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Annual State of Disneyland, U.S.A. - A Trip Report by TROR

TROR

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I'm back from my yearly visit to Disneyland which means it's time for my authorized and valid opinions on all the new offerings, changes, and states of the attractions at Disneyland, U.S.A.

Just to give an idea as to what the park's attendance was like, it was not terribly crowded but neither was it the low wait times we've been seeing the past few days. Falcon constantly hovered around an hour wait and all the other E-Tickets hovered around twenty to forty minutes for most of the day. Pretty bearable crowds but that's usually what it is when I go in the summer. I arrived inside the park around 9 in the morning and left around 11:30 at night. In total I experience eighteen attractions in that time frame, though I was not rushing throughout most of the day. Unfortunately I missed Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln for reasons out of my control.

New Stuff

Before getting into the park, I do want to comment on how nice the new tram loading station is. The mural of Disney character silhouettes is really nice and the Esplanade music playing overhead is such a nice "welcome" to guests (though it could be a bit louder, if I may be honest). Security was fast and boarding was quick. The plaza being enclosed by the two parking structures is also very cozy. This was a great addition to the Resort, however late it may be. I'm very happy this got done. Hopefully we can see some changes to the Downtown Disney tram loading that will make it more bearable when leaving the park as it is an absolute madhouse when exiting. I do also just want to quickly say that $25 for parking is absolutely ridiculous.

Now I only went to Disneyland as I don't believe in Disney California Adventure (despite wearing my Disney's California Adventure hat at the park). Overall the park continues to look great. It's so wonderful to see the American flag bunting on Main Street U.S.A. again after it's been off and on for the past few years, what with the Diamond Celebration, Pixar Fest, and all. I did stop by Main Street Cinema for the first time. It was full of people sitting on the new benches. I'll write more about the value of the Main Street Cinema is a separate post but I'm glad it's there.

I know there was a lot of "controversy" surrounding the new paint bestowed on the castle, but it looks beautiful just as it always has. I do personally prefer the previous scheme? Yes, I definitely prefer the pinkish hue of the bricks as opposed to them looking like a bowl of Boo Berry, but it's so easy to ignore and move on, why complain? This isn't a Tower of Terror to Mission Breakout situation (which, by the way, I still hate seeing every time I'm at the Resort. Man, that thing is an atrocity to the skyline.).

I visited Tropical Hideaway for the first time. It desperately needs more trees but I'm sure the ones they have will grow in time. I greatly enjoyed the white girl trying to sound hispanic as the voice for Rosita. I found it so perfect for Disneyland. I love it. Also having a new spot for Dole Whip is just so helpful. Great addition.

The last of the small changes are the new Pizza Planet and the new Hungry Bear Restaurant sign. Both are very charming and I love the bearing getting the honey.

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Check Ups
Splash Mountain was looking pretty good except for the hitchhiking alligator missing, a few burnt out lights (on Br'er Fox in the Laughing Place and one of the vultures), and the owl still looking to the wall at the end. Every other figure was working well and none were static. I really enjoyed getting free Ziploc bags.

I can also say the same for Indiana Jones Adventure which had all the effects working but the ones which are permanently broken. I also found, at least on my first ride onboard, that the jeep was much more violent and it was an absolute blast to be rocked around. Increasing the jeeps to always act as wild as I experienced on my first go around would be so wonderful for this ride.

I'll get to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge soon, but I want to talk about the other two Star Wars attractions in the park first. First, I really enjoyed my ride on Star Tours this time around. This was primarily due to it being set entirely in the Sequel Trilogy era. Having that consistency just makes the experience so much better. I would love it if they found a way to move this attraction to Galaxy's Edge with a proper pilot (that's not Threepio), several random variations (all consistent stories rather than random sequences), and no 3D.

I also did ride Hyperspace Mountain. Three times, actually (thanks Single Rider!). There's really a lot to enjoy about this attraction. No, I don't think it's better than regular Space Mountain nor would I ever want to see it become permanent, but it is just an absolute blast. Frankly, what the ride feels like, is a prototype test model to show that an X-Wing coaster could work. It reminds me of that story where they put a Tea Cup on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride to get an idea of what Roger Rabbit is like. That's what Hyperspace Mountain is for an X-Wing coaster. Really, Hyperspace Mountain is the best Star Wars ride at the park currently. Give Galaxy's Edge an attraction like this, Disney.

Now, onto Galaxy's Edge. Man, what a disappointment. Look, I'm a big Star Wars fan. I love the Sequel Trilogy. Galaxy's Edge is a dud. Ok, I'm going to talk about the positives of the land first but then I'm really going to get into it because this land should be so much better than it is.

The positives:
Visually the land is very impressive. By this I simply mean the craftsmanship and the design is all there. There was a clear goal in mind and they accomplished that goal wonderfully. Most of Batuu feels like a real world. One particular design I loved was Smuggler's Run Facade. The entire structure with all the rock work surrounding it just felt exactly what I want a Star Wars attraction to feel like. While the scale is a bit big for Disneyland, it's such a great aesthetic for Star Wars. The craftsmanship throughout the land is just incredible.

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I did also visit Oga's Cantina. Obviously I didn't drink as I'm only 20, nor did I get blue milk because it's $13! I can get a sandwich at Hungry Bear for $12 (which I did do). Anyway, I have some opinions on the cantina but I really enjoyed watching DJ Rex. The life he brings to the cantina and the music being played is so wonderful and charming. It's a silly idea and it's a neat new design for Rex (though I do love that original look so much). I was definitely not expecting to enjoy him as much. I hope we can get the full audio online soon as well as a video of the entire loop. Though I didn't get anything at either of these places either, I did enjoy looking around Dok Ondar's Den of Antiquities (especially the Sarlac Pit I found neat) and Ronto's Roasters. Just watching the animatronics is entertaining to me. Give me animatronics and I'm usually a pretty happy guy.

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The bazaar was such a nice part of Galaxy's Edge. It was intimate and charming. This area definitely felt like Disneyland, but not as much as the Resistance area of Galaxy's Edge. The Resistance area is calm, peaceful, and much intimate. I absolutely loved the A-Wing and X-Wing parked outside, though I wish guests could walk up to them without the barrier in the way. Not that I really care. Just having those ships there is a nice touch seeing how needless they actually are.

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The negatives:
Let me now get into just why Galaxy's Edge is a dud.

First, the land is just not in a desirable location. I'm not going to complain that Batuu isn't from the movies (as I personally love that), but I am going to say that having a war torn outpost is just not a pleasant place to be. While the craftsmanship, as said, is wonderful, and they did accomplish their goal wonderfully, their goal was all wrong. There's nothing nice about a planet I've heard compared to Palestine. This dry, desolate, war town, hive of criminals occupied by Space Nazis is just not fun. Details of broken structures, peeling paint, and rust is not something I desire to see. The entire experience, while faithful to Star Wars, reminded me of my local recycling center. The difference between Galaxy's Edge and my local recycling center? My local recycling center has a Disneyland bumper sticker stuck on a locker. This brings me to the second reason: the intense immersion is stupid.

These attempts to take the guests out of Disneyland are just pointless. I've never had so little fun playing Star Wars as I did at Galaxy's Edge. Maybe it's because I'm a grown man, or maybe it's because they want guests to "live their Star Wars adventure" while not letting them live their Star Wars adventure. There are no missions around the land for guests to do, guests don't get to fight Stormtroopers, there's no where to use the force, there's barely any characters even in the land (not once did I see Rey, Chewbacca, or Kylo Ren; only two Stormtroopers), yet despite all this there's a refusal to accept this is a fictional land in Disneyland. Yes, the details are all there and it's very immersive in that regard, but all this does is alienate it from the rest of Disneyland and it's jarring. Never in the land will you ever see a reference to the phrase "Galaxy's Edge." Compare that to "Adventureland Bazaar," the Mark Twain sporting "Disneyland" on its stern, or "Tomorrow Landing." This self denial is inconsistent with Disneyland and thus is completely needless. We know we're in Disneyland. When I was checking in for the cantina, the Cast Member kept slipping up with his Star Wars lingo and I felt so bad for the poor guy. You don't have to try so hard for me, pal; I like Disneyland more than Star Wars.

Just while I'm on the immersion factor of the land, let me quickly get into the merchandise. Obviously the intention of the merchandise is to be all in universe. While this isn't the case, the merchandise they're selling that is in universe is so stupid and useless. Thinking back to when I was a kid, I would never want any of these toys. For a land built to sell merchandise, they missed the mark on so much of this. How about instead of selling ugly "homemade" toys, give Rey, Finn, and Poe unique costumes for Galaxy's Edge and sell action figures of those? Or regular action figures of Rex instead of Funko Pops? I may actually buy those.

Anyway, I want to quickly talk about the problems with the cantina then I'm going to rip into the Falcon. This restaurant is so poorly designed. The capacity of thirty or forty people is so ridiculous low it's pathetic. Having booths so big that they need to combine parties to fill them is just idiotic. They couldn't just have two small booths in that same amount of space as one big one so it's not awkward? Let me sit with my friends and family where we're comfortable and not with strangers. Why do Imagineers think I want to interact with other guests at the park? I have no desire to do so.

Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run
I've heard a good mix of reviews, though most were pretty mediocre about this attraction. I didn't want to let that detract me from experiencing it myself. I ended up waiting an hour for this ride and let me just say that's not worth it. If this attraction is ever over twenty minutes, I wouldn't bother. I was given the role of gunner and despite two attempts to ride it again so I could pilot, I found myself not caring enough and got out of line both times.

Starting off, I really do like the Falcon sitting outside. As I said earlier, the entire exterior of this attraction is great. That's where the praise from me basically ends. I've already talked about the craftsmanship and the undesirable feel of the land so I don't need to get back into that for this. Really, all I have to say is this ride is boring from beginning to end. Throughout the entire queue there is nothing to do or look at except a giant engine and the top of the Falcon. I cannot fathom why there are no animatronics here at all. Where are the droids working on the engine? There's a droid on the very bottom floor but it's completely static. Why? There's so much empty space under these walk ways that they could have a free roaming droid in that space. That would be such a nice addition! Instead we have a crate full of popcorn bags.

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Another big issue with the queue, besides the lack of things going on, there's nothing to do. Now a queue does not need to have anything to do. An interactive feature is not necessary for a queue to work. However, throughout the queue I found buttons that, not only don't do anything, they don't even press. All this did was make the queue feel more frozen than it already was.


I don't need to keep ragging on about the queue, but I will say the com voices (their attempts to bring life and "humor" to the queue) were nothing but annoying and unnecessary as the pre show repeated the same information for the story. Now let me rag on the story. It's not interesting. There's no reason for me to be invested in this story. I'm stealing coaxium from Corellia for a character that has no association to the Falcon? Does Disney think I liked Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) or have watched all their cartoons? I'm not engaged in this story at all. I don't have any emotional connection to any of this and it's not similar enough to anything I do have an emotional connection with. It's not an interesting story, it's not a fun story, and it's not something I care about.

Just keeping with the queue, I don't understand the praise for the Falcon's chess room. Never did I feel like I stopped onboard the Millennium Falcon. What I felt like I did was walk into a room dressed up to look like the Falcon's chess room. It was not immersive in the slightest. I was very underwhelmed by this as I had heard so much praise before hand.

Anyway, on the ride itself, like I said I was gunner. This role was minimally fun? I liked seeing my lasers blow things up. I don't know if I had it on auto or manual. I didn't see any instructions on which button was which. I liked blowing things up but I wasn't really blowing anything up because it's just shooting whatever's in front of the ship. There's no aiming system. If there was an actual way to aim I may have enjoyed it more. But the biggest problem with the ride is not the way the gunner seat is situated, but the fact there's almost no motion at all. Other than take off, where I felt like I was lifting into the air, I don't recall ever feeling any motion throughout the ride. It's so incredibly tame that I forgot I was even in a simulator.

Just my last comment on Smuggler's Run, the setting of Corellia is just awful. Again with these ugly worlds being the settings for Galaxy's Edge. They really couldn't have made it take place on any planet that's visually pleasing? There are plenty of beautiful worlds in Star Wars.

This entire ride was just a disappointed and I don't see myself ever waiting more than fifteen minutes for this attraction in the future.

Final Opinion on Galaxy's Edge
Galaxy's Edge is a well made land with absolutely nothing to offer. It's clear the Imagineers thought of sales before science on this one. I don't expect this land to last long in this iteration. To be clear, none of it is offensively bad like Mission Breakout or Pixar Pier, but it just all falls short of being anything special. It tries to hard but doesn't understand what it needs to be good. The equivalent of someone running a marathon when they're in a weight lifting competition. I'll stop by again for Rise of the Resistance (which I'm very hopeful for) and when they replace Smuggler's Run because that thing is boring as all can be.

The best part of the entire land was the Fantasyland entrance with the old Knott's stagecoach.

Last Thoughts on the Park
Plaza Inn has such a beautiful interior. Really just all the details on Main Street are so wonderful. Main Street and New Orleans Square are easily the most high brow lands in the park.

The new Auction scene on Pirates of the Caribbean still sucks. Such a shame. I hope the original returns someday. Cutting Paul Frees' voice work and Marc Davis' wit in favor of millennial Imagineers who don't understand comedy is such a travesty.

Baby ducklings in the park really help give Disneyland a sense of identity. I didn't see any kitty cats, unfortunately.

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This ad found in Frontierland for Disney Adventure is a great example of how theme parks work. It's not fully immersive because it's advertising for a real world Disney brand, but it fits it into the environment. A nice little detail I've never noticed before. I suppose Galaxy's Edge's Coke bottles are the same idea but to an unnecessary hyper extreme.

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Riding Big Thunder Mountain at night made me notice Tony Baxter's portrait hung up in the first Rainbow Ridge facade. Apparently it's been there for years.

Disneyland Forever is almost a really good show. It almost has every themed land represented in its song selections. Throw in "You've Got a Friend in Me" and "Down in New Orleans" and all the lands of Disneyland are represented. So close and yet so far.

Lastly, I'm just going to end on this beautiful sunset from last night. Simply incredible. A reminder that nothing man makes at Disneyland will ever compare to nature's wonderland.

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TP2000

Well-Known Member
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Great TR!

And yes, last night's sunset was absolutely stunning for all of Orange County. I just stood on my deck marveling at it for 10 minutes.
 

180º

Well-Known Member
It's clear the Imagineers thought of sales before science on this one.
Exactly, someone’s got to be a role model. What?

I’m with you on Falcon. Did you catch my post about it from the other day? I outlined how the story is a real wet blanket compared other Star Wars experiences we’ve had in the past. I wonder if there’s a way to un-wet-blanketify Smuggler’s Run, and Galaxy’s Edge in general? The mundane treatment works for some of the land, and almost gives it a tranquil atmosphere. But I expect when I get on a ride, it will build from mundane toward something great. Flight of Passage does this. Smuggler’s Run just doesn’t. Hopefully ROTR will.
 

THE 1HAPPY HAUNT

Well-Known Member
Just keeping with the queue, I don't understand the praise for the Falcon's chess room. Never did I feel like I stopped onboard the Millennium Falcon. What I felt like I did was walk into a room dressed up to look like the Falcon's chess room. It was not immersive in the slightest. I was very underwhelmed by this as I had heard so much praise before hand.
THIS^^^ This is why I said guests need to walk up the ramp so they feel like they ACTUALLY stepped on the real Falcon. As it is you just turn a corner and are now on the falcon somehow. It's the equivalent of instead of entering Haunted Mansion by walking into the actual Mansion to sell the illusion you instead were to enter the ride from the mausoleum that you exit from and then you board the bugging from there and then you are suddenly in the mansion. you need to sell the effect you are in the facade and Haunted Mansion does this PERFECTLY. Indy does this PERFECTLY by having you walk into the actual temple. Thank you for wording it the way you did. it boggled my mind why so many were accepting this chess room as being immersive when it is bigger than it is in the movie and just feels like a room in a show building.
 
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mickEblu

Well-Known Member
Great TR! I pretty much have exactly the same thoughts on GE. We only differ slightly on the Falcon ride experience but that’s probably because you didn’t get to experience Pilot. Otherwise yeah any other position and the ride is a dud, the interior Q is terrible and I also never actually felt like I was boarding the ship. That great AA can’t even save that pre show. The surroundings are just dull and not interesting. I didn't really ever get a sense of place. We just somehow end up in the chess room.

The other place we differ is that I wasn’t all that impressed with the ROTR side of the land. It just felt like Big Thunder Trail west to me. My favorite parts of GE are the bazaar, Rontos, and outside of the Falcon - you know the places that have life and/or don’t feel like Iraq. I imagine I’ll like the cantina too.
 

mickEblu

Well-Known Member
That reminds me wasn’t something supposed to happen in the pre show that helped make it feel like you were boarding the Falcon? Something about the ship being lowered ?? Can’t quite recall.
 

George Lucas on a Bench

Well-Known Member
Sophisticated modern theme park audiences want a more realistic and relatable Disneylandian experience: Dark and disturbing environments with post-9/11 influence, Gestapo-like characters and rides where you're a thief who kills people. The future, as Prince once observed on the Batman album, is rough.
 

Nunu

Well-Known Member
Thank you for sharing your experience and points of view. The truth is, I still don't know how I feel about GE. Being a Star Wars fan myself, I was very excited when I first learned about this project. I'm not sure that the reviews I've read so far (even the good ones!), live up to my expectations. I guess I let my imagination run wild about the possibilities for this new Land!

I might get a chance to visit GE at WDW HS in August (depending on previews for AP's), and in early December.
It might be best if I dial down my expectations. I guess I was hoping for so much more and I'm sure many others were too.
I'll be able to make up my mind and share my opinion about GE only after I personally experience it. In the meantime, I can only appreciate you taking the time in writing this report. Thanks! :)
 
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socalifornian

Well-Known Member
Exactly, someone’s got to be a role model. What?

I’m with you on Falcon. Did you catch my post about it from the other day? I outlined how the story is a real wet blanket compared other Star Wars experiences we’ve had in the past. I wonder if there’s a way to un-wet-blanketify Smuggler’s Run, and Galaxy’s Edge in general? The mundane treatment works for some of the land, and almost gives it a tranquil atmosphere. But I expect when I get on a ride, it will build from mundane toward something great. Flight of Passage does this. Smuggler’s Run just doesn’t. Hopefully ROTR will.
As far as the movies go the Resistance is on life support, their fleet is the Falcon. You’d think an overly intense space battle would be a given

The end of VIII also showed us that the First Order hasn’t been purging force sensitive kids like the Empire did. Having people walk around and move things badly with the force would be appropriate. Guests should be able to do it too at other specific locations
 

TrainChasers

Well-Known Member
Great trip report. I’m out here this week as well and I agree. Today I rode Star Tours ang Hyperspace mountain and I thought - Star Tours makes me smile. I love seeing r2d2 and c3po working on the space ship, those guys just make me smile!

I also agree with hyperspace mountain... I’m like this is a simple overlay. It’s fun. Why couldn’t they make some sort of experience like this in the actual Star Wars land!

Totally agree about the land. Awesome design. But just not a fun place to be. I want to have fun! Pandora has that national park of another world feel..... cars land has the neon and gags, wizarding world.... etc etc they are just fun places to be!
 

mickEblu

Well-Known Member
I was disappointed that you couldn’t by one Rex figurine in that Droid Depot by itself. You have to pay $70 for that Droid set of figurines. Or pony up $150 for the droid. Disney obviously calculated this and is trying to prey on Rex nostalgia.
 

TROR

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I was disappointed that you couldn’t by one Rex figurine in that Droid Depot by itself. You have to pay $70 for that Droid set of figurines. Or pony up $150 for the droid. Disney obviously calculated this and is trying to prey on Rex nostalgia.
I bought a Rey die cast action figure for $25 a few years back (the only Star Wars figure I’ve bought since I was a kid). I would definitely be willing to pay the same for a Rex action figure (though preferably the original version) if it’s the same quality. The lack of affordable, quality Disneyland specific merchandise is such a shame.
 
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