Thursday, March 15, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

DisneyTeenBlog VideoCast Episode 1 - Park Update 4/26/12

That's right everyone! Here is the very first episode of the DisneyTeenBlog VideoCast!

Share with all of your friends!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Splashing Down in Quality

Splash Mountain at the Magic Kingdom has to be one of my favorite attractions in Walt Disney World. In fact, it currently sits in the number two spot on my “All Time Favorite” attractions list under the Tower of Terror. I have always regarded Splash as my favorite because of its fantastic theming and attention to detail. Whenever I floated through Br’er Rabbits world, the combination of a great story and really immersive visual effects always pulled me into the story. Unfortunately over the past couple of years, Splash Mountain has deteriorated due to a simple lack of upkeep. While this attraction is much harder to maintain than others because of the water eroding the banks, it does not mean it shouldn’t be kept up like every other attraction in the Magic Kingdom.

Recently I rode Splash Mountain and, after being stuck on it for an hour and a half, I decided to re ride and write down a majority of the things I saw that were wrong with the attraction.

First Lift Hill: Right from the beginning of the attraction problems are evident. After the safety spiel as you ascend the first lift hill you meet Br’er Frog on the left. Not only is he not synced to his audio, his mouth barely moves. All of his movements are short and jittery. Not a good way to start the attraction.

First Show Scene: This is the first indoor area and it comes in right after the first big drop (Slippin’ Falls). My first major problem here is lighting. This scene is supposed to take place on a bright sunny day in Br’er Country, So why is it so dark? Lighting for this scene, and much of the attraction, is not fulfilling its main purpose, which is to let you be able to see things! The things you can see are not much better. Many functions of the animatronics are broken, such as eye movement, resulting in droopy-eyed characters that frankly look pretty creepy.

The paint on the wall is dull and is in desperate need of a new coat. Lighting continues to be a problem as half of Br’er Rabbits house is totally lit up, and half remains in the dark. On your left side you see the Porcupine playing the drums on a turtle and a Raccoon playing a harmonica. The audio here is not synced with the rest of the ride, creating an echoing effect and destroying the illusion that all of the animals are singing together. Up ahead comes the illusion of Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear chasing Br’er Rabbit over the hill. This is accomplished by using a technique called projection mapping. Usually, it looks really awesome, but as of late, the image is blurry, not mapped properly (they’re running either through the solid hill or on the sky) and sometimes I even see snow! That’s right, snow. Like on your TV when there’s no signal. Snow. Then comes the little rabbit who says something like “Looks like Br’er Rabbit is in trouble again.” His speaker is totally blown so his audio has a demonic quality to it. It’s actually kind of terrifying. As you pass through this scene you hit the Br’er rabbit jumping effect, which is pretty cool, IF it’s synced to your boat. Every time I ride it he jumps either way early or I have to turn around to watch him do it.

The Cave: After the short beehive scene we find ourselves in the cave filled with stalagmites and stalactites….I think…Anyways, this room is my favorite because it has my favorite thing ever! Laminar jumping fountains! You can see these in many places in Walt Disney World, like outside of the Imagination pavilion at Epcot. These streams of water bounce all around the room and over your head, missing you by inches! Or do they? Nope they don’t. In fact, almost all of the water effects in this room currently do not work. On your right side you see some turtles who are supposed to be floating on a stream of water. This effect is just a hydraulic lift pushing the turtles up and down. A stream of water conceals the mechanisms so the integrity of the show isn’t ruined and illusion is maintained. Right? RIGHT?!

I guess not. After you pass these broken effects you start you climb up to the climax of the climb, Br’er Fox’s Lair. Now usually there is a really cool projection of Br’er Fox up on the wall behind Br’er Rabbit, much like the projection of Br’er Rabbit in the queue. Most of the time, the projection is off, and when it is on, its dim and out of focus.

Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Da: After your five-story plunge into the Br’er Patch, you enter the steam boat scene. The animatronics on this boat are never really articulate and as of late, I have noticed more and more failures of the singing swans. Many time I’ll see them and they’ll be in what I like to call “seizure mode”. Their eyes roll back and they violently shake. It’s not pretty. And finally as you turn the corner and look above Br’er Rabbits house, you notice that the moon is no longer luminescent.

Now you might be saying: “Wow. Alyx is WAY to picky!”. And you’d be right in saying that I have an eye for things that 90% of guests won’t even notice. But I hold Disney to a much higher standard than other parks I visit. To me, it is Disney’s job as a storyteller to not only create the illusion, but also to maintain it. Every one of these problems is fixable with a little effort on Disney’s part. As of the time of this writing, Disney has backed themselves into a corner regarding Frontierland. Right now, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is currently in a large refurb and won’t reopen until May of 2012. So that means they cannot really work on Splash until that time. Unfortunately this ride goes under the category of “Things Disney should fix, but its not really a priority because guests will ride it either way”, much like the Yeti in Animal Kingdom’s Expedition Everest. I just hope that Disney realizes how important these minor details actually are and put the time, effort, and money into fixing this attraction.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Flyin' Solo at the World

This week, I made my first solo venture to the world. Needless to say, it was daunting. Having been there more times than I can count, what I was most apprehensive about was the fact that I was going to be alone. By myself. Me, myself, and I. As it turns out, after a day of solo touring, I enjoyed it so much, that I came back two more times during that week. Here are some of the questions I had before hand, and how I would answer them today:

What am I going to do?

Well, the answer to this one is pretty simple: Whatever I darn well please! As a solo traveler, there's none of that pesky thing called "other people's desires". When touring the parks, you have the advantage of riding what you want to, eating where you want to, and taking in any show you want to.
For example, for the first time today I finally got to explore Tom Sawyers Island in Frontierland. While it's no Space Mountain, there were a lot of hidden gems in there which proved to be pretty entertaining. However, a majority of guest will pass up visiting the home of Tom and Huck in favor of waiting for an E-Ticket attraction. Which is pretty reasonable, after all by the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World's attraction classification, Tom Sawyer's Island is a "diversion" in comparison to the behemoths next door. Yet, in classic Disney style, it truly is a delight to traipse through. This is one of many experiences I was able to enjoy because of the more flexible touring style.

How's dining going to work?

It seemed like dining was going to be one of the more awkward moments on the trip. Amidst the hoards of bustling families, lovey-dovey couples, and Brazilian tour groups sharing compacted tables, it seems like the only way to enjoy your meal is if someone is enjoying it with you.
Well that's not always the case. Never underestimate the power of people-watching! While eating at Epcot's Electric Umbrella Restaurant, I grabbed up a table on the patio facing the Fountain of Nations and watched as the masses came by. It was nice and relaxing to be able to sit back and watch the water jets scream into the air, and tiny infants scream into their parents ears. And if even this solution seems a bit daunting, there's nothing stopping you from grabbing a turkey leg and taking it on the go!

Whose going to do the other stuff?

The one drawback of touring alone deals with the secondary stuff, for example, running to grab FASTPASSes, or holding on to your things while riding Splash Mountain. Now to the best of my knowledge, it's not a good idea to hand all of your valuables to a random stranger while you ride. The one solution I found was the lockers at the entrance of every park. While a tad pricey at $7.00, ($12.00 deposit and $5.00 back), it is probably the best way to secure your valuables while in the park.
And while you may not be able to grab a FASTPASS for Toy Story while standing by for Tower of Terror, you can take advantage of the single-rider line. The theory behind the single rider line is that in return for a shorter wait time, guests give up the ability to ride with a companion or family. But as you are a solo tourer, that makes no difference to you! I've found that at a majority of attractions that offer it, the single rider line dramatically reduces your wait times, that is, if the cast member working it knows what they're doing.

Overall, I found my time in the parks alone to be a lot of fun. My advice to you would be to soak it all up, but take a step back from the headliner attractions and focus on experiences you wouldn't normally get to take part in. Also, just because you're alone doesn't mean you have to become a hermit for your entire trip. Engage other guests in conversation, and talk to cast members. In fact, I had a great monorail ride to Epcot with a family from North Carolina because I was able to strike up a conversation.

So don't be apprehensive about going to the World solo. As long as you approach it positively, you're going to have a great time!