Friday, May 27, 2011

Today at Disney's California Adventure: The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventure

After starting our day at Disneyland, we head over to Disney's California Adventure.

The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventure, which officially debuts on June 3rd, had its first "soft opening" trial yesterday, so we were hoping the ride would open again today. Ariel's been behind construction walls for a couple of years now, and we were anxious to try it out.

The attraction building is absolutely beautiful. The entrance "repurposes" the lovely entrance to the otherwise awful GOLDEN DREAMS film:


I've previously shared a photo of King Triton, who was brought over from Disneyland to perch atop the ride building.

Cast members blowing bubbles in front of the ride was a nice touch!



We stayed in the area for quite a while, but gradually the number of cast members out front dwindled and they stopped blowing bubbles, so we headed back to Disneyland.

We were actually riding on the parking lot tram later that afternoon when I read on the invaluable app MouseWait that the Little Mermaid ride had just opened. We took a return tram back to the park and hurried straight to the ride, where we were able to get in line!

The shells hand-seeded in the concrete throughout the line area was a wonderful touch. It reminded me of the jewels pressed into the pavement around Florida's Magic Carpets of Aladdin.


The Little Mermaid is a classic-style Disney "dark ride" which tells a story. The mural in the ride loading area immediately conjures up memories of other Disney dark rides, Peter Pan's Flight and Snow White's Scary Adventures.


The ride uses Omnimover vehicles in a clamshell design similar to The Seas With Nemo and Friends at Orlando's Epcot.

The backwards trip down into the sea also reminded me of the initial "dark ride" portion of Crush's Coaster at Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Paris.

Overall I thought the ride was excellent. The "Under the Sea" sequence in particular was absolutely enchanting, a real creative triumph for Disney's Imagineers.

I had two minor quibbles: as the vehicle enters the final room, the focus is on the exit area visible through the far door, rather than on the scene to the right. They needed some sort of transition between the final scene and the loading area, such as the "hello" and "farewell" signs which begin and end It's a Small World.

I'm also not a big fan of electronic screens. While a screen was cleverly used when riders look up at Ariel early in the ride, I thought the fireworks in the final scene were too obviously simply fireworks on a movie screen -- sort of like a really obvious back projection in a film. I would have rather seen something "real" behind the characters.

A review at MiceChat -- scroll down for it -- echoes some of my feelings. All in all, it's a very enjoyable ride and I look forward to going on it again soon. The ride and its beautiful building are excellent additions to California Adventure.

Work continues on Goofy's Sky School (formerly Mulholland Madness), which opens Fourth of July weekend.


The ride sign has gone up!


I was surprised to discover that the Corn Dog Castle had already reopened:


And at the front of the park, the Carthay Circle Theatre continues to grow:


It's been a real pleasure over the past couple of years to see new and rethemed rides unveiled and watch California Adventure gradually become what it should have been in the first place. More good things are ahead, including Cars Land!

4 Comments:

Blogger C.K. Dexter Haven said...

I really need to get to Disneyland someday!

I was at Walt Disney World earlier this month and Fantasyland is still undergoing rennovation for the last year. You'd think they'd have tried to finish things by the time of the big 40th anniversary in October.

6:33 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I hope you have the opportunity! I recommend waiting until the current round of renovations are completed at Disney's California Adventure -- the entire front of the park is under construction to rebuild it as Art Deco era Hollywood, complete with Pacific Red Cars traveling up and down the street. Plus Cars Land will be a huge addition!

I'm hoping to visit WDW once the Fantasyland renovations are done!

Best wishes,
Laura

6:03 PM  
Blogger SimpleGifts said...

Laura - It's SO cool that you had a sneak peak of the new ride. We've been looking forward to the opening because THE LITTLE MERMAID was my daughters' favorite childhood movie. Big sister wore her Ariel headband with the plastic shells throughout elementary school(long ago)! Little sister will graduate from UCI in June and I think the celebration should include bopping over to CA Adventure and checking out the ride! Jane

6:27 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

LITTLE MERMAID was very special to my girls too, Jane! The ride was so nostalgic for my 16-year-old that she was a bit teary on her first ride. :) The 22-year-old's hoping to get a chance to ride it Monday!

Congrats on your daughter's upcoming graduation from UCI, and best wishes for her future success!!

Best wishes,
Laura

6:32 PM  

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