Wednesday, June 25, 2014

SECOND-HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH:  Bullet points from two days at Disneyland/California Adventure:

  • Wow, that's a small castle.
  • Some things are bigger-and-better: Pirates and Small World in particular (love the outdoor entrance).
  • A bifrost bridge to Asgard has opened at Tomorrowland (in the Innoventions space), with many authentic relics available, plus meet-and-greets with Thor and Captain America which my girls loved. (The latter: "How do you get along with Tony Stark?" "I wish he didn't play that rock music so much.")  They also had a full array of Iron Man suits across time, which was pretty darn neat.  
  • I'm still a bit skittish on non-Disney properties being at the main park -- in addition to the Marvel stuff, you've got Star Tours (still awesome) and the Indiana Jones ride (temporarily offline) coexisting with Jack Sparrow and the Princesses.  But the rides themselves are great and well-done. (Of course. It's Disney.)
  • California Adventure is a better park than Hollywood Studios at WDW.  The new Cars Land stuff is gorgeous and well-done; Paradise Pier is just a great grouping of attractions, including Toy Story Midway Mania (So great. Always.) 
  • Soarin' Over California is great, but so much better when you're in the top row so you don't have dangling feet over year head as a distraction. (Yes, we did it twice.)
  • But the best thing there, even greater than the Radiator Springs car ride, is that they've got an auditorium where every half-hour, they teach lessons on how to draw a different Disney character, with sketching pencils for everyone. Fantastic. We'd do it 2-3 times a day if we had more time.
  • Also, we ran into a 50s "police officer" there who started questioning the girls on where they were from, etc. "Oh, what's the best cheesesteak in Philadelphia?", he asked. "Jim's?", Lucy responded.  He paused. "Is that on South Street?", he responded. So great. (They were issued a citation extolling their Good Citizenship.) This is the kind of unnecessary interstitial stuff that I will always laud Disney for doing, just totally rounding out a wonderful experience.


  1. 1. Since Marvel and Lucasfilm are now owned by Disney, it's a little less weird than they were before. Orlando has it easier because the non-Disney stuff is outside of Magic Kingdom (Lucas stuff at HS, and the Avatar stuff coming to AK).

    2. Apparently, the license gives Universal an exclusive right East of the Mississippi and in Japan to use the characters in parks, but Marvel/Disney has those rights elsewhere, so until there's a buyout of the license, Disney's in a weird spot as to developing attractions.

    3. The hot rumor for a while was that Cars Land was going to come over to the east Coast to replace the Backlot at Hollywood Studios, but allegedly, that's on hold, with another possibility being thrown around as a Star Wars expansion, including Star Wars character dining, indoor Jedi Training, a speeder-bike themed coaster, and a X-Wing spinner (a la Dumbo).

  2. Joseph Finn10:44 PM

    Wait, is that drawing lesson for all ages? That sounds fantastic.

    I always love the illustrations of how the castles at both parks are not especially tall, but they're designed so that they look much taller due to forced perspective.

  3. All ages. We did Olaf in one, Phineas and Ferb in the other. And the WDW castle is 189 feet tall, while DL's is 77. --Adam

  4. The Pathetic Earthling12:24 AM

    Mickey Delenda Est.

  5. The Pathetic Earthling12:28 AM

    My brother was at D-Land a few years back and, sitting on a curb, saw a fellow come out and start repainting the white caulk seam between the asphalt and the curb with a small brush so it was the same color on the curb, the street, and the seam. My brother asked the guy what he was doing. Paraphrasing:

    "You take a picture of main street. In a million years, you'd never see that this was just recaulked. But at home in your picture, you'll have this awful line forever. This prevents that."

    The level of detail there is really incredible. But I'm perfectly happy to never to go.

  6. Adam B.12:54 AM

    "East of The Mississippi - any other theme park is limited to using characters not currently being used by MCA at the time such other license is granted. [For purpose of this subsection and subsection iv, a character is “being used by MCA” if (x) it or another character of the same “family” (e.g., any member of THE FANTASTIC FOUR, THE AVENGERS or villains associated with a hero being used) is more than an incidental element of an attraction, is presented as a costumed character, or is more than an incidental element of the theming of a retail store or food facility; and, (y) in addition, if such character or another character from the same “family” is an element in any MCA marketing during the previous year. Any character who is only used as a costume character will not be considered to be “being used by MCA” unless it appears as more than an incidental element in MCA’s marketing.]"

  7. christy in nyc10:16 AM

    The How to Draw thing is such a perfect, simple idea. The last couple times I was at WDW, Hollywood Studios had a lot of stuff closed for renovation, so I'm not sure if maybe it's bounced back since, but one thing I remember as being really magical and essential there as a kid, that I haven't felt as much lately, was that it was a place you could learn about animation.

  8. Jordan10:17 AM

    Of the major steak places, Jim's is the best. Well raised kids not to say Pat's or Geno's.

  9. Eric J.10:53 AM

    So, how much do you think Paramount would want for Star Trek? I wouldn't have said this 10 years ago, but no, I'd really love to see what Disney could do with the property.

  10. I'm not sure Paramount would want to give up those rights (and Disney might not want them, seeing them as overlapping with Star Wars). Disney lost out on Potter because they weren't willing to give Rowling the level of creative control she wanted, and have been kick themselves since. The other big one that's rumored--Lord of the Rings, but those rights are such a mess, with someone arguably needing to secure both the separate book rights and the rights to Jackson's character designs.

  11. Adam B.6:38 PM

    My daughters would be more interested if it includes Wasp.

  12. bristlesage10:37 AM

    I spent a lot A LOT of time at Disneyland growing up. It's about a 4.5 hour drive from Las Vegas, and then when I went to college in southern California, we had annual passes.

    There's really something to be said for taking some books, reading and taking notes for your senior thesis, getting bored, and riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

    Now, my father and his wife rent a house in Newport Beach every two years, and all of us kids, all over the country, make it back. And the whole family spends a day at the Disney Parks. I am just so fond of the place, and I am so glad you had a nice time.

  13. D'Arcy12:10 PM

    We just got back from California, and spent three days at Disney. I loved California Adventure. For me, Disneyland felt like I'd been there already because I've been to WDW twice in the last 5 years. I missed that drawing lesson somehow. The Indiana Jones ride was functional when we went, and it was worth the 20 minute walk to get to the actual ride (okay, not really 20 min, but felt like it!) California Screamin' was a lot of fun, and the Tower of Terror was less terrifying than the one at WDW. Still scary, but less terrifying.