USA 01/19 – Disney California Adventure

Time for a change of pace.

Day 6 – Disney California Adventure

According to my research, there was a huge difference in the number of attractions between this park and the main park, so opted to spend what should have been the busier day here, then give it a week to calm down. This ended up being the first case of crowd control that worked better than anticipated.

As we learnt in Japan, we like to wing a Disney. None of this planning years in advance, paying more money to book fastpass for a bit of food on an app business. Just stroll up with a list of attractions, don’t learn the park layout, see how it goes.
The main thing is just to get there for opening, especially when they have weird and obscure early hours like 8:30am. Assume normal people won’t cope with that.

Grabbed a free fastpass for Soarin’ and discovered the rapids wasn’t running yet.

Ended up at The Little Mermaid. Not seen one of these before. (That architecture looks familiar though).

As an omnimover with physical sets this is like a mid-tier Disney dark ride. Not speeding through glorified cardboard cutouts, not blowing your mind. A standard retelling of the tale in a couple of minutes accompanied by some classic songs featuring decent animatronics. Enjoyed.

#1 Incredicoaster

Walked straight onto Incredicoaster. Didn’t know this was a thing that happened until I looked it up a couple of months prior and wondered what happened to California Screamin? Apparently they’ve loosely chucked a theme on an old ride, but Violet herself had the balls to acknowledge this in one of the character queueline TV sequences. (The stuff on the TVs is probably the best bit about the change).

The ride itself is interesting, if not very good. The first launch loses all momentum into the first tunnel and there’s a lot of high up corners of not much. There’s an odd lift hill with quite a cool drop, the loop is weirdly jarring and doesn’t behave like the rest of the track. The hills towards the end are OK at best and they should have got rid of the shoulder restraints when snazzing up the trains.

There’s cardboard cutouts of the main characters spread throughout the tunnels and on board audio that doesn’t particularly set the scene, in fact it gets quite obnoxious towards the end even on a first go, taking a very long helix while 4 or 5 characters individually just shout the name “Jack Jack” between long pauses. I guess it’s a decent attempt to theme a coaster of that scale, but it can obviously never work too well as an after thought.

Grabbed a fastpass for Cars, walked onto Soarin’.

Missed this in Shanghai cos they’re so desperately in love with these rides over there. I’ve done too many ‘inspired’ versions before the real thing so I don’t really care any more and to be honest, it’s not significantly better than those like I expected from a Disney attraction. I only noticed an improvement in the smells. It is quite funny to see just how ‘inspired’ some the other ones are though, complete with the ending over the park and fireworks going off.
It was nice to sit there thinking I’ve been to a lot of these places (Paris aside). And there’s the Great Wall. I miss China now.

Walked onto Grizzly River Run feeling a little underprepared. No idea what this rapids ride does, what’s the worst that could happen? I like that on these really. A ton more fun when there’s a bit of jeopardy involved.

Great stuff. Decent pace and nearly constant threat. There’s a proper wtf moment with an almost vertical drop in there somewhere, not quite Hafema crazy but still amazing. Then the big drop clamps you at the top and initiates a spin on the boat as you go down, which was pretty radical. Only thing it left me wanting was for the geyser section at the end to be a bit more active.

Had the best character interaction ever as we usually avoid these like the plague but there was no escaping a lone Pluto on a desolate path in the middle of nowhere. Never spoke a word but got a full photoshoot (11 different poses) out of it. That’s my style.

Not a clone – Monsters Inc. Mike and Sully to the Rescue ride? I’m all for that. The queue was almost as good as the ride here, really detailed and clever with lots of in-world signage and some hilarious monster based adverts on the TVs.
It’s got the hanging off doors bit I recall from the film, but the premise was getting into taxis for a tour of the city so I guess it’s not a full retelling, just inspired scenes. There was one signature bit of Disney magic with the chameleon bloke in there somewhere too. Enjoyed.

Only queue with any length in the day goes to Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout, which is cool. It’s the ‘new’ one I guess.
And it’s stupidly fantastic. Might be a smidge of IP bias as I’m a lot more into the Marvel franchise than your vanilla Disney things.

I spoke about shoehorning themes onto existing rides earlier, but this works far better than I had considered (I hadn’t considered it at all, I’ve paid no attention to this development). They’ve come up with a decent plot to make it all work and really thought it through to the point where the talk about scanning your hands while just waiting to go into the pre-show is tied into the story and gives you reason, as park guests often sit outside of a plotline, to be a part of the experience.

Ahhhhhhhh. That raccoon animatronic is INSANE.
It isn’t one. They’ve paid the real Rocket to staff this ride.
I just spoke about in-world details and there’s SO much Marvel stuff going on in the pre-show room, I probably missed 90% of it but hey there’s a Walkman there on that shelf. Sure enough it gets stolen by a furry hand in plain sight as you leave the room. It’s so subtle you don’t even realise how magic that effect is. What?

Ahhhhhhhh. That lift loading area. It looks so mesmerising and understated at the same time. It just triggered that Disney ‘wow’ visual I last felt in the queue of Journey.

So there’s still that one thing that lacks on these since Paris and that’s the interaction of the staff. They’re just there to give instructions and put you on a ride a this point. Which is kinda lame.
The French were being creepy bastards and all the better for it.
The Japanese are far too cute.
Not sure what should have happened here, but I’m sure they could have come up with something other than droning ride instructions.

What doesn’t lack is the POWER of the ride. I was worried after Tokyo that I’d been desensitized to this type of attraction because it was so weak. You’re dead to me Shinjuku Ubuntu.
Ahhhhhhhhh. That airtime. EXACTLY how I remember it from so long ago. Everyone just laughing their heads off with sheer pleasure and joy to the sounds and sights of the Guardians doing their stuff. Perfection.
It just triggered that ‘getting emotional just describing a ride’ I last felt with Dragon Gliders.

Bought a Groot and then immediately grabbed a fastpass for another go.

Went for some lunch while waiting for Cars 1.
Was gonna do pizza but they only had slices.
“How much for a whole one mate?”
42 pounds.
Laughed in their face.

Did the ferris wheel with the swinging cars for the novelty. Looked far more intense offride with people screaming and it violently tipping than it actually ended up being in person.

Had a dodgy mesh to hinder pictures as well. This came out quite nice though. Matterhorn. Real mountain.

I’m not a Cars 2 man but this area is very well done.
Our time has finally come, why is this thing so popular? Didn’t really know what Radiator Springs Racers was. Always imagined mincing around some track and not being interesting because… Cars 3.
Fortunately it has a ton of dark ride section and it’s amazing. The sheer scale, flexibility and believability of the moving and talking car characters inside blew my mind and there’s another magic trick in a mirror where the car you’re in gets ready up for a race. Soon another car full of actual people appears out of nowhere waving and you have a bit of a fun racing jaunt. I’ll say something triggering here like better than Disneysea.

This isn’t in the park. Or is it?

And that was about it really. I was right in thinking it was a very slimmed down line up at this park and surprisingly ended up as only a half a days worth as we absolutely killed it on time management.
They weren’t running any sort of evening show, which is quite a major downfall for me (although better than waiting all day for that disgrace of a Tokyo one), but a couple of these rides are amongst my all time favourite Disney attractions so it’s hard to judge it against others.

Never imagined I’d be doing this. Time for a cred run after Disney.

Adventure City

is a few miles down the road, in the middle of a housing estate. Weird.
I like the place though. Upon striding up and asking are the rollercoasters open? I’m immediately judged as one of those blokes with a weird hobby.
As this isn’t the UK, this doesn’t also mean I’m a paedophile, but rather an ACE member.
Well no, I’m not one of them either, but I am into that stuff.
Then you get a discount! Sweet.

#2 Rewind Racers

So straight to one of an obscure set I’d rather like to complete. The Gerst junior boomerang as I like to call it/family shuttle as Gerstlauer like to call it.
I assumed they were cloned layouts, but they’re completely different. Sadly it ain’t no Gipfelsturmer though. It doesnt have the flat top and the resultant back row kick.
A surprising amount of effort went into it for this style of park though. They made a home video of a bloke in a garage giving the ride a back story, which was playing in the station.

The smaller cred #3 Freeway Coaster was my first E&F Miler ride, and proud. Intense little thing that feels like anyone could have thrown together. Got some up and coming competition for the League of Goons here as one kid had clearly been on it all day with his Dad pleading that this HAS to be the last go.

In and out in 10 minutes. It’s like they knew.
I respect that.

Day 7

USA 12/18 – Six Flags Magic Mountain
USA 01/19 – San Diego

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