Ciao Bambino was recently invited for a two-day media event to check out what’s new for summer 2011 at Disneyland Resort. If you haven’t been to the park in awhile, now is a great time to visit!
New rides, a “soundsational” parade in Disneyland, and a huge expansion at Disney’s California Adventure mean families with kids of all ages can partake in new experiences.
Star Tours at Disneyland
What’s new at Disneyland
Star Tours. The first time I rode Star Tours, I disembarked thinking “never again.” Star Tours uses a flight-motion simulator vehicle, video, and in-cockpit special effects to transport you to a “galaxy far, far away.” I’m a Star Wars fan, and love that I’m able to share this connection with my kids — but I don’t love bumpy rides that have me sliding from one side of my seat to the other.
I never did ride it again until last week, when the new Star Tours in 3-D opened. The ride is as bumpy as the original, but this time I sat in the middle of the car for a gentler ride, instead of the extra bouncy back. With 54 possible ride combinations, you’re almost guaranteed to get a different adventure each time.
There are 6 different planets, 10 different characters and 3 different endings. Make sure to look on the smaller side screens at the beginning of the ride because they’ll show a photo of the “rebel spy” on board and it could be you! We had a fantastic ending that left me wondering how I survived such an adventure …
Mickey’s Soundsational Parade
Mickey’s Soundsational Parade. “This parade is all about the music,” said Steve Davison, VP, Parades and Spectaculars, Walt Disney Imagineering. “We wanted flavor and looked to the Caribbean and South America. The parade is longer than others, but moves at a fast tempo.” (A normal parade is about 15 minutes and this one is 20.)
Nine floats and ninety performers make their way down Main Street with a mix of older and newer Disney characters. Disney parades are always easy with kids, and Mickey’s Soundsational Parade is no exception.
Mickey Mouse Suite
Disneyland Hotel. Even a classic like the Disneyland Hotel needs a makeover once in a while. The resort retains its nostalgic feel, but has new restaurants and an updated pool—with two new water slides that kids will love. And as always, the convenience of staying at Disneyland is huge: no parking hassles, early entrance on some days, and the option to come back and nap if you need it.
In addition to newly renovated rooms, I had the chance to see a few specialty suites. (At $3,700 a night they have to be special!) The Mickey Mouse Suite is my favorite. It’s all about the Mouse, with a round bed in the kids’ bedroom, Mickey Mouse phones, and bright red and yellow tiles in the bathroom.
Little Mermaid, Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
What’s new at California Adventure
California Adventure has some of the most popular rides and attractions, yet most people don’t linger in the park. They go from attraction to attraction, and then head back to Disneyland. The park expansion, which will continue through 2012, is about linking these individual experiences together to make California Adventure a destination – a place where visitors want to hang out and spend the day.
According to Disneyland Resort President, George Kalogridis, when visitors were asked what they wanted to see at California Adventure they said “a more immersive experience that takes them somewhere, more family attractions, and more Disney.” If you visit California Adventure over the next year, you’ll see these changes taking place. First to open is Ariel’s Undersea Adventure at Paradise Pier. Goofy’s Sky School and additional restaurants are coming July 1. A new entrance is also in the works, and construction on Cars Land (which will open next summer) is quickly changing the landscape at California Adventure.
Little Mermaid, Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. For me it was reminiscent of the Pooh Pots ride, but with a Little Mermaid theme and minus the neon colors. Familiarity is the key here — the kids already know the Little Mermaid story, so they are into this ride before they ever hop into their clam shell.
The scenes with Ursula are dark and possibly the only “scary” area for a younger child. But again, most kids are familiar with the story, so they know the happy ending is coming soon. Both my 5 and 8-year-old liked the ride; if I had toddler-aged children, I would be riding this over and over, as it’s a well done attraction that’s easy to repeat.
Note: The Cove Bar at Ariel’s Grotto across from Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, is a very relaxing place for a drink and snack or meal, but there’s no kids menu and only 6 items on the bar menu, so if you have picky eaters this is not a good choice.
The view of the carousel and roller coaster are picture perfect. For more substantial offerings, including a prix fix meal that allows you to have reserved seats for the World of Color show, eat at Ariel’s Grotto restaurant below. If you just want a good view of the World of Color show, there is a $10 per person food/drink minimum to sit in the Cove Bar.
Ariel’s Undersea Adventure review on The Silent I