How I Spent My Spring Break: D23, WDW, SWW, DL, and Various Other Acronyms (Part 5.)
As if there weren't enough things to distract a body, the Disneyland Hotel opened up its two new Tiki-themed eateries, Trader Sam's, and the Tangaroa Terrace.
Trader Sam's is more or less a bar with the same theming as the now-defunct Adventurer's Club. There are, apparently, no original pieces brought over from Florida, but some things have been duplicated...such as the ship in the bottle.
One of the conceits of the bar is that all the bartenders/servers are supposed to be Jungle Cruise skippers, and they periodically engage in some appropriate banter. It seems clear however, that like the 50's Prime Time Cafe, some CMs are better suited for role-play than others. This may come as a little bit of a disappointment to people looking for something identical to the Adventurer's Club, where the characters involved were primarily performers.
In any case, it's a fun place to stop by and get a snack. I tried the Ahi Poke and a Schweitzer Falls--the ahi was very fresh, so if you enjoy poke, you probably shouldn't have any hesitations about ordering it here. The drink (one of their non-alcoholic specialty drinks) was pretty unexceptional. A pet peeve of mine is when places conveniently don't put prices on their menu, which is the case with the non-alcoholic drinks here. Additionally, your AP discount only applies to the food you purchase--not the drinks, whether they are non-alcoholic or not.
Because the bar only holds around 40-ish people, there's an abundance of outside seating as well, along with live music. It's a fun, atmospheric place, and will doubtless be doing good business for some time to come.
Next door, is the Tangaroa Terrace which is modeled closely after Captain Cook's in WDW's Polynesian Resort. It has the identical touch screens, but a vaguely bland menu. I didn't get a chance to try anything there, but after the heavy theming of Trader Sam's, the interior of Tangaroa seemed frankly barren. It may have just been the time I was there, but it was pretty empty--presumably anyone ordering from here had taken their food outside to listen to the music.
One irking thing about both places, is that neither currently validate for parking. Consequently, a patron had better count on making the trek over from the parks, or scooting before your three free hours at Downtown Disney are up, and the lot starts charging their usual jillion dollars a minute over.
So then, The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure opened up, and after all the years of waiting while work on it progressed, I finally got to ride it.
And? It's a nice ride. The music, as always, is great, and most of the set pieces look good. I personally feel that your reaction to it will depend heavily on what your expectations of it are. If you're looking for a cute dark ride along the lines of Pinocchio or Pooh, then you probably won't be disappointed. If you're looking for some massive E-ticket ride that is going to pull people away from Toy Story Midway Mania or California Screaming...well, maybe not.
Part of the problem for me is that the audio-animatronics seem a little uneven. After all the years of watching the Blue Sky videos on how carefully they were working on Ariel's hair, so it looked like it was moving underwater, a lot of the time it looks like a jiggly solid block.
Also, the lighting seems a little bright, to the point where it's sometimes hard to maintain the illusion of being underwater. In the big "Under the Sea" room, it actually has more of an "It's A Small World" feel to it, with little attempt made at hiding the lighting or the vehicle track.
This not to say that it's a bad ride however--when it works, it works brilliantly. The room with the Ursula figure is fantastic, and the lady herself must be one of the most fluidly moving AAs there is.
Which is why it's a little bit of a pity that you only see her that one time. Much like the movie, her ultimate defeat is pretty minimally represented--a small picture in the corner of the last room. If you blink, you might miss it.
Ultimately, I also think that all the videos and articles Disney put out about the making of the ride possibly robbed it of a little novelty for me. All the big scenes had already been shown, so after going on it once, I felt as though I had actually seen most of it before. For people who haven't been following its development so closely, it will probably have a much bigger impact.
Should you be put in the mood for purchasing merchandise afterwards, well, Disney has you covered on that front. Across the way in the Embarcadero, there lies all the neat stuff you would need to make your collection complete.
And with that, I think the Spring was pretty well done.