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Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2006

Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2006

by Bob Sehlinger, Menasha Ridge Press Staff, Menasha Ridge Press

From the publishers of The Unofficial Guide® to Walt Disney World®

"A Tourist's Best Friend!"
—Chicago Sun-Times

—The New York Times

Five Great Features and Benefits offered ONLY by The Unofficial Guide®:

  1. Every attraction ranked and rated for each age group, based on interviews and surveys of


From the publishers of The Unofficial Guide® to Walt Disney World®

"A Tourist's Best Friend!"
—Chicago Sun-Times

—The New York Times

Five Great Features and Benefits offered ONLY by The Unofficial Guide®:

  1. Every attraction ranked and rated for each age group, based on interviews and surveys of more than 7,500 families
  2. When and where to go: the best times of the year and the best days of the week for each park
  3. All the Disneyland-area hotels ranked and rated for value and quality of rooms
  4. Field tested itineraries for adults and families with children that can save more than three hours of waiting in line
  5. Complete coverage of Disney's California Adventure® theme park and Universal Studios Hollywood

Sample Rating


Appeal by age Preschool — Grade school Teens Young adults Over 30 Seniors

What it is Flight simulation ride. Scope and scale Super headliner. When to go First 30 minutes the park is open or use FASTPASS. Special comments Entrance on the lower level of The Land pavilion. May induce motion sickness; 40" minimum-height requirement; switching off available (see pages 266–268). Author's rating Exciting and mellow at the same time; ......5. Not to be missed. Duration of ride 4 minutes. Loading speed Moderate.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“…chock-a-block with tips on everything…” (www.wdisneyw.co.uk, October 2005)

Product Details

Publication date:
Unofficial Guides Series , #113
Edition description:
Revised Edition
Product dimensions:
5.38(w) x 8.08(h) x 0.65(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2006

By Bob Sehlinger

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-7645-8342-5

Chapter One



THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY'S newest American 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 compose 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 sizable 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.

Not to be Missed at Disney's California Adventure

Golden State Grizzly River Run Soarin' over California Hollywood Studios Backlot Hyperion Theater Muppet Vision 3-D Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Disney's Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular Bug's Land It's Tough to Be a Bug! Paradise Pier California Screamin'

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 a 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 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. For the Disneyland anniversary celebration in 2005, Block Party Bash, a parade/street show hybrid, and a new dark ride, Monsters, Inc.: Mike and Sulley to the Rescue were introduced.


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, restrooms, an ATM machine, and phones.

After passing under a whimsical representation of the Golden Gate Bridge, you arrive at the park's central hub. The hub area is called Sunshine Plaza and is dominated by a fountain fronting an arresting metal sculpture of the sun. 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 20th 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. Be aware that DCA usually opens at 10 a.m., one or two hours later than Disneyland Park.


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, soundstages, and a central street with shops and restaurants that depict Hollywood's golden age.

Disney Animation


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; ****. 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 to 55 minutes to do all the interactive stuff and see everything. Added to the Disney Animation lineup is Turtle Talk with Crush featuring the 152-year-old sea turtle from the Disney/Pixar film Finding Nemo. Originally developed for the Living Seas pavilion at Epcot, Turtle Talk with Crush is the first attraction incorporating the technology of real-time animation. Here Crush answers questions, jokes, and makes conversation with guests in real time. The animation is brilliant, and guests of all ages list Crush as their favorite Animation building feature.

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. Save Turtle Talk with Crush for last. 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; ****. 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 exhibit 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 2005 and may well continue through 2006 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 time, 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 to 20 minutes prior to show time. 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 show times listed, in the park Times Guide. 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.

Monsters, Inc.: Mike and Sulley to the Rescue (opens 2006)


Type of attraction Dark ride. Scope and scale Major attraction. When to go Before 11 a.m. Author's rating Not open at press time. Duration of ride 3 1/2 minutes. Average wait in line per 100 people ahead of you 4 minutes. Loading speed Moderate.

DESCRIPTION AND COMMENTS Based on characters and the story from the Disney/Pixar film Monsters, Inc., the ride takes you through child-phobic Monstropolis as Mike and Sulley try to return baby Boo safely to her bedroom. If you haven't seen the film the story line won't make much sense. In a nutshell, a human baby gets loose in a sort of parallel universe populated largely by amusing monsters. Good monsters Mike and Sulley try to return Boo to her home before the bad monsters get their hands on her.

TOURING TIPS This attraction wasn't open when we went to press, but will undoubtedly draw good crowds simply because it's new. We recommend seeing it before 11 a.m. or late in the afternoon. Because it's near several theater attractions it is subject to experiencing a sudden deluge of guests when the theaters disgorge their audiences.

Muppet Vision 3-D

APPEAL BY AGE PRESCHOOL **** GRADE SCHOOL **** 1/2 TEENS **** YOUNG ADULTS **** 1/2 OVER 30 **** 1/2 SENIORS **** 1/2

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. Duration of presentation 17 minutes. Probable waiting time 20 minutes.

DESCRIPTION AND COMMENTS Muppet Vision 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; ****. Duration of presentation 20 minutes. Special comments Audience sits on the floor. Probable waiting time 10 minutes.


Excerpted from The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2006 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.

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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