Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Disney's Hollywood Studios

The Chicago Tribune had a big article in their Travel section on Sunday, called "20 Secrets of Disney's Hollywood Studios", and there were some intersting factoids in it. Perhaps these are common knowledge among Disneyphiles, but I never knew several of the numbered bits of information.

For example, I didn't know that the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror actually drops you at a faster rate than the force of gravity would cause, because it uses its cables to pull the elevators up and down faster than free fall would cause. That's why, I guess, it is such a better thrill than, say the Maliboomer, which was, for me, pretty lame after the fast takeoff.

I also didn't know that the Rock'n'Roller Coaster was an outdoor rollercoaster. The coaster was constructed first, then the building was constructed around it. I wasn't sure how many loops and inversions there were on it; for some reason, I thought it was around 5. But no, the correct number is 3: Two rollerover loops and a corkscrew. And the G-forces experienced by riders as they enter the first inversion is between 4 and 5 G's, more than astronauts feel.

I knew there was a "Hidden Mickey" which was visible from airspace, but I can't make it out on the maps of the park, nor can I make it out real well on Google. But the article has a photo from the pre-Hat time, and you can clearly see his face. The BAH covers up the nose, or so the article states.

I also didn't know that the longest lasting parade at the park was the Disney Stars and Motor Cars extravaganza, which ran for 6 1/2 years and ended in March of 2008. I never did get to see it. The first parade was Aladdin's Royal Caravan, and the current parade is the Block Party Bash.

There's no water in the Earful Tower.

There are several other factoids that are interesting, but not as "new" to me. Good article. If you'd like to view it, click here.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Compare and Contrast...

Disneyland Resort vs. Walt Disney World Resort...hmm.

At first glance it would seem to be apples to oranges. I mean, how can you compare all those hotels, those four theme parks, two water parks, golf, miniature golf, and sports facilities (including motor sports) to the little plot of land in California?

Having been to WDW in January of 2009, and DLR in April of 2009, I was struck by the differences. First among them is, obviously, size. Though DLR is small, it packs a lot into that area. We stayed at the Grand Californian, which had a private entrance to DCA, and is steps away from Downtown Disney and the Disneyland park. That in itself is a plus, in my opinion. Steps, not miles. We would walk out of the hotel and find ourselves among several additional dining choices, including House of Blues, Tortilla Joe's, Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen, an ESPN Zone, Catal and a pizza place (that I won't attempt to name since we didn't go there and I don't really want to look it up at this moment). We did check out the World Of Disney store briefly, and I checked out the Compass Books (which I really like), but other than those two, the Lego store briefly, the Alamo rental car place, and the Pin Traders, we really didn't experience the shopping. But some of them look to be on a par with what you find in DTD in Florida. I like the intimacy of this setting over the expansiveness of the WDW acreage.

Second is the quality of the parks. Well, DCA is undergoing its makeover, but it was still the park my kids wanted to go to, mostly because they're both now lovers of rollercoasters and they wanted to do California Screamin' over and over again (we did it 3 times on our vacation). They also really enjoyed Toy Story Midway Mania. (So did I.) And Soarin' is better in CA. The queue is better, and the film quality is better, also. (It's the same film, just not as beat-up, in my opinion. The print is just a little better.) I enjoyed the Blue Sky Preview Center. And the other, smaller rides were enjoyable for the boys Mike and Sully to the Rescue, the Muppet show, and even the Orange Stinger.

The crowds in the park were not unbearable, and the size felt more manageable than some of the Florida properties, even when they don't have much more to offer than DCA does.

Disneyland compares to the Magic Kingdom, and while I really like Florida's TTA and the Carousel of Progress, I enjoyed the ride on Space Mountain quite a bit more than the Florida version (pre refurbishment). The Haunted Mansion experiences are similar, but I like the California Pirates more. Star Tours felt well placed to me in Tomorrowland, unlike that Stitch attraction, and unlike the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor, which we liked, but which I think would probably be better in the Hollywood Studios). Big Thunder Mountain is the same, as far as I can tell. I like Everest over the Matterhorn as both a themed experience and as a thrill ride, but of course, now we're including DAK in the comparison.

Florida's dining options in the parks blow away the California alternatives, though some of this might be because the hotels and downtown, not to mention the real world, are in such close proximity to these parks that they don't feel the need to offer great dining options in CA. But I much prefer the dining in Florida, and that's before including Epcot into the equation. Then Florida runs away and hides.

Of course, Epcot has to be mentioned. One resort has it, one doesn't. As it is probably my favorite park, I think it tips the scales in the direction of Florida. But it isn't by as much as I thought it should be.

More on this topic? Perhaps. Lately life intrudes on my blogosphere existence, so my blogging is likely to get less frequent. But I hope to have something to add to this comparison later. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin

We took a trip to Disneyland Resort in California over the Easter break, and it was a good trip for the most part.

One thing was disappointing, however. We stood in line for the Roger Rabbit ride, probably spent about 30 to 45 minutes in the line. Then we got up to the spot where we could see the loading happening, and we were probably 5 minutes or less from being loaded on ourselves, depending on the number of fastpass people who came in while we were waiting.

And the ride went down.

No one seemed to know what was going on with it. But it wasn't running, and no one knew exactly how long it would take to get it back up and running. So we didn't get to do the ride.

This would not bear mentioning, however, if not for the fact that we were there last near (2008) at the same time of the year, and the EXACT SAME THING happened to us on that ride. We stood in line for much longer then, and we actually got up to where we would be the very next ones loaded into the "load area", where they assign you a row. And it broke down.

That time we waited. We hung around for about a half hour, or maybe longer, thinking that they were going to get it fixed and since we had waited so long in line, we wanted to try the ride. It looked fun. And it was, though not as fun as the long line would suggest.

This year we didn't wait. We figured it was karma or fate telling us that we weren't meant to do this ride. I mean, to have it happen almost exactly the way it happened last year, with the long wait in line then getting into the area where you could see the end of the wait, then having it go down, then having the cast members looking clueless about what was wrong with it...just not meant to be.

My kids were saying, "Never again will we wait for this Roger Rabbit ride." They are happy with the Monsters Inc ride over at California Adventure.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Upcoming Disneyland visit

We're going to take a quick hop to California over our kids' Easter Break, and we're going to stay at DLR's Grand Californian for the five nights. We plan on spending at least two days in San Diego, but we'll probably get the 3 day park hopper ticket and spend the other three days at the Disney parks.

Fresh on the heels of our WDW vacation in January, it should make for some good "compare and contrast" moments. I think that it will be a while before we go back to Disney now. We've gone a lot in the last couple of years, in large part because we have DVC, but there are lots of other places we can go with those points, and we're going to have to find out where some of them are!