Fandom Menace On the Scene: Review of Disneyland’s Star Tours and The Little Mermaid

We here at the Fandom Menace love Disney and it’s theme parks. We giggle like kids at the site of our favorite characters walking around, we jump and skip from ride to ride, and we cry when they tug at our heartstrings (okay, maybe I’m the only one who will admit to doing those things). When a new attraction hits Disneyland, we are on it like white on rice. This weekend, I decided to take it upon myself to tackle the newest rides to grace the house of Mouse, namely the revamped Star Tours: The Adventures Continue and The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. Come on everybody! Here we GOOOOOOO!

Star Tours: The Adventures Continue

In 1987, Disney and LucasFilm teamed up to give us Star Tours, a interactive ride using motion simulators to give guests the chance to enter the world of Star Wars. It was groundbreaking and a fan favorite for over twenty years. Star Tours took its last voyage in 2010 when it was decided that the attraction would get a major overhaul. The re-launch of Star Tours: The Adventures Continue came to Disneyland on June 3, 2011, providing 54 possible journeys that a guest can embark upon.

My experience on Sunday was one of both excitement and mental insanity. My girlfriend and I walked into Tomorrowland and were greeted by the largest crowd we have seen in that area in a very long time. We knew that we weren’t leaving the park that day until we got to go on this ride, and we were pleased to discover that the wait time was only two hours (avid Disneyland fans know that a  two hour wait time is to be expected and complaints should be kept to yourself, especially when you are attempting to go on an attraction that is debuting the weekend you are there). Little did we know that this “Two hour wait” was a farce. That two hour mark came before we made it halfway through the overflow line. The world slowed to a snail’s pace, minutes to hours. My feet began to blister, my poor girlfriend’s brain temporarily turned to thoughts of mass genocide, which sweet and sour gummy worms seemed to cure. Finally, after almost 4 hours, we had made it… to the entrance of the actual ride.

The attraction itself has gotten a very big makeover without alienating fans of the original attraction. It’s a perfect balance of old and new. The “space port terminal” that you pass through still looks the same for the most part, but added to it is a new series of videos promoting trips to many different locations throughout the Star Wars universe (there’s a great in-joke about Alderaan). Any longtime fan will recognize REX while walking through the maintenance area, and if you stand there long enough you’ll be treated to the malfunctioning droid spouting off lines from the original journey to Endor.

The greatest part about this re-imagining is the many different trips you can take. When you start your trip, two different possible scenarios can occur, prompting C-3Po to jump to the next destination. Part two can come from any of three scenarios. And from that point you will then change course at end up in your third segment, which will occur in three more possible scenarios. It is quick to see how the designers have created a great reason for guests to come back for more. You can go on the ride all day long and not get the same ride twice, which makes it stand out amongst the many different attractions at the park. Many diehard Star Wars fanboys will be disappointed to know that the ride is a prequel to the original attraction, taking place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. To be honest, I have had plenty of negative things to say about the prequel trilogy, but I don’t feel as angry with the move to using newer (or older, depending how you look at it) story lines to provide a whole new adventure for adults and children alike (SPOILER… Jar Jar. Enough said.)

AIM FOR THE WHINY BRAT IN THE PODRACER!!

A minor complaint of mine is the use of 3-D technology requiring travelers to have to wear those damn glasses (at least they look cooler than any of the other 3-D glasses used at Disneyland). I understand that 3-D is here to stay, but for an old school guy like  myself, I don’t need to see things in three dimensions in order to feel like I am really experiencing the what is on the screen. It’s a minor distraction to what is otherwise an amazing continuation of a world we all know and love.

Here’s a tip for you scruffy looking nerf herders… If you don’t want to sit in that line, go EARLY! Get a fastpass, because they are all gone by 10am. May the Force be with you!

The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure

When the Little Mermaid was released on Blu-Ray and DVD a few years back, fans were treated to what was supposed to be an attraction for the Disneyland parks based on the popular film. The interactive experience was met with such positive feedback that Disney decided to go ahead with the project. Disney’s California Adventure was graced with The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure on June 3, 2011.

Luckily for my sore legs and my girlfriend’s sanity, the line was nowhere near as long as the one for Star Tours. The attraction’s layout fits perfect with the feel of California Adventure, you really get the sense of being on a pier in the 1930’s. The layout for the attraction is very traditional, inspired greatly by old school favorites of Fantasyland. You are transported by seashell into the undersea world of Ariel and all of her friends, experiencing the most memorable scenes from the movie. It is a very cute throwback to what made Disneyland what it is today, and for all it’s nostalgic comforts it still feels like a breath of much needed fresh air for California Adventure.

All the joys of partying under water without the fear of drowning.

The only problem for me is the fact that I was really looking forward to seeing a certain part of the attraction that was featured in the interactive ride on the DVD. Unfortunately, the designers decided to go a different way. But believe me when I say, the original ending kicked all kinds of ass!

Until the next great Disneyland attraction debuts, please don’t look into that damn Forbidden Eye!

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~ by Brandon Gnuschke on June 6, 2011.

3 Responses to “Fandom Menace On the Scene: Review of Disneyland’s Star Tours and The Little Mermaid”

  1. I can’t wait to finally make time and ride these new attractions! I can tell that Star Tours was the one you liked best. As a girl I wanted to know a little more on The Little Mermaid. What was the ending that you were waiting for? What music/songs are playing during the attraction? Just wondering 🙂
    Love the review!

    • Well I couldn’t spoil it for you! I left the description of The Little Mermaid very limited considering it is a very old school ride and adding any sort of details would give it away. Plus Star Tours had a lot more to mention with the interactive line that you wait in and whatnot.

  2. Fine X-( I can’t wait to go soon!

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