Saturday, December 8, 2007

Back from Disneyland

Let me start with a warning. I am a hardcore Disney nerd. I have loved the company since I was 10 and my ultimate goal has never wavered from becoming a Disney attraction / show designer since then (even though I left WDW recently). As such, you should know that I am about to talk major Disney nerd style in this blog about my recent trip to Disneyland. Proceed with caution...

Everything was great. Danny and I took a quick 2-day trip to do the parks with almost no itinerary and no cameras (though Danny did buy a disposable on the 2nd day). The idea was to wander free and unencumbered and just be spontaneous. It worked and it was great. The weather was decent and the crowds were too. Perfect conditions.

Having worked for Disney World for almost a decade, Disneyland is kind of the untainted Disney Mecca for me. I can go there and see it as old memories and new experiences without thinking about "work stuff". And they have so much new stuff to see since my last visit in 2003. My review:

Tower of Terror really misses having the load shaft and 5th dimension but the mirror trick and larger boiler room are very cool.

Haunted Mansion Holiday is simply too amazing to describe. This is an update to a classic that out-performs the original to me (and I love the original). I know they've been doing this seasonally for a while but I hadn't caught it before. We did this twice. Amazing.

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage really beat my expectations. I wasn't sure what to expect but the visuals seemed almost impossible in places. Very entertaining and worth the 50 minute wait (although I understand it gets much longer sometimes).

The Space Mountain is perfect. Basically a new skin in the queue line but it really updates without fundamentally changing anything. The new music is cool too. Oh, and the glass load gates are SO Tron.

The Small World Holiday is worth seeing the ride inside once but it wasn't that big of a change for me. The music is clever and some of the decorations are cool (especially in the Central and South American scenes). The best part is outside though. The lighting and video projections on the facade are awesome.

The Aladdin show was fun. The sets were good and the Genie was very funny (they keep his humor topical). The flying carpet was a nice piece of automation and the elephant puppet was cool too. Of of the spot ops was apparently drunk though.

The Buzz Lightyear out here has several improvements over WDW including tethered guns and more advanced gameplay. Fun! The new Pooh ride is basically a short and out of order version of the one in WDW with a strange outdoor loading room. Eh. The update to Pirates is also the same as WDW but the Pirates ride here was always better than Florida anyway so it still wins!

Of course, Danny and I hit Indiana Jones twice (still one of the best things Disney has ever done), Roger Rabbit, California Screamin' (with louder audio so you can hear it now), Matterhorn, etc. All the memories from our once and twice yearly trips while I lived in Vegas the first (94 - 97) time came rushing back.

We had a lovely dinner at Yamabuki at the Paradise Pier Hotel and the classic lunch at Blue Bayou in Disneyland as well. Both were excellent.

So we are back now and my creative juices are flowing again. It was a bit like a battery recharge for me. In a moment of convenience, the Cirque du Soleil design competition just started today as well. Cosmic timing?

Anyway, back to the day (night) job.