What once was the Orange Stinger has been transformed into the new Silly Symphony Swings. They officially opened last Saturday, with the premier of the World of Color, but they had a soft opening a couple of weeks ago. The ride, though similar to the Orange Stinger, offers a different and much more “Disney” experience. The music is amazing and can be heard from across Paradise Bay. The new design certainly feels much more in line with the spirit of Disney and the goal of the Disney California Adventure remodel. Did you know that this ride was hand painted? It’s a beauty to behold. Standing in line, waiting to ride it for the first time, I looked up and had to take a picture of what I saw. If you are wondering, this is not a true HDR image, but a Pseudo-HDR, which is made from one picture instead of multiple. If you get a chance to ride the swings, I recommend one of the outer seats.
It never ceases to amaze me how often the many beauties of the Disneyland Resort go unnoticed. Even while standing in line for extended periods, a vast majority of people fail to notice the myriad of details poured into Disney theming that create settings which carry us away to both fantastical, and idealistic worlds. When people visit art galleries or museums, it’s understood that time must be invested to take in and appreciate a piece. That’s how I view Disney. All of this theming is art, put forth from the brilliant minds of Imagineers. If people don’t stop to look around themselves, they are truly missing an integral part of the experience that can be had. I realize that many people do not have the luxury of visiting the resort with any kind of frequency, and as such, spend as much time as they have trying to get on all the rides their time allows. I often see these people stressing and hustling around the parks. While the three of us took pictures one day near Thunder Mountain, a father was power-walking his kids through. The kids stopped for a moment to see what we were looking at. Their father quickly noticed their lagging behind and abruptly stated, “We’re not here to sight-see, we’re here to ride some rides!” It gave us all a good chuckle at the time, but it really enforced this idea in my mind that people don’t take time to notice Disney’s attention to detail. I love the rides, but rides are not the only treasure within the parks. Sometimes looking up or turning around is all you have to do to see something you’ve never noticed before, like I did for this picture. Next time you go to DLR, try looking for things you’ve never seen and take them in. Art is capable of enriching our lives. Enjoy all that Disney has to offer.
There is no basketball court inside Space Mountain. There is, however, a pretty awesome roller coaster chock full of right turns. As a boy, I had no affinity for roller coasters. They simply scared me. It wasn’t until high school that I really rode them, and then it was love at first ride. My first experience on Space Mountain came in 2005, while I was at the park with my mom. We had thought the ride was still closed for its big refurbishment, but were told by a cast member in a Tomorrowland shop that they had just started its soft opening that day. I looked at my mom with a bursting excitement and enthusiasm in a plea to ride. My mom, definitely not a fan of roller coasters, agreed without noticeable hesitation. Great moms do that sort of thing. I had a blast, flying through banked turns and drops underneath the stars, and my mom survived. I think of that first time, every time I ride Space Mountain or walk by that shop in Tomorrowland. Thanks mom.
At the entrance to “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln,” mementos can be found of the place where the idea and the dream of Disneyland were born. Walt would take his daughters to the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round and sit on a bench, all the while thinking that there must be something for parents and their children to do together for amusement. I’m glad he didn’t settle for leaving that as a thought. The horse from the merry-go-round, the peanut cart, and Walt’s bench serve as tangible reminders that “dreams can come true, if we have courage to pursue them” (Walt Disney). I, like I believe many of us, feel a strong, personal connection with Disneyland and its beginnings. Each time I go to the park, I feel more in tune with the past, more hopeful for the future, and I make new memories to cherish. This ability to make a personal connection is what sets Disneyland apart. We make the experience our own and we should. In doing so, we uphold and honor the dream that Walt Disney poured himself out to achieve. The park bears Walt’s name, but in his opening day speech, he dedicated Disneyland to each of us: “To all who come to this happy place, welcome. Disneyland is your land.”
One of the things that has always stood out in my mind about the Haunted Mansion is that Walt wanted the outside to look well kept. I believe his main concern was the overall appearance of Disneyland yet the almost charming exterior of the Mansion also serves another purpose, intensifying the experience inside. Potential riders are less likely to question entering a house that hasn’t fallen into disrepair. Once the elevator doors open, however, followed shortly by the monotone behest to drag your body to the dead center of the room, it’s a whole different ball game. I have to admit, I am one of those people that recites the monologue in the elevator along with the “ghost host.”
The first time I rode on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, I was small enough to fit between my mom and dad in one seat… sort of. I remember hearing so many interesting sounds and feeling the rush of wind against my face. What I don’t recall is seeing anything except for these bones. I was far too busy being made into the kind of sandwich that had mistakenly been sat on on the way to school, with a slice of mom on one side and a slice of dad on the other. As a child, I was frustrated. I felt like I had missed out. But it is just that kind of memory that fills me with gladness and brings me back to Disneyland time and again. And you can bet when I have a child who is sort of small enough to fit between my wife and me, we’ll be headed straight for the “wildest ride in the wilderness” to have ourselves a sandwich.
If you’ve never taken a few moments to stand here and watch one of the trains of Screamin’ launch into coaster bliss, you’re missing out. On a moderately busy day at Disney’s California Adventure like the one this shot was taken, they really crank the trains through. It’s a lot of fun to watch the butterflies of excitement flutter, as riders anticipate being thrust back into their seats and propelled up the hill. The sounds of the boardwalk music and the countdown to launch race across the water to Ariel’s Grotto until the air is filled with screams and laughter… and of course the brightly colored train barreling up to fifty-five miles per hour in four seconds. It always brings a smile to my face.