The New Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Although Big Thunder Mountain Railroad had been a classic for over 30 years, it truly did need the facelift it was given throughout the 2013 and beginning of the 2014 seasons.  This gives the ride the benefit of being both an overall newer coaster, due to new technology, but still hold many of the same tricks that it already had. 20140603_093420 The trains, although having the same look, were replaced for newer trains, however, the ride still remains as wild as it used to be.  The original track was replaced by Dynamic Structure track, which will allow the ride to continue to be enjoyable for years to come, and the original track layout was kept.20140603_083126  Some scenery was changed, but nothing too drastic, as in, all scenery change until the finale was just technological updates, for example, the bats used in the first lift hill now do not just looks like wings on strings, but actually can be made out to be bats flying.  The finale, however, has changed immensely.  The original closing scene on the ride was an earthquake, due too the fact that the theme of all Big Thunder Mountain rides is natures wrath due to human interference.  That has now changed, as the final scene occurs when your train accidentally rolls into a blasting zone.  Riders see the charges go by and can here the loud explosions, completed by a spraying of fog died orange to represent fire.  20140603_083136The ride then dives down into its final coaster part with everyone’s favorite simulated splash down through the ribcage of a fossil and passing by the small mining tow of Rainbow Ridge.  Overall, this was a beneficial refurb that will preserve thrills on this ride for years to come.

Throwback Thursday–Honey, I Shrunk the Audience

Honey, I Shrunk the Audience was a 3D film based off of the 1989 hit film Honey, I Shrunk the Audience.  The show first appeared at EPCOT in 1994, but spread to (in order) Tokyo Disneyland(1997), Disneyland(1998), and Disneyland Paris(1999).  All of these shows replaced the original Captain EO shows, and all were replaced in 2010 by the new Captain EO 4D tribute show.  Viewers enter the “Imagination Institute’s” theater for the Inventor of the Year Award Ceremony, in which professor Wayne Szalinski is receiving the award. Attendees are asked to don their “safety goggles” (3D glasses) in preparation for the scientific demonstrations. The show opens with the crew of the show searching for Wayne, when he suddenly flies on stage shrunken.  A neon sign illuminates stating “Inventor of the Year Award” sign over the audience (at first only some letters are knocked out, leaving “NERD” spelled diagonally).  Wayne’s son Nick demonstrates some of his father’s other inventions to kill time while the crew searches for him. Adam puts a mouse in his father’s copy machine and they quickly multiply. This does not go smoothly, and the audience ends up screaming with the sensation loose mice running under their seats. To scare the mice away, Nick uses a holographic “Holo-Pet” lion to scare the mice away and a giant lion seemingly leaps off of the screen and into the audience. Wayne manages to unshrink himself and brings out the machine for a demonstration.  Unfortunately, the machine goes haywire and shrinks the audience. The viewers then are faced with the obstacles of being miniature.  Some of these effects are a picture being taken of them with a huge flashing camera, being attacked by a large and hungry pet snake and a slobbery pet dog, and even being completely lifted off of the ground to be observed.  Wayne finally returns all back to normal size, however, in doing so makes the dog much larger than normal.  When the large dog is seen, the curtain is quickly closed, however not before the dog sniffs the curtain and sneezes on the audience.  The show was typically enjoyed by the audience, lasting for up to 16 years from its original opening date, however was known to scare younger viewers.Honey,_I_Shrunk_the_Audience_at_Disneyland

Throwback Thursday–Flying Saucers and Submarine Voyage

The Flying Saucers was an attraction in Disneyland that ran from 1961 to 1966. The attraction was located in Tomorrowland. Guests rode in personal flying saucers on a cushion of air that shot up from the floor beneath.  The ride was used as a futuristic form of bumper cars, with guests ramming each other with their saucers.  As the ride began, large round plates would lower from the floor, and air would blast from underneath the table, pushing each saucer upward so that it was floating just above the table. Guests would control the saucers by shifting their weight from side to side.  The ride closed because it was expensive to operate, maintenance was intensive, and it did not fit the normal Disneyland ride capacity.  When Tomorrowland was renovated in 1967,the ride was removed, and the space that it occupied was turned into the Tomorrowland Stage, where the new Jedi Academy interactive show is put on today.fsoft The Submarine Voyage was an attraction in the Tomorrowland section of Disneyland that opened in June 1959 and was closed in September 1998.  The ride traveled through the depths of the Tomorrowland Lagoon, passing many sea creatures including turtles, lobsters, and a climactic scene of a shark fighting a giant octopus.  The ride then “dives” deeper an deeper, an illusion used by shooting high speed bubbles over the windows of the submarine to uncover even more treasures, including remains of ancient Greek and Viking Ships, the Lost City of Atlantis, mermaids, and the final creature before ascending, a comical looking cross eyed sea serpent.  The ride lasted for about 8 minutes, and was replaced by the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage which opened in 2007.

Ride Review–Splash Mountain

splmSplash Mountain is a dark themed log flume ride made by Hopkins Rides located in Critter Country at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.  The ride is themed from the 1946 Disney film, The Song of the South.  Riders enter past the main area to view the 53 foot final plunge, before entering into a barns, and through caverns to reach the boarding section.  Once 6 to 7 riders are boarded into the log, the ride departs up 2 conveyer lifts, and through the outdoor section of the ride.  This section shows the homes of Br’er Rabbit, Fox and Bear, the three main characters of the Disney film and ride.  The ride makes its first, small drop into the indoor section of the ride, where they are greeted by one of the film’s numbers “How Do You Do?” and see some of Br’er Rabbits antics of tricking Br’er Bear and Br’er Fox.  The ride then descends down a completely enclosed indoor drop which crests and then drops again to an area where characters are sung the song “A Laughing Place”.  The riders then see Br’er Rabbit caught in a sticky trap of honey, and the rides third of four songs, “Burrows Lament”, a song explaining the fate of the doomed Br’er Rabbit.  The riders make their final way up the ominous lift hill, complete with speaking vultures of the poor Rabbit’s future.brrbrfsplm

Finally, riders see tied up Br’er Rabbit, with the silhouette of the mouth of Br’er Fox around him, but riders then crest the hill and plunge 53 ft down into the Briar Patch of thorns.  One inside, they see that Br’er Rabbit is safe at home, Br’er Fox is avoiding being eaten by an alligator, and the entire cast of animatronic animals singing the song that made the film famous, Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Da.zadlsplm

Riders make a final turn, where they can preview their picture before exiting the log.  The rides duration is approximately 9 minutes and 20 seconds, making it the shortest of the three versions of the ride (California, Orlando, and Tokyo), however, it features one more drop than either of the other 2.  The ride is fantastic fun for all ages, featuring both thrill and theme aspects, that everyone loves.

Due to its location, the lines stay pretty short at the beginning and end of the day, however, between about noon until 7 PM, the ride’s lines remains jammed.  The best time of the day to  ride is during the fireworks shows, because much of the crowds have cleared to view these, plus, there is a nice view of the show before the final drop.splmn

Throwback Thursday–Skyway and America the Beautiful

The Skyride opened at Disneyland in June of 1956, just under a year after the parks opening.  It was a Vonn Roll type 101 detachable mono-cable gondola lift ride.  It had a maximum height of 60 ft and a length of 1200 ft, traveling a approximately 4 mph.  The ride was more of a means of transport from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland, and vice versa.  The ride, when at full capacity, held 168 people.  In 1959, Disney had a major renovation, adding rides like the Monorail, Submarine Voyage, and Matterhorn Bobsleds.  Unfortunately, the Matterhorn Mountain was planned to be built right in the path of the Skyride track, and many thought this would be a short lived attraction.  However, Imagineers had the wonderful idea of allowing the Skyride to run through the mountain, and it ran without a single closure while the mountain was being built.  During the large scale Fantasyland renovation of the mid 80’s, the Skyride continued to run, but only round trip from the Tomorrowland station.  The Skyway was removed in November of 1994, almost 40 years after it opened, due to cracks in the Matterhorn supports. The Fantasyland Skyway station remains but is off limits to guests and completely empty and is mostly hidden by trees.  It is slated to be demolished soon due to pest infestations and a weakening structure.  The Tomorrowland Skyway station has been demolished. The holes in the Matterhorn were filled in and the Skyway supports were dismantled within weeks of its closing.

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America the Beautiful was a short film shown in the Disney Circle Vision 360 degree film theater.  It was opened for 25 years, from 1960 to 1984, and then again for its final year between 1996 and 1997.  The soundtrack from the show is now used as the opening number for the Disneyland show, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.  360 degree film technology was invented by famous Disney Imagineers Don and Ub Iwerks.  A year after its final closing in 1997, Rocket Rods used the building for its queue, and now, the building holds Buzz Lightyear: Astro Blasters.

america the beautiful

Grizzly River Run Ride Review

Grizzly River Run is truly one of our favorite rapid rides in the state of California. This is because it is the tallest, fastest, and longest rapid ride in the world.  Although sometimes thought to be the same, the difference between this ride and Kali River Rapids in Animal Kingdom, Orlando, is that the boats on GRR are designed to spin while dropping. The ride receives its name from its being built around the park landmark, Grizzly Peak. The rides line is in a shaded area with trees, and views of the end of the ride. 20140125_143514

Although there isn’t much theming in the line, it does fit well with the entire area’s theme of California National Parks. The lines don’t get very long in general, and even on a hot summer day the longest line you’ll find will be about 60 minutes. When riding earlier on the morning, or later in the day when it gets dark, you will likely be able to board right away without having to wait at all.20140125_143401

Riders enter on the rapid’s boats on a turn table and then head up a lift hill, which passes under many “leaking” pipes that give riders just an appetizer to the soaking they are in for.  Once the lift hill has reached its peak, riders make a slight turn and then quickly head into a cavern through the bottom of Grizzly Peak. Once coming back into daylight, riders go through a few more rapids through the wilderness before heading to the rides first of 2 stomach dropping drops. They then head into their second cave, this one full with boarded up caves, and sound effects. Then after passing through more rapids, the ride heads over a bridge where the line can be viewed from one side below, and the drop can be found on the other. 20140125_134904Riders make their way around to the drop, where they fall and splash under the bridge and into a steamy geyser field, in which one high spout can go off at anytime . The boats then return to the rotating boarding platform. This rapid ride definitely is a wild ride through the wilderness.20140125_134821

California Screamin’ versus Revolution

Both are lengthy rides (for the periods in which each opened), both are white, both have a top speed of 55 MPH, both operated 5 trains when opened to the public, both have ride time of about 2.5 minutes, both have a height of approx 110 ft., both were designed by Buro Stengel, and both have a loop. As you see, these 2 rides actually have a lot in common, most people just didn’t know it. Now in what aspects are they different, worse, or better? 

  • Comfort – The comfort goes to California Screamin’, although both have OTSRs, the ones on Revolution tend to hurt, as the trains were originally designed to have lap-bars only. Although the CS restraints are not the most comfortable, they sure are better than the Revolution ones. Additionally, due to it’s age Revolution shakes some more, and has limited space for taller people. As where CS accommodates most taller people. (Request odd-numbered rows when boarding Revolution, they have more leg room, do the exact opposite for CS)
  • Loop – We’re gonna give that to Revolution, no doubt. We honestly find the loop on CS a little force-less, and we are bummed about the fact that the train is slowed down before the loop, it had a nice speed before the brakes, and without braking would have been a lot better. Luckily we have Revolution for the loop. Although the first ever vertical loop, it still remains to be one of the best in the world. The Revolution loop has the perfect mix up G’s with some airtime, strong negative, and strong positive vertical G’s. Additionally we are a fan of the way the ride approaches the loop, the downward slope to the loop is a unique, but great approach!photo 4 (5)
  • Lift/ Launch – Although both result in trains reaching 55 mph, a launch will of course (almost automatically) win. Though we find the launch a bit weak, when we compare it to some other launches out here in CA, the launch is smooth, and fun, and we’d take it over a lift-hill. We do realize that that wasn’t an availability when Revolution opened, but several years later, we still find the launch a great invention and will take that over the lift hill any day.
  • Setting – Although a very hard one, we’re actually giving this one to Revolution. Yes the CS launch over the water, and boardwalk setting sure looks great, but for a Disney ride, perhaps more could have been done to it. The line is a little disappointing for California Screamin’, and although the waterfall is no longer working on Revolution, the bridge over the ‘waterfall’, and the station look great for a Six Flags park. Another reason we’d say Revolution’s setting is perhaps better, is the fact that the ride travels through a forest, passes by the fountain, and has a fully enclosed tunnel. Screamin’s tunnels, although creative, were designed as sound barriers, but it won’t ever get dark in ’em since they’re open, and lights are installed inside of them.photo 3 (13)
  • Overall Ride Experience – Smoothness and comfort of a ride is very important, as well as the dispatch and capacity. Although Revolution actually opened with 5 trains, it now operates no more than 2. Screamin’ still operates all 5 simultaneously for a dispatch rate of 24 passengers per 36 seconds, lines thus move incredibly quickly. The setting is a tough one, but the overall ride experience; length, launch, setting, etc is better on CS.

Not looking at age, but at current operations the winner will definitely be California Screamin’, but if we were to compare the rides factoring in when they opened, and their former significance, Revolution and California Screamin’ would tie. Both are still great rides of you ask us!

 

 

How to Take the Yesterday out of Tomorrowland

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When Walt Disney first envisioned Tomorrowland, he saw a futuristic paradise…in 1986.  Unfortunately, 1986 has come and gone, and we still don’t have commercial space travel or interactive houses, but we still do have the “futuristic” Tomorrowland, circa 1986.  Here at CCK, we have many ideas on how to update Tomorrowland, but it all has to start with an updated version of the area’s centerpiece, Space Mountain.  When Space Mountain opened in Anaheim, it was a one of a kind experience, but now, with all new coaster technology, the ride itself has gotten for lack of a better term, lousy.  This is not the case, however, for its equivalent in Paris.  smmt

Space Mountain: Mission 2 opened as Space Mountain De la Terre à la Lune in 1995.  It was based off of Jules Vern’s novel “From Earth to the Moon”, and was supposed to portray a futuristic way of space travel.  Riders would enter the dome and step onto an open walkway, where they could actually see the coaster and track.  Riders then would board trains and would be placed into a giant cannon and launched into a dangerous asteroid field.  After narrowly dodging asteroids and space age mining technology, riders would finally reach the moon (with smiling face as seen in the 1902 Melies film “A Trip to the Moon”), and see Jules Vern safely landed their as well, before returning to earth.  The  was the first Space Mountain to feature  synchronized on board audio track (SOBAT). 

In 2005, the ride received a futuristic make over, and became Space Mountain: Mission 2.  This is what we’d like an updated Space Mountain to be like.  The ride now goes beyond the moon, but even further to a Supernova at the edge of the universe.  The track remained the same, but the theming got a futuristic update, and new sequences were added.

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  The original smiling moon was changed to a large supernova, the cannon launch went from the bottom of the cannon, instead of the top, and a new SOBAT soundtrack was added.  The queue was also updated, by replacing the original open walkway with a hallway featuring pictures of cosmic phenomena such as comets and asteroid fields.  The original Victorian soundtrack that was played in the queue was replaced by space like radio messages.  A new ending was added to the ride, where riders enter a red worm hole known as the Hypergate, before slowing down and heading to the station.  The custom Vekoma track begins with a 0 to 40 mph launch, followed by a few twists and turns around asteroids before hitting the first inversion, a sidewinder, which begins like a traditional loop, but then twists out at the top and continues on.  The ride then hits its second launch, a few more twists and turns around space, and then goes through a corkscrew.  The ride then heads to the top of the dome, where riders see the supernova, and then drop into the final inversion, a Tongue, an inversion that only Space Mountain: Mission 2 contains, before going through the Hypergate, and heading back to the station.smmt2

  Here at CCK, we like aspects of both the original and updated Space Mountain in Paris.  For the line, we love the open walkway, in which patrons can view the track and coaster.  We also love the track layout, and because it is Vekoma, believe that there could be modified version to fit into our Space Mountain structure, to lessen the cost.  This ride would definitely up the anty for thrill seekers to come ride at Disneyland.

Comment your thoughts, agreements, ideas, etc. below! Let’s see how Disney could go about upgrading ‘Tomorrowland’ to actually become ‘Tomorrow’!

California Adventure Trip Report

We arrived at the park around 10 and received a three hour tour having to do with the physics behind California Screamin’, Goofy’s Sky School, and Tower of Terror.  After the tour concluded at 1, we headed over to Condor Flats to get a Fast Pass for Soarin’ Over California, which had us return in about an hour. 20140125_183439 We ate lunch at the Taste Pilot’s Grill next door.  The food was mediocre and overpriced, but that is what people expect at a large Amusement Park like California Adventure.  If you want a truly memorable meal at the Disneyland Resort, stick to their fancy dining restaurants, Blue Bayou our Carthay Circle, and don’t worry about the price, the food is outstanding.  Soarin’ was fantastic, as always, and, has a new added element from the Disney Pixar film Planes, in which, before the safety spiel, where the names of the cities are flying by, a character follows by zooming by with the name.  We then headed up the road to Grizzly River Run. 20140125_143514 This is one of our favorite rapids rides in California, due to both its high splashing rapids, and its 2 drops, the only rapid ride in California to have drops.  20140125_134904This ride does get crowded, so unless you don’t mind waiting in about a 20 minute line, head towards it early in the day, or once it gets darker out.20140125_143401We headed over to Cars Land after GRR, but due to its short line, made a stop at Ariel’s Undersea Adventure.  Although this ride doesn’t bring any thrill factor to the table, it is still a traditional Disney style dark ride that is quite enjoyable, plus, due to its vehicles constant movement, there is never a line over 10 minutes.  Once we reached Cars Land, we immediately headed to the Single Rider Line of Radiator Springs Racers (fastest way to get through the lines if you don’t mind splitting up your party). 20140125_151253 We made it to the front of the line quickly, but, unfortunately due to a child exiting before the exit platform, the emergency shut down was hit, and our 25 minute wait became an hour by the time the whole system was re booted. 20140125_152316 Although the long wait, this is one of the premier new attractions at the Disneyland Resort, featuring both a well done inside dark ride, and a high paced family fun racing finale.  We then made the cut across Bugs World into Hollywoodland, and got Fast Passes for our favorite ride in the park, The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror.20140125_173708  We then rode Screamin’.  This ride is definitely one of the Disneyland Resort’s finest coasters, and, due to its constant running of 5 trains, it features a dispatch time of about 36 seconds per train.20140125_172923

Our only complaint of this ride was that both times we rode, we got the same train (orange) and the on board audio didn’t work.  We headed back to ToT, and as we remembered, it still remains the best ride at California Adventure. This ride features Disneyland-esque theming, as well as amazing drop sequences, that have riders completely up, off their seats at each drop.20140125_181323 20140125_181336We ended the night with a personal favorite, Monster’s Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue.  This ride has a fantastic, immersive theming of being in the Monstropolis Transit Association, and although the ride once again, doesn’t have any thrill factor, it is a great way to relax and catch your breath after a long day of thrills. We finished the night by checking out Buena Vista Street at night for the first time.  It is a fantastic addition to the park, that is a ton better than the old entrance to the park.