The Cathedral of Magic: My First Trip to Disneyland Part 3

After an incredible whirlwind tour of Disneyland (Part 1 & Part 2), we take a quick detour to Disney’s California Adventure.  I couldn’t be any more excited to step inside and best of all share it with all of you.  So without further ado, let’s jump right into the photos…

I can't tell you how excited I am to walk into this park. Sure we all know it is a work in progress but I know this park holds a ton of promise and I can't wait to see it for myself.
Disney's Construction Adventure! Soon this will be transformed into a beautiful entryway depicting California when Walt Disney first set foot upon it.
I hate to sound like a critic but I got to say that I have no idea how anyone at Disney could have approved this. I mean this looks like a storefront in Kissimmee, FL not something that belongs in any Disney Theme Park! Luckily there are those in the company who pushed it to their senses and DCA's redo is very promising.
The gem of the new entrance will be a reproduction of Carthay Circle Theatre where Walt Disney showcased Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs. I know it is still a ways from being complete but you can get a sense for how amazing this is going to look when you step into the park. Especially since the park didn't have an icon in the traditional sense of Disney Parks (even though it has Grizzly Peak, that is off to one side and not directly visible from the moment you walk into the park).
Most of the park's entrance is boarded up in preparation for all new facades and a healthy dose of true Disney theming magic.
Work is underway to remove and replace the Monorail Track's cover which used to be a mini version of the Golden Gate Bridge.
First look at Condor flats, not sure why they hid the parks original icon the way they did. I'm sure there were very good reasons, though I think the park will benefit greatly from its new icon.
Got to love Disney Construction Walls 🙂 If you notice the Disney characters are all over the walls and it is not by coincidence. DCA was severely lacking Disney characters and the Disney "brand" within its park. That is something the redo aims to fix. A wise and critical decision if you ask me.
Loving this Carthay Circle Theater Teaser...
Now approaching Condor Flats...
...and I hope you are ready to take flight. I know I am. I love aviation and...
...I love Soarin!
Soarin' Over California in California, imagine that! 😉 Epcot, I'm lookin' at you.
Time to fire up those engines...
Blast Area? Cool!
Literally cool. This is a great giant mist machine and it is very popular with guests as they cool off from the clear days filled with Cali summer sun.
Grizzly Peak Teaser & if you look closely behind the sign you can just make out some of the rooftops of Disney's Grand Californian hotel. The best part, just around the corner is an exclusive entrance straight into the theme park for guests of the hotel. That is my dream for an eventual return trip to Disneyland should I be so lucky.
I've always loved planes...
This prop plane has a sharp paint job and some nice Condo Flats Air Tours theming.
This sign is just great. Too funny.
Wow! Suddenly as we turn the corner it is as if we are in a whole new world. Grizzly Peak is just stunning and a special icon that we have just begun to experience. Can't wait to see some more...
A quick peek at the Grizzly River run finale.
And in case you are wondering... will get soaked!
The surrounding areas around Grizzly Peak and Grizzly River run are stunning.
There is a nice observation deck to watch the final drop and you might get wet too.
Trying to get a closer look at what is in store for us later...
...H2O splashdown.
Is it just me or does this look like serious fun?
One More...
It's just awesome, there is nothing more to say...
I mean look at the detail of the rock formation, the colors of the mill and adjacent shed and of course the seemingly endless ramp for Grizzly River Run.
And then to top it off this just looks perfect, it's how you always imagine it looking even though you may have never seen it in person. It's believable, it's real, it's what great theming should be.
This on the other hand, just feels like it's missing something. Perhaps a grander focal point at the end, not to mention something to transition the break away from the Golden State area of the park. DCA is a work in progress and some parts just feel like patchwork because they are.
But no one can deny it is becoming a very fine patchwork indeed. The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel's Undersea Adventure is a big part of that.

King Triton points the way...
I'll be honest, at this point in my trip I had very mixed feeling about Paradise Pier but is there any denying that this view is spectacular and memorable. The addition of Mickey Mouse to the Ferris Wheel is about the smartest Imagineering plussing of all time.
Ok now, back to our regularly scheduled Little Mermaid programming.
It is the small details that count, in this case sea shells in the concrete.

All of the Lights...
Very cool detail in the floor tiles...
Looking to the left, we have Disney Channel Rocks. Clearly I'm not the target market of this show but I must sound like a critic once more (though I don't like the role). This show blasts its sounds through the entire pier during its performance and kills any semblance of atmosphere. The most memorable Disney themed areas are built upon the senses and sound is critically important for immersion. How can you be immersed in the Victorian seaside amusement park faire with blaring mediocre rock music. It doesn't fit in my honest opinion and I hope it is moved to another section of the park though I admit the backdrop is impressive along with the use of the World of Color Fountains.
Ahhh the Little Mermaid fixes everything.

This queue is well done but I fully expect when this attraction opens in the Magic Kingdom, that queue will blow this one out of the water.

Don't you just love queue pictures?
Good cuz here is another 😉 A good look at the sea shells that will be taking you under the sea.

Nothing like riding a new ride for a first time, with all the kid-like-anticipation it brings.
Track Layout
Scuttle your friendly narrator...
The lighting on this ride is the best I've seen from a traditional Disney Dark Ride.
This is so incredible how they thought of using the other vehicles beside you as a palette to project these bubbles to make you feel as if you are truly beginning your descent under the sea.
Your favorite moments from the movie come alive in truly unforgettable ways.
The perfect syncing of the ride vehicle turning into the scene, the music just creates the ultimate immersion.
Now you will be a part of that world.
This ride is full of vivid color & fun.
Not my best photo, but this is just a part of the larger main show scene and it is beautiful. It's big but not overpowering and the animation of the characters is simple but it works.
All these smiles make you want to smile too and you will 🙂
Everybody dance...
The Little Mermaid with projected bubbles on her to give that illusion of being under the sea.

Those Poor Unfortunate Souls...This scene is too short but only because this animatronic is too awesome.
There you see her, sitting there across the way...
Every story needs a finale...and we've got the entire gang.
Overall this ride is a welcome addition to DCA (soon in New Fantasyland in MK as well) and the best Disney dark ride in a long long time. Is it the Haunted Mansion? No. But what it does feature is a timeless Disney story in a rich colored world of tech and animatronics that genuinely transforms the animated film we know and love into a ride we will all love as well.

Click Here for Part 4 of this Trip Report!