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 The Mountain Geek

We made our way around Paradise Pier, and into The Golden State. We swung back around to ride the Grizzly River Run. If you’ve been to any other theme park, you’ve seen something like this. Guests crowd into circular rafts, for a rough ride down a river. For as basic as this attraction is, it was surprisingly well done. There were enough small drops and turns to make everyone on board think about getting wet at least once…and with the main drop and water geysers, I can’t believe it’s possible for someone on board to escape without getting wet. Verdict: a quality ride, but not really Disney. However, I’m the kind of person who loves these kinds of rides, especially when you have people on board who think being hit with water will melt them.
Next was “It’s Tough to be a Bug,” a 3-D extravaganza based on “A Bugs Life” (but, of course). This one was actually pretty good. Nothing groudbreaking; every step of the way I was reminded of “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience,” but it was different enough to keep my interest. There are a couple of surprises (I won’t say, for those of you who haven’t experience this attraction yet), but they aren’t exactly ‘surprises;’ meaning you can tell when they’re coming. All in all, a quality attraction; far from what we experience next.

As we entered Hollywood Pictures Backlot, I couldn’t help but think of the Disney MGM Studios in Florida. Can’t Disney come up with anything new, I asked myself? Surely, Disney copied Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. But then again there were brand new attractions like the Indiana Jones Adventure which were very successful (copied in some ways in Disneyland Paris; imagine if Disney tried to copy the old Eureka Parade, and put it in Idaho or something…scary).
The Superstar Limo and Muppet-Vision 3-D were embarrassing. Superstar Limo suffers from being rather boring (especially if you have to wait a half-hour for it); not to mention being less than groundbreaking. Muppet-Vision 3-D, copied from Walt Disney World, might have been special back in the Captain EO era (circa 1986). But guests these days should demand a lot more, especially when they pay $40-plus to enter a DISNEY theme park.

We had dinner at the ABC Soap Opera Bistro. The food was delicious, and we got what we paid for. There was a pretty hefty bill sitting at the end of the table by the time we were done, but the atmosphere and the skits we enjoyed while we ate were worth it.

After dinner we walked over to the tour de force of Hollywood Pictures Backlot, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Play It!” The waiting area was pathetic, reminding me of Universal Studios: a zig-zag queue in between two big buildings. Of course, I told myself, the backlots in Hollywood look like this, so I guess the atmosphere comes with the territory. Once we entered the studio, I was pleasantly surprised. The set was extravagant; the music was right on. It was disappointing not to see Regis, but I can forgive Disney for this. Our host did a great job, but I couldn’t help but feel the applause she received was disingenuous. I can see how Millionaire the show will flop (if it hasn’t already) when Regis hits the road.

Then, we headed for the exits (and Disneyland). We did all of this in less than six hours. That’s kind of disappointing in a way; I remember when I was a kid we’d spend all day at Disneyland, 16 hours sometimes, and still feel like we were forgetting something as we headed for the exits. I didn’t feel that way, the park seemed very small. Overall, I had fun; I cannot deny that. But I’ll bet anyone this park won’t have the same reputation Disneyland had after 45 years.

The impatience of Eisner and Pressler scares me.

Send comments or questions to moutain_geek@disneygeek.com

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