April 30, 2013

Teacup Chairs at the Disneyland Hotel

Teacup Chairs Disneyland Hotel lobby giant Fantasy tower
While visiting the Disneyland Hotel's Fantasy Tower, you're sure to notice the unusual seating accommodations in the lobby. They're weird and they're big--they're the semi-famous teacup chairs!

I have mixed feelings about these guys. I'm glad they exist, because the world can't have too much whimsy, and I really like the little table representing the control wheel...but...

They do creep me out just a little bit. I don't know why. Is it because they look like they've had all the color sucked out of them? I wish the carpet picked up the theme with--I dunno--circle patterns suggesting saucers or something...

On the other hand, I'm glad there are things at the resort that I can't neatly sort into "like" or "dislike" (two others: Astro Orbitor and Duffy). All I know is, if these chairs slowly rotated in place...well, then we'd have the most awesome hotel furniture on the planet.

April 29, 2013

Gadget's Go Coaster & Toontown's Forgotten Inventor

Gadget's Go Coaster appears to have been cobbled together from Tinker Toys, bottle caps and acorns. It's a cheerful, speedy little adventure based on a forgotten character many Disneyland guests are completely unfamiliar with: the ingenious, orphaned mouse whose engineering skills proved invaluable to a Detective Agency called Chip N' Dale's Rescue Rangers.
Back in the 1990's, most children and animation fans recognized Gadget Hackwrench from the adventure series, and she remains the only Disney television cartoon star to be awarded her very own ride. Today, Gadget's weather vane seems to sum up her current place in the public consciousness: she's a mysterious silhouette with a backstory few remember.
Still, as guests virtually shrink to rodent size and make their way toward Gadget's workshop, they encounter dozens of clever details reflecting the young inventor's resourcefulness. Her plucky spirit lives on, and -- who knows -- maybe someday Disney will bring her back to assist Chip n' Dale in a new adventure.

Along with Monterey Jack...and Zipper...to foil Fat Cat once again...

Man, that really was a great show.

April 28, 2013

Strange Things 9: Laughing Sky Edition!

Holy Cheshire Cats, "Beyond the Laughing Sky" is on iTunes! Time for another edition of Strange Things -- Recordings of Disney tunes which are offbeat, rarely heard or performed in unexpected ways. All are available on iTunes and Amazon MP3.

This first one, a stealth release from Disney, is one fans have been waiting for since the days of laser disc!
Strange Things Offbeat DIsney tunes songs Peter Pan Laughing
TRACK: Beyond the Laughing Sky
ALBUM: The Lost Chords: Peter Pan

The Lost Chords are short albums highlighting songs which were not used in the Disney films they were written for. Past releases include songs from Cinderella, The Aristocats and The Rescuers. Each lets you hear the original demo version, followed by a new recording of the piece.

"Beyond the Laughing Sky", however, is a special song--one that forever links the production history of Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. If you watched the bonus material on the Alice in Wonderland laser disc or recent DVD releases, you probably know its history. The song was written for Alice, but not used. With a new set of lyrics, the song became "Second Star to the Right" in Peter Pan. Here's a music clip from the video releases, hosted by Kathryn Beaumont, the voice of both Alice and Wendy:

The new recording (by Vangie Gunn) on iTunes is beautiful. If you buy one Disney song this week, this is the one to get. Its history is strange, but its performance is wonderful.

Next up (we've got five picks today): Time for a classic 20,000 Leagues song as sung by a bunch of scallawags...

April 27, 2013

Tips For The Cars Land Rope Drop & Mini-Parade

Cars Land Carsland Mater Sign Entrance DCA Disney Adventure
If you're a Disney Park fan, you're probably familiar with the morning ritual known as the "Rope Drop", where early-bird guests are admitted to the park's entry area, but held at a temporary barrier (the "rope") until the official opening moment.

Today, we're at Disney California Adventure for one of the most well-organized and clever rope-drop variations I've ever encountered: The Cars Land Mini-Parade and Gasoline Hose March! There are a couple of tricks to it you might find helpful on your next visit...
DCA DIsney California Adventure Entrance Extra Magic Hour
First off, be sure to arrive early -- crazy early. The goal is to be near the front of one of the many entry lines before the park opens. After the morning greeting from the cast and a click through the turnstyle...

DCA DIsney California Adventure Buena Vista Rope Drop
Move as quickly as possible (without running) down Buena Vista Street. There is a massive crowd flowing in behind you at this moment...
DCA DIsney California Adventure Rope Drop Carthay early
Continue around the right side of the Carthay Circle Restaurant. Don't look back!
DCA DIsney California Adventure Cars Land Rope Drop wait
You'll arrive at the "rope" (just below our view, here) and halt momentarily. The Cars Land entrance waits up ahead. You just might see Lightning McQueen and Mater driving about, getting into place for the Hose March (not Disney's official name for the event).
DCA DIsney California Adventure Rope Drop crowd Cars Land
Unlike at Disneyland, where the rope-drop crowd splits off in different directions between three or four big attractions, almost every single person behind you is heading for Radiator Springs Racers. No worries: Prepare for a really clever bit of crowd control by the DCA cast.

April 26, 2013

Donald in Bronze

Donald Duck Disneland statue bronze Central Plaza hub garden
The impressive Partners statue of Walt and Mickey draws folks to the middle of Disneyland's Central Plaza, but alert guests soon realize they're surrounded by a charming circle of smaller character tributes.

We've looked at Pluto and the White Rabbit, but today we're focusing on Mickey's friend and rival, Donald Fauntleroy Duck. Positioned and posed to take full advantage of his castle-tastic backdrop, the temperamental fowl admirably conceals his boiling rage at the fact that--just a few yards away--Mickey gets to pose with the boss.

April 25, 2013

Screamin' Over Toy Story

California Screamin' Toy Story Paradise Pier loop DCA Disney
Today we have a quick look at California Screamin' looping gracefully over Toy Story Midway Mania. Both rides are technological marvels presented as old-time seashore boardwalk fun.

The combination of old and new, plus the blending of classic amusement park showmanship and Disney's attention to detail makes today's Paradise Pier one of the company's most unusual and thrilling themed lands.

April 24, 2013

Scuttle's Endearing Rambling

The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure is basically DCA's answer to It's A Small World. It's not the thrilling journey among storms, sharks and ghost-ships-in-a-giant-whirlpool that I would have preferred, but it is a colorful, air-conditioned cruise through some pleasant musical setpieces.
Little Mermaid Adventure ride Scuttle seagull DCA Disney
Best of all, it's got Scuttle. I have a few gripes about the way a couple of the ride's scenes turned out, but the decision to have Scuttle open and close the journey was absolutely brilliant. I especially love his first scene, where he rambles on and on--trying to set up the story and never quite getting to the point.

When you reach the journey's end, and you hear him remark, "...that's how I remember it..." it adds a touch of humor to ease the disappointment of not getting to see the epic battle with the sea-witch.
Little Mermaid Adventure ride DCA Disney Ursula cutout mini
Because, apparently, Scuttle remembers it like this. Ah, well....

April 23, 2013

The Cursed Treasure and the Lost Story Point

Pirates Caribbean Disneyland Treasure cave cavern gold cursed
"No fear have ye of evil curses, says you. Properly warned ye be, says I. Who knows when that evil curse will strike the greedy beholders of this bewitched treasure!"

It's hard to believe, but there's a whole new generation of Disneyland fans who have never heard those classic lines on Pirates of the Caribbean!

Consider this messed-up scenario: Ride inspires movie. Movie focuses on the ride's cursed treasure plot point. Ride is altered to incorporate the movie, but the plot point that inspired the movie in the first place is completely removed from the ride!

April 22, 2013

The Weirdest Thing In DCA

DCA Sideshow Shirts shop Paradise Pier DIsney California
At Disney California Adventure, guests encounter many offbeat sights, from a Cadillac Mountain Range to the factory restroom of Monsters, Inc. Inside a Paradise Pier shop called Sideshow Shirts, however, they'll come face to face with the park's strangest inhabitant...
Giant Barker statue Sideshow DCA DIsney California Paradise
It's this guy. If you've never shopped for souvenirs under the gaze of a gigantic, stooped-over sideshow barker holding up the ceiling...well, here's your chance!
Giant Barker statue Sideshow DCA DIsney California Paradise
It really is an amazing statue, full of personality. It reminds me of the old Fun House at San Francisco's Playland at the Beach (long gone), which featured a large central room under the watch of giant clown faces hanging from the ceiling.
Giant Barker statue Sideshow DCA DIsney California Paradise
Paradise Pier once hosted a giant hamburger, a giant orange, a giant test-of-strength game and giant sunglasses on a dinosaur. Our friend the giant Sideshow Barker has managed to--so far--escape the wrecking ball fate of his oversized buddies. In that light, the poor guy almost looks like he's hiding, hoping he's not the next to go. I'll keep my fingers crossed for him; He may be strange, but he certainly is unique, fun and startling in a classic boardwalk kind of way.

April 21, 2013

King Leonidas in 2008

King Leonidas Disney Electrical Parade DCA California calliope
It's everyone's favorite showboating monarch, King Leonidas! He might be a bit of a tyrant--and his soccer sportsmanship's a bit iffy--but he can play that calliope like no one's business (and he knows it!) Working the crowd for more laughs and cheers than any other character in the Electrical Parade, he's the one Bedknobs and Broomsticks character who's remained in the public eye through sheer charisma (or maybe no one's got the nerve to hand him a pink slip.)

This picture was taken in 2008 during the Electrical Parade's DCA run, just before the show headed to Walt Disney World.

In the interest of good taste, I cropped this photo a bit: King Leo had just plopped back down on his calliope bench, and his tail was hanging in a really awkward, family-inappropriate spot. Yeah, that's right--Mouse Troop's protecting the dignity of cartoon royalty!

April 20, 2013

Bull in a China Shop

Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin Disneyland Bull China Shop
Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin presented a unique challenge for its designers: most of its scenes would be viewed from spinning vehicles. There would be no "fixed" point of view for riders, so each room had to work from all angles.

One of the most brilliant solutions, The Bullina China Shop, is encountered early in the ride. Fantastically disorienting, it's a madhouse of noise and animation, from the rattling dishware to the frantic proprietor's balancing act. Huge mirrors fool the eye (in the above photo, the left doorway is a reflection), and the true exit only becomes clear as the taxis crash their way out.

April 19, 2013

A Victim of Remodeling: World of Disney's White Rabbit

White Rabbit World of Disney Downtown store display house
The White Rabbit is one of my favorite Disney characters, so I was delighted to find him freaking out from inside his residence above the mountain of plush toys in the original version of the "Alice" room of Disneyland Resort's World of Disney Store. Once upon a time, his entire house formed the focal point of that section of the shop.

Unfortunately, W. Rabbit and his house vanished during a major remodeling of the sales floor, and in their place the store got...well....um...nothing memorable.

The Queen of Hearts' exhausted, stressed-out herald can still be found in several spots in Disneyland, but the World of Disney Store is now, regrettably, de-bunnyfied.

April 18, 2013

A Tribute to Monstro, Fantasyland's Biggest Villain

Welcome to Whale Poetry Thursday! What better subject than the wondrous and despicable Monstro, who stars in two Fantasyland attractions: Storybook Land Canal Boats and Pinocchio's Daring Journey. The Disney Hipsters have the realm of park Haikus perfected, so all I can do is pay homage to Lewis Carroll and Isaac Watts...
How doth the massive angry whale
Improve the flower beds
And swallow elder toymakers
N' little woodenheads.
How scarily he lunges forth
By Daring Journey's track
And grosses out canal tours
With his epic layers of plaque.

April 17, 2013

One Rock, Two Checkpoints

Radiator Springs Racers Willy's Butte Cars Land Carsland DCA
Willy's Butte, one of the most recognizable rock formations in the Cars Universe, marks two important story moments both in the film and on Radiator Springs Racers.

In the movie, it's the site of two character life-changing scenes for rookie Lightning McQueen and veteran racer Doc Hudson.

On the ride, it visually bookends the first and last acts of the adventure, first appearing to riders as a remote landmark silhouetted against the sky, then later looming over the race's climactic banked turn. Between those two moments, guests have changed from curious sightseers to honorary citizens of Radiator Springs--and from relaxed spectators to whooping, adrenaline-pumped competitors.
Radiator Springs Racers Willy's Butte Cars Land Carsland DCA
There are many, many reasons the ride succeeds so well, and this awesome rock plays a silent but important role as the journey's lighthouse and cornerstone.

April 16, 2013

From Paradise Pier Hotel to the Park Gates

Yesterday, we covered the pros and cons of staying at the Paradise Pier Hotel. Today, we've got a photo-tour of one important factor most first-time guests ask about: Just how long is the trek from Paradise Pier Hotel to the Parks? Your best bet is to take the shortcut through the Grand Californian. The journey goes like this:
Walk Trek Paradise Pier Hotel to Disneyland DCA shortcut
As you exit the Paradise Pier Hotel and turn left, this is what you'll see. That's Disneyland Drive, a public street, on the right. We proceed along the sidewalk to the corner...

April 15, 2013

Advantages & Quirks of the Paradise Pier Hotel

Paradise Pier Hotel Disneyland Resort sign advantages reasons
At Disneyland Resort, the Paradise Pier Hotel has become my family's favorite lodgings choice for several reasons. Price, of course, has a lot to do with it; Paradise Pier is the least expensive of the three Disney-owned hotels in Anaheim, which translates to the least expensive way to get Extra Magic Hour at the parks. Over many visits, however, other factors have endeared this hotel to our group.

I'll be perfectly honest with this recommendation: If you can afford to stay at the Disneyland Hotel or the Grand Californian, by all means go for it. Disneyland Hotel has better theming, grounds, shopping and dining than Paradise Pier. The Grand Californian has superb dining, an awesome lobby that's practically an attraction in itself and incredible convenience with its direct gate into DCA. Both hotels have fancier pool options than Paradise Pier (though Paradise Pier's pool is a shorter walk from the rooms).

If you do choose Paradise Pier, however, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by its many excellent features. Here's a quick rundown of what to expect:

April 14, 2013

Attraction-Based Movies We'd Like To See (or Not)

Small World fake movie poster
With varying degrees of success or failure, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion and The Country Bears have all had their turn as motion pictures. There's a Jungle Cruise film brewing, a much-anticipated Mansion reboot in the works, and a Big Thunder TV pilot heading our way.

Is there any ride, show or parade that can't be translated into a movie or TV production?

We think not! Here, for your consideration, Mouse Troop present four pitches for motion pictures based on four park attractions that are crying out for the big screen treatment! Let's start with a sure-fire comedy blockbuster based on a beloved classic that's traveled from Disneyland to Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom...


In the 1890's, an average American family visits the Chicago World's Fair. After an accidental gift bag swap on the way toward the exit, "Father" brings home what he believes to be a box of "Hoochie Coochie" stereo slides, but it turns out to be an experimental contraption called the Tech-Evolver, which causes the family's household appliances and tools to become more and more advanced with each passing day. At first, the family's delighted at the conveniences bestowed upon them, but--while the household parrot sarcastically squawks, "Progress!"--things soon get out of hand. The appliances become sentient and attempt to enslave the town's citizens. In the end, Rover and Uncle Orville save the day and everyone agrees that--with proper foresight--there's still a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.

April 13, 2013

The Disneyland Ad Slogan Quiz

Disneyland Mater Cars Land banner ad poster Cars Land
Park advertising slogans play a huge part in launching a new ride or event. Some of Disneyland's event-related catch phrases have been more memorable than others, but they're usually quite fun.

As a child, I first noticed the park ads during my family's annual road trip to Anaheim in 1969. I looked out the car window and saw, standing alongside Highway 101, a painting of a large, ominous-looking house accompanied by the words, "The Haunted Mansion is Waiting For You." We were still about three hours from the park, but I'd already started imagining what kind of ghosts we'd encounter.

Here's a quick list of my favorite Disneyland advertising "tag lines" that have appeared on billboards, newspaper ads and television commercials. How many of these catchy little phrases--some very recent, some from years ago--do you remember? Can you identify the event they accompanied? Answers after the next picture.

1) Get Ready to be Floored!

2) The Only Way Out is a Long Way Down.

3) What's Gotten Into the Matterhorn?

4) Resurfacing June 11.

5) Drop In If You Dare.

6) Wish Upon a Brighter Star.

7) Glowing...Glowing...Gone.

8) The Happiest Place on Earth Just Got Happier!

And here's a tough one, as it was directed at the Southern California locals in a huge full-page ad in the L.A. Times back in the 1980's:


April 12, 2013

The Lived-In Look of Cars Land

Cars Land Carsland DCA Disney California Adventure Lived-In
Cars Land possesses the uncanny ability to make you forget you're in a theme park -- even though you're surrounded by talking automobiles in a fantasy setting from an animated film. Much of that effect lies in the small touches -- the gritty little details that make fantasy seem real.

April 11, 2013

No Shortage of Ice Cream (with Fish Heads & Crumbs)

Clarabelle's DCA Ice Cream Disney California Adventure sign
From Mickey Bars to Ghirardelli sundaes and Cozy Cone cones, ice cream can be found all over Disneyland Resort.

Clarabelle's on Buena Vista Street serves up Waffle Cones and an amazing Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae. For something a bit different, try the Dark Chocolate-Dipped Berry Sorbet bar.

Our roving food critic, Aston Walrus, has often resorted to trickery in his attempts to satisfy his ice cream addiction, but last week he had an encounter which threw his snack life into turmoil. I wish I could say he's accepted the challenge with maturity and grace, but...oh, well...
Disneyland Comic Walrus Fish Heads Crumbs ice cream

April 10, 2013

Bullseye Stallion Stampede

Bullseye Disney California Adventure Midway Game DCA Pier
Bullseye is one of my very favorite Pixar characters, so I was happy to see him awarded an appropriate DCA mini-attraction of his own in 2009.

Soon after Toy Story Midway Mania opened on Paradise Pier in 2008, the area's midway games underwent a major theme change to add some desperately-needed character elements. The Bullseye Stallion Stampede is one of those games where a prize is awarded each time, and your odds of winning depend on how many other players take part. Rolling a ball into holes on the playing field sends your little 2-D horse advancing across the race track.

The best scenario for this game is for one or two parents to compete alongside their child with no other players present, guaranteeing a plush prize for a reasonable cost. Although "real" world carny games are notoriously stacked against the player, this family-friendly twist can actually be a good entertainment/souvenir deal when all participants are in the same touring group.

April 8, 2013

Why does Peter Pan's Flight Remain So Popular?

Peter Pan's Flight Disneyland entrance long line popular ride
Year in, year out, the waiting line builds up immediately after the park gates open and remains packed until closing. If you've ever attended an early morning rope-drop at Disneyland, you know the choice everyone makes as they hurry down Main Street. Half the crowd peels off to the right for Star Tours and Space Mountain while everyone else heads straight to Peter Pan's Flight.
Peter Pan's Flight Disneyland flying pirate ships station load
It's one of the park's unique joys -- walking quickly up through the ride's queue and seeing the line of flying pirate ships waiting for you. You get one ride, and by the time you disembark two minutes later, the line is already too long to make a second flight worth considering.

April 7, 2013

Stormtroopers In Tomorrowland

Stormtrooper Disneyland Star Wars Tours Tomorrowland meet
Just another ordinary afternoon in Disneyland: Popcorn, sunny skies and Stormtroopers.

When Ralph McQuarrie created the first concept paintings to help George Lucas get Star Wars green-lit back in the 70's, I'll bet neither man imagined the designs would eventually become official Disney characters, interacting with guests at the parks.

Stormtroopers can be found invading Tomorrowland's Jedi Training Academy or watching for rebel spies at Star Tours. This guy would probably much rather be across the avenue, playing Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters, but I'm sure he's at least grateful to be standing in the shade.

Photo by Lana Whitham

April 6, 2013

Lego Maleficent at Night

Lego Maleficent Downtown Disney Store Disneyland dragon
Evening at Disneyland Resort's Downtown Disney means live music, great food and a life-or-death struggle atop the Lego Store. I've posted about Lego Maleficent before, but the amazing sculpture is even better after dark. I can't get over how perfect the color and lighting is on that creature.
Lego Maleficent Downtown Disney Store Disneyland dragon
Lego remains one of the most perfect products on Earth, and Maleficent is one of Disney's most perfect creations. The powerful combination of the two can make passerby stop, stare and forget about the passage of time as they're overcome with a perfect storm of awe and delight.

Note to Disney: Sleeping Beauty dark ride. Please.

April 5, 2013

Game Review: Meet Disney's Mittens

Mittens DIsney iPhone Android game cat  review MetroGames
Yesterday, Disney released Mittens for iPhone and Android, and I think they've got a monster hit on their hands. This game is fantastic. It's also hilarious, beautifully animated...and just a little bit twisted.
Mittens DIsney iPhone Android game cat  review MetroGames
Mittens the Cat (no connection to Mittens from the Disney film Bolt) will go to any lengths to obtain gifts for his girlfriend, and that includes getting shot from cannons, smashed by hammers, crushed by boulders, electrocuted, fried or attacked by ghosts. You don't control Mittens directly; the object is to get him safely to his goal by cutting cords, pushing buttons, inflating monkeys (yes, really) and otherwise manipulating pieces of the environment at the right moment.

Do it right, and Mittens celebrates another victory. Do it wrong, and Mittens gets subjected to cartoon violence worthy of Wile E. Coyote. And, believe me, you will see the latter happen hundreds of times before you reach the end of the story; This game thrives on making trial and error as funny as possible.

April 4, 2013

Two DCA Soundtracks Surf onto iTunes

Another blast of Disney park music recently hit iTunes and Amazon MP3 -- this time in the form of a DCA time capsule duo! First up: Music From (the original) Disney's California Adventure!
 DCA Disney California Adventure music soundtrack Soarin'
Wanna relive the early days when DCA kind of sucked eggs -- yet still had some genuine gems to offer? This long out-of-print park CD has been digitally resurrected! Here, preserved for the ages, you'll find the fun score to the infamously awful Superstar Limo ride (the music deserved better), and a pair of DCA "welcome" songs that -- in a nutshell -- sum up everything icky about the park's original attempts at being "edgy." As if in penance, this album's priced to move at $7.99!

Despite the few flops, there are several fantastic tracks here, many of which made the jump to later park albums, such as the scores for Soarin', California Screamin' and Seasons of the Vine. Great extinct show pieces include the finales from Steps In Time and Lights, Camera, Chaos plus nine minutes of music from the unusual Eureka! parade.

April 3, 2013

Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide Rail (with Fish Heads & Crumbs)

Trolley Treats candy shop DCA Disney Buena Vista Street
I'm staring at this photo, taken inside Trolley Treats on Buena Vista Street, and all I can think is, "I should've bought more peanut brittle."

One of the few perks about traveling on a tight budget is the built-in moderation factor: I can't afford to over-indulge (much). End of story. If I lived close enough to the resort to visit the parks more often -- and without the hotel and travel expenditure -- I'm afraid to imagine how many park goodies I'd wolf down on a typical visit. If I wasn't careful, I might wind up in a situation a walrus friend of mine recently -- ouch! Sorry, I just tripped over the segue...
Disneyland comic walrus Fish Heads Crumbs conscience

April 2, 2013

Oswald's Service Station on Buena Vista Street

Oswald's Service Station DCA Disney California Gas Oswald
Something about Oswald the Lucky Rabbit -- probably his peppy, can-do attitude -- just seems a natural fit for an old-time service station. As you enter DCA and step onto Buena Vista Street, Oswald's is one of the first things you encounter, and it's a smart design choice for setting the mood. Everyone--consciously or not--can register the contrast between this friendly little place and the stark, utilitarian fueling stations we're accustomed to. Once you see Oswald's, you're prepped for the gentle, relaxed world of trolley cars and singing bicycle messengers up ahead.
Oswald's Service Station DCA Disney California Radio Oswald
If you step inside the station, be sure to take a moment to enjoy the little radio up on the shelf as it plays an Imagineer-created homage to early twentieth century radio shows.

April 1, 2013

Screamin' Around Paradise Bay

California Screamin' Disney Adventure coaster rollercoaster DCA
California Screamin' barrels around a turn above the waters of Paradise Bay. This end of the massive coaster gets up close and personal with passerby, roaring over the main walkway several times and zipping past the lower observation deck of the Silly Symphony Swings -- which is where we got this view.

Screamin' doesn't tell a story or dazzle with special effects, but it's still an amazing experience -- and nearly as much fun to watch as it is to ride. If I could change one thing about the ride (besides theming the brake run at the end), I'd love to see the shoulder harnesses replaced with simple lap bars someday; I really want to be able to raise my arms all the way up on this thing!