Part IV: Coast-to-Coast Disney Trip Report
The next morning, we called Henry and told him of our intention of doing an Ultimate Touring Plan (or at least a half day of one). We really didn’t want to adhere to the breakneck pace of one of the plans the entire day, so we figured doing it until we had a late-lunch would be a good option.
Well, apparently when you do an Ultimate Touring Plan, you need to be at the rope, waiting for it to drop before anyone else. We didn’t mosey our way onto Main Street until 10 minutes before rope drop, and as such, we were pretty far back in the crowd.
On top of that, as we did rush our way to Fantasyland, I decided to make a couple of “quick” stops for photos. I don’t think Henry and Sarah were amused by this, as it pretty much crippled our changes of doing Peter Pan’s Flight while it was still a walk-on. Instead of building a second Dumbo, maybe they need to build a second Flight for Pan!
In lieu of PPF, we hit Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. In our last trip report, I really lambasted this attraction, but I think it’s slowly growing on me. I’m sort of torn, actually. the facade of the building is beautiful, the ride vehicles are really cool, and the story of the attraction is unique, but the execution is sub-par, and that’s putting it lightly. The substance of the attraction is moving cut outs. That’s it. I am not one who demands cutting edge technology in every new attraction. In fact, I think the tech-first, story later approach often actually works to the detriment of attractions. However, that works in the other direction, too. Toad is dated to the point that it detracts from the story. In my mind, it’s the antithesis of “Disney Details” we all foam over.
Although the ride has grown on me since the first time we rode it together last August (after exiting, I asked: “That’s the attraction so many Walt Disney World fans mourn so loudly? That sucked!” (I do realize the WDW version was quite different, but certainly not different-enough to be so highly regarded in retrospect)), I still think it’s an example of an attraction that is overrated because of the nostalgia people hold for the attraction. Nostalgia for treasured and departed high quality attractions, like Journey into Imagination and the other rich and lengthy EPCOT Center omnimovers, is one thing. Nostalgia for cheaply constructed or state fair caliber productions is another. At least to the extent that we expect said nostalgia to be enough to keep the attraction in the ever-changing and progressing theme parks.
Still, Toad is an undeniable classic, and a ride that would never be built today. I love a good irreverent attraction, and what’s more irreverent than a bartender and hell in Fantasyland?! Isn’t that worth something? I think so, and maybe the compromise here is taking Toad under the knife and giving it the kind of plussing Disneyland’s Snow White recently received: some new effects, new details, and some TLC. I’m not talking about totally re-imagineering the attraction, or adding ridiculous touch-screens, but just doing a few little things. I really think they might go a long way.
After Toad, we quickly rolled on to Alice in Wonderland. It may utilize little technical advances over Toad, but for whatever reason, I think Alice in Wonderland is far superior. It seems most of the scenes have more depth, and this makes a huge difference to me. It could all be in my head, but I definitely prefer it, and I’m far from a fan of Alice in Wonderland. One thing I didn’t even realize about this attraction until Henry pointed it out was the concrete added to the outside area recently due to safety issues. I found some photos online upon returning, and I must say, this area of the attraction definitely looked far better before the concrete!
Next up was the Matterhorn. This attraction is just plain good fun. When thinking about it, then thinking about Expedition Everest, I often wonder why Disney didn’t just bring the Matterhorn to Animal Kingdom, add a highly themed queue, and area where the ride slows down, and a couple of projections and used the rest of the money to fix other problems in AK. That park is in desperate need of additional attractions, and yet WDI spent tens of millions of dollars on an AA yeti figure that, even if it worked, would only be seen for a few seconds. That money would have been better spent elsewhere. Maybe I’m just saying this because I find the Matterhorn extremely enjoyable, but it’s one instance where I think low-tech works just fine (and would have worked at Animal Kingdom with a few modernizations to differentiate the attractions).
Setting up for the shot, taking the shot, and the shot itself. The photo capturing the ball spinning was too blown to use, unfortunately.
It was fast approaching 10 am, so we grabbed some Space Mountain FastPasses for later so we could get over to DCA in time for its opening. Disneyland was already getting crowded, so we decided to just cut our losses there.
Even though we got there right at opening, we decided to get some food before doing anything else. Probably not the most logical use of touring time, but we (and by we I mean Sarah and Henry) were hungry. I was fine with this decision, because I had discovered that I was “in the zone” with my photography earlier that morning, so I was looking forward to the opportunity to grabbing some shots before I left the zone and started taking a bunch of crappy photos.
Since I knew I had some time before we’d be riding any attractions, I got out my infrared camera and carried it in my other hand. With a camera in each hand, I could feel some stares from people who wondered what I was doing. Usually I only get these looks with one of my larger lenses mounted, but I guess using two DSLRs raises the question, “is he photographing someone famous?!” too. How sad they would be if they realized I was just photographing palm trees and stuff!
Obviously, since I had a camera in each hand, I took a lot of similar shots with each of the cameras. Each, however, do have subtle differences that you can spot.
There are multiple pages in this Disneyland trip report installment. Navigate to the next page below!
Yes, the old Mine Train ride was great. But my Mom used to always want to ride the burros thru it, but Dad wanted to ride the train, so we often did it twice. There are several remnants of the ride around, two tunnels, and they re-used a number of the animals etc.
I honestly think Mine Train was better than Big Thunder. Mind you, nearly every other update has been for the better, so….
When I was in DL last April there was discussion about updating the cars on the Matterhorn. It would have two single seats, opposed to the large open space it had (which was awkward).
Did they install the new cars, or are they still using the old ones?
They’re still using the old cars, but last week Al Lutz said they’d be doing the update during the Matterhorn’s long refurbishment this year.
Tom, re the Toy Story “claymatian-type thing”, is this the sort of thing you saw?
They had this zoetrope at an exhibition in London a few years back and I could have watched it for hours!
Yes! It is amazing!
Awesome trip report and pictures as always. You have inspired my wife and I to take the plunge and get our first DSLR camera and hopefully try to take some pictures half as good as yours : )
If you’re in the market for a DSLR, check out my buying guide: https://www.disneytouristblog.com/featured-post/disneyland-walt-disney-world-tom-bricker-photo-gear-advice/
Good luck with photography, it’s a great hobby!
My wife and I ended up getting a Sony DSLRA390L 14.2 MP Digital Camera with the standard 18-55mm lens and 55-200mm zoom lens bundle and so far couldn’t be happier with that camera.I wish I had gotten into the DSLR cameras years ago, better late then never lol, now its time to experiment and have fun.
Great trip write up! Always like reading your trip reports….this time made my husband read along with me about your and Sarah’s coast to coast trip 🙂
I hope you both enjoyed it!!!
LONG LIVE THE HEIMLICH A CHEW-CHEW.
While its not the most exciting ride, I’m going to have to side with Henry for the Chew Chew train’s whimsy. Plus, that animal cracker smell makes me hungry every time!
Well…you both are wrong! 😉
I cannot believe how many people agree with you.
I found your blog from your posts on MiceChat and am really enjoying your trip-report. I grew up in SoCal and have spent a lot of time at Disneyland. My husband and I recently relocated to Portland, OR for his work and we’ve been missing Disneyland quite a bit. Your beautiful photos and wonderful descriptions have me feeling like I’m standing in the hub on a sunny day, instead of sitting at my desk in rainy Oregon! 🙂 Thanks for the time and great detail you have put in, I’ll definitely be back for more!
PS The super cool spiny Toy Story thing in the Animation building is called a zoetrope! It’s one of my favorite things in that building too!
Yet another great write-up! Your epic trip reports and incredible detail always give me the feeling “I’ve been there before,” when in reality I’ve never set foot in California.
We will be visiting DL in August. For our first visit, do you think 3 days will be enough time to see the best of DL? My wife normally skips “spinny” rides, but I plan to use these playful pictures of the Silly Symphony Swings to convince her this ride is a must-do.
Keep ’em coming Tom!