Showing posts with label Disney's California Adventure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Disney's California Adventure. Show all posts

Flashback: Mulholland Madness

We finish our tour of Paradise Pier and Disney California Adventure with a look at a recently-extinct attraction, Mulholland Madness. Named for and inspired by Mulholland Drive, the scenic 50-mile stretch of road from North Hollywood to the Malibu Coast, this "wild mouse"-style coaster offered guests a twisting, turning ride much like portions of its famous namesake.

The face of the attraction was adorned with a gigantic, unfolded road map of Mulholland Drive. Depicted on the map was everything from Marilyn Monroe to a landslide on the Pacific Coast Highway. Of course, while traffic was jammed on the PCH and the Hollywood Freeway, everyone was freewheeling along Mulholland... so much so, that the cars of the ride even appeared to crash right through the map at one point! The map also included a nod to Alamo Rent A Car (operating sponsor of the attraction from 2004-2010) and an image of a swimming pool shaped like Mickey Mouse.

Each of the coaster cars on Mulholland Madness featured four bucket seats and its own custom paint job. There were hot rods and Woodies and even squad cars of the California Highway Patrol.

Cars and car culture were the principle design motifs on Mulholland Madness. Everything here contributed to the story, from the orange net fencing around the perimeter to the "Cast Members Only" sign made to resemble a license plate. Even the height stick looked as if it belonged on the side of a highway.

The use of road signs in the queue and load areas continued along the ride path as well, with the addition of billboards advertising things like Mulholland Drive-Thru Donuts and Mulholland Madness the movie, starring Teri Fide and Rolly Coasta.

Mulholland Madness closed in October 2010, to be re-imagined as Goofy's Sky School. The new attraction is set to debut this summer.

The district of Paradise Pier which included Mulholland Madness, stretching from Burger Invasion to Dinosaur Jack's Sunglass Shack and roadside merchandise stand Souvenir 66, was intended as an homage to California's infatuation with the automobile. While these opening day features may have driven into history, the park is actually preparing to hit the gas on an even bigger tribute to cars, chrome and the "Mother Road" with the 2012 debut of Cars Land.

Guests visiting Disney California Adventure now can get a sneak peek at the new land under construction. The wall in front of the project has been dressed as oversized postcards, touting some of the new attractions and destinations opening next year. Among my favorite details on the wall: perforations between the cards and the price tag!

Rides of the Boardwalk

In the ten year history of Disney California Adventure, the Boardwalk of Paradise Pier has seen attractions come and go, while others have remained the same.

Down along the shore, Jumpin' Jellyfish gives a colorful kelp and sea creature overlay to a traditional parachute drop ride. Twelve parachute vehicles, dressed as jellyfish, make a "jump" straight up a couple of 60-foot kelp towers, before gently floating back down to the beach.

For such a simple attraction, the details are actually very well done. From the starfish height stick and jellyfish umbrellas in the queue to the rockwork and seaweed-like landscaping, everything contributes to a sense that the tide has receded and allowed us to wander a space typically found beneath the waves.

Nearby is another attraction unchanged since opening day, the Golden Zephyr (my apologies for not having a better photograph). This type of classic "spinning spaceship" ride had not been built for 35 years, but the wait was worth it. Flying in one of the six Flash Gordon-style rocket vehicles, the sense of speed and height reached is far more thrilling than you might imagine. It's actually my favorite Paradise Pier attraction and a "must do" on every visit.

One thing the above photograph does manage to show is a pair of now-extinct rides of the Boardwalk. The attractions may be history, but luckily you can just follow the links from here for one more look at the Maliboomer and the Orange Stinger.

Beach Culture

Paradise Pier pays homage to the grand beachfront amusement parks of the past. While the amusement aspects of the district may be the most obvious, the beach is represented here as well. Billboards like the one pictured above show us that stretch of sand "Between Sea and Sky" which, although not a part of the park we can visit, is very much a part of the story.

Beach details abound, even in the subtlest form. Take this drinking fountain, for example. It's modeled after a beach side shower. Notice the nozzles near the top? They're perfect for washing off the sand and salty water.

Until recently, the beach setting was even more prominent. Nestled in the grove where the Boardwalk met the shore was Pizza Oom Mow Mow, a quick service restaurant facility dedicated to California's surf culture. Pizza Oom Mow Mow, the name inspired by a popular tune from the '60s, closed in September 2010, but it's never too late to look back and enjoy some of the story details that were.

Pizza Oom Mow Mow was designed as a surf shack, a hangout on the beach that served as HQ for groups of surfer dudes and dudettes, celebrating California's "endless summer." This was the perfect place for late-night beach parties, late morning sleeping in and a climb to the rooftop tower to watch for incoming swells on the water.

Of course, you couldn't have an homage to California's period surf culture without Tikis. A pair stood guard at the door, and there was even a little guy behind the counter, munching on a slice of pepperoni. There was tons of detail here, from beach chairs and towels to bikes, boards and vintage California beach postcards. Even the menu contributed to the storytelling with offerings like the Big Kahuna Hawaiian Pizza and Pipeline Pizza Salad.

The music of the Beach Boys and other icons of beach culture permeated the space, where you could always find a place to stow your board (at one time, there was even a pink one labeled "Annette") or check the local surf conditions.

The surf shack of Pizza Oom Mow Mow had apparently been expanded over the years, enclosing areas which had once been part of the exterior of the building. Here, the surfers had painted the garage door with an airbrushed mural of an old Woodie station wagon and used their collection of hubcaps, mirrors and license plates as decoration.

In another corner of the restaurant, there was even a nod to classic beach and surf movies of the 1960s, including the Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello romp, Beach Party.

Pizza Oom Mow Mow wasn't alone in its affinity for beach culture. This stretch of Paradise Pier also featured Reboundo Beach, another boardwalk-style game of skill, and the S.S. rustworthy children's play area (read more about that here).

In the end, all this surf culture didn't quite jive with the new vision of Paradise Pier as a turn-of-the-20th-century amusement zone. The area that once encompassed the pizza restaurant (as well as nearby Burger Invasion), game and playground is being redressed as a beautifully-landscaped garden district, featuring re-branded restaurants Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta and Paradise Garden Grill. Look for these to make their debut this summer.

Boardwalk Ballyhoo

Paradise Pier is definitely a land in transition. Certain key elements of the district have already evolved toward the new, Victorian period look, while others still retain the styling in which they debuted a decade ago.

The Games of the Boardwalk on the Midway have undergone one of the more dramatic changes thus far. Originally, these games of skill had a more modern look to them and bore wordplay names, referencing places and things in California: Cowhuenga Pass, New Haul Fishery, San Joaquin Volley, Angels in the Outfield, etc.

The new Games of the Boardwalk combine some of the more classic challenges with a period look... and a dash of Disney character. There's Casey at the Bat (toss a softball into the catcher's mitt), Dumbo Bucket Brigade (aim a stream of water to get your clown to climb a ladder), Bullseye Stallion Stampede (roll balls into a series of holes to make your horse run for the finish line) and Goofy About Fishin' (dip your line in and catch a fish - every one's a winner!).

Perhaps best of all, the new Games of the Boardwalk now feature appropriately-themed Disney character plush for prizes. It's perhaps the only place in the world where you can actually get a doll of Casey, the "pride of them all."

A little further down the Boardwalk is a series of shops original to Disney California Adventure. While this stretch has yet to receive its makeover, it has a certain tongue-in-cheek humor about it that's a lot of fun. At Point Mugu Tattoo, a tattoo parlor where "All Tattoos Are Temporary & All Sales Are Final," the strongman on the marquee is adorned with quite the selection of body art. There are tributes to his mother and America, reminders of his left and his right and a mark on his heart, showing his affection for Lady Beard.

Just who is Lady Beard? Why, she's one of the stars of the Sideshow, of course! Sideshow Shirts proudly promotes her, along with other Absurdi-Tees and Oddi-Tees such as Incindiere the fire breather, Swalli Baba the sword swallower and Vipera the snake charmer (whose serpent looks an awful lot like Kaa from Jungle Book).

Inside (where they actually do sell T-shirts), the Sideshow story is continued with such details as a tented roof, larger-than-life carnival barker and ticket stand. Note the numbers on the oversize ticket displayed near the register - 012001 - a reference to the date the store opened for previews in January 2001.

Man Hat N' Beach, a play on Manhattan Beach near L.A., sells hats, of course, although a sign at the entrance offers a warning: "Some Hats Contain Rabbits!"

Inside, there's even more fun with signs, like this play on the title of the 1965 Hayley Mills and Dean Jones comedy, That Darn Cat. Then, there's the offer for "Free Hats Tomorrow." Really? I'm coming back!

Paradise Pier Pavilions & Midway

Paradise Pier, the Disney California Adventure park's salute to classic oceanfront amusement zones, is comprised of several distinct areas: Pier Pavilions, Midway, Boardwalk, Beach (all but removed with recent changes) and Grand Aquarium (coming soon).

The first section, styled as a series of 1920s-era beachfront pavilions, includes the Ariel's Grotto restaurant, Cove Bar, character greeting pavilions, Paradise Pier Ice Cream Co. and Treasures in Paradise. Classically-styled spires crown several of the buildings, while neon accents, latticework, colorful awnings and blinking lights complete the look.

In addition to its selection of items for sale, Treasures in Paradise also features a collection of antique carnival pieces, including a Lusse Auto Scooter bumper car and several hand-carved carousel animals.

Follow the Boardwalk down from the Pavilions to the Midway, and you'll discover even more unique animals in active rotation as part of King Triton's Carousel of the Sea. The colorful sea creatures on this carousel, all native to California's coastal waters, are decked out in jewels, sashes and other details. Be sure to look for the orange Garibaldi damselfish (the official marine state fish of California), as well as the decorative panels around the carousel's perimeter, paying homage to some of California's classic boardwalk amusement parks.

For all the charms of King Triton's Carousel, the main attractions on the Midway would have to be California Screamin' and Mickey's Fun Wheel. California Screamin' pays tribute to the great wooden roller coasters of yesteryear (although this one is built entirely out of steel). The ride combines classic thrills with modern innovations like a high-speed launch, scream tubes (to help keep the sounds of excited riders in the park and away from nearby residential areas) and on-board audio synchronized to every twist and turn of the track.

When Disney California Adventure opened, Mickey's Fun Wheel (then known as the Sun Wheel) was the first Ferris Wheel of its kind built since Coney Island's Wonder Wheel in 1927. Around the 500-foot circumference of the wheel are 24 gondolas. Eight of those remain fixed at the edge of the wheel during rotation, providing the highest view. The other 16 gondolas slide and swing along interior rails as the wheel moves, providing a completely unique and thrilling experience.

On our first visit to Disney California Adventure, my wife and I went for it and chose a swinging gondola. I like thrill rides, but that one time was probably enough for me (your mileage may vary). So on a more recent trip with the kids, we went with non-swinging. The experience was dizzying enough at a maximum height of nearly 160 feet. It was worth it, though, for the breathtaking views of both the park below us and Disneyland in the distance.