So we woke up early to make sure we could get to the park before it opened, and the idea was to get in line if the line wasn't too long, and to get fastpasses if the line was too long (and if the fastpass return time wasn't too late; we have plans to go fabric shopping later). Both turned out to be true, so I ran and got fastpasses while Athena got us a spot in line. And in a few minutes, we were on the ride!
Before I go into the new version of the ride, let me explain the old version for people who never got the chance to ride it. See, the idea behind California Adventure as a theme park was that it had all California had to offer in one small package. Soarin' Over California was the big attraction in the Condor Flats section of the park, which was to showcase all the aviation stuff that went on in California. The ride was a hang gliding simulator, so all the guests would sit on swinging benches that were raised into the air in front of a giant movie screen, which was curved to create a 3D effect (if you're sitting in the right spot, you can look down and see stuff directly under you!). The hang glider would take you over key spots in California--Yosemite, the Golden Gate Bridge, Napa Valley, some place with orange groves, some river...you can see how well I know my home state. It's a big state, okay! The beach, the other beach, Los Angeles, San Diego military base. I'm pretty sure Gaston could tell you where all the places were. (I think the two beaches are Monterey and Malibu.) Oh, and Palm Springs! Which we remember because it has a golf course where a guy almost hits you in the face with a golf ball that has a hidden Mickey on it. And of course, the grand finale is a ride over Disneyland during the holiday parade and into the fireworks where we can only assume you die a fiery death, because everything goes dark and you go back to the ground.
Anyway, that's pretty much the gist of the ride. One of the really neat things about it is that they put this thing over your head which was really scary the first time we went on it because the music was all dramatic and scary and they put this thing down and you're like, "AAAAAAHHHH!!! WHAT IS THAT FOR!?" Turns out, it's to pump smells in so you can smell the pine trees and the orange blossoms and the ocean and etc. Thankfully they opted not to give us the full aromatic experience of LA traffic exhaust fumes. Recently, they seemed to stop doing the smells, though, and we were sad. I wondered if the smell thingies stopped working or if they just wanted to save money by no longer buying whatever it was that made the smells. This is something I thought about as we started our new journey this morning, and I thought about how with all the research Jelly Belly is doing on olfactory stuff, they could probably get some pretty accurate smells these days.
But anyway, the new ride. The queue area is exactly the same, until the area where you wait to board. They always had a screen where a paper airplane flew through the clouds as the names of the places you visit fly toward you. Now, they changed it to a map, where a line moves Indiana Jones-style from one destination to another, and they label the country you're visiting (because we're going around the world now) and the specific dot you visit, which always has the landmark you'll be seeing, instead of the city or town or region it's in. We were a little bummed about that, because it was spoilery. We were also a little bummed because we watched the line go through China toward the east...and right over Japan without stopping. But this version of the ride was made for Shanghai Disneyland, and maybe China and Japan aren't getting along right now. (We really need to get up on current events.)
At any rate, Japan's opening its own version of Soarin' at some point in the future (at DisneySea, with Da Vinci style flying machines (if the concept art is to be believed)!), so I'm sure we'll see a lovely Japanese landmark or several when we manage to make it there to see it.
So anyway, the important thing is the ride! But if you don't want spoilers, skip this paragraph. We start out flying through the clouds like before (for takeoff), and then boom! the Matterhorn! And not the Disneyland one that's the landmark most people use to let them know they'll soon be arriving at Disneyland--this time it's the real one all the way in Switzerland! And something's up with the curved screen, because as you climb toward its peak, the mountain bends under you! We let it slide because it's kind of fun to think of the mountain moving under our power, mwa ha ha... Then we find ourselves in Greenland (which I only know thanks to the map) to see the ice fjords and some polar bears, which I am 99% sure are computer generated. The little one practically waves, so yeah. Then we get to see some ice falling off the fjord and into the ocean to let everybody know that global climate change is real, and then an orca springs out of the ocean (to cries of awe from the members of the crowd who were not too critical of CGI polar bears to be impressed by orcas real or imagined) and makes a big splash that magically transports you to the Sydney Opera House in Australia (Athena tells me that it may have been the curved screen, but maybe one of the sailboats sailing by the opera house was also knocked over by that orca splash; I'll have to watch for it next time), and that's nice I guess (I'm not always impressed by architecture)...and then we forgot the order, but you fly over Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany which is very pretty, and you go to Mt. Kilimanjaro and follow a heard of elephants that I am 99.9999999% sure were CGI because one of them sprays you with a huge shower of dirt to make the transition to the next place. I was pretty unhappy about that because even though the fakeness of the animals does kind of take me out of it, somehow that shower of dirt makes me really mad. It's so rude! Athena suggests that it's the smell, because! they brought the smells back! Yay! And the Kilimanjaro scene is where it first really stands out, because they've got this really nice grassy, earthy smell. The shower of dirt transports you to the Great Pyramids in Egypt where you get to see camels, and you go to Fiji with guys canoeing (80% sure the canoers are CGI, which annoys me because I'm like, "You couldn't hire some guys to canoe for your video?"), and you go to the Taj Mahal, which almost looked like the whole scene was CGI, but maybe that's just how perfect the Taj Mahal is, but anyway they have a beautiful floral smell, and you go to the Eiffel Tower, which bends like you're in the Forest Temple in Ocarina of Time, and you go to that place in South America where they go in Up, and that and Monument Valley are the two scenes that really make us think John Lasseter is the one who set the itinerary. Oh, and I keep forgetting the Great Wall of China! This version was made for a park in China, after all, don't forget that, silly! And of course, you end at Disneyland, where they really improved the Tinkerbell CGI that they had before--she looks so much nicer now, and that makes me glad. Athena is about 60% sure the tourists at Disneyland were also CGI, which has us go, "...?" But it is only a 60% certainty. Maybe those tourists are real people. Anyway, they don't have a fancy nighttime parade going on, which makes the view slightly less spectacular, but they did make the fireworks show more of a spectacle to make up for it. And then you get the hidden Mickey fireworks, you fly into the show, and end with fiery death again. Huzzah! The second time we went on it, I was sure they jolted the hang glider when one of the fireworks went off.
So all in all, it was a nice ride. The CGI kind of took me out of it, but it's not like everything on a Disney ride is realistic (WHAT!?), so I guess it's okay. I do wish it looked better, but it is pretty detailed and stuff. I don't know, it just bothers me. Maybe it's because I wish for hand-drawn animation to make a comeback. Or maybe it's because we've always had trouble with the uncanny valley effect, which is probably also why we never liked stop-motion animation. Anyway, the scenery was beautiful, the smells were nice, and best of all! it didn't make me as motion sick as the original had been (Athena suggests that's because I could bend objects with my mind!). I'm not sure if that's going to last, because the first time we went on Soarin', I didn't have any trouble whatsoever, but as time went on, it made me more sick. So we'll see. But anyway, as for our opinion on the ride, it'll do.
After we went on the ride the first time, we went on Grizzly River Run, which was lovely and refreshing. We were at the park so early that not only was the wait time almost nothing, we got a whole (8-seater) raft to ourselves! We think that might be why we didn't get a whole lot of splashing until we went over waterfalls. Our raft didn't weigh enough to get down under the breakers. So that was a new experience.
We went on Goofy's Sky School, which used to be Mulholland Madness, a reference to a famous twisty California street. That's when we remarked that once again they seem to be taking the "California" out of California Adventure, something they also did with the Silly Symphony Swings, which used to be the Orange Zinger (same ride painted differently), I guess as a reference to California oranges. But in that case, I think Florida is more famous for oranges than California, so maybe that one was a "could be anywhere" ride already anyway. Of course, now is when all the Disneyland shows are hammering home the point that it all started in an orange grove...
Anyway, we went on the Little Mermaid ride, as we always do, and when we got to Ursula, I figured out what was wrong. When I said that to Athena, she pointed out that I say that every time we go on that ride, so clearly there are a lot of things wrong. (Or we are...!) But this time I think it's a legitimate reason. See, it's clear that when they first designed the ride, it was more of a, "Hey, why don't you ride in these seashells as they 'happen' to move by stuff happening with this Ariel person?" kind of thing, so we're basically just spying on everybody. That being the case, Ursula is making no acknowledgement of the stream of tourists going through her lair--she's just singing to herself. And that is why her big, fancy, expensive animatronic is not as engaging as some other animatronics I can think of. Or it's my prevailing theory, anyway.
(Athena also pointed out that, in order to make the guest more a part of the ride, they added a bunch of fish at the beginning, look at you as you ride by, which kind of makes things make less sense when you ride by Ariel finding the dinglehopper and there are all these fish looking down at you instead of her (when she's the one doing something interesting) and Ariel (queen of the human lovers fan club) pays you no mind whatsoever. On the other hand, we've been to things where, for example, a super famous Japanese voice actor is right there shaking hands not ten feet away, and all the fan girls are huddled in a circle squeeing to each other about how they sat at his table at the Meet the Guests reception. We like to think that Ariel is not that kind of fan, but we do understand being starstruck...but in that case...never mind, I've been harping on this long enough.)
After that, we went on Soarin' again, then we did a little bit of shopping, and then it was getting close to ten o'clock, so it was time to make for the hills. So we came home and watched Sailor Moon Crystal where they taunted us by going right up to the part where Pegasus is about to speak, and end the episode, with no preview for a next one. All this time (okay, since they did the Black Moon arc), the only reason we've had any interest in Sailor Moon Crystal (aside from the feeling of obligation to watch it because of nostalgia and whatever) is that they cast Mamoru Miyano as Demando so surely they could cast somebody we like a lot to be Helios! (I'm sure you all know who we have in mind, but there's one other guy we think would be a good fit, too.) I mean, all the Infinity Arc news has not mentioned the Dead Moon Circus stuff at all, so we were pretty sure there would be a wait before that, if they even did it at all, but did they have to start it just enough to right to where he's about to speak and then nothing!? Vicious.
And now we've reported on the new ride and vented about Sailor Moon Crystal. I think it's time to have cake or something before our ride shows up to take us fabric shopping. Ideally we'll have stamina left when we get home to actually do some work on costumes.
Today I'm thankful for getting to go on Soarin' Around the World, being done with Sailor Moon on Mondays for a while (we enjoyed rewatching the original anime, but it will be nice to have more time on Monday nights), not getting our socks wet on Grizzly River Run, getting to on a couple of rides we like a lot that we don't usually get to go on, and our plan to lure the kittens into our patio working.