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Tomorrowland

May 20, 2011 - Star Tours: The Adventure Continues:

Here are my first impressions of the soon to reopen attraction (I managed to visit during a public preview). Let me start off with a disclaimer, I am not a huge Star Wars fan. I have seen the films and been on the attraction a couple of times over the years but that is about it. Overall I thought this was a nice update to an aging attraction. The higher definition digital film/screen made a huge difference and really immersed you in the experience. I did not notice the 3D that much, so unsure if it was a positive, but it did not hurt the experience at all, so I would give it a thumbs up. The simulator ride itself was much smoother and more fluid than the original which made for a more pleasant experience. It seemed less intense too, but it may have just been the sequences that I encountered or my fading memory of the original. Since I was only able to ride once I cannot comment too much on the variations but Disney says there are over 50 and it would take you over 6 hours to ride them all. I could see several possible branch points and I would think the changes would be seamless. My experience consisted of an encounter with Darth Vader and a trip to Hoth.

The new queue is done like an airport/spaceport with a heavy dose of modern travel experiences included from luggage screening to life form screening. I thought the overlay was a nice touch and made for some interesting scenes to experience as you waited. Also the large screen in the first room looked incredibly sharp and the new commercials were fun to see too.

 

June 2007 - Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage Opens :

Here are my first impressions (taken from my 6/15/07 Geek Speak's column):

  • Overall I enjoyed my voyage and will have to go a couple more times to really take it all in, which I think is a great thing! The subs look as good on the inside as they do on the outside. They are still unfortunately the same dimensions so those of you over say five foot ten or so will feel big and the seats are narrow. The new sound is crystal clear and easy to hear throughout the attraction and the sub itself is much quieter than I remember. The sub I was in did not have a fully functioning A/C unit as it was a bit on the warm side inside, not hot, just warm.
  • I was also surprised by the wait time. I had fully expected to wait 2-3 hours and was extremely happy to have only waited 75 minutes. I thought the queue was very well organized, and moved ok. There were several CMs at the key cross overs and along the way to keep things in order and flowing. Come July and August though it could be a very hot wait out there as there were some umbrellas but little else in the way of shade for a lot of the wait.
  • They were passing out a VMK quest (not good for any prizes) with a couple activities in it to help pass the time and I thought this was a great touch. Too bad you could not go to Innoventions or something and trade it in for a prize or two.
  • It was kind of interesting to keep track of the time. I think this may have been the first time for me at Disneyland. I have several times at Disney World though. I wonder why they do not switch to an automated system like Florida uses at all the parks. I guess if the paper method has worked for years why switch it.
  • The viewing angle for taller people is still tough for some of the show scenes unless you stick your head in the porthole which of course I could not since I had a camera there
  • The reef (outside portion) was good. I thought the colors and new elements were great, even though my window was not the cleanest. Hopefully the much hyped glass paint holds its color as predicted.
  • The projections looked good for the most part, amazing to think your looking through water. They actually looked better to me than the general projections at EPCOTs living seas but not as much "depth" as the ones on the windows of the main tank there. At EPCOT for the finale the Nemo characters swim in the main tank with the live fish and I found the illusion of depth to be great here (even after riding it a few times). I did not have that same sense with these. You knew it was a film and it felt a bit flat to me but the clarity and integration with the set pieces plus given that your looking through water to where the sets are is great!
  • I was surveyed at the end of the voyage by a Disney research person. I gave the ride a 7 out of 10. I said it was slightly better than the original version.

2005 Thoughts: Tomorrowland is once again being transformed. On March 17th Buzz Lightyear's Astroblasters opened bringing the first new attraction to the land since 1998. This new attraction is already a hit. For those who have no idea what it is, think of Cartoon Spin, the shooting arcade, and autopia all combined. The ride vechicles are move through the attraction in a classic omnimover configuration, but this time you have a joystick and get to control the direction which your car is pointing. You are also given a gun that you use to shoot targets as you go through the attraction. Your score is tabulated and at the end you can email a picture + score to yourself or friends. In the summer of 2005 a new interactive website will launch to allow guests at home to play along too.

Also new in 2005 is another new paint scheme. Tomorrowland is heading back toward white, this time with blue highlights, the gold and browns are almost completely gome. This summer Space Mountain will return too.


1998 Thoughts: Disneyland renovated tomorrowland and a bulk of the attractions opened in 1998, with the autopia being updated a year later.. On the surface the renovation was a great facelift for the land. I have not been that pleased as to what it has cost the area though. Tomorrowland has lost three attractions that I really enjoyed, the People Mover, Circle Vision, and the submarine voyage. In its place we gained the Rocket Rods, which never have worked correctly and has since been shuttered(2001). Also Innoventions was added, which is not doing that well. It is almost never crowded, the most crowded I saw it was during the NBA playoffs when word spread the internet connections had the ESPN site with continuous live updates of the game. Below were my first impressions of the attractions changes:

Honey I Shrunk the Audience (closed in Jan 2010 so Captain EO could return): It is pretty much the same show that is in EPCOT Center at Walt Disney World. It is a well done film, but it may be a little too scary for some small children. I wish they would have spent the money to have a different film. I think repeating the same film was kind of weak.

The US Space Experience (closed to make way for Buzz): This small exhibit showcased some of NASA accomplishments. They had a moonrock on display along with models of various space craft. They also had a display devoted to the Mars Pathfinder mission. I was really impressed with how Disney managed to change this small area into a pretty interesting exhibit. They also have a live NASA TV feed in the exhibit. The problem is this area has not changed in the two years since it opened… let me take that back they have added some Mars props from the Mission to Mars film, but on the whole it's a great space that is not visited by many people anymore.

Shops: The shops in Tomorrowland have been redone and are selling alot of new merchandise. Much of it is the same kind of stuff, just with the new logo on it. The Premeire Shop has also been shrunk to about a third its old size and inside it they have some old Tomorrowland attraction pieces, such as a skyway bucket and an old rocket jet as props.

Cosmic Waves: The idea here is to have an interactive fountain for people to play in. I love the idea and the fountain itself is incredible. It is really fun to sit and watch the people play in the fountain, but the problem is the location of the fountain. They put it in an extremely high traffic area and it just adds to the congestion. If it was placed somewhere different it would be much much better. Also the chlorine smell gets to you after a while.

The Astro Orbitor: I think they have killed the Rocket Jets. The new version of the ride looks much better, but the draw of this attraction was that it was high atop Tomorrowland and gave you a great view of the park. Now it is just like Dumbo, except you sit in a Rocket near the hub instead of an elephant in the middle of Fantasyland. I wish they would have kept the attraction in its old location, but I am sure if they had it would have led to even a bigger traffic jam in that area than their is now.

The Observatron: This is what the old Rocket Jets has been transformed into. It is basically a little show that occurs every 15 minutes or so. The idea is that it is a transmitter and it is sending messages into outer space. It spins around and the arms go up and down. During the day it doesn't look that good. At night it looks a little better, but I think they could have added more to it to make it look spectacular at night. Disney has the no how to use state of the art lighting and fiber optics, yet they didn't use it on this. Also I was extremely disappointed in the soundtrack for this thing. I wish they would have made it more interesting, it seemed plain to me. I wish they would have done something more along the lines of the fountain music at EPCOT.

Autopia: Reopened in 2000 with a longer combined track. They have combined the Fantasyland and Tomorrowland Autopias into one large track that boards in Tomorrowland. The re-themeing of the track and cars is incredible. They did a really good job. They have also added Fastpass to the ride, which I would recommend. This classic Disneyland attraction has gotten a new lease on life and seems to be as popular as ever. It is still one of those attractions that mystifies me a bit. Most Southern Californian's drive all over the place and spend forever in their cars. Myself included. Yet when I go to Disneyland what is one of the attractions I visit reguarly? Autopia, which is sitting in a car yet again. After driving nearly 100 miles to get to the park (and having the same drive home) I spend time sitting in a car, and add to that traffic too (at the unload area).

The Rocket Rods: Closed in 2001...
When visiting the new Tomorrowland you may hear a whiney sound from overhead. These fast moving vehicles(when they are not broken down) are the Rocket Rods. They run on the old People Mover track. Their claim to fame is they are the fastest and longest (distance) ride in the park. They have taken a ride, the People Mover, which took 15 minutes or so to makes its loop and turned it into a ride that takes less than 3 minutes to travel the same distance. I am extremely impressed with the ride vehicle itself and the technology that has gone into it(minus the whiney electric motor of course). The ride is really smooth and comfortable. My problem with the attraction is the way Disney has ignored the potential for this ride. First off there is no soundtrack for most of the ride. There are two visible speakers on each car, but they are outside and you cannot hear them too well on the ride, and they are used only for sound effects. If they would have put the speakers inside the car it would have been much better and added alot to the experience. My second complaint is that the ride doesn't really do to much. It basically just speeds up and slows down several times while taking you along track. While going through the buildings they have attempted to do some small things to make the ride more enjoyable, such as adding some red blinking lights while going through Space Mountain, adding a mirror while going through the Star Trader. The best effect they have added is an air blast when you pass through the building where the queue is. I really would have expected them to do a lot more inside the buildings. I can see just going for speed and stuff outside, but inside it would have made the ride much better if there was more to see and experience. Another impressive, but still lacking feature of this attraction in the queue. It starts from the old entrance to Circle Vision (and so you know it can and does take about an hour once you enter the building to actually get on the ride). The area that used to be the preshow for Circle Vision is my favorite part of the line. In this room you wrap around a few times, but you get to see models and drawings for many of the Tomorrowland attractions, past and present. They have an old monorail, rocket jet, and people mover car on display. They also play a video for you while you wait. After this you enter the Circle Vision theater. The lean rails (which were intended only for leaning on and were not designed to handle the weight of you or your children) have been replaced with a spiraling queue. You go around and around inside this room. On the screen they play a video that features, among other things Walt talking about Tomorrowland and also the old Circle Vision films in fast forward. After this room the line goes down hill, both figuratively and literally. You now make your descent to an underground tunnel that leads to the loading platform for the ride. They could have and should have added things in this tunnel to keep you occupied while you wait. There really isn't anything to see, except for one map. Luckily I didn't have to wait in line long due to the fact that I was riding it at 11:45pm and it just opened up after being down all evening. If I would have waiting in line for 90 minutes I would have been really bored by this part of the queue, and after riding I would have been somewhat disappointed in my experience. In summary I think the Rocket Rods have the potential to be great attraction, but it needs some themeing and it needs more. As of now it is just a ride and not a full Disney attraction.

Space Mountain: Closed in April 2003 and relaunched in July 2005 as part of Disneyland's 50th Anniversary Celebration. The attraction returned with its original layout in tact, but a completely new track, better lighting, new ride vehicles, an cleaned up sound system, and a redone queue. In 2006 Rockit Mountain will launch as part of the Grad Nite experience. It will feature a new soundtrack and lighting effects (think Rock n Roller Coaster type stuff from the rumors I have heard). In 2007 Space Mountian will be Rockit Mountain.



Geek's Suggestions

Take advantage of Fastpass here. Space Mountain and Autopia both use it. Get your fastpasses and then experience innoventions or Honey I Shrunk the Audience, they are much better than just waiting in line.




Attractions & Entertainment (Parades, Shows & Fireworks)
Current Attractions:
  • Astro Orbitor (Opened: May 22, 1998)
  • Autopia (Opened: Jul 17, 1955)
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (FP) (Opened: Mar 17, 2005)
  • Disneyland Monorail (Opened: Jun 09, 1959)
  • Disneyland Railroad - Tomorrowland (Opened: Mar 31, 1958)
  • Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage (Opened: Jun 11, 2007)
  • Space Mountain (FP) (Opened: May 27, 1977)
  • Star Tours - The Adventures Continue (FP) (Opened: Jun 03, 2011)
  • Star Wars Launch Bay (Opened: Nov 16, 2015)
  • Tomorrowland Theater (Currently Showing - Path of the Jedi) (Opened: May 31, 1985)
Retired Attractions:
  • Star Tours (Jan 09, 1987 - Jul 27, 2010)
  • Adventure Thru Inner Space (Aug 05, 1967 - Sep 02, 1985)
  • Tomorrowland Expo Center (Currently Star Wars Launch Bay) (Nov 16, 2015 - Nov 30, -0001)

 

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Quickfacts
  • The Disneyland Monorail was the first operating monorail system in the Western Hemisphere and the first to cross a public street.
  • 2008 Mark VII Monorails deubt
  • Monorail Extended to Disneyland Hotel - June 1961 (2001 Downtown Disney stop instead of DLH)
  • Tomorrowland Autopia - July 1955 merged with Fantasyland and reopened in 2000
  • Primeval World Diorama added in July 1966
  • Closed Attractions & Facilities
    • Starcade - May 1977 - closed in 2014
    • Captain EO (Returned 2/23/10 and ran off and on for several years)
    • Innoventions - July 1, 1998
    • Honey I Shrunk the Audience - May 22, 1998 - Jan 2010
    • Submarine Voyage - June 1959 -> 1998
    • Skyway to Fantasyland 1956 - 1994
    • Circle-Vision 360 (America the Beautiful) - June 1967 -> 1997
    • RocketJets - July 1967 -> 1997
    • Magic Eye Theatre (Captain Eo) - September 18, 1986-> April 1997
    • Rocket Rods - May 22, 1998 -> 2001
    • The People Mover 1967-1995
    • Cosmic Waves - May 22, 1998 -> 2001
    • King Triton Gardens - February 1996 - 2008 (Formerly the spot of the house of the future and the alpine garden)


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