Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Disneyland - The Return Part 3

Time for Part 3!  If you missed them or need a refresher, check out the first two posts here:

So, disclaimer here - at this point, we were getting pretty tired.  Jet lag combined with extreme excitement were starting to wear on us - but it was still broad daylight!  So it was onto Frontierland!

Frontierland in Disneyland is definitely different, but it still contains one of the centerpieces of Frontierland as I know it in Disney World - Big Thunder Mountain Railroad!  Where do I start? The queue is different, the track is different; it was the old familiar ride I love but yet it wasn't.

The on-ride effects were absolutely amazing!  Remember the scene in WDW's version where the rocks used to quake?  In DL's version, there is dynamite crackling, and there is a massive explosion as you crest the hill!  Additionally, the town of Tumbleweed is actually at the end of the ride - and you can hear the people talking in the buildings!  Verdict? I can't pick - both the WDW and DL versions are great! WDW is longer, DL effects are really neat, but both are worth riding.

Next up? Fantasyland!!!  And I'm just going to say it - Fantasyland is HUGE in DL.  I mean, it's big in WDW, especially after the expansion; but there are so many rides in DL's Fantasyland - I was amazed.  We started with a brand new ride experience: Pinocchio's Daring Journey.

This is a dark ride a la Snow White's Scary Adventures & Peter Pan, but of course, this one features Pinocchio.

We visited Stromboli's Puppet Theater, Pleasure Island, and many other scenes from the movie. It was definitely a cute ride with a lot of detail!

I loved this picture of the Blue Fairy at the end of the ride!

Next up? An old favorite of mine now extinct in WDW.  Of course, I speak of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride!

Toad Hall

It was just as I remembered... and in case you didn't know, it has two alternate endings.  Toady either ended up in Heaven, or, well... H-E-double-hockey-sticks...  Any guesses where we ended up???

Next up was the Matterhorn Bobsleds - another new ride for me!  This ride also features the Yeti - albeit a much smaller version than Expedition Everest's Yeti.  

In theory, I loved this ride - it was one of the coasters I was most excited for.  I hate to say I was disappointed, but, I was.  Not because of the ride track, but because the cars were very uncomfortable.  It made it hard to enjoy the coaster. :(

Now, here's where we deviated from a single land, because Fantasyland was crowded.  We therefore decided to head over to Tomorrowland for Space Mountain!!

I was VERY MUCH looking forward to DL's version of Space Mountain.  I was most definitely not disappointed.  It was absolutely incredible.  And it was nothing like WDW's (although I still love that version).

The queue was entirely different, and at first, I was thinking how I really liked WDW's queue theme.  DL's is very retro, and it's definitely more literal - like you are in a Space Station.  I missed the atmosphere... until I entered the ride room:

Amazing!  And the ride vehicles hold two across!!  Additionally, there was this super nifty contraption that allowed guests with wheelchairs to transfer at their own pace.  The ride never missed a beat!  A car would slide over off the main track, the guests with wheelchairs could board while other cars were still going, and then when everyone was set, the track slid the full car back into the line to launch.  Genius!

Car on the bottom is the accessible car, which slides back and forth as needed!
 The music, the effects, the speed, the length - all of these made Space Mountain DL my hands down favorite.  Oh my gosh!  I can't even use the right words to express how amazing this ride is.

Which brings me to our last ride of the night; the original Small World.  Yes, that is back in Fantasyland - we backtracked.  :)

 Totally different, but it is the original from the '64 World's Fair.  And it even still hosts the amazing animal topiaries!

The boat ride begins outside and then travels into the building...

... and of course you head through the countries featuring children from around the world along with the famous (or infamous) theme song!  But then I noticed ... Disney characters.  In not one, but many, of the countries!
In the UK - Alice in Wonderland
In France - Cinderella
In the room featuring the Middle East - Jasmine & Aladdin
In China - Mushu (Mulan too, but my pics didn't turn out)

Not really a country, but near the Pacific Islands - Ariel
Also near the Pacific Islands - Lilo & Stitch
America!  Featuring Jessie and...

Woody & Bull's Eye!
Adorable!  It felt so cool to be on the original.  Loved it!  

And now, it was dark, we were tired, and we decided to view the rest another day after we had, well, rested. :)

More later!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Disneyland - The Return Part 2

Hi Disney Fans! I know this second installment of my Disneyland series has been a long time in coming; I'm so glad that I finally have time this morning to sit down and blog again!  In case you missed the first part, here it is:

Disneyland - The Return Part 1

Alright, now, on with the show!  After departing from Adventureland, we headed to New Orleans Square for our lunch reservations at the Blue Bayou.  New Orleans Square is basically Disneyland's version of Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom; it is set in a different era, though.

Visiting the shops and eateries is lots of fun; of course, the theming is impeccable, and it is such a quaint walk-though.  From the outside, the Blue Bayou looks small - I almost walked right by it - by once inside, it is absolutely magical:

It's dusk, and the fireflies are out.  The smell of delicious comfort food wafts through the air.  And as you glance out over the water, you see boats floating by.  These boats, in fact, are ferrying the passengers visiting the Pirates of the Caribbean!  We requested a table near the water, and it was such fun to see everyone going by.  Since that was our next stop, it helped to build the excitement watching the beginning of the journey.  There is so much detail to take in here - I would absolutely visit this restaurant again.  But you are wondering about the food, aren't you?  I was NOT disappointed!

Cajun-spiced Pan Seared Salmon with Sweet Corn Risotto

Le Special de Monte Cristo Sandwich
Can we say yummy?!

After we enjoyed our lunch/dinner - is that linner? dunch? -  (and some caffeine - we'd been up since 3am EST, after all), it was time to ride Pirates of the Caribbean (PotC).  I knew going in that it was different than WDW.  In fact, the WDW version was never supposed to happen.  Walt felt that since Florida was already by the Caribbean, people there wouldn't care about an attraction themed to the Caribbean.  When the outcry came for the famous PotC, though, the Imagineers added it to Adventureland in WDW; the Disneyland version, however, is in New Orleans Square.

Now don't get me wrong with my next statement - I love WDW's version - it is always been one of my favorite attractions. But I WAS BLOWN AWAY by Disneyland's PotC.  I know you're thinking, "how can it be that different?"  Trust me, it is.  You just have to ride it to believe it.  

This is the version that Walt himself rode, which makes it special.  But it's also longer, about 14 minutes long.  And there are, count 'em, 3 hills!  And there is SO MUCH more detail.  If you are familiar with the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise, you will recognize in Disneyland's version many more of the scenes that appear in the movies.  The timeline of the ride is different, and it was amazing to see the ride in a completely new way.  

Disneyland's Dream Suite - I want to stay here.  Nevermind that; I want to live here.

Queue area heading to the boats
Next up? Haunted Mansion!  Yet another of my absolute favorite WDW attractions.  Disneyland's version is, of course, the original, and I knew that it would be different just as PotC is.  The outside of the Mansion and the queue area both look totally different.

Pet Cemetery - minus Mr. Toad's statue.  Mr. Toad is alive & well in DL!
Walking into the Mansion, you notice that it's smaller.  The "lobby" area is decorated differently as well.  The Stretch Rooms look largely the same, but you may notice actual motion here.  That is because the rooms are actually an elevator!  Disneyland has much less space than WDW, and so any of the attractions use vertical space to accomplish the goal of the ride.  After the stretch rooms, you exit into a hallway just as in WDW; this hallway, however, has the "ghostly" pictures that change in the light as well as the picture of Master Gracey that graces the lobby of WDW.  The "ghostly" pictures are part of the ride-through in WDW.  The narration in DL's hallway is that same as the first part of WDW's ride-through.  There were fewer "Marble Busts of ... Famous Ghostwriters", but I was actually able to snap a pic of these!

From there, much of the ride is the same, although I thought that the singing busts were much more detailed here!

Verdict?  I can't choose!  Both WDW & DL are fabulously fun.  I missed the interactive queue from WDW, but to be fair, the line moves really fast - there wouldn't have been much time to enjoy it.  

In the interest of time, we moved on from New Orleans Square, but not before discovering the entrance to Disneyland famous super-secret Club 33!

Obviously there was no getting in here, but it was so cool just seeing the entrance.  One day I will figure out how to obtain membership... 

And now, it was on to Critter Country!

This land doesn't even exist in WDW.  In fact, it's pretty small in DL.  The two main attractions are Splash Mountain and the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.  It does also feature a great character meeting spot with Pooh & Friends.  Because the line to Splash was so long, we snagged a FP for later  (which we didn't end up using) and headed on over to Pooh's ride.  On the way, we saw...

...Pooh himself! Waiting to greet his friends.  Tigger was nearby, too.

We got to the ride, and we were pleased to see that it was a short one.

The cars look different, and the ride through definitely looked different.  Many more twists and turns, and the scenes were set up differently.  Of the two, I think I prefer WDW; that may just be because I'm used to it, though.

Next up? Frontierland!  But let's save that for Part 3... 

As Tigger would say, "TTFN! (Ta-ta for now!)"