched on four small areas/attractions in DCA and I already feel that the pro's for DCA far outweigh the pro's for the parking lot. I think the fan community can give it a rest. DCA is here to stay and will be improving for the better. It may not be the perfect theme park but, come on, it is better than a parking lot.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Walt Disney World: The Countdown Begins

Planning a trip to Walt Disney World can be both exciting and frustrating. There are so many attractions, shows, and restaurants to visit and experience that you can have a hard time prioritizing. You can find something new every time you visit. I just found out about a snack bar in Adventureland today that I had never noticed in any of my prior visits. I can't wait to get out there again and try an Citrus Swirl.

Walt Disney World doesn't make it easy on vacation planners either. With 19 resorts to pick from just narrowing down the hotel can be quite challenging. Don't even get me started on the restaurants. Every trip you leave wishing you had tried just one more place.

We are currently planning the next trip and we are doing our best to keep the families of authors of Walt Disney travel books well fed. As we purchase more and more I am finding myself more and more confused. Do we take a longer trip and stay at a value or moderate resort or shorter trip and a deluxe resort? Where do we make our ADR's? Do we get the standard dining plan or the deluxe? When do the questions stop?

The closer we get to booking a vacation the more questions and little must "do's" we have added to our list. We haven't been to Walt Disney World since our honeymoon in 2003. We just kind of threw that trip together at the last minute. This is a very different story this time around. By the time we take the trip I am sure that we will have down to the minute itineraries that have potty breaks scheduled. Maybe that is a little extreme. This is absolutely going to be the best planned trip we have ever taken though.

Our trip is still pretty far away but we are excited for the time to come and confused on where to stay, eat, and play.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Reimagineering Disney's California Adventure: Movie Tie-Ins

Two of the big new rumors circulating on the web about the upcoming changes to Disney's California Adventure are new attractions based on movies. Why should this be? Have the imagineers run out of original ideas? Why does every new attraction need to have a movie tie-in?

Florida can still get the occasional attraction without a movie tie-in. Expedition Everest and Mission: Space were both original stories. When was the last time that the Disneyland Resort received an attraction with an original story? Soarin' would probably have to be the winner and it doesn't really have a story. Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Mike and Sulley to the Rescue are just the latest in this trend.

If DCA receives a Little Mermaid attraction and a Ratatouille themed roller coaster they could very easily change the name of the park. Not to the rumored Walt Disney's California Adventure but to Disney's Shameless Self Promotional Adventure. DSSPA doesn't quite have the same ring as DCA but it would be a closer representation of the truth. Having a roller coaster themed to Ratatouille won't draw people to the park. Having a great coaster will. California Screamin' has a line everyday. It is a fun coaster to ride. They don't need to put a rat on a ride to try and dress it up they just need to make the ride so that it would be great on its own.

The Little Mermaid attraction is a little different story. Ariel has been waiting almost 20 years for a chance to get her own attraction. So, while I think there should be a Little Mermaid ride I think it should be in Fantasyland not in the San Francisco section of DCA.

Pirates of the Caribbean was a great attraction before the blockbuster movies were ever even thought about. The Haunted Mansion is still an all time favorite in spite of the horrible movie that was made based on it. Why is this? How can these attractions stand the test of time and be as popular today as they were when they opened 40 years ago? The simple answer is story and depth. Both of these attractions overload you with details. You can't ride them once and even dream about seeing them all. You also have an original experience that doesn't try to cram a story down your throat as much as it lets you experience the story for yourself.

Has this line of thinking forever disappeared at WDI? As new imagineers are hired are they led into a little room where they are brainwashed and tattooed with the words corporate synergy? I believe that there is still free thought and creativity in Glendale. I just hope that they are allowed to show it. Oh, and they should leave the rats in the sewer where they belong.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Frontierland: Update

Ask and ye shall receive. Not even 24 hours after I posted about the neglect that Frontierland has received for the past two decades Honor Hunter has reported a Frontierland rumor.

Tony Baxter and Walt Disney Imagineering are working on a Wild West show that would tie in with the Lone Ranger move that could see theaters in 2010. While I would be happy for anything that made a little better use of the space I am hoping that this is not going to be a wild west stunt show like Universal Studios Hollywood has had for years. Disneyland has hosted some very impressive stage performances over the years and it would be a shame if they hosted a show in Frontierland that doesn't live up to the reputation that Aladdin has set for theme park shows.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Disney's Ghost Town

When you enter Frontierland who doesn't feel like a cowboy? You pass through the fort entrance and visit another time and place. Too bad there isn't a little more to it.

Big Thunder Mountain, Mark Twain Steamboat and what? The Frontierland Shootin' Exposition? Why are there constant rumors about Tomorrowland and needing to add attractions when Frontierland hasn't had an addition since 1979? It is hard to count the Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer Island as an update to Frontierland when it makes the island more a part of New Orleans Square than anything else.

It is not like there isn't plenty of room to place a new attraction. Festival of Fools arena hasn't been used in years for anything but private events. Big Thunder Ranch will be open again next month for HalloweenTime and then it will go back into hiding. Why not use this space for something that can be open all year and give people a reason to use the trail between Frontierland and Fantasyland for something other than a place to puff a cigarette.

Disneyland is in a great place for a Frontierland attraction with Tony Baxter as the head Imagineer over the park. As the person most responsible for both Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain he has proven that he can design great attractions that fit well into Frontierland. He should cement his status as a future Disney Legend and give us an attraction or two in Frontierland.

What would you like to see in Frontierland? Would you prefer a thrill ride, a dark ride, a movie tie in, an original story, or a grand pageant like Pirates of the Caribbean? I don't think a Disney park will ever see the Western River Expedition but it would be great to get something similar to that. I would hope for a water based attraction loaded with animatronics. Something that tells the history of the west or like Pirates just moves you from scene to scene depicting life in the old west. Another ride capable of eating 3000 people per hour would make the busy days of summer a lot more bearable.

While rumors continue to swirl about a new E-ticket for Tomorrowland I will continue to hope for a west side addition. Maybe someday the dreams will become reality and Frontierland will finally get the attention it deserves.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Earthquake? Are we at Universal Studios?

Have you ever been in Disneyland during an earthquake? After Sunday I can answer yes to that question. From the time of the quake, 10:29 AM, and the fact that we were in line for Small World at 10:45 AM I know I could have felt it. I just didn't.

We exited Small World and headed down to the rest of Fantasyland and noticed that Matterhorn was closed. Since the crowds were out of control on the Fantasyland dark rides we headed straight on through and around the Big Thunder Trail. At the end of the trail we noticed that Big Thunder was closed too. Our next choice was Pirates. This was also closed.

Sine there was no escaping the heat at Disneyland we were going to head over to Disney's California Adventure and our lunch reservation at the Wine Country Trattoria. We stopped at the Main Street Wait Time kiosk and this was when we were told that there had been an earthquake. It was good to know that Disney takes safety seriously and closed the attractions to make sure that everything was working properly. I would have never had a clue that there was an earthquake if I had not been told. I would have just found it very odd that every attraction that we tried to ride was closed.

Here is a link to the LA Times article on the earthquake.