Chrismas Vacation 2012 – California (Part 4/6)

by Nathan Stout (of

Today we are in the middle of my 2012 Christmas Disney Vacation. We just finished up with California Adventure (then Universal Studios before that) and now we are on to the oldest of the 3: Disneyland.

Like I said before when you compare Disneyland to California Adventure you get this ‘old’ or ‘vintage’ vibe from Disneyland. That’s one of the reasons I like it so much. There is a LOT of history to this place and some of it (despite constant updates to the park) is still around.

We started our trip in Disneyland by stopping by City Hall to get our ‘First Visit’ badges. We moved around the park in no particular direction (there were 8 of us so there were a lot of suggestions). I can’t remember in which order we visited the attractions but here you go…

Indiana Jones Adventure:
Apparently this ride went through a queue overall within the last year. The line area (which wasn’t too full) was pretty awesome and detailed. The ride itself is one of those ‘innovative’ Disney rides like the Tower of Terror. The ride vehicle is car that rides along a fairly smooth path while the chassis is programmed to jerk about and swing wildly to simulate really rough and crazy terrain. You ride this car through a forbidden temple with Indiana Jones popping in from time to time to tell you stuff. The animatronic Harrison Ford doesn’t look all that close to the actor (in facial features). I figured they could have done a little better. Perhaps they didn’t get the rights to use his face… Anyway in Florida there is basically the same ride but Dinosaur themed. I can’t wait to check that one out. PS, this was one of my wife’s favorite rides. Here it is…

Haunted Mansion (Nightmare Before Christmas Edition):
I have this thing for The Haunted Mansion. I love the concept and (for the most part) the execution. I have read up on its development and creation. Apparently you had 2 conflicting opinions about the attraction. One designer thought it should be somewhat scary and the other one wanted it to be whimsical. That’s why you get a mixture of the silly and serious. Either way it is awesome and there are some neat gags. I was somewhat disappointed to see that it would be the (once a year) Nightmare Before Christmas edition and not the regular version of the house. I wanted to see the newly re-vamped Bride character. Oh well. Anyway it has a twisted Christmas theme and was enjoyable but not as enjoyable as the regular version (at least for me). Here is the Holiday version.

Pirates of the Caribbean:
What trip to Disney would be complete without Pirates? Pirates of the Caribbean inspired the game makers at Lucasarts to make The Secret of Monkey Island (in the 80’s). If you know this game you will know that there is a lot of similarities between it and the movies. Apparently the game inspired the movies a bit. A funny turn of events there… Anyway Disneyland has the ‘extended’ version of the ride (it is somewhat shorter at the other parks). I do remember the one in Florida being a lot shorter than this one. Anyway I loved it. My brother loved it. My wife… meh. She says when we go again she is going to take a book to read. The only think she really liked were the drops. Here is the video so you can love it or be bored.

Big Thunder Mountain:
This is a very fun roller coaster. Nothing too spectacular except there is some nice flat (non-crazy) areas of the track (something I like in rides) and a neat cave you go though to go to the top. We got to ride it 2 or 3 times. Very fun! Big Thunder video

Mad Tea Party:
One of those rides that have been at Disney since the beginning Mad Tea Party is the famous teacup ride. My wife and niece rode it together and we spun it as fast as we could and we tried to see who could NOT crack a smile the entire time. Very hard to do. Enjoy the Mad Tea Party video.

Star Tours:
The revamped Star Tours is a fun ride with some great 3D. I have the same gripe I had with the old one… you just don’t get to spend enough time on the ride! It’s all action and I think the ride would double in fun if you just got to slow down a bit and really experience the ride simulation. Its oh so fast then ‘get off for the next batch’. Somehow (even with over 54 different experiences) I got the same ‘middle’ segment (Kashyyyk) on both rides. I REALLY wanted Hoth. Here is a video but you can’t really get a good feel for it, but anyway

Finding Nemo Submarine Ride:
Converted from the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (which I just got done reading, BTW), Finding Nemo is basically a retelling of the story through the ride. I always like the fact that you were actually underwater. They now use high-def monitors to show the action of the fish and his friends. I was thinking how in the world could they put TVs underwater when I realized (poof, the magic is gone!) that the areas with the screens are actually buildings underwater with glass walls. You think you are looking at something in the watery cave, but you are actually looking through the little bit of water, through a large pane of glass at some monitors inside the building. Anyway it is a very slow ride and many people aren’t that impressed with it. I think it would have been better if they just revamped the old ride with more sophisticated technology. Here is a video.

The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh:
Wow. Wow wow wow. Either A: The Imagineers were high when they developed this ride or B: Winnie the Pooh got into some ‘tainted’ hunny. It is supposed to be various scenes from Pooh lore as well as a tripped out dream (that would scare any child). This (and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride) were probably the most talked about rides amongst our family. Freak out from the comfort of your own PC!

Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters:
A fun interactive game Astro Blasters is a bit like a dark ride with a laser tag game mixed in. You ride through Buzz Lightyear’s world and shoot at the targets and accumulate points. Its pretty fun since you are basically playing a game against your fellow riders. Here is the video.

The fun isn’t over yet! Join me next time for the next part and I’ll cover (most) the rest of the rides we rode at Disneyland!

Click here for Part 1
Click here for Part 2
Click here for Part 3
Click here for Part 4
Click here for Part 5
Click here for Part 6

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