Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Jungle Cruise at Hong Kong Disneyland

Every Magic Kingdom style Disney park has had the Jungle Cruise and Hong Kong was no exception. But this Jungle Cruise is completely different from any other for many reasons. This park had no Frontierland when it opened and hence no Rivers of America giving the Jungle Cruise and Adventureland a lot more room. The Jungle Cruise in Hong Kong is formatted much like the Rivers of America a large circular body of water. I was extremely excited about the Jungle Cruise having more room for new gags and animals. I was sorely disappointed, but we'll get there.
This sign got me really excited because one of the Jungle Cruise's classic gags involves an Elephant spraying water and then coming up as if it were going to spray again right when the boat goes by only to scare the passengers. I thought that on this ride there might be some meta joke for imagineers and visitors to different parks that here the elephant would actually spray you. It does not. Also an awesome sign directly above this one which I neglected to take a picture of shows the three lines and the three versions of the Jungle Cruise. Here in Hong Kong the Jungle Cruise is offered in Three Languages: English, Cantonese and Mandarin and hence has three lines. 

Say goodbye to the people at the dock, because you'll never see them again. 

At Hong Kong Disneyland in order to get to the Tarzan Treehouse you have to take a boat similar to the boats to Huck Finn island. We had to wait for this one to pass. 

Now the tricky matter of our skipper. I want to first say a few things. Out skipper whose name I didn't catch speaks english better or at least as well as I will ever speak another language and her superior gave her the job of Jungle Cruise skipper. She absolutely did her best. That being said, she was absolutely terrible. Speaking english as a second language makes it almost impossible to understand why or what makes the word play funny and hence our skipper memorized the content rather than the words. Although the silver lining is that this taught me I knew all of the Jungle Cruise jokes as I leaned over to my father and whispered the jokes in his ear. 


I thought we were going to get sprayed here, but we remained completely dry.

Here is the temple! Scary and mysterious. More flubbed jokes. Still the same as Walt Disney World's Jungle Cruise

Here we have Ganesh the indian god of beginnings and gateways, I believe that this is slightly different. 

Crocodiles! Aaahh

Apes destroying the camp!! AAHHH! Still nothing funny.

The scene with all the animals. 

The Africans getting the "point." In some versions these adventurers are white. 

I'm gonna take some time to talk about my general feelings about this ride now before we get to the one new scene. I mean the natives have abandon the place so it seems like a good time to talk. Because this Jungle Cruise area was so much larger I expected the experience of the ride to be larger, feature new scenes and new visual tableaux. It has one and we'll get to that next, but everything else is exactly the same. I was disappointed. Not only is the extra size not taken advantage of, it actively hurts the ride. It is not hard to believe you are in a new river in a new part of the world when you cannot see the stretch of river you were just on, but it is nearly impossible when your skipper yells, "now we're on the nile" and you can see the amazon directly behind you. It's ridiculous. While some of you may be thinking, but they still added an extra scene. Sure that's true, but they also took out the scene with the two jokes that never fail to make me laugh. The took out the water fall which is passed through twice thanks to the twists and turns of the jungle cruise. My favorite jokes are: "Here we have Schweitzer Falls named after Mr. Albert Falls" and "Ladies and Gentlemen the backside of water!!!!!" Classic. So essentially they destroyed a lot of what made the Jungle Cruise a semi-believable attraction, really what held it together. Let's hope this last scene is really great. 

Here is the Toad/Monster like face that we are stuck by. Previously the boat has attempted to go around the rock formation, but a huge water jet explodes about five feet in front of the boat. Oh this is what they were talking about when they said you might get wet. No one got wet. Then as we try the corridor between the rocks and the scary monster face another water cannon goes off directly in front of the boat (no one gets wet). After that . . . 

All of this fire is burning simultaneously and the groans are getting louder and louder excited for a serious fireball we get this:

A puffy cloud of smoke, albeit a rather large one. The idea is that the Water gods and the fire gods are fighting and our Jungle Cruise boat is stuck in the middle. While I understand that this situation is ripe for comedy absolutely none of it was conveyed by our skipper at all. Because this was the one new scene I had no idea what the jokes were supposed to be and took it completely seriously. Now stay tuned for my Japanese Jungle Cruise ride where I understood about 50% of what was being said and laughed more than almost any other time on the Jungle Cruise

One last straggling baby Elephant. 

I wanted to show a few pictures of the Jungle Cruise building because I believe they adequately show what the Jungle Cruise show building was like in 1955 Disneyland opened to the public. Also I just like it. 

Actually I take back what I said above, I'm almost 100% sure that the roof of the 1955 Jungle Cruise building was wood, although I do believe the overall structure is similar. 

Follow me on Twitter @mfeige or @goldenmickeys

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Curiosity Shop

Honestly I'm not sure if there is a Curiosity Shop at either Disneyland or Walt Disney World, but I love the signage and overall look of it.
I love this sign it's clearly new but it captures the essence of Main Street's era

I love that the Curiosity Shop has two hanging signs, one horizontal and one vertical, not to mention the different color schemes and dimensionality of the two signs. 

That's All! Follow me on twitter at @mfeige or @GoldenMickeys 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Hub at Hong Kong Disneyland

Something very important is missing here. Anyone want to guess what it is. 

I'm not really sure why the partners statue isn't here at Hong Kong Disneyland, but if anyone knows please tell me. 

I have no idea if High School Musical is at all popular in China or Hong Kong but there is a show in the hub. It's so amazing that doesn't have a big three next to it like it does in Walt Disney World. I just wanted everyone to know the High School Musical craze is taking over the world. 

Here's a poster that was sitting by a closed off path from the hub. It's a cute little sign. I was hoping it would mention the three new lands coming to Hong Kong and that this was the way to get to them. I learned after my trip that this most certainly is not where the three new lands are. 

Hub-irific!  love the curvy lines. 

This is the view down Main Street from the Hub as everyone gears up for the parade, which was lots of fun. Although I sadly neglected to take pictures of the parade.

The Grand Marshals of the parade which I did take pictures of. Maybe this is when my iPhone died. That's really my only excuse. 

Before the parade but after the Grand Marshals came through was one last chance for the balloons and drinks. I love the design on the beverage cart which is helpfully obscured by a balloon-hankering child. Also they're cut off but notice the slightly different design of the Mickey Balloons. I don't think you can find Mickey (or Stitch) Balloons like that at any other park 

Here's where you get on the friendly Main Street Omnibus which will be the star in its own post later on.

Here is a look at the covered terrace of the Main St. Corner Cafe which takes the place of the corn dog cart and general open space at Disneyland. It's interesting. Also it's taken from the hub which is why it is in this post. 

Look it is the back of people's heads!!!!! Actually it should be the Hong Kong Disneyland castle from the hub. 

Looking down the Main Street from the Hub! 

That's all from the Hub at Hong Kong Disneyland! 

Some Thoughts on Waking Sleeping Beauty

Last night, Saturday, I saw Don Hahn's Disney Documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty with a Don Hahn Q&A afterwards. Waking Sleeping Beauty is a Documentary about the reemergence of Disney Animation from 1989 to 1994. Don Hahn (IMDB) was an important part of the animation renaissance as producer of Beauty and the Beast and the Lion King and went through Cal Arts with such talents as Henry Selick (Director of Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline), John Lasseter, and Tim Burton. Anyway Don Hahn decided now was the time to tell this story because enough time had passed that the principles bruised egos had recovered, but the events were still crystal clear.

Like all good Documentaries, and this is a good documentary, Waking Sleeping Beauty has a narrative, which catalogues Animation's low point during the Black Cauldron to the soaring heights of The Lion King, what helped it reach those heights and how the leaders of the company crumbled at the end. Hahn had complete cooperation of Roy Disney, Jeffery Katzenberg and Michael Eisner, but none required approval of the film.  During the Q&A Don mentioned that all three of them saw the documentary and all three said why did you make the other two look so good and me so bad and that is how Don knew he made a good documentary. The film uses footage exclusively from the time period in question because of the explosion of the handheld video camera, but recent interviews are used to narrate much of the film. This gives the film a sense of authenticity. Although I hungered to see all of the footage that Don Hahn combed through to create the documentary. In the Q&A Hahn also mentioned that there would me some great Extra Features on the DVD which they are putting together now including all of Jodi Benson's Little Mermaid recording session.

My favorite thing about the documentary was the way it championed Disney songwriter Howard Ashman the lyricist in his partnership with Alan Menken. Ashman and Menken together wrote all of the songs in The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast and most of the songs in Aladdin. Ashman's tragic early passing due to AIDS, in my mind, caused the end of the Disney Renaissance.

Recently I've been delving deeply into the Ashman and Menken films and the special features on the films. So I had heard a few of the stories in the film, but there are new ones especially pertaining to the day of Ashman's passing. Ultimately after the reading I've done on this period and my recent viewing of special features made this film see a little bit light on facts and depth, but it is a feature length documentary not a novel. Also I felt it was a perfect introduction to this period and quite possibly the most fair and in depth look we've had at the conflict between Roy Disney, Jeffery Katzenberg and Michael Eisner.

Something I'd never heard about was the role Roy Disney played in this "break-up" and his various inappropriate actions as he is often heralded as Walt's Golden Nephew in Disney fan circles. The interview Roy Disney gave was his last before his passing late last year.

The finale of the film once again stresses the importance of Howard Ashman which makes me happy to no end because the more I examine these films the more important he becomes. One of my goals in my life is to right a Biography of Howard Ashman that is fitting for his wondrous accomplishments.

The bottom line is if you have any interest in Disney Animation, particularly the Disney Renaissance, you must see this film. It's hilarious, touching and most importantly entertaining. GO SEE WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY

The Website is Here: See if its playing near you or at a nearby film festival, if not request it at your local independent theater!

Hong Kong Disneyland's Main Street Part 2 - Empty Main Street

I arrived in Hong Kong around 8am went to directly to the Hollywood Hotel (check out blog post two for more information), checked in unpacked and raced to the park. When I arrived at 9:30 I was shocked to find that the park hadn't yet oppened. I noticed that one section of turnstiles was open letting certain guests through. After realizing that this were guests going to Character breakfast at the Plaza Inn Restaurant as soon as I returned to the Hollywood Hotel I made reservations for the next day.

While I still love Character breakfasts as much as I have the true treat was being allowed in the park before opening and getting to slowly walk down Hong Kong's Main Street while it was entirely empty.

Here are further Pictures of Hong Kong's Main Street entirely empty:
Here is Hong Kong Disneyland's Main Street Station which was not operational either day. I was very upset by this

Here's everyone's favorite sign in English and Chinese: Here you leave today and enter the worlds of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy. Notice that the plaque is the same shape as Disneyland's. 

Town Square! 

More of Town Square!!!! 

Here's the first building in town square as you enter on the left. Honestly I'm not sure what it is.

The right side of Town Square which should look extremely familiar if you frequent Disneyland. It's also important to notice the youth of the most of the trees in this shot which help the parks less-than-fleeting resemblance to it's anaheim counter part about 55 years ago. 

Here is the left side of Town Square. It's important to notice that the Black early automobile is used in the Main Street USA logo is sponsored by UPS much like Hong Kong Disneyland's Rail Road. 

Now we can begin our trip down Main Street in earnest!

Here's the Photo shop! Sponsored by Kodak! Sadly you can not actually buy a digital camera here! I tried after my iPhone's battery died. 

Here's a terribly taken close-up of the Emporium! 

Here's a similarly badly taken photo of the bottom of the Emporium. Note the window above the main entrance. We'll be revisiting it in another post. I also want to mention that this picture is a better representative of the true color of the Emporium. 

Look how empty Main Street is! Yee-Haw! Many similar photos of Main Street empty follow! Allso note the similarity to Disneyland's Main Street and Castle. 

One of my favorite things about Hong Kong Disneyland is the way the mountains add a completely different feel from any other park.

I feel like The Circle Life or something similar momentous should be playing now

I love this small sitting area. Much like the other porches and unused doorways at Disneyland they are my favorite flourishes on Main Street, which I learned about when Disneyland became my home park two years ago. 

A Great Crystal Arts sign!
Here is a close up on the second level of the Main Street Mercantile. I love the small design touches on this building. Also in the center of the photo is a window that showcases the name of the Imagineers who worked on Hong Kong Disney. 

A closer view of Main Street and the castle!

I love Main Street. More faux-doors and real seats. How cute are those buildings, don't you just want to live on the second floor those buildings. 

Here are a few of my absolute favorite buildings on Main Street. The blue building with the porch is one of my, if not my absolute favorite "building" on Main Street. I put the word building in quotes because of course each side of Main Street is one building with multiple facades. 

Here we have Centennial Hall which I thought it was important to take a picture of because it is the Penny Arcade in Disneyland. I also love the paint job. 

Main Street Corner Cafe! 

"The Latest and Best for Sale Here" I love the Architectural differences between the first and second floor of this building. 

Main Street Sweets! I love the pink and blue of this building and the accents above the second floor windows. 

"Taste Tempting Treats" Interestingly enough in all these sweet shops in HOng Kong you will not find what you do in Disneyland or Walt Disney World. You cannot buy fresh sweets or sweets to eat now at all. What you're going to find here is a typically Asian souvenirs which consist of sweets individually wrapped in Disney themed tins. Often Mickey or some other characters graces the cookies. 

Here's the part of Main Street that faces the Hub. You'll notice unlike Disneyland and Walt Disney World there is not Hot Dog restaurant or seating area here, but it is still fun.

Here is the Hub as empty as can be! Also starring the fog! 

Bonus Picture: 

The Mural in Centennial Hall! (Less Blurry this time!) 

That's all for now folks! Follow me on Twitter: @mfeige or @GoldenMickeys