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Half park, full price - Part Three

In part two of this review we visited the Bountiful Farm and Wharf areas - some of the most sparse areas (when it comes to attractions) of the new California Adventure park opening next to Disneyland.

In this section we'll visit the Paradise Pier carnival area - hopefully in the next part we can catch up on the San Francisco section and a few missed items, and wrap up the rest of the observations of this park that I have.

Yet again, before I start - I want to continue to thank all of you who've taken the time to write. As you can probably guess, the response was tremendous (MousePlanet's readership has been expanding dramatically since we launched six months ago) - and it's nice to know folks out there really are interested in this review.

Because of all the feedback, I may add an extra installment at the end to allow reader commentary, and also respond to some of the questions you may have about the park that are of general interest.

Before we continue here, a few more notes on the areas we just visited in the last section of this review. Kind readers pointed out (and I confirmed upon another visit) that the lovely Tuna Can window is actually a Sardine Can window. I hang my head in the deepest of shames that the fish got away from me. ;)

Also, in my dizzy stupor about the Wharf area's Bread baking and Tortilla making attractions, I left out what I felt would be a very simple solution everyone could live with, that would most probably stop dead cold any criticism Disney is getting regarding these "attractions" from both the consumer and the media.

It's quite simple really, just change the classification of these two to "exhibits" (instead of "attractions.") It would be less misleading to visitors (who already some have tough issues with this park according to feedback I witnessed on my visit) and serve to disarm the critics, including, yes, myself. I'll even make a promise as a matter of fact, that should Disney make that simple change, (and also include the Winery while they are at it) that I'll never mention any of these questionable "attractions" again, unless of course I want to discuss the many interesting and informative "exhibits" the new park has.

Think about it, "Attraction" (or "Adventure") - the words used for such famous Disneyland favorites as Pirates of the Caribbean and Jungle Cruise shouldn't be confused with something as mundane as cooking or baking. Wouldn't you agree?

For those that asked about the Tortilla exhibit - basically it is just a walk through. In the entryway you watch some small Latin family tableaus (using a Pepper's Ghost effect) then you go into the room where the tortilla machines are located. Usually they hand you a free tortilla (although at a few points during the day they only give you a half of one...) and you can waft on by the demonstration kitchen where someone is cooking with, you guessed it, tortillas.

Visitors Tip here: If you plan a visit towards the end of the day here, chances are good you may end up with a bag of tortillas, as opposed to just one. Perfect for snacking on a return trip home, for yourself or the kids.

Also the bread baking show in the Boudin Bakery isn't really much of anything - the bread equipment is by necessity much less exciting to watch in operation than the tortilla machines are. The tour video, with Rosie O'Donnell (on a bad hair day) and Colin Mochrie (a bit too "on" for my taste) is amusing, but face it, it's not something that will have you booking a return trip to "remember the magic."

I finally in this same area also got to see the "Seasons of the Vine" film presented by Mondavi. I was pleasantly surprised with how informative it was, and how clever they were in presenting it (sort of like a peek outside a door) to the audience. Yes, it's pure advertising, but the quality of the film (minus a few blown up video shots) was nice. As I mentioned before the Mondavi "adultland" area was very impressive in its quality. As an "exhibit" it's great. As an "attraction" - well you know the drill.

Looming over the Wharf area, both in size, activity and sheer noise, is Paradise Pier, the carnival area of the park. This is the section that has (justifiably I feel) drawn the most criticism and questioning from critics of this project. Before we start with how cut back this area is - why don't we list the attractions, and a quick review of each.

1. California Screamin' - This is the big coaster that envelops the pier area, complete with loop. On the negative side - after a few rides I continued to be disappointed with it. The thrill level is comparable to the tepid Jaguar at Knott's, smooth, but with nothing to even jolt you a little bit, with the exception of the launch, claimed as "0 to 55 MPH in less than 5 seconds." Most folks I asked felt that Space Mt. is still the best coaster at the Disneyland resort. On the positive side - Your mom may find it fun.

2. King Triton's Carousel - What the name says, actually well detailed, but plunked down in a vast theming desert. Small sized too - considering the capacity problems they have in this park (plus a shortage of smaller child's rides), a larger unit should have been considered.

3. Sun Wheel - Don't let the rolling cabs fool you, they are literally as gentle as a rocking chair. The load system allows for three cars to be boarded at one time (two rolling cabs, one that is fixed). Ride lines are shortest for the non rolling cabs (at least on the preview days I attended). Yes, if offers nice views of Disneyland (through the mesh), but a Ferris wheel is a Ferris wheel.

4. Maliboomer (Space Shot type of ride) - You get shot up 180 ft., get a little air time, then gently bounce once or twice up and down until you come back down. Knott's Supreme Scream is a much better attraction, both in height and ride sensation. Most annoying thing about it though?

Maliboomer's (the space shot) scream shields

Those Plexiglas shields over your head - stop screams from neighbors and you from scratching your nose once you're clamped in. Don't even think of what you have to stick your face into if someone sneezes into it before your turn comes up... Also note how the painted canvas signs are already looking bad in the photo above.

5. Orange Stinger - The chain bucket ride - you need to be under 200 lbs to board (which is industry standard for this kind of thing). This one breaks my heart, it's just such a piece of junk. By the way, no bees are buzzing around yet (disguised as seats) it seems they have manufacturing problems with them. Riders who've written me complain about the "orange peel" design obstructing views out.

6. S.S. rustworthy - Child's water playground. Although they probably themed it taking into consideration just how much Disney attractions can get neglected lately, (by making it look junky) even this one is now showing wear and tear only after a few weeks of use.

7. Jumpin Jellyfish - Up and down, up again and down again. All of this at the speed of a fish in an aquarium basically. Boring is too exciting a word for what this thing does. How they got the description in the guide: "Fantasy underwater parachute ride" is a mystery to me and it seems most visitors. (It's important to note that the nearby Redwood Creek Challenge Trail was busy with kids, while the two towers for Jellyfish were almost entirely empty upon my last visit. Even the kids know it seems...) By the way, the east tower is crooked, take a look sometime.

8. Mulholland Madness - Believe it or not, a tame and un-exciting Mad Mouse ride, one, maybe a second OK drop. It's been breaking down a lot, and many of you who've ridden it write me hating the high safety guards that bruise your shoulders and arms.

9. Golden Zephyr - Buckle in, spin around over the water a bit, and you're done. No real thrill factor, no real views of anything. Plus they shut it down during the parade (I guess it can swing out too close to a float or two).

Although listed as "attractions" or "adventures" the Boardwalk games are just carnival booths - something in the past that you went to Disneyland park to escape from, remember? Most are priced at $2 a shot, might as well try to drain your pocket eh?

Basically these "ride / attractions" came into being when Eisner demanded that WDI deliver a new park at 20% less. "Off- the- shelf" is what they were looking at to save on costs - minor trim would have to serve as "theming" for this area of the park, and sadly it really shows. But don't let me tell you, let me show you:

The first shot (below) is of the ceiling interior of "Treasures in Paradise" - note the extensive detailing... (As I mentioned before if it's a shop or dining location, for the most part, there was little or no expense spared):

Compare the above detail to the following lack of it - in this next shot, you can see the view out into the parking lot from the "Screamin'" coaster queue...

Bare bones theming again in the queue for the coaster (below)...

The view below from the coaster loading area showing the track to the launch section - note the fence where you see the back of the signs (due to a cost saving issue where no fence was built up behind signs)...

You'll also notice that under the coaster track, the shops and food court are not detailed at all, look at the bare walls and simple window frames...

From the sign level on down, (below) there is simply no design flourish at all here...

Lack of attention to vistas produces awkward views all throughout the Pier area, note how the odd shape of the "Orange Stinger" chain chair ride leaves large areas of orange colored wall obstructing views out...

But it all looks great from across the way doesn't it?

At the recent DCA merchandising event they made a great deal out of how this area of the park was designed on a computer so they could "walk through it" to test their design ideas. Somehow, someway, even with all that they sort of forgot to provide the quality design that sets apart Disneyland to the north.

Besides the less than enthralling rides in this area, shopping and dining offerings include (starting from the adjacent nearby Wharf area) Avalon Cove (Wolfgang Puck's joint - across from the above listed "Treasures" shop) "Catch a Flave" soft serve ice cream, "California Scream Cam" coaster rider photos, with "Strips, Dips n Chips" and "Malibu-Ritos" anchoring the fast food strip.

Adjacent to the carnival games are "Man Hat n Beach" (three guesses what they sell) "Pacific Ocean Pictures" (souvenir photos of your group) "Point Magu Tattoo (just what I want my kids to enjoy, even if they are fake) and "Sideshow Shirts." (T-shirts).

Once you get out of the coaster area (past the space shots) - there are a gaggle of shops and dining in the corner of the park there: Hard to ignore is "Burger Invasion" - a full fledged McDonalds priced even higher than airport locations, "Pizza Oom Mow Mow" - more expensive than "Redd Rockets" at Disneyland (although they keep saying the portions are slightly bigger) and the "Corn Dog Castle." "Souvenir 66" is a merchandise counter, while "Dinosaur Jack's Sunglass Shop" seems like a dumb move - a shop that will basically empty out at sundown.

Future plans for this area are supposed to include more kiddy rides, but those may take a while to get going.

Rather than remind one of a past rather nostalgic seaside carnival - the Paradise Pier carnival area, due to its slashed budgets and erratic design, only serves to show how the Disney company now only values cost above a properly themed quality product.


So, as you keep walking around that lagoon, you leave the Paradise Pier area, and start going into the San Francisco and Grizzly Peak part of the park. Join us for the next part of this series where we find some nice things that they here, making for a distinct surprise after some of the other disappointing sections of the park.

Let me know what you think as the series continues won't you? I may not be able to personally respond to each of you, but I will read all your feedback.


Part One - Entering the park and the Hollywood Backlot area

Part Two - Middling, i.e. Condor flats, the farm, and wharf areas

Part Four - The Whoopi movie, Raft ride and other details such as parking, the hotel and mall

Readers Respond

More Readers Respond!


Take a photo tour of the park

Take a photo tour of the Grand Californian hotel


Theme: Seaside carnival

Rides & Attractions: California Screamin' [coaster] / Golden Zephyr [spinner] / Jumpin Jellyfish [parachute drop] / King Triton's Carousel / Mailboomer [space shot] / Mulholland Madness [mad mouse] / Orange Stinger [spinner] / Sun Wheel [ferris wheel] / S.S. Rustworthy [fireboat children's play area]

Midway games: Angels in the Outfield / Boardwalk Bowl / Cowhuenga Pass / Dolphin Derby / Hew Haul Fishery / Reboundo Beach / San Joaquin Volley / Shore Shot

Shows & Parade: Street entertainment, Parade route runs all the way up to the hub area

Shops: Dinosaur Jack's Sunglass Shack / Man Hat 'n' Beach / Point Magu Tattoo / Sideshow Shirts / Souvenir 66 / Treasures in Paradise

Restaurants: Avalon Cove [Wolfgang Puck] / Burger Invasion [McDonalds] / Catch a Flave / Corn Dog Castle / Cove Bar / Malibu-Ritos / Pizza Oom Mow Mow / Strips, Dips 'n' Chips

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