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Everything posted by Divv3k

  1. ^ The new castle projection show is VERY similar to Shanghai's to the extent that a lot of the scenes are pretty much exactly the same. As a result the new show doesn't really match up with the "shape" of the castle and it feels like a real step down from the last show. Dreams was custom made for DLP's 20th and really used the castle's shape and size to add to the show. It was MUCH better than the current 25th anniversary Illuminations show. I was so disappointed when I saw the new one this year.
  2. Who? I really think that all future trips to China I take will be short addons to longer Asian adventures. It was so nice being there knowing we had somewhere nicer to go next!
  3. Alright, let's see if I remember how to do this... It's been a while, folks! My theme park visits haven't been so frequent in recent years but the opening of Shanghai Disneyland last year had me desperate to figure out a way to get over there and see it for myself. So in March this year my girlfriend, Paula and I hopped on over to Shanghai for a few days to check out the new Disney resort and see if it was as cool as the reports and photos made it out to be. I should probably add the disclaimer up front that I visited China back in 2012 on TPR's awesome China tour and while that trip was really great I was not a huge fan of China at all. I totally respect that it's a different culture and things are different there and that's fine but I'm just not a fan of visiting the place. Everything and everyone just seems a little shiftier in China and it leaves me uneasy in a way that no other countries I visit really do. I remember thinking back in 2012 on that trip "man, I can't believe I need to come back here some day to visit Shanghai Disneyland". But come back I did but it maybe says a lot that we literally visited the country to do a quick day of sightseeing in Shanghai (it was Paula's first visit to Asia) and then two days at the new Disney resort before getting the hell out of there (the new Visa free travel options offered by Shanghai also make doing a trip like this more appealing!). That all said - while a lot of the elements in and around the place aren't my cup of tea, Shanghai Disneyland itself is a pretty great park - and I'd even go back some day (just not as often as I'd go back to Tokyo or Orlando!). There's some absolute top tier E-tickets, the park looks fantastic, the hotels are really nice and the food options are pretty decent for China (anyone who has been to China will know the Russian roulette you often play with food options over there). We stayed at the Toy Story Hotel - Toy Story is very near and dear to me so the opportunity to stay in a brand new hotel themed solely to it was pretty exciting. The hotel itself totally delivered on my expectations - it was very clean and everything felt new. The the design of the building and lobby isn't anything too exciting but have nice Toy Story elements around them but the rooms themselves are very cool, from the "Andy's Room wallpaper" to the Rubik's cube bedside table! Next time I visit I'd probably opt for the fancier Shanghai Disneyland Hotel but I wasn't let down at all by this being a "value hotel". The park itself is impressive - it's weird going into a castle park and not seeing Main Street USA but I really liked Mickey Avenue. There's loads of cool Easter eggs and nods to Disney's past that you could spend an age taking in. It's not that long but it serves its purpose well. The castle is HUGE. It's pretty insane how big it is and it looks impressive from the front. From behind it kind of looks like a big box with some turrets on it but overall it's cool to see a new unique Disney castle. So, the rides... There's obviously two here that get talked about a lot and they definitely deserve the attention. I thought Tron was really excellent and Disney have once again succeeded at taking a semi-decent Vekoma ride and turned it into something very special. I would not be sad to see this cloned at any other Disney resort in the world. There's nothing quite like seeing that bike launch from the station for the first time with the Daft Punk soundtrack blasting in your ears! But even better than Tron for me was Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure. OMFG. I had avoided videos and spoilers for this one and I was just blown away. This is up there with any of the best Disney e-tickets. It's really nothing like your "classic" Pirates (which I love) and takes the concept of a theme park indoor boat ride to a whole new level! Seriously, some of the effects and animatronics on this ride are amazing AND they utilise screens in a way that blends them in with the physical sets so that they enhance the ride experience rather that BE the whole experience. I can't wait to see how and where Disney utilise this ride system next because it's just awesome. We rode it eight times in two days and I could easily rode it that many times again. Also, more people need to know about the Camp Discovery ropes course! Jeezo - this was probably the most messed up ropes course I've ever done. There's a part where you have to navigate around a cliff face/waterfall where I genuinely feared for my life. It's so messed up. I get the feeling that this attraction might not last so long - a lot of the different trails were blocked off and the line got really long, really fast. I wouldn't expect to see this in any other Disney park so if you're in Shanghai don't miss it! The other unique attraction that I should mention is Roaring Rapids - it looked like it might have been closed for our visit but it opened later on our first day and so I got to ride it at night. I wasn't that impressed - first of all, it spins A LOT (not my thing) and it also has a REALLY long lift hill that none of the drops or elements ever pay off. Of course the big star of the ride is supposed to be the Qarag animatronic but really it was kind of a let down. It doesn't actually move all that much and you're moving and spinning so fast as you pass by it kind of feels like a waste. Lava monster it is not. The other real negative about the park is how some of the more undesirable aspects of the local culture seem to have taken hold in the park. We saw a lot of shifty looking men in and around the park selling counterfeit Disney merchandise and Fastpasses. In the queue to enter the park one morning we witnessed a group of these men rather intimdatingly sell a bunch of counterfeit Minnie ears to a group of younger girls. We then saw them pick their precise moment to run through the metal detectors so that security wouldn't stop them. It was quite disconcerting. It also had the knock on consequence of creating a huge line just to get in to the Soarin' Fastpass line as Castmembers had to check that admission tickets and Fastpasses matched up. In the days following our visit Disney seemingly have tried to combat this by offering their own version of a paid Fastpass. Now I'm all for a paid Fastpass in a park like this but I'm not sure if it will totally eliminate these people and their practices but it's encouraging to see signs that Disney are aware of these issues and are trying to combat them. Alright, I've rambled on quite a bit. To sum up - I really like the park. It's not my favourite Disney resort by a long shot but I look forward to going back when they start building and opening their expansions in the future! Okay, here's some photos... Paula has no idea what she's letting herself in for at this point... Yup, we're in Shanghai! (And of course, we had to visit the huge Disney store!) New Disney hotel credit! These rooms are pretty effing cool for Toy Story fans! First stop (after getting Soarin' Fastpasses) is Shanghai's super Pirates! I cannot put into words how much I loved this ride. It puts every other boat ride in the world to shame. Seriously, it's freaking huge. This is the kind of sight you'll see on the Voyage to the Crystal Grotto. It's kind of a weird fusion of the Storybook Canal Boats and Jungle Cruise. Perfect Fantasyland ride. Park entrance photo! Look at those blue skies! This place already looks great! I always like when a Disney park puts some sort of walkthrough in their castle and Shanghai's "Once Upon a Time Adventure" based on Snow White is pretty decent. Was interesting that none of the Chinese visitors had any interest in watching the scenes play out and just walked through it as quick as they could. China. We're here! Oh man, that castle is BIG! YES! Give me some Tron! Pre-show room to myself! There's an effect with the glass in here which is just fantastic. I can feel Daft Punk just looking at this. Hey, Mickey! Looking good! Shanghai certainly fulfills its quota of Mickey shaped food items. Weirdly, unlike the other Asian Disney parks I've been to the meet and greets really had minimal lines! We walked into the Star Wars Launch Bay and there was literally no other guests there. Just Kylo Ren shouting at us in Chinese! The Alice in Wonderland maze was a bit of a letdown. Aside from being themed to the newer Tim Burton movie the whole maze is a level below the rest of Fantasyland so you can see into the maze before you enter it. You probably get a better view of the stuff in the maze from outside it! It all felt a bit pointless. It's not quite the Tangled toilets but here's the Toy Story Toilets! To be joined next year apparently by its accompanying Toy Story Land. Make sure you go inside the castle - it's pretty incredible! Wandering Moon Teahouse - probably as close we came to doing any "traditional" Chinese stuff on this trip! You may be surprised to find that the teahouse actually only offers one variety of tea but you can get dumplings and other assorted Chinese foods if you so desire! Tron looks pretty awesome at night but you probably already knew that! Here you can see Adventure Isle - it's home to the Rapids and messed up ropes course. That's Soarin' building on the left. If you want to ride it you need to get a Fastpass first thing, the lines are insane. Back for our second day and some tasty intellectual properties for breakfast! What a way to start the day! Love the lack of lines to meet characters here! Here those more "traditional" Chinese grey skies. Oh yeah, they have Seven Dwarfs Mine Train here too. It's also quite popular (though not quite on Orlando levels). Tron, it's pretty great from any angle. This is about my level as far as spinning rides go. I'll be honest, we did ride a decent chunk of that second day reriding Pirates. It may look like your bog-standard Pirates ride when you're looking at the boats pass you in the restaurant but not long after this point the boats are moving backwards and forwards and side to side. It's quite amazing. There's a few scenes to look at as you wait in the Pirates line. Though it moves pretty fast so you won't spend too long looking at all this. The whole Treasure Cove land is pretty incredible. I almost forgot Peter Pan! It's a very cool update of the classic ride. Did I mention that Tron at night is just awesome? The castle projection/fireworks show was alright. I kind of expected better with such a large canvas to use. Adding in live action clips from Star Wars and POTC didn't quite work for me either but it wasn;t bad by any means. (Just not as good as some of the other shows you might see in other resorts). While not quite as cool as Main Street USA at night, Mickey Avenue certainly holds it own. Sadly the Donald waffles are not quite up to par with the Mickey waffles elsewhere. Well I think we can say that Shanghai Disneyland has been well and truly conquered! Two days is just enough. Maybe not REAL soon but I'll certainly see you again Shanghai Disneyland! (For Pirates if nothing else) Oh crap, I hardly took any photos of myself in portrait mode so I guess I have to end with this one... I'm really out of Trip Report shape! Shanghai Disneyland is cool - just prepare yourself to deal with China beforehand and you'll be all good! (It also helps if you have another cool place like Hong Kong to go to immediately after visiting mainland China...)
  4. The entire purpose of EPCOT was to be a fulling functioning city with 20,000 people living in it. It's not as if they were ever staying true to the original vision of the place even with the educational focus. The education focused mantra of the 1980s just isn't sustainable today. Disney need to keep evolving their parks to keep the majority of their paying customers coming back - IP is the way to do that in today's day and age. From everything I've seen of the Frozen section in Norway they've done a really great job of marrying up the IP with the country, surely it's a win for everyone?
  5. Sadly, the only thing surprising about this is that it happened on the invert and not Tornado.
  6. If the Florida version is being left alone then I'm totally fine with this retheme. I also imagine that if DCA never had a Tower of Terror in the first place and it was announced that a Guardians of the Galaxy ride was being built in DCA using the ToT ride system then everyone would be ecstatic. I prefer to have as many different experiences between all the Disney parks of the world so if they want to try and differentiate this version from the more superior Florida ride I'm all for it (although if they wanted to add Shiriki I wouldn't complain too much either). With the short window of time to complete this I would expect that this will be more of a temporary thing anyway and that the old ToT would be able to return pretty easily.
  7. So I just visited the park last weekend. Overall I was pleasantly surprised with the park. Everything looks new and fresh. It's clear that they're really just getting started turning this park into something. The place has the vibe of one of those small Scandinavain parks what with all the ziplines, climbing walls, ropes courses and all that. The factory tour is cool, though nothing on the level of what you would see at a Hershey Park or even Cadbury Land. With the coaster... I'm glad I got to ride it in it's opening year. There are a few bits of floater air throughout but overall it's one of those overly aggressive Gravity Group rides with a fair amount jackhammering already setting in at some points. It's fun for the most part but I really hope the park takes good care of the ride as I could see it getting quite rough quite quickly if they don't. If the park keeps expanding like they have been then I'm sure I'll head back and see how it holds up for myself sooner rather than later.
  8. I think the real shock is Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios Paris dropping a further 4.7% (after a 6.9% drop the previous year) despite a recovering economy and the opening of Ratatouille. The rest of the big European parks saw decent increases in attendance so it's got to be a little concerning that Disney is falling while the others are increasing. Of course, outwith Europe Disney is really looking fantastic and I guess these numbers goes to show that Universal's heavy investment strategy is really paying off in visitor numbers at least.
  9. Yeah, I won't miss Storm Rider at all. Has there been a movie responsible for more rethemes/unique attractions as Finding Nemo? Disney really have been able to put that IP to use in a hell of a lot of ways.
  10. If you haven't had the chance to ride StormRider in DisneySea yet, you better do it soon because Nemo and friends are taking over in 2017! Oriental Land Company just announced a new Finding Nemo simulator ride for Tokyo DisneySea! Submarine appearing in the story presented in the attraction. Artist concept only. The interior of the cabin. Artist concept only.
  11. Oh wow - Nintendo and Universal have signed a deal to bring Nintendo characters and rides into Universal parks! How exciting is this?! Press Release on Business Wire
  12. ^ I wonder if Pixar's The Good Dinosaur is a hit we might see an update of the Dinoland area to get rid of the carnival stuff and reflect the movie. Really looking forward to the Hollywood Studios redux announcement, when I was there last month it really hit home how little there is to do in that park now.
  13. Natalie White against Russell in Samoa?
  14. ^ My photo was taken October 14th. Glad to see they've cleaned it up! Hopefully they continue and move on to Frontierland next! Thanks for the responses, everyone!
  15. So here's the final update. This encompasses three days of visits to Disneyland Park in Paris. (Well really an evening, a morning, another evening and a full day but who's counting?). This park while still suffering from the service issues the Studios park does is at least more capable of handling the crowds. It also look amazing as well as having some great versions of the standard Magic Kingdom attractions. This was the first time I had visited the park during their Halloween season. I have to say, I was impressed with the level of effort they ahd put into it. While it's no Not-So-Scary Halloween party, the park really did look great with all the pumpkins and decorations throughout. I've spoke about this park at length before so i won't say too much. Enjoy the last batch of photos, there's quite a few! Oh wow, it looks like Disneyland Paris actually makes some kind of effort for Halloween! We first arrived at the park in the evening, the castle looked really cool with it's blood red lighting. Boo to you! We did Star Tours on this evening. Very exciting, we went Endor and got the Death Star ending! We were hoping to do Captain EO since some of our group had never experienced this. Sadly it was closed despite being listed as open on this day on the park's website. DLP really rocked with the "Scary Andrew" meet and greet! We saw the Fireworks show this evening too, but I got better photos the next night so I'll hold onto them for further down... New since my last visit here- Lego store in Disney Village. I like! I like a lot! Also new for me was Earl of Sandwich. Loved this! AJ only drinks alcohol if it glows with the show. Who are we kidding, AJ will drink anything! Just like the rest of us! On this weekend we stayed at Hotel New York. Another new Disney hotel credit for me! According to DLP this is their second best hotel (after the Disneyland hotel, which is first). The hotel reminded me a lot of Hong Kong Disneyland's Hollywood Hotel. There are some cool little details in the room, like the lamps! Coolest part of this stay though was hte Launchpad McQuack meet and greet! Never thought I'd see this guy in a Disney resort in 2014! Another perk of staying on resort of course is Extra Magic Hours in Disneyland Park! Yeah, they really went all out with the Halloween theming on Main Street! Empty park! I love Extra Magic Hours! There were some really cool Disney shaped pumpkins in the hub. DISASTER! Small World was down for rehab. There are quite a few Disney shorts represented in Fantasyland. The outside of this shop evokes Mickey and the Beanstalk. Carrousel takeover! This is pretty much the only Frozen presence in the resort that we encountered. Aside from a couple of toys and dresses in the shops there was very little. Seems like a massive missed opportunity to not have an Anna & Elsa meet and greet which has proven so popular in the other parks, Ah, Phantom Manor. How awesome you look today! Don't mess with this bride. She'll F you up. After a Day in the Studios we hopped back over to Disneyland to ride this piece of... Well, it was a *little* better than I remember it being but it still is pretty rough for a Disney coaster. Though, certainly not the worst in the park! Okay, so Fireworks time. In all my visits to Disney parks around the world I have to say that Dreams is my favourite show. See, I don't always hate on Paris! (Of course it doesn't compare to Fantasmic at DisneySea but what does??) Like Fantasmic and World of Color, Dreams uses water projections very effectively. The castle is also covered in pyro, which is never a bad thing! The real highlight though, is the castle projections, which are just insane. I haven't seen any of the otehr Disney shows that have started using castle projections in recent years but I really look forward to checking them out. Yeah, it looks pretty awesome. FIRE! And then at the end of it all they pretty much just blow up the castle! All good in my book! The arcades along the sides of Main Street are one of my favourite parts of the design of Disneyland Paris. I don't understand why the newer Magic Kingdoms haven't incorporated these - they're very handy for avoiding the Main Street crowds after the fireworks! The next morning we were up very early for another day at Disneyland. AJ enjoyed a very healthy Halloween breakfast. Disneyland Hotel is right in front of the park entrance. I'd love to stay here one day just so I could look down Main Street from room/ More Extra Magic Hours means more empty park time! Man, I still am surprised at the effort DLP put into the Halloween theming. Here's our super fun group yet again. Check out how blue the sky is! Hey look, the Snow White ride in Paris has an ending! Here we let Geography major Andrew guide us around Alice's Bi-curious Labyrinth. Never a good idea! Best advice in this maze - follow the Cheshire Cat, not Andrew! I love all the blatant drug use that Alice in Wonderland promotes. I lvoe even more that it's still all over Disney parks like this! AJ's painting the roses red. Don't make this one angry. She'll kick your arse. Once we managed to ditch Andrew, AJ and I were able to track down the castle at the end of the maze. From here you can get another look at the short-lived Old Mill ride. Now it's a coffee counter. You can also get a really great look over the maze and the rest of Fantasyland. Every morning in the park this float rumble past the crowds with the "This is Halloween" song playing. Not so much a parade but it was cool to see the villains walking around the park. Even Frontierland was getting in on the Halloween actions. Look at these four pumpkin men! Woo, Pirates! If you like your Pirates Johnny Depp free then Paris is STILL for you! AJ is the MBF of parades. DLP also have a daytime Halloween parade. It's no "Boo to You", but what is? Here's one for the Pluto fans. Three Little Pigs! Rare sighting! Now give me some bacon! Mickey and Minnie are front and centre in the last float. But they kept the real stars for the end. (And look, it's Clarice!) This one is still my favourite of all the Big Thunders! Before riding Phantom Manor be sure to use the queue as an opportunity to get some good Big Thunder Mountain photos! Even better, we could just walk around the park with our beers in hand! Swiss Family Robinson! The highlight of this is the lack of Rosie O'Donnell! Plus... Beer! Game of TPThrones. We finished our visit to Disneyland Paris with a meal in the Blue Lagoon! Waiting area group photo! Like the Blue Bayou restaurants in the US parks here you dine right next to the boats from Pirates of teh Caribbean! AJ waved to each and every boat that passed. This was awesome... Crayfish and scallop ravioli. FIRE! The real highlight here is the Vanilla Island crème brûlée. It tastes amazing as well as looking cool! It only took us an hour and half to have a three course meal here. A big improvement in service time over Bistrot Chez Remy! So there you go... As far as visits to DLP go this one was pretty good. Although I find the real thing that happens to me when I visit DLP is just gives me an even stronger desire to visit one of the better Disney resorts (i.e. All of them). Guess I better do that soon then! Thanks for reading! Woo, group photo! We had the hub to ourselves! There was this weird looking Halloween decoration behind the castle. Not quite sure what it was supposed to be, but hey it looks spooky! It's not often you see a five minute wait for Peter Pan so we had to take advantage! I don't care if it's in Fantasyland this still isn't Divv-friendly! Ah, the Old Mill. I would have loved to have visited the park when this ride was operating. Ugh. Space Mountain is still awful. A few people in the group said that they thought it was okay but I completely disagree. I still can't believe that Disney let a ride so brutally rough exist in one of their parks. I really hope that these rumours are true of it being shut next year for a long time for a lengthy rehab. Hopefully some new vest restraints are part of the package! You know you basically have the park to yourselves when your group stops to ride these! Ah, here's another one of those cool "exclusive" Disneyland Paris attractions... Dragon! This animatronic is really great. More Disney parks need dragons under their castles. I feel like I'm being too positive about this visit to Disneyland Park Paris so here's a a negative... A lot of parts of the park looked like they were in bad need of a rehab. This fountain area at Dumbo is one such example. It's not something that's ever going to ruin your day but it is quite surprisng to see in a Disney park. See! You can also get a good look athe geysers from here. Looking at photos from the park's opening years it's apparent that these have really fallen into disrepair. Hopefully the park's financial rescue package will result in things like this being brought back to their original state. Casey Jr's is the Brit Crew's favourite quick serivce place in all of Disneyland Paris... Why? BEER! Yup, we're having a beer in front of the castle. Just because we can! This was a nice touch that I noticed in Adventure land... I LOVE Up!
  16. *cough* PARIS *cough* First you need to HAVE money to be able to spend it! Love this news about Tokyo - as if this place couldn't get any better! I can only imagine how great a Frozen port at DisneySea would look. Of course I'm not going to wait until they build it, I always like having excuses to visit Tokyo Disney again!
  17. We spent the next two and a half days park hopping at Disneyland Paris Resort but I’ll split the updates between the parks so I can get straight into Ratatouille in this one and then finish with the Disneyland update. Ratatouille was the reason we even put this trip together in the first place. When DLP indicated that they were gonna use the “Pooh’s Hunny Hunt” technology from Tokyo which got anyone who has ever been on that ride into a frenzy of excitement. It’s such an exciting and innovative ride system that it utilising it for a ride based on Pixar’s (very awesome) Ratatouille movie seemed like a no-brainer, especially in a park based in the same city that the film is set. Situating this ride in the Walt Disney Studios park seemed like even more of a no-brainer – the park has been crying out for E-ticket attractions since it was opened in 2002 with a paltry lineup of rides and shows (mostly shows). I avoided all videos and photos of the ride before visiting in order to go in fresh and be surprised. So how was it? It’s probably the best ride in the park but it’s no Pooh. It’s not even in the same league as Pooh. As a matter of fact if I wasn’t more well informed I might not have even realised that these rides utilised the same ride system. Ratatouille shares more in common with a Spider-Man or Transformers than it does with Pooh. After an elaborate (by WDS standards) queue which takes you through parts of Paris you pick up your 3D glasses and enter your ride vehicle. The ride vehicle is a rat but it’s stylised very different from how the rats in the movie look. I can only imagine that they tried a few versions of these vehicles and couldn’t get them to look right using the styling from the movie. It’s not a huge deal, the vehicles still look pretty good. The vehicles leave a loading a area through some Parisian style buildings and then you enter what is essentially a labyrinth of video screens. There’s the pantry room which is a built from physical props and meshes a 3D screen in very well but the rest of the ride is essentially moving from one 3D screen to the next. Totally different from Pooh. It lacks the spontaneity and laugh out loud awesomeness of that ride too. Don’t get me wrong, the ride is good but don’t go expecting the grandiose sequel to a ride that opened in Tokyo 14 years ago. This isn’t it. Maybe Mystic Manor in Hong Kong is that ride (I haven’t watched any videos from that one either but I expect that one will have less video and more physical. We’ll see). So all in all, I like the ride. It’s certainly much needed in the park but it’s not something I would say you have to rush out and ride any time soon. The area they’ve built around the ride is really fantastic looking. It’s not quite on the scale of Carsland but they’ve done a similar job in catching the feel of the movie and making something that feels authentic. It’s a hell of a lot more effort than they’ve put in to the other attractions in this park combined. Of course, you can’t build a miniland based on Ratatouille and not have a decent restaurant in the mix too and Bistrot Chez Remy really ticks that box in fantastic fashion. Aesthetically the restaurant is brilliant, shrinking you down to the size of a rat and producing a restaurant similar in style to the one that the rats dine in at the end of the movie. There’s loads of incredible details inside and it seems that they really didn’t spare any expense in theming it. The food was very good too. When it arrived. Which just brings me to the biggest problem in this entire resort. Service. It’s just awful. We made our dinner reservations in advance of our visit, arrived early and it still took over two hours for us to have a meal. We waited thirty minutes from being seated to have our drinks and then even longer to receive our food. It wasn’t as if the restaurant was super busy either, it was maybe a third full. On top of that it’s not as if the menu was complicated – you can only eat from set menus in the place so there really is no excuse for a theme park meal to take over two hours. Anyway... The food was good, and of course ratatouille was served as s ide no matter what you ordered which is a nice touch. Onto the rest of the park.... It’s still pretty terrible compared to every other Disney park in the world. It’s certainly a lot better than it was a few years ago but it still is utterly incapable of handling the crowds that it gets and the operations in the park doesn’t do itself any favours at all. Just a few examples of the frustrations on this visit, which was on a Monday in early October... The Fast Pass system was down the entire morning, Crush didn’t open with the park due to technical issues (sound familiar to anyone on the 2008 TPR trip?), the Toy Story parachute drop was closed all day, the Backlot tour had a line over an hour but every tram had at least two cars that were closed and there was a whole tram just sitting there not being used. On top of all this Ratatouille was closed for technical reasons almost the entire day. Luckily we anticipated the suckiness of the place and visited the night before to get a ride on Ratatouille and managed to get on quickly when the ride did eventually open. But really, after this visit if I hear anyone complain about a broken power outlet in Florida again I’ll punch them in the face. I don’t want to sound totally negative on the place, they have Tower which is good, their Rock’n’Roller Coaster is great and I actually quite like the Cinemagique show. We certainly had a fun day despite all the frustrations too. I think it helps to be mentally prepared before visiting this park in order ot have a good day and we certainly were! Here’s some photos... Well hello, Walt Disney Studios! Of course there's a very special reason that we're visiting this park in 2014... Woo! It's Ratatouille! 3D glasses are on. We are good to go! They might not look like the movie rats but they're still pretty cute! Like I said above, the ride is a lot of fun but it uses too many video screens for my liking. Disney really did a fantastic job at theming the Ratatouille area, it really does look like it's straight out of the movie! Just check out all the little details they've added to the fountain! Here's the ride entrance. There are three lines - one for Fast Pas, one for single riders and then there's a standby line. Fast Pass gets a loading station all of it's own which seemed to work pretty well. Of course you can't have a a Ratatouille area in a park without a restaurant! If you've seen the movie this little sign might look familiar! The waiting room at the restaurant was somehow completely empty when we arrived so we took the opportunity to have a cast member get a group photo. Man, that floor looks good. The walls in the waiting room are covered in all sorts of cool props for fans of the movie. There are loads of items like this all over the walls of the waiting room. Then as you enter the restaurant the cast member tells you that we have all been shrunk down to the size of Remy. So really, no need to be alarmed by this gihugic plates towering over you. Well doesn't this menu look lovely? Surprisingly, there's no à la carte menu just a range of set menus to choose from. You'd think this would help table service speed up. You would be wrong. The chairs look they're made out of bottle tops. Very cool! There are giant forks all around the place if you need to impale any members of your group. Quite handy. Love the cocktail umbrellas over the smaller tables! These wine cork stools were maybe my favourite thing in the restaurant. I kind of wanted to steal one! An oversized version of Remy's cook book welcomes you into the restaurant. Even the condiments and cutlery section is themed. The huge Christmas lights on the ceiling aren't just a gimmick - they're the actual lights for the restaurant! The pudding station looks pretty awesome. Here's the wing of the restaurant with the windows that you can see out to the ride entrance. The big wine bottles are Anton Ego's. Another nice touch! On to the food. You have to start with salad. If you don't eat it they won't serve you anything else. A really nice touch is that with every main you get a side of ratatouille! Here's AJ's "Premium" ratatouille. Here's my steak (it was good!) with the pleb ratatouille on the side. Russ has clearly been spending too much time with Southern Steve... We booked our table for 2pm and by the time we got out our fast pass was good to go. Yeah, it took a while in there. Unfortunately the ride was still down as it had been since the morning... By 5pm though, it was up and running. TPDave demonstrates how the Paris version of the MagicBand works. The Gusteau's logo inside the queue is animated. It works really well! 3D glasses are on. We're good to ride! Just don't forget your 3D glasses because there isn't much to see without them! All in all the ride is really good. Just don't go expecting another "Pooh's Hunny Hunt". It's good but it's not that good! Alright, onto the rest of what was quite a stressful visit to the Studios... Of course Tower of Terror is always a good place to start! There seemed to be a lot less dust and cobwebs in the Tower lobby compared to the others. Weird. Rock'n'Roller Coaster! The truncated pre-show that ends up makes no sense always amuses me. I guess this must be our Super Stretch. Right across from RRC is the Spider-Man meet and greet. It's still weird seeing this kind of Marvel presence in a Disney park. There were Avengers banners all around the RRC area too. Will we see more Marvel in this park in the future? It seems likely! Andrew shows AJ how you pose in the rain. We made sure to check out Armageddon, y'know because you don't want to miss a thing. The Armageddon show is strange. You basically stand in a room and the ceiling shakes a bit. Then some fire blows around. I mean, it has fire so it's good but is it really relevant in 2014? Toy Story Playland was crazy busy. The parachute drop ride being closed doesn't help either. I've still never been on one of these! This is how Ratatouille looked for the majority of our visit. Closed. AJ prays that we might actually be able to get on a ride. We did Stitch. I actually like this attraction more than I ever thought I would. I mean, it's no MILF but it's been quite funny both times I've done it here and in Hong Kong. Florida people, are you jealous?! No??? Fair enough. The line is only an hour so keeping random cars closed seems like a great idea. No, really there were at least two cars closed on every tram. And then there was a tram not being used at all. The line was over an hour. Operations in this park are just awful. At least that hour wait is worthwhile. I mean you do get to see the exquisite sets from Dinotopia. You all remember that smash hit production, right? Oh look, it's a tram sitting doing nothing while every ride in the park that happens to be open has an hour plus line! Fire is always the highlight of a backlot tour. And this one has plenty of it. London never looked so good. Yeah, the sign actually does say that the single rider line is longer than the standby. No, I don't understand it either. But hey, some people count this as a credit (I don't) so we rode it. I like it. Mostly because it doesn't spin. After being closed for the whole morning and having a ridiculous line all day we finally sucked it up and finished our visit to the Studios with Crush's Coaster. The station and pre-lift hill section are really great. The coaster itself is pretty standard but those Maurer Sohne spinners are always a lot of fun. (Even to me!) Yay, we've done everything. Now we can leave! It took us longer than expected, but the Studios were finally conquered. Thankfully there's still a much superior Disney park to visit right next door... Disneyland Park is up next!
  18. Yeah, the Kelley boot was a surprising one given what we had been shown up until that point . I really think Baylor is gonna be around for a while now. After Josh she's probably the person we've seen the most of and the editors are trying to paint her in a sympathetic light given the bullying from Alec last week and the disagreements with Dale this week. Fascinating that Jon and Jaclyn went from the bottom of their tribes last week to such a power position after the swap. I hope the other tribe loses next week just so we can see how it plays out with one pair and a lot of singles.
  19. Our next park was a couple of hours drive south of Paris – Nigloland! Before visiting I knew very little about this park – I remember it from Robb & Elissa’s 2005 Europe tour updates and then I pretty much heard nothing about the place until they built the Mack Megalite this year. So with that in mind imagine how surprised we all were to find that this is actually a pretty decent park! There’s loads of stuff here and they really did go all out for Halloween! Well as “all out” as a European park with no mazes might go at least. Seriously, I’ve never seen so many pumpkins and Halloween decorations anywhere in my life! Clearly, the main reason we were here was the new Mack Megalite, so how did it compare to the Intamin version? Very well! For me I’d say it’s as good as any of the Intamin Megalites and those Bluefire-style trains are just awesome! It’s very re-rideable and the park was very quiet so we managed to get plenty of rides in. I hope Mack make more of these and start changing up the layout – they really have a fantastic product on their hands! The rest of the park is a lot of fun too – a really fun “Eurosat style” indoor coaster, a Schwarzkopf Boblsed which holds up really well and what is probably the smoothest and fun standard Wild Mouse I’ve ever been on! There’s a load of other quirky attractions like the Dinosaur walkthrough, the African Boat ride (in a a park called Nigloand?! Yup!) and of course the infamous BENCH: THE RIDE! Here’s some photos... Good morning from Nigloland! Unlike a lot of European parks this place is actualyl celelbrating Halloween! A turd wearing a white sheet in a place called Nigloland? Sure, why not?! We saw Halloween decorations like this all over the park! Of course, the real reason we are here is for Alpina Blitz the new Mack Megalite! Brad and Andrew are excited to get their Mack on! AJ, however will have to wait as they have the weird Italian person counter at the gate! How does it feel, AJ???? The exit of the ride goes right over the lift hill so the lift hill enthusiasts can get a real money shot like this. The ride itself is AWESOME! I thought it was every bit as good as the Intamin version! (and I really LOVE the Intamin Megalites!) Airtime filled from start to finish! More of these please, Mack! Today's super fun group! (Including some apparent TPRelatives) Ah, the Space Travel Agency. This must be where Richard Branson is operating Virgin Galactic from. Spatiale Experience! This is very much n the style of EuroSat at Europa Park - complete with spiral lift hill! Ooh, what delights will this pumpkin adorned building present us with??? Speaking of spirals, don't forget the Schwarzkopf awesomeness! Oh okay, I guess we should ride the Wild Mouse... This Wild Mouse mesmerised us all - the hairpin turns DIDN'T throw you into the person next to you! How is this possible?! Hey Larry, I remember to take a photo of one ride sign at least! WACKY!!! Another oddity compared to other parks were these microwaves dotted around next to all the food areas! AJ hadn't been on a Brit Crew weekend for a while so he had some catching up to do! John Hammond RIP. No seriously, this is supposed to be John Hammond! Dinosaurs Alive has nothing on this place! The Jurassic Park theme was blaring out all the speakers in this section. Love it! AJ utterly failed at feeding the Brontosaurus. Raptors? You bred raptors? And now for the ride that puts the Niglo in Nigloland! They're on a boat! Yes they are! Jungle Cruise hippos need to do this. Now. Violent zebra death? You betcha! You're next! This spooky looking paths leads to one of the most renowned dark ride experiences in the world... That's right, it's Bench: The Ride! There's all sorts of creepy shenanigans going on in here. But really, it's all about the Bench! RACLETTE! Sooo good! Why can't we get this in more parks?! Did I mention that the park was celebrating Halloween? This is very high on the (long) list of "flat rides that Divv won't go near". Everyone else seemed to like it! Shooting Skeeball! I've never seen this before. (Cue everyone telling me that it's been around for years and I just never noticed it). They had regular Skee Ball too. A a rarity in Europe! It was just after lunch that our good weather luck ran out and we got hit by a pretty horrendous rain storm. Good thing Brad brought his poncho. It's a poncho right, Brad? Bears, pumpkins horses and carts. Welcome home, Andrew! Powered coaster! The powered coaster interacts with the log flume. mike Fudge would have creamed (up) himself! Get your authentic Nigloland white hooded dolls in the Nigloshop! Nigloland has to be TPR approved! Infinite pumpkins of fun!!! So that was Nigloland! Not only was the Mack Megalite fantastic the rest of the park is really good too! I thought this might have been a half day park at best but if the rain hadn't gotten so bad in the afternoon we could easily spent another few hours here. Don't miss it the next time you're in France! Up next - Disney Studios and Ratatouille!
  20. ^ Clench and squish! I've no idea how we survived that journey. Alright, here comes Nigloland...
  21. Sorry to admit, Divv - But after a recent trip to the Brit Crew's home country - I gotta say that airport of yours in Manchester definitely gives CDG a run for my least favorite airport in Europe! I've heard that before about Manchester airport. In the three and a half years I lived there I only flew from it two or three times. I didn't have any huge issues but like TP would say, it's not T5! With this visit to CDG on the other hand... It took an hour from the plane landing to me meeting up with the rest of the Brit Crew. A hellish place.
  22. Yeah, I think this is just gonna be a tribe switchup. It happened around the same time in the last Blood vs Water. I'd like to see them still keep the loved ones apart but I expect it will be just be totally random like last time. I would have liked to see these tribes play it out a little longer - it was just starting to get interesting on the blue tribe!
  23. Well I'm still a member of the Brit Crew despite my best efforts to vote myself out. Bad news for me but at least there's the positive of me still being able to go away on weekends with these guys. (Wait, I'm calling THAT a positive?! Times are tough, clearly). This such weekend was to Paris, France. Seeing as there a few new attractions in the area we decided to an extended weekend that would take us around a few parks culminating of course in a few days at Disney. Burt we'll get to that later. UPDATES: Part 1 - PARC ASTERIX (below) Part 2 - NIGLOLAND Part 3 - WALT DISNEY STUDIOS Part 4 - DISNEYLAND PARK First up we made our way to Parc Astérix. I hadn't visited this park since way back in 2008 with the TPR Europe trip. It's a really nicely themed park with a pretty decent selection of rides. New for me since that visit is the B&M invert, OzIris. I'd heard really mixed things about this one so I was intrigued to ride it for myself. It's a weird ride. I like the length of the ride but as forceless B&M's inverts go I thought this one was pretty tame. It's a shame that not long after this they came out with Banshee, a much more intense (and fun!) invert (I'll get to Banshee in a future trip report. Someday). Still, the park did a pretty good job of theming it. Just don't go mistaking it for Montu, because Montu it is not. Everyone thought it would be really funny if we all rode Gouderix so I got in line with them but managed to pull the old Larry Meisel "walk straight through the train to the exit" trick. No way was I touching the POS again. Given the reaction of the group I stand by my choice. My favourite ride in the park is still the super cool Mad House. It's more the pre-shows and the theming than the Mad House itself but man, it's a lot of fun from start to end! Anyway, I didn't take a great deal of photos this day but rest assured there's much more to come in future updates. Enjoy... Yay, we're in France! Oh wait - it's CDG! Noooo! Still my least airport in the world... For all it's awfulness at least CDG is close to this place... That's right, we're at Parc Astérix! New for me since my last visit is the B&M invert, OzIris! There's really cool theming in the queue for this one! Brad and Andrew are ready to do it like Tutankhamen did it. It's not the best B&M invert by any stretch. It's really quite forceless but at least it's long and they did a decent job of making it look nice! Here's this weekend's super fun group! Oh dear lord. Smile, you're on Goudurix! You can almost hear the funeral march playing as you look at this. It's only a Vekoma, right? Paint job or not I wasn't touching this thing! OCTOPOOOSSS!!! Miss you, Erik! At lunch TPDave was very excited to be able to get a beer with his meal. Although he didn't quite work out the translation of "Sans Alcohol" until he sat down! TPFail! We're on a boat! If you want to see large busted women washing clothes then Parc Astérix is for you! AJ on the other hand just likes a long tongue on his bottom. FROZEN TIE-IN! And now for my favourite ride in the park - the Mad House! It's all about the crazy pre-show where they take your photo and attach it to these animated soldier bodies. So funny! Caesar then looks down on all his minions. Then, right before you go into battle on the boat you get to watch some naked women bathe. Gotta love Europe! Sortie Provisoire = Tampon = confused Brad. Oh yeah, we rode Tonnerre de Zeus too! It's still running okay but they really need to spray some WD40 on that thing, it grinds its way around the entire track and it squeals the whole way. I've never ehard a coaster like it. Anyway, that's all from Parc Astérix - it was a fun day but the next one was even better - Nigloland is up next!
  24. Our trip ended with a few relaxing days in Carlsbad - it was a nice change of pace after running around like crazy hitting stuff in LA and Vegas. Of course we still took out a little time to visit a park or two... Final big park of the trip - Sea World San Diego! Not-so-much-a-journey-but-rather-just-a-slide to Atlantis! The theming in the Sesame Street land is very cool! But Manta is even more cool! Such a fun ride - have Mack even made a bad ride in the last five years?? Don't give me any of your Blackpish. Show me some whales! The shark exhibits are always my favourite parts of Sea World parks. Hello! This wasn't a long visit to Sea World, there isn't a whole lot there that interests me but the coasters and Shamu show were fun. Just need to get that San Antonio park credit now! Seeing as we were in the vicinity we also stopped by Belmont Park! Last credit of the trip - Giant Dipper! It's not gonna win any awards but I do love a seaside wooden coaster! We spent our last evening in San Diego in one of my favourite places there - Old Town! I almost bought one of these luchadore masks before realising I would have absolutely no use for it whatsoever. Looks like this guy's having a great time! This place might be my favourite restaurant in San Diego - Rockin' Baja! It's great - you got all the authenticity of amazing Mexican food without having to be in Mexico! Our last morning was spent wandering around Downtown San Diego. Like most cities, it has buildings. One last photo of Michael and I as I bring this trip report to a close! And that's it for Divv California Adventure! Writing this TR has reminded me of what a ffun couple of weeks it was - I really need to get back over there in the next couple of years! Thanks for reading along, everyone! Michael managed to seamlessly blend in with the Old Town locals.
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