Alternate Fantasy – Bizarro Squares

We now come to the part of our tour where each coast diverges into its own unique little niche.

Florida, by virtue of its large collection of Confederate flags, inability to efficiently count election results, and its heritage as the birthplace of “Making Fun of Natives By Uppity European Explorers Searching for Magic Life Potion,” naturally focuses on Liberty.

California, because of its close approximation to Louisiana (relative to Moscow) and its proud tradition of doughy sugar buns, pays tribute to the great city of New Orleans.

No, not J-Lo and Kim Kardashian.

No, not J-Lo and Kim Kardashian.

On the surface, it doesn’t seem worth comparing these two lands. But let us not forget that New Orleans is home to the most libertine interpretation of a Catholic holy week in this country, and also boasts a liberating NFL passing offense. Furthermore, Liberty and New Orleans can both be represented by the exact same shape: Square.

Squares have four sides, 90 degree corners, and in the 50s, they wore glasses and couldn’t dance. It is worth noting that New Orleans Square and Liberty Square apparently flunked geometry, because there is nothing square about either of them, since they occupy little rounded areas of the Rivers of America. And New Orleans Square is doubly stupid for flunking geography as well, since it sits to the West of the great American Frontier.

Clearly the architecture is different. Liberty Square favors a red-brick colonial style with an open town common. New Orleans is ornate, Southern, and full of back alleys. Liberty Square does have a back alley, but it’s usually home to a Princess and the Frog meet-and-great and a Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom on-boarding station that dispenses magical voodoo tarot cards. So maybe deep down, the two Squares are exactly the same.

But for dual-park visitors the most obvious differences are in the rides. We did not cover Pirates of the Caribbean with our Adventureland summary, for very good reason. At Disneyland, the Pirates live in New Orleans Square. When you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. New Orleans has a rich pirate tradition. Famed privateer Jean Lafitte (literally, Jean of Feet) was a New Orleans resident. On the other hand, the Caribbean Sea is almost a thousand miles away, which makes one wonder: Just what the heck was New Orleans Square doing during geography class? But maybe Pirates of the Gulf of Mexico didn’t have quite the same ring to it.

The differences are noticeable right from the start. While Florida kicks things off with a Spanish Castillo (shameless plug: this was the inspiration for my novel The Raiders of Castillo del Mar, available on Amazon!), the Disneyland version enters under a pleasant French Quarter balcony. Florida’s interior queue winds through dungeons and dark passages full of powder kegs and cannonballs. Disneyland’s queue is a fairly pedestrian hallway, though it does hug the boat flume itself, with a nice tableau of parrots and pirate maps. If you make snap judgements on first impressions, you may already be thinking that Florida’s ride is vastly superior.

But once you’re on the ride itself, Disneyland grabs hold of the reins and never lets up. The result is perhaps the single best themed attraction in the world. Florida’s 2-sided loading area is well done, with shadowy pirate caves on one side, and fortress docks on the other. Disneyland loads from one side only. The other side is eaten up by a sit-down restaurant, The Blue Bayou. In Paris, this restaurant is the Blue Lagoon, and since that title conjures images of naked teenagers in skimpy leaf outfits, this amuses me.

A quick note about the Blue Bayou. I am certainly not the world’s greatest food connoisuer, but I found the food over-priced, and the service slow. Also, unlike the Mexico restaurant at Epcot, surprisingly few tables are along the water’s edge. So it’s not really all that great a restaurant, but it does lend amazing atmosphere to the ride itself.

Florida exits straight into the Dead Men Tell No Tales caves, but California takes its time. Drifting through bayou swamps, past silent gators and creaking old men in creaking rocking chairs, while frogs creak in the creek. A banjo strums lightly in the marsh. Fireflies light up the trees like embers. The effect is wholly magical and engrossing. Before long you are drifting under old brick archways and bridges, into the shadowy depths of a forgotten city.

By the time a talking skull appears on the overhang, warning you of squalls ahead, you realize you’re in the presence of greatness.

The single coolest wall-hanging in history.

The single coolest wall-hanging in history.

Down the waterfall into the caves. It’s common Disney lore that at Disneyland, there’s a real purpose to the waterfall. They needed a way to get you under the railroad tracks and into the show building beyond. Disney World does duplicate the waterfall, but here’s something I always forget: Disneyland actually has two waterfalls. The second one never fails to catch me by surprise.

The caverns are more open in Disneyland, full of more running water and not nearly as cramped and ominous. Both coasts have the Hurricane Harbor scene, the skeletons on the beach, the movie-tie-in fog projection. Florida recently added a decent Mermaid illusion that Disneyland does not have. Disneyland counters by adding a series of amazing underground pirate skeleton scenes that are incredible in scope and execution.

Here is an underground tavern, where long-dead buccaneers still pour a never-ending fountain of port wine down their bony throats. There’s an underground bed-chamber, where a pirate Captain slumbers in a nightcap, his empty eye socket distorted behind a large magnifying glass. His skeletal parrot (in matching cap) sits on a perch nearby. There’s even a scene of two pirates locked in a battle to the death, literally. In chess, of all things. This is Marc Davis’s famous stalemate chessboard, a gag which is duplicated in Florida as part of the queue.

Stay thirsty, my friends.

Stay thirsty, my friends.

And finally there is a great hoard of treasure, a mountain of gold doubloons, riches enough to last twelve lifetimes. Or a couple of nights in New Orleans. Perched on the pile, with gold sifting through his skeletal fingers, is a dead buccaneer, a final warning that you can gain the riches of the world, but you can’t take it with you.

The cavern scenes in Disneyland seem to take almost as long as the entire running time of the Florida attraction. Once you leave the caves behind, the rides more or less mimic each other. The Wicked Wench still assaults the Castillo while Spanish forces fire back. Disneyland adds a nice projection of shadowy hand-to-hand combat on the walls, which Florida either needs to add or needs to repair. The mayor is still dunked, the red head is still auctioned, and Jack Sparrow still intrudes needlessly on all the original proceedings.

There are no major differences until after you leave the burning town. Then Disneyland once again schools its Florida cousin with a scene of crackling, burning rafters and a deft montage of pirates shooting it out across our boats. Disneyland also does the courtesy of taking your boat back up the waterfall, which is where the final Jack Sparrow treasure room is (he’s much closer to the boat than he is at Magic Kingdom). Florida makes you get out and walk up a speed ramp.

There's no reason why I should find a collapsing burning building to be so awesome. But I do.

There’s no reason why I should find a collapsing burning building to be so awesome. But I do.

The final ascent is also interesting for two other reasons. You used to be able to spot a few pirates tugging a chest of gold up the hill, which are actually refugees from Epcot’s World of Motion. And the final effect in the ride is a dark corner of deliciously cheesy glowing rat eyes. I love them, but they are so primitive compared to the rest of the ride, they almost seem out of place.

Even when you’re back up at street level, the ride still isn’t over. You round a bend and you’re back in the queue area, passing by that treasure map, complete with pirate flag and squawking animatronic parrot. At Disneyland, you unload from the same area where you loaded. At Florida, they dump you out, then crank the boats up to the load area through a mysterious tunnel.

Having left Pirates, let’s head over to the one attraction that is truly common between the two Squares: The Haunted Mansion. Unlike Pirates, the Mansion experience is much more similar on the two coasts. The most obvious difference is the outdoor facade. Disneyland has a ghostly Southern plantation house, befitting its New Orleans roots, while Magic Kingdom goes in for a gothic New England manse. Both parks use the ghost-horse-and-hearse set piece, as well as the pet cemetery and jokey human cemetery. Walt Disney World of course recently expanded their queue with a few interactive elements, and the jury is split on whether those add or detract to the experience.

It seems to be a matter of opinion as to which house is spookier on the outside. Personally, I find the Florida house more creepy. The imagery is more traditionally gothic. Coffin shapes, bat motifs, darker tones. It also sits on a hill, towering over you while ghostly lights drift through the windows. Disneyland’s house always felt sort of boxy and not distinctively spooky to me, but there are others who feel different.

Columns and latticework. Terrifying.

Columns and latticework. Terrifying.

There is also something a little “off” about Disneyland’s mansion, and its close proximity to Splash Mountain. They are literally right next to each other, and the scale just doesn’t feel quite right. Part of the difficulty with being land locked, I suppose. At spots, it looks like you could lean out of the Mansion’s balcony and place your hand on Chickapin Hill.

Inside, you go straight into the Stretch Room. Magic Kingdom has the Dorian Gray aging portrait gag in the foyer. Does this effect exist in Disneyland? To be honest, I can’t recall. On my last trip, the Mansion was done up for Haunted Mansion Holiday, which they do not do at Walt Disney World, but more on that in a moment.

The stretch rooms are essentially the exact same show, except that in Disneyland, the floor goes down (again, as in Pirates, they need to get you under the train tracks), where at Disney World it goes up. Disney World exits you straight into the loading area. Disneyland gives you a brief walk-through hallway with a few illusions, such as the lightning that reveals hidden images in the paintings, and the busts that seem to follow your every move — not to fear, Floridians. Those gags are part of the early scenes in the ride, rather than being walk-throughs.

The ride itself is much more similar than with Pirates. Florida starts you off with a floating candellabra on a staircase, seagues into the flashing painting hallway, and then into a Library with the watching busts. Florida also has a ghostly piano player in a music room, and a relatively new MC Escher stairway room with ghostly footprints. It is these early scenes that actually tip the scales slightly in favor of the Florida version in my mind. Not drastically, the way Disneyland’s Pirates pads the running time, but just enough to give Florida an edge.

The rest of the ride is pretty much a clone. Endless hallway, knocking doors, Madame Leota, the Ballroom, the Attic, the Graveyard. Florida’s hitch-hiking ghosts have been improved with projection technology over Disneyland’s traditional one-way-mirror effect. The staging of Little Leota is also a little different. In Florida, you ride under Leota just before you exit the ride vehicle. In Disneyland, Leota is on the speedramp after you have disembarked.

Unless you are new to Disney parks, you know that every year between Halloween and Christmas, Disneyland gives its Mansion a Nightmare Before Christmas overlay. Overall, I get a kick out of the ingenious transformation, which involves some pretty elaborate switches, including a Jack Skellington animatronic replacing the old caretaker, Zero floating in the endless hallway, Oogie Boogie animatronic replacing the Hitchhikers, and a massive snow hill in the graveyard scene. There is much to love about this seasonal change, and the soundtrack is catchy and wonderful. If I had any complaints, it is that sometimes it veers off into clutter. The outside of the Mansion in particular is a bit of a mess. It looks like a college frat house after a night of hard partying, right down to reams of toilet paper draped over everything (oh, sorry, that’s Jack’s Naughty List).

While Disneyland has no problem offering up seasonal overlays (It’s a Small World also does this), the East coast has effectively shut them down. Country Bears used to be decked out with a brand new show for Christmas, but no more. I’m not sure if they think those things are better suited for parks with a strong local audience, but I would love to have the variety here in Florida.

Florida of course has the Hall of Presidents, which we’ve already touched on when compared to Main Street‘s Mr. Lincoln and Friends show at Disneyland. Florida also puts the Liberty Belle Riverboat in Liberty Square, while at Disneyland, the Mark Twain Riverboat is part of Frontierland. It doesn’t matter. There is very little difference in the boats themselves, and the trip around the Rivers of America has only minor differences.

At Disneyland, New Orleans Square offers some of the prime viewing for Fantasmic. And when I say “prime,” I mean that are about 10 good spots for Fantasmic, and somebody with too much time on their hands has already spent 8 hours camping out in those spots, so you are screwed. The Fantasmic show at Disneyland is far better, no question. Magic Kingdom doesn’t even have it; they kicked it over to Hollywood Studios. But the way Disneyland makes use out of existing park icons like the Columbia, the Mark Twain, and Tom Sawyer Island gives it an organic charm that the large Studios arena simply can’t replicate. However…

Fantasmic at Disneyland can sometimes be a miserable experience. Either you’re miserable for camping out for hours to save your spot, or your miserable for not getting one of those spots and being stuck behind a tree and a zillion other people. Even if you’re not watching the show, you’re miserable for trying to fight your way through a sea of humanity in order to make your Splash Mountain FastPass time. Any way you slice it, you’re miserable.

The best viewpoint is behind several street lamps and a lighting tower, with 10 rows of people in front of you and behind you, with your camera held up over their heads.

The best viewpoint is behind several street lamps and a lighting tower, with 10 rows of people in front of you and behind you, with your camera held up over their heads.

I can’t claim to have visited Disneyland during every possible scenario, but I have gone on-season, off-season, and in between, and Fantasmic is just brutal. Say what you want about  Hollywood Studios’s charmless amphitheater and overblown stage. I won’t argue. But they do at least give you a clear, orderly view of the proceedings, whatever the drawbacks.

That should do it for the Squares. Next up, a trip to Frontierland.


Alternate Fantasy – Bizarro Adventureland

The strangest thing about Disneyland’s Adventureland is that the Treehouse is in the middle of the motherlovin’ sidewalk.

It’s no secret that I have an unhealthy fascination with Magic Kingdom’s Swiss Family Treehouse. I love the way it’s perched out there on its own plant-infested island, sweltering in the hot florida sun. I love that you can see all three mountains from various vantage points. I love that one lookout point is called something like “Jungle Overlook,” and stares straight into uncharted wilderness.

By contrast, Disneyland’s version, Tarzan’s Dead Parents’ Treehouse practically has a freeway under it, and I’m not joking about the entrance being in the middle of the walkway. Literally, there’s a set of stairs coming up like a weed in a crack of the pavement, leading to a suspension bridge that crosses over to where the actual Treehouse is shoved into a spare nook, almost up against the Indy showbuilding. It’s the most jarring thing about Adventureland, when one is used to Florida.

This is the view from the top of the stairs leading to the treehouse. Note that below me, throngs of people are passing by either on the left or the right.

This is the view from the top of the stairs leading to the treehouse. Note that below me, throngs of people are passing by either on the left or the right.

I get it though. They work with the space that they have. I’m not crazy about Tarzan evicting the Robinsons, but the essential treehouse experience is the same. A few static Tarzan illusions instead of stilted references to “our beloved family” and so forth. I think both parks are to be commended for sticking with the walk-thru Treehouse concept in general. It’s such a uniquely “Disney” idea, and is one of those small attractions that doesn’t amount to much on the surface, but paints in the background. You’d notice if it was missing. I’m glad it’s been spared from the Retail Location Makeover (which unfortunately is also uniquely “Disney”).

Another thing worth noting is just how tight Disneyland’s Adventureland is. At Magic Kingdom, Adventureland can resemble a cholesterol-encrusted pulmonary artery, slowly choking to death with every running of the parade as untold thousands try to chart alternate paths through the park. Disneyland’s Adventureland is that same artery thirty bacon cheeseburgers later. You have to grease your limbs just to make it past the triple-headed monster of Jungle Cruise, Indiana Jones Adventure, and the Indy FastPass area.

The area itself didn’t register as all that different from Florida’s version. Obviously there’s no Magic Carpets (yay!) but there is an Aladdin Oasis crammed behind the Tiki Room (and completely deserted, by the way. We frolicked with Aladdin and Genie for several minutes before deciding that it was really creepy for grown people to be frolicking). Also, there’s no Caribbean Plaza, since Pirates is off in New Orleans Square.

What they do have is the Indiana Jones Adventure, which is consistently near the top of my  all-time favorite park attractions. It is my favorite queue, bar none, and the ride itself is a blast. It is the most anticipated part of every trip for me — even this one, which also had  Carsland and World of Color beckoning. If I had any complaint, it’s that some of the hokier elements stick out all the more, the more I see them. The absurd size of the animatronic cobra, and the painted demon scrims in the skull room. But overall, the experience is still amazing for anyone who grew up on George Lucas films. I wish Magic Kingdom had something to compare to it.

All family vacation spots could do with more skewered heads.

All family vacation spots could do with more skewered heads.

Adventureland also has the Bengal Barbecue, which for some reason I love. It is hard to go wrong with skewered meat (see photo above). The food choices in Magic Kingdom come down to an eggroll cart. Disneyland’s quick service is consistently awesome, while Magic Kingdom’s is consistently average. Ironically, Magic Kingdom’s sit down restaurants are far ahead of Disneyland, which doesn’t have very many..

Some things never, or rarely change though. Both parks have Jungle Cruises and Tiki Rooms. The Tiki shows, for all intents and purposes, are identical. Different pre-shows (various tiki gods in California, a single god in Florida, but with birds). A fun aspect for me is that the Dole Whip stand literally has a secondary line from within the Tiki Room preshow area. The Tikis also have their own restrooms here. It’s like a whole Tiki ecosystem in there!

And if somebody would be kind enough to build this tree in my backyard, I would pay. Dearly.

And if somebody would be kind enough to build this tree in my backyard, I would pay. Dearly.

Once inside, everything goes off as planned. I think Florida’s mountain backdrops and rainstorms are slightly more elaborate, but Disneyland still has the dancing fountain in the center.

As Mr. Miyagi would say, Jungle Cruise is same, but different. I was disappointed not to traverse the upstairs queue, since Magic Kingdom doesn’t have that (I’ve heard rumors that it once did, but these are unconfirmed and certainly it hasn’t been used in the last few decades). Once onboard the boats, many experiences and jokes are the same. Disneyland has a cool piranha effect. Magic Kingdom has a wicked awesome flooded temple. The Disneyland cruise does feel tighter, with show scenes crammed more closely together. Florida’s lush jungle gives it a more remote feel.

He's not so tough when he's not staring out at you in pitch blackness with green glowing eyes.

He’s not so tough when he’s not staring out at you in pitch blackness with green LED eyes.

Finally, a word if I may about one of the shops, the first one you encounter when entering the land from the Hub… There’s nothing all that remarkable about the shop itself, but from my very first visit, I have made this shop a must-see event. This is what people mean when they say Disneyland must be very clever with its space. The shop is so cramped and twists around on itself so many different ways, that it is possible to enter from Adventureland and come out on Frontierland, without ever feeling a jarring theme change. It’s labyrinthine in the best sense of the word. It’s really one giant shop, with several ports of entry, and it’s a neat trick to see it segue so smoothly from one area to the next.


Point Counter-Point

Years ago when Saturday Night Live used to be funny (no even before Will Ferrell… no even before Phil Hartman… no even before Eddie Murphy; we are talking original cast here) in the mid 1970’s a staple of the then unique fake news segment was called “ Point- Counterpoint”.

Get ready for it...

Get ready for it…

Weekend Up-Date co-anchors Dan Aykroyd (who you may remember from such movies as Ghost Busters, Blues Brothers and other good movies made prior to the mid 90’s) and Jane Curtin (who you may remember if you are old) would debate the hot topics of the day. Jane would start with a well thought out, carefully articulated opening remark clearly stating her point of view in a logical and professional manner.  Dan would reply “Jane you ignorant slut!” undermining her point and reducing the debate to it’s most base level.

After reading Shane’s recent account about the misguided arguments made by Disneyland loyalists all I can say is “Shane you ignorant slut!”

The most magical time of the year... for about 70,000 people at a time.

The most magical time of the year… for about 70,000 people at a time.

As it turns out Shane and I missed each other at Disneyland by a slim couple of weeks but we were there at in essence the same time and I am sure had similar experiences. Shane is now a local Orlando boy, he is used to breezing in and out of the Florida parks at a moments notice.  He will not subject himself to 90 minute waits for Space Mountain and knows how to reverse manage the crowd flow as well as anyone. Now take him and toss him into the similar looking but totally different world of Disneyland at one of the busiest times of the year and it is a recipe for disaster.  Suddenly Shane was no better off than the sea of tourists he was forced to join. Most of his WDW secrets and tricks don’t function at Disneyland and worse yet a very high percentage of those around him were savvy locals pulling the same techniques on him that he is used to lording over the confused masses at WDW.  The Emperor was stripped naked.

To Shane this is worthless.

To Shane this is worthless.

Lets take a look at Shane’s points and give some context to them.

• Disneyland was first

Shane argues that even though Disneyland was first that fact holds little meaning. I think he has a point here to an extent.  20 years ago it did make more of a difference, 30 years ago it certainly did, but as The Magic Kingdom has aged many of the benefits Disneyland held have been equalized.  The saplings of Walt Disney World have grown nearly as large and old as those at Disneyland. The Magic Kingdom is now closing in on 45 years old… it seems like Disneyland’s 50th anniversary just passed.  As time goes by both parks can boast long histories and have had lots of time to grow and perfect the operations.

Lieutenant Ilia knows how to rock the dome.

Lieutenant Ilia knows how to rock the dome.

And for the record Shane, the bald chick in Star Trek: The Motion Picture is hot and being first still counts for something. It may not affect the average tourist but being there longer means a couple additional generations of people who have fond memories of being there. Those people are in many cases the brave soldiers who fought World War II… are you saying that the greatest generation is worthless trash… it sounds like you are.

Meaningless, sentimental rubish.

Meaningless, sentimental rubish.

• Walt Disney actually walked at Disneyland

Shane dismisses Walt’s personal influence on the park arguing that he has been dead for 45 years and his same inspiration was used to craft the Magic Kingdom.

On this one I think he misses the mark a bit more.  Walt more than inspired Disneyland, he inhabited it both literally and figuratively. He breathed life into it and his legacy there has been respected through the years to the point that you can still sense his presence. Yes, that is the type of sentiment that we usually make fun of around here but sometimes we make fun of things that are still true.

There are still enough old timers, still enough baby-boomers who recall seeing Walt as a kid strolling the park, still enough Imagineers that respect that legacy that Disneyland feels less corporate than the other parks.  It feels more special for a lack of a better description.  They have left many areas virtually untouched since Walt last visited and these areas hold up today as well as they did back then.  It is a real difference.  Now I admit, it is harder to enjoy those differences when there are 50,000 other guests crushing you but your bad timing cannot be held against the park.

Rides?  We don't need no stinking rides!

Rides? We don’t need no stinking rides!

 • Disneyland has more rides

Shane’s stance on this is that the Magic Kingdom works as part of Walt Disney World as a whole and therefore it is an unfair comparison. To that I say tough.

If you are going to directly compare the inadequacies then you also have to also directly compare the superior points of Disneyland. We are not debating the Disneyland Resort to the Walt Disney World Resort, we are comparing Disneyland to the Magic Kingdom and I think just about every visitor (other than Paul Pressler who oddly seemed to hate rides) would agree that more attractions is better than fewer attractions.  And lets be clear here, we are not talking about a couple extra rides or a few small scale attractions, we are talking about major attractions, E-Ticket attractions, many of which do not appear anywhere on WDW property.  Indiana Jones, The Matterhorn, Roger Rabbit, the Subs, Alice in Wonderland, the big Holiday makeovers on Mansion and Small World… the list goes on.  While the Magic Kingdom can point to lameness such as Stitch or repeat attractions such as Mermaid Disneyland hosts a full days worth of additional quality shows and attractions.

On top of that many of the Disneyland rides are superior to the Magic Kingdom versions in execution, maintenance or both. Pirates, Space Mountain, Tom Sayer Island, Fantasmic and so on.  They are just superior, not much more to say.

This dude may not be the best example but they really do seem to try harder on the West Coast.

This dude may not be the best example but they really do seem to try harder on the West Coast.

• The people at Disneyland care more

Again Shane dismisses this as a one sided argument made by “homers” who are incapable of seeing beyond their blind prejudice for the park they grew up with. Well I did not grow up with Disneyland, I grew up with WDW dating back to the very earliest days.  I was there many times when it was only the Magic Kingdom, I saw the opening of EPCOT Center and had many sleepless nights looking forward to it. Disneyland was some far away place I only visited once as a kid.  I was totally stacked against Disneyland, it seemed small, old and inconsequential to me. Then I realized that I WAS WRONG.

I am not a homer for Disneyland but I can see that there is a general sense of caring more from the cast members and those who actually run and design the place.  Look at the name tags… in Disneyland virtually everyone is from a 50 mile radius.  They grew up at the park, they have fond memories of the park, they want to transfer those memories to others.  At WDW most cast members are not only not from the area, many are not from the country.  While this creates it’s own interesting dynamic in general the cast members are less invested in the parks, do not have as strong of a personal connection to them and therefore, well, they don’t care as much. Real world example: The Jungle Cruise skippers are nearly across the board better at Disneyland.  They really try and put their all into it, they simply perform a better show than the zombie-like mumblings and murmers you get most fo the time at the Magic Kingdom.  Yea, they don’t have throngs of Brazilian tour groups to deal with and yes, I know first hand how difficult it can be to consistently deliver an “A” Level performance… but your odds of getting a good skipper at Disneyland are much higher than at the Magic Kingdom.

The management teams that run Disneyland know that despite long term plans they are catering mainly to locals who know the parks and have visited them many times. They cannot get away with allowing major show elements (ie: Yeti) to sit dormant, hulking shells of rotting steel because the demographic at Disneyland knows that they did not just break that day but rather management has all but given up on them. They have more pressure to create newer and ever evolving attractions and show elements. It is debatable if they “care more” or not but regardless of the motivation it is clear that they maintain the attractions and the park better at Disneyland and that they offer more newer additions much more frequently.

Sometimes good things come in small packages...

Sometimes good things come in small packages…

If you read through the full post you will see that most of Shane’s downsides about Disneyland are related to its physical size. The tiny castle, the many bottle necks, the sometimes odd placements of attractions.  Much of this is true, and yet it is the physical size that gives Disneyland many of it’s greatest benefits.

They had to figure out how to cram all that stuff in there.  The whole opening act of Pirates is there because they needed to get guests under the berm and out into the show building.  The great queue for Indy, still a true part of the attraction in my opinion, serves the same purpose.  The way Alice in Wonderland winds above and through several other attractions, the interaction of the Monorail, Autopia and Subs (and formerly the People Mover) are all because they were forced to do this because of the tight spaces… and yet all of these things add many layers of detail and enjoyment than newer, more pre-planned parks fail to capture.  And frankly being able to get from one side of the park to the other in 5 minutes is not bad either.

But not always.

But not always.

Disneyland may never have a big ass castle with a character dining opportunity inside and a 6 months wait list to eat some mediocre roast beef but its scale gives it a dare I say charm than is lost at the Magic Kingdom.

But of course I am also being unfair.  Shane’s post was never meant to be about which park is “better” but rather how visiting one when being so familiar with the other can be confusing, almost disorienting.  From this perspective he is 100% correct.  At this point I get Disneyland, the Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland so mixed up in my head that I honestly often do not realize which park I am in at any given time… but Disneyland is still the best.