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A Spirited Dirty Dozen ...

RSoxNo1

Well-Known Member
I posted this in one of the newest gator chomping threads, but don't overly care to venture beyond this one, so I'm putting it here too ...

I was debating on starting a thread of my own on this subject (since we only have about 16 now). Mine would be titled 'Should George Kalogridis Be Fired After Child's Death?' ... I decided against it because my heart just isn't into this at all. I also think the overreaction by Disney and the fan community is a bit sad and predictable. Let's all do something to change something that was a fluke and still should have been easily prevented IF Disney just grew a pair and didn't allow its Guests to break the law and feed gators, but changing a law that allows terrorists to buy 'items' that murdered 49 people and shot another 53 and traumatized countless others? Nah ... not worth talking about here or anywhere.

I find these knee jerk decisions to be so typical of a gutless corporation like Disney. A joke in the Jungle Cruise, a character in a parade or a show, a float in the EWP ... Just come on.

And now they are looking at shutting down or drastically altering the marinas. Sorry, one death in 44-plus years should not lead to insane changes for PR sake. They need to be focusing on the real problems. But what do I know? ... I know that Disney is getting a drubbing in media across the globe. I know that it could have been prevented with simple rules and ... why bother?
Do you have any information that tells you these are all permanent changes. We've had others say that Louis in the new castle show was only temporarily removed. I would suspect that this is all part of temporary civility.
 

egg

Well-Known Member
I think it's been really subtle yet powerful of Disney to not post on all social media accounts since the tragedies. In the past week, Disney has opened a whole new resort, and 2 rides and 2 shows in WDW. That's a ton for a seven day stretch. In fact, it's the most that's opened in one week in all of Iger's time as CEO. This is a really big time for the company, and Disney would more than likely want to make a big deal out of all of the openings So I think it's pretty powerful and strong of them to imply that a loss of lives can't just be moved on from, and in comparison, these new attractions are trivial.

What I get from it is an image that Disney cares more about the lost lives than about their own popularity and attendance. Puting people before business. Not true, but that's at least whay it gives the impresion of.

I'm sure there is some real reason why they aren't posting to social media and the parks blog, and that it's not only what I said above. But either way, whatever the reason, I think it's great. They haven't typed a thing in a week, yet they've sent quite a strong message.

I'd like to think they'd redesign it because it's awful (and I'm a Uni/HP fan), but I'd be surprised if they did. They don't seem to be very interested in big improvements to clones (and 3D on HPFJ is not an improvement).
I can't understand why they decided to go 3D for the USH version. Do they think they're lacking in the 3D department? 'Cause they sure aren't! I think it's more of a false feeling they have, that everything is better in 3D. But I'm glad you agree that it's not an improvement.

I am hoping both Star Wars Land rides are not 3D, though I'm 90% sure they both are.

WDW already advertise in the UK as having 6 parks - I thought they did this in the US too, maybe it's just for us gullible Brits!

LOL I didn't know that. Thank you.

The video you posted is the first I've ever seen that states "six parks." Sometimes the ads in the US will say will say "4 parks plus 2 waterparks" or something like that. But usually just four parks. The merchanside in the resort also emphasizes 4 parks and often doesn't show or have much representing the water parks (except at the stores of those actual parks).

Anyway, in that case, I guess they'd just have to change their advertising in certain parts of the workd
 

WDW1974

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
BTW, appreciate all the opinions in the Should George Kalogridis be fired for child's death by gator on his watch question. Please keep them coming (maybe I should have done one of them polls). I am extremely busy and won't have much time to respond, but I've read some great posts and hope that continues. I have an opinion, but not completely sure yet as to whether he should be axed and I want to hear from others.
 

V_L_Raptor

Well-Known Member
I don't think hitting up US garage sales would yield a bunch of Nepalese artwork and artifacts though.
I'm sure it wouldn't, but sometimes it seems that way, way more energy goes into telling people about all the exacting and exotic research trips than goes into... well, robust and immersive attractions. Yes, Joe had to commune with the Spirits of the Mountain, and there was a Vision Quest to design such-and-soforth, but a quarter mile down the way and there's a grotty homage to roadside tourist traps everywhere. It's too much talk.
 

WDW1974

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I'm just wondering with all the knee-jerk PR moves by Disney in the wake of the gator attack (and was told tonight that Disney had just approved money to reopen marinas previously shuttered at resorts like Dixie Landings and CBR, so one wonders if that will still happen) if WDW shouldn't simply close?

Friends (and premium lovers!), if the fact WDW is target No. 1 for evildoers not be enough ... there are gators all over like:

Splash Mountain has them ... they are even singing happy songs about eating children (I think).
The Jungle Cruise has them ... and Ginger does still snap, unless she's been disconnected.
There's a painting of a poor child about to fall into the mouth of one in the old Mansion's stretch room.
Captain Hook, a poor guy who already is disabled, is stuck in the jaws of a hungry croc and Smee doesn't seem like he's gonna make it in time in Peter Pan's Flight Over Horror.
And that is just at the MAGIC Kingdom.

EPCOT has a rainforest of snapping crocs in the Land pavilion where they actually grow the little critters.

And DAK ... you have to go over a river filled with African crocs, even more dangerous than their American counterparts.

Nope. I see no way of allowing WDW to remain open. The resorts must close in the interest of public safety.

But watch out because UNI has giant apes!
 

WDW1974

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Just one more depressing note from WDW, but recall that I told you (has it been years now) about DVC coming to the moderates starting with CBR?

Well, I was told tonight that those plans are more ... concrete than they had been. Scary how Walt's vision ... or at least Roy's and Card's and Donn's and Ron's and Michael's and Frank's etc ... has become nothing but another Florida real estate scam. From Celebration to Golden Oak, Flamingo Crossing to the Bora Bora Bungalows ...
 

SirNim

Well-Known Member
Just one more depressing note from WDW, but recall that I told you (has it been years now) about DVC coming to the moderates starting with CBR?

Well, I was told tonight that those plans are more ... concrete than they had been.
*Shudder* - Doesn't that already exist, and isn't it called OKW?
 
Just one more depressing note from WDW, but recall that I told you (has it been years now) about DVC coming to the moderates starting with CBR?

Well, I was told tonight that those plans are more ... concrete than they had been. Scary how Walt's vision ... or at least Roy's and Card's and Donn's and Ron's and Michael's and Frank's etc ... has become nothing but another Florida real estate scam. From Celebration to Golden Oak, Flamingo Crossing to the Bora Bora Bungalows ...
We haven't been to CBR in a decade, loved it. DVC @ CBR might be a reason to finally go back to Florida, and go to Universal.
 

TeriofTerror

Well-Known Member
Just one more depressing note from WDW, but recall that I told you (has it been years now) about DVC coming to the moderates starting with CBR?

Well, I was told tonight that those plans are more ... concrete than they had been. Scary how Walt's vision ... or at least Roy's and Card's and Donn's and Ron's and Michael's and Frank's etc ... has become nothing but another Florida real estate scam. From Celebration to Golden Oak, Flamingo Crossing to the Bora Bora Bungalows ...
I get that WDW has become addicted to the DVC sales cash, but this one rather baffles me. Points per night had better be pretty freaking low to get me to even think about staying there. This fits about as well as Cinderella's slipper on Anastasia's foot, IMHO. I think shoehorning DVC into the moderates further cheapens the DVC brand. And CBR? I've stayed at all of the moderates multiple times, and CBR is my least favorite of the four. (I don't consider the FW cabins to belong in this category, no matter what Disney says.)
 

BrianLo

Well-Known Member
Alright, I’ve been delaying giving my thoughts about SDL. Not for lack of things to say, but simply because I probably have too many. The longer I wait the more daunting it is getting. I’ll talk about organization and generalities, go through the lands, food and merch a bit and end with the best part… things I didn’t like!

Apparently this is over 5000 words… I’ll forgive you all if you read none of them.


Operations

So you’ve probably heard bits and pieces of the opening already. I still have not and cannot watch the opening day ceremony in China, so I weirdly cannot comment on any of that. I took a taxi in with another family who happened to be headed from my hotel as well. I did the 45ish minutes of subway riding all the other times, but I wanted to maximize sleeping and minimize frustration on day one.

Shockingly, nothing really went wrong. At all. Yes it was smoggy (bonus – smog acts as a berm). More importantly it was overcast though. As a tradeoff the temperatures were quite reasonable and it only rained with any significance for about 20-30 minutes in the afternoon. Friday-Sunday were mostly clear blue skies. The heat wasn’t unbearable and it was certainly nice for pictures. Monday down poured all day long and Tuesday has been smoggy and got. All in all the smog/overcast was a bit of a good thing for kicking things off and the weather could have been worse.

I must have some really dumb luck as I don’t know how I perfectly timed getting into the first corral. It sounds like people who were there earlier got held up at certain points and ended up slightly behind me. I was in no rush and got Starbucks first before making my way over to ticketing. Since they started letting us in so early I really only spent about 90 minutes in the corral after having my ticket scanned and issued.

Really, this was one of the only three noticeably different things of going on opening day. We were handed some freebie buttons and lots of various things with grand opening scrawled on them. Entering Mickey Avenue with hundreds and hundreds of cast and suits lining the walkway was a cool experience. Apart from a noticeable uptick in suits and the general vibe, the fireworks tag at the end of Ignite the dreams was about all that was outrageously unique.

I did mention that I got to meet John Lasseter. Was making my way for Soaring FP during the first parade and him and his handler were by themselves on the pathway out to Disney Town. So now I have a bit of affection for that entrance in what people otherwise severely dislike the visual encroachment of Disneytown into the park.


The day was fantastic operationally. They definitely capped capacity for the shortened hours. I mentioned I got swept back to Fantasyland fairly quickly and really had the entire place to myself for those first two hours. The crowds did eventually all get in the gates and spread out, but it was a fairly light-medium day in terms of other parks I’ve been to. Tokyo ironically has been some of the lightest crowds I’ve ever experienced. One was post Earthquake and the other in July, which seemed to just be a markedly slow time. Paris in summer 2013 was the worst I’ve ever done. I was expecting Paris and got far closer to Tokyo. Even on the Saturday when the fully capacity was clearly let into the parks it was still manageable. I find food can really be the big indicator, apart from a turkey leg the waits were very, very reasonable for a park I knew to be at capacity.

Guests were generally ok. It’s still very much early days and likely a slightly nicer chunk of the population to deal with. Saturday had very, very few foreigners sticking around (most did Thursday/Friday). None of the worst-case scenarios (washrooms in bushes, destroying things, uncivilized behaviour) that were predicted came to pass. I do despise middle-aged Chinese woman though. As long as you let them have their marginal victories of butting in front of you at every possible opportunity, maybe even make a game out of it; you can generally avoid the urge to punch one of them.

The park was clearly built to handle crowds, obviously to the detriment of many design aspects. There are many sacrifices they made with walkways, spacing attractions apart, the hub, Mickey Avenue etc. However, I think generally the sacrifices at least translated well. Crowd management is an absolute dream. A few attractions and fast pass distribution will have crowds spilled out into walkways however.

The thing that wasn’t as pleasant is ticketing on the Saturday. For some reason they scan your ticket at the gate and then issue you a new paper one. It is slow… very slow. A 7:30 arrival for an 8 am opening had people already being let into the park. It however took about 40 minutes to get through the line. My general advice here for anyone going anytime soon is that you need to arrive 45 minutes before park opening or an hour after park opening. 30 ahead was barely tolerable. The size of the crowds arriving near park opening probably weren’t getting into the park until 9am anyways.

I like the concept of the guest services for each land with a land specific wait board. Especially because the park is so huge it is nice to have more centralized options. They had tons of fastpass banks, but still you could wind up waiting a while. This is reminiscent of Radiator Springs Racers FP distribution.

FP was not distributed for Roaring Rapids while I was there. Too many issues they are having with the attraction seemingly. Soaring is definitely the first thing to go, followed by Tron and SDMT. Roaring, Soaring.

The Hub and Mickey’s avenue work well for post-fireworks crowds. Better than any other park they have built. I will talk about the things that don’t work with them later.

The other slight operational issue is the subway. That’s the bottleneck at the end of the day. It wasn’t the worst, but it wasn’t pleasant. I couldn’t help but think how it will hold up to post-fireworks crowds years from now, when the park has a bigger capacity. Or even worse, when they build a second gate.


Lands, Entertainment and Attractions

One of the big questions, does it actually have enough to do? I’ll say it’s a better than average start. I’ll also say it is worth the one day price of admission. I don’t imagine, unless guests have a serious restriction, they’ll be leaving at the end of the day feeling like they ran out of things to do. That’s not just because of crowds either. They did a very good job hitting the right balance of variety. There is a good amount of fluff too, but very few aspects of a good menu are blatantly missing – outside of transit that is.

The park is pretty much in the same wheelhouse as DCA 2.0, just a heck of a lot more spread out. DCA has the advantage of being saddled with Disneyland though.

I feel like I’m going to pick a bit on USH here. Fortunately or unfortunately for it, I went to USH for the first time the week prior. There is always a bit of posturing whenever prices go up and we talk about the one-day pricing. Realistically though, you are hardly ever going to buy a one-day ticket at a multi-park resort. USH is the major North American exception. There is enough to do, but at the end of the day I did leave feeling like I was done. We left a bit early actually, by 6 or so. It is the park you will pay 100+ USD for. It lacks variety, operations also are a bit of a nightmare thanks to legacy space issues. SDL felt like the opposite. Even if it doesn’t offer a whole lot more in terms of rides, the luxury of space and large crowd pleasers like fireworks and parades cannot be understated.

So no, while it’s not near the amazing value you are getting from Tokyo, Shanghai falls somewhere middle-of the road.


I’ll go counter-clockwise starting with Adventure Isle.

I am really happy to hear a lot of reports from others about Camp Discovery. Totally something I wrote off as just another kids play area that wasn’t for my demographic. The surprise kicker is this is the first and only gated play area I can think of that finally appeals to all the demos. Tons of digging around in the sand and excavating for the wee ones. The walking trails are fairly gorgeous. The rope structure is actually fun and at times thrilling.

As you may have seen elsewhere once you are in the structure there are many, many opportunities to cross tracks. Essentially at the start you will pick one of three main paths. If you had the time and the wait time was low enough I think each would be worth doing. I polled the CM’s quickly for their favourite, unsurprisingly the path that goes through the three waterfalls was the winner. Along each path you then have three side-by-side options. Easiest going from a wooden bridge way to the more difficult narrow obstacles. You can very easily use the guide beams to switch back and forth at will, or even more importantly, pass others. However, due to the meager loading and quick division in three main directions, you will be surprised about how alone you can be. It’s something so incredibly un-theme park like once you are up there. Standing on a narrow ledge under a waterfall, by yourself, with zero supervision. I hope this is something that survives.

Roaring Rapids doesn’t break the mold. It’s nothing more and nothing less than Grizzly River Run with an additional maybe 30 seconds spent indoors in a build up to an AA. I was very impressed with the AA. I cannot speak to what people are seeing on videos, but it was skinned and the lighting worked perfectly in real life. A tad more cartoony than the concept art in the end, but the feeling he was going to bite the entire raft was not lost. I’m giving the attraction some leeway because it is still having technical issues. The foliage is not great in its current state. This will be an attraction that will become a lot better years down the line.

To the surprise of no one, Soaring is incredibly popular. I enjoy the new ride and the queue is much more appropriate since its become one of the headliners. I only FP’d it, but the direction generally worked for me, even if the pre-show was incredibly cheesy.

In a park that feels so big, Adventure Isle surprisingly doesn’t feel as big as it is. Camp Discovery is through its own turnstyle. Tarzan and especially Soaring are tucked away and Roaring Rapids doesn’t have a very marked entrance. I’d eventually hope something goes in between Tarzan and Teatro Fandango, but I imagine that’s way off in the future.


Treasure Cove is the other bright spot for obvious reasons. It commands the most number of details even over Adventure Isle, which relies more on rockwork and foliage. There is a standard water play area and another turn-style pirate ship walkthrough. Unlike Camp Discovery, I would not expect to have that area to yourself. The best-designed quick serve is here, the best show and the best ride.


Moving onto the next land…

Ok, fine. PoTC is probably the best ride in the world. It’s a decidedly Disney meets Universal type ride, but it understands so many elements that Gringott’s did not. Please give the team responsible for pirates billions of dollars to fix WDW. Is it my favourite ride ever? Kind of depends on what mood I’m in. If you require a visceral thrill then maybe not, JTTCOE might be it. However, since I previously placed that number two on my list it’s a toss up with Mystic Manor. The one thing Pirates can be described as that I wouldn’t give to Mystic Manor is epic. So again, depends on my mood. It’s kind of refreshing having at least one thing in this park no one really has anything to complain about.

Since the word on the street is that the Star Wars Battle attraction falls into the same wheelhouse, I’d say WDW fans finally have something in the pipeline that it deserves. I’m incredibly excited for Flight of Passage, but I’m sure its not going to be as uncontested.


Fantasyland is where things start to come off the rails a bit. At least its not Hong Kong’s fantasyland. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not terrible, it is just the start of where you really start to notice the vast expansion pads that need to be filled. The line from SDMT to Pan is pretty good and populated with things to do, but there is a ton of empty space along the outer ring. The kinetics take a hit from pulling out the carousel and Dumbo. Tom Bricker mentioned how you really can’t see the Voyage of the Crystal Grotto and that’s true.

Even if it lacks a headliner, it packs lots of charming attractions in. First time I’ve done SDMT and I really like it for what it is. Once it doesn’t have the weight of being a headliner for a park waiting decades for something of significance to be added, I think it was cute, fun and charming. Florida has the better end scene though.

Pan is the other ride I’ve yet to hear anyone say anything bad about. It feels like they took the story boarding and ride layout and basically re-engineered the entire thing with 20th century level tech. This is what I expect to see from clones of old attractions. They didn’t break what worked about the attraction in the first place and updated it to what we’d expect. If we are considering Pooh’s Hunny Hunt a classic Fantasyland style attraction, this gets the honour of being the second best in the world.

Into the more middling range – Alice’s maze and the castle walkthrough are both charming and help fill out importance menu checkmarks. I don’t really have much to say about them. They are pretty much what you’d expect. I thought the walkthrough was well done with new tech and the maze was more extensive than I would have anticipated. Neither are worth queuing for, but since I’d recommend rope dropping Fantasyland I don’t think you ever would.

I have mixed feelings about voyage of the crystal grotto. It’s not an E-ticket. For the longest time I thought it was supposed to be. I heard a lot of chatter about it with the trial opening and maybe because I had low expectations I enjoyed it well enough. A cousin of Jungle Cruise and Storybookland canal boats seems apt. It’s charming, the music adds quite a bit to the experience. Some of the vignettes, especially Aladdin, were rather impressive. The indoor section could have done a bit more, but then that’s me trying to turn it back into an E-ticket. I don’t know what their original intention with the ride was. If it’s supposed to be the headliner I think it kind of fails. If it’s just one of a series of charming fantasyland attractions, then it succeeds. I think the Mulan vignette is incredibly underwhelming compared to every other one. No one is going to ask for this to be cloned, but I also don’t think it ever needs to be ripped out and redone. So in that sense it succeeds. Small World would have been a better attraction, but at least its unique.

Pooh… there is a reason they ignored it during marketing of Shanghai last year. I guess it’s an added attraction, so yay? I think this must have been slotted in pretty late in the process. In a park that seems to avoid clones it’s really out of place. I should have saved this for the section of things I dislike about the park, but I’ll follow their lead and not give it the dignity of being talked about anymore.

Fantasyland really needs a headliner still. Maybe Alice will eventually be it? Can’t help but second-guess whether Tangled, Frozen or Zootopia would have been better choices based on what the Chinese seem to like.


Finally Tomorowland. Again mixed feelings. It’s fortunately not as sterile in person as pictures purport it to be. I like the multi-level angel even if the pathways truly are a bit meandering and confusing. Since I always found myself entering from Gardens of Imagination it preferences you to stay on the top level versus Fantasyland approach pushes you to the bottom level. I think the path to Tron really needs to eventually continue behind the Pepsi stage and dump out towards fantasyland (or Toy story I guess) in the future. Still a little awkwardly congested as they are building that Chevrolet thing. Whatever that is.

I really like Tron. Maybe Tron Track has more exciting show scenes, maybe the standby queue is boring (wouldn’t know, only did it with FP), maybe it’s a bit short. It just all worked for me despite those complaints. From the thumping Tron music, the slick coordinated but understated lighting, the gorgeous ride vehicles, the pre-show reveal of the launch station and the sheer fun factor. I had lots of fun. I got off and really wanted to go again. It’s really just another roller coaster in a box, but it’s probably one of the best roller coasters in a box they’ve done. I thought it was comfortable enough (more comfortable when it was moving) and punches a good launch. A nighttime ride wasn’t meant to be, but I could imagine it would elevate the experience somewhat.

I give credit to Buzz for being different, that doesn’t mean it is better. Somewhere between both concepts a really good Buzz ride might exist. This wasn’t really it. Chalk this up as a filler attraction.

No stitch for me (once in HK was enough, thank you). Jetpacks were also skipped. I would have tried them if they ever posted 15 minutes or less wait, but they were nowhere close to that.

The Pepsi stage hosts a weird Baymax exercise fest during the day. A DJ and dancers take up residence at night. Uptake on both weren’t that stellar, but at least the night DJ provided energy to the land and lighting was well coordinated.

If Tomorrowland feels sterile during the day, it actually does the opposite at night. With the sun set and you no longer feeling the lack of shade, the lighting package in the land really shines. It is not just the Tron cover, the lighting in railings are stairwells even matches the slow pulsating change. Once every 15 minutes or so the colour palate completely switches over in the entire land, the transition is cool.

I won’t put the Star Wars launch bay equivalent as a complete miss on my list. It probably isn’t all that long for this world, it is slightly better executed than Florida or Anaheim. They show that Path of the Force video apparently and seem to have quite a few M&G bays. Not a whole lot more to it than that really.

The Marvel thing is much better executed than the incredibly short-lived Marvel HQ. Similar setup and it features the art academy thing, which I didn’t bother with, but peaked into. Seemed a popular enough venue even the pathway to get to it is oddly off the gardens of imagination. Again, since it was just a last minute thing thrown in for capacity sake I give it a pass.


I’m running out of good things to talk about. Mickey’s Avenue gets a pass from me. It actually contains the same amount of content as a typical Main Street, you just don’t realize it with how it splays out pretty quickly. It’s really just Main street widened and unzipped. I get why they made the changes. I like it well enough and operationally the park is much, much improved as a result. It follows the mish-mash “the more architectural styles we can throw together, the better” that seems to be a WDI MO. I know some people despise that, but it was at least fairly vibrant with lots of hidden detailing. The one thing I will say is that I wish Toontown followed this style instead of the plastic look they adopted.


Food & Merch

For all the talking points about how uniquely Chinese the park would be, it’s just an American Disney park most of the time. The only things that really stood out to me from something like Tokyo, was the food. 90% of the options are Chinese. Not the Manchu Wok (is that only Canadian…?), Panda Express form of Chinese food either. I have a very adventurous palate, so I generally enjoyed the food in SDL.

Waits at restaurants were reasonable, in and out with my food in about 5-10 minutes or so considering the parks were to capacity. They were busy, but I have a feeling there was a very late freak out that there was no enough food capacity in the park as last minute additions tended to be food venues. I’d say they seemed to hit just the perfect amount of capacity. There was still a table search, but the way the quick serves are setup here forces the whole party to get the food before a table. I still reasonably found seating.

Barbossa’s Bounty quick serve is the highlight of the bunch. I felt the food was ok, the corn on the cob side they gave me was particularly chewy. I’m not sure if it was just undercooked or there is some Corn variant in China I am not particularly used to. The setting is stellar. You are getting a Blue Bayou experience for quick serve prices.

Wandering Moon Teahouse was the next one I’d recommend. Food was better than Barbossa’s for what I had, pretty much only Chinese options here.

I walked around the Adventure Isle one, which seems on par with the Mickey Avenue one up from and Tangled Tavern. I actually never went into the Pinocchio one. The Dim Sum at Mickey’s Avenue was probably the best food I had in the park.

I also did Star Gazers – mostly because I happened to be at the end of the park and you are pretty much in a food desert otherwise. The parade was blocking my escape, I swear. Honestly, reasonably good quick serve burgers, considering the Tomorrowland eateries are nearly universally terrible.

The gates by Disneytown had zero people waiting at them in the afternoon when I happened by on Friday (the day I used to basically walk the resort). If you really need to do a table service restaurant, it is actually easy to leave the park and go to Disneytown. There are a ton of really interesting options. Unlike Disneyland (and well pretty much everything in SDL) it is actually a very short walk. The majority of the restaurants abut the park. Disneyland has a fairly long walk to leave the gates and head over to DTD, then you have to compete with APers and park hoppers to get back into the gates. None of those are the case here and with a direct vestibule, I get what they are going for. It will be interesting to see if people catch on and start planning meals in Disneytown.


Merch is much, much better than Tokyo. I don’t really know how it will ultimately compare to the North American Parks. A lot of the stuff feels the same as NA parks, but lacks the Disney Parks branding. Everything is “Authentic Shanghai Disneyland merchandise”. There is a lot of attraction specific stuff for PoTC, RR and Tron. Frankly, I really didn’t buy a whole lot. I don’t tend to buy much on vacations anymore. A Marvel shirt, a couple mugs were my big spoils. I think whatever Disney line of merch people are into though; you can find lots of unique stuff here.


Entertainment

Honestly, it’s all good but standard stuff at play here.

Tarzan I was initially worried that I was in for a very, very mediocre Cirque. I saw La Reve and Ka just the week prior in Vegas was was prepared to be under-whelmed. Tarzan is not a 100ish dollar hard ticketed acrobatic performance. It was however decent and honestly a pretty good acrobatic show compared to most other theme park shows I can think of.

Pirates is very talky, but also filled with a lot of over the top performance for the kids. I generally picked up most of the themes and could follow along with their callbacks to the audience. Very smartly the show takes place in two stages, with a huge AC’d pre-show that lasts about 15 minutes with most of the actors on a balcony above. Lots of sound effects and some practical lighting and smog. It transitions inside with the pirates putting on kitschy play for you until the British general shows up. There are two very big ‘wow’ moments in the show. The first is the transformation of the theatre when they blow it up and the whole seating area fills with a smoke cannons (like Mystic Rhythms did). The second is the wind tunnel they use when a tornado rolls through the theatre. That’s something I’ve never seen before in a stage show and I was impressed. Very good show, it’s definitely an E-ticket show even if I barely followed the 75% dialogue that made it up.

I had no plans to do Frozen, but wound up there at the end of my second day as they were letting in the last few stragglers. I had low expectations when I saw it in DL and thought it was actually ok for how quickly they whipped it together. I again expected an identical experience, but was pleased to see they did add things throughout the show. The theatre is way bigger, there is a lot more involvement with projection mapping, which the audience loved. I think they added 6 dancers that I don’t recall being at DCA. Elsa has a balcony as well that rises from the stage. The background tracks smartly made it sound like people were singing around you. I’m honestly still not sure if everyone was singing along or dead silent, so I give them props to at least making it seem like they were. This sounds incredibly stupid, but they added beach balls to the summer segment and the audience LOVED it. I’m not going to say it’s a masterpiece, but the Saturday audience, which was pretty much all Chinese, were really into the whole thing. So I guess it’s more of a success than I thought it would be. Having not done it, I’m sure the DCA musical is a better show, but I have a feeling this would still play better to the Chinese audience.

Good parade and much more movement from the floats than I expected. It is only 7 units (I still feel like there must be one coming), but did not feel as short as I thought it would. Great mix dancers and well choreographed. The longest parade route EVAR sounds like another stupid talking point… That is until I watched the parade near tomorrowland entrance (not quite the start of the route), slowly meandered to Fantasyland, took pictures, decided to double back by Frozen for the faster castle route and was shocked when I stumbled into the first float. I think you could easily do the entire parade twice, from opening music to close, if you slightly hustled. So ya… I guess it is a long route.

Ignite the dreams I honestly didn’t love. Very heavy on projection mapping, I’m not sure if the pyro was restricted since they did the tag on the opening night. I’ve just seen better versions of this. I’m not even sure what the story is supposed to be? Mickey just wanders around pastel colours for a while and occasionally falls between musical segments. It’s not terrible by any means, it’s just not remotely the best castle spectacular I’ve seen.


Things that suck

Alright, the best part!

This is not a charming park. It trades charm for operational efficiency. At least it worked and it operates well. As WDW is to DL, SDL is to HKDL.

I don’t think SDL meaningfully moves the envelope with how to build a theme park. That’s not to say it doesn’t learn a lot of elements that other castle parks would have benefited from, but it merely meets a lot of bars instead of greatly shooting past any. Tokyo Disney Sea significantly moved the meter, SDL does not.

I did not forget about a “land”, I just saved it for this section. The Gardens of Imagination are mediocre to awful. Having spent the last several days touring gardens etc. around Suzhou, Tongli and Hangzhou, it’s laughable that they call it a garden. It’s actually a good idea, the walled gardens common in neighbouring cities would be an awesome inspiration for a hub. Unfortunately, I’ve come to realize that was never the “plan”. This was always an expansive hub that likely late in the planning process had some marketing whiz toss the gardens bit onto it. There are almost slight hints at what they could and should have done. Wandering Moon Teahouse works, then you stretch out to an ok section with the zodiac mosaics. There is even an elevated rock outcropping that is ok. Then? Fantasia. Ok, not terrible, I see they are fusing some American park feel into it. But beyond that you have a terribly uninspired barren hub. Then the Dumbo circus where the entire concept is now miles beyond where it should have started. Wait, weren’t there supposed to be 6 gardens? Why are there stagnant pools of water you cross? Has anyone heard of a water feature, or maybe even some lily pads and koi if you don’t want to break the bank? The castle is so massively large that this is the one time they could have actually gotten away with planting things taller than a few inches off the ground without obscuring the view. They didn’t. I’ve been so aggravated about this the past few days, this was totally within the Imagineering wheelhouse. Pagodas, ponds, fake rock work, a true walled garden. Don’t expect that. The new MK hub is infinitely better and I know the general feelings on that.


Moving on from that rant…

Oh look, here’s another massive expanse of land called the well-springs by tomorrowland. Why are there three stagnant ponds missing water features? Why does Disneytown loom over it? Why do they have zero lighting on the whole thing at night? It’s 100% a pitch-black field of space in front of tomorrowland.


They also went too big with park layout from the start. Pretty much the full park boundaries have been drawn and included in the current layout with some vast expansion pads on the East side. Tomorrowland suffers thanks to the empty space on its left… the empty space on its right… the empty space across from it… And oh yes that big empty space you can stare out of the bermless park currently occupied by a 1-storey Star Wars tent.

*Fortunately* it sounds like phase 2 stuff is coming and coming soon. Thank goodness. The absolute worst parts of the park are where Toy Story is going, followed by where Star Wars currently is and finally the emptiness that is the top of Fantasyland between Frozen and Tangled. I have a feeling I know where Marvel and Alice are going. The empty plots between Treasure Cove and SDMT, plus what is currently occupied by the Marvel tent did not bug me nearly as much as those other three.

One last thing I’ll throw down in the idiotic move column. Two theatres for Soaring… really?


Final Wrap Up

So as not to end on a complete sour note, I’ll say I generally loved SDL. Opening day was extremely well run. I am so thankful they went for a unique park, even if it didn’t always pay off in every respect. As someone who has bounced around the international parks, I am grateful that Disney generally has an attitude towards trying different things. The increasingly homogenized Universal parks really bother me as a fan. PoTC is the out and out success the park needed. The West side lands of the park are pretty spectacular and there is just sooo much potential the park has in its future. I’m just hopeful that potential doesn’t go the way of EPCOT. SDL occupies a DCA/HKDL like slice of things to do. Both of which received significant investments to get to their state. I’m happy with the start, I won’t call it the boldest, but I think they did manage to pull off just barely enough for a good opening day menu. It’s a good benchmark for what I expect all parks to open with and the type of variety I’d hope for.

Operationally, the park seems like it will be a dream. It just needs capacity. If I were to randomly pick three attractions I think it could use I’d say another family dark ride for Fantasyland. Something thrilling like another coaster. Then I’d want an E-ticket to knock my socks off. I don’t know if Alice, Everest and Marvel fit the bill, but they do sound pretty close.

For the WDW frequent flyers, you should always pay respects to DLR first. If you are considering venturing beyond NA, Tokyo should be your first choice, not SDL. However in the grand scheme of SDL/HKDL and today’s Paris I would happily say I wouldn’t hold it against you if you made it your fourth choice.

It’s only my opinion, but I’m getting Tokyo like vibes from the locals. Still early days to call definitively, but I think this park will generally be embraced and eventually SDL will be a big engine to prop up the International Parks. Was it worth it? You’d be kidding yourself if you thought Disney would have invested billions in WDW instead of stock buybacks. I had tons of fun and got to do more new attractions in one day than WDW has seen over years and years. So for me at least, it was worth it. #ThanksShanghai
 
I get that WDW has become addicted to the DVC sales cash, but this one rather baffles me. Points per night had better be pretty freaking low to get me to even think about staying there. This fits about as well as Cinderella's slipper on Anastasia's foot, IMHO. I think shoehorning DVC into the moderates further cheapens the DVC brand. And CBR? I've stayed at all of the moderates multiple times, and CBR is my least favorite of the four. (I don't consider the FW cabins to belong in this category, no matter what Disney says.)
They're going for the Westgate Resort crowd because they know they have exhausted the high end of the timeshare market.
 
To answer the question about George K, I think that if there is proven negligence then something needs to be done. Sadly that poor boy is not coming back. And if it is a freak accident that was not preventable, then the best thing is to learn from the situation. If it did however occur due to negligence, then yes he should be let go. The only thing that will be damaged is his reputation, meanwhile the Lane family will have irreparable emotional damage for life.
 

Bocabear

Well-Known Member
But can you fire an executive every time there is a freak accident? I don't believe anyone ever thought this could happen...This was a freak accident, and not something that anyone considered ever happening or they would have addressed it sooner... It is not in anyone's best interest to ignore a potentially dangerous situation, and I am sure if they realized this was remotely possible they would have acted on it already... The entire scenario is sad and heartbreaking...Disney will make changes and be more vigilant in the future, but firing an executive is not going to help anyone...
 
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