This is the 11th of 11 posts (10 travel days plus final thoughts) adapted from e-mails I sent to friends and family. This was my 3rd trip there, the previous two being in the early 1980s and 1996. My dad came with me this trip. Here were my final thoughts at the time, with minor fine tuning:
Favourite Park: Hollywood Studios
Favourite Attraction: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Disneyland Park)
Nice “pre-show” atmosphere, smooth roller coaster, nice sight gags during the ride, nice periods of suspense building.
Favourite Outdoor Ride: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Disneyland Park).
Favourite Indoor Ride: Soaring Over California (Disney’s California Adventure)
Nice music, breathtaking scenery, great use of illusion to create a relaxing yet thrilling ride.
Favourite Stage Show: Waterworld (Universal Studios).
High-energy, live action, full of pyrotechnics, well-orchestrated. There’s a reason why this show is always packed despite the commercial failure of its movie inspiration.
Favourite Walk-Through: Penguins (SeaWorld)
Frankly most of the walk-throughs in the other parks are pretty dismal so it’s not surprising that a zoo would win here. This walk-through has lots of energetic baby penguins
Favourite Eatery: Doc Brown’s Chicken (Universal Studios)
Surprisingly tasty, affordable, and reasonably healthy food for an amusement park
Favourite Pre-Show for an Attraction: Star Tours (Disneyland Park)
Not overly long before the main ride (a nice motion simulator), some nice gags. I understand this has since been replaced with a new Star Tours show so I can’t comment on how good the pre-show is now.
Favourite Ride Type: flume ride
Generally they had a nice blend of energetic moments and relaxing in the water
A note about 3-D rides: Terminator 2 3-D (Universal Studios) was the most fun 3-D show, but didn’t use 3-D as much as it could have. It’s Tough to Be a Bug (Disney’s California Adventures) made better use of the 3-D technology
Most Overrated Attraction: Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage (Disneyland Park)
Strip away the new visuals and it’s still the old submarine that doesn’t really submerge ride. Also, of those rides based on movies I haven’t seen, this one was the least accessible to me and probably benefits the most from having seen the movie. Long line-ups too. A close second is Toy Story (Disney’s California Adventures) which only worked right for a small part of the ride.
Most Overly Long Pre-Show: Simpsons (Universal Studios)
A testament how too long a pre-show can bog down a good ride
As some of the categories above are hard to quantify on a park-by-park basis, only some of the above categories are covered below.
Favourite Attraction: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Favourite Outdoor Ride: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Favourite Indoor Ride: Space Mountain
I preferred the 1996 visuals more, but this is still a fast paced, exciting roller coaster with nice pre-show area and exciting music.
Favourite Stage Show: Enchanted Tiki Room
This show feels like it was designed by Disney on a drunken bender, probably the only amusement park attraction to be hosted by a singing robot Hispanic macaw. Corny yet bizarre, with some unique visuals.
Favourite Pre-Show for an Attraction: Star Tours
Disney’s California Adventures
Favourite Attraction: Soaring Over California
Favourite Outdoor Ride: California Screamin’
Lengthy but smooth roller coaster.
Favourite Indoor Ride: Soaring Over California
Favourite Stage Show: Muppets 3-D
Arguably It’s Tough to Be a Bug may be a tad better, but I have a soft spot for the Muppets, and the mayhem you’d expect from them is present.
Favourite Pre-Show for an Attraction: Muppets 3-D
Muppets thrive on pre-show activities, plus there’s some great gags involving monitor screens.
Knotts Berry Farm
Favourite Attraction: Bigfoot Rapids
Energetic yet surprisingly smooth flume ride.
Favourite Outdoor Ride: Bigfoot Rapids
Favourite Indoor Ride: see below
Not much to choose from here. In Sky Cabin you’re inside but get a nice view of outside. If you think this counts, then this is it. If you only count attractions where the views are of the inside, you’re left pretty much with the okay Calico Mine Ride.
Favourite Stage Show: Mystery Lodge
Fascinating look into the life of one native tribe, with nice visuals.
Favourite Pre-Show for an Attraction: n/a
Not a strong suit of the park.
Favourite Attraction: Penguins
Favourite Outdoor Ride: Shipwreck Cove Rapids
Lengthy flume ride.
Favourite Indoor Ride: Journey into Atlantis
Another flume ride. Actually most of it is outside but this is the closest I came to an indoor ride there.
Favourite Stage Show: Dolphin Discovery
Dolphins are always willing to play.
Favourite Pre-Show for an Attraction: Journey into Atlantis
Not much to choose form, but this ride’s pre-show does have some nice visuals.
Favourite Attraction: Waterworld
Favourite Outdoor Ride: Tram Tour
Actually if you see Jurassic Park as outdoor, then that wins out; otherwise this provides a lengthy but fun look at Hollywood life, with nice effects.
Favourite Indoor Ride: Jurassic Park
Actually a lot of this is outdoors, but its visuals are indoors in spirit, a flume ride with lots of spitting dinosaurs etc. If you don’t count this as indoors, then Simpsons wins (a great motion simulator, albeit hampered by an extremely long pre-show; with a more edited down pre-show, Simpsons would have been a more clear-cut favourite but especially from the second viewing on the pre-show quickly outstays its welcome).
Favourite Stage Show: Waterworld
Favourite Pre-Show for an Attraction: Terminator 2 3-D
Mock commercial, nice parody of a host, a cheeky computer.