Archive for June, 2012

Buena Vista Street restrooms

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

The time has come for us to fulfil our promise of giving you all the details of the new Disney California Adventure attractions!

We’ll start off with the wonderfully redone and thoroughly redesigned Buena Vista Street restrooms.

The Buena Vista Restrooms are no longer the main attractions (as they were in the old Sunshine Plaza), but they are still prominent and easy to locate on the right-hand side as you enter the park. The restroom complex has two entrances, one for men…

Buena Vista Street restroom entrance: Male version

…and another for women (which is very similar other than the signage, but which we were unable to photograph without inadvertently looking creepy).

The restrooms are clean and well maintained, and their overall mood of lightheated fun is set by delightful, slapstick signs such as this one:

Wacky Buena Vista Street restroom signage

Our only complaint is that the commodes are a bit too tall for the average American, and the toilet paper is mounted too low on the walls. For this reason, children have a tendency to fall in, and adults tend to get leg marks all over the toilet paper. But aside from that, it’s a true wonder of restroom technology!

One of our elephants is missing!

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

During our most recent visit to Disneyland, we stopped by the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor to check out its new design. We were very distressed to discover that the famous green-glass elephant was no longer on display.

According to castmembers, the elephant was removed as part of Disney’s new fight against childhood obesity. Said someone we talked to, "Elephants just aren’t the right symbol for American children. The plan is to melt down the elephant and recast it as something more image positive, such as a flamingo or well-balanced meal."

We invite you to send heated letters to Disneyland management to protest this affront to history and translucent pachydermery.

Secrets of the New DCA

Monday, June 11th, 2012

When experiencing the new additions at Disney California Adventure, one cannot help but be impressed by how immersive and detailed they are. We know you’re dying to hear about the new attractions — and we promise we’ll get there in short order — but first we thought we’d share our favorite "hidden treasures" of the new DCA.

Piston Springs initials

Much of the original Cars takes place in the little town of Radiator Springs. Unfortunately, Disney was not able to secure permission from the United Radiator Producers of America to use the term "Radiator" in DCA’s Cars Land, so the town has been rechristened Piston Springs for its real-world debut. As a show of civic pride, the town’s initials can be seen stamped hither and yon all across Cars Land. It on government buildings, official documents, "car-hole" covers in the street, on the surface of specially genetically engineered popcorn, and even spelled out in rocks on the mountainside!

Piston Springs initials

Mortimers Market

When Walt Disney lost the rights to his Oswald the Trademarked Rabbit character, he moved on to create a new character, Mortimer Mouse. Although Mortimer’s place in Disney’s stable of characters was eventually lost to Mickey Mouse (in a perfectly fair game of bridge), Mortimer has been commemorated in DCA with the opening of Mortimers Market on the new Buena Vista Street.

If you take a look at the sign to one side of this fruit-and-drink stand…

Mortimers Market sign

…you’ll notice something interesting — there’s no apostrophe in "Mortimers." This pays homage to the fact that Mortimers Market isn’t actually owned by Mortimer (it’s the property of The Walt Disney Company).

Ghirardelli animated mural

On the wall behind the new Ghiradelli soda fountain is a delightful mural depicting scenes from San Francisco. Not content to be a static display, every few minutes the mural comes to life, depicting such stereotypically San Franciscan scenes as an earthquake, an escape from Alcatraz, a Golden Gate Bridge suicide attempt, Rice-A-Roni, or — as depicted here — an impending streetcar collision.

Ghirardelli animated mural

Disneyland references

Because this relative newcomer to the Disneyland Resort recognizes the park that made it all possible, there are many, many Disneyland references in the new DCA. Much has been written about the reference to the 20,000 Leagues walkthrough attraction in the queue for Luigi’s Flying Tires and the Mr. Toad train in Piston Springs Racers, but to our knowledge nobody has made note of this use of Mara script (from the Indiana Jones attraction) in the Fiddler, Fifer, and Practical Cafe.

Mara Script at the FF&P Cafe

The giraffe

In the window of one of the shops on Buena Vista Street is a stuffed giraffe that pays tribute to either the giant Lego giraffe that used to be in the Downtown Disney Lego Store, or the Jungle Cruise giraffe that got its head knocked off by a misdirected construction crane some years ago. There’s also a persistent internet rumor that it’s named Giraffrey Katzenberg, but that doesn’t make much sense to us.

Secret giraffe

Streetmosphere "characters"

At certain times throughout the day, colorful "streetmosphere" characters can be found on Buena Vista Street, interacting with guests and helping set the scene as 1920s Los Angeles. At least, that’s what Disney would have you believe. In fact, there are no streetmosphere characters — Disney simply encourages guests (annual passholders in particular) to "get in the mood" and dress in silly outfits when visiting the park, and other guests just assume that they must be official park employees. When we met this woman…

Flashy photographer lady by faded cable car

…we initially assumed she was a castmember. After a little careful questioning, however, we discovered that she was actually an unemployed screenwriter from Santa Monica, visiting DCA to take photos for her blog.

No Cars Land castmembers

Everybody knows that Disneyland Resort has no employees, only castmembers. In the new Cars Land, Disney has taken the idea of placemaking one step further, and instead of the new land being staffed by castmembers, it’s staffed by "cars" (which is an abbreviation of CAst membeRS — get it?) You can easily spot a "Car" in Cars Land because they always use "two tires" to point at things.

Cars Land "Cars Only" sign

That’s it for now. Let us know if the comments if you discover any additional secrets in the new DCA that you’d like to share. In the meantime, we’re hard at work on our reporting of all the new attractions and will be telling you about them shortly!

The Nine Worst Problems with Cars Land

Monday, June 11th, 2012

We were lucky enough to be able to preview Disney California Adventure’s new offerings this weekend, and over the next few days we will be reporting on them extensively. However, while we sort through our terabytes of photographs and pare our comments down to a few thousand words, we want to take a moment to get something off our chest. Yes, Cars Land had quite a bit to offer, but it also — sad to say — had a few rather enormous problems.

So, without further ado, here is our list of the nine worst problems with DCA’s new Cars Land:

1. Obscure references. Let’s start off with a minor one. Upon entering Cars Land, we walked past the glorious landscape of the Piston Springs outback. Along the way, we saw signs like these:

What are those, you might well ask? They are a humorous reference to the old Burma Shave signs that were placed along the side of the road to greet travelers of olden days — covered wagons, the Lone Ranger, folks like that. What kid today is going to get a Burma Shave joke? Heck, what kid’s parent is going to get it?

2. The music. Now we get into the big stuff. Music is playing all through Cars Land, but even though every little detail of this land was carefully thought out, apparently nobody thought to check to make sure that the music makes sense in the context of a land that represents a world run by sentient cars. For example, why would there be a song about a “truck driving man” when trucks can drive themselves? And think about the woman singing about saving up her money to buy a car — in the world of Cars, wouldn’t buying a car be akin to slavery? What is this, Pirates of the Caribbean?

3. Speed limit. If the sign is to be believed, the speed limit in Piston Springs is 25 miles per hour. Now look at this photo:

See Lightning McQueen in the background there? Well, he’s not going anything close to 25 MPH. Why wouldn’t a sports car like McQueen be pushing the speed limit at all times? It just ruins the illusion of immersion.

4. Price gouging. If you buy a bottle of water from a cast member who is walking around selling drinks, it costs $3. However, if you stand in line at a snack or beverage stand and buy that same bottle of water, it costs $3.01. Why? Because after you’ve stood in line, they know they’ve got you. You’re not going to refuse to pay that penny after spending so much time waiting to make your purchase. That’s corporate greed right there, is what that is.

5. Inverted signage. Standing in the town’s main intersection, you can see a “Route 66″ sign like this:

…painted on the ground to the north of you and to the south of you. Both of them are, as you can see in the photo, upside down.

6. Rule Breaking. Piston Springs Racers is an incredible attraction and we enjoyed it very much. single rider line What we did not enjoy was the lax enforcement of attraction rules and policies. In particular, we conducted an informal survey and discovered that more than 25% of the people in the single-rider line were, in fact, not single at all, but married.

7. Atmosphere. This is another relatievely minor point, but we found it difficult to immerse ourselves in Cars Land was it was so full of humans.

8. Traffic control. The stoplight at the center of town was permanently blinking amber, causing confusion and traffic snarls.

9. Luigi’s. The biggest batch of problems we found was with the queue for Luigi’s Flying Tires. First and foremost, at the beginning of the queue there are many posters showing Luigi’s obvious preference for Ferraris. Since there are no manufactured vehicles in the Cars universe, cars must be born Ferraris, so in context Luigi’s not expressing brand preference, he’s being racist. This is just not appropriate for a family park.

Moving into Luigi’s showroom, we found many, many problems with the tires on display. For example, we looked closely at the rows of tires:

Looks fine, right? Well, look closer. Here’s a Lightyear brand tire:

…and a Linguini:

…and a Cannelloni:

…and a Lasagna:

…and an Antipasti:

Notice something peculiar? That’s right! Even though these are all supposed to be different brands of tire, they all have the same tread pattern! It’s completely ridiculous, and thoroughly ruined the illusion for us. Also, none of the tires seem thick enough to be steel belted radials, even though they are advertised as such.

But the final icing on the bitter cake came in the showcase of awards and mementos where we found this little gem:

That’s right, it’s a cute little reference to John Lasseter, but they spelled his name wrong!!! Oh the shame, the shame of it all!!!

Okay, that’s all we’ve got. Thanks for letting us get it off of our chest. We promise that all future posts about the new stuff at DCA will be much more positive and less likely to spawn flame wars in our comments section.