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  • Introduction and Trip Report

    So, I am new here, but have been lurking and reading articles on this site for years and years. I miss Al Lutz's rumor updates. Anyway, so you can properly evaluate my trip report I will tell you about myself. I am a huge disneyland fan. I have been since I went as a kid somewhere around 1996. My buddy and I used to build our own "rides" and dreamed about being imagineers. I started going with him when we got a bit older. Being relatively close (Las Vegas) and annual passes being relatively cheap back then (I think they were something like 180-200 bucks for the cheapest one) we would drive down to CA and stay with his grandma and hit the parks. I have probably 30 books on disneyland and have read them all. Anyway, I am a huge fan and I am the de facto tour guide for the group whenever we go.

    Now, I have a great time bringing the wife and kids. We usually go with my wife's cousin and his family. It's a great time. Anyway, I turned 30 this year and my wife wanted to do something special. So she did all sorts of sneaky planning to set up a trip to the park for just the two of us, without kids. (including having my office put a fake business commitment in Reno on my calendar to keep the day open, which I started to suspect was fake as the office had supposedly bought my plane ticket, but never sent it to me) Anyway, so we just start driving and I figured out pretty quick where we were going. We stayed at the quality inn on Katella as we just wanted the cheapest, easiest place we could find. This place was clean and conveniently located. It was interesting as it had been kept up, but I imagine it looks exactly like it did when it opened in the '60s. It is practically an architectural time capsule.

    One of the reasons I have been meaning to write this up is because the timing of the trip was interesting. We left March 10th, Corona was in the news, but nothing had been shut down yet and we didn't think they would shut anything down. Though there had been a run on hand sanitizer. We thought that was all this would be. The next day while we were at Disneyland, was when the NBA announced it was suspending the season and then everything else closed quickly thereafter. It was a bizarre feeling seeing the headlines in the park. And then getting home and seeing the announcement that the park was closing too.

    Anyway, we got to the hotel, watched some tv, and went to bed. We wanted to make sure that we got the most out of our kid-free trip and we wanted to make sure we got through security and everything in time to get our boarding pass for Rise of the Resistance. Of course security was a breeze and we got to the front gate with an hour to spare. We had a fantastic day, ate our favorites (Rancho, cafe orleans, etc), tried some new places. In total, being without kids and working the max pass hard, we were able to get on 28 rides. We just got strangely lucky over and over again. We got tons of all experience passes because of shut downs, we had three different rides that opened a bit late or from break downs right when we passed by so we could walk on. One of these was the Matterhorn which my wife had never been on. It was always closed when we went or broke down for the day. Our last trip, I rode it with her cousin while she waited with the kids and then we switched. When she was about to get on, it broke down. She really believed she was cursed. This trip, it didn't open with the park, so we were worried. Luckily, it did open a little later and we just happened to be there when it did and walked right to the loading lines. We worried that the curse would strike again because when we were the next to board, they started sending empty cars and communicating with tower a lot. We thought for sure given my wife's history with the ride that it would break down. After about 12 empty cars, they finally opened the gates and let us board. She loved it and the curse was finally broken. We also got lucky with the Mark Twain, getting the last trip of the night (though the park was still going to open for hours) without knowing it would be the last trip.

    Anyway, some of the new things that I loved in no particular order:

    The tropical Hideaway. This was being built the last time we were there. We loved it. We got the steamed buns and just relaxed for a bit. It is a huge improvement over Aladdin's Oasis which was a waste of space. I have to say that all of adventureland has been improved since it was reorganized a few years back. Getting the stroller parking out of the middle other the land was a huge plus. It was the worst bottle neck in the park, now it flows much, much better.

    Star wars land. I still call it that. I understand some of the criticisms of this addition. I understand how some dislike it being in Disneyland. I disagree with some of these points, but I wont get into that now. I would do somethings differently. I also only experienced the completed land (meaning with rise open). But to put it succinctly, the wife and I were blown away. We have not seen an addition of this quality to Disneyland since Indiana Jones. This land is full of thoughtful detail. The shops have interesting and unique items. There are little bonuses all over. One of my personal favorites was the swamp, single eye creature from the trash compactor scene in the original trilogy that pops up in the cylinder of dirty water by the restrooms. Also, as I walked through the resistance forest, hearing the sounds of unseen individuals running through the forest, but hidden to us, was so cool. The storm troopers on the roofs and the characters walking around added a great deal to the land.

    We loved smugglers run and road it 4 times. Once in the normal line, and three times in the single rider. Unfortunately the hondo AA was broken so we just saw the b mode video, but we had so much fun on this ride. The first time we were riding it, I asked my wife if she would be embarrassed if I asked to be pilots. She said she would, but lucky we were just given the pilot role so I didn't have to ask. The other times we rode, we were assigned to fill in the last two spots with young families. It was still fun just being engineers. What struck me about this ride after each ride was the reaction of the family we rode with. Without exception, the these families could not stop talking about it. They teased each other, gushed about getting to do x,y, and z, it was a reaction that I didn't see on any other ride that day. I understand that it may not be everyone's cup of tea, but these casual visitors LOVED it. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy just seeing the reactions to something in Disneyland.

    Rise of the Resistance. We were on top of things and got boarding group 18. Turned out we didn't need to be as the groups lasted for an hour or so after opening. Anyway, we got the alert when we were about to enter into the indoor queue at pirates. I was terrified that there would be some break down and we would miss our window. We didn't of course (it would have had to been a long break down to miss the window), and we headed up to ride. We waited for a while in the outside queue before finally making it in. I was getting nervous that there had been some breakdown. We got in the indoor queue and man, that thing is SO long. I kept telling my wife, I bet the first preshow is just up here, only to find more queue. But it was an interesting queue with lots of benches. And we never waited in any one part of it too long. My wife commented that the length and winding nature of the queue made it feel more like an authentic hidden base. We noticed throughout how the details made it look like it was an old mine or something gerryrigged to be a base. I had watched videos of the ride, so I knew what to expect. My wife hadn't. The ride blew us both away. She couldn't stop talking about it. Having never been to tokyo, hong kong, or paris, I hadn't been on a trackless ride like that. It was so cool moving through space with that kind of freedom. I don't need to go on here, but it is a seminal attraction. Everything that comes after will be compared to this. The only thing I thought fell a little short was the Ren hologram. It was the only thing in the ride that looked better in the videos I had watched then in person. It looked flatter. Upgrade that to a real hologram and this ride is pretty close to perfect.

    Of course, a decent no height restriction family ride would round things out, but over all, attraction wise, Galaxy's edge gets an A+ from me. The food was great too. We tried both milks and a ronto wrap. I liked the green milk, wife liked the blue. I didn't think they were bad, but they should have been better. If you are going for the king, you can't miss. If you are going to try to take down butter beer, you have to have something great. They were interesting, but not something you would rave about. Ironically, when I read the ingredient list after trying them, I would have sworn they were the opposite. Meaning that the blue tasted more like the green's description and the green tasted more like the blue to me. They seem to be a kind of liquid Rorschach test.

    The setting of the land makes sense to me. I know this is controversial, but star wars has its roots in westerns. It very much has a cowboy feel to it as opposed to the clean and perfect future in Star trek. Anyway, I thought putting it in the corner within spitting distance of frontierland and fantasyland kinda makes sense as it is really a mix of the two. I also loved the entrances to the land. You are walking along a frontier trail, and you com across a kind of mystical cave. There is no sign, but you go in. The music you hear makes it seem like some kind of portal. Then you emerge into an mysterious forest, or before an impressive gate to a city. I was a wow moment. Again, my wife, who enjoys the park, but is not a super fan like me, just kept saying, "wow" and "this is so cool." I noticed similar reactions all around me. Die hard fans may have issues with Galaxies Edge, but it is a hit with casual visitors. Finally, toon town view problems aside, I love how the spires give more depth to the vistas of frontierland. I know some disagree, but this exactly the kind of addition that will keep Disneyland new and relevant to the general public.

    Things I didn't love:

    Tomorrowland, don't have to go into great detail here, but with the exception of space mountain, there is nothing here that needs to be saved. On a quick one day trip like this, it is easy to take the train to the tomorrowland station, ride space mountain and leave. The subs have lost their luster. Autopia is not worth waiting for. Buzz is fun, but skip-able. Startours is now redundant. I know I am just preaching to the choir here, but I would expand fantasyland into the north part of tomorrowland (7 dwarfs mine train maybe? a dark ride (or two) on the peter pan level?) I would take the rest of the land redo it like Paris' tomorrowland. Jules Verne esque. This was it is timeless and doesn't become outdated soon.

    Indiana Jones. Still one of my all time favorites. But there are things that are embarrassingly cheap compared to the rest of the attraction. When you go behind the big skull in the main room and come face to face with that skeleton maharajah looking thing projected on a scrim, it almost ruins the whole thing. It is just so cheesy. Project something that moves, or don't project anything at all, just put more explosions and fire back there and it would be much more thrilling. The snake could use some updating. It is better than the original green one, but it could be quicker and more threatening. Finally, the dart hallway at the end is bad. The painted skeletons on the wall might was well have word bubbles that say "we ran out of money here." And at the of the hallway, there is a door or something that has been open for years. Frankly the scene would better if they just turned out the lights and you started to hear and feel the darts flying past. I hope with this update (assuming that still happens) they at least put a little plaster on the wall and carve something. It wouldn't be expensive and it would look much better if the darts came out of a carved skeleton instead of a painted one. And of course, the Indy AA's could use a refresh.

    Anyway, we stayed until about 10, and drove home that night. It was a fantastic day. We had a full trip with all the kids planned for the first week of May which obviously didn't happen. We are hoping to go in September. I feel lucky that we got this trip in when we did. (Even though had we known the whole world was about to shut down, we may not have gone)

    TLDR version: Wife surprised me with a quick day trip to DL. New things at the park (tropical hideaway, Galaxies' edge) were an A+ in my book. My old favorite, Indy and Tomorrowland need some work. Got on 28 rides in one day using max pass and crowd avoiding strategies extensively. Wife finally broke the curse and got to ride the Matterhorn.

  • #2
    Hey there, great and very thorough report! I'm glad you got to enjoy everything before the closings.

    I agree with you that I like the setting of SW land (I haven't been there yet, just going on what I've read and seen) but my biggest problem with it, and it is darn near unforgivable for me, is the exclusion of the original SW characters. How do you do a Star Wars land, and not include the original characters that made it popular? I get that it's based on the newer films (which personally I don't care for), but it actually wasn't planned that way originally, it was changed in the planning phases, and they should have kept them in there in some way. When we go next year I'll probably walk through it once just to see what it looks like, but my excitement level for it is at about 2%. They catered completely to the "new" fans, and dumped on those of us who grew up with the original films.

    I also agree with you about Tomorrowland, and I guess most people do. It seriously needs some updating. We were there when they had the Iron Man exhibit, and I had always hoped that's where they would put the Marvel rides and attractions, seems like that could work well with the futuristic theme. We usually do 5 days at the parks, and we will go to Tomorrowland once, do Space Mountain as many times as we can, then never go back.

    Indiana Jones does need updating for sure. It has seemed less thrilling over the years, and I think your ideas for it would definitely improve it. I still love it for nostalgic reasons, and Adventureland is my favorite place in all the parks.

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    • #3
      I agree, I wouldn't have pegged the land in such a specific time (between movies 8 & 9 really), but luckily, I believe it could be made more time neutral relatively easily. The only thing that can't be updated really would be rise. But even that, if you replaced kylo ren with the emperor, (would only need a few new audio animatronics and to change some projections, it would get you there. You do have chewie, and storm troopers walking around. Along with just general starwars people.

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      • #4
        I'm new too! It's nice to meet a fellow long-time lurker ! Indiana Jones needs some cleanup 100%. When I was younger I thought it was the scariest, most thrilling ride ever- but now it seems so less thrilling and some effects seem really outdated. The mice projection comes to mind here. Seeing what Disney can do now, I think they should give some older rides some tlc- much like what they're doing with the dark rides. Star Wars land is also beast of a conversation. While I like the immersion and being part of a larger, planned out story- it sucks you have to cross the park to meet older characters/ go on star tours. I wish there was an area you could meet them, and I think imagineers are crafty enough to make it fit within the land's lore. Like maybe a little area where jedi train and you can "speak to force ghosts", but really you're just meeting the older characters. Tommorowland needs a lot of love too. All of those rides are due for a good refurb. It sucks that everyone knows it needs some love, but it keeps getting put off.

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        • #5
          Great trip report!!. I always love hearing about other people's vacations. Kind of gets me in the mood to go back.

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