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The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2005(Unofficial Guide Series)

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The insider's guide to Disneyland-plus complete coverage of Universal Studios
* Disneyland remains the #1 California amusement and theme park, attracting about 14 million visitors annually, more than double the total for Universal Studios
* Based on surveys of 6,100 families, our guide rates every attraction by age group, provides field-tested itineraries, and offers detailed reviews and rankings of hotels and...
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Overview

The insider's guide to Disneyland-plus complete coverage of Universal Studios
* Disneyland remains the #1 California amusement and theme park, attracting about 14 million visitors annually, more than double the total for Universal Studios
* Based on surveys of 6,100 families, our guide rates every attraction by age group, provides field-tested itineraries, and offers detailed reviews and rankings of hotels and eateries
* Delivers strategies for beating the lines and tips and warnings for families with children, first-time visitors, and people with special needs
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780764559709
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/28/2004
  • Series: Unofficial Guides Series , #94
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Bob Sehlinger is the publisher of Menasha Ridge Press and the author of numerous Unofficial Guides, including the Unofficial Guide to Las Vegas and the best-selling Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World.
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Table of Contents

List of Maps and Illustrations.

Acknowledgments.

Introduction.

Why “Unofficial”?

How This Guide Was Researched and Written.

Disneyland Resort: An Overview.

Part One: Planning before You Leave Home.

Gathering Information.

Timing Your Visit.

Getting There.

A Word about Lodging.

Hotels and Motels: Rated and Ranked.

Making the Most of Your Time.

Part Two: Basic Essentials.

The Bare Necessities.

Part Three: Disneyland with Kids.

The Agony and the Ecstasy.

Small-Child Fright-Potential Chart.

Waiting-Line Strategies for Adults with Small Children.

Lost Children.

The Disney Characters.

Part Four: Disneyland Park.

Arriving and Getting Oriented.

Main Street, U.S.A.

Adventureland.

Part Four: Disneyland Park.

New Orleans Square.

Critter Country.

Frontierland.

Fantasyland.

Mickey’s Toontown.

Tomorrowland.

Live Entertainment and Special Events.

Traffic Patterns inside Disneyland Park.

Disneyland Park Touring Plans.

Part Five: Disney’s California Adventure.

A Brave New Park.

Arriving and Getting Oriented.

Hollywood Pictures Backlot.

Golden State.

A Bug’s Land.

Paradise Pier.

Parades and Live Entertainment.

Disney’s California Adventure One-Day Touring Plan.

Part Six:Universal Studios Hollywood.

Gathering Information.

Timing Your Visit.

Arriving and Getting Oriented.

Universal Studios Hollywood Attractions.

Universal Studios Hollywood One-Day Touring Plan.

Part Seven:Dining and Shopping in and around Disneyland.

Dining.

Shopping.

Appendix.

Readers’ Questions to the Author.

Readers’ Comments.

Indexes.

Clip-Out Pocket Outlines of Touring Plans.

Reader Survey.

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First Chapter

The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2005


By Bob Sehlinger

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-7645-5970-2


Chapter One

Disney's California Adventure

A Brave New Park

The Walt Disney Company's newest theme park, Disney's California Adventure, held its grand opening on February 8, 2001. Already known as "DCA" among Disneyphiles, the park is a bouquet of contradictions conceived in Fantasyland, starved in utero by corporate Disney, and born into a hostile environment of Disneyland loyalists who believe they've been handed a second-rate theme park. The park is new but full of old technology. Its parts are stunningly beautiful, yet come together awkwardly, failing to comprise a handsome whole. And perhaps most lamentable of all, the California theme is impotent by virtue of being all-encompassing.

The history of the park is another of those convoluted tales found only in Robert Ludlum novels and corporate Disney. Southern California Disney fans began clamoring for a second theme park shortly after Epcot opened at Walt Disney World in 1982. Although there was some element of support within the Walt Disney Company, the Disney loyal had to content themselves with rumors and half-promises for two decades while they watched new Disney parks go up in Tokyo, Paris, and Florida. For years, Disney teasingly floated the "Westcot" concept, a California version of Epcot that was always just about to break ground. Whether a matter of procrastination or simply pursuing better opportunities elsewhere, the Walt Disney Company sat on the sidelines while the sleepy community of Anaheim became a sprawling city and property values skyrocketed. By the time Disney emerged from its Westcot fantasy and began to get serious about a second California park, the price tag-not to mention the complexity of integrating such a development into a mature city-was mind-boggling.

Westcot had been billed as a $2- to $3-billion, 100-plus-acre project, so that was what the Disney faithful were expecting when Disney's California Adventure was announced. What they got was a park that cost $1.4 billion (slashed from an original budget of about $2.1 billion), built on 55 acres including a sizeable carve-out for the Grand Californian Hotel. It's quite a small park by modern theme-park standards, but $1.4 billion, when lavished on 55 acres, ought to buy a pretty good park.

Then there's the park's theme. Although flexible, California Adventure comes off like a default setting, lacking in imagination, weak in concept, and without intrinsic appeal, especially when you stop to consider that two-thirds of Disneyland guests come from Southern California. As further grist for the mill, there's precious little new technology at work in Disney's newest theme park. Of the headliner attractions, only one, Soarin' over California, a simulator ride, breaks new ground. All the rest are recycled, albeit popular, attractions from the Animal Kingdom and Disney-MGM Studios. When you move to the smaller-statured second half of the attraction batting order, it gets worse. Most of these attractions are little more than off-the-shelf midway rides spruced up with a Disney story line and facade.

From a competitive perspective, Disney's California Adventure is an underwhelming shot at Disney's three Southern California competitors. The Hollywood section of DCA takes a hopeful poke at Universal Studios Hollywood, while Paradise Pier offers midway rides à la Six Flags Magic Mountain. Finally, the whole California theme has for years been the eminent domain of Knott's Berry Farm. In short, there's not much originality in DCA, only Disney's now-redundant mantra that "whatever they can do, we can do better."

However, while the Disneyholics churn up cyberspace debating DCA's theme and lamenting what might have been, the rest of us will have some fun getting acquainted with the latest Disney theme park. Our guess is that the park will transcend its bland theme and establish an identity of its own. In any event, the operative word in the new park's name is "Disney," not "California" or "Adventure." Even if the park was called Disney's Slag Heap, the faithful would turn out en masse. Even so, Disney is working hard to placate their core market. The year 2002 saw the addition of the game show-based Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and Flik's Fun Fair, a modest complex of children's rides and play areas that incorporated the less than enthralling Bountiful Valley Farm. The year 2004, however, was the year the faithful had been waiting for. In the spring of 2004, DCA unveiled its own version of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, the most incredible attraction Disney has yet to produce.

Arriving and Getting Oriented

The entrance to Disney's California Adventure faces the entrance to Disneyland Park across a palm-shaded pedestrian plaza called the Esplanade. If you arrive by tram from one of the Disney parking lots, you'll disembark at the Esplanade. Facing east toward Harbor Boulevard, Disneyland Park will be on your left and DCA will be on your right. In the Esplanade are ticket booths, the group sales office, and resort information.

Seen from overhead, Disney's California Adventure is roughly arrayed in a fan shape around the park's central visual icon, Grizzly Peak. At ground level, however, the park's layout is not so obvious. From the Esplanade you pass through huge block letters spelling "California," and through the turnstiles. To your left and right you'll find guest services, as well as some shops and eateries. Among the shops is Greetings from California, offering the park's largest selection of Disney trademark merchandise. A second shop of note, Engine-Ears Toys, selling upscale toys, creates the impression of stepping into a model train layout. To your right you'll find stroller and wheelchair rental, lockers, rest rooms, an ATM machine, and phones.

After passing under a whimsical representation of the Golden Gate Bridge, you arrive at the park's central hub. Dominated by a fountain fronting an arresting metal sculpture of the sun, the hub area is called Sunshine Plaza. In addition to serving as a point of departure for the various theme areas, Sunshine Plaza is one of the best places in the park to encounter the Disney characters. With the fountain and golden sun in the background, it's a great photo op.

"Lands" at DCA are called "districts," and there are four of them. A left turn at the hub leads you to the Hollywood Pictures Backlot district of the park, celebrating California's history as the film capital of the world. The Golden State district of the park is to the right or straight. Golden State is a somewhat amorphous combination of separate theme areas that showcase California's architecture, agriculture, industry, history, and natural resources. Within the Golden State district, you'll find Condor Flats by taking the first right as you approach the hub. Grizzly Peak will likewise be to your right, though you must walk two-thirds of the way around the mountain to reach its attractions. The remaining two Golden State theme areas, The Bay Area and the Pacific Wharf, are situated along a kidney-shaped lake and can be accessed by following the walkway emanating from the hub at seven o'clock and winding around Grizzly Peak. A third district, A Bug's Land, is situated opposite the Golden Vine Winery and can be reached by taking the same route. The fourth district, Paradise Pier, recalls seaside amusement parks of the first half of the twentieth century. It is situated in the southwest corner of the park, across the lake from The Bay Area.

Park Opening Procedures

Guests are usually held at the turnstiles until official opening time. On especially busy days guests are admitted to Golden Gateway and Condor Flats 30 minutes before official opening time.

Hollywood Pictures Backlot

Hollywood Pictures Backlot offers attractions and shopping inspired by California's (and Disney's) contribution to television and the cinema. Visually, the district is themed as a studio backlot with sets, including an urban street scene, sound stages, and a central street with shops and restaurants that depict Hollywood's golden age.

Disney Animation Building

What It Is Behind-the-scenes look at Disney animation

Scope and Scale Major attraction

When to Go Anytime

Author's Rating Quite amusing, though not very educational; ****

Overall Appeal by Age Group

Preschool *** | Teens **** | Over 30 ****

Grade school **** | Young Adults ****| Seniors ****

Duration of Experience 35-55 minutes

Probable Waiting Time 5 minutes

Description and Comments The Disney Animation Building houses a total of ten shows, galleries, and interactive exhibits that collectively provide a sort of crash course in animation. Moving from room to room and exhibit to exhibit, you follow the Disney animation process from concept to finished film, with a peek at each of the steps along the way. Throughout, you are surrounded by animation, and sometimes it's even projected above your head and under your feet!

Because DCA's Animation Building is not an actual working studio, the attraction does not showcase artists at work on real features, and the interactive exhibits are more whimsical than educational. In one, for example, you can insert your voice into a cartoon character. You get the idea. It takes 40-55 minutes to do all the interactive stuff and see everything.

Touring Tips On entering the Animation Building, you'll step into a lobby where signs mark the entrances of the various exhibits. Start with the Animation Screening Room, followed by Drawn to Animation. Both feature educational films and will provide a good foundation on the animation process that will enhance your appreciation of the other exhibits. Because the Hollywood Pictures Backlot doesn't see a lot of traffic until 11 a.m. or later, you probably won't experience much waiting for the Disney Animation offerings except on weekends and holidays. Even then, the Animation Building clears out considerably by late afternoon.

Hyperion Theater

What It Is Venue for live shows

Scope and Scale Major attraction

When to Go After experiencing DCA's rides

Author's Rating Great venue, not to be missed; ****

Overall Appeal by Age Group

Preschool *** | Teens **** | Over 30 ****

Grade school **** | Young Adults **** | Seniors ****

Duration of Experience 45 minutes

Probable Waiting Time 30 minutes

Description and Comments This 2,000-seat theater is DCA's premiere venue for live productions, many of which are based on Disney animated films and feature Disney characters. Shows are Broadway quality in every sense, except duration of the presentation, and alone are arguably worth the price of theme-park admission. Disney's Aladdin-A Musical Spectacular, was the Hyperion Theater's feature show in 2004 and may well continue through 2005 or longer. A breezy stage version of the Aladdin story, it's by far Hyperion Theater's most accomplished production to date. We rate it not to be missed. In the evening, Hyperion Theater is often used as a separate-admission concert and special-events stage.

Touring Tips The lavish productions hosted by the Hyperion Theater are rightly very popular and commonly sell out on busier days. To reduce waiting, the theater often gives out reserved show tickets at the entrance. The tickets, which work essentially like a FASTPASS, guarantee you a seat at any performance throughout the day as long as you show up 15-20 minutes prior to showtime. The tickets differ from FASTPASSes in that they operate separately from the FASTPASS system and do not affect your eligibility to obtain FASTPASSes for other attractions. The tickets guarantee you a seat, but not an assigned seat. On busier days all of the tickets are distributed by noon or 1 p.m.

Presentations are described, and showtimes listed, in the park handout map. The theater is multilevel. Though all seats provide a good line of sight, we recommend sitting on the ground level relatively close to the entrance doors (if possible) to facilitate an easy exit after the performance. Finally, be forewarned that the sound volume for Hyperion Theater productions would give heavy-metal rock concerts a good run for the money.

Muppet Vision 3-D

What It Is 3-D movie featuring the Muppets

Scope and Scale Major attraction

When to Go Before noon or after 4 p.m.

Special Comments 3-D effects and loud noises frighten many preschoolers

Author's Rating Must see; **** 1/2

Overall Appeal by Age Group

Preschool **** | Teens **** 1/2 | Over 30 **** 1/2

Grade school **** 1/2 | Young Adults **** 1/2 | Seniors **** 1/2

Duration of Presentation 17 minutes

Probable Waiting Time 20 minutes

Description and Comments MuppetVision 3-D provides a total sensory experience, with wild 3-D action augmented by auditory, visual, and tactile special effects. If you're tired and hot, this zany presentation will make you feel brand-new.

Touring Tips Although extremely popular, this attraction handles crowds exceedingly well. Your wait should not exceed 20 minutes except on days when the park is jam-packed. Special effects and loud noises may frighten some preschoolers.

Playhouse Disney: Live on Stage

What It Is Live show for children

Scope and Scale Minor attraction

When to Go Per the daily entertainment schedule

Author's Rating A must for families with preschoolers; ****

Appeal by Age Group

Preschool ***** | Teens ** | Over 30 **

Grade school *** 1/2 | Young Adults *** | Seniors ***

Duration of Presentation 20 minutes

Special Comments Audience sits on the floor

Probable Waiting Time 10 minutes

Description and Comments The show features characters from the Disney Channel's Rolie Polie Olie, The Book of Pooh, Bear in the Big Blue House, and Stanley. A simple plot serves as the platform for singing, dancing, some great puppetry, and a great deal of audience participation. The characters, who ooze love and goodness, rally throngs of tots and preschoolers to sing and dance along with them. All the jumping, squirming, and high-stepping is facilitated by having the audience sit on the floor so that kids can spontaneously erupt into motion when the mood strikes. Even for adults without children, it's a treat to watch the tykes rev up. If you have a younger child in your party, all the better: just stand back and let the video roll.

Continues...


Excerpted from The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2005 by Bob Sehlinger Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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