The Duck’s grand tour of the rides we visited at Disneyland continues in the aptly titled part two! We’ve already discussed the lesser-amazing (but still pretty delightful) rides we visited, and now it’s time for the top six. Which means the best of the best is coming up! (Again, we did not go on any scary rides, which mainly includes: Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and um…Matterhorn.) Sit back and prepare to read some more overly detailed descriptions of cool stuff! You know you love it!
6: Mad Tea Party
Mad Tea Party, or just “the spinning teacups”, if you’re so inclined, breaks the rules of what I typically enjoy in a ride. There are no delightful animatronics singing a catchy ditty, but rather just a bunch of people, adults and children alike, sitting in oversized teacups…spinning really fast. Nevertheless, I enjoy this particular ride to no end. For us, the lines were always short, so it was always a good option when one wanted some good ol’ Disneyland fun without a long wait. Just be careful if you’re the type of person who has a sensitive stomach. Otherwise, this ride could get pretty messy.
We went on this ride twice during our visit, once on Saturday and once on Sunday, and each time was pretty memorable. On Saturday, we rode the teacups as the sun was going down, and the glowing lanterns looked absolutely beautiful in the fading light. We visited the teacups again Sunday afternoon, in the middle of which a parade began to pass by (Mickey’s Soundsational Parade, to be exact). At one point, we were right next to the parade at the exact moment Mickey Mouse himself was going by. I swear he looked right at us. The two of us found the whole notion of Mickey Mouse watching us spin around in giant teacups pretty darn amusing, and we basically missed the rest of the ride, so busy were we watching the parade through our laughter. It wasn’t an Autopia level of laughter, but it was pretty funny, all the same.
5: Snow White’s Scary Adventure
For mom and I both, this one was most assuredly new and our second to last ride of the entire trip. It was also the first ride where I was fully decked out with my new Minnie Mouse slippers and white and purple mouse ears (more on that another time, dearies). Interestingly enough, this is apparently one ride that has been around since opening day in 1955, so that’s pretty cool. This ride was pretty fun, and my mom and I were both pretty shocked when the Evil Queen turns around and is transformed into the old crone. Yikes! Was not expecting that! Kudos to the Snow White ride for managing to truly surprise two Ducks such as ourselves.
4: Star Tours
Tomorrowland and I have never been on the best of terms. I prefer the greener parts of Disneyland myself, and that ordeal at Autopia didn’t help. I also don’t enjoy fast rides, so the popular Space Mountain is not my cup of tea, either. Nevertheless, there is one ride in Tomorrowland that even Mother Duck and I enjoy. And that ride is Star Tours. As we headed for the monorail Sunday night, we decided to stop for one final ride. Star Tours. Wait, I already said that.
If you’re not familiar with this particular ride, which is Star Tours (just to make that clear), this is not your traditional Disney ride. Rather, this falls into the category of rides where you sit in front of a big screen, and you wear 3D glasses, and the seats move. Actually, it’s more than possible the entire room moves, but I clearly have no idea how this kind of technology works, okay? (Fun fact: I had actually first experienced these kinds of rides at the Boomtown Casino Fun Center in Reno, NV many years back. Unfortunately for any current visitors, it appears the “motion theater” has since closed. It was pretty cool at the time, though.)
Now, I do question the wisdom of visiting this ride (Star Tours…please imagine these two words being spoken in a mysterious whisper) at this time, considering Mother Duck and I were now laden down with some rather fragile items we had bought a couple hours prior, which we were told to leave under the seat. Once the ride began, however, I was far more concerned with my own survival than that of our purchased items. Frankly, I had forgotten how awesome this ride was, and I find it to be a wonderful mix of terrifying and delightful. I also think it’s cool that there are different variations of this ride, so you can ride Star Tours multiple times and still experience new things. And don’t worry, our items survived just swimmingly.
3: Peter Pan’s Flight
I had heard many-a-time that the Peter Pan ride was really popular, hence the perpetually long lines (seriously, if you think you can just wait these lines out, you can’t; they never go down…ever). As a result, I really wanted to check this one out, but we had a 30-minute line to get through first. It felt like much longer, too, because we had a very strange guy behind us the entire time who couldn’t keep his elbows to himself. The sheer amount of times we were physically struck without our assailant even being aware he was doing so was a bit baffling, I must say. At least we got a visit from Gaston (from Beauty and the Beast, of course) during our long, painful wait, so that was fun. Until…owch! I mean, until we…oof! Aargh, until we were inevitably whacked again!
Well, the long wait, and the abuse, was worth it. Of all the dark rides in Fantasyland, Peter Pan’s Flight is definitely the most unique, as you feel like you’re flying over London, and then over and through Neverland, in a flying pirate ship. It’s pretty awesome. We ended up rushing over to this ride Sunday morning to ride it a second time, hoping the line would be shorter. But it wasn’t. Still 30 minutes, but the wait was far more pleasant this time, as the weather was much cooler, and we had no one with malevolent elbows lurking behind us.
2: Pirates of the Caribbean
Ah, at last, we’ve arrived at my top two favorite rides. The order in which I place these changes from time to time. Ten years ago, my favorite was Pirates. Now it’s been downgraded to #2. But that matters not. It’s still one of the best things to have ever existed. Where else can you find a ride this elaborate? Nowhere but Disneyland! And Disney World. And…um…
As much as I love Disney, and as much as I cherish the memories of watching a classic animated Disney movie every night before bed as a duckling (back then, I could watch the same movie over and over again and not get bored), my favorite rides are actually the ones not based off of my favorite Disney movies. I already saw the movie, so watching the same story over again in ride-form is not as thrilling to me as experiencing something totally different. I also just loves me some animatronics. I guess my love of animatronics began long before Five Nights at Freddy’s. Good to know.
The Pirates ride is just…amazing. What else can I say? For one thing, the build-up is great. You start off by drifting through the bayou at night, accompanied by fireflies and the sound of frogs and soft banjo music. After a hill that is far steeper than either of us remembered, followed by one smaller hill for good measure, you enter these amazingly atmospheric caves. This is actually my favorite part of the ride. It’s just so calm and quiet, and the sight of all those skeletal pirates is pretty eerie indeed. (I hear the chest of gold in the treasure-filled room is the actual one used in the original Pirates of the Caribbean movie, by the way.) It is after this that we come upon the pirates themselves and their iconic song, A Pirate’s Life for Me, which nearly every Disney fan should be more than familiar with.
As amazing as this ride is, I will add that there is one major thing that bothers Mother Duck and me, aside from the obvious fact that it revolves around a group of murderers and thieves, of course. (Who says Disneyland is family-friendly?) Our biggest issue involves the changes made to include characters from the movies. I suppose Captain Barbossa is fine because he simply replaces some previously unnamed pirate captain. I’m also not terribly upset by the projection of Davy Jones, even if I don’t think it’s necessary.
My main issue is the addition of Jack Sparrow, who appears not once, but three times throughout the ride, along with any corresponding revisions to the characters’ dialogue. As much as I like this character in the movies, his presence in the ride is a bit too intrusive for my liking. Problems aside, that didn’t stop us from going on Pirates of the Caribbean three times, twice on Saturday and once Sunday morning, shortly before our lunch reservation at the Blue Bayou. But if there’s one thing I like more than pirates, scoundrels though they may be, it’s…
1: Haunted Mansion
And here we are, the Duck’s favorite ride at Disneyland! In the past, I had only ridden on the Haunted Mansion once in Disney World and the Halloween version of the Haunted Mansion once in Disneyland. It may seem rather silly, but this was a very special visit indeed because I got to finally ride the traditional Disneyland version of the ride for the first time in my life. And I certainly made up for lost time, considering we visited this ride a grand total of five times over the course of those two magical days.
It’s no wonder I love the Haunted Mansion so, as I’ve always been a fan of ghosts and other spooky things. While the Haunted Mansion is a delightful mix of scary and silly, I will admit that when I first visited this ride in Disney World many years back, I was terrified the moment I had to enter the mansion’s dark interior. Though, it would seem that fear of this ride runs in my family, as my uncle was reportedly frightened of it around the same age as I, and my own mum (sister of said uncle) once got split up from her family as a child here. To make matters worse, she got the absolute creepiest of the Hitchhiking Ghosts to accompany her at the end. You know the one.
As much as the ride used to terrify me, now I find it nothing short of delightful. (In fact, you can say that I was just…dying to return. Ha HA!) In addition to my love of creepy things, I also just love how unique this ride is, considering part of it takes place before you even reach the, sigh, Doom Buggies. You know, all that awesome stuff with the stretching room (the part with the hanged man in the rafters makes people scream every single time) and the hallway with the lightning that makes the pictures transform. Even more interesting is the fact that this ride also includes more than just the usual animatronics, but an effect that’s been around for centuries, fittingly called “Pepper’s Ghost”. Pretty cool.
This is also the only ride that I know of that makes you chase down your seat, which is not good for people with bad knees like myself. But darn it, I limped as hard as I could, and I overtook that darn Doom Buggy eventually. The even greater downside to a ride that is constantly on the move is the frequent stops. While the Internet says that these stops are made to accommodate people in wheelchairs, the ride itself claims that we have been “unavoidably detained by cranky spirits”. Which begs the question, who is to be believed, the Internet or Disneyland? You know what, I know better than to believe everything I read online. Ghosts, it is.
The other reason for my extreme excitement to visit this ride, aside from the general awesomeness of a mansion inhabited by “999 happy haunts” (talk about an infestation), was the infamous Hatbox Ghost, who was returned to the ride just under two years ago after about a 45-year absence because his effect (his head disappears and reappears inside his hatbox, which is an oddly specific ability, if you ask me) didn’t work properly. He’s a beautiful thing, this new Hatbox Ghost, and totally worth a visit. But, as you’d come to expect by now, more on this ghoulish fellow later.
I absolutely love this ride. I love how creepy it is, and I find no shortage of amusement in listening to the conversations of fellow guests as they ask their friends just how scary the ride is going to be. The Haunted Mansion is incredibly atmospheric, inside and out, with the ballroom being one area of particularly haunting beauty. The mansion is absolutely packed with details, and you’d have to ride through it many times indeed in order to see everything.
Notable visits include our third and final ride-through on Saturday, when I got the revolutionary idea to visit the Haunted Mansion …gasp, after dark! Strangely enough, plenty of other people had this idea, as well. I think they stole it from me. It makes absolutely no difference once you’re inside, but I still wanted to say that I was brave enough to visit a spooky, ghost-infested mansion after dark, nonetheless. During our fifth visit (visit #2 on Sunday afternoon), we had the pleasure of being stopped right in front of the singing busts, so at least I had a nice front row seat from which to watch the spooky quintet sing Grim Grinning Ghosts.
Of course, if I’m going to write a fair critique, I should also mention a few things I’m not as fond of. One, why did the bride have to become a literal axe-murderer? The disappearing heads of the husbands in the portraits in the attic are an interesting touch, yes, but I don’t believe she was ever a killer before. Two, I wish they’d do away with those silly pop-up ghosts, or whatever you call them, in the graveyard. Honestly, they’re a bit cheap when compared to everything else and not at all befitting the usual level of imagination I would expect from Disney. Three, and this is a small complaint…who is that woman at the end, and why is she so tiny? What is the meaning of such madness!
Mother Duck and I were certainly productive, weren’t we? Not only did we get to visit 12 unique rides, but we got to ride them a grand total of 20 times. Phew, what a busy weekend indeed. As usual, be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments below! Come now, don’t be shy. Just drag your mouse cursor to the dead center of the comment box and tell me about your favorite rides at Disneyland! Otherwise, the Hitchhiking Ghosts might need to haunt you until you do. And rest assured, it’ll be the scary one….
Duck, a Fellow Foolish Mortal