Monday, August 29, 2011

Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue


Based on my recent review of The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, I had a few friends sort of agree, while the ones who disagreed seemed to think perhaps I was being a little too harsh because I am considered a “Disney purist.” To that I say, “untrue!” Well maybe I am kind of a Waltist, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the new(er) attractions (go to Disneyland Paris with me sometime and watch my face when I’m on the Phantom Manor). And to back that up, I would like to offer a quick review of a newish dark ride.

Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! (aka the Monsters Inc ride) opened in Disney’s California Adventure in January of 2006. It replaced quite possibly the worst attraction in Disneyland Resort history, Superstar Limo. So while creating a better ride than what was previously in that location could have been done with an etch-a-sketch and a blindfold, creating a high quality dark ride was in no way guaranteed.

But, they did it.

The queue is simple enough. You arrive in Monstropolis via bus and stroll through the depot, looking at posters of different attractions to check out while in town. While on your way to catching a cab you may catch an amusing image or two.

Care for a snack?

Yum. I hope I have enough quarters for the Sugar, Salt & Fat bar

Perhaps catch up on local news?

This paper has real articles, and they're funny

At this point you jump into your cab and you’re off to Monstropolis!

The reason I enjoy this ride so much is it because it does a great job of encapsulating the film, which in my opinion is what a dark ride should do. After going down the tunnel we get a glimpse of what’s happening in Monstropolis: a human child is on the loose. We enter the city and see the chaos that the little girl caused. Monsters are scared silly and are leering out of their windows (some of their eyes follow you as you roll by), and the monster we had just seen on the TV in the cab is still recounting his exaggerated experience to the news reporter.

Now I am calling this a “quick” review because this ride has been out for a while, so I know you guys don’t want a detailed description. But every scene is great, and while the Audio Animatronics aren’t as advanced as the ones in Mermaid, they definitely do their job. The scenes have more than enough to keep your eyes occupied, and there’s so much detail you can even spot new things from time to time.

The good…

The queue: Once inside (you rarely have to wait outside, which makes it that much more hilarious that such a huge queue was built for Superstar Limo), there are several things to make you chuckle before the ride. It also provides a little bit of pre-story.

The scenes: All of them were done well, especially the door scene. The effects aren’t mind-boggling, but they are very good for a dark ride.

The flow: Unlike Mermaid there is no disconnection. Each scene leads to the next, and like I stated earlier there is always plenty to look at. As always there is only so much time/space to work with, but I think they chose the right scenes to use to summarize the film.

Hurry up Sulley, hurry up!

The bad…

Mr. Waternoose: It was actually hard for me to think of a dislike for this ride! Again, fully aware that there is only so much time/space to work with, I still think Disney should have included at least one Waternoose in there somewhere. He’d make a pretty cool AA, in my opinion.

C'mon, how cool of an AA would this be? -- Photo © Pixar Animation Studios 

The ugly…

Roz: Okay so technically this belongs under “good,” but then my pun wouldn’t have worked. For those of you who don’t know, there is an interactive Roz character at the end who (thanks to Disney magic) usually says things that are specific to your vehicle (ex: if you’re alone in the back you may hear something like, “young man in the 3rd row, sitting alone, eh?”).

Did you remember to turn in your paperwork?

In summary: Dark rides are harder to design than many people think. You’re always gonna get, “Oh they should’ve added this scene,” or, “Why didn’t they include this character?” (case in point, see my whiny comment 10 lines up) – So what I like to judge them on is continuity, and how well they capture the spirit of the film. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue succeeds in both. Tip of the (4) hat(s) to you, Monsters Inc ride!

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