We're not huge fans of Disney, so we only go once every few years or so. Today, though, we went to check out the new section / ride, and we hadn't been since before the Guardians of the Galaxy
drop reboot ride either. Not being familiar with either the Star Wars
(beyond the original three, that is) or the Guardians of the Galaxy
films made both a little baffling in terms of narrative, but the rides were still enjoyable all the same. There's a lot of detail in the new Star Wars
section of the park, but we found it to be considerably more impressive at night than during the day. The sound design and the entryways into the main area were especially notable (entering from the Splash Mountain area was particularly effective). I'd also watched a ride-through of the new simulator, so I knew what to expect. To be honest, my expectations were low; I was just thinking it'd be a Star Tours-type simulator), but everyone in our group thought the ride was great overall. There's a lot
happening in those little pods, and so it's easy to get distracted from the screen by trying to figure out which button to push or which lever to pull. Although we all tried both pilot and gunner roles, two of us preferred gunner as you can really just sit back and let the ride do its thing while mashing random buttons. The ride's more violent than expected, but it was never uncomfortable. You really 'feel' the hits and walls that your spaceship slams into.
Nrthwnd wrote:Although I did believe (or was led to) that there were two exits.
coasterlvr wrote:so i read somewhere that there are special ada pods for smuggler's run. you know you've been in that one because the only way to exit is an elevator.
It's a pretty confounding system once you're inside the ride and it's hard to tell exactly where you'll end up. On our first ride, we did indeed exit into an elevator. The pod doesn't seem to actually rotate in this case as you see people both enter and exit from the same place. We also entered the pod through a slightly different path towards the rear of the final holding room (the one where you form your groups). Exiting via the elevator put us in a series of seriously-long hallways (like, three of them). When we rode it the second time, we entered the ride from a different position in the grouping room and exited through a significantly shorter corridor.
Both rides were about the same for us in terms of intensity, but I swear the non-ADA pod was less aggressive and also seemed to have issues returning to its stationary state (the animatronic character from the ride's entry showed up on a screen and kept talking for a few minutes. There was also a weird sense of rotation that matched a rotation taking place on the screen that I don't think we saw on our first ride (affirming that the ADA pod doesn't seem to move). One thing that did catch our interest was the slightly-disorienting jet bridge section midway through the queue. None of us could figure out what was going on, but we all agreed that something
was happening in that corridor to make it feel disconcerting. My assumption is that it's a combo of ambient noise and a slightly-angled floor with some slightly squishy metal underneath. It really does feel like you're on a platform that's shifting a bit.
I was skeptical of the Guardians of the Galaxy
reboot from Tower of Terror (in part because the original was just fine, and it's a bit of a stretch to turn a specifically-architectural hotel into a space ship (or whatever it's supposed to be). However, it looked great overall. The ride seems less about suspense now and more about volume, quick scene changes, and much quicker movement (it launches up the tower and starts dropping almost immediately). It seems like the new version was designed with a more teen audience in mind, and it worked well. For this particular demographic, it makes more sense than the Twilight Zone — which, I'm guessing, doesn't carry nearly as much cultural purchase today as raccoons, robots, and pew-pew-pew effects. (NB: for me, the original Twilight Zone was more effective; better suspense and a more coherent plot. The teen-appeal of this version, it seems, is that it feels like watching a bunch of Michael Bay movies in which the narrative is "many things explode + robots.") The reboot of California Screamin' was a bit baffling. Again, not knowing the film at the center of the reboot might be to blame (a babies theme?) It's still a great coaster though, which I'm guessing is what most people are there for.
Fun day overall. The park felt busy, and we didn't get to ride a few favorites due to super-long waits (the Cars Land ride for example), but we'd ridden everything on past visits, so skipping rides wasn't a big deal. Space Mountain, I'm convinced, is still one of the best coasters in CA. It had a Star Wars
theme to it this time around, too (Star Wars
is enjoying a major theme park revival, it seems!)
- While impressive during the day, the lighting at night adds much more contrast to the various spaceships to set them off from the landscape (which is otherwise kind of similar in color). The rock design isn't quite as sublime as the Cars Land rock design, but it seems to be going for a different effect. There's some good forced perspective in the spikier bits and a particularly enthusiastic group we chatted with later in the night pointed out a number of hidden details about the place (such as two rocks that appear to be kissing when viewed from a particular angle — the top right of this image.)
- Some kind of BBQ machine thing, it seems. A lot of the details were a bit lost on our group, but I suspect that some passing familiarity with the various films would help guests make sense of such things. For non-Star Wars fans, there's still a lot to take in and appreciate.
- The first indoor queue section of the ride. The longest we waited was 45 minutes, and the time flies by as there's plenty to look at. The ride was very-well developed in terms of moving people through as steadily as possible.
- One of the various spaceships scattered around. Star Wars fans will probably understand the nature of the environment more, but it kind of looked like a combination of a junkyard and a medina. The sound design was striking, with lots of panoramic effects throughout.