It seems that the engineers at Disneyland in Anaheim are trying to work out a way of restoring the speed to the teacups in an effort to return the Magic Kingdom to its former glory (here's the link over at CNN)This is a smart move, but it is just one of many things that they must do in order to make people want to return there.
Justin wrote about this earlier in this post. I have a hunch that we are not the only native Californians who have grown up with fond memories of blasting cans and varmints with lightbeams with flintlock muskets, getting reprimanded for ramming into the rear fender of friends and siblings while tasting two-stroke lawnmower-grade exhaust in the muscle car inspired Autopia, looking for treasure and living fish while diving in yellow submarines, and seeing that hippo eat some well deserved lead on a cruise through the African jungle (Notice it was the jungle back then, as in a journey into Conrad's Heart of Darkness. It was not the modern romanticized, wussified, tree-hugging, granola eating friendly term "rain forest" because back then a "rich, dynamic biodiversity" meant that there were a lot of different things that were out to eat or pester you.). Like New Coke, the changes to the original formula must go because, quite simply, they suck.
I don't know about how Universal Studios Los Angeles has changed since I've been here, but Japan's USJ has it down. Before Downtown Disney(the mall outside of Dland), the Universal Citywalk was a pretty cool place to go and chill on a free day and provided a good variety of decent places to eat (Tommy's, Gladstones, etc...). This design was successfully copied (or more accurately, interpreted) in Osaka, and I recommend getting some ribs at the Chicago Rib Factory if you are there with a huge mug of porter (this is the first porter I have spotten in Japan, anywhere!) to wash it down with. As for inside the park, it has all of the standard attractions (T2 show, Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, etc...) and some things that you won't find in L.A.. The show that they put on right before closing combines dancers, speedboats tugging acrobatic kites, water jets/lights/lazers in syncronized bursts, and lots of fireworks. Their mainstreet is a trip, not even remotely accurate to the Beverly Hills and Hollywood streets that it portrays- it is the material equivalent of what Japanese people think it is after watching a lot of "Beverly Hills, 90210", "Beverly Hills Cop", "Tough Guys" (anyone remember this Heston movie?) type media. I can not describe the sensation brought on by hearing the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" song from the animated TV show blaring in a back alley, next to one of the "studios" The standout rides were (predictably) Spiderman, Shrek (not a ride, technically) and (unexpectedly) Jaws.
Spiderman kicked ass, but I don't like hearing him speak in Japanese. If I had my way, there would be subtitles translating what he said, but maybe that's just me. It's a mix between the Star Tours/Back to the Future ride on a track that changes rooms. Go check it out.
Shreck is set up as a regular movie theatre, but the chairs moved with the movie, and it sprayed water droplets, pneumatic bursts, and fog to bring the audience into the story. These elements combine quite effectively, and the only thing that was missing was incorporating a form of Smell-o-Vision into it (the cotton candy scent of the mist doesn't count).
Jaws is a current version of how the Jungle Cruise was envisioned as being when it was first concieved. In fact, it's a rip off of the JC except that the environment of the ride is a prop for the main star instead of the main attraction in itself. The tour guides, much like those in the old days of the JC, relish in their (intentionally) cartoonish schtick as the apathetic/spazzy/inexperienced/ADD kid who didn't take his damned riddlin skipper, telling corny jokes and blasting away at Jaws with... A huge pump shotgun! Pyrotechnics, a lurching ride, and not caving into the anti-violence whinings of offended PC weaklings make for a refreshing experience. I'm not saying that the Jungle Cruise and Frontier Land should have large shotguns, but that they should return to how they were twenty years ago. In fact, I prefer the nostalgic six-shooter chrome plated cap gun in the jungle context because it belongs there.
Until Disneyland is freed from the tyranny of minority of over-sensitive pansy crybabies, it will continue to wither away and alienate those of us who remember how it was and how it should be.
If you really must have something new and revolutionary to unveil at Disneyland, here it is: Stop serving nasty food at your fast food counters and give us what we will gladly pay for(not all of them are nasty, but the one in Tomorrowland under the rockets is). Return the authentic barbecue to Frontierland, next to the murderous Big Thunder Mountain rollercoaster. Nothing ruins a good day like a steamed hamburger and limp, cold french fries and knowing that you paid too much for it. And pass out shotguns for the Small World ride. Now THAT, would generate interest and attract a whole new as of yet untapped demographic to the Magic Kingdom.