Review: Epcot Flower & Garden 2017

Once again spring is in the air. And that means it’s time to head to Epcot for yet another flower and Garden Festival. This year creativity seem to return to the park, as in past years it seemed like a rerun of the 2014 festival. Yes we know not everybody lives 30 minutes from the park but also it did seem as if they forgot to plan for the festivals the past two years. Could it be the expansion of Pandora, Star Wars land, toy story land made them relegate this to the back burner, we don’t know? Oh he will say is that this is one of the better festivals in a long time with the colorful colorful colorful topiaries and the outdoor kitchens featuring fantastic treats.

On a scale of 1.0 to 5. a 5.0 out of 5.9

Review: Soarin Around the World at Epcot

We first rode Soarin back when it was the new ride in 2005. We also written it at DU CA, and saw a preview of what it will look like with 4K. So now it’s time to return to Epcot and witness Soarin around the World. Ever since say around 2010 rumors have started swirl that this ride will be updated to have more with the world showcase countries in Epcot versus a California only ride. Well finally in January 2016 the ride to close refurbishment in that time a third theater was also added. So the big question is Patrick Warburton still the host of the ride, the answer is yes. Well the original had breath taking scenes set to music with fast cuts,  this version of the ride incorporates more of a fluid story and has seamless transitions from one scene to the next this just like the new test track is a major improvement over the original ride. Wow the original was good with it being only California and that being all but meet at Epcot it did seem time to tighten world showcase this is how you do a re-Ferb right.

On a scale of 1.0 5.9 it got a 5.9 out of 5.9

Review: Epcot Flower & Garden Festival 2016

Ahhh  Spring in Orlando Florida and that means one thing it’s time for the international Epcot food and wi….. Er um flower and Garden Festival.   

But let’s start off with the reason why this thing is like the food and wine festival. The outdoor kitchen’s scattered around world showcase. Actually they’re the same booths from food and wine but selling different spring time fresh varieties. Seen above is the delicious candy and strawberries sold in the China pavilion in world showcase. This is one of a dozen or so booths it also include the spiced rum dole whip and delicious pork sliders of barbecue persuasion in the America pavilion.

  

China’s not alone with their candied strawberries Japan sells Fruitshi yes it’s exactly what it sounds like fruit sushi. It’s something that cannot be missed a delicious highlight every year.

  

Of course it’s not all about stuffing your face the real attractions are the topiaries and the beautiful flowers that it’s scattered all around both future world and world showcase at Epcot. Well 2015 seemed kind a like a bust and a rehash of 2014 2016 is back in full force and this is the flower and Garden Festival we’re used to. The exhibits are getting more interactive and passholders have a special place to go this year to get to get a special gift each month of the flower garden festival (March April and May) which is a drawing of one of the classic characters in flowering garden motif. In addition as we having said that word many times before joining Baymax at Epcot in April 2016 the Joy and Sadness characters from Inside Out arrive in future world.

  

On a scale of 1.0 to 5.9 it got a 5.6 out of 5.9

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Review: Disneyland Resort Part 2

We’re not done yet, we still got another park to talk about.

Disney California Adventure

  
While we’ve been more or less in Disneyland vs Magic Kingdom mode, lets do that quick trek over Disney California Adventure. Currently the exclusive home to Oswald the Lucky rabbit and California Screamin.

  
We we’re lucky to visit the park on February 8th, 2016 which happened to be the 15th anniversary of the park (this it the 3rd time we’ve been to a Disney park on its 15th anniversary, first was Magic Kingdom in 1986, then Animal Kingdom on April 22nd, 2013, and now DCA.) Honestly we enjoyed this park more than Disneyland, maybe because it was built in 2001 and has the bells and whistles we’re used to back east (actually has a MGM feel to it, with wide streets, better designed cue lines like Epcot, MGM, and Animal Kingdom.) In fact MGM West could be the way to view DCA (well without Star Wars Land.) While we did fault Soarin’ for not being opened 7 days a week, when we we’re at DCA on Friday February 12th, we totally felt it was running on all cylinders that it could totally work at Walt Disney World park (note the powers that be please don’t turn MGM into Disney Florida Adventure, aside from people who would confuse it for Islands of Adventure and ask “Hey where’s Harry Potter?” you could also have wise asses calling a Disney Florida Adventure park, “Dah-Fah” for short.)

The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror


Sigh, there is a certain era in the Disney time frame when well we won’t name names here but it’s obvious they were loosing there touch, case in point the Disney California Adventure version of The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror. Seriously what the hell happened? This opened 10 yeas after the MGM version (1994 vs 2004.) There is no fifth demention sequence (a hallmark of the Twilight Zone series opening) add to that no randomized drop sequence, not falling faster than gravity, and no separate load and unload stations, when you’ve rode the original version, this feels like a watered down imitator.

Soarin’ Over California


We just call it Soarin’ and at Walt Disney World they downplay the California aspect of it (even editing out Patrick Warburton saying “over California” in ride preshow) however we’re not going to bash it for that. However we are going to bash it for only being opened Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays during the off peak times of the year. Seriously why would an E-Ticket attraction EVER be closed 4 days of the week? Maybe we’re just used to Epcot where this ride at minimum has a wait time of no less then 60 minutes every damn day of the year (yes WDW was guilty of season operations of some its attractions like Carousel of Progress, or the Wonders of Life Pavilion back a during certain era, however the former one is now open every day of the year, the later one now rehabbed into the seasonal Festival Center.) 

  
However with the DCA version we have seen the future of the Epcot version once its rehab is complete with a digital projection. Yes we know this film is from 2001, but with a digital projection it looked so bright, so crisp, so clean, it was better then the first time time we rode the Epcot version back when it opened in 2005.

Cars Land (Radiator Springs Racers):

  
We said DCA is the park with all the new bells and whistles, and Cars Land is one of them. It was based on the 2006 movie Cars (which we’ll get around to reviewing one day) set along the now Historic Route 66. Sure we liked Cars 2 better then the first one we were impressed with the themeing, and the life size meet and greet characters, of Lightning McQueen, Tow Mater, and Red the Firetruck (Red now holds the record for largest sized character we’ve ever met, and yes we’ve met both Ralph and Baymax.) 

  
The highlight of the land is the Radiator Springs Racers ride, which is designed with the same technology as Test Track at Epcot. However while Test Track (specifically the new one) is more like Tron & Tron Legacy in its design and execution with its high speed, Radiator Springs Racers is more of a recap of the first Cars movie with plenty of Cars animatonics. We will give marks for there being two different version of the ride at one point whether you go left or right. However we’re going to complain about the race at the end, it clearly felt much slower then the 65 MPH of Test Track, and left it feeling like a water downed ride compared its east coast inspired counter part.

World of Color:

  

Hands down and bar none the best nighttime show at the Disneyland resort. If you been to MGM you might know that Fantasmic uses water affects to show clips of movies. Take that element of Fantasmic and amplify it into the entire show using a ferris wheel and add a roller coaster as a way of displaying video and sound beats in addition to the water. Moreover take the showing to the fourth dimension with fire effects on the water and smoke and fog effects in the grandstand itself. You get a surefire winner that feels like a Walt Disney World style nighttime presentation. In fact we could totally see this kind of show at Epcot in the world showcase lagoon.
  

Wrapping up what is our final verdict on the Disneyland resort. Well since we are based in Orlando Florida and we have Walt Disney World in our backyard and the fact where passholders to Walt Disney World we would say only see Disneyland resort if you’re a hard-core Disney fan and you must do it otherwise we would recommend save your money especially if your a season pass holder at Walt Disney World or have easy access to WDW by travel, because you’re used to a higher caliber of parks. While DCA is a very nice park and Disneyland is always the original WDW is a Porsche while the Disneyland resort is a fully loaded Chevy.

 
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Review: Disneyland Resort Part 1

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.)

Tomorrowland:

 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.

Frontierland:


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.

EpcotDLRcompare.jpg

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.

DLREpcotcompare.jpg

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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Review: Captain EO at Epcot (1986-1994/2010-2015)

Usually when one of our favorite attractions at the theme parks goes away that’s it and it never comes back. However this is the only attraction that ever got a second run at Walt Disney World more specifically Epcot. So how can we summarize this film (yes we are fully aware it only runs 17 minutes but it’s still a movie) The easiest way is think of Thriller meets Star Wars, actually don’t just think it, believe it, because really it is Thriller meets Star Wars. It’s shooting production happened in 1986, Star Wars (actually Return of the Jedi) and Thriller came out only one year apart which other in 1983 and 1982 respectively. Yes the plot is cheesy and hackneyed they have to go to an alien planet to give the supreme leader “a gift.” The “alien characters” look like background people from the bar scene in the original Star Wars and honestly the gift is just excuse for Michael Jackson to sing and dance which is what were all there to see anyway. So why do we give this film such high marks? Honestly it was the pioneer of the 4-D effect shows that you see today plus with it being produced in 1986 there was no CGI in fact at one point you can see the handle that’s working one of the pockets but to us it makes it more real your brain is going “Oh my God something real! It’s not fake tacky CGI!” We’re very happy that this came back in 2010 we weren’t fans of honey I shrunk the audience, in fact we hated that attraction with a passion. We don’t want to see this go but we know eventually everything has to end but for something produced in the mid 80s the fact that it still holds up, and is still entertaining, is what makes this a winner in our book.

Captain EO Trailer (Walt Disney Productions/1986)

On a scale of 1.0 to 5.9 it got a 5.9 out of 5.9

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Review : Escape From Tomorrow (2013/NR)

With today’s technology you can pretty much do anything on your iPhone (hell we run a damn website/blog/Facebook page on our phone) however we’re going to award this movie points just for sheer creativity is that it was primarily shot with handheld cameras and scripted on iPhones and on top of that shot in the Walt Disney World resort complex without the permission of the park. The film is far from perfect the stories hackneyed there’s a kid or you want to punch the face but as were based in Orlando, Florida we found it fascinating to see where this was shot on property (and vain enough to see if we were walking around in the background) if you’re looking for high art this movie doesn’t have it, more of a low-budget cheaply made David Lynch project but if you want to see it for sure merit on what was it did and how was done then we recommend giving in a view on Netflix.

Escape from Tomorrow Trailer (Producers Distribution Agency/2013)
On a scale of 1.0 to 5.9 it got a 3.8 out of 5.9

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