Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel's Undersea Adventure

I was excited for this ride way back in 2006, when it was just a virtual ride. I even complained on the DisBoards about how Disney should build it and put it in either Walt Disney World or Disney’s California Adventure (Keith for the win).

The Little Mermaid exterior

In said virtual ride-through, the proposed attraction looked like a traditional dark ride. That is not the case in the finished product. “But Keith, what is a dark ride?” More on that another time.

I did not love this ride.

Let’s start with the good stuff…

Audioanimatronics:  Most of them were great, especially Ursula.

The going under water effect: They didn’t use it as well as it looked in the virtual ride, but it was still kinda cool.

The scenes: Like the AAs, most of them were fine. Pretty detailed and captured what happened in the film (key phrase: most of them).

Flotsam and Jetsam: They were cool. They actually reminded me of the vultures in America Sings (or Splash Mountain for you youngsters).

Moving on to the less than good stuff…

Scuttle the “narrator”: Unless you can equip Scuttle with full-on SCUBA gear, he isn’t going to be doing much actual narrating since the majority of the ride takes place under water.

Hi everybody! Check out my bird fur! See you when the ride's over!

This was a curious choice, as they could have easily used Sebastian instead. But perhaps that wouldn’t have worked since Sebastian is actually in some of the scenes, right? Perhaps. That however begs the question; did this ride even need a narrator? Or in Scuttle’s case, a character that tells us how mean Ursula is at the beginning of the ride, and says, "As you can see, everything worked out swell for Ariel" at the end? The answer is no. I understand they wanted a cute intro/outro for the ride, but I believe it could have been done a little better. And they also should have made Scuttle look more like he had feathers and less like he had fur.

Under the Sea scene: I didn’t quite understand their choice of AA for Ariel. Her hair goes straight up, and in the movie that only happened when some fish swirled around her.

Has anybody seen Homer?
Since that doesn't happen in the ride, it felt a bit out of place. She looks more like a red-headed Marge Simpson.

The ride format: This might be partially my fault for assuming (based on the virtual ride), but I thought it was going to be a traditional dark ride. Instead it was sort of like the Nemo ride in Epcot. I am curious to see if WDW’s version will have the same layout. But I felt there were too many lulls between scenes. And the video screens and plastic seaweed didn’t do much to distract me from that.

It jumped the shark Snow White: All Disneyland fans know that the dark ride Snow White’s Scary Adventures doesn’t have the most thorough ending. And hey, I totally understand that the Imagineers only have so much ride time to work with. But the climax of this ride does not come with an epic battle with Ursula, or even a kid-friendly battle (which is ironic since the same kids that watched the movie will be riding the ride). I suppose there could have been concerns over a huge Octolady (not to be confused with Octomom, who is way scarier) freaking out the littler kids. Monstro in Pinocchio's Daring Journey never scared me, but whatevs. In this case the climax involved a scene that never actually happened: The silhouettes of Prince Eric and Ariel making out in his bachelor pad while Ursula flails about angrily in the background. I'm surprised they didn't have her actually shaking her fist at them (even though in a way it kind of looks like she is) and yelling, “You darn kids!”

The finale: So immediately after Ursula shakes her fists at the impetuous youths, we are taken to the finale, which by the vantage point looked oddly like a store window at Macy’s. Some of Ariel’s fish friends and her pop show up to see her and Eric off (but none of her sisters, I guess they weren’t that close), and for some reason Sebastian has his conductor wand out. Is the dude so much of a control freak that he has to conduct the celebration? Fireworks erupt and King Triton shows off his 8 pack during his first and only appearance.

The best department store window since the film Mannequin
And who are Eric and Ariel waving at? Us, or their little sea friends? I hope not us, because a row of omnimovers carrying humans across the ocean after the wedding is also a scene that did not happen in the movie.

In summary -- This is not a horrible ride, and more people will like it than dislike it. But personally I felt that the scenes felt too disconnected. There was a lot of dead space, and way too much lighting which made it look like you were inside a ride as opposed to inside a movie (this was the first "dark" ride in a while where I actually noticed the floor). At the time of posting I have only ridden this ride once, so I am hoping it will grow on me. I am also hoping the WDW version will be better, but we shall see. For the time being, this ride gets 2 out of 5 sorcerer hats.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Disney Project: First post!

Hi all. This is post number one of The Disney Project. I look forward to sharing my love of Disney with all of you. I doubt I'll be able to update it every day, but then again even if I did have the time I doubt I'd be able to come up with interesting stuff to post day after day for very long. But I intend on adding posts fairly regularly, and I will do my best to make them at least a little interesting. As of day one of this blog there are a few sections: Home (new posts), Walt (info about the man himself), Trips (My Disney trip reports), Reviews (reviews of anything Disney, from movies to restaurants), Museum (info on the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco), and About (a brief bio about my Disney pedigree). Most of them are "under construction" right now, but they will all contain content soon. I hope to add more sections as the blog progresses. One thing I can tell you is, The Disney project will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in me. I hope you enjoy it!