Monday 1 August 2011

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What's New In Disney's California Adventure?

It's only been three months since we were in Disney's California Adventure last, but boy have they been busy.  There's been a whole bunch of new stuff open up, a couple of things that have closed, and the walls have moved from blocking the entrance to blocking the main path down the middle of the park.  I've been looking forward to getting out to the park to see all the changes for myself, and today was that day.  Here's what we found.

First, the new entrance to California Adventure is open.  It looks a lot different without the Golden Gate bridge over it, and I really miss having the giant California letters out front.  I suppose it's very neat and streamlined, but I don't know if that's what I'm looking for in a theme park entrance.  Apparently they're not finished with the changes though, so I'll withhold full judgement until later.  What I really wish they'd change are all the people taking surveys right after you come through the gate.  It seems that I have one of those "Why yes, I'd love to answer some questions" kind of faces.

The new roaming attraction for Disney's California Adventure is Phineas and Ferb Rockin' Rollin' Dance Party.  There's Phineas  and Ferb, a DJ, and a couple of Fireside Girls who make their way through California Adventure.  They stop at a few strategic points in the park (One is right outside the new Ariel ride, because there's just not enough people on that corner already.) and gather people to learn the dance moves to some songs from the TV series.  It's a lot of fun if you get into it, and yes, if you hang in there long enough, they do play Squirrels In My Pants.  Bravo to Disney for getting Phineas and Ferb into the park, and bonus points if the boys start showing up for photo ops (Can you imagine what kind of photo studio they could build?)

My son and I were having an argument today (On Facebook, of course.  Where else would you have a debate with your children?) as to whether or not I've ridden every ride in Disneyland and California Adventure.  The sticking point became the new Goofy's Sky School.  I haven't ridden Sky School, but I have ridden Mulholland Madness, and Sky School is the exact same ride with some new theming thrown in to polish it up.  It's still a wild mouse type of roller coaster with those really tight turns that thrill 6 year olds and terrify 36 year olds.  I'll grant you that the new theming really does look nicer, and anything has to be an improvement over the dreary Mulholland Madness.  I still say I've ridden it, but just to be sure I'll go back tomorrow and give it a whirl.

That leaves the big new attraction, Ariels Undersea Adventure.  I really wasn't sure what this was going to be like.  I remember all the excitement for Finding Nemo when it opened in Disneyland, and it just didn't live up to the hype in my opinion.  I knew that Ariel was going to be a dark ride along the lines of Monsters Inc. or Winnie the Pooh, and while I like both of those rides, neither of them really excite me.  I'm pleased to report that Ariel is far better than either of those two rides, and while it is still a "dark ride" it's far more interesting than any of its peers.  You will almost definitely have to ride this ride more than once, and probably more than a few times, to see everything that is going on. The animatronics are excellent, and the special effects really add some pop to the scenes.  The ride follows the story very loosely, and it's more like a journey through scenes in the movie and not an actual adventure with an objective, although that's a fairly minor complaint.  Disney also learned from some of it's past mistakes, and the ride has a steady stream of clamshells going through, allowing for a very high turnover of riders, which apparently Disney isn't used to yet.  We had three rides today, and upon entering the queue our quoted wait lengths were 40 minutes, 40 minutes, and 60 minutes.  The actual time to get through the line was 20 minutes, 21 minutes, and 30 minutes.  I suppose Disney is still figuring out how to quote times for the ride (which isn't included on the Fastpass system) and they will get it sorted out soon enough, but if you're there during the next couple of weeks I wouldn't let a long wait time scare you off. 

They've done a great job of adding to the park over the last three months, and there's plenty more new stuff coming to California Adventure over the next year.  I'm really looking forward to the opening of Cars Land next summer.  Of course then I really won't be able to claim that I've ridden everything in California Adventure, but don't worry, I won't drag you into that.  That's an argument for Facebook.