Friday, May 27, 2011

DCA Trip Report & Little Mermaid Preview

I was VERY excited to be able to attend the Cast Member preview for the new Little Mermaid attraction at DCA. The marketing mavens have been churning the spin machine like the tilt-a-whirl at a carnival. It seems that almost daily fascinating little tidbits have been released about this new dark ride that would blow the imaginations of guests.

Can you imagine what a Debbie-Downer this sign was when I saw it? Besides having it suck that I couldn't take interior photos, it also made me wonder what they were hiding or afraid of, as interior videos and photos released directly from Disney seemed to exist in abundance; not like there were many surprises to be seen.

Catching my breath from the panic of actually riding an attraction without staring through the lens, I snapped a few exterior shots and one of the interior mural:

And the new attraction poster that has been created for it (big ol' thumbs up for this!):

As for the ride itself...I was less than blown away. To get your expectations on the proper level, think of these dark rides: Monsters, Inc., or Pinocchio's Daring Adventure. Visually, Ariel's Undersea Adventure is stunning. The audio experience is great, too (how could you go wrong with the music from "The Little Mermaid"?), and I even enjoyed riding in the clamshell (MUCH smoother than the clunky ones at WDW). So what's missing? The "wow" factor. After riding it, I turned to Stacy and said, "Do you feel like you missed anything or have a burning desire to ride it again?" Both of us sadly said "no." Younger kids will LOVE it; adults will enjoy it as well, but I just don't see a huge enticement to ride it repeatedly like the Haunted Mansion or POTC.

The attempt to make the rider feel immersed in the water fails; the lighting doesn't achieve the watery effect, and Ariel's hair floating "up" just looks silly, as the wiggle in the 3D material used for it isn't enough to look as if it is weightless. Overall technically, this new dark ride is truly impressive, but without exciting visual scenes, all the technical artifice in the world can't wow. The best scene is the one with Ursula, and the only one that comes closest to having the magical effect of a classic attraction like "Peter Pan" in Fantasyland.

The exterior looks magical at night; the exterior design and lighting definitely elevates the look of DCA's landscape .

Over at Cars Land, work continues to progress steadily:

This handy dandy diagram shows the layout of this exciting new land:

Tantalizing glimpses of the new entrance are barely visible behind the tarps:

That's it for today...hope you all can enjoy the 3-day weekend!

See more Little Mermaid attraction photos at my regular website.


Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Can't get too excited about the Little Mermaid ride and your review sorta of confirmed what I thought. I'll still want to see it, but no burning desire.

Well well, sucks having your camera and not being able to use it huh! Hey, since when did some silly sign (or cast member warning) stop Daveland as his roaming camera??? LOL!

Carsland looked extremely cool, but nice timing on Disney's part with Cars2 coming out this summer and no Carsland for year???

Snow White Archive said...

It's too bad the ride didn't live up to the hype. But I do like that they actually have a mural. And the poster rocks! Looks quite vintage in its design.

Daveland said...

Tim - It wasn't just the sign that deterred me; there were cast members INSIDE the ride along the journey, and they were actively looking for people taking photos. A group in the clamshell next to me got admonished for shooting photos.

I should add that the attraction is enjoyable; it's not a bad ride...just not something that lives up to the Disney Hype. I have found that with Disney, the more they hype up something, the less impressive it typically is. I am sure there is a Disney geek out there (Jason?) who can come up with a mathematical formula for that!

Major Pepperidge said...

Oh my gosh, I am pretty disappointed to hear the the Little Mermaid attraction does not live up to your expectations. I know that as Disney geeks, we might have higher standards than the average park goer, but It does sound like this was a real "missed opportunity" to do a new dark ride in the spirit of the classic Fantasyland versions, except with the technology to blow us away.

There's the familiar "Little Lord Fontleroy" font used on the Mermaid poster (which I like)! I like the mural too. I'm still looking forward to seeing this attraction for myself, but I wonder if this is going to be the big draw for DCA that they had hoped.

HBG2 said...

Thanks for the review! I'm thinking that after the current hoopla has died out, the ride will settle into its own niche and be judged on its own terms. If you hype a C or D-ticket as an E-ticket, it's bound to disappoint, even if it's a pretty good C or D. Seems like Monsters Inc. played to such a script.

Daveland said...

Very well put, HBG2; Disney raises the expectations with their crazy hype and creates a problem that needn't exist.

Annie said...

I'm a little surprised at your disappointment :/ I'm a huge fan of the Little Mermaid and I'm so excited for this ride. I've seen some video of it (granted it is video and not in person) and I think it all looks brilliant! Maybe I'm more forgiving because I love the story so much, but I don't see any difference really in the story shortening than what we already see in the other Fantasyland attractions. Very quick scene changes and even more quick storytelling. I can totally understand not waiting in line for it at the next trip, I do that all the time. But I also think it could easily be one of my favorite dark rides.
Thanks for reviewing it for us and giving us your opinion! I'm holding out hope that next time you ride it, you'll exit and say "What was I thinking?? this was EPIC!" LOL :)

Daveland said...

Annie - I can't quite put my finger on it, but it just doesn't seem to have the magic of Peter Pan. Even now, after riding it hundreds of times, I still get excited to fly in the Pirate Ship over London. I will definitely ride Mermaid again; I have to - I still don't have any interior shots! Ha!

Rich T. said...

Dave --

Thanks for the great commentary. I watched the Youtube video of the ride, and (though I still can't wait to ride it in person)the pacing seems slightly wonky.

This ride has "Adventure" in the title. It needs the shark! And storms! And a big, noisy Ursula death scene before the happy ending! Without any of that, the whole thing just seems...pleasant and monotone. And what's up with Triton's face? Everyone else is perfectly on-model...Did they run out of time?

I guess expectations are so high because this is a first: A Fantasyland-style dark ride using an omnimover system. Well, any dark ride addition is a plus for DCA, and the building's spectacular. It'll be interesting to see if and how the Imagineers tweak the ride with upgrades in the future.

But if Florida gets a big Ursula death scene, we'll never hear the end of it. :)