Our resident Disney parks addict, who knows more about what happens in Anaheim than anyone ever should, has been on a plane again. Creativityishard/KK finally made her latest trip to Disneyland and is reporting back on some new additions, and old friends.
Be warned, caterers of Disneyland. She is coming for your food!
Quick And Dirty
This trip came together and quick and dirty. We booked this trip to the California Disney parks about seven weeks ago for my best friend’s birthday, and as a girl’s weekend away. We paid up for the hotel, rental car, park admission, and then just 9 days later I was in urgent care thinking I broke my heel.
I ended up with crutches and a walking boot, plus complete bed rest for a week. You guys might have seen me mention it in the chats here, just a little!
It turned out to be plantar fasciitis and a flare-up with the doc thinking my job had me at risk for further damage. I can walk 2 miles plus a night shift at work and be okay, so I talked to my doctor about this trip. She suggested a walking boot and a scooter. The shame! The frustration! I hate being like a certain Ginger webmaster with my lack of mobility. My chariot:
How humiliating. By the end of this trip, I hated it. Okay, moving on.
There is something very cool walking into this “land” with the John Williams music playing. The iconic orchestral music just tugs at the heartstrings. Theming of Disney is hard to beat. The architecture and landscaping feels like so very otherworldly. The architecture is very much inspired by Morocco and Tunisian buildings and markets.
The plants are interesting and helped sell the whole “you’re not really on earth” thing. It’s a mix of drought-resistant plants, succulents, and plants I couldn’t identify. There are geological bits that add to the theming. The place is beautiful.
There are flaws though. For starters, if Galaxy’s Edge is supposed to be where the Resistance hideaway, why is there a TIE fighter, the Millennium Falcon, and the podracer Anakin used as a kid on this stretch of planet?
Also there are a lot of different levels, so with the scooter I was constantly having to find the ramps. It was cool in a way because it allowed areas to feel different in the same space. There are a lot of markets, which are basically gift shops, and they offer broadly the same stuff.
In a post COVID world the characters we saw – stormtroopers, Chewbacca, and Rey on our trip – are all working behind little barricades so there aren’t any close character interactions. I fear this may become permanent.
My big dislike of the area is that there are only two rides but a huge number of shops. It feels like a cash grab. Yay for Iger and Chapek! Get that money.
We went to Ronto Roasters because I was told this had a great dish to try. I had the Garden Ronto-less Wrap. It had a vegan Impossible meat sausage, a pickled cucumber and carrot slaw, gochujang spread, and kimchi. I love gochujang. The meat one looked good, but I love me some Korean hot sauce and kimchi. It was really good and filling. Highly recommend it. I will make it at home with the chicken and pineapple sausage with real and not diluted gochujang.
We went to Oga’s Cantina because we wanted to have a fancy drink in the parks. Can I give two major thumbs down to this place? This place completely soured my whole day. You can’t walk in and get a seat. No. You have to make reservations and if you can’t make a reservation, you have to do a mobile check-in via a process that is just ridiculous.
Once your time to check-in hits, you wait in another line in the sun. And you wait. And you wait. We waited 15 minutes despite already waiting 30 minutes to do a mobile check-in. We got there and they couldn’t find our reservation, then they “found” a spot for us.
I had put in the reservation that we were celebrating a birthday and had an electric scooter. We got ushered to a spot at the bar that could barely fit one person. They made me leave my scooter outside. It was stupid packed, almost claustrophobic. So bad that my best friend decided she didn’t want anything and didn’t want to stay.
We ended up with something with bourbon and chili-infused alcohol. For $18 you got basically a heavy poured, watered-down shot. It was so spicy it hurt, not a pleasant spicy. To get out quickly I ended up drinking it like a shot. Don’t go there, avoid it. We had planned to get a charcuterie board but when we saw one for real, it looked like shit, especially at the prices they wanted for it. I make a better charcuterie board.
The drink was a small cup. Similar to the juice cup my grandparents would drink prune juice from… and this cost $18!
The Millennium Falcon ride reminded me of Star Tours. I hate rides that require a screen and feel like a video game. I hate this technology and this trend.
At the other end of the scale, I have to say that Rise of the Resistance was probably the coolest ride I’ve ever been on. As with all the best rides, the experience starts in the queue and you are part of the story. You’re going to help transport something and you are moved through a queue area that is just made for Instagram.
It will never be not cool to see a full-sized TIE fighter in real life. My best friend isn’t a Star Wars fan so I had to explain a lot, so brush up on trivia if you are going with a non-Star Wars fan as a friend too.
This place was both cool and disappointing at the same time. There were a lot of places that felt like they were built specifically to show off on social media. It’s a visually pleasing place to look at and then post it on social media later. My complaint with the Star Wars land had too many shops, this was the opposite. Only two shops and one just had stuff for the Spider-Man attraction, nothing else. Once again there are only two attractions.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Breakout was fun. I’m afraid of heights and falling. So this ride always makes me nervous. The last time I was on this ride it was the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. The ride was fun. There is again just too much reliance on screens. If I want to watch tv I would spend my time at home, not at an expensive theme park.
Spider-Man WEBB ride… I’m sorry, I’m gonna be an asshole. I hated this ride. So you have to virtual queue. We tried at 0700, didn’t get it. Noon we got a 3:45 pm check-in time. We get there, huge long line. We waited in a real line for an hour after the virtual line. So what’s the point of the virtual line?
Whereas Rise of the Resistance had an innovative way to move passengers on and off the ride while waiting, this ride had a line that was basically in the sun with posters. The posters were along the lines of “…this random character helped create this ride…” with some vaguely recognizable names.
The ride was exactly like Toy Story Madness. Same video game design, same ride layout. It was lazy. If you are going to make me wait that long, then wow me!
We had lunch at Pym’s Kitchen because my best friend wanted to try it. It felt like a gimmick. We ordered the oversized pretzel with beer cheese sauce and the weird-sized chicken sandwich along with a cold brew coffee.
The food was needlessly complicated and wasn’t particularly good. We also had a cosmic cream puff at Terran Treats. It was a purple-dyed pate a choux and a black cracklin’ which was there for looks, not because it was tasty, filled with raspberry cheesecake filling.
I honestly feel like I could’ve done that whole cart better. It heavily relied on food coloring, which affected the taste of the treat.
I couldn’t tell when this whole campus was supposed to be taking place in the MCU timeline. Like they had Rogers Captain America, Taskmaster with a stunt show with Black Widow / Natasha. Captain Marvel had long hair from the start of Endgame, but then there was also a King Loki.
Spider-Man’s costume in this land is from the first Tom Holland suit in Civil War. They had a parking spot for E. Jarvis, who was featured in Agent Carter, and that was cute but made no sense. My best take was this is set in the multiverse. For a comic book geek like me, it was frustrating, thinking “…wait, where does this fit into the mythology?”
The entire land is meant for pictures to be taken. My best friend let me get my nerd on, but at the end of the day there were still only two rides. It had a number of character shows to negate the fact there weren’t in-person character meet-ups in this land. You could take your picture with Black Widow, but she was standing on a stage 6 feet away.
I had a fun interaction with Captain Marvel, and I know she isn’t the most popular character in the MCU but I like Brie Larson’s take, and the first movie had a great soundtrack.
The characters they had out were Black Widow, the Dora Milaje, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, Gamora, Quill, and at one point Thor was walking the crowd. They had a little action stunt show up on what will eventually be the building that houses the Avengers ride.
Black Widow, Taskmaster – who had a male voice and character under the mask, Black Panther, and masked henchmen battle it out, and they have characters patrol that area outside the stunt show.
Without the ride there was no purpose for this space except for pictures. In real life it’s just weird tiles, it looks better in pictures.
There were a lot of places to take photos in the Hollywood Backlot. That was fun, but again not much substance to the area. Not a lot of rides, gimmick-heavy food that doesn’t taste too good, and a reliance on people wanting to take pictures.
We went on the renovated Jungle Cruise that changed the story a bit. You couldn’t really tell much of a difference from the old ride, other than that there is no Trader Sam at the end.
They set up his little stand that monkeys have attacked and raided. The ride was set in the 1920s, but the tiny monkeys were playing with a 1990s light-up holiday sweater. Strange Disney-theming fail.
Next door to that they have replaced the Aladdin meet and greet, with the Tropical Hideaway sponsored by Dole. It had an expanded Dole Whip menu with some fun snacks. It was probably the best food I had at the park. I ordered some loco moco bao, lime chicken bao, lumpia (Filipino egg rolls), and a specialty Dole Whip. It was fantastic.
Overall I think I liked the new additions to the parks, but I really hated the reliance on video games and screens for rides. I hated the mobile check-in for dining. I don’t want to be on my phone that much while on vacation.
Also, the parks are ridiculously expensive now, so they should be providing an experience that matches. It just doesn’t at that price. Oga’s and the Spider-Man ride were my big hatred.
On the way home after a long day, driving home from the parks to my best friend’s house, we both blasted those things.