Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What's new?

On this Disney Trip, I've done quite a bit which was new (to me), some of it because it's also new to the parks.  I had a mission of sorts to try to see some new things, in addition to hitting my old favorites.  What did I try new?
  • I've already written about Radiator Springs Racers, Luigi's Flying tires, the Ariel dark ride, Carthay Circle Restaurant and the World of Color show, which were all part of the California Adventure redo, and so these were all new to me.  All were magnificent.
  • I've also already talked about Star Tours: The Adventure Continues, which was a revamp from my last visit, and it was also pretty awesome.  Space Mountain wasn't technically a first, but a first in a very long time for me.
  • I decided to try the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in DCA.  I'd always been a little interested, because it's themed to the Twilight Zone (including an introduction by Rod Serling), and has a backstory about a hotel where five guests in an elevator vanished when the tower was struck by lightning.  But beyond all the theming and cool effects, the core ride mechanism is an "elevator" which raises and drops you repeatedly.  (In fact, I understand that Disney has made sure that the elevator drops faster than it would by gravity alone, because just falling a few stories repeatedly apparently isn't thrilling enough.)  That's a little wilder than I'm usually up for. But this trip, I had finally worked up the courage to conquer Space Mountain, and found that it wasn't as bad as it seemed, so I figured I'd try the Tower of Terror.
    It turned out that the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror was as bad as it seemed.  I don't think I'll be trying that one again.  (This also put an end to any thoughts of trying California Screaming, the only serious roller coaster at the Disneyland resort.)  On the plus side, I did survive the drop from the tower, and you do get a great view of the parks at the top of the elevator.
    My biggest surprise in the "Hollywood Hotel" was discovering how small the hotel "lobby" in the queue actually was, having seen some pictures and video.  (Of course, some of the pictures I saw could have been from the Florida attraction, which could be larger.)
  • The Golden Zephyr is too much excitement for TMWA.  I'll stick to tame rides, like Space Mountain.
    The view from the platform is nice, 'though.
  • Golden Zephyr and Astro Orbiters are both spin-around type flying rides which don't move so fast, and probably appeal primarily to kids.  Nonetheless, both were a little intense for me at points.  Maybe I don't deal so well with spinning.  On the other hand, going on the Astro Orbiter does raise you high enough to see the top of the (now abandoned) PeopleMover track, which was pretty cool to me.  (I miss the PeopleMover.)
  • I took a ride up Main Street in a horse-drawn streetcar.  Not a major experience, but it was something I'd never done, and it was interesting.  Similarly, I stopped in on the Main Street Cinema, which shows several old black and white silent Disney cartoons along with Steamboat Willie (the first synchronized sound cartoon).  The theater was interesting, but much smaller than I'd imagined.  (I guess a lot of things at Disneyland have to be kind of "pocket-sized" due to land constraints.)
  • Goofy's Sky School is a re-theming of another wild-mouse style roller coaster at DCA which used to be called Mullholland Madness, in reference to Mullholland Drive in California.  This coaster had a single-rider line, but I only went once.  The height off the ground and sharp turns were a little off-putting to wimpy old me.
  • Below decks on the Columbia
  • I rode the sailing ship Columbia around the Rivers of America at Disneyland, and toured below the decks.  Normally the Mark Twain steamboat is operating, but on one day the Columbia was running.  The Columbia is a replica of a real ship called the Columbia, which is the first US ship to circumnavigate the globe.  I've been on this once, actually, but I didn't realize at that time that there is a museum of sorts below deck, where you can see displays about what ship life was like on board a real ship like the Columbia.
  • The sailing ship Columbia, seen from Tom Sawyer's Island
  • I also crossed the rivers via raft to Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island.  Now I'm not technically sure if I've been to Tom Sawyer's Island before or not.  At some point when I was a kid, we went either to this one or to the similar one in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World, and I have no idea which.  But I've never been back since I was an adult, and it's also been given a new pirate theme (to go with Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, of course) since then.  It's pretty much just some trails, with caves, treehouses, and forts for kids to run around and play on.  (This is another one where I think a 40-ish single man gets funny looks.  Next time I'll have to pay some kids to go with me.  Wait, that might sound wrong, too....)  They have also added some pirate props, like treasure chests and talking skeletons locked away in cells in the caves.  It is kind of cool, and I'm glad I saw it, but it's also surprisingly small.

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