UK theme parks from another point of view!

 
Jubby
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Disneyland and California Adventure TR

Mon Oct 29, 2012 12:59 pm

Following on from my TR at Universal in Singapore, me and the missus managed to fly back via LA and had a few days to break it up, so there was only 1 place we were going to go of course (after a flying visit to Disney World, Florida, which we loved).
The visit started out odd as we left Oz at 10pm on Thursday 4th of October and landed at LAX at 1pm the same day, even though we had slept on the flight. Landing at that time, I had aimed to be in the park by 3.30pm. What I didn't count on was the vastly over cautious USA immigration and security. After landing we had to queue for almost 1 hour before we got to the security desk. They take fingerprints of all 10 of your digits, then a photo and ask you some daft questions. We even saw a boy who looked about 4yr old getting his finger prints taken - they're bloody mad. So, after going through this, getting our bags, waiting in more queues to get out, then finding that car rental companies aren't on property (get a bus), we finally got on the road at 4pm. The drive was about 45min, very simple to navigate there and we stayed at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites, which is about a 15min walk from the gates, through Downtown disney.
The plan was for 1 and a half days in here, this evening, the full day on the Friday, then over to California on the Saturday and it all worked out pretty well.
Thursday 5pm till 9pm - we mainly just aimed to walk around, get a feel for the place and go on the bigger better rides, which we managed to do - 5 rides in total on this day, which doesn't sound much, but we knew we would get everything the next day and we had been on most rides in Florida before. Pirates  - amazing ride visually, there are 2 drops at the start, both nice and you don't get wet, some of the scenes look great, particularly the skeleton on the wrecked boat thats lit by lighting with the wind howling. Big Thunder Mountain - another great ride, especially in the dark, 3 lift hills in total, but it just manages to keep the flow going without taking too long on the lifts. Sleeping beauty castle walkthough - its what you would expect. Pinnochio's daring journey - an ok dark ride, but you can tell it was made some time ago. Matterhorn - a good rollercoaster, nice to say ive been on the first steel coaster in the world, but mainly consisted of turns and twists with few drops. Tea was at the Village Haus, next to Pinnochio, a flat bread pizza, which was very nice - it amazes me how good the food is in all of Disney, even when eating at a quick counter service place.
Day 2 - Friday - We knew that the park was closing at 7pm for the Halloween event, but had planned ahead by booking reservations for the Blue Bayou at 6.45pm. Due to the early close it was due to be quiet and we found this to be the case. Most rides were walk on or a 5minute wait, other than the E-ticket rides and ones with capacity issues, which were around 30minute wait. We made good use of the fast passes.
I'm not going to go over every ride as there are so many, so I will just cover what I remember most. I think we did around 15 rides in total on the day. It started out with a great breakfast at the Carnation cafe - Mickey shaped waffles with bacon and maple syrup - very american!
Dark rides in Fantasyland were a little dissapointing, I think because we didn't appreciate that some of them have been there since 1955 and have had only minor changes. They are quite short so only worth a small queue time, but still knock the socks of anything in the UK. Spacemountain was a favourite, Star wars was ok - still just a simulator though and roger rabbit alright. Jungle cruise was fun, but the jokes wern't funny and the host just chucked out the spiel without trying to make it sound improvised. Indiana Jones was shut for refurb, which I knew before arriving, but not beofre I booked tickets. Extremelly sad about this - its one of my favourite films and reads as one of the best rides in the world and with LA so far away, its not a chance ill get again soon.
Haunted mansion was done over for the 'holidays' with a nightmare before chirstmas theme, which meant a 40min queue, but I love this film so the ride was evry good, but too long queues to go on again.
Tea at the Blue bayou was fantastic - fabulous food (if a little posh) and the atmosphere was stunning, beautifully created wit the pirates boats floating by.
We waited and met Mickey for a photo, all the shops are great, its amazing how much merchandise they pack in and all staff fantastic all day.
Ill do another post for day 3.
 
abigsmurf
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Re: Disneyland and California Adventure TR

Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:09 pm

Indiana Jones being closed is a major major shame. Such a great ride.
 
Jubby
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Re: Disneyland and California Adventure TR

Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:19 pm

Day 3 - Disney's California Adventure
The day started early, 8am opening, we got there around 8.15, walked straight through to the cars race rally fast pass distribution and . . . . . . . there is what looks like a 30min queue, just for the fast pass tickets. So, we go straight to the ride to see the wait time - 2 hours! Woah! Leave that until later me thinks.
A bit about Cars land - well, its just bloody amazing. The whole land looks just like the film, which I think is what makes it such a good land, its a perfect fit, everything is there and well done as you would imagine. I can't think of another theme park 'land' that even comes close to replicating an actual (although not real) place and its a little wierd being in there, in that you feel like you could actually be in Radiator Springs. And i'm not even a big fan of the film!
So after finding those queues we decided the old tactic of heading to the back of the park, and it worked. 10min wait for Toy story midway mania - this is a good ride, although a little too close to what you can get on a modern games console, but its still enjoyable. I would question whether its worth a long wait though.
Then straight onto California screaming rollercoaster. This is a fairly big coaster, very long and ive got to say that I loved it. It started out with a launch, a tame one compared to Rita, but still a better way to get up the first hill, then it decended into a series of helixes and out and back sections with a classic loop in the middle - its been ages since I went around a normal loop, its always barrell roles and corkscrews nowadays, so this was fun - another hill and some more helixes, all of the ride was pretty fast, never letting up completely at any point and never too forceful or uncomfortable. On board music added, it was a very fun coaster.
We then headed back across the park (its not massive to get across) via a ride on little mermaid - a better example of a dark ride than those in disneyland I thought - and went towards the Muppets 3D theatre. We then discovered it "shut for refurbishment", but then theres a queue around the side leading to a special showing of Frankenwenie 4D - I don't mind them plugging their stuff, but to shut another ride is a bit off, I was looking forward to the Muppets! In the end it wasn't a bad 4D film, they'd gone to the effort of putting an intro on and adding the wind/water effects.
Other rides we enjoyed were Tower of Terror - love this one - its tough to be a bug, the Aladdin show and the animation academy where we learnt to draw minnie, they had a toy story zorotrope and turtle talk, which was a bit more tailored towards kids.
So we had to tackle the cars ride at some point. Having been back to the fast pass distribution a little later it had fully gone, only an hour after opening and the ride still posted 2 hours going into the afternoon, but we thought it won't be going down (which it didn't) so we went for it. It was a very long wait, theres not much to look at or do whilst waiting, but we were only there once so had to go for it.
The ride - it starts out with a gentle drive around the canyon walls, winding upward past trees and getting higher across the land, then into some caves before quickly arriving at radiator springs at night and all the characters are there to great you and - wow - they look as real as a cartoon possibly could, the movement is seamless and they really do look like real life versions from the screen. Disney really do some amazing things, this section being one of the absolute best, completely stunning. A drive through the spray shop and tyre shop and your ready to race, out the caves and onto the track - its pretty fast and very fun. It would have been nice to be longer and a bit faster (its slower than test track), but it was still a great ride and a worthwile addition to the park. Unfortunately we only rode once - it stayed 2 hours until closing at 11pm - which we presumed meant people were in the park at 1am still.
The only other thing worth mentioning would be the World of Color show, which whilst enjoyable wasn't as good as I hoped. A big issue was the viewing area, a few tiers of standing only. We had a fast pass so got right in the middle, but unless you're there really early you can't get to the front of a section, so you view is partially blocked. I'm tallish so could see ok, and the show was good but nothing more if you've seen other similar things.
Oh yeah - food - dinner was at boardwalk past and pizza - excellent food with loads of outside seating. Tea was some chips at Pilots grill and a hot dog from award wieners, which was good, but not so fantastic to seek it out if you visit.
 
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sweedish2009
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Re: Disneyland and California Adventure TR

Fri Nov 09, 2012 10:30 am

Jubby wrote:
Day 3 - Disney's California Adventure
The day started early, 8am opening, we got there around 8.15, walked straight through to the cars race rally fast pass distribution and . . . . . . . there is what looks like a 30min queue, just for the fast pass tickets. So, we go straight to the ride to see the wait time - 2 hours! Woah! Leave that until later me thinks.
A bit about Cars land - well, its just bloody amazing. The whole land looks just like the film, which I think is what makes it such a good land, its a perfect fit, everything is there and well done as you would imagine. I can't think of another theme park 'land' that even comes close to replicating an actual (although not real) place and its a little wierd being in there, in that you feel like you could actually be in Radiator Springs. And i'm not even a big fan of the film!
So after finding those queues we decided the old tactic of heading to the back of the park, and it worked. 10min wait for Toy story midway mania - this is a good ride, although a little too close to what you can get on a modern games console, but its still enjoyable. I would question whether its worth a long wait though.
Then straight onto California screaming rollercoaster. This is a fairly big coaster, very long and ive got to say that I loved it. It started out with a launch, a tame one compared to Rita, but still a better way to get up the first hill, then it decended into a series of helixes and out and back sections with a classic loop in the middle - its been ages since I went around a normal loop, its always barrell roles and corkscrews nowadays, so this was fun - another hill and some more helixes, all of the ride was pretty fast, never letting up completely at any point and never too forceful or uncomfortable. On board music added, it was a very fun coaster.
We then headed back across the park (its not massive to get across) via a ride on little mermaid - a better example of a dark ride than those in disneyland I thought - and went towards the Muppets 3D theatre. We then discovered it "shut for refurbishment", but then theres a queue around the side leading to a special showing of Frankenwenie 4D - I don't mind them plugging their stuff, but to shut another ride is a bit off, I was looking forward to the Muppets! In the end it wasn't a bad 4D film, they'd gone to the effort of putting an intro on and adding the wind/water effects.
Other rides we enjoyed were Tower of Terror - love this one - its tough to be a bug, the Aladdin show and the animation academy where we learnt to draw minnie, they had a toy story zorotrope and turtle talk, which was a bit more tailored towards kids.
So we had to tackle the cars ride at some point. Having been back to the fast pass distribution a little later it had fully gone, only an hour after opening and the ride still posted 2 hours going into the afternoon, but we thought it won't be going down (which it didn't) so we went for it. It was a very long wait, theres not much to look at or do whilst waiting, but we were only there once so had to go for it.
The ride - it starts out with a gentle drive around the canyon walls, winding upward past trees and getting higher across the land, then into some caves before quickly arriving at radiator springs at night and all the characters are there to great you and - wow - they look as real as a cartoon possibly could, the movement is seamless and they really do look like real life versions from the screen. Disney really do some amazing things, this section being one of the absolute best, completely stunning. A drive through the spray shop and tyre shop and your ready to race, out the caves and onto the track - its pretty fast and very fun. It would have been nice to be longer and a bit faster (its slower than test track), but it was still a great ride and a worthwile addition to the park. Unfortunately we only rode once - it stayed 2 hours until closing at 11pm - which we presumed meant people were in the park at 1am still.
The only other thing worth mentioning would be the World of Color show, which whilst enjoyable wasn't as good as I hoped. A big issue was the viewing area, a few tiers of standing only. We had a fast pass so got right in the middle, but unless you're there really early you can't get to the front of a section, so you view is partially blocked. I'm tallish so could see ok, and the show was good but nothing more if you've seen other similar things.
Oh yeah - food - dinner was at boardwalk past and pizza - excellent food with loads of outside seating. Tea was some chips at Pilots grill and a hot dog from award wieners, which was good, but not so fantastic to seek it out if you visit.


I'm surprised you weren't massively impressed with the Toy Story Mania ride, I rode it this year at Hollywood Studios in Florida, and aside from Rock and Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror, I'd say it was one of my favorite rides! Not sure how similar the two versions are, but the Florida version blew me away. Better than Men In Black Alien Attack in my opinion.
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Jubby
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Re: Disneyland and California Adventure TR

Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:43 pm

Whilst i enjoyed Toy Story mania I didn't see what could be massively impressive with it.
I would guess the rides are the same in Florida and California - I remember it like this - get in a 4 person car (2 person back to back) and move around a track to various screens where you shoot at targets, all themed to toy story and in 3D, then a score at the end. As you move around the track you get swung about a bit on corners.

I really liked the ride, but for me it was just like something you would get on an Xbox, just with a bit of actual movement with it. Also, the ride was just strung over with a toy story theme, it could have been done to any IP really.
I have been on Men in Black and enjoyed that too - that had a fully inclusive theme, but the shooting and technology is not as good as toy story, so i'm struggling to choose between them. Toy story was definately more fun - I had a smile all the way around, but it just wasn't up to anywhere near tower of terror or many others in the park. I could probably pick 5 other better rides in California Adventure or Hollywood studios I prefered.

What impressed you so much?
 
abigsmurf
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Re: Disneyland and California Adventure TR

Sat Nov 10, 2012 10:41 pm

California adventure was such a mediocre park when I went there. They've spent a massive amount of money on it since though.

Did they still have that awful superstar limo ride where you look at wooden cutouts?
 
Jubby
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Re: Disneyland and California Adventure TR

Mon Nov 12, 2012 9:16 am

No, they don't have the ride anymore (not sure where it was, so don't know what its been replaced with)

I thought it was a good park overall. I know whats been altered and added over the last couple of years, so I can imagine that before it wasn't good at all. Theres still a few rides that don't make the grade, but not enough to outweigh the good ones now.
 
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Re: Disneyland and California Adventure TR

Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:21 am

Jubby wrote:
Whilst i enjoyed Toy Story mania I didn't see what could be massively impressive with it.
I would guess the rides are the same in Florida and California - I remember it like this - get in a 4 person car (2 person back to back) and move around a track to various screens where you shoot at targets, all themed to toy story and in 3D, then a score at the end. As you move around the track you get swung about a bit on corners.

I really liked the ride, but for me it was just like something you would get on an Xbox, just with a bit of actual movement with it. Also, the ride was just strung over with a toy story theme, it could have been done to any IP really.
I have been on Men in Black and enjoyed that too - that had a fully inclusive theme, but the shooting and technology is not as good as toy story, so i'm struggling to choose between them. Toy story was definately more fun - I had a smile all the way around, but it just wasn't up to anywhere near tower of terror or many others in the park. I could probably pick 5 other better rides in California Adventure or Hollywood studios I prefered.

What impressed you so much?


To be honest I think Toy Story Mania impressed me the most because it was the only new ride in Disney World since my last trip! It was something different. I'd say I'm biased towards it because I love all three films, grew up with them.

What impressed me about the ride was the variety of games on the ride. Yes it looks a bit basic going from screen to screen, but that's the theme, its a midway funfair games theme. Again I'm not sure what the queue is like on the CA version, but the Florida versions queue is amazing, as is the station. I just think it offers something different to your bog standard Duel, Tomb Blasters, Buzz Lightyear and Men In Black shooting rides. Plus it's marketed much more towards younger children compared to Duel or Men In Black.
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Re: Disneyland and California Adventure TR

Sun Jan 13, 2013 10:48 pm

Jubby wrote:
No, they don't have the ride anymore (not sure where it was, so don't know what its been replaced with)

I thought it was a good park overall. I know whats been altered and added over the last couple of years, so I can imagine that before it wasn't good at all. Theres still a few rides that don't make the grade, but not enough to outweigh the good ones now.

It's now Monsters Inc.
Brap

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