Luigi’s Flying Tires Closing at Disney California Adventure

As Disney announced today that Luigi’s Flying Tires will close on February 16, 2015 to make way for a new attraction opening in 2016, we thought it would be fun to look back at this Cars Land attraction that hasn’t exactly been the most popular with guests, but is an attraction that we’ve loved. We’ll start with some new commentary on the current attraction and some thoughts about the future, with our opening weekend photos below that.

Luigi’s Flying Tires is a ride in Cars Land that opened in June 2012 as part of Disney California Adventure 2.0 at Disneyland Resort. Even prior to the attraction opening, it was reportedly plagued with issues, from the last minute removal of a spin control to the last minute addition of beach balls to spice things up (later removed to reduce load/unload times) to additional guest instructions by Cast Members to explain how to operate the tires by shifting weight and leaning slightly to get the tire to change directions while still hovering. Despite all of these modifications, many guests have still had a difficult time getting their tires to hover, and have spent much of the attraction sitting in place.

We honed our strategy for Luigi’s Flying Tires early-on, and there was about a 1 minute learning curve on figuring out just how much to lean to achieve the best movement. We’ve had a blast with the attraction as a result, and have done it dozens of times over the last couple of years. This has been particularly true more recently, as waits have been non-existent because of other guests having a more difficult time operating tires and the attraction garnering poor word of mouth. (more…)

Legend of Mythica Tribute

Over the weekend, The Legend of Mythica concluded its long run at Tokyo DisneySea. Having been shown for 8 years, it far outlasted just about any other show at Tokyo Disney Resort, which typically swaps out its entertainment after a few years at most. It lasted this long for good reason: it was one of the best pieces of live entertainment ever produced by Disney. Well, at least that’s my opinion. The Legend of Mythica is slightly divisive, at its abstract storyline leads many guests, especially non-Japanese speakers, to say “HUH?!” after viewing it. (By the way, while you read this post and look at these photos, I encourage you to listen to the Legend of Mythica soundtrack on YouTube.)

For me, the greatness of the Legend of Mythica has little to do with my understanding of its plot, and everything to do with its beauty and pageantry. I don’t even begin to understand the story, although what I’ve read makes it sound fairly interesting. Per that page, and what I’ve managed to cobble together based on my viewings of the show in person, the premise involves the relation of the human and mythical worlds, and how we now live in harmony after years of conflict.

The Disney characters are essentially shoe-horned into the show, but in a very workable way, as they represent the spirit of various things (laughter, adventure, etc.) and help bridge the gap between mythical and human worlds. There are also four spirits that are portrayed as humans, and a lot of dancers and other performers. This water show probably had more performers than most Disney parades.

There are few experiences at Tokyo Disney Resort that are impacted by the language barrier, but this was definitely one of them. Or maybe it wasn’t at all. When I read the plot after having seen the show, I find myself saying, “oh yeah, that makes some sense, I guess,” but I wonder if the Japanese struggled with the premise of the show just as much, and by not understanding the language, I was free to ignore any semblance of a story and just focus on the beauty of the show.

It may seem like I’m really reaching here, but the story is the type of abstraction that reminds me a lot of Illuminations at Epcot. Both are spectaculars that are simply stunning, and feature deeper messages than the general “magic and happiness” found elsewhere in Disney productions. The overarching message of harmony found in Legend of Mythica works regardless of Disney characters or even the mythical element. Yet, both shows can be difficult to fully grasp unless you’re paying careful attention or have some background knowledge. I find that Illuminations is best enjoyed with knowledge of the high-level message to help inform as to why it’s so beautiful, but not going so far as to try to parse every little detail.

What’s truly special about the Legend of Mythica is the lavish fanfare, insane amount of detail, and high production values. The Legend of Mythica is essentially a parade (with show stops) on the water, yet the level of detail in it puts to shame any other parade or production of this sort (I’m not even sure what would qualify as “of this sort”) that I’ve ever seen.

Rather than trying to “explain” the Legend of Mythica (after conceding that I don’t really understand it!), I’ll just let the photos speak for themselves. (more…)

Mystic Manor Photo Tour & Review

Mystic Manor is the newest attraction at Hong Kong Disneyland, and one of Disney’s best-ever attractions anywhere in the world. This post takes a look inside Lord Henry Mystic’s manor, with photos, descriptions, and commentary along the way. As Mystic Manor itself is a Magneto-Electric Carriage tour of Lord Henry’s manor, consider this post the tour of the tour.

Since Mystic Manor is still less than a year old and probably hasn’t been experienced by many guests, a warning seems appropriate… WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS PHOTO AND PLOTLINE SPOILERS OF MYSTIC MANOR. If you have not yet experienced Mystic Manor, but plan to in the near future, we highly recommend clicking here to exit now. These photos and details cannot possibly do justice to the actual attraction experience, anyway.

If you only want to read the portion of this post that contains the photo-free and mostly spoiler-free review, click here.

With that said, let’s start the tour. Spoilers start below the jump… (more…)

50 Years of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room


Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room celebrates its 50th Anniversary at Disneyland today. In honor of this groundbreaking attraction (the first to utilize Audio-Animatronics), I though I’d share some of my favorite Tiki Room photos. This article includes photos from the Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Tokyo Disneyland versions of the attraction.

Although we’ve seen multiple versions of the Tiki Room, history isn’t the strong suit of this site, so I’ll leave that to the folks who can do it so much better. You can see historical photos and read information about the Tiki Room herehere, here, here, here, and here. Some pretty cool stuff on those sites, so check them out.

Instead, here are some of my personal thoughts and experiences with the Tiki Room. I grew up with the Tiki Room at Walt Disney World, mostly before New Management took over. My parents enjoyed the classic Audio-Animatronics driven attractions, so Carousel of Progress, Country Bear Jamboree, and Tiki Room were all frequent stops for us. I always enjoyed the show as a child, but honestly, it never made as much as an impression on me as Carousel of Progress or Country Bear Jamboree. To this day, it still pales in comparison to both of those shows for me, although I do enjoy it.

Under New Management came onto the scene in the mid-1990s, and it wasn’t exactly well received. Although I was far from a fan, I don’t think it was as awful as some people made it out to be. It was ambitious, but it did fall flat on its face in terms of execution. Still, I’ll take an ambitious failure over some simple “spinner” any day of the week. I was glad to see a variant of the original return in 2011 after a fire in the Under New Management version. The original, which plays in Disneyland, is my favorite version, but Walt Disney World’s version is substantially similar, and I enjoy both.

Tokyo Disneyland’s “The Enchanted Tiki Room: Stitch Presents Aloha E Komo Mai!” is probably the most interesting of the bunch. It combines two things that history would inform us are a recipe for disaster: a modernized Tiki Room and a Stitch Audio-Animatronics figure in an “in the round” setting. After all, Under New Management was a dud and Stitch’s Great Escape is a dud. Yet, somehow, The Enchanted Tiki Room: Stitch Presents Aloha E Komo Mai! isn’t awful. I actually enjoy it, mostly for Stitch and his ukulele-playing at the end (I could do without the “Prankster Stitch” elements). It’s not as good as the original, but it’s unique, and it’s nice to have variations in the attractions from park to park.  (more…)

Phantom Manor Photo Tour & Review

Phantom Manor is a ride in Disneyland Paris’ Frontierland that is essentially their take on the Haunted Mansion attractions found at Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Tokyo Disneyland. (Hong Kong Disneyland has Mystic Manor, which shares some bloodlines with Haunted Mansion, as well.) Phantom Manor has a story that is quite different than Haunted Mansion, but the story takes place in many scenes that are also found in the Haunted Mansion. The Stretching Room is there, the Seance Room, and the Ballroom, among other places.

Phantom Manor was our favorite attraction in Disneyland Paris (with Frontierland being our favorite land), so we experienced this attraction a lot, giving me plenty of chances to photograph it. I’ve noticed that it’s probably the Disneyland Paris attraction about which most Disney fans are curious, so I thought I’d throw together a blog post with a photo “ride-through” of sorts. I’ve already shared my Phantom Manor review and a bit of background in our trip report, so it won’t cover everything.

Here’s just enough backstory so that you can understand what’s going on in the photos below: Phantom Manor was built on Boot Hill by Henry Ravenswood after he struck gold (and became rich) in Big Thunder Mountain and founded the Thunder Mesa Mining Company, which was a boom for Thunder Mesa (Frontierland). His daughter was Melanie Ravenswood; she’s the Bride in Phantom Manor. The ground was supposedly haunted and Ravenswood was warned not to build there, but he did anyway, and was killed in an earthquake caused by evil forces. Or something.

On Melanie’s wedding day, an evil Phantom appeared at the manor and hanged her husband-to-be (you can see both in the Stretching Room when the ceiling is illuminated). The Bride, unaware of this, went about the wedding day as normal, waiting for him. She continued to wait, thinking he’d show up eventually. As she grew old waiting, the Phantom invited his dead buddies into the Manor to party. And that’s what guests see… (more…)