Disneyland 2/14/03 - 2/18/03

Associated parks:

Weather: Seasonable, 60's, partly cloudy.

I was in Southern California last month to visit KBF and DCA. It was tough leaving without getting at least a glimpse of DL, but I knew I was coming back a month later and so it just increased my anticipation.

I bought a 5-day Park Hopper Pass on-line. It cost $119 as opposed to a $114 3-Day Park Hopper at the gate. We stayed at the Anaheim Marriott next to the convention center, allowing us to walk to the park each day and save on parking.

The crowd wasn't too bad on Friday afternoon and evening - the only afternoon and evening I would spend at DL. For the rest of the trip, we arrived at opening and spent the first two to three hours visiting the park when queue lines were non-existent and strollers were at a minimum.

The Park
I've been to WDW-MK and it is easy to initially draw comparisons. The first glaring comparison comes when one sees Sleeping Beauty's Castle. As my visit wore on, I came to appreciate its scaled back size and the wonderful night illumination - but I must confess shock at its rather dwarfed size when compared with its Floridian cousin - Cinderella's Castle.

Being the first of any Disney park, it does suffer from some failed experimentation. The paths are too narrow to comfortably accommodate the crowds. Parades bring the crowd flow to a standstill. There are some dead zones - Critter Country & Toon Town. Finally, there is the understandable limitation of space. How could Walt know this place would become an American icon around the world? However, the space limitations proved surmountable for the folks at Disney.

With the exception of rides like Thunder Mountain Railroad, Matterhorn, and Autotopia, half my time was spent wondering: "where the heck is this ride hidden..." Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan, Mr. Toad, It's A Small World, Indiana Jones - I challenge anyone to stand in front of one of these rides and point to its facility. Brilliant!

It goes without say that Disney has mastered - if not created - the art of customer service. Each employee is friendly, informative and dedicated. If a ride was down or a queue line long, they were apologetic and shared all they knew to keep guests informed.

The landscaping was superb and maintenance was not only top-notch, it was also transparent. Because everyone was doing there jobs so efficiently, you never really saw maintenance, landscapers, security - they all just blended in.

Park Rating: 10/10

Space Mountain (10/10)
In rating these coasters, it is impossible to look at them as just "roller coasters". They have been designed and themed to present an idea or fantasy all wrapped into a great ride. Space Mountain succeeds on every level. The theming is impeccable, the operators are efficient, the ride is high capacity. The ride itself is smooth and thrilling utilizing helices and banked turns as oppposed to big drops and airtime. Understandable in a dark ride. Not a crack of light permeates this ride and the effects, though rather simple, can't really be improved upon. It is worth noting that this Space Mountain is significantly more thrilling than its Floridian counterpart. Although the WDW Space Mountain is quieter and embodies a higher degree of theming, this one one ups it by delivering a great ride. Perfection!

Matterhorn Mountain (8/10)
Walt's dream coaster. He sat looking at a mountain in Switzerland and transformed the dream into this. He was one of a kind. The theming is less elaborate, but I enjoyed the the Abominable Snowman and ice caves. The ride was a bit more jerky, but acceptable as a bobsled. I thought the left side was more thrilling than the right. I was disappointed I didn't ride at night - but was happy to ride the coaster from which all steel coasters were born. From a historical perspective, it is an incredible feat. Anyone know what that wire is attached to the top?

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (10/10)
This ride somehow seemed faster and more thrilling than its counterpart at WDW. Not sure if it is just me or an actuality. The theming is spectacular with head choppers, tunnels, and directional changes. I especially enjoyed the moment where the train emerges from the lift hill tunnel where the boulders are shaking and heads directly out toward the station as if it will fall off a cliff. Beautiful in the day, beautiful at night - and running full capacity! Gotta love it.

Gadget's Go Coaster (4/10)
Nicely themed, but a kiddie coaster is a kiddie coaster. I would've hoped for more from Disney. Buying a stock model and placing it in a themed setting just seems like cheating.

Other notable rides:
Indiana Jones (10/10)
I always thought Spiderman at IOA was in a class all its own. This ride belongs in that class of rides that have taken ride technologies to a higher level. From the elaborate queue (which is second to Dueling Dragons at IOA) to the effective loading station, from the unique cars to the special effects - this ride does not disappoint on any level. Add to it three separate and slightly different possible rides (through three doors) and you have a ride full of surprises and thrills every time. One of the best rides anywhere.

Pirates of the Caribbean (10/10)
I love the ride at WDW. After riding this one, I look back at WDW at wonder, "what gives?" This ride is superior in every way to the one in Florida. The sheer size of the rooms housingthe displays in this ride is amazing. After you disembark, go outside and try to find the building. Some more Disney magic. From the dark creepy bog beginning, to the ride past the Blue Bayou restaurant it sets a perfect mood. The ride glides deeper and deeper into underground caverns before we even get a glimpse of the pirates (or remains thereof). The pirate ship battling the forts across the bay is a particularly awe inspiring scene. Walt gets a gold star for this one.

Haunted Mansion (8/10)
I like that you walk right up the porch of this Mansion - in Florida you wind around and under. It's uniquely Disney, but I think in need of an update. I found myself looking around and figuring out how they created all the special effects. After Indiana Jones, I know the folks at Disney Imagineering can spice this one up.

It's A Small World (3/10)
It's time for an overhaul. This ride looks worn down and dated. I love the outside, but inside lights weren't lit - dolls didn't dance and, muchlike the world we live in now - everything wasn't rosy and bright. A major disappointment.

Peter Pan (9/10)
One of the best dark rides around. An incredibly short ride - you finish before you start - but you yearn for more once done. The cars on the streets of London are a nice touch.

Splash Mountain (10/10)
With the exception of Dudley Do Right at IOA - nothing compares to this ride. What Dudley is missing is the Zip A Dee Doo Da tune that wraps itself so innocently around your brain and pesters you for the rest of the day.

Roger Rabbit (5/10)
Not a bad ride, but I think the spinning car is a bit excessive. All that theming and the car is out of control. Once was enough.

Pinocchio (7/10)
It's only at Disneyland and I don't think people are clamoring for it at other parks. I liked it - especially Pleasure Island. Watch for the Blue Fairy at the end.

Snow White's Scary Adventures (7/10)
You have to understand - you are at Disney and this movie is where it all started. Now stop complaining, stop screaming for a roller coaster, shut up and enjoy this ride!

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (6/10)
This would score higher if I knew who the hell Mr. Toad was.

Enchanted Tiki Room (4/10)
Showing signs of age. The first attraction to use animatronics needs a shot of magic. So bizarre - it would be ashame to let is fall further into oblivion.

Jungle Cruise (7/10)
This ride scores higher than expected because I rode at night when everytghing looks somewhat more real. I waited the whole trip for the guide to shoot the hippo - like he did at WDW when I was a kid. Disney's gone PC - oh well - hippos shouldn't be shot at.

Storybook Land (4/10)
The top attraction for gardeners and bonsai specialists. The bonsai trees were incredible, the landscaping was nice and it was all very cute - but I couldn't wait for it to end.

Dumbo (6/10)
A classic ride. Add 4 points if your under 10 years of age.
*** This post was edited by BrooklynRider 2/19/2003 5:24:40 PM ***

Excellent TR BrooklynRider. I have to agree 100% with your assessment of Pirates of the Caribbean review. "Best... dark ride... ever!". I too rode the WDW version first and was immediately blown away. When I rode the California version, I had to pick my jaw up off the boat floor. The ride is twice as long, has an extra flume drop, and the beginning bayou scene just sets a perfect mood. While the pirate ship room is missing the "clouds" in the sky, that is one point I'm willing to overlook. Just an exceptional experience all around.

Indiana Jones ranks as my favorite "adventure ride" of all time. While Tower of Terror at MGM Studios in Florida may be a more thrilling ride, Indy goes overboard in the theming department from the minute you enter the queue. Sensory overload is definitely an understatement on this ride. I rode "Countdown to Extinction" (now "Dinosaur!) at Animal Kingdom a year later and was extremely disappointed, even though it's essentially the same ride. Indy has the music, special effects, and finale that make the ride worth riding over and over again.

And Mr. Toad comes from the lesser-known Disney film "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad". This movie featured 2 stories- one based on "The Wind In The Willows" by Kenneth Graham (I believe that's the author) and another based on the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow". The Wind In The Willows segment is cute for what it is. Toad gets "motorcar mania" and wants to travel down the "Road To Nowhere In Particular" with his buddies. The ride is VERY loosely based on the film. The ride's ending where riders end up in hell strikes me as a bit bizarre for a Disney attraction.... but hey, what do I know? :)

Again, great TR. Makes me wish I was heading to Anaheim instead of Vegas in 2 weeks!

ray p.

Mamoosh's avatar
Excellent trip report. I will be taking three "newbies" to the park next week and can't wait to see their reactions. Just a few comments [or, spoilers]:

There is only one track on Indy. You get the same ride no matter what door you go through. What changes is the wall the doors are on. It slides back and forth between each car, giving repeat riders the illusion you're going thru a different one. And as you can see, it works *very* well!

The story behind Pirates is that it was never intended to be a ride at WDW. It was so successful at Disneyland that when the Florida park opened the most popular question asked as "where's that Pirare ride?" A version of it was quicky built to calm the masses.

Rumor has it that both Haunted Mansion and Small World [and some other E-ticket attractions] will undergo major rehabs and open in time for the park's 50th Anniversary in 2005.

Mr Toad is a character from "Wind In The Willows" a short Disney animated film.

Lastly, the wire running from the top of Matterhorn down to some nether-region of the park is for TinkerBell to fly across the sky and start the fireworks. Yes, a real person wearing a harness and a Tinkerbell costume slides down that wire!


Humor Ingredients: all natural flavors, some artificial additives. Sold by weight, not volume. 100% satisfaction not guaranteed. Void in Texas and Puerto Rico.

*** This post was edited by Mamoosh 2/19/2003 3:31:16 PM ***

Wonder why the show buildings for Indy, Mansion, Pirates, and Small World are hard to see?....they're outside of the park! :) (The first three are in reclaimed parking lot I believe)

- "I used to be in the audio/visual club, but I was kicked out because of my views on Vietnam........and I was stealing projectors" - Homer Simpson

Mamoosh's avatar
Semi-correct, Jeff. Those showbuildings are outside the perimeter of the train but still inside park boundaries. A fine line, I realize ;)


Humor Ingredients: all natural flavors, some artificial additives. Sold by weight, not volume. 100% satisfaction not guaranteed. Void in Texas and Puerto Rico.

Excellant trip report!!!!! Very well done and helps me relive my recent visit!!!
I am looking forward to re-visiting DL now more than ever. We're going this summer and spending two days with a park-hopper ticket. Thanks for the great TR! :)

NoLimits Dev Team

Actually if you know where to look you can see the building that houses the actual indy ride on the monorail. It looks like a huge green warehouse somewhere on the left side of the train. Pretty non-descript and I wouldn't look twice if I didn't know what is inside.
I hope they kill that iron yuppie. Thinks he's so big. The great homer simspon
Which show building is the one covered in a bunch of leaves?


The Tinkerbell on a wire thing is really quite striking at WDW, as I would assume it is at DL.

The girls' got more guts then me!

Without the chaindog, you'd never get up the lifthill...

i went to disneyland when they were just starting to build california adventure
i heard that on this other forum that the disneyland railroad is going to have a dining train

Wasent wind in the williows a kids tv show as well. thats right disneyland is getting redone i read it on the offical site
*** This post was edited by fatkat61 4/18/2003 11:13:46 PM ***

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