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David Yeh -- February 2001 -- Disneyland


Date: February 4th

Cast: Coheteboy, ex-Disneyland cast member, Age: 22

Throughout the planning and building phases of DCA, I was in utter disgust. How could they possibly build this second-rate park in Disneyland's parking lot? As the opening date neared, I knew exactly what to expect. A poorly done theme park. But, being an honest Disney fan, I had to see it first before I could bash it. I was fortunate enough to receive a passport to the new park through a friend's friend for one of those annual passholder preview days. Since all they had was one extra ticket, I tackled the park solo, giving me a good idea of how great this park really was (anyone could have fun with a good group of people but if I could have fun by myself, that's the real test). Everything was ready and open on this sneak peak except for the Steps in Time show. The park was filled to capacity so I kinda have an idea of what it's going to be like on a hot summer day, since it was in the upper 70s.

HOLLYWOOD PICTURES BACKLOT

This section of the park is very similar to Disney's MGM Studios but at a smaller scale since it's only a small land. You'd think there would be a lot more to see and do in this area but I guess that's where they might possibly expand on. The scale of this area is similar to Disneyland's Main Street, USA so there's a comfort factor that you can somewhat feel. The biggest yuck of them all here is a huge backdrop of sky to block out the Hyperion Theater building. It is UGLY. I wish I had a chance to go in and check out the 2,000-seater auditorium but unfortunately that was the show that wasn't open. I also didn't get a chance to checkout The Hollywood Backlot Stage showing "Get a Grip!". Oh well... I guess I need SOMETHING to see next time I visit. Also something that I wanted to check out was the ABC Soap Opera Bistro, a restaurant with entertainers. Overall, this area is nicely done but needs a lot more than shows and exhibits to be really enjoyed. There's so much potential in this area, I can't wait to see what type of attractions we'll see in the future (Twilight Zone and Rock 'n' Rollercoaster would be awesome but I hope they do something equally great but original). Well here's what I did do in the Hollywood Backlot:

DISNEY ANIMATION:

The Disney Animation attraction features four areas of interest, all interlocked with one common lobby area. I have to tell you that this building is GORGEOUS!!! It is amazing what you can do with slides, video, lighting, and music. The ANIMATION SCREENING ROOM section is what most of you have probably seen when visiting Florida: a short animated/live-action film "Back To Neverland" starring Robin Williams and Walter Cronkite. Since I already seen it twice before, I skipped it and headed towards DRAWN TO ANIMATION which was a really fun look at how animated characters are brought to life. Mushu the Dragon is the star here as he interacts with your host. Of course the demonstration ends with a look at the latest Disney has to offer: Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Upon exiting this demonstration, you find yourself in THE ART OF ANIMATION showing you some concept art of Disney Characters along with maquettes and other tidbits. Last up is SORCERER'S WORKSHOP where I found myself fooling around with for almost an hour. Inside you will find strips of paper and pencils where you can make your own animation and view it on the many zoetropes (cylinders you spin to view your work) in the room. I stayed in here for an hour or so! Following that is the Beast's Library where you can take a questionnaire and it will match you with a Disney Character. It's really inaccurate since it asks you really lame questions (i.e. Would you rather a) eat lunch with nice people or b) eat nice people for lunch?). I turn out to be freakin' MUSHU. Is it because I'm CHINESE?! Some Asian guy before me was Mushu as well. Figures. And lastly we come to Ursula's Grotto, where she'll take your voice and put it over some animation. I skipped it. But the entire area is one of the great points of the park. Grade: 10/10

JIM HENSON'S MUPPETVISION 3D

Identical in almost every way to Florida's, this film is still fun to watch though outdated. I tend to like the pre-show a lot better than the movie since it's basically Muppets doing their thing. I can guarantee that this will lose attendance rather quickly like Honey, I Shrunk the Audience across the way at Disneyland. But even so, I rather watch this over that one anyway. Grade: 8/10

SUPERSTAR LIMO

By far the lamest, worst, most pointless and boring ride that Disney has EVER done. It's just a mess. The concept behind this one is that you arrive at LAX from your unknown destination in your search for fame. Your limo picks you up and that's where the ride begins. A slow moving dark ride through the glitzy & the glamorous Hollywood. THIS IS LAME! You drive around in Hollywood on acid. Everything is just really bad. On your trip, an audio tour guide hostess takes you through, "Look, it's Regis Philbin! There's Meg Ryan and Antonio Banderas! There's Jackie Chan! There's everyone in the freakin' ride falling asleep!!!" It goes on and on and these aren't animatronics of the celebs but rather caricatures with watermelon sized heads. Note to parents, your kids might flip out. But the fun has just begun! You become a star! A picture is taken of you on the ride and they show it to you on this huge screen. You look at it and everyone in your car is bored and confused to death. It's really a shame that you can't BUY this photo.. it's a classic expression on your face that you will never forget. But I guess that's the type of memories Disney is shooting for now. Grade: 2/10

GOLDEN STATE:

The Golden State is the section of the park where the culture, history, and all the other stuff are celebrated. There are actually several different sections that build up The Golden State: CONDOR FLATS, BOUNTIFUL VALLEY FARM & WINERY, PACIFIC WHARF & SAN FRANCISCO DISTRICT, and GRIZZLY RIVER WILDERNESS . Yes, that's quite a bit rolled into one area so let's check out the attractions/exhibits.

BOUNTIFUL VALLEY FARM presented by Caterpillar

"What are you going to do when you go to DCA?" "I'M GONNA CHECK OUT THE FARM!" Why they even call this an attraction is beyond me. You can experience a "growing" tribute to California's heartland. All there is to this section is a bunch of scarecrows guarding crops along with some statistics boosting CA ego even more: California produces over 50% of the nation's produce. I remember when this kind of info would be used while you were waiting in line for a fun ride. Not anymore, it's just a walk through area with some plastic cows. What this area also has is a a DCA exclusive: CAT tractors!!! My Lord, I NEVER get to see tractors in California. By golly gee whiz I'm so glad I came to this section of the park! Where's the Straight Story: The Ride? Grade: 1/10 (low score because it is such an UNattraction)

GOLDEN VINE WINERY hosted by Robert Mondavi

Another attraction that isn't quite an attraction. I believe there was some movie that you get to watch about wine but I guess it was so popular there was no line for it. So I kinda didn't know where to wait in line. Grade: N/A

IT'S TOUGH TO BE A BUG!

This humorous 3D adventure is also another Florida attraction brought over. Very fun the first time but since the fun of this attraction is the surprise of what's going to happen, repeat viewings aren't going to be big for this. Grade: 8/10

MISSION TORTILLA FACTORY hosted by Mission Foods

This high speed thrill-a-minute attraction is a behind the scenes look at tortilla production. Yes, TORTILLA production. You enter a room with some murals and some scenes on how tortillas were made back in the day. Why they need a tour guide for all this is something I'd like to know since there isn't anything really complex enough that a sign couldn't handle. Your guide then sets you free in the "Willy Wonka-esque" factory of tortillas with a Disney Theme Park first: free samples. And well... that's it! Sounds fun, doesn't it? It's not. Grade: 2/10

THE BOUDIN BAKERY hosted by Boudin Bakery

Here you can find the amazing Bakery Tour, showing you how Sourdough Bread was made! Rosie O' Donnell and Colin (Who's Line is it Anyway?) are your video guides to this most fascinating attraction (the sarcasm is so thick it's like sourdough). After a video intro, you enter into another factory with audio-animatronics making real sourdough. I have to give props to Disney here. These animatronics walk freely around the factory making the bread! They even show signs of getting tired and being bored out of their wits. Now THAT'S the true California spirit! Grade: 3/10

GOLDEN DREAMS

Following in the old Disney tradition of showing a movie to pass the time away is this multi-cultural film about California's beginnings. We begin with Whoopie Goldberg as the spirit of California, Califia or something like that telling us that we aren't where we are today without the dreams of everyone before us. From the Native Americans to the Mexicans to the Chinese Railroad workers to the Japanese to the Goldrushers to the Special Olympics, this film goes into detail of why us Californians have it so good. It's kind of sappy but informative and touching at the same time. Grade: 7/10

REDWOOD CREEK CHALLENGE TRAIL

If you thought Tom Sawyer's Island is fun, you'll enjoy this fun little area full of rope bridges, tire swings, and other neat things to crawl and explore. You can actually spend an hour here and have some good hands-on fun. Actually, I'm sure the Disney folk are counting on that since there isn't much anything else to really spend that much time on. What's great about this trail is that you actually do feel that you're in the wilderness. There's a scent of fresh pine in the air and animal sounds can be heard throughout. Part of this trail is a Ahwahnee Camp Circle, which is a mini amphitheater for story telling and the like. Check it out and have some fun. Free your mind. Grade: 8/10

GRIZZLY RIVER RUN

Another one of the true highlights of the park is this rapids ride. At the heart of it is just a simple raft ride but having it on this huge mountain makes all the difference. What Big Thunder and Matterhorn does to those roller coasters, this does to the raft ride. It's just a beautiful work of art. With the amount of detail on this attraction, you can't help but like it. Roar. Grade: 9/10

SOARIN' OVER CALIFORNIA

This exhilirating airborne adventure will probably be the one that everyone will be talking about when they leave DCA because of how unique it is. The Disney patented simulator literally takes you into the Imax sized screen to give you the sense of flying and it really pulls it off well. Air and scents are pumped into your face as you fly over the many sights of California. It's really a great effect but there are some very minor things I would have changed. The first one is that the scenes in the film cut from location to location without a transition so it is slightly distracting but no big deal. The second thing is in execution. They did such a good job in the actual ride that you would wish that they made it a little more magical by hiding the fact that you are flying into a screen. As you enter the theater and take your seat you can see the gigantic screen that you would be lifting off into. Usually Disney attractions push the envelope to give you a certain atmosphere so you take all these fantasy elements and create a reality. The way they presented this simulator is that it is clearly a simulator and they don't hide the fact. But still, you have to give them credit for pulling off a fun ride. Grade: 9/10

PARADISE PIER

This section of the park is what has most die-hard Disney fans disappointed. I can really see why. Aside from the coaster, all of the rides in the area are carnival rides that do nothing but spin in some way or another. Located in the rear of the park surrounding Paradise Bay, Paradise Pier has a nice look and feel, but offer little else. These are the types of rides you expect to find at Knott's Berry Farm or Six Flags, not in a Disney park. The themeing, though at the bare minimum is nicely done but you still can't help but feel that this section was wasted in some way or form.

GAMES OF THE BOARDWALK

According to the souvenir guide map, this is considered an "attraction." I consider it atmosphere. Grade: 1/10

GOLDEN ZEPHYR

I skipped this one. All it is is what the guide map says: "Spinning spaceship." I'm not joking, that's all it says! Not even Disney could figure out a way to make it sound more exciting than it is. You can't adjust the height at all... it just spins. Grade: 2/10

JUMPIN' JELLYFISH

"Fantasy underwater parachute ride." is what it says in the guide map. I call it the Umbrella Elevator. There's nothing here to offer what-so-ever! Up down up down... no drop, no nothing! It doesn't go underwater! I skipped this as well. Grade: 1/10

KING TRITON'S CAROUSEL

At least this one made an effort to incorporate a Disney character into the ride. But a carousel is a carousel and I passed this time. Grade: 6/10

S.S. RUSTWORTHY presented by McDonald's

Yup.... this is just what it sounds like. A play-zone for big and little firefighters. Is this really an attraction?! It looked very junk-ish passing by so I skipped out on this boat. Grade: 3/10

ORANGE STINGER

Remember those swing rides that just swing you in circles? That's essentially what this is with one difference. IT'S IN A GIANT ORANGE!!! I don't know if it makes it more fun or not but I decided not to do this either. Grade: 4/10

MULHOLLAND MADNESS

A mini coaster styled after the famous Mulholland Drive is probably the one thing I disliked the most in this area. A truly painful experience with each twist and turn. I just wanted this thing to END. Even the kids sitting behind me were in pain, shouting swear words each time they were yanked about. Also make sure you don't wait in line for this if you are over 300 pounds. This one lady had to get off after she couldn't mash the lap bars low enough for it to be safe. I don't see what the problem was... she wouldn't have fallen out if the entire coaster was turned upside down. Grade: 3/10

MALIBOOMER

I could be mistaken but this attraction is similar to the one on the Stratosphere but not as high up off the ground obviously. You get launched up into the air 180 feet and get quite a bit of airtime. There's even a slide whistle sound effect every time you get launched. One thing to point out are the clear guards over each shoulder restraint to block screams so neighbors won't complain. I would feel sorry for the guy who had to sit in the seat after someone sneezed into that thing! Ah well... another thing I should point out is the single rider line. Don't wait in the long line no matter how big your group is. Just go in the single rider line and get put in wherever there's an opening (which is quite often). You'll save a lot of time and can probably do it a few times more too. Grade: 6/10

CALIFORNIA SCREAMIN'

Disney's first west coast looping roller coaster is pretty cool but still a bit on the tame side. The real fun here is going from zero to 55 mph in less than 5 seconds at the beginning. I know it doesn't break any records there but it's still a must. Along for the steel coaster disguised as a woodie is a beach/circus/synthesizer soundtrack that is hardly memorable but kinda neat. It's quite a long coaster but I still can't help but place Space Mountain above this one. Grade: 8/10

SUMMARY:

The new park costs a pricey $43 per person (same admission as Disneyland) very few things to actually do. I saw all I wanted to see in half a day even at full capacity. You just gotta know your way around the park and know what to do and in what order. Is this park fun? I have to admit, I thought I would hate the place, but I actually enjoyed myself. Then again, I only paid $20 and it's always fun with good company no matter where you go. Is it worth the admission? No. I'll have to be honest here. There aren't enough things to do to make up the $43 admission price. So I advise all of you to hold off until a later date when they add a few more things. Or at least wait until the crowds die down a bit (or don't wait since the park is dead already). Because of the low capacity rides and the lack of rides all together, expect some attractions to have lines as long as 200 minutes (that's over 3 hours!). Another bit of advice: if there are kids shorter than 40inches in height, don't go here. They won't be able to do ANYTHING other than watch the Muppets 3D and visit the exciting tortilla factory. You would think that the Disney name meant that all ages would have an equally good time. Not yet anyway. I have quite a bit more to say about the park but many of you haven't seen it so it won't make that much difference to you guys anyway. Overall Grade: 7/10 (if paid $43, grade would be 4 or 5/10)

Oh, and don't eat the Chinese food at the Hollywood & Dine. It's a $10 plate of poison!

The good:

  • Theming
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Soarin' over CA
  • Disney Animation
  • CA Screamin'
  • Toys and Merchandise (if only Disneyland had theme park toys such as this)
  • Variety of Food

The Bad:

  • Price of admission
  • Lack of things to do
  • Not much for kids to even do
  • Lack of character themed attractions
  • Shmoozies' Smoothie
  • Price for food

The Ugly:

  • Superstar Limo

David Yeh

Coheteboy@aol.com


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