January 13, 2014

Steampunk Maleficent Dragon!

Today The Disney Parks Blog unveiled what may be the best parade float in human history.
Steampunk is cool. Maleficent in dragon form is cool. Steampunk Maleficent Dragon is a whole new reason to plan a vacation to Walt Disney World. I can't stop smiling when I look at these shots. This amazing float will be part of this Spring's Festival of Fantasy parade at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

Now, if Disney's really smart, they'll make a clockwork toy out of this to sell in the parks...

Photos from Disney Parks Blog

January 8, 2014

Kill, Refurb, Marry: Disneyland Aerial Spinner Rides

Today, I'm very happy to be taking part in the Kill, Refurb, Marry series hosted by Mouse on the Mind and This Happy Place Blog. The topic for the day is Aerial Spinner Rides, and Mouse Troop (being a West Coast site) is focusing on Disneyland Resort's whirling flights of fantasy. Of the five qualifying rides at the resort, which one's a keeper, which one needs a reboot, and which one should disappear as soon as possible?
KILL: Silly Symphony Swings

Disney California Adventure has never needed two hang-from-chains-and-fly-in-a-circle rides. One of those chain-spinners, Golden Zephyr, succeeds in offering a rare old-time experience on a contraption that, I believe, only has one duplicate on the planet.

The other is about as unique as a box of Pop Tarts. Silly Symphony Swings certainly looks better than it did during its awful Orange Stinger years, but -- despite the cheerful facelift--it's still the exact same ho-hum swing ride found at every traveling carnival and county fair in the country (and most non-Disney theme parks).

On top of that, the name has always been annoying, because the cartoon it's based on (The Band Concert) isn't a Silly Symphony at all.

In all seriousness, I'll bet that if Disney somehow removed this ride overnight and replaced it with a bandstand, 95% of repeat park visitors wouldn't even realize it was gone.
REFURB: Astro Orbitor

In this case, "refurb" simply means "relocate." A fun ride in an unwelcome location -- That's Astro Orbitor. Once upon a time, this attraction's Rocket Jets soared high above the PeopleMover station, offering a breathtaking, high-altitude thrill. Now it actually boards below ground level and spins within the narrow, crowded confines of the Tomorrowland entryway, offering views of rotting Peoplemover tracks and the tops of heads crowding the queues for Star Tours and Buzz Lightyear.

The effect was better when it had the Rocket Rods zipping along in the background, but those days are long gone

Future park plans point toward a welcome change of venue for this out-of-place ride. It can't happen soon enough.
MARRY: Dumbo

Disneyland's Dumbo is the Granddaddy of all Disney spinners, and it remains the most charming. I honestly don't understand the Disney fans who poo-poo this masterpiece as "just another carnival ride." I don't care how old you are; If you don't feel something light up in your soul as you nudge the little control lever and begin to rise upward--with that wonderful music playing and the rooftops of Fantasyland whirling around you--how can that not make you smile? I mean, this ride is the heartbeat of Disneyland. If happiness could be converted to electricity, Dumbo could power the entire West Coast.

Is it worth a long wait in line in the hot California sun? No. Is it worth getting up early for to avoid the lines and enjoy a magical whirl through a still-waking park? You betcha!

As we leave the borders of Fantasyland, some of you might be wondering about the fifth aerial spinner of Disneyland Resort. It's Flik's Flyers in DCA's A Bug's Land. It's no Dumbo, but it is one of that area's highlights.

I hope you enjoyed our take on Kill, Refurb, Mary. Be sure to check out all the participants' entries listed below for more opinions on which Disney spinners should get the crown and which ones should get the axe!

January 1, 2014

Alice Drops Out of Netflix on January 4th

First of all, Happy New Year, everyone! I wish I had better Netflix news than this to start the year with, but if you subscribe to the service, you've only got a couple of days left to stream one of the most unusual Disney classics (and a particular favorite here at Mouse Troop).

After months and months of steadily building up an impressive library of Disney films, the service is dropping one confused little girl, a grinning cat, a stressed-out rabbit and a pack of armed playing cards; Alice In Wonderland will disappear from the Netflix streaming service on January 4th.

I'm sure I'm not the only Disney fan surprised that Alice is the first major drop; Of all the Disney animated classics, Alice in Wonderland has been more or less in steady video release ever since the dawn of VHS. Along with Dumbo, Alice has been one of the "always there" Disney classics, never locked away for hiatus in the infamous "Disney Vault." I'm sorry to see it leaving the streaming lineup.

So, if you subscribe to Netflix and don't already own Alice In Wonderland in some format, the White Rabbit's watch is ticking. Boil some tea, make some bread-and-butterfly sandwiches and take one last drop down the rabbit hole before this wildly imaginative film, one of the strangest productions ever to emerge from Walt Disney Studios, vanishes from Netflix like a grinning Cheshire Cat.