Thursday, October 24, 2013

Disneyland Review: Alice in Wonderland

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun trip through the movie
Cons: The outside doesn’t look that great; long lines
The Bottom Line:
Trip through Wonderland
California exclusive
Fun for the long wait

Fall Down the Rabbit Hole and Take a Journey with Alice in Wonderland

The kid in me still finds it hard to resist the pleasures of Fantasyland in Disneyland.  I love all the old characters and movies, and it is fun to go visit them in the dark rides that are a staple of this area.  One of the more popular ones is Alice in Wonderland, and it’s good.

This ride is a California only ride - the rest of the Disney parks don’t have it.  That might help explain the popularity.  It’s also unique among dark rides because it is multi-level.  Now, it still goes at one slow and steady speed, but it does climb as you enjoy the ride inside.

The ride is located around the corner from the main section of Fantasyland dark rides.  It’s next to the Mad Tea Party (appropriately enough) and across the walkway from the Matterhorn.  Unfortunately, the outside doesn’t look at nice as it used to.  The part of the track that takes you from the upper level to the lower level is outside and sits on some big leaves.  It also goes over the part of the track where you board the ride.  Unfortunately, OSHA has gotten involved and they have had to put on railings and build out the platform so it has lost much of its appeal.  I certainly get the need for employee safety.  I don’t want them to change it back.  It’s just disappointing.  I heard rumors once that they are thinking of redesigning it to fit with regulations but so it looks better.  I’d certainly be all for that.

The lines for this once seem to hover around 30 minutes and go up as the park gets more crowded.  It easily rivals Peter Pan’s Flight for longest lines in Fantasyland.  There is no height requirement, although little kids will be asked to sit on the inside of the seat.  If you can transfer to the ride vehicle, it is handicap accessible as well.  The ride vehicles are built to look like caterpillars and come in a variety of fun colors.

Once you are on board, you start your journey by following the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole.  It’s actually a dark tunnel and then you come to the door that opens into this wild and crazy world.  While we never see Alice, we do hear her as she chases the Rabbit around.  We have brief encounters with Tweedledee and Tweedledum, listen to the flowers sing and meet up with the Cheshire Cat.  From there, we head to the Queen of Hearts garden, play croquet, and wind up on trial for our lives.

At this point, we break free from the cards and head outside to the part of the track I talked about earlier.  When we hit ground level, we take a brief spin by the Mad Tea Party before we exit our caterpillar.

Like most of the Fantasyland rides, this one doesn’t do a good job of filling you in on the whole story.  They've only got 3 minutes and 38 seconds to work with after all, about part of those are outside.  Then again, the movie (and the books) are pretty random events, so that doesn’t matter.  In fact, that aspect of the story actually works pretty well for this ride.  You don’t have to follow much since each scene is separate.  Only the part with the Queen of Hearts tells much of a real story.

But that doesn’t make it any less fun.  The friend I usually go to Disneyland with loves Alice, so we always hit this ride.  Not that I’m complaining since I love just about everything there.  The animatronics inside look good and the colors are fun.  In fact, they are very true to their animated selves unlike a couple of characters in other rides.  Despite our run in with the Queen of Hearts, there is nothing too scary for young kids here, either.  They still might freak out, but there is nothing that is going to jump out at them or be too truly dark and evil.

Be prepared to wait, but definitely plan to take a ride on Alice in Wonderland next time you are at Disneyland.  It’s an experience you won’t find anywhere else, and it’s a fun trip through the movie.

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