Well for an Orlando based organization we’re on the west coast this time around for our theme park review of the Disneyland Resort. Ok let’s get the formalities out of the way first, yes Disneyland is the ONLY Disney park that Walt Disney himself actually stepped foot in, however a park/resort can’t ride on just that one fact alone you need to peel back the layers to see what’s true at the hart of it all.
Let’s make this easy for all of us, here is a chart of Disneyland Resort rides vs there counterparts at Walt Disney World and vice versa, as you read the chart it’s scored as 3=great 2=ok 1=meh
What do we see? While Disneyland Resort puts up a good fight with its copies of Walt Disney World attractions in the end the original just comes up short. Now we’re not going to dwell on that score could be interpreted as a failure (48 to 53 is pretty damn close) were going to explain what came up short and what worked. Let’s break this down land by land (if applicable.)
Yes Disneyland has a Space Mountain like the Magic Kingdom, however it’s smaller, contains only one track (has cars or in this case rockets with 3 rows of 2 vs 6 rows of 1) and in fact it has to turn a corner twice on it initial accent on the ride. Those things right there sound like an inferior recipe for failure right there. But this is where it was all made up for, as the name of the ride is currently called Hyperspace Mountain, and is a tie in with yep Star Wars. Throughout the ride scenes from a galactic battle play in tune with your ride. While it does seem kinda redundant to have it right around the corner from the Star Tours ride itself (which at Walt Disney World is located 3 miles away from the Magic Kingdom at MGM (which would have made more sense to do something like that at WDW) it is a unique and impressive exclusive west coast attraction.
Disneyland Resort is short on space Walt Disney World is not, never is the more obvious than Big Thunder Mountain. The Disneyland version is a rectangle designed space where as the Magic Kingdom is a square designed space. For those of you who suck at math or flunked art class what does that all mean? It means Disneyland’s version has more straight a ways and small hills, while the Magic Kingdoms version has more fast tight turns and higher hill drops. Sure Disneyland has an improved end show in the mine, but the Magic Kingdom has an interactive cue line that was added during the rehab in 2012, where guests can trigger effects that are next to the ride track itself which underscores the interactivity of the whole experience itself.
Adventureland & New Orleans (Liberty Square:)
Yo ho ho ho a Pirates comparison for you. Ok let’s say it now in 1973 they more or less slapped the attraction in the park as guests were demanding it, while at Disneyland Walt Disney himself had a hand in designing the attraction. This is one of those times where ironically the park that’s always dealing with a lack of space, outshines the larger counterpart who ironically has a shorter ride (yeah who would have thought it.) The Disneyland version alone has 3 extra scenes before the first scene on the Magic Kingdom version, it’s also features two drops (one with a good bit of splash) vs just the solo one at the Magic Kingdom plus an additional scene at the end before you see Jack Sparow for the last time (however the Magic Kingdom had the superior final encounter with Jack Sparrow in his gold room where Disneyland looks like he was just crammed in there) end thought points goto Disneyland for this one.
Oh but you know that whole lack of space thing we keep bringing up? Sure Pirates might be the superior longer ride there but it comes back to bite them in the ass with The Haunted Mansion. While the Disneyland version opened first in 1969, the Magc Kingdom version opened with the park in 1971. Basically everything we said about Pirates is the exact oppose here. The Disneyland cue is actually the first two scenes of the Magic Kingdom ride, as is the exit post ride show which is the last one ride scene in Florida. Sure Disneyland got the hatbox ghost back (something the Magic Kingdom never had) but factor in the stairway scene with the ghostly foot prints is missing, there is no interactive cue, and the hitchhiking ghosts are the old peppers ghost technology, this time around point goes to the Magic Kingdom.
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride / Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
What Walt Disney World took away from us in 1994 and 1998, Disneyland gave us back in 2007 or one case it never left. We’re talking about Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage or as us east coast folk remember it 20,000 Leauges Under The Sea. Look we’re not going to name names as usual but 1994 and 1998 we’re also under the same era that was responsible for the 2004 version of The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror. Now to be fair yes the Magic Kingdom still has the Country Bears, and the People Mover attractions, both in Frontierland and Tomorrowland respectively. But its the lost of those two attractions listed that us at Generation X always remember fondly.
Let’s start with the Fantasyland classic, Mr. Toads’s Wild Ride. Who doesn’t remember getting on the dual tracked Magic Kingdom version in the 80s and being all freaked out or enjoying the hell out of this ride. While the Disneyland version is a smaller single track, its still close enough to the version we remember to bring back such nostalgia that we rode it 6 times during our 5 day visit (and 4 of those times we’re on one day!) Its so silly and off the wall (Mr. Toad actually goes to hell at one point, with what looks like devil Figments) it shows that when Walt Disney was running the studio while still family friendly the humor was more zany like Tex Avery cartoons, or the Looney Tunes. By today’s standards if Mr. Toad opened in 2015 vs 1995 it would seem like its a parody of dark rides at Disney parks. We took pictures of everything we could on this attraction, the building, the busts of the characters on the walls, the cars, the building, the sign, the waiting time sign (we figure if we blow it up and print it out life size can have our own version in our back yard) plus no matter how old you are, its still fun to sit on the ride and use the wheel to steer the car.
Moving on from Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, we’re going to walk past the Matterhorn and to the border of Fantasyland and Tomrrowland just under the monorail station and past the abandoned People Mover track (which right now has speakers on it blasting the Star Wars theme all through Tomorrow Land whether you like it or not) we see some yellow submarines (but no Beatles or singing Ringo.) Where have we seen this before you might ask? Simple the Magic Kingdom used to have this ride until suddenly closed in 1994 called 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Now while this ride is not the one we remember, it does have tight subs we’re used to, however the theme here is Nemo. Actually we’ve been on this ride in sense, but the east coast knows this themeing as The Seas With Nemo and Friends at Epcot, so instead of a sub underwater, your in a shell in an aquarium. While there is that sense of nostalgia going for this attraction, the Epcot version is the superior one taking advantage the fact its in a real sea life exhibit and can project its characters into the water with actually creatures.
Now it seems over the course of this review we’ve been harping on the small size of the parks. That’s not us being picky, that’s us being factual. The Disneyland Resort is 300 acres in size, wile Walt Disney World is 30,000 acres in size. Let’s put this into perspective, our favorite Walt Disney World park is Epcot, which itself is 300 acres in size. Blow are sat maps for both parks (from Bing) with each others outline superimposed over the other.
Notice the entire Disneyland Resort (Disneyland park, Disney California Adventure, Downtown Disney, and the parking structure) can more or less fit within the boundaries of Epcot.
Here we see however when putting Epcot within the boundaries of the Disneyland Resort, its a tight squeeze, and even then its spilling over into the surrounding public streets and the neighborhood in the southwest corner. When looking at comparison like this, we see why Disneyland could have its ground breaking on July 17th, 1954 and be opened on July 17th, 1955, while the expansive Epcot had its ground breaking on October 1st, 1979 and would not be opened until October 1st, 1982. This adds to the fact we did the Disneyland Resort 5 days in a row, and we weren’t tired at the end of the day or have hurting feet, as it was basically like doing Epcot 5 days in a row, as we’re used to the Future World/World Showcase walk, except until Epcot, DCA didn’t have a 1.2 mile walk around a lagoon.
Maps Courtesy of Bing
Look we haven’t even gotten through half that list, but we’re going to have to do something we’ve never done before and break this review into two parts (we we’re even going down going do. There is still a whole other park we have to review (Disney California Adventure) so check back here Friday February 19th, 2016 for our second part of the review as we wall the 100 feet across the way to DCA.
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