In September of 2000 we flew down to Anaheim California for what
had become our regular biannual visit to Disneyland. We splurged on
this trip and flew down first class (Alaska Airlines: very disappointing
when compared with the service we received as Continental first
class passengers), stayed at the Disneyland Hotel, and returned
to Portland in a first class cabin on Amtrak's Starlight Express
(considered by many to be America's finest train, but we were
plagued with rude and incompetent service, nonfunctioning toilets,
and constant delays).
The new "Disneyland Resort" was undergoing massive changes too, as Downtown Disney and Disney's California Adventure were in their final phases of construction. Disneyland itself was as charming as usual, although evidence of current Disney management's short changing customers by cutting back on park upkeep was obvious. There were no real new attractions since our last visit, with all the local Disney dollars being funnelled into the other two new projects. The fact that Disney continues to pinch pennies with Disneyland has led us to postpone our next trip to some unknown time in the future (our next scheduled trip was to be in 2002, but we'll return to Ashland instead).
As with other trips to Disneyland, we once again saw why Disneyland Cast members stands miles above other "theme park employees." Don't screw this up, Disney!
|While small, Adventureland has always been one of my favorite areas at Disneyland. The somewhat dated but ever charming Jungle Cruise dates back to my earliest childhood memories, and the improved queue and new boats have enhanced the ride greatly. There was almost always a tropical band playing while we were here, which helped to overcome the shabby condition of the very dated and almost always empty Enchanted Tiki Room -- classic or not, something needs to be done with this attraction. The shops are well themed, and the Bengali Barbecue became on of our favorite spots to grab a quick bite to eat. Our experience with Indiana Jones on previous trips left us disapointed, but for whatever reason, it became our favorite attraction on this trip, and we rode on it again and again. While Tarzan's Treehous is fun, it looks out of place here with its cartoonish theming and more in keeping with Toontown or Fantasyland.|
|Fantasyland! As a child I found little to like in this land other than A Small World and Story Book Canal Boats, but ever since the 1983 renovation, I've loved this part of the park. On this trip Small World was closed, but considering this attraction often feels more like a hallucination than a ride, we didn't particularly mind. The Canal Boats remain one of our favorite attractions in Fantasyland, as does Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, but joining these two classics near the top of our list were Alice in Wonderland and The Mad Teacups. King Arthur's Carousel remains one of Elayne's best loved rides. As always, our rides down The Matterhorn (especially after dark) were among the highlights of our trip.|
|The days of Cowboys and Indians is over, and so much of Frontierland is out of touch with today's park visitor. There are the fun thrills of one of our Disneyland favorites, Big Thunder Mountain, but it was closed for this trip, and so we spent almost no time at all in this most neglected of lands. As always, we enjoyed a trip around the Rivers of America in the Davey Crocket Explorer Canoes and on the Mark Twain, but that was about it. We didn't even make it over to the depressingly run down Tom Sawyer's Island -- the first time we ever missed it. We hear that the Mark Twain now makes night time runs again, which we would dearly love to experience.|
|We really enjoyed our stay at the Disneyland Hotel, and won't hesitate to stay here again. We had a room in the old Sierra Tower, overlooking Disneyland (actually overlooking mostly DCA construction -- next time we'll request a room closer to the Disneyland side). The rooms were a bit shabby, even after a recent remodel, but we enjoyed it and the Concierge Lounge so much that the high Disney price tag on the room was worth it to us.|
Main Street USA
|Like wine, Main Street gets better with age (our age, anyway), or maybe it's an acquired taste. We spent a great deal of time on Main Street people watching and browsing through the shops. Oddly enough, for the first time ever we first entered Disneyland on this trip through the Tomorrowland Monorail station, and not through the traditional Main Street entrance: something we probably won't repeat on future trips -- it's like starting a book halfway through rather than at the beginning.|
New Orleans Square
|New Orleans Square has long battled Tomorrowland for the top position in our list of favorite lands at Disneyland, but with the collapse of Tomorrowland, New Orleans Square walks away with top honors now. With great theming, decent shops (a drop down in quality and interest from earlier trips with the loss of places like The One of A Kind Shop), and the classic Disneyland attractions Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion, plus the unique and tranquil atmosphere of the Disney Gallery (the balcony is our favorite place to hang out and people watch in the entire park), or such fun dining experiences as The Blue Bayou, what's not to like? Well, it was here that the cut backs in the Disneyland maintenance budget were most obvious, but we won't dwell on that.|
What has Disney done? Tomorrowland used to be our favorite land, or
a close runner up to New Orleans Square. It had a cool outdated vision
of the future (just how out of date depended on the last major renovation
of the land, but it didn't matter, because Disney Imagineers did such a fine
job with their futuristic visions that even when the land was out of date
it was like being in an classic scifi movie: in other words a real pleasure)
and almost always the newest, most up to date, or at least most outlandish
attractions in all of Disneyland.
All of that is gone. In its place is a low budget cop out that is as embarrassing to the fans as it should be to Disney management. Now we have a Jules Verne version of the future -- well, not really, just a lot of bronze and copper paint splashed over old buildings and a lot of attraction closures with nothing to replace them.
The only truly new and unique ride, The Rocket Rods was mercifully spared from the Verne theme, but unfortunately was given no other theme of its own. None the less, we enjoyed the Rocket Rods far more than we thought we would or even wanted to (the Rods filled Tomorrowland with an annoying and ever present high pitched whine). Unfortunately massive budget cuts led to a poor implementation of the attraction, and the Rocket Rods are no longer with us.
For those keeping count, Tomorrowland lost The Submarine Voyage, the Circle Theater and the People Mover, and with the loss of the Rocket Rods, these attractions now sit idle. On the "plus" side, the old Circle Vision theater has been given a new life with one of the most lame additions ever added to Disneyland: Innovations, an instantly out of date trade show with technology many years behind what you'll find at your local home electronics store. And part of the "show" for Innovations actually pokes fun at some of the early futuristic ideas of previous Tomorrowland themes! Hey, at least they had the courage to look forward, rather than the pathetic retro-future paint job that passes for the current Tomorrowland.
Tomorrowland still has Space Mountain, which is one of the few roller coasters we enjoy riding (as long as that kick ass sound track is enabled), and although Star Tours is old and showing its age poorly, we still feel nostalgic toward it and ride it often. And there has never been a more breathtaking man made view than the Matterhorn looming over the (now empty) Submarine lagoon! The renovated Autopia was a job well done, and we actually went out of our way to ride this attraction multiple times -- in fact after the Monorail, Autopia was the first attraction we rode on this trip -- and it came complete with a thunderstorm and hail as we waited, rather wet, in the grandstand. It's also nice to see a Moonliner rising above Tomorrowland again.
Come on Disney, show us you aren't afraid of the future and blow us away with a real new Tomorrowland for Disneyland's 50th anniversary!
|While kind of fun, Toontown isn't our cup of tea, especially not with all of the faded paint. I have a weakness for Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin, but if not for that, we would seldom come here.|
I can hear some of you asking "What about Critter Country?" As far as we're concerned, this part of the park is less pleasant than the old Disneyland parking lot. Ill behaved inbred country hick characters are neither funny nor entertaining even when you put the Disney spin on them.