Yeah I’m a film junkie, but I’m also a bit of a theme park junkie. Every summer, I plan on travelling to at least one of the big parks: Disney, Universal, Six Flags, or Wonderland. This September, I’m planning on hitting Disney for my 21st time… (Technically, I’ve gone to Disney World 19 times, and Disneyland twice). Over the years, I’ve noticed the saturation of movie themed rides in each park – “Ride the movies!”, proclaims the popular Universal ad campaign. Disney has been creating movie and TV themed programming in its parks since it opened in 1955. Although Disney’s original park concepts mined literary classics by Mark Twain and Jules Verne, the modern park is inundated with Pixar tie-ins. Six Flags and Wonderland has also joined the bandwagon, tagging many of its popular attractions with pop culture characters. I’m going to start my series with Good Bad Ugly Disneyland Anaheim – perhaps giving enough time for an update after my next visit. I don’t include Theme Rides that eventually were made in movies – like Eddie Murphy in “The Haunted Mansion” – but could include “The Pirates of the Carribean”, as movie elements were added to the ride after the success of the film. The only problem is that I haven’t seen the Johnny Deppified ride in person… the attraction was shut down for maintenance on my last 2 visits.
“A Nightmare Before Christmas” Haunted Mansion Holiday.
OK, I already broke the rules… or not. The Haunted Mansion is one of my favourites at Disney (although I like the gothic exterior design of the Disney World attraction over the New Orleans aesthetic of Disneyland’s). Almost a decade ago, I was shocked to learn that The Haunted Mansion would be refitted with a Nightmare Before Christmas motif during the Fall months. I went down to check things out on the Grand Opening (October 3, 2001), and was blown away at how amazing things turned out. I was surprised at how seamless the Disney Imagineers infused the Nightmare elements into a theme park ride that was nearly 40 years old. It didn’t feel like the new additions had an ‘out of place’ cheap feel to them. All of the main Nightmare cast made an appearance thoughout the ride, and Danny Elfman’s amazing score was featured prominently. The ride is still a seasonal fixture at Disneyland, but I noticed it’s being called “The Haunted Mansion Holiday”. I’m pretty sure it was called “Nightmare Before Christmas” when I first visited, but I guess the f*cking ‘Political Correctness’ police caught up with this ride and removed the ‘Christmas’ moniker. What’s next? Will future versions of the film be called “Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before the Seasonal Holiday that you may or may not Celebrate”? I’m still have lingering sadness over the removal of the few horny pirates over at ‘Pirates of the Carribean’. Whatever its current name, a ride worth planning your next trip around – and the park crowds are pretty manageable at this time of year (Labor Day – American Thanksgiving).
“Indiana Jones Adventure”
This’ll get me some serious flack from die-hard fans of this ride, but it’s a bit of a personal gripe I have with a major selling point of this whole experience. One thing touted with the attraction is the fact that you get to embark on 3 totally different adventures! All of this is completely random (depending on which ride car you get on from the line up) – so you never know which ‘path’ you’ll head down. Each time, the ride will offer ‘countless variations’ and the ‘adventure is almost never exactly the twice’ as some weird goddess named Mara offers varying rewards to each visitor. Those last few lines are from the official brochure. Notice the words “almost exactly”. That means you might ride the same thing twice. And it’s a pretty surefire bet you’ll be riding the same bloody experience over and over and over – as there are only 3 different paths on the ride. And what exactly is your unique adventure experience? It’s the first major room in the ride where the goddess Mara thing says “You have received Earthly Riches!” or “You have received Eternal Youth!” or “You have received Future Knowledge!” Of course, my first time on this ride, I didn’t receive the gift of Future Knowledge or else I would’ve known that this whole multiple path concept was a bullsh*t notion. I wasted so much time lining up for this ride multiple times, only to get the same ‘Earthly Riches’ path! Arghh. When I finally went on all 3 paths (after more than 10 tries and countless wasted hours), the experiences aren’t really different from one another. Basically that first room you enter has some minor differences that make it unique, but it isn’t a game-changer. After the first room, the rest of the ride is pretty much the same every single time. The rest of the ride is pretty fun (and on par with the first 3 Indiana Jones movies). I hear they’re adding another section to the ride, however, where elements of ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ are added. In this part, the ride shuts down for uncomfortably long time while you get pummeled in the head by a giant hammer.
“Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin”
A zany Roger Rabbit Ride? Sign me up! Maybe not… This ride is possibly the most inane and uninspiring of anything offered in Disneyland. Although there’s other candidates like the stuff with the Pixar moniker hastily slapped on like “Buzz Lightyear AstroBlasters”, most of it is geared for little kids, and I’m a discerning adult who doesn’t meddle in such nonsense. Roger Rabbit is one of my favourite films, and the ability to enter the zany Toon Town seems to have limitless possibilities for a ride experience. Initially, the ride looks pretty cool. You get to sit in a toon cab and move the steering wheel! Apparently on this ride: “Each time you ride is a different experience!” You hear that, Indiana Jones?! Every ride is different, not “almost exactly” different. And if a different experience each time means you get to movie the steering wheel which jerks the cab you’re sitting in slightly left or right on a fixed track, you’re in for the biggest treat of a lifetime! Regardless of this ‘unlimited possibilities’ nonsense, at least Indiana Jones was well designed and interesting. The Toon Town of ‘Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin’ is dull, gloomy and feels quickly slapped together. Most of the environmental props are presented in 2-D flatness and rarely do you see anything that feels interactive. If you a Disney ‘dark ride’ that really works, check out “Mr. Toads Wild Ride”… before they tear it down to make way for “Pixar’s Pixallating World of Infinite Possibilities – Where every Ride is never almost exactly totally the same”.