Over the past few years, Disney’s trend at the theme parks is to take existing properties like Star Wars or Avatar and create attractions and lands out of them. Thanks to the popularity of Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter land, it doesn’t seem like this trend is slowing down. Walt did think of properties when building his original theme park but he also wanted to create new original ideas for his park. So when did Disney decide to slow it’s building of original concepts.
Does media have a hand in this? Creating buzz for something like Star Wars Land is much simpler than opening something nobody has ever heard of. Does Disney choose to market it’s Intellectual attractions over it’s original attractions? What will the future look like? Will something like Bugs Land or Cars Land stand the test of time like Adventureland or Frontierland have?
Stories Discussed This Week
Superhero Headquarters Closing?
Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters Opens
Disney’s Season Price Changes
Animal Kingdom’s Nighttime Lineup
30 New Mall Shops at Disney Springs
Disney Cruise Line Adding Ships
Big Hero 6 Coming Television Series
Zootopia’s Adult Message Strikes Hard
Email Josh: Josh@ModernMouseRadio.com
Keith’s ongoing family trip bringing his family to the Disneyland resort continues as they make their way to California Adventure. They check out Cars Land, Grizzly Peak Challenge Trail, and the Aladdin live show before it closed. See more from Keith at the links below!
My birthday was the first day I’d ever been in Disney’s California Adventure, and Josh’s first time seeing it since they added Buena Vista Street and Cars Land. We decided to wait for a Fastpass for Radiator Springs Racers and get that out of the way so that we could casually wander the rest of the park. Waiting for the Fastpass was definitely worth it, the line forms to the left of Buena Vista street, but beware of rude people who want the first spot in line because as soon as the rope drops, they don’t care what’s in their way, they will push you to the ground.
Someone in line told us about this “amazing night time show that we should definitely see called World of Color” and Josh and I had to bite our tongues and just be polite instead of saying, “Yeah, we already know about everything you could possibly tell us about, you see, we run a Disney Fan Website.” haha
Anyway, we ended up getting our World of Color Fastpasses, which are easiest to get by veering right at the end of Buena Vista street, heading towards Condor Flats, pass Soarin’ over California, and head straight to Grizzly River Run, where you will find the queue for the World of Color Fastpasses. Josh said he definitely wanted to see World of Color that night and not wait because he had a feeling we’d want to see it again. I was skeptical, but agreed, and I will just tell you now that boy, was he right!
Unlike what I am used to in EPCOT, Soarin’ over California barely had a wait. We hopped in line. The queue is very different than the EPCOT attraction in that it is much more focused on aviation props, history, and basically makes you feel like you are in an Airplane Hangar – very cool for anyone who is into that kind of stuff.
It was time to take a stroll through the Hollywood Land portion of the park, where we saw Muppet Vision 3D, Mike and Sulley to the Rescue (one of my new favorite attractions!), and ate a couple ears of corn at a small cart near Award Wieners. This was some seriously good corn. While munching away, we “window shopped” inside Off the Page, which ended up being one of our favorite shops inside the parks. The Disney Animation building was almost completely empty (everyone must have been in Cars Land) so we played around and sang, and found out which Disney Character was our counterpart – Josh got Winnie the Pooh and I got Belle.
We snatched up some Fastpasses for Tower of Terror, headed over to a bug’s land to ride Heimlich’s Chew-Chew Train. Seriously a fun ride. He has commentary on all the food he eats along the way. We noted later that we had to wear seat belts on Heimlich’s but not on Splash Mountain…. just sayin’
We enjoyed a cookie and an alright cup of coffee (oh and an extra cookie on-the-house as a “congrats for getting engaged” gesture from the Cast Member working the cart), then walked around Pacific Wharf.
It was Paradise Pier time, so we grabbed California Screamin’ Fastpasses, which I recommend doing, then asking for the front seat, because we rode it a few times and experiencing it from the front seat seems to be how it was meant to be seen. Also, Fun Fact: did you know that Neil Patrick Harris is the voice that counts you down on take-off?
Toy Story Midway Mania was great as always, especially since I beat Josh’s score. Also, I will never ride Mickey’s Fun Wheel again. We were in a cart with a group of 3 other people, 2 guys who were a couple and their friend. The one girl and one of the guys were completely fine and excited about the ride, but the guy in the middle was terrified. He was cold and hated heights, oh, and did you know that Mickey’s Fun Wheel is nicknamed by Josh “Mickey’s DEATH Wheel?” That’s because the ride cages swing you over the edge, then sway back and forth. For me, this wasn’t terrifying, rather the swinging motion made my stomach start flipping and turning and after the ride, Josh had to buy me a water and we had to find a bench I could lay on just so I didn’t vomit. Never. Again. Ever.
Our Fastpasses for Radiator Springs Racers were ready, so we headed to Cars Land. Definitely an attraction worth waiting for. I mean, I would never wait in line for more than like 40 minutes for it, but getting the Fastpass first thing in the morning was the way to go. The ride was of a much larger scale than I had imagined it (and I purposely didn’t watch any kind of POV ride videos before we went). Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree is on my and Josh’s list of must-do’s. It whips you all around and you just can’t stop laughing. It’s ridiculous.
Josh had been messaging Guy Selga from TouringPlans.com all day to make plans to meet up, and now was a good time. He’s been an online-friend of ours, so we wanted to make sure we got in a meeting before the trip was done. We walked over to Paradise Garden Grill because they had appealing-sounding vegetarian options (though in the end, it wasn’t amazing) and had some lunch together. We tried taking the obligatory selfie, when someone offered to snap the photo for us.
Aladdin, the Musical was the perfect show to settle my stomach a little more. I was still feeling woozy from Mickey’s Do-You-Want-to-Have-a-Bad-Time Wheel, and sitting through that show was the perfect remedy to heal me.
Josh then made a life changing call and said we should go take the The Bakery Tour and he will never let me live down that I said I thought it would be boring, but we did it anyway and they give you a bread sample and it tasted so good, then you smell the bread they are making, then instead of exiting into the gift shop, you exit into the Pacific Wharf Cafe which has bread bowl entrees and oh my god they are so freakin’ good please give me one now I can’t live without more Boudin bread bowls. The goodness of the bread bowls can only have been described in run-on sentence form to fully understand the magnificence. (We had the bread bowls with vegetarian gumbo at Disneyland Park at the Royal Street Veranda the previous day and were like, “yeah I’m glad we had those first because I will never eat another bread bowl besides these bread bowls ever again.)
World of Color was next, and what having Fastpasses means is that you have a reserved standing section. We, of course, arrived at 7:30pm when we could have arrived as early as 7pm which was a huge mistake because there were only tall people left to stand behind. The show was still amazing though, and I wrapped Josh in my scarf because he was cold. After the show, the World of Color music was playing and Josh got really lost in the magic of it all and stretched my scarf out like wings and started twirling to the music and suddenly stopped when he realized some man was standing behind him just watching. He was quite embarrassed.
Oh, and Josh was right, the next day we were determined to get Fastpasses again for World of Color and show up early for a good spot.
Things don’t always go as planned. Our Cars night was one of those instances. My stepdaughter is now 12 years old. She is at an age where she wants to start hanging out with her friends on the weekends. The weekend we had our Cars night scheduled was one of those weekends. Of course, my 3 ½ was disappointed she didn’t get to see her big sister, but she still wanted to do Cars night since it was her pick. On with the show, right?
The decorations: I used a black table cloth and cut out white lines from construction paper to create lines for a road. We then used all of my little one’s toy cars as decorations for our “road”. I also purchased Cars plates and napkins from Oriental Trading Company.
The menu: Lightening McQueen’s race cars, Mater’s mac & cheese, Sally’s salad and stop light treats. For the race car sandwiches, I made barbeque chicken. I just took boneless skinless chicken breasts and seasoned them with a chicken seasoning (I used Penzeys Spices 33rd and Galena chicken and pork rub). Then I placed the chicken in a slow cooker and covered with barbeque sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s) and cooked on low for 6 hours. About an hour before we ate, I shredded the chicken with two forks. To assemble the race car sandwiches, I took whole wheat hoagie rolls and hollowed out the center. I took four pretzel sticks and inserted them into each corner with a pickle on the end for the wheels. I then filled the hollowed out center with the barbeque chicken. I think they turned out super cute!
I actually let my daughter make the stop light treats all by herself. She loves helping out in the kitchen. She took a graham cracker stick and dipped it in vanilla frosting. She then topped the frosted side with one red M&M, one yellow M&M, and one green M&M to look like a stop light. She did a great job and was so proud of herself for making them without any help!
The activity: I purchased some balloon car racers from Oriental Trading Company. I wanted to take them outside, but it was too cold, so we ended up racing in the living room. I learned the hard way that the balloons don’t blow up very big. They pop pretty easily! My daughter had a blast with these and is still playing with them.
Even though she missed her big sister, my daughter said it was the best movie night ever and that I am “the best cooker ever”. Of course, she says that after ever movie night, but I don’t think I will ever get tired of hearing it.
It’s big sister’s turn to pick, so she picked Toy Story. I absolutely love Toy Story and plan on going completely overboard. Stay tuned for our Toy Story Triple Feature: All three movies, three themed meals, and three Toy Story activities!
This is our 5th installment of Armchair Imagineers. It’s been a year since the reopening of Disney’s California Adventure with Buena Vista Street and Cars Land. Attendance has never been higher for the park and rumors are now surfacing about other things being added and replaced in the park to make it even better. We got Southern California native and Touring Plan’s Disneyland expert Guy Selga to help add in some new attractions, restaurants, and shops. What do we have planned for Disney’s California Adventure? Listen now!
Email Josh at ModernMouseRadio@Yahoo.com
I’m very excited and proud to announce a new project here on the site. For almost a year now, this site has been dedicated to bringing quality content through written articles, but with a background in audio recording and engineering, my passion has been to launch something you don’t just read, but listen to. So, with that in mind, I spent a while trying to research, find a way, and deliver what I feel will be a quality podcast that can rival the best that are out there.
Modern Mouse Radio is a co-hosted show between myself, Josh Taylor, and Keith Lapinig. Both of us have a storied history with the Walt Disney Company and both of us are storytellers, whether its art, music, writing, or video. My hope is that as the podcast grows with listeners, it also grows in quality and content, adding sponsors, fan questions, and many other variables.
To listen to the podcast, click the player below.
The topics for this episode include:
-Favorite Disney Memories, Movies, and Them Park Attractions
-The NEW California Adventure Park
To check out our podcast site, subscribe, etc…
In the summer of 2006, I went on a great road trip from Denver, CO to Anaheim, CA. It was a great experience that was highlighted by my friends, Amy and Jason, being first timers at the California Adventure Park. I had a blast making great memories with new friends, but one of the funniest and most thrilling experiences in my life was riding Mickey’s Fun Wheel. I know, a Ferris Wheel shouldn’t be the peak of my vacation, but in some ways it was.
Mickey’s Fun Wheel originally opened as The Sun Wheel in 2001 when Disney’s California Adventure opened it’s gates. Paradise Pier, one of the bigger areas of the park, has always been seen as the home to California Screamin’, the areas major E-ticket attraction, leaving many of the other attractions in the area with short lines and less hype. Unfortunately for many guests wandering through the area, they don’t know the history behind Mickey’s Fun Wheel or it’s creative design with moving gondola ride vehicles.
When California Adventure was being built, Walt Disney Imagineers wanted to add as much authenticity into the park including its replica of a seaside boardwalk, Paradise Pier. One of the first attractions designed for the area was Mickey’s Fun Wheel. Designed to replicate one of America’s oldest and most notable Ferris Wheels, the Wonder Wheel from Coney Island, The Wonder Wheel was opened in 1920 and is still in operation, keeping thrills going. The wheel was the first eccentric Ferris Wheel to open in the United States. Mickey’s Fun Wheel kept true to the eccentric Ferris Wheel design of the Wonder Wheel. Being only one of two eccentric Ferris Wheels in the United States, both being at DCA and Coney Island, many people would be unfamiliar with the design and ride experience of the attraction.
Eccentric Ferris Wheels are similar to gondola seated Ferris Wheels, but have a distinct difference in how the gondola vehicles are attached to the inside beams of the wheel instead of being fixed to the outer rim. Sometimes nicknamed Sliding Wheels or Coaster Wheels, being attached to the inner beam allows the gondola ride vehicle to move as the wheel moves in rotation. As you rotate towards the ground, your vehicle will slide to the outer rim, and as you rotate to the top of the wheel your vehicle will slide to the hub. Mickey’s Fun Wheel in particular stands 160 feet tall and is stretched out over the man made lake. That allows for a much more thrilling experience for guests as they rotate around the wheel and slide out over the lake.
For a less intense experience, there are some fixed gondolas on the outer rim that will keep younger guests or easily scared guests happy as they rotate around the wheel without sliding. However, with only two eccentric Ferris Wheels in the United States, I recommend taking the scarier and more unique experience. I did with my friends and unexpectedly had one of the best attraction experiences of my entire trip in 2006.
Unfortunately for Mickey’s Fun Wheel, the current crop of guests visiting California Adventure are running straight for Cars Land. However, I would plead that once you get your fast passes for Radiator Springs Racers, you make your way over to Paradise Pier and enjoy the thrills and the laughter you will share on Mickey’s Fun Wheel as it truly is an experience you will never forget and could possibly top some of your other ride experiences throughout the Disneyland Resort.
Have you ever been on Mickey’s Fun Wheel/Sun Wheel or is it one of the attractions to visit on your next trip? After reading this article is it a priority? Whats your best unintentional ride experience? Let me know in the comments below.
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Go ahead, ask my mom what her favorite attraction is at any Disney Park and she will tell you Test Track. Something about cars fascinates her, but not just her, millions of Americans, so when Disney opened Test Track at the end of the 1990s, it was a big deal. It was not only Epcot’s first major E-ticket attraction, but it was unique in that the car could stop, move, speed up, slow down, etc…depending on what the story called for.
Telling my mother that Test Track was closing for a long period for a face lift was somewhat heartbreaking for her, but she was happy she wasn’t planning a vacation this summer. I showed her some of the great ideas coming back into the attraction and she loved them. With Radiator Springs Racers in Disney’s California Adventure opening this summer as a similar attraction, you can see whats being added to enhance an already exciting attraction.
First, just as you would see it, Test Track will get a brand new queue line. No longer will there be the crash test dummy theme for these cars. Instead, guests will be able to see different parts of the car and how they can work before “customizing” your ride experience by choosing what kinds of parts will go into your car.(Thanks to Chevrolet of course.) It is currently unclear as to what customizing your car is detailed in and how the queue will flow with this process, but if this allows a better educational experience as well as a better ride experience, I am all for it.
As you hop into your previous test track car, now called “SimCar”, you will get to see how your customized vehicle does through the former tests that Test Track has always had. You will see how good your brakes are, what its like on rough terrain, and see what kind of speed you can hit out on the track. Of course, I would assume all of this is done through different sounds and movements of the car. Much like Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland or Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom, each vehicle can be changed, but this attraction lets the guests customize that. I’m sure we will also see video pop ups of successful runs and failed runs. Think of what was once part of the attraction with someone narrating over the attraction through your car speakers and video screens throughout the course, but these will change depending on what you’ve specifically done to your car.
In the post show area of the new Test Track will be more of a Chevrolet showroom, showing off some classic cars as well as some futuristic, one of a kind, custom vehicles. You’ll be able to take pictures, use workstations to send emails, and make car commercial videos in this area. It will be a slick looking new showroom for a modern time, allowing guests to continue the experience or to just walk on through and continue on to the next attraction or take a stroll over to Mexico for margaritas, just don’t drink and drive. (Sorry, couldn’t resist the lame joke.)
So is this refurbishment worth the wait? The answer I think is yes and no. I say no, because they are closing one of their top attractions during the middle of the summer and it won’t return until November. This means guests visiting Epcot can expect longer lines at Soarin and Mission: Space. However, I say yes because Test Track, although still fully functional, was seeing lots of wear and tear. The vehicles, at the least, needed new paint jobs, and the course currently looks rather cheesey compared to what we see at other newer attractions. Adding a face lift, and some cool interactive features should bring lots of crowds back to this attraction and free up some queue space at some of the other major attractions in Future World, we just have to bear and grin it for this summer.
What are your thoughts on the new Test Track concept? Do you like the ideas? Do you prefer the old attraction? Could they have waited to do this refurbishment? Let me know your thoughts and until next time….keep driving!
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