Awesome! I actually live closer to the L.A. Fair than the O.C. Fair, but always go to the O.C. Fair in the summer. I find it funny that save for a few rides, almost all of the rides go straight from the O.C. Fair to the L.A. Fair.
Adventure City is located in Anaheim, literally just down the street from Knott's Berry Farm and only a few miles from Disneyland. The park is small and definitely geared toward very young children. However, there are a couple of attractions that should also keep older kids and theme park / coaster enthusiasts happily occupied. There are about a dozen rides in all, and children as young as three can ride all of them except for Tree Top Racers (which has a 42" height minimum). Some rides do require that children ride with an adult, but it's great that adults can be accommodated on all of the rides as well (with the exception of Crank 'n' Roll, which has a 52" height maximum). Therefore, Adventure City is a park that the entire family should be able to enjoy together.
Adventure City costs $14.95 for all guests except seniors (55+), who get in for $9.95. Parking is also free. A pretty reasonable deal for a day out with the family.
The entrance to this fun kid's park.
For older kids and coaster fans, the top attraction at Adventure City is definitely Tree Top Racers.
Tree Top Racers is a Miler wild mouse coaster, one of only four in existence according to rcdb. Here you can see the lift hill and multiple switchbacks that begin the ride, some of the drops off to each side, and the central spiral leading into the break run at the end of the ride.
The lift hill from a different angle. The coaster has received a nice new coat of paint since my last visit a few years ago.
The switchbacks are cool but not as forceful as on some other wild mouse coasters, mostly because they're not taken at the fastest of speeds.
It's not until you reach the drops (and there several of them) that this coaster picks up speed and puts the wild in wild mouse.
The track and turns are banked a bit during the second half of the ride, and you even travel through the roof of the coaster station.
The second set of drops takes place directly underneath the first, and I defy anyone to not reflexively duck your head seeing that other track just above.
Overall very good fun. The cars can comfortably fit two children or an adult and a child (sitting inline), though they are a bit of a squeeze for two adults. It's a little hard for kids to see over the front, but for a single adult rider the view is not obstucted and the vehicles are quite comfortable. They're heavily padded on all sides, so even if you get jostled around a bit it just makes it fun, not at all painful.
And another view, this one taken from the park's Drop Zone ride.
Speaking of Drop Zone.
This is a Moser tower ride, which is more than a notch above a frog hopper in the thrill department. It actually stands 45 feet tall and provides a legitimate tummy-tickling sensation with each drop, and the ride drops about half a dozen times. This is hugely exciting for young children, and pretty darn fun for me too.
Adventure City has a second coaster, called Freeway Coaster. It's another Miler, this time a kiddie coaster. It begins with this small curving drop.
However, this is a custom-made kiddie coaster. After the first drop it travels through a tree, leaping over one of its branches.
The coaster finishes with a spiral around some boulders. Interestingly, these boulders are actually a tunnel for the park's train ride. Kind of unique for a kiddie coaster. Beware that the coaster is sent around the track twice, and it does provide a decent amount of whiplashing for adults, but I suppose most kiddie coasters do.
Here is the park's train ride, called Adventure City Express Train. It is pretty tiny so there's no problem fitting through that tunnel.
The train travels around the perimeter of the entire park, giving a glimpse of pretty much every attraction. After passing through the tunnel, there's this scenic spot that can only be viewed from the train. The train also travels through the park's birthday party building, which is neat for both train riders and birthday party guests.
Let's take a look at the rest of the park's rides.
The balloon ride looks pretty tame, but it's actually no joke if you're not into spinning rides. It can get quite dizzying, especially if you are seated in the backwards direction.
Right next to the balloons are the Barnstormer Planes, a standard kiddie ride.
There's also a crazy bus...
...and a kiddie ferris wheel, called Giggle Wheel.
One of the most popular rides at Adventure City is Rescue 911, where kids can drive their parents around in fire trucks, police vans, and ambulances.
It's a pleasant and attractive ride with some decent theming. And as mentioned, it's a huge hit with the kids, who can dress up like firefighters while in line and actually wear the costumes on the ride!
One more track ride, this one just for kids.
There are a few other attractions at the park. An outdoor children's theater puts on puppet, magic, and song-and-dance shows that were VERY popular with the young ones. This Thomas the Tank Engine play area was another spot where kids could probably spend all day.
There's also a petting farm. If you buy some feed, it comes in an ice cream cone that the goats can eat right along with the feed!
In addition to sheep and goats, the petting farm has a couple other inhabitants, such as this cute fellow.
This guy was also roaming around.
Finally, there's a nice-sized arcade and a rock climbing wall, which we got to after dark. The rock wall is cool in that, after you make it up the easy level (the middle of the rock), you then get to try the intermediate level (on the right), and if you can make it past that you get to try the difficult level (on the left). I only made it halfway up the intermediate level. There's impressively no age requirement for this. Employees will follow small children up the whole way and help them as necessary. There was also an interesting but efficient way to pay for the rock climbing and arcade (as well as the food at the petting farm). You get a card that you load points onto, and use the card at all of the attractions. My final verdict is that Adventure City is a very well-maintained park, with friendly employees who are extremely good with kids. The food is also reasonably priced and there's some variety too (a few healthy alternatives mixed in with the typical theme park fare). Definitely check this park out if you have kids. Even if you don't, it's worth a stop. After all, you'll be in the area visiting Knott's and Disney anyway!
Last edited by biosciking on Wed Oct 10, 2012 5:17 pm.
We're over two months into 2012 now and I haven't done a single update to biosciking's So Cal thread. Time to remedy that.
I paid more than a couple visits to Disneyland during January and February, in an attempt to document the entire park. Disneyland is not a huge park per se, but there is just so much there that I think it's physically impossible to do everything in even two or three visits. I realized this pretty quickly while trying to photograph it all, so I decided to break the park up into two and devote my first Disneyland post to the eastern half of the park. Despite only covering half of the park (albeit the larger half), I've still got a ton of photos to share, which will require a few separate posts just by themselves.
The eastern half of Disneyland consists of four of the park's eight lands. Main Street, U.S.A. is immediately beyond the entrance, Fantasyland is immediately behind Main Street, Mickey's Toontown is immediately behind Fantasyland, and then Tomorrowland occupies the entire easternmost side. Because I did visit in early January, I've got some shots of the park still dressed up in its holiday attire. I've also got some shots of the Matterhorn operating during its final days before refurbishment. Most of the pictures are from later January and February, when the holiday decorations had been removed and the Matterhorn refurb was in full swing.
Disneyland, arguably the world's most famous theme park. This is of course the original Disney park, created and enjoyed by Walt Disney himself. How could anyone not love it?
You're greeted at the entrance by floral Mickey, plus the Disneyland Railroad chugging into the Main Street train station.
The Disneyland Railroad passes over the entrance bridge.
I can hardly wait. Let's go.
After passing under the entrance bridge, you immediately find yourself in Main Street, U.S.A.
The Main Street train station is at the very southern end of the street. Here you can catch the Disneyland Railroad for a trip around the perimeter of the entire park.
A Disneyland icon.
The southern end of Main Street is called Town Square. Here you'll find the Main Street Opera House, which features the Disneyland Story and Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln. If you are at all a Disney geek, the Disneyland Story is a must.
The Disneyland Story features tons of concept art and memorabilia spanning the park's entire history.
1959, the first big expansion year for the park, as well as the introduction of the E-ticket.
Disneyland's classic attractions.
Disneyland's modern-day attractions.
A picture of Walt making his dedication speech during the park's opening day, July 17, 1955.
Excepts from Walt's opening-day speech introduce each of the park's (then only five) lands.
There are plenty of models throughout the Disneyland Story as well. This very large model is a 1/100th scale representation of the park as it existed on opening day.
A model of Sleeping Beauty Castle.
A model of Splash Mountain.
Historic items on display include the bench from the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round.
You can also watch a video that was produced for Disneyland's 50th anniversary, hosted by Steve Martin and Donald Duck. Back during the 50th anniversary, this film actually played in the Opera House's main theater. Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln is now back in that spot.
Speaking of, here's a model of the United States Capitol Building from the lobby of the main theater. Very impressive.
Inside the main theater itself. Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln has gone through several incarnations over the years. The current version is said to be most reminiscent of the original version. I kind of miss the previous version, where the audience was given headphones to wear and sound effects were presented in "3-D" audio. Still, the show is very patriotic and historic for its Audio Animatronic Mr. Lincoln figure (impressive even today). The show is a nice, uncrowded respite from the rest of the park, and I recommend it to all Disneyland visitors.
Right next door to the Disneyland Story and Mr. Lincoln is the Disney Gallery.
The Disney Gallery features changing art exhibits; the current display focuses on the various trains of the Disney parks.
Walt was of course a huge train aficonado, so this is certainly appropriate.
Presented in the Disney Gallery is an actual piece of Walt Disney's personal railroad.
An overview of the Disney Gallery's main exhibit room.
The Disneyland Railroad is well represented here. Despite all the changes that took place during the planning stages and development of Disneyland, one thing was always certain - the park would be surrounded by a railroad. Artwork of all of the Disney park's railroads is on display.
There are other trains in addition to the Disneyland Railroad at the park, and they're all included here as well. Did you know the Casey Jr. Circus Train was originally designed to be a roller coaster?
Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland. If I was given the opportunity to go back in time to experience one attraction from Disneyland's past, this would be it. The scenery (mountains, deserts, forests, caverns) looks incredible. Anyone care to share their memories of Nature's Wonderland? I'd love to hear them.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Nature's Wonderland's replacement. Big Thunder Mountain opened in 1979, the year I was born. I love this ride, but how I wish I'd gotten to try Nature's Wonderland as well.
A little farther up Main Street is the Main Street Cinema, another cool, quite respite from the crowds on a hot, busy day.
The entrance to the Main Street Cinema. What a wonderful, old-fashioned vibe it exudes.
The darkened, circular, standing-room only Cinema presents six classic black-and-white cartoon shorts. Most are silent, though a band organ plays typical silent-film musical accompaniment that fills the theater. One of the more interesting and entertaining films is Mickey's Polo Team, which features a large collection of celebrity "guest stars." However, the most popular film in the Cinema is of course...
...Steamboat Willie, the debut of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. It's great to always be able to watch it here.
Another attraction along Main Street is the Penny Arcade. As you can see, it's undergoing a refurbishment right now, as are many of the surrounding sweet shops and eateries. I hope most of the classic attractions remain when it reopens. The Starcade in Tomorrowland has been tampered with so much that it remains just a pathetic remnant of its former self. The same fate had better not be in store for Main Street's Penny Arcade.
Perhaps the most prominent feature of Main Street are the vehicles that travel it, from Town Square to the Central Plaza and back again. The horse-drawn streetcars are probably the most famous of the Main Street vehicles.
Much nostalgia is added to Main Street by the streetcars' presence.
They also sure look great with Sleeping Beauty Castle in the background.
Or, from the other direction, with the Main Street train station in the background.
I thought I'd throw in the same view (minus the streetcar) as it looks during the holidays, to show off how decorated Main Street U.S.A. becomes.
In addition to the horse-drawn streetcars, there are also the horseless carriages, here awaiting passengers at the Central Plaza end of Main Street.
And here transporting passengers down Main Street's thoroughfare. Notice the omnibus, another of the vehicles that services Main Street, in the background.
Speaking of, here's the Omnibus in Town Square.
And in Central Plaza.
The final means of transportation along Main Street is the fire engine.
The Main Street vehicles are perhaps not the most efficient way to travel Main Street (you could probably walk faster), but they certainly add tons of charm. If you're on a relaxed schedule, give one a try.
Where there's a fire engire, there must be a firehouse. This building contains the apartment that was actually occupied by Walt Disney himself when he stayed at the park. The candle buring in the second-story window is in honor and memory of Walt.
Another highly recommended Main Street "attraction" is the flag retreat ceremony, which takes place each evening at dusk.
The ceremony begins with the Disneyland Band marching down Main Street. The band then circles around the flagpole.
The band is joined by the Dapper Dans, the famous Disneyland barbershop quartet.
The Disneyland Band and Dapper Dans play and sing many patriotic tunes, naturally including the Star Spangled Banner.
The color guard enters next to lower and fold the flags.
Overall this is a very moving and patriotic ceremony. Members of each branch of the military are invited to come forward during the flag retreat to be recognized for their service. If you're a proud American, you'll want to be sure to schedule this into your Disneyland day.
Here's the base of the flagpole. Very attractive.
The most famous excerpt from Walt's opening-day dedication speech is found at the flagpole's base.
As already alluded to, the northern end of Main Street, U.S.A. is called the Central Plaza. Prominently displayed in Central Plaza is the Partners statue, featuring Walt and Mickey. Sleeping Beauty Castle makes a nice backdrop. Sleeping Beauty Castle also serves as the gateway to Fantasyland, which is where we'll be heading next. Coming up shortly...
Last edited by biosciking on Wed Oct 10, 2012 5:18 pm.
Cross the drawbrige over the moat to enter the land of fantasy and make-believe.
I know Disneyland's castle has a reputation for being small when compared to the castles of other Disney parks. However, when you're right up next to it, I defy anyone to say it doesn't look spectacular.
Here it is with its winter holiday trimmings.
Zoomed out a bit to include the neighboring Matterhorn. What an incredible view. Two iconic Disneyland attractions.
Looking back at Sleeping Beauty Castle, once you've passed through to Fantasyland.
Another plus to Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle is that there's an attraction inside. It's a walk-through that tells the story of Sleeping Beauty using storybooks and dioramas.
The walk-through is exciting in that you have to navigate through some pretty narrow, dark corridors and stairways. There are some special effects sprinkled throughout as well, including more than one appearance by the evil Maleficent.
Right next to Sleeping Beauty Castle is Snow White's Grotto.
It's a nice quiet spot that always makes for a good photo op.
Also nearby is Pixie Hollow, a meet-and-greet area for Tinkerbell and her fairy friends. I don't have any pictures of the actual meet-and-greet itself, as there's always a huge line (you can see some of it in this pic), plus I didn't feel any compelling urge to meet Tinkerbell anyway.
Prior to Pixie Hollow, this area was themed as Ariel's Grotto and King Triton's Garden. The ponds and fountains that surround Pixie Hollow definitely look nice but seem sort of out of place here now (they were more appropriate when this was King Triton's Garden). I'm not really sure what else they could do with the area though. It's in kind of an awkward location, between Fantasyland, Main Street, and Tomorrowland. It's attractive and peaceful and the meet-and-greet is very popular, but I imagine that once the fairy craze wears off this whole area could be transformed into something entirely different. It would certainly clear up a decent amount of space for a new attraction.
Here you can see that, in one direction, Tomorrowland sits immediately beyond Pixie Hollow.
A centerpiece of Fantasyland is the King Arthur Carrousel.
The sword in the stone is prominently on display in front of the carrousel.
They used to hold an informal ceremony a few times a day where Merlin the Magician would select some children from the audience to try to pull the sword from the stone. I don't believe this has been done for several years now, but I could be mistaken.
On either side of the carrousel are Fantasyland's many dark rides. Snow White's Scary Adventures is my favorite, probably because it's most reminiscent of a typical haunted spookhouse dark ride. For that reason, though, it really isn't the best choice for young children.
Next to Snow White is Pinocchio's Daring Journey. It's nice because it tends to have the shortest wait of all the Fantasyland dark rides (Snow White's wait is usually pretty short too).
Speaking of short waits, Peter Pan's Flight is the POLAR OPPOSITE. Located across from Snow White and Pinocchio, Peter Pan has the most consistently long line of any ride at Disneyland (along with Dumbo I suppose). The ride is fun in that your pirate ship vehicle is suspended from the track above, rather than riding on the track below, but it's a very short ride for the time you invest waiting in line. I would make this a first-thing-in-the-morning stop if it's a priority for your Disneyland day. The architecture of the building (all of the Fantasyland buildings, for that matter) does look very nice though.
Next door to Peter Pan is Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. This is a pretty good one that unfortunately also tends to gather fairly large crowds.
Nearby is Alice in Wonderland. Alice is very good in that it is the longest of the Fanytasyland dark rides, it changes elevation throughout, and it has both indoor and outdoor components. The downside, though, is that wait times here tend to be just as long as for Peter Pan. For what you get for your wait, however, I rank Alice in Wonderland significantly higher than Peter Pan.
Appropriately located just outside Alice in Wonderland is the Mad Tea Party.
Mad Tea Party was Disneyland's original thrill ride and is still hugely popular today. Like any teacup ride, this can be sickeningly awesome if you choose to make it so.
Next we arrive at Dumbo the Flying Elephant.
Dumbo is hugely popular with the kiddies, so this is another one that you'll need to hit first thing in the morning if you want to avoid an interminable wait. It's also a very short ride, though I suppose out of necessity. Imagine how long the line would take if each ride cycle was any longer.
I don't mean to sound too negative toward Dumbo (or Peter Pan). I know they are Disneyland classics that need to be experienced at least once. If the line was short (which doesn't ever happen), I'd happily ride Peter Pan. I'll leave Dumbo more for the kids.
Next up are the Storybook Land Canal Boats, a pretty underrated attraction in my opinion. Storybook Land definitely draws large crowds, but, like the park's other boat rides (Jungle Cruise, Pirates, and Small World), it can process the crowds quickly. Unlike Jungle Cruise, Pirates, and Small World, though, this one doesn't ever seem to get much press. I think it should. It's quite worthwhile and also unique, considering you can't find a comparable attraction at Walt Disney World (I know there is a version at Disneyland Paris).
The ride begins with the boat being swallowed by Monstro the whale.
It's pretty neat for both riders and on-lookers.
After emerging from the Monstro "cave," the boat journeys past miniaturized representations of many Disney animated film sets. The landscaping (miniature trees and shrubs) is a notable feature of this ride.
Probably the most famous and impressive scene is Cinderella's castle.
In recent years scenes from some of Disney's newer animated films have been added. Here is Aladdin's palace.
The seaside castle from Little Mermaid.
The boats travel past a scenic waterfall at the end of the ride before returning to the dock.
Intertwined with the Storybook Land Canal Boats is Casey Jr. Circus Train.
As you can see, Casey Jr. and the Canal Boats cover much of the same territory.
Casey Jr. is a very slow-loading ride, plus the sites of Storybook Land can be better viewed from the Canal Boats. I'd therefore give the boats the distinct edge. However, kids love riding the train, especially in its animal cage cars and caboose.
Moving on, we get to the park's original roller coaster, the Matterhorn Bobsleds. As I know you all know, this was the first ever steel coaster and is therefore incredibly significant in the coaster world. It's also incredibly photogenic. Here's how it looks from Main Street.
From the ride's exit.
From the ride's queue.
From Tomorrowland. Pretty gorgeous if I do say so myself.
The ride begins with the bobsleds traveling up the inside of the mountain. Riders then encounter the Abominable Snowman and begin their descent by spiraling around the mountain's exterior, though they do frequently poke back into its interior. There are tight turns and fun dips throughout, culminating in an alpine lake splashdown. There are two separate tracks. The track that faces Fantasyland is a little milder, while the track that faces Tomorrowland is a little wilder. Both are fun and thrilling in a rickety, old-fashioned coaster kind of way. This is one of the last times we'll be seeing these particular bobsled vehicles, as the Matterhorn is now undergoing an extensive refurbishment, part of which includes replacing the trains. Ready to see how the Matterhorn currently looks? Here it is...
Lining the construction walls are some pretty interesting and informative signs to read.
I'll have to watch this movie.
A preview of the new bobsleds. I'm not sure I agree with the sign saying the Fantasyland side has sharper curves.
It will be interesting to see what new enhancements come along with this refurbishment, in addition to the new vehicles.
A few more fun facts.
At the back (northern) end of Fantasyland is It's a Small World.
What can I say about Small World that you don't already know? It's a boat ride through various countries with doll children (and a few Disney characters) singing the ride's theme in each country's native language. Topiary animals are located outside. It's a classic.
The Disneyland Railroad passes through Small World's iconic facade.
Next door to It's a Small World is the Princess Fantasy Faire, a large area that incorporates the Fantasyland Theater and its immediate surroundings. I'd never even thought about visiting this previously, but I figured I'd go ahead and give it a look this time around.
Here you can see all of the offerings. The main attraction is of course the Royal Walk, a princess meet-and-greet. It had an incredibly long wait, so I passed (as I'm sure I would have even if there'd been no wait). There are two shows presented, one informal storytelling and one more elaborate presentation. For what it is, the area was actually not bad. I liked that it was almost a "mini land" within Fantasyland, incorporating multiple components into an integrated whole. With the exception of the meet-and-greet, it was not exceptionally crowded, so it felt relaxed. Plus, the restaurant sold delicious baked potatoes that you can't find anywhere else in the park.
Here's a shot of the storytelling performance. Children sit on the floor gathered around Cinderella as she recites her story.
And here's the stage show. The show's goal is to teach young princesses and knights how to behave at a formal coronation ceremony, so it was appropriate for both boys and girls. Plenty of audience participation. Again, I wasn't expecting to care for any of this, but I ultimately felt it was all quite well done.
Between Small World and the Princess Fantasy Faire is the entrance to Disneyland's next land, Mickey's Toontown. You have to cross under the Disneyland Railroad track to get there.
The Disneyland Railroad actually has one of its four stations in Toontown, right next to the land's entrance.
A more zoomed-out view of the Toontown train station.
Mickey's Toontown is of course supposed to look very cartoony. Everything is bright and colorful and curvy. It's actually set up similarly to Main Street, with a downtown area at one end and a residential area at the other, connected by the main thoroughfare. The Jolly Trolley used to bounce along Toontown much the way the Main Street vehicles travel along Main Street. However, the trolley was decommissioned long ago, so it now just sits there and the track serves no purpose.
Like Main Street, there are plenty of buildings, some of which house restaurants or shops. Here, though, most of the buildings instead offer some sort of gag, so you'll need to spend a little time playing around with everything to discover them all.
Downtown Toontown features the land's best ride, Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin. Roger's Fountain is located outside of the ride's entrance.
Car Toon Spin is a very elaborate dark ride that I rank higher than any of the Fantasyland dark rides. It's actually a cross between a dark ride and a spinning ride, as you can spin your vehicle throughout. The spinning is by no means as hardcore as that on the Mad Tea Party, so it shouldn't make anyone sick. The ride is very long and detailed, and includes a pretty neat and impressive illusion as its finale. The line for the ride tends to be very long; so long that Fastpasses are available. I would say take advantage of that opportunity, except that the queue is so detailed and entertaining that it's almost part of the attraction. It's actually a bit of a shame to cut through the queue using a Fastpass, missing it all.
The ride vehicles. As soon as the ride starts, the weasels spill dip on the road, which causes the cabs to spin "out of control." Lots of fun; I highly recommend this one.
Toontown's residential district is highlighted by Mickey's House. Like Roger Rabbit, Mickey Mouse also has his own fountain.
Mickey's house is a walk-through attraction and, more importantly, an opportunity to meet the mouse himself. Unlike the previous meet-and-greets, I went ahead and did this one.
After wandering through the various rooms of Mickey's house, you enter into his movie barn. This is where you get to meet Disney's most famous character.
Mickey & Me.
Minnie lives right next door to Mickey (convenient), though this is mostly just a walk-through. Minnie herself is only present at select times.
A look at Minnie's kitchen should give you a feel for what Minnie's House is like. Everything is very girly and cartoony.
Near Mickey's and Minnie's Houses is Gadget's Go Coaster, Toontown's second ride and one of four roller coasters at Disneyland. It's a Vekoma roller skater, so you pretty much know what to expect. It does seem a bit larger and more elaborate than a typical roller skater (even though it's not), probably due to its extensive theming. By the way, the tent in the background is part of the Princess Fantasy Faire.
After the lift hill there's a little dip, followed by a quick pass through a tunnel.
The ride ends with a spiral.
As you spiral, frogs lining the track squirt water just above the train, so there is the possibility of getting sprayed.
Gadget's Go Coaster is a perfect fit for Toontown. It's great for kids and their families. How worthwhile it is for coaster enthusiasts, however, is another question. It almost always has a long wait, plus the ride is less than a minute in duration. If you're out to get every coaster credit, I guess you've got to do it.
Also located in Toontown are Goofy's House, Donald's Boat, and Chip 'n Dale's Treehouse. Goofy's House is designed to actually resemble Goofy.
Goofy's House used to be called Goofy's Bounce House, as it consisted of a giant inflatable room for the kids. It now doesn't really have anything to do inside. There is a small soft foam play area outside, but that's pretty lacking compared to its original incarnation.
Also lacking is Miss Daisy, Donald's Boat.
This used to have slides and rope ladders and all kinds of cool stuff for kids to play on. Now you basically just walk on and off with nothing to do.
But the winner (or rather, the loser) for most pathetic remnant of its former self is Chip 'n Dale's Treehouse. Kids used to be able to climb up the treehouse and then slide down into a pit of acorn balls. Now the treehouse just consists of a spiral staircase (a very tight and confined spiral staircase, by the way)...and that's it. You enter, walk up, and then exit. I heard so many people asking "Was that all?" after they'd walked up the treehouse. Yes, that was all. I'm not sure what's happened to these Toontown attractions over the years. Are inflatable bounce houses and ball crawl pits really that hard to maintain? Is Disneyland really that worried about kids getting hurt? It is very unfortunate, because these attractions used to be great for children to work off energy. Now they're just kind of pointless. Anyway, time to move on to the final land making up the eastern half of Disneyland. Tomorrowland is coming up shortly...
Last edited by biosciking on Wed Oct 10, 2012 5:19 pm.
The Astro Orbitor is located front and center at the entrance to Tomorrowland. The ride is basically an older kid's version of Dumbo the Flying Elephant.
While the Astro Orbitor looks great in its current location, I did prefer the former incarnation of the ride (the old Rocket Jets), as they were elevated off of the ground to begin with and therefore gave a more thrilling ride. We'll get to that past location momentarily.
Immediately to the right of Astro Orbitor after entering Tomorrowland is Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, Tomorrowland's big new attraction (Disneyland's big new attraction, for that matter). Star Tours re-opened in 2011 and is still proving to be incredibly popular in 2012.
A nice mural of the ride above the outdoor, overflow queue (which is very frequently filled).
The indoor queue looks pretty similar to the way it used to, with C-3PO and R2-D2 still tinkering with a Starspeeder.
Being Star Tours, the overall premise is the same as before. The Starspeeder is our mode of transportation to a particular destination planet.
There are significant differences in the new ride though. First of all, C-3PO is now the pilot.
The major changes involve the addition of 3D to the film, as well as the random sequence of destinations that each ride may experience. Though it's advertised as having a beginning, middle, and end sequence, there are actually four sequences that can be mixed and matched per ride. The first sequence involves the Starspeeder exiting its hangar. Here you are either fleeing from Darth Vader or following the Millenium Falcon. In either case, it's been made known that a Rebel spy is in the group (a rider is chosen at random to be the spy). The ride then travels to its first destination, which could be one of three planets. Hoth was my favorite, as it felt just like the battle scene from Empire Strikes Back. Tatooine is I believe the most popular destination, as it involves podracing, which I know Star Tours has wanted to incorporate ever since Episode One first came out in 1999. The third possibility is Kashyyyk ("Wookie planet" as C-3PO calls it), which was actually kind of uneventful. After this first planet, there is a transmission from either Yoda, Princess Leia, or Admiral Ackbar telling the Starspeeder to deliver the Rebel spy safely. It's then off to the next destination. Here the possibilites are: Coruscant, zipping around the traffic of the planet; an asteroid field followed by a trip into the interior of the uncompleted Death Star; or Naboo, most of which involves traveling through the planet's underwater core. I actually liked Naboo the best, as it made the most use of the 3D technology.
Overall I'm torn between the new Star Tours and the old Star Tours. The picture quality of the new ride is spectacular, though 3D effects may not be utilized as extensively as they could be. The ride will be great for repeats as visitors try to experience each of the possible destinations (I've now seen them all). Some of the destinations are better than others, though, so if you get a combination of the lesser ones the ride might seem kind of lacking. I don't know; maybe it's just my old-school nature (the same reason I like the classic Star Wars trilogy much more than the new triology), but I do miss the original version of the Star Tours ride.
Immediately to the left of Astro Orbitor after entering Tomorrowland is Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.
Buzz Lightyear is awesome. It's a shoot-em-up dark ride that is completely addicting; you'll want to ride again and again in attempt to improve your score. Because the ride is so efficient at processing riders, you actually can ride multiple times without ridiculous waits in line. Buzz Lightyear beats out Roger Rabbit for my vote as Disneyland's best dark ride.
Farther back in Tomorrowland are Captain EO and Space Mountain. There's also this boulder that reportedly weighs tons, yet little kids can still spin it because it's sitting on top of a high-pressure fountain.
Captain EO replaced Honey, I Shrunk the Audience (which in turn replaced Captain EO). The show is a little cringe-inducing due to some of the dated 1980s style, but it's still pretty cool to have it back. Michael Jackson always gets plenty of cheers when he first shows up.
Next door to Captain EO is Space Mountain, arguably Disneyland's most famous and popular ride.
Who in the world doesn't recognize Space Mountain's iconic structure? Who in the world doesn't love riding Space Mountain (or long to ride it some day)?
Though not the most hardcore roller coaster in existence, Space Mountain seems hardcore because 1) it is the wildest ride in the park and 2) its outer space theming adds exponentially to the thrill factor.
Despite being 35 years old now, Space Mountain remains my second favorite ride at Disneyland (Indiana Jones has been number one ever since it opened in 1995).
Nearby is Innoventions, plus the moonliner rocket (not an attraction, just a decoration outside of Redd Rockett's Pizza Port restaurant).
Innoventions is perhaps the most head-scratching attraction at Disneyland for me. It's kind of like a high tech playground, so if you're a techie (which I'm not), you might consider this awesome. Much of it tries to be educational (which is not a bad thing), but you have to invest some time and energy to make it at all worthwhile and I just don't think most Disneyland guests are in the mood to do that during their visit. This takes up a huge chunk of territory and is never incredibly crowded (which does make it a good place to get out of the heat or crowds if necessary). It also utilizes the former Carousel of Progress' revolving base, which is completely unnecessary and actually kind of weird. I've seen many people getting lost while trying to exit because the entrances and exits keep moving.
The top floor of Innoventions contains a random assortment of high tech exhibits (each hosted by a different sponsor). Project Tomorrow is I believe very similar to what is done on Epcot's Spaceship Earth these days (determining what your perfect future would be like). There's a futuristic driving video game that's part of it as well.
Many of the remaining displays are also interactive video games. I guess I can see kids (and certain adults) eating this up.
Then there's a bunch of health-related stuff. I can see this fitting into Epcot, but I just don't think it works at Disneyland. Pictured here is one kind of interesting exhibit, where you can see what an older version of you will look like. It was actually pretty disturbing. Even though I indicated that I don't smoke or spend much time in the sun, they still made me look hideous.
The bottom floor of Innoventions consists of the house of the future. At least there is some continuity to this portion of the attraction. Here's the living room of the future.
The kitchen of the future.
The bedroom of the future (a boy's bedroom; they had a girl's bedroom too, but I somehow missed taking a picture of it).
The office of the future. Notice that it's not supposed to be unrealistically futuristic. It's just supposed to be high tech. Speaking of the future, I can imagine the entire Innoventions building being replaced in the years to come. It's sort of interesting (I guess), but it just isn't a major draw at Disneyland.
This structure is located where the old Rocket Jets used to be. Though it does "come alive" every 15 minutes or so, it's really just a decoration. There's no reason why the Astro Orbitor couldn't be placed back in this spot.
Encircling the structure is the load / unload platform for the old People Mover and Rocket Rods rides. The Rocket Rods are perhaps the most infamous attraction in Disneyland history.
I did get to ride the Rocket Rods a few times. The ride's motions reminded me of a slightly faster version of Alice in Wonderland. It would accelerate but then come to a crawl every time it reached a turn, forced to do so because there was no banking to the track. It would then speed up and slow down again, moving in fits and starts the entire ride. Most of the times I attempted to ride I wouldn't even get to, as it would break down while I was in line. A couple times it broke down while I was actually on the ride. Instead of removing us, they just inched the vehicle along the track to get us back to the load / unload platform. We may as well have been riding the People Mover at that point. The whole thing was just an epic fail.
Here you can see how the track works amongst Star Tours, Buzz Lightyear, and Astro Orbitor. The track snakes through all of Tomorrowland and its attractions, and it's a conspicuous eyesore just sitting there doing nothing. I imagine it will have to be brought back to life in some form in the future, or else removed entirely.
One attraction that is a real winner, on the other hand, is the Jedi Training Academy. I had never seen this before, and I must say whoever came up with it is a genius.
The concept is simple yet brilliant. Kids are selected from the audience by a Jedi master to train in the ways of the force. Each is given a robe and a lightsaber.
The kids are then led through a (rather complex) lightsaber training exercise.
Darth Maul and Darth Vader arrive.
Every single participant is brought up in turn to fight either Vader or Maul.
All of the lightsaber moves that were learned during the training exercise are put to use here.
Some kids are pros and get the moves down perfectly.
Some kids remain sort of oblivious to the entire goings-on. That's what makes it hilarious. I was amazed that such tiny children had no apprehension whatsoever to approach a giant Darth Vader and start swinging a lightsaber at him.
The Jedi-in-training naturally defeat the Sith, and there is a celebration of their victory. The show is of course designed for young children (to participate) and their parents (to watch and photograph). However, I think it's pretty darn funny for everyone else too. Like I said, the concept is simple, but it's incredibly inspired and very popular.
Nearby is the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.
The gulls from Nemo are present, mindlessly squawking "Mine, mine" just like in the movie.
The submarines pass through a waterfall, beyond which much of the attraction takes place.
You'll have to humor me for a moment here. I've got several shots of the submarines because I think they're just so photogenic.
The ride itself is a bit of a letdown. I enjoy the first part, before you pass under the waterfall. During this portion you travel through a bright, tropical coral reef.
This naturalistic setting is reminiscent of the old Submarine Voyage attraction. It may have looked fake and cheesy, but it at least tried to simulate the actual oceans. Once you pass under the waterfall on the new submarine ride, it becomes Finding Nemo. I know that's the whole point, but I don't care for it much. There may be some advanced technology at work, but there are a couple of problems with it. First, the soundtrack is the same for the entire submarine. Because the submarine is quite long, riders may not be viewing the same thing at the same time, and the audio may not match what is currently being seen. That makes for some confusion. Also, the screens and images all seem to be projected up a little too high. Maybe they're designed for kids who are looking up through the portholes, but for adults trying to look straight out of (or even down through) the portholes it gets kind of uncomfortable. You have to slouch quite a bit.
I guess I'm just being nostalgic for the old Submarine Voyage the way I'm nostalgic for the old Star Tours. The current ride still looks fantastic.
Also noteworthy is the fact that the Disneyland Monorail swoops around above the submarine lagoon.
The two attractions sure look great together.
As you can see, the entrance to the monorail is literally above the entrance to the submarines.
The monorail pulling into the station. Yet another Disneyland icon.
From the monorail you get to see much more of the Rocket Rods track. The monorail track and Rocket Rods track are actually pretty intertwined at certain points.
Of course, they're not completely intertwined. The Disneyland Monorail actually exits the park and travels around California Adventure, the Grand Californian Hotel, Downtown Disney, and the Disneyland entrance plaza before re-entering the park.
Once back in the park, the monorail glides above Tomorrowland and skirts a bit of Fantasyland too.
Next to the monorail and submarines is the Tomorrowland Autopia, a fairly large and elaborate car ride.
While it may not totally belong in Tomorrowland, I'm not sure where else it would belong. There used to be a Fantasyland Autopia as well. Both tracks have since been combined to produce the new super-sized Tomorrowland Autopia. It's very popular and pretty fun if you're into theme park track-guided car rides.
The Tomorrowland Autopia and Disneyland Monorail interact a bit.
As opposed to just concrete pavement, there's an "off road" stretch to the Autopia as well. Kind of cool.
Hidden beyond the Autopia, kind of tucked away at the easternmost point of the park, is the Disneyland Railroad's Tomorrowland station. Between this station and the Main Street station, the train passes through the Grand Canyon and Primeval World dioramas. Both are classic Disney attractions that are still quite impressive and enjoyable, in my humble opinion.
Okay, time to head back to Main Street to catch the fireworks display above Sleeping Beauty Castle.
The current fireworks show is called "Remember...Dreams Come True" and is set to music and audio that takes guests on a trip around all of Disneyland's eight lands. During the Tomorrowland segment, there are clips from the old Star Tours and Submarine Voyage audio. I guess I'm not the only nostalgic one.
Being Disney, there are of course all kinds of crazy pyrotechnics in addition to just standard fireworks. It's a good show that I'd recommend to all.
Just a few more nighttime shots to wrap up the post. These shots were taken during the holiday period. Nighttime + holiday = Disneyland magic. The giant Christmas tree is located at the Town Square end of Main Street.
It's a Small World becomes amazingly illuminated.
As does Sleeping Beauty Castle. What a beautiful sight. Well, that's it for the eastern half of Disneyland. I'll go back for the western half sometime soon. Until then, thanks for reading.
Last edited by biosciking on Wed Oct 10, 2012 5:20 pm.
Thanks so much for doing this! I love to see pictures of a park I really want to revisit (last visit was 10 years ago ). I was just wondering the comparison of space with Disneyland VS Magic Kingdom. Does Disneyland really seem that much smaller that its counterpart in Orlando? I visit Magic Kingdom almost yearly and it seems like a pretty good space wise.. I was wondering how much smaller Disneyland seems?
I'll get back to finish up Disneyland a bit later; in the meantime, new rides are opening at many So Cal parks, so I thought I'd give them some coverage. I'll start with Six Flags Magic Mountain and Lex Luthor Drop of Doom.
Last summer I reported on the coasters of SFMM (which you can find back on page 5). With the opening of Lex Luthor, I figured this would be a good opportunity to discuss the park's non-coaster rides. As most everyone knows, Magic Mountain is a coaster park first and an "other ride" park a very distant second. The park has only about half a dozen (very standard) flat rides, and with the recent removal of Log Jammer and Sierra Falls, a rapidly declining number of water rides. However, if the opening of Lex Luthor is any indication, perhaps we could see some higher-thrill non-coaster rides added in upcoming years. I know a new coaster is all but confirmed for next year, and I'm certainly happy about that, but I do think a few rides of other varieties are definitely in order every now and then as well. Lex Luthor is a great start. Let's take a look.
Here we are at Magic Mountain again. This time we'll check out the park's collection of non-coaster rides.
What is that I see attached to the side of Superman?
It's a drop tower!
And not just any drop tower. Lex Luthor Drop of Doom is the tallest drop tower in the world. Attached to both sides of the Superman tower, Lex Luthor drops riders from a height of 400 feet.
Some theming in the queue.
Dangling 400 feet above the ground.
Dropping all the way back down.
The other side.
If you look closely, you can see that the opposite side of the tower is still at the top here. Both sides get raised and dropped simultaneously, so the opposite side must have gotten stuck at the top. I saw this happen more than once during the day.
A close-up look at the ride vehicle. Sitting eight across on both sides of the tower, Lex Luthor's capacity is definitely not huge. However, the ride is not very long, and the employees were efficiently loading and unloading riders. The line therefore moved at a decent pace. The only time it seemed to slow was during the abovementioned "stalls."
It hasn't been shown in the previous pics, but both Lex Luthor and Superman can and will run at the same time (note how insanely high up on the tower Superman is getting). The first time I rode Lex Luthor, Superman went up while we were at the very top, and the entire tower seemed to shake. The second time I rode, Superman didn't run, but there was still the same swaying. I therefore determined that the movement wasn't caused by Superman, but instead realized that the Lex Luthor vehicle sways back and forth at the top with the cable it's attached to. The pause at the top is therefore definitely the most terrifying part of this ride. In addition to the cable and vehicle sway, Lex Luthor's voice comes on to basically tell us we're all insignificant beings. The drop itself, though very fun, isn't quite as gut-wrenching as it probably should be. I think the reason for this is that the initial release, while usually the most forceful part of a drop ride, is almost unnoticeable here. It took a split second before I realized "Oh, we're dropping now." This is a minor criticism, as the drop is very long and picks up incredible speed on the way down. There are also some awesome new views of the park on the way up (especially if you're facing toward Goliath). Overall a very enjoyable ride and a great addition to the park.
Okay, let's see what else the park has to offer in the non-coaster department. First up is Flash: Speed Force.
It's a musik express flat ride.
Directly across from Flash is Wonder Woman: Lasso of Truth, a round-up. Both Flash and Wonder Woman have been at the park for many years, rethemed several times to match the current theming of the area they're in. With the addition of Green Lantern last year, this area became DC Universe, home to Green Lantern, Batman, Flash, and Wonder Woman. The new theming actually works well with these two flats.
Elsewhere in the park are two other next-door-neighbor flat rides, Buccaneer and Swashbuckler.
Buccaneer is a swinging ship.
Swashbuckler is a yo-yo swing ride.
The park also has bumper cars, called Sandblasters.
Scrambler is right next to Sandblasters. Buccaneer, Swashbuckler, Sandblasters, and Scrambler have also been at the park for a long time. They are all perfectly acceptable examples of their type of ride; certainly not the best, but far from the worst either. I think each could still benefit from a little attention and TLC the way Flash and Wonder Woman have. That kind of finishes up the flat rides at the park. During the last decade or so there has also been a tilt-a-whirl, a rotor, a bayern curve, a trabant, a condor, and an enterprise (and perhaps others that I'm not remembering presently), but all have sadly been removed.
At the front of the park is the Grand Carousel.
Grand Carousel is a restored 1912 carousel, which means it's celebrating its 100th birthday this year. The park removed another family-friendly ride, the antique cars near Bugs Bunny World, five or so years ago.
Speaking of Bugs Bunny World, this giant fake redwood tree marks the entrance to the the park's main kiddie area.
Bugs Bunny World is actually pretty decent for a park that focuses on such big thrills. It takes up a relatively large area and has about a dozen well-themed kiddie rides (including two coasters, Road Runner Express and Canyon Blaster). There's also the Looney Tunes Lodge, an indoor play area.
Here's the Bugs Bunny World tree (a semi-park icon) with the park's main icon, Sky Tower. We'll get back to Sky Tower in just a moment. But first, a quick look at...
...Whistlestop Park, Magic Mountain's other kiddie area. Compared to Bugs Bunny World, Whistlestop Park is pretty underwhelming. It is very small and only contains a tiny water play area, the park's kiddie coaster (Magic Flyer), and a train ride. The train ride is reasonably elaborate (this used to be Thomas Town, after all), but it (along with all of Whistlestop Park) is almost always empty. Though Whistlestop Park (Thomas Town) is somewhat new, I feel like it's living on borrowed time. However, the park tries very hard to advertise all of its family-friendly offerings, so they may not be willing to scrap the whole area. I suppose it could be incorporated into Bugs Bunny World, which is immediately adjacent.
Okay, back to Sky Tower. Not technically a ride (unless you count an elevator a ride; if you have a fear of heights this may be the scariest ride in the park), it's an observation tower that offers great views of the entire park. Though it's about 350 feet above the ground, because the tower is located on top of Magic Mountain's mountain, you're actually even higher above most of the park than that. A few years back they added the Magic Mountain museum to the Sky Tower, showcasing memorabilia from the park's past. It was very worthwhile for the nostalgia. During this visit to the park, I discovered...
...an empty Sky Tower. No more museum. Boooooo. The ride attendant said it may return in the future, but nothing was definite at this point.
Another classic "ride" at the park is Orient Express, which offers transportation between the front of the park and the top of the mountain. Very old school, I'm surprised this has lasted as long as it has. I suppose they have to offer a way for guests who don't want to walk (hike) the mountain an alternative to get up and down.
A view from the top.
Let's talk water rides. Here's a look at Tidal Wave from the Sky Tower.
Tidal Wave is of course a boat ride that goes up, around, back down, and produces a big splash.
Sounds great on a hot day. However, if you look at this picture you'll notice the major problem with the ride. All of the water splashes away from the boat, so riders DO NOT GET WET AT ALL! I feel so bad for people who wait for this in a long line on a hot day hoping to get soaked. Not only will you not get soaked, you won't even get sprayed. That effectively makes Tidal Wave completely pointless. Now, I'm not advocating for the removal of yet another water ride, but I really feel this one should have gone before Log Jammer. I suppose salvaging the ride somewhat is the exit bridge, where you actually can get soaked by the next boat. You've got to stand toward the sides of the bridge. What many people do is just skip the ride altogether, walk up the exit, and stand on the bridge to get soaked by several boats in a row.
Sorry, you guys aren't going to get wet.
You guys will though.
Jet Stream is a log flume ride in a little jet boat rather than a log.
It culminates in a very decent flume drop. Ninja and Jet Stream kind of snake around each other for their entire rides.
Jet Steam is quite good. It moves at a rapid pace that crashes the boat side to side within the flume and constantly splashes water, it has two drops (the first smaller one is enclosed within a shed), and it skims the water at the end, hopping along the straightaway after the drop.
Here you can see the boat jumping, much like an actual jet boat. Pretty fun and unique. However, Jet Stream is still not as good as the park's other flume ride, Log Jammer.
Here's what's left of Log Jammer. Boooooo.
From the Sky Tower. I'm sure Log Jammer's absence makes for a far less interesting ride on Gold Rusher.
I know this site is the location of next year's major coaster, but I think Magic Mountain made a very bad decision by removing Log Jammer. I can't imagine there couldn't have been a way to add the new coaster while keeping Log Jammer as well. Let me come out and say it and you can disagree if you'd like - Log Jammer was the absolute best log ride at any Six Flags park. Probably the best traditional, non-themed log ride anywhere. It was an incredibly long ride (unlike most Six Flags log flumes), it moved at a very swift pace (unlike most Six Flags log flumes), and the final drop was a real winner. It was huge. Log Jammer's first drop was more comparable to the final drop on practically every other Six Flags log flume. Also, the forested setting through which Log Jammer traveled added so much to the ride. Part of me will never forgive SFMM for removing this one.
The park's final water ride is Roaring Rapids. After remaining completely dry on Tidal Wave and only getting moderately splashed on Jet Stream, I came off Roaring Rapids COMPLETELY DRENCHED! How wet you get will vary, but this is definitely the park's wettest ride. It's really quite great too, situated in another forested setting and soaking riders legitimately, with water crashing into the raft as you run the rapids, rather than relying on gimmicks like waterfalls and geysers. It's very hard to get a picture of the ride, tucked away in its isolated corner of the park, so this shot from the Sky Tower was the best I could do. Realize, though, that it does occupy a very large chunk of territory. While this is great for the ride itself, I do worry that Six Flags could possibly start thinking about other uses for this spot. This had better not happen. Roaring Rapids is incredibly popular on a hot day (almost every day at SFMM), and it always has a huge wait. The number of water rides at the park has already dropped too low; seeing as how SFMM used to have an impressive five water rides, they cannot afford to lose any others.
I'll finish with the park's few upcharge attractions. Dive Devil is SFMM's skycoaster.
This is the only skycoaster I've ever ridden, as I never feel very inclined to pay extra for them. I have ridden this one twice over the years, and while I can't compare it to others, it is very fun.
One thing I've never done is Cyclone 500, the park's go-karts. I've just never been able to bring myself to pay extra for go-karts at Magic Mountain, where there's already so much else to do.
Here's a shot of the entire course from Sky Tower. It looks fun enough but also pretty standard. I'm sure some day I'll cave and actually try this.
The final upcharge, the park's rock climbing wall. It gets more difficult as you move from left to right. Kids should be able to handle the left side of the wall, while the right side becomes challenging even for athletic adults. That's it for Six Flags Magic Mountain. We've now taken a look at the park's coasters and non-coaster rides. Time to eagerly anticipate the announcement of the 2013 attraction.
Last edited by biosciking on Wed Oct 10, 2012 5:21 pm.
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