Monday, April 29, 2013

UPDATE: Scam Artist Turns Himself In

Last week we mentioned a recently apprehended ticket scammer by the name of "Chris Ruiz" in our article on ticket fraud at Disneyland. Chris, through Craigslist, cheated a woman and her friends out of $240 for counterfeit Disney passes, and on Saturday he turned himself in to police.

However, this does not mean buying scalped tickets is now safe. There are still potentially hundreds of these criminals out there, and the number of fake tickets will rise as technology makes them more available. Still, it's good to see someone get reprimanded for this act of theft.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Hidden Gems: Movie Props at Disneyland

Sometimes you'll be so immersed in a Disney ride, it can feel almost real -- like being inside a movie. A huge part of the experience is the intricate decorations by the Imagineers that make the setting feel as lifelike as possible, similar to how set designers and prop departments create visuals to help movies feel alive. Sometimes, the Imagineers take props from actual movies and use them in the rides; a tribute to classic films whose props couldn't find a home. Let's take a look at the movie props in Disneyland you've probably overlooked.

First off, is Pirates of the Caribbean. It figures that with such a successful movie franchise they'd be inclined to hide subtle homages to the beloved Disney ride. But no, instead they heavily altered the ride and made it center around the film's protagonist: Jack Sparrow. In the final scene of the ride, Jack Sparrow is rocking back and forth on an ornate chair, drunkenly singing the ride's theme song while celebrating his fortune. The chair was not actually used in any of the Pirates of the Caribbean films, but rather the forgettable Haunted Mansion film adaptation with Eddie Murphy.


Earlier in the ride however, a prop from Pirates of the Caribbean actually does appear, in the famous treasure room. The Aztec treasure chest from PoTC: The Curse of the Black Pearl.


You can't ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad until much later this year, but this movie prop is still visible from outside the ride. Right around the corner from Fantasyland you can see an old steam engine on some spare track. As I've mentioned before, the tracks and tunnel are forgotten relics of the Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland attraction that closed in 1977, but the train that currently occupies this area is a prop from the 1978 Disney film, Hot Lead and Cold Feet.

Seen on the left
This prop is from a timeless Disney classic, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. That's right, it's the organ from The Haunted Mansion. Though the body of the instrument was screen-used, the pipes are original. Still, it's cool to see such an iconic movie prop being used before audiences once again.


Speaking of classic films, these last two are from the legendary Indiana Jones trilogy. The first is the Mercedes truck that sits outside the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. It's rumored to be the original used in filming, though I can't seem to find out if it's the real deal. If it is just a replica, then they did a great job making it look authentic-- the license plate number, the missing hood ornament, it all adds up.

*EDIT: Lucasfilm has officially confirmed that this truck is indeed the one used in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Some noteworthy details are the passenger side window that was smashed out by Indy, and the golf-ball topped antennae on the sides that were used as reference points for stuntmen.


And lastly, the mine cart outside the exit queue from Indiana Jones is from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It's not the one Indy rode in with Willie and Short Round in the famous scene, but it was supposedly used at some point during the underground scenes. Funny that Disney should acquire these Lucasfilm props before actually buying the studio many years later...


Friday, April 26, 2013

Disneyland to Stay Open for 24 Hours

Yes folks, the rumors are confirmed. From Friday, 6:00 AM on May 24th to 6:00 AM on Saturday, May 25th, Disneyland will not close.

A Disney Parks representative announced the summer celebration last night in Orlando. The Magic Kingdom parks in both Disney World and Disneyland will be open for 24 straight hours, as well as Disney's California Adventure.

This is a rare chance to experience Disneyland past midnight, although last year they had a similar event. No word yet on what facilities and attractions will remain open for the full 24 hours, but I imagine the cast member situation will be all-hands-on-deck.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Disneyland's Most Wanted

"Chris Ruiz", a counterfeit-ticket
seller who is currently under
police investigation as of 4/25/13
In the past year or so, Disneyland has been cracking down hard on counterfeit tickets and fraudulent parkhopper use. Non-annual pass holders who visited the park in late 2012 may remember having to wait an extra 20 minutes to enter the park, due to extended security checks. This is the result of a surge in ticket fraud, most commonly the abuse of a parkhopper ticket, wherein two separate parties would purchase scalped 2-day parkhopper tickets for a discounted price, allowing multiple parties to visit the park on the same ticket. Clever as it may seem, this scandal has resulted in heightened security and more extensive background checks at the gate, eliminating ticket-sharing as an efficient way to gain access to the park.

But some Disneyland con-artists are just flat-out lazy, and sell counterfeit tickets -- a sure way to empty your wallet and still not get in to the park. If someone is selling Disney tickets on the street for half their original value, it's probably too good to be true. Anyone can take an expired ticket and photocopy it as many times as they like, effectively stealing money from countless families.

I say this as a warning. Unfortunately, the only ticket-sellers you can trust are the ones in the ticket booths. Perhaps this uprise in ticket fraud may act as a catalyst that gets Disneyland to make park admission more affordable to lower-income families, or allow more frequent visits, in order to take crime off the streets. More likely than not though, we'll see ticket prices continue to rise over the coming years.

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Golden Rides



For this Throwback Thursday, we're going to go all the way back and revisit the distant year of 2005...
As you may well be aware, Disneyland opened on July 17th, 1955. For Disneyland's 50th anniversary, the park went all out. 50 mouse-shaped signs were scattered about the park to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Disneyland. Special pins, parades, merchandise, anything you can think of received a makeover. Including the rides.


Yes, each of the original "Class of 1955" rides received a special, temporary change-- one of the vehicles (or in the case of the picture above, elephants) was entirely repainted gold. The original 1955 rides that are still operating include King Arthur's Carousel, Autopia, Jungle Cruise, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Peter Pan's Flight, Storybook Land Canal Boats, and Casey Jr. Circus Train.

See it in the middle?
In fact, not only were the rides changed, but some other 1955 attractions as well. One of the passenger cars on Main Street was painted gold, along with the streetcar seen below.


It made for a fun experience, and gave riders the opportunity of reliving those 50 years of Disney history. Or perhaps getting to ride in all of the golden vessels like a scavenger hunt. Unfortunately, it was only temporary, and by 2006 these golden treasures were returned to their original state, for the most part as they had actually appeared in 1955. But maybe in 2055, on Disneyland's 100th anniversary, we'll get to see something just as special.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Top 5: Great Rides with Short Lines

Almost all of the best rides at Disneyland (understandably) have long lines. It makes sense that since so many people want to go on them throughout the day, the rides simply don't board fast enough for the lines to shorten. This is not a rule that applies to all great rides, so here is a list of rides with short lines that are just as great as any other.

5. It's a Small World

First opened in 1964 for the New York World's Fair, this popular boat ride is loved by all. And when you first get in line, you'll see just how loved it is. It's a Small World always has a long trail of people in the queue, but once you're waiting, it becomes apparent how quickly you approach the ride. The constant crowd of boats helps move the line along, and the fun songs and charming aesthetic make this ride worth the (short) wait.


4. Ariel's Undersea Adventure

For a 6 minute ride, Ariel's Undersea Adventure is packed with famous songs and adorable animatronic characters straight out of The Little Mermaid. It's a ride that was made thoughtfully by all the Imagineers who worked on it, detailed and artfully decorated. Inspired by the track layout for Adventure Thru Inner Space and the Haunted Mansion, it's a quick Omnimover (a ride where all the cars move at once) that anyone can enjoy. As much as I love this ride, one of the main reasons to go on it is that the wait is hardly ever over 15 minutes. Even when it looks like a relatively long line, it moves and boards quickly, making it a fantastic ride with hardly any line at all.

3. California Screamin'

Previously mentioned in the list "Top 5: Fastest Fast Passes," this ride is fast-paced both on the track and off. The queue itself is very short, and the wait is even shorter. Even if it had a really long line, I would wait for California Screamin' and think it was worth it. Made all the more fun by light carnival music that plays throughout the ride and with a safety warning narrated by Dee Bradley Baker, this ride is one of the best in the park. The fact that you will never wait a long time just makes it even better.





2. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Out of all of Disney's "mountain" rides (Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, the Matterhorn, etc.), this one has the shortest line. Thunder Mountain is a favorite in Frontierland, but that doesn't mean you need to wait 45 minutes to get on the mine train. This ride is made enjoyable by gold rush era music and narration, animals blurring past, and a rocky mine cart rolling at break-neck speeds. Though the line is occasionally a little long, in comparison to the length and the quality of the ride, it earns its place as the second greatest ride with a short line.


1. Pirates of the Caribbean

If you've ever waited for Pirates of the Caribbean, you most likely have never waited for more than 20 minutes on an average day. It is also highly likely that you enjoyed the ride but then, who wouldn't? It is one of the most elaborately decorated rides in the park- they really didn't hold back. From advanced animatronics to rooms decked out with lavish decor and secrets, it's just a fantastic ride. It is one of my absolute favorite rides in the entire park, and I can always rely on it to have a fast line and quick boarding. It is very obvious why this ride is at the top of the list.





Saturday, April 20, 2013

Top 5: Rest Stops

When you're walking throughout the park, it can be difficult to find a nice place to stop and rest your aching feet. There's so much going on, it's hard to get away from the bustling crowds and constant parades, and just kick back in a quiet and reserved location. But fear no more, fellow patrons, because these are the top 5 places where you can chill in the breeze and perhaps enjoy lunch. The top 5 rest stops in Disneyland.

5. Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta (Paradise Pier)


This is a nice outdoor setting where guests can either purchase lunch, or simply relax under the many awnings and tables/chairs. I included it on the list because even on the busiest days, finding a table is never a problem. Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta offers so many seating arrangements that it just becomes a matter of choice. You can sit in the shade, under a tree, or under the sun. You can even sit by the bandstand and listen to a Russian folk band play Katiusza. It's awesome.

4. Innoventions Dream Home (Tomorrowland)


Yes, I actually happen to enjoy one of Disneyland's most hated attractions. The relatively new Dream Home occupies the first floor of the infamous product placement-fest known as "Innoventions". It's basically a gigantic commercial where famous companies such as Microsoft and Samsung advertise their products to create the perfect home, complete with surround sound stereos, voice-activated kitchen sinks, and reclining chairs. Everything is top-notch and it's actually very nice to lay back and relax in one of their armchairs. Pick up a remote and select a song from the screen, they have everything from the B52's and the Beach Boys to classic Disney favorites. Innoventions is now a great place to sit in the cool air-conditioning and wait for your Space Mountain Fastpass to activate. Why not? It's only a short walk away.

3. Under Silly Symphony Swings (Paradise Pier)


This little nook is highly overlooked. On the ground-level of the Silly Symphony Swings, there's a small patio on top of the water with wooden benches and a great view of the boardwalk. The Ferris Wheel, California Screamin' and World of Color, are all in view. This scenic spot is especially great at night, when all the lights on the boardwalk are illuminated. I can think of no better place to watch World of Color, as you don't have to stand, and you're right on top of the water looking straight at the show. If it's a nice summer evening and the day has been spent, you can be sure to find me here.

2. Hungry Bear (Frontierland)


I really do love these waterfront patios. It's very peaceful to sit under the shade and look out at the rippling water. Here, it's a much more rustic, even outdoorsy feel than the one mentioned above. There's something about being surrounded by nature that's hard to come by at a place like Disneyland. Every so often, the Mark Twain will circle around, or the Sailing Ship Columbia will fire off its cannons. Davy Crockett's Explorer canoes will paddle by. Even ducks like to swim around in the water in search of bread. It's just a great sit-down venue where you can enjoy the ambience of Frontierland, and one of the truly adventurous rest stops the park has to offer.

Honorable mention: Before we move on to number 1, I'd like to acknowledge a couple places that couldn't fit the list but are great nonetheless. Frontierland's Golden Horseshoe Stage is a nice, dimly lit saloon that feels like an authentic, old west restaurant. It's also one of the few venues in the park that opened on day one: July 17, 1955. They have played many shows there over the years, but if you want a good laugh check out the always hilarious Billy Hill and the Hillbillies.
Another great rest stop is the Refreshment Corner on Main Street. They have tables and umbrellas and an charming 1920's feel that only Main Street can have. They have also got a set of ragtime piano players who periodically appear throughout the course of the day and converse with guests. It's a great throwback to Walt Disney's time, and will hopefully remain forever.

1. Grand Californian Lobby (California Adventure)


The lobby of The Grand Californian Hotel is the definition of comfortable. It's got sofas where you can lay down and stretch your legs, a TV playing Mickey Mouse cartoons for the kids, and a fantastic live piano player who takes requests. The hotel was modeled after northern California lodges and has a very distinct, peaceful mountainy feel that few other areas in the park can capture. When you walk through the sliding doors on a hot day the first thing you'll notice is the great gust of cool air that blasts from the building. It's so nice in here, just passing through to Downtown Disney could take a few extra minutes... or hours. They have a huge fireplace to make it feel even more cozy, and an enormous, ornate Christmas tree during the holidays. If you are in DCA and need a place to rest, this is easily the most comfortable location you'll find.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Disney Hong Kong's "Marvel Land" Unconfirmed

Rumors of a Marvel-themed section of Hong Kong's new Disneyland have just been shot down by Disney Park execs. You may recall that Disney purchased both Lucasfilm and Marvel in recent years, and Disney Parks have yet to take advantage of either one since the acquisitions. The already existent and popular Indiana Jones and Star Wars attractions have been a staple in park history, but Marvel-themed attractions could certainly appeal to children of the new Avengers and Amazing Spider-Man era. Not to mention the upcoming Star Wars films that would make Star Wars more relevant to young fans again. No word yet on Disneyland Resort getting a Marvel treatment, but plans for a Marvel area of Disney Euro have been rumored for years.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Clarabelle's Ice Cream


There are so many places to get ice cream at Disneyland, it really just depends on your personal preference. Do you like pineapple ice cream? Head over to the Dole Whip Stand. Like soft-serve? Try Paradise Pier Ice Cream Co. Prefer hand-scooped? There's the Main Street Ice Cream Parlor.
And then you have this place.

Clarabelle's is a good old-fashioned ice cream parlor, like something you would imagine came out of the 1920's. Seriously, look at the freaking place.

It's so elegant!
This is really the only place in the California Disney parks where you can have whatever kind of ice cream you want. They have sprinkles, cherries, mountains of whipped cream... you can get your ice cream in a crispy waffle cup or a crunchy cone. The flavors are all your standard ice cream flavors: chocolate, mint, vanilla... You can even get your ice cream in a little plastic model of the streetcars that are right outside on Buena Vista Street. If you're looking for a wholesome, old-fashioned ice cream experience like maybe your grandparents had at the soda fountain, try it out. Nothing says traditional like Clarabelle's.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Pickle

These pickles are pretty awesome. I'm personally not a fan of pickles, but just look at these behemoth pickles. Oh my God. I don't know who in Disney's marketing department decided they should just sell individual pickles, but it's surely a unique experience. I mean seriously, these things must be pumped with hormones. I've never seen a pickle this large anywhere.


And they're surprisingly satisfying. They're pretty crunchy and juicy and always kept in ice. There's something about biting into a pickle the size of a corn dog that I can't really describe. Like, you can buy this pickle as a meal. Not as a little snack but a legitimate meal. Only at Disneyland.

Price: $2.00
Location: Anywhere (fruit vendors)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Turkey Leg

Don't underestimate this beast of a meal; it isn't your average piece of poultry. The Disneyland turkey legs are ginormous, and aren't exactly light as a feather. We recommend you find a place to sit before chowing down -- and more importantly, find a few other people to share it with.


What can I say? They're deliciously salty, but they don't go overboard with the salt. The outer layer is extra juicy, so make sure you pick up some napkins, but once you get past the skin, the meat around the bone isn't so greasy. Each layer that you tear through gets more and more tender, and if you've braved one of these on your own, you will no doubt need a large bottle of water to wash it down. It makes for a great lunch, especially if you have your family with you, but with tax included you'll need quite a big budget to afford them. Of course, don't be intimidated by the price; you'll get just as much meat as you paid for. They're available at numerous locations throughout both parks, so stop by and pick up one of these monster drumsticks. You'll feel like a Viking.

Price: $8.99
Location: Anywhere

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Cozy Cone: Ramone's Pear of Dice Soda

Back to the Cozy Cone Motel. Visit the cone furthest to the left for an exotic soft drink experience known as Ramone's Pear of Dice soda (pair of dice + paradise + pear = triple pun). It's a purple-colored soda that, as the name suggests, tastes like pear.

(Spoiler: it's just Sprite with pear-flavored syrup)
As strange as the idea might seem, the pear soda is one of my personal favorite drinks at Disneyland. Why it's purple is a mystery to me, but it gives it a unique look that is sure to raise some eyebrows throughout the park. If you like strange or unusual sodas, the Pear of Dice Soda is a tasty concoction that makes a great introduction to the rest of the drinks sold at the Cozy Cone.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Top 5: Worst Disneyland Guests

Disneyland: the Happiest Place on Earth. Sometimes a visit to the D's can bring out the worst in people, especially with the constantly rising prices of admission. But most of the time, behavior is exhibited at Disneyland that is simply uncalled for -- especially in an environment where children are running free. If you find that one of the entries on this list apples to you, please make a change. Sincerely, most patrons of Disneyland.

5. Flash Photographers

Now, before we begin, I'm not talking about the infamous "flash mountain" incidents. Disney seems to take care of those pretty well. No, these guests seem to appear mostly on Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion. You know who they are. They fill up their camera roll with blinding flash pictures of every possible angle of the ride. And it seemingly never ends. As this practice is against park rules, a cast member will almost always come over the intercom and tell them to stop. But what are they going to do, shut down the ride? Flash photographers will continue to disrupt the ride and ruin the Disney experience with a flash going off every five seconds. Because everyone just NEEDS to have a picture of the treasure room.

"Turn off the flash, ye fo'c'sle swab!"
4. Shrieking Adults


Sometimes rides can be scary for children. If they're scary to the point where a child is screaming, I say they should ride something else. But that's not my decision to make. However, an adult should never encourage children to scream. I often see this on The Haunted Mansion and Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror. My last experience on ToT included a grown woman and her daughter having a "screaming contest". That's fine and all once the ride starts, but I had to endure this while waiting for the ride to even begin. Please don't make a habit of shrieking for no reason, it's really unpleasant to everyone else around you. You're on a ride with dozens of other people and making all of them miserable.

3. Parents Who Force Their Children Onto Rides

This sort of goes in line with the one above, in the context of parents allowing their child to scream and whine. Sometimes a child who is screaming and crying their red eyes dry, will be dragged aboard a roller coaster or scary ride that they don't want to take part in. It's not so much an annoyance, as it is a disturbing display of bad parenting. I don't care how long you waited, your child should never have to ride something that they don't want to. It can be traumatic and damaging for a kid to have to endure something they don't want or have to. I once saw a screaming, crying child being forcefully lifted into Astro Orbitor after throwing up on himself. Utterly disgraceful.

2. Parents Who Use Strollers as a Weapon


 These people I have heard quite a bit of criticism about, across the message boards, and happen to despise them myself. They let their 5-year-old sit in a stroller so they can charge around the park mowing down anyone in their path. Some people with strollers feel entitled to the road, and carelessly bulldoze through crowds. Have you ever come face-to-face with a stroller, and tried to go around them while they swerved in every which direction you turned? Every. Freaking. Time.
Seriously, they should have background checks for people who want to rent strollers. Some people are considerate and actually care about their children and other guests, while some take advantage of these machines.
My advice: either wear close-toed shoes to Disneyland, or prepare to have bruised toenails by the end of the day.

1. Covert Cutters


These are hands-down, the worst people you will encounter at Disneyland. They send a seemingly innocent scout to wait in line while the rest of them go off and do God-knows-what. After waiting for about 30 minutes, the rest of their party all cuts through the line to join them. This type of behavior should be reported, and belongs nowhere in an amusement park.
Once while waiting for Dumbo, a man and his son were in front of my group in line. They saw the rest of their family and signalled for them to meet up. Right as I was about to roll my eyes and step out of the way, the father ushered us to the front saying, "You two should go ahead of us." I've never seen such class at Disneyland in my life.
Other times, there'll be someone waiting for a pack of nine people to cut in front of you. All you can do is sit back and watch them multiply like bacteria. You waited longer than them, why should you have to wait even longer? If there's just one person, I will gladly let them go ahead. If someone needs to leave the line briefly to go to the bathroom or buy a drink, I don't mind at all. But having a large group of people cut through the line to meet up with one or two people? Despicable. Do everyone else a courtesy and go to the back of the line where you belong.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Cozy Cone: Fillmore's Fuelin' Groovy Ades

As I've previously mentioned, one of the best additions to Cars Land is the Cozy Cone Motel. Inspired by the Wigwam Motels of the 1950's, it's a motel run by Sally Carrera, the blue Porsche from Pixar's Cars movie franchise. Guests can line up at any one of the cone-shaped motel rooms, each serving a unique snack or beverage. These drinks are typically not found anywhere else in the park, and range from grape to pear on the flavor scale. We will be reviewing these individual beverages, starting with Fillmore's Fuelin' Groovy Ades.

Remember Fillmore, the hippie VW Bus voiced by George Carlin? He's got his own shop toward the front of Cars Land. But stop by his cone at the Cozy Cone and you can check out his "groovy ades". Okay, let me rephrase that.
It's just lemonade!
The regular lemonade is just that; a sweet and tangy lemon refreshment with crushed ice. But Fillmore's real claim to Disneyland fame is the pomegranate limeade. Pomegranate-lime flavored lemonade? That's quite a mouthful. But what it really is, is a pomegranate-ade with lime-flavored white foam on the top. The foam is really sour in contrast to the tart pomegranate at the bottom. You can also purchase a Skyy Vodka variant of this drink (given that you're 21 or older). It's a delectable blend of opposing flavors that make the Cozy Cone Motel another must-see attraction at Disney's California Adventure.

Price: $3.75
Location: Cars Land

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Ticket Booths

From 1955-1982, Disneyland operated on a ride-ticket system. Though hardly any amusement parks still use this system, they were commonplace at the time. The idea was that guests would pay a relatively small admission fee, and have to buy additional tickets to go on each ride. Attractions were lettered A through E, where an E-ticket could get you on thrill rides like Space Mountain, and an
A-ticket would allow you to ride tamer rides like King Arthur's Carousel.

Tickets were distributed by various ticket booths throughout the park. At these booths, guests could purchase either a ticket book, complete with A, B, C, D, and E-tickets; or individual ride tickets. Today, these ticket booths can still be found in Disneyland, but they no longer sell tickets.




 As you can see, three of these ticket booths are just decorations - only one still functions as a kiosk, providing film and photo information. The mushroom ticket booth in front of Alice and Wonderland seems to have had either its window sealed up, or been replaced entirely. If you go around towards the back of the mushroom there's a door (the corner is just visible in the picture above), hinting that this may perhaps be the original ticket booth. The lighthouse ticket booth, however, appears to be just a replica. I've looked at old photographs of the original ticket booth in front of the Storybook Land Canal Boats, and the position and size of the lighthouse seem to have changed. To my knowledge, at least a couple more disguised ticket booths can still be seen at Disneyland. They won't be easy to find, but it makes for a challenging hunt. Nevertheless, it was a thoughtful decision to leave the ticket booths be, to remind guests of the era of A-tickets and E-tickets.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

THROWBACK THURSDAY: The Slow Decay of the Mine Train

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is one of the more famous and popular attractions at the Disneyland Resort. As a matter of fact, Disney World, Tokyo Disney, and Disneyland Paris all have their own Thunder Mountain. But only the one in Disneyland can trace its roots back to 1956, when Disneyland was in just its second year. It began as Rainbow Caverns Mine Train, a slow sit-down train that circled around desert rocks and colorful geisers. It didn't offer much, and was classified as a C-ticket attraction. But by 1960, Rainbow Caverns Mine Train was given a major upgrade, and became the Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland. The new mine train included all sorts of new sites and animals, most notably the new Cascade Peak: a tapering mountain with roaring waterfalls.

Cascade Falls
Nature's Wonderland carried guests all across Frontierland, over ponds and landscapes carefully sculpted by a class of imagineers whose meticulous work can still be seen today. But where?

Well, some parts of the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train are still intact. You may have noticed the Rainbow Caverns on Thunder Mountain, colorful craters inside the cave containing the lift hill. But the real remnant is the loading dock for the mine train. You will briefly pass it by just before exiting the ride.
Familiar?
That's the town of Rainbow Ridge. It served as the queue for both Rainbow Caverns Mine Train and Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland. But unless you're a Disneyland frequenter, you probably haven't thought much of these old buildings. So let's move on to the more noticeable remains of these old rides.

Bear River back in the day
Many parts of the track are still visible, including multiple tunnels. At one point in the ride, riders traverse a bridge over a bathing ground for bears, and into a cave on the other side of the river. Though the bridge and the bears are long gone, the tunnel can still be seen.


Sadly, these treasures are not permanent, as their state of disrepair causes them to gradually fall apart over the years. After the ride closed, part of the bridge actually remained, but it was destroyed in a storm in 2006.

What the bridge looked like before it collapsed
Remember Cascade Peak? What happened to that? It was huge! Well, that was taken down in the late 1990's, after it had visibly become a cracking pile of decrepit man-made rock and fake trees. What once was a tall mountain with waterfalls had become just a dry mountain, dwarfed by the trees that had grown over the decades. In about 1998, Cascade Peak saw its final days.

Cascade Peak, shortly before its demise
The site of Cascade Peak today
But there's still one last piece of Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland that we're going to look at. And that's the actual train itself. When the ride was closed, the trains were most likely sent to the Disneyland boneyard, disassembled and recycled. But one of the trains was left on the banks of Rivers of America, where it rotted in front of adventurers on Tom Sawyer's Island and the river's various boat rides. A hauntingly faded and peeling painted reminder, "NWRR" could still be seen on the side of the engine. Animatronic meerkats popped out of what used to be the passenger cars. This change disturbed many guests who hated to see their once favorite ride in such a tragic state. I thought it was awesome. But Disneyland caved in, and removed the train in 2010 to be placed forever in the Disneyland Vault.


Perhaps one day no traces of this historic ride will remain, survived only by these old photographs and stories. But for now, let's celebrate the imaginative ride whose ghosts still haunt the grounds of new Frontierland. Below are images of a couple other vestiges of Nature's Wonderland that you may have noticed. Long live that old west adventure.



Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mickey-Shaped Confections

Mickey Mouse can be seen all over the park; on memorabilia, balloons, even hidden on rides. But what mascot-obsessive amusement park would be complete without Mickey-shaped ice cream?

It's fun to bite the ears off
That's right, you can purchase these from pretty much any ice cream vendor around the park. If you've ever been to a Disney Park, chances are you've seen these all over the place. Why? Because they're great, that's why. These frozen treats are made by Nestlé, and come in two varieties. First, there's the chocolate-dipped ice cream bar shaped like the famous minimalist Mickey Mouse head.

Mickey-shaped ice cream sandwich
Then you have my personal favorite, the Mickey ice cream sandwich. It's like a regular old Klondike Bar, except it's in the shape of Mickey Mouse. What are you waiting for? Next time you're planning to wait outside for the upcoming parade or It's A Small World, grab yourself a NestlĂ© Mickey-shaped ice cream.

Price: $4.25
Location: Anywhere