Thursday, July 16, 2015
60 Days to 60 Years of Disneyland: 2014
When Didi Marie of DIStherapy.com asked me if I was interested in contributing to the "60 Magical Years of Disneyland History" blogging series, I didn't have to think very long! It was an honor to contribute a post instead of just contributing a few photos from my collection. Covering 2014, I decided to blog about some of the major changes and enhancements that occurred at the Park, starting off with the refurbished Big Thunder Mountain Railroad attraction which I was able to experience in April of 2014.
Almost every attraction has a line queue, and Big Thunder Mountain is no exception. Although I don't like to wait, the queue provides an excellent opportunity to soak up the details and snap a few photos while building up to the anticipation of boarding the Mine Train.
A preview of what you are about to experience:
This attraction has great bone structure:
The #3 Mine Train slowly leaves the boarding area:
The view through the front of the Train:
The beginning of the attraction features a tribute to the Rainbow Caverns portion of its predecessor, Nature's Wonderland:
You might even find yourself getting a bit wet here:
Coyotes yelp overhead:
You have to act quick to get views like this while the Mine Train speeds over the track:
It was dynamite (literally) to see the Billy Goat back in action again!
Now there was an actual explosive punchline to the dynamite with the fireworks tagged on to the finale of the attraction:
Vintage Disneyland fans were very happy to have Rainbow Ridge restored rather than scrapped with this refurbishment:
Wouldn't you love to go inside for a tasty beverage?
or check out the showgirls?
or even do a little souvenir shopping:
Another fantastic refurbishment occurred for the beloved Alice in Wonderland dark ride. For way too long, the exterior was mired in a "temporary" quick fix to address some perceived safety issues. Finally, the outside AND the inside got some much deserved TLC.
The attraction itself received the addition of some digital effects that integrated seamlessly into the already existing three dimensional aspects.
The new White Rabbit digital projection was one of my favorite additions that really made me feel as if I was in the movie itself:
Hey parents, don't worry; it's only digital smoke.
Even Alice was upgraded; the version we now see is much more on-model to the one from the 1951 animated classic:
Shall we take in the Royal Garden?
What could be more charming than a simple game of croquet with the Red Queen?
Charming until the Queen gets honked off.
Hold onto your heads, folks!
The Unbirthday Party finale was also spruced up with digital effects:
and the insertion of Alice herself, who was previously absent from her own party:
The changes to this attraction were very well received by guests, including me!
With the good from 2014 came the not-so-good. One of the most beloved areas of the Park, The Court of Angels in New Orleans Square:
was permanently closed off to Park guests, as it was absorbed into the newly expanded Club 33. This is what the regular guest now sees as they pass this once favorite photo opportunity:
The Court looks somewhat the same, but did receive a few additions.
The phrase "less is more" comes to mind. What was once charming has now become a bit overdone.
Club 33 expanded to make room for a Jazz Lounge, an expanded kitchen, and a general rebranding in an attempt to bring the fabled private Club into the new century.
The old entrance which was akin to a speakeasy gave way to a much more ostentatious version:
The redesigned logo can be seen on the buzzer.
Was the remodel a success? That all depends on who you talk to. Generally, those who cherish the rich history of Walt Disney and his original vision of the Park can't stand it. Guests who drink the Disney Corporate Koolaid and enjoy just about anything Disney think it's the next best thing to sliced bread. For me, the Jazz Lounge was a win.
The historic Trophy Room was a casualty to a larger kitchen. Many of the elements of the old Club were transitioned into the new; some were stuck in a corner:
while others were put front and center:
The once elegant Dining Room that contained a beautiful fireplace mantle:
became clunky with the addition of a huge window:
which looked even worse from the outside:
Not wanting to end this post on a sour note, I will point out that just like any company, Disneyland annually has its hits and misses. I still enjoy every visit and consider it to be one of the most magical places on earth. It has been a cherished spot for me since my first trip back in 1970. Many thanks to Didi Marie for allowing me to participate in this Anniversary Blogging Series!
More vintage and current Disneyland photos on my main website.