Thursday, June 2, 2011

Adventure Wednesday in a mermaid lagoon

Before we begin, a disclaimer.  This Adventure Thursday entry will either:
  • Bore you, because you don't like amusement parks
  • Bore you, because you like amusement parks so much that you have already seen all of this
  • Delight you.

So respectively... I'm sorry, I'm sorry, and you're welcome!

When I first met my partner in crime, he had been to Disneyland all of twice in his lifetime.  I had my third consecutive Annual Pass, following many years of avid Disney enjoyment.  A fan? Please.  My first movie in a theater was Cinderella.  I scribbled "R.H. + MM" in pencil on my closet door as a child, in order to reenact my scenes with the most dashing of British foxes.  (Actual foxes.  Though Robin was certainly a foxy fox.)  That scribble is still there.  Maybe I can convince my dad to take a picture of it.

Anyway, to convince Tom to join me at Disneyland, I told him all of the stories about growing up with a Michigan family who drove to the park in Florida at every chance we got.  Which was, well, probably once every two or three years.  I have vivid memories of sleeping in cars during my parents' overnight driving sprints, crossing the border in the wee hours of the morning and sipping from little cups of orange juice, spying the first attraction billboards, and the feelings of anticipation that bubbled up so fiercely that they practically coated my tongue.  And when I moved to Los Angeles, I had my first Annual Pass within a week of paying my apartment deposit.  So of course, Tom joined me for a trip to the park... and eventually became a fan in his own right. Such that he requested a trip in celebration of his birthday.

Since our poor-man's-passes block us out for the summer (plus weekends and all holidays), yesterday was the last chance we had to visit before, say, September.  We were excited to find out that several of the new summer offerings were open for our enjoyment, so today's Adventure post will cover the exciting and new at the Happiest Place on Earth (TM).

When we first arrived, we headed straight for California Adventure.

Paradise Pier looks so much nicer than before.

If you know much about Disneyland, you might think that this is weird.  DCA started out miserably, with one or two quality rides, a bunch of painful puns, a whole lot of cement and a significant lack of shade.  It's grown marginally since then, but only in recent years has management admitted that it needed significant reworking.  Off-the-shelf carnival rides and tacky themeless designs are being ditched, replaced with brand new rides and immersive themed architecture - all vintage-styled.  

Vintage-styled? Yes, please!
Concept art by Disney

The "Buena Vista Street" front area of the park will suggest Los Angeles around the time of Walt's arrival.
Concept art by Disney

Complete with transportation - Redcars, the long-gone LA trolleys!
Concept art by Disney

And we're starting to see the updates.  None of the Buena Vista Street stuff is ready, but the Paradise Pier is updated, and they're about to open a brand new ride with a very long name... The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure.

When the sardines begin the beguine, it's music to me!

Because we are passholders, we were able to sneak a peek before it officially opens tomorrow.

Even the ground is well-themed. I love me some mosaic.

Photo-taking on rides is extremely frowned upon, but I couldn't resist
snapping this shot of my favorite room.  If you want to see more,
you'll have to come visit us and hop on the ride.

It was great!  A far better dark ride than most, in terms of dimension and detail.  Storytelling is hard when you're trying to distill 80 minutes into 4.  This is why I think the non-movie dark rides (Mansion and Pirates) are superior.  Pan's still my favorite, though.  Can't beat soaring past the twinkling lights of London at night, or through the twinkling stars surrounding Neverland.

We were happy to see that they're making good progress on the next new area, Cars Land.

But somehow, the simplest things at the park give us the most joy.
These ducklings were can-do ducklings. Watching them swim was a kick.

Next we enjoyed some lunch (soup and sandwiches) and headed over to the Animation lobby, where they had a new version of the art montage.  Honestly, I think it's is one of my favorite places at Disneyland.  When I had just moved to Los Angeles, I was single and didn't have a lot of friends... so after a bad day, I'd sit in the Animation lobby and watch the art montage for a long stretch of time. It would always make me feel better.  (Now, apparently, it makes me cry, thanks to the inclusion of a side-by-side comparison of storyboard and footage from that incredibly beautiful montage at the beginning of Up.)

I convinced Tom to join me in my other favorite activity there, the Animation Academy.
This is the last time that my Pooh will be a topic of conversation.

From there, Tom wanted to head into the real Disneyland.  So we stopped at Town Hall for his celebratory birthday pin.

If you look closely you'll see that his pin says "39" -
They were surprised he shared his age!

We had heard all kinds of good things about the new parade, so we found a perfect shutterbug seat on the curb.

Mary Poppins on her free-standing carousel horse was by far my favorite.

We tried to check out the brand new version of Star Tours, with its practically-infinite story options, but they were only letting contest winners on the ride.  We'll have to check it out in autumn.

Inspired by all of the new things we'd seen at the park, the birthday boy asked to visit Pirate's Lair, which I hadn't visited since it was Tom Sawyer Island, and Tom had never visited at all.

While there, we paid tribute to the late great Eliza Hodgkins.

And caught the sleepies from a Canada Gosling.

According to my LiveStrong loop, we walked 3.5 miles and burned ~500 calories.

All in all, it was a beautiful day.

Until tomorrow - take care of you!


  1. We visited WDW in March for our 10th Anniversary. I've never had so much fun getting so much exercise in my life! :)

  2. Yay, I'm so glad you got to do some Disney before you're BANNED for the summer. Got to get me one of those Carousel Horse bicycles. Will they sell them at the Emporium, do you think? And aren't the animatronic Prince Erics just dreamy? I don't think I've ever swooned for a Disneyland robot before! Love all the costumes in the new parade. How come no walk to check out the new stuff at the Disneyland Hotel? Could have been 150 more calories gone! (I admit to being bummed that a day of walking around the resort burns only 500 calories - my illusions are shattered.)

  3. What a wonderful adventure.
    Thankws for previewing the New stuff at Disneyland. Makes me want to come back real soon. Scriblings on the closet door? Guess I will have to look. Happy early birthday

  4. Yay! I love all the new stuff :) I'm so glad you got to see it before the summer blockout! <3

  5. Ooh! I cannot wait for the Little Mermaid ride! I'm guessing it will be a reasonable replacement for the submarine ride which, I hear, Disney has 86'd...unless I'm wrong? The last time I was at D-land (which was, admittedly, over 3 years ago), they'd shut down the submarine ride and I heard they were replacing it with something else. ...Ah well.

    I grew up in the southernmost part of central Cali, and when I was a kid, my mom often made the 3.5 hour trip down to Disneyland. I've always loved Disneyland, especially the park's magical attention to detail. As a high school graduation present, my mom sent me to Disneyworld in Florida (with my younger bro - ach! - but I wouldn't have gotten to go if I didn't take him). I hate to say so to someone who grew up experiencing Disneyworld, but in comparison to Cali's Disneyland, the Florida park paled by comparison. I just didn't detect that magical attention to detail. It was still fun, but I actually preferred spending time at Epcot Center.

    The first time I visited the California Adventure park was in 2006, when a friend and I went to Bats Day weekend at Disneyland (goth weekend at D-land...yeah). I loved the old-timey amusement park feel of the rides at CA Adventure, and I'm glad to hear they're expanding the park. Hopefully I'll get back there in the near future and see what else they've added.