Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Disney Coast to Coast

As I type this, I'm in a hotel room in Los Angeles overlooking the harbor, relaxing. Barb is at a conference, and I'm hanging out waiting for her to return, having tagged along for the ride. Yesterday, we woke up at 4:30AM, hopped a plane to L.A., rented a car, and headed to DisneyLand. We got there when it opened, and left when it closed, so we had a full day of Disney to enjoy before the conference got started.

Thanks to this, I have had the interesting opportunity to hit the Disney theme park presence on both coasts within a few months of each other. It's interesting to see the similarities and differences when they're both fresh in your mind. Some observations:
  • Pirates of the Caribbean is much better in Anaheim. Everything seemed to flow better, and there are two waterfall drops instead of only one. Plus, I like the boats floating by the entrance and being able to dine in the Blue Bayou Lagoon restaurant is a treat (the Mahi Mahi was one of the best meals I've had in a long time - wow).
  • Similarly, It's a Small World is better in Anaheim, too. The beautiful outdoor facade with the gardens is a lot more attractive than the boxed-in interior of the Orlando version.
  • Damn, Disneyland is small! Despite having pretty much the same roster of attractions, DisneyLand puts everything very close together. That may sound like a good thing, until you realize that stopping off at the locker isn't a huge trek.
  • In a similar vein, damn, the Disneyland castle is small! I mean, we were shocked at how small it was compared to the Orlando version. In fact, it's so small, you can walk right through it without realizing it.
  • There is an "up" side and a "down" side to Xmas theming. The good news is that not only was It's a Small World bearable with the mixed-in Christmas Carols, but the facade was really beautiful, to boot. The bad news is that the Haunted Mansion was closed in Anaheim (sob!) because they were tearing down the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay.
  • In both places, it's amazing to see the difference between going on-season and off-season. We're never going on-season again. We practically walked on to most of the rides we rode.
  • Disneyland doesn't control the experience of entering and exiting the park as well as Orlando, most likely because it is plopped down in the middle of a city. We had to drive by several unattractive barriers and down some rather confusing paths to get to where we were going in Anaheim, something that would never happen on the Orlando campus.
  • It's much better to fly in and let Disney pick you up. While we got to the park with no problem, the parking and walking was not fun. Despite there being hardly any people there, we ended up being directed to what was perhaps the absolute furthest parking area possible. Seriously, there were only four parking spots further away from the entrance. (I believe this is because they filled up the lot before opening the parking garage.)
  • The Space Ranger Spin / Astro Blasters ride was better in Anaheim, because you could remove the gun from the stand to aim where you wanted.
  • Orlando wins the fireworks prize. Anaheim was only running them on the weekends, much to poor Barb's disappointment.
  • Anaheim's line queues are very short in places. In fact, I was surprised at how short they were - some of them only loop back once or twice, making you wonder where they put all the people when the park is at high attendance.
  • The submarines are coming back to Anaheim! Yay! They're going to be re-themed with Finding Nemo, but who cares? The submarines are back!
  • Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (Anaheim) makes me happy. Who would have guessed Disney would put kids through a nightmare car ride that actually goes through hell, eh?
  • Toontown is surprisingly cool. I didn't think I'd care for it, but the dark ride they had in there was fun, the "training coaster" they have for kids was actually quite good, and there are a lot of funny details in the area, like a dynamite plunger sitting randomly in the street which, if you plunge it, sets off a bunch of fireworks noises and lights in the second story of a nearby building.
All in all, it was a fun visit. After going to Orlando with a crowd of ten people, it was really nice to go as just the two of us. While we had fun in both places, I never felt relaxed in Orlando, but at Anaheim, it was a liesurely day of fun. I'm glad I came.

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