Saturday, August 6, 2016

Geek on the Streets: Disneyland- The land of make believe and cardboard doors

Disneyland: The land of make believe and cardboard doors
By: Nicole Motahari

Cheerful music being pumped out of speakers, vendors selling everything from $200 anniversary purses to hats with mouse ears attached, the smell of buttered popcorn infiltrating your nostrils--Disneyland is a commercial heaven for its stockholders.

Tomorrowland in Disneyland California
Mid-July, I took the opportunity to visit Disneyland during peak season, just to see if it lived up to the colorful family-oriented ads that were being blasted across television. While my family was not as optimistic as I was, I retained a positive perspective as we entered through the gates of “The Most Magical Place on Earth”. As a Georgia gal, I had visited Disneyland’s sister park, Walt Disney World, in Florida multiple times, the last time being 2014 and I was eager to see how the two compared.

Disclaimer- I only visited Disney Springs/ Downtown Disney, Disneyland (not California Adventures) and Magic Kingdom. This is a comparison of Disneyland to Magic Kingdom and Downtown Disney to Disney Springs, so don’t expect to find a guide to Epcot in this article!

          Downtown Disney vs Disney Springs:

Disney Springs is definitely bigger than Downtown Disney, and offers more options as far as dining, entertainment and shopping. I was able to thoroughly canvass Downtown Disney in the span of three or four hours. That included stopping by every shop and exploring the major Disney souvenir store. Disney Springs in Florida offers more dining and shopping options- furthermore, the stores that are similar are much bigger in Florida. When I was in Disney Springs’ Chapel Hats location, I spent two or three hours playing dress up and taking photos with the various fancy hats, whereas Downtown Disney offered a few cute options, but none that were any different than what I could pick up from Macy’s on any given day.
Aurora Castle lit up for the Disneyland Diamond Anniversary Celebration

                                                            The Actual Parks:

I’m not a roller coaster person- never have been, never will be, but let’s start off by stating that Magic Kingdom has opened up a Snow White roller coaster that is said to be similar to the Big Thunder Mountain coaster. This is in addition to the already existing Space Mountain and Big Thunder coasters, whereas Disneyland is limited to those two coasters only.

However, one major ride I will give the California park major kudos for is the Indiana Jones ride- my only question is WHY DON’T THEY MAKE MORE LIKE IT? The Indiana Jones ride is a cross between your usual dark ride and a roughened up min-rollercoaster. The animatronics are extremely realistic and the ride is unique and fun for everyone ages 7 and up, especially for those who have seen the movies.  The Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Disneyland has two solid drops, instead of one small drop, but the addition of Blackbeard and mermaids to the Magic Kingdom version of the ride make me favor the Florida version a bit more.

The Haunted Mansion (which really isn’t too spooky, just ridiculously fun) is better in Magic Kingdom. The queue sets the mood better, winding through a massive cemetery with funny names on the headstones- in Disneyland you can see Mr. Toad’s grave! Disneyland has a smaller graveyard and while the house is beautiful from the outside, it doesn’t carry the same sense of foreboding that the Magic Kingdom attraction does. Walt Disney World also carried the tale of Madame Leota’s ring embedded in the concrete outside the ride, while Disneyland lacks that legend. For non-roller coaster riders, those rides are it as far as anything mildly exciting. Other rides consist of cardboard doors opening as your car winds through a track. I was mildly disappointed, just because I feel Disney could do so much more, especially with all the revenue they’re receiving.

Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom

Snow White and the Little Mermaid rides are comprised of shoddy animatronics and poor story lines. The Snow White ride leaves off with the dwarves looking at the Evil Queen, and then it jumps to the Happily Ever After sign indicated the end of the ride, to which my 16-year-old sister remarked “So what, the dwarves marry the Queen in a polyamorous relationship and everything gets fixed?”, to which I had to laugh. It’s understandable that rides have thin plotlines, but when all you’re doing is winding through with nothing else to watch, I’d expect something with a little more substance.

Perhaps I’m expecting too much- after all, Disney is geared towards younger children I suppose, but we live in an era where even young children have access to technology, and if Disney doesn’t step up their game with more advanced rides, I feel that people wouldn’t be as eager to visit anymore. My advice- save your money, and go to Universal Studios instead (especially Universal Orlando). You’ll get more bang for your buck as far as thrills and chills, without having to deal with as many crying children as you do at either of the Disney parks,

Edited by: Kelly Aliano, PhD
Photo Credits: Heleya Motahari for Disneyland

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