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Disneyland Resort: 10 - 20 April 2008

Author Topic: Disneyland Resort: 10 - 20 April 2008  (Read 8601 times)

Kristof

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Disneyland Resort: 10 - 20 April 2008
« on: April 28, 2008, 11:42:39 AM »
10 April 2008

After months of planning and waiting has the big day arrived.  We left Belgium early in the morning to Newark Liberty Airport in New York.  There we had to queue for almost 1.5 hours just for the borders and customs procedures, but the great view on the New York skyline as seen from the terminal made up for that.  When taking off to LAX, our pilot flew over the one and only Statue of Liberty which appeared as tiny as a Lego toy from above.  



We arrived at LAX where our two good friends Keith and Francisco picked us up in a real American Dodge rental car.  Disneyland Park was open until 11pm, so we decided to go straight to there as there were only a few hours left.  Indiana Jones Adventure would be our very first attraction here, but when we crossed the turnstiles in Main Street, U.S.A. we noticed how busy it was!  A waiting time of 55 minutes was announced at the attraction, so we decided to walk around and look for a less busy ride.  This proved to be hard as almost every attraction had a waiting time of around an hour... on a Thursday... at 9pm...  The Haunted Mansion however was a walk on, something that would remain throughout our stay, so this would be our first attraction in the Californian resort.  The outside building looks great, and much better than the building in Orlando.  However its location, right next to Splash Mountain makes it look a bit silly, a few more trees between the two attractions would make it look better.  The actual ride is a far improvement on the Orlando version which we did 2 years ago (that was before its refurb).  The pre-show was respected, unlike in Orlando where everyone was pushed in the elevator as soon as possible.
The attraction, which was refurbished a few years ago with new additions, was a great experience.  However, the floating Leota scene looked a bit ridiculous because the wires were clearly visible.  The newly added "attic scene" is eerie and well themed, with the exception of the bride, an animatronic with the projection of an actress, looked too flat.

We headed over to Fantasyland, without much paying attention to our surroundings.  Too dark and too much people in the way.  We ended up at Alice in Wonderland, a great ride that includes projections, classic dark ride elements and an outdoor track.  A large number of the animatronics used in the ride are the same used in our Labyrint.  It was also good to see how well maintained everything was.  

Remember... dreams come true, the nightly fireworks display at Disneyland Park was about to start, so we hopped to Main Street to find a good spot to tape it.  However, this was the occasion for us to meet the most unfriendly Cast Members we've ever encountered.  A large chunk on the hub and throughout Main Street were roped off where no one was allowed to stand still, not for a picture, not to find someone or any other reason.  If you did, a Cast Member would send you away, but unfortunately, not every CM was as Disney-minded in doing so.  I've heard several of them *scream* and *yell* things like: "Didn't I just say you have to keep moving".  Even during the fireworks, once in a while a screaming voice would tower over the soundtrack.  Welcome to the happiest place on earth?!  

The fireworks display itself was amazing.  It combined large and small fireworks shells, simple projections on both the Castle and the Matterhorn and an amazing Tinker Bell flying over the Castle.  It was the most magical fireworks we'd ever seen.  

[dailymotion:2sinmmzx]x58gqx[/dailymotion:2sinmmzx]

After the fireworks we were fed up with the crowds so we checked in at Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel, located across Disney's California Adventure Park.  When we checked in, the Cast Member at the reception noticed that we were from DLRP so she offered us a room higher in the hotel for a better view over DCA!  A great start of the wonderful service in the hotel.  Arriving in our room we were amazed by the great view we had on the 12th floor!  Most lights of the attractions remained on after park closure, so we left open the curtains when taking our well deserved sleep after a long flight...



To be continued...
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by Guest »

davewasbaloo

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Re: Disneyland Resort: 10 - 20 April 2008
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2008, 01:17:20 PM »
Great report, looking forward to reading more. As you know, I adore DL, hold the MK in contempt, and ride with the rough and the smooth with DLP.  I look forward to hearing a European fan's perspective of my 1st love. (and speaking of such things as love, congratulations!!!!).

Remember is an awesome fireworks display, my favorite world wide.  And the maintenance at DL is awesome.  As for the cast members, some can be less than magical, but overall I find I have much better cast and guest encounters in DL than any other Disney park.

Glad you enjoyed PP.  I keep thinking of going, but we get drawn back to the Grand again and again.  Look forward to hearing the rest. Also, when you finish, I would love to hear your favs at DL vs. WDW vs. DLP.  I think that can make for a very interesting debate.
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dagobert

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Re: Disneyland Resort: 10 - 20 April 2008
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2008, 03:10:04 PM »
Great trip report raptor.

I hope it was not too bad to get into the country and that the officers at the boarder treated you nicer than us last year.

Can't wait to read and see more.
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The Butlin Boy

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Re: Disneyland Resort: 10 - 20 April 2008
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2008, 08:10:38 PM »
Fantastic beginning to the trip report Raptor, can't wait for the rest of it :)
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Soap

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Re: Disneyland Resort: 10 - 20 April 2008
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2008, 08:35:39 AM »
Great first part Kristoff!! And i think that there is much more to come ;)
Stunning view by the way..... :shock:
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Riebi

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Re: Disneyland Resort: 10 - 20 April 2008
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2008, 08:47:51 PM »
Woooopieeeedooooooo thanks for the great trip report! The fireworks are amazing!!! Love it!
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Javey74

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Re: Disneyland Resort: 10 - 20 April 2008
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2008, 10:48:27 PM »
Thanks Raptor,  for sending that brilliant report :wink:  I look forward to reading the rest.  :D  

Fantastic fireworks display I must say... :D I also love the night shot across the park  :D/
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Kristof

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Re: Disneyland Resort: 10 - 20 April 2008
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2008, 04:03:50 PM »
11 April 2008

Day two of our Californian Adventure.  Our plan is to go to Hollywood today with our friends.  They were going to pick us up at the hotel, but we got up a bit too early (our bio-clock was still a bit upset) so we decided to walk to Downtown Disney for a bit of exploration.  The walk from Paradise Pier Hotel to the entertainment district is pretty short.  We only had to cross over a road and we were already on the backside of the AMC Theatre.  

The overall design of Downtown Disney is a much improvement over Disney Village in Paris, with not just more buildings, but also a more classic, timeless style.   (Very similar to "our" Imax building).  However, of all the stores and restaurants there were about only 3 Disney-operated facilities, which included the gigantic World of Disney Store.  We bought our postcards here but it took us a while to find them.  

 

After the shopping we hadn't hear from our friends yet, so we walked towards the parks.  First thing I noticed, something I didn't the night before because of the darkness and the crowds, was how small and tiny the "resort hub" was!  It's about the size, if not smaller than our Fantasia Gardens.   :shock:

Since we had visited Disneyland the night before, we decided to go to Disney's California Adventure Park for a stroll around the different zones.  We passed the gigantic letters that spell out "California" and entered the Sunshine Plaza.  We suddenly understood the criticism on the park.  The entrance plaza did not gave us a "welcome" feeling, like it does in the Magic Kingdom-style parks, or even at the other Disney Parks like Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Walt Disney Studios Park.  The buildings on each site of the plaza were decorated with 2D coloured signs that form a "postcard" when looking from outside the park, but that effect does not work in the park.  

We walked under the scaled Golden Gate Bridge (although it still looked big to us) and ended up on the park's hub with at the end a large metallic structure representing the sun.  No Castle, no Spaceship Earth, no Tree of Life, not even a pin trading cart covered by a large Sorcerer's Hat.  

 

We noticed another irritating feature on the plaza: the music.  No grand orchestral themes but songs by the Beach Boys, Scott McKenzie and The Mamas & the Papas.  Again, it did not make you feel welcome, it felt like we walked into a Sixflags.  

On the central plaza we bought a cinnamon churros, you can only find delicious ones like these in the States!  We now had to choose which direction we would go to.  The hub connects from left to right Hollywood Pictures Backlot, Golden State and Condor Flats.  

We headed over to Hollywood Pictures Backlot and soon found us in the mid of a Hollywood Blvd.  Not that kind of boulevard that's supposed to be the real deal (like Main Street), but a blend between fantasy and a movieset.  
At the end of the blvd. was a gigantic clouded sky located with the forced perspective of the blvd going to infinity.  We recognized quite a few buildings that were recently added to our Walt Disney Studios Park, although with a different colour scheme and different signage.



Hollywood Studios is a small area located within Hollywood Picures Backlot and represents the "studios" part of the town of Hollywood.  Muppet Vision 3D and Monsters Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue were the only attractions located here.  Sorcerer Mickey's statue (from "our" Front Lot) was build in front of the Monsters Inc. darkride not so long ago.  



An empty soundstage was located at the very end of Hollywood Studios and featured a water tower next to it, but without the classic Mickey Ears.



We excited the land-within-a-land on the other side, only to discover The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in the distance.  We were shocked how the building was plumbed in a small corner of the park, without any area development around it.  



We didn't get too close to it yet, as we were still waiting on a phone call from our friends.  So we kept on walking and headed over to Condor Flats, an area themed after the aviation industry.  Soarin' is the main (and only) attraction here.  We loved that one in Florida and couldn't wait to ride it the coming days.  



As we walked into Grizzly Peak Recreational Area, we started noticing how well themed everything was here, especially compared to the entrance plaza.  We really felt walking in a national park with appropriate trees, signage and props all around us.  Grizzly Peak, a large mountain shaped as a bear (or a coyote if we had to believe a guest in the park) is the centrepiece of the Golden State area.  It looks really impressive and realistic as well.  



We walked by the river with soaked guests in rafts and ended up in... San Francisco!  A few buildings build in the typical San Francisco-style were located as a transition between the national park area and the Paradise Pier area where we got a couple of pictures of the main attractions.  



By that time our friends had arrived, so we directed ourself to the exit of the resort and drove to the one and only Hollywood.



We parked the car on Hollywood Boulevard, not far away from the start point of the Walk of Fame which we walked from beginning to the end!  Quite a few buildings we saw along the road served as the inspiration for buildings in several Disney theme parks.  Can you recognize a few of those below?  





After reaching the end of the blvd. we turned around and went to El Capitan for a delicious ice cream and milkshake in Disney's Soda Fountain and Studios Store.  It's a bit overpriced, but we got a lot in return and free refills of our drinks (something we still had to get used to, even after 2 WDW trips).  

We returned to the car for what was the highlight of the day: getting close to the Hollywood letters!  Our friends knew a nice path on a hill near the letters (the Hollyridge Trail) which gave a magnificent view not only on the letters, but also over Hollywood.  
Driving back I noticed a building that looked very familiar and asked Keith to stop the car.  It turned out to be the former entrance gate to "Hollywoodland", which was rebuild at Disney's Hollywood Studios (the restrooms in front of their Tower of Terror).



Next stop was at Santa Monica Beach and its pier.  The attractions were pretty expensive, so we decided to just enjoy the sunset over the ocean and went shopping on 3th Street afterwards.



Our night concluded at Rainforest Café in Downtown Disney, which turned out to be a disappointment.  Staff was rude, food was cold and a CM discount was promised at the entrance of the restaurant, but when the bill was brought we got told there was no discount during the weekend (although it was a Friday...)

Looking back on our visit to Hollywood we were kinda disappointed.  It's not the glamorous town you see in movies or on television.  In fact, it's just dirty, homeless people are sleeping everywhere and most former theatres now house cheap gift shops or adult shops.  We definitely prefer Disney's version of Hollywood, the one that never was...
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dagobert

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Re: Disneyland Resort: 10 - 20 April 2008
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2008, 04:25:17 PM »
Great trip report again. Thank you for sharing it with us.

I think I have recognized most of the Hollywood buildings. Although most of them are rebuilt at the Hollywood Studios in Florida, there are also some of them in Paris. I can imagine that it is really cool to see all the original buildings. I hope I will make it to Hollywood during my next USA visit.
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Malin

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Re: Disneyland Resort: 10 - 20 April 2008
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2008, 07:01:08 PM »
Quote
The outside building looks great, and much better than the building in Orlando.

Interesting I much perfer the Gothic look of the MK's Haunted Mansion. Disneyland's to me just looks like a normal house, it certainly doesn't give me the impression sinister things have gone on inside during the past.

Quote
However, of all the stores and restaurants there were about only 3 Disney-operated facilities, which included the gigantic World of Disney Store.


We could really do with one of these inside our Paris Resort. Althrough I would imagine most would have trouble being able to find a certain item, but it would be a good way to count away the hours on night when the park closes at either 6 or 7 pm.

Quote
We noticed another irritating feature on the plaza: the music. No grand orchestral themes but songs by the Beach Boys, Scott McKenzie and The Mamas & the Papas. Again, it did not make you feel welcome, it felt like we walked into a Sixflags.

I think this was WDI's clever idea to try and make the park appear more hip and edgy compare to its Sister park. Maybe when the entrance gets torn out and replaced by a 1920's - 1930's California the BGM may be addressed, I would hope anyway.

Quote
As we walked into Grizzly Peak Recreational Area, we started noticing how well themed everything was here, especially compared to the entrance plaza. We really felt walking in a national park with appropriate trees, signage and props all around us. Grizzly Peak, a large mountain shaped as a bear (or a coyote if we had to believe a guest in the park) is the centrepiece of the Golden State area. It looks really impressive and realistic as well.


I absolutely agree with you on the theming here, its beautiful and one of the reasons why when I read people constantly criticise the park, I tend to just nod my head. Don't get me wrong some areas of the park deserve the criticism, but not all areas do. Thank you for offering a fair and balanced review of the areas of DCA.

Quote
Our night concluded at Rainforest Café in Downtown Disney, which turned out to be a disappointment. Staff was rude, food was cold and a CM discount was promised at the entrance of the restaurant, but when the bill was brought we got told there was no discount during the weekend (although it was a Friday...)

I enjoyed a meal here back in 2005 and I'm sorry to read about your experiences, as my meal was fantastic. Althrough it was 11.00 am on a Fri ay afternoon. I've eaten a lot of meals at this Restaurant chain over the years, with Tokyo being the worst.

Quote
Looking back on our visit to Hollywood we were kinda disappointed. It's not the glamorous town you see in movies or on television. In fact, it's just dirty, homeless people are sleeping everywhere and most former theatres now house cheap gift shops or adult shops. We definitely prefer Disney's version of Hollywood, the one that never was...
 

Sorry to read about you finding Hollywood a bit of a disapointment, but I am really enjoying your trip report very much. Look forward to the next day.
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by Guest »

davewasbaloo

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Re: Disneyland Resort: 10 - 20 April 2008
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2008, 09:21:37 PM »
Good stuff Kristoff, I am enjoying.  I agree with your reviews of DCA in the main. I love Condor Flats, Grizzly Peak and the Winery/Wharf areas - some of Disney's best work. Hollywood Pictures Backlot is ok, in fact I really like some elements of it. And Paradise Pier's main attractions look great too.  when they get rid of the entrance and the Route 66 area, I think people will have a much better perception.

As for Hollywood, I think this is something everyone has to do at least once. I always advise Europeans not to bother, so they can enjoy the fantasy.  But they always do, and always come away disappointed.  You should have seen Hollywood before they cleaned it up a few years ago. eeeewwwwww. It's 50 times better these days!

Looking forward to the rest of the report.
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The Butlin Boy

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Re: Disneyland Resort: 10 - 20 April 2008
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2008, 11:36:12 PM »
Another great report Kristof, roll on day three :mrgreen:
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davewasbaloo

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Re: Disneyland Resort: 10 - 20 April 2008
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2008, 10:47:23 AM »
Oh and about Downtown Disney, DL's is my favorite of all.  Well themed, live entertainment all the time, great food choices, and a great size.  Now if only they had an Adventurers' Club and a show like Buffalo Bill's, it would be perfect!
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pussinboots

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Re: Disneyland Resort: 10 - 20 April 2008
« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2008, 02:00:21 PM »
Great report. I would have stopped by in New York for a day or two, though!
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Kristof

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Re: Disneyland Resort: 10 - 20 April 2008
« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2008, 11:57:24 AM »
12 April 2008

We got up a bit too early today, 6.30 am!  Our bio-clock is still a bit confused, but it's a good opportunity to head over to Disneyland Park, which opens at 8 am already.  We arrived at Downtown Disney at 8am and hopped on the monorail.  The security check and turnstile is located at the station so when getting off at Tomorrowland, we didn't need to go through everything again. The monorail offered a good view over the Submarines and the Matterhorn for a few nice pictures.



First attraction we did after the monorail was Space Mountain!  It was still very early, so there were hardly queues anywhere, compared to the previous few days.  

Space Mountain is very similar to the one in Walt Disney World, with the exception it feels more safe... really!  We got terrified each time we did the one in Florida.  In California the track feels more stable (it was replaced in 2005), there's onboard music and a starfield effect (no other effects like we have).  It was fun, very comparable to Big Thunder Mountain.  The only thing that bothered us was the onride picture flash which comes very sudden at the end of the ride in the pitch black.  



Our next attraction was a no-brainer: The Indiana Jones Adventure.  It had long queues everyday, so getting in the park was a big advantage for doing this attraction.  
We passed the Cast Member at the beginning of the queue line and walked through a short bit of jungle, passing by props and a smaller version of the same snakes found at Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril.  We entered the very same temple located in Paris and walked into one of the most detailed queue lines ever, which was separated in several rooms filled with gags and references to the movies.  The last room before the loading station was a projector room with the safety video hosted by John Rhys-Davies (Sallah in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).  The ride vehicle resemble jeeps and took us through various scenes based on the movies and new scenes contribution to the story.  The highlight of the ride was rushing over a suspended bridge with a large statue of Mara shooting out green beans on the side and fire erupting everywhere around it.   I won't reveal too much, because this is one of those rides you HAVE to ride at least once in your life...



After our adventure we hopped to the Jungle Cruise, located right next to the Indiana Jones Temple.  The experience is the same as in Florida, only shorter, and funnier (but that depends on the skipper.)



Next attraction was The Enchanted Tiki Room.  We were surprised how much fun it was.  It seemed shorter than in Walt Disney World, but that was probably because we weren't getting annoyed by Iago's terrible voice...



The next attraction to check on our list (yes we really had a list  :lol: ) was Tarzan's Treehouse, previously known as The Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse.  The entrance was located on the other side of the road with a short suspension bridge leading to the actual tree.  The Tarzan props and decorations all looked clean and well maintained but for some kind of reason, they stood out too much.  Too bright, too cartoony.  



When exiting the Treehouse, we noticed how tiny Adventureland is here, compared to ours.  It's just one street stretched from the Tiki-Room to the Treehouse.  

After the Treehouse we walked through New Orleans Square to Critter Country.



Here we rode the Winnie the Pooh darkride.  Cute for young children but that was it.  We never saw a queue line here. (Onride pictures on a different day)



In Frontierland we got a few pictures and stopped at Big Thunder Ranch where a petting zoo is still located!  We could just walk in the animal pens!



Next destination was Toon Town!  
Toon Town is a big walky "world" where the Toons live (they work at our Toon Studio).  There's a huge line up of buildings with lots of gags.





We rushed to Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin but left a bit disappointed.  The queue line is highly themed and so are the several show scenes in the actual ride which you go through in a spinning cab.  But we just couldn't connect to the ride like we can with the Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain or even with Snow White's Scary Adventures.  



After walking through Minnie's and Mickey's House we queued for a meet 'n' greet with Sorcerer Mickey in his movie barn.



We continued our walk through Disneyland Park and ended up at Tomorrowland Terrace for lunch.  We waited for a long time before it was our turn to order and we got our food, we had to look for a free table in the blistering sun.  All tables were occupied with guest eating their lunch from outside the park (we recognized that situation).  

After lunch (they have a really good vegi-burger) we strolled through Main Street (and had a quick stop at the Main Street Cinema were they play 6 classic animated Mickey Mouse shorts at the same time) and stepped in the First 50 Years theatre to escape from the heath.  
The pre-show was an interesting exhibition with concept art, costumes, models and photos from the past 50 years.  The centrepiece of the exhibition was an enormous scale model of Disneyland Park how it was on opening day.  
An elderly Cast Member told stories from when he started to work at Disneyland, before the actual theatre doors opened where the movie was presented.  Hosts were Donald Duck and Steve Martin, who revealed he started his career at the Magic Shop on Main Street!  The movie was very well put together and gave a really nice window to the past of the park / resort.



The park started to get really busy now, so we hopped to DCA for a stroll around  Hollywood Pictures Backlot for a few pictures before we got a phone call from our friends to meet up again.



They took us around the area again and visited a Cast Member store where they sell discounted merchandise and we had dinner at Souplantation (lots of good food for a great price).  

We ended the night with more shopping at The Block, a shopping district near the Resort.

To be continued...
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