Archive for the ‘Preview’ Category

Adventures of a Lost Boy in Disneyland (Day 10): A New California Adventure

Or alternatively titled: A Whole New Wooorrrllldddd! (S0rry, I couldn’t resist).

Or the alternative alternative title: Ryan Visits Construction Wall Adventure

In all seriousness, though, walking into California Adventure after a number of years (that combined with the fact that I had only gone into the park 2 or 3 times and only for a few hours) made the entire experience feel new. The first thing that anyone would notice walking in would be the obscene amount of construction walls at the first area of the park. When I was there, the new entrance way based off of the Pan-Pacific Auditorium was uncovered, but it was not open yet. People were still forced to work their way around the new gates and enter from the side of them. That being said, these were easily the best construction walls in the entire park that I saw.

What I find to be the most perplexing about the California Adventure redux is that the new entrance land, Buena Vista Street, is going to be one of the last areas of the park to open. One would have thought that a brand new front would have brought more people into the front, and not having tons of construction walls before you get into the park would have made more people think the park wasn’t closed. The idea of the immensely tacky (and not in any sort of endearing way) Sunshine Plaza going away and making way for a well themed area based on the past is an exciting one, and from some of the artwork seen at the Blue Sky Cellar (which will be a topic for another day), it isn’t just a rehashing of Hollywood Boulevard at Hollywood Studios. It is going to be based more off of the real Los Angeles of the past and less of of the heightened and almost fantastical version of Hollywood presented in Hollywood Boulevard.

Like the area surrounding the new gates, this area was another Construction Wall Land (the most magical land ever found at a Disney park!), but unlike the walls surrounding the gate, these were themed more to advertisements that would have been found in the 1920’s, but with the usual Disney slant. The largest inconvenience that this area presented, though, was the fact that the construction of the Carthay Circle theatre (which is acutally slightly to the left side of the new land) was taking up the entire area and one of the main throughways through the park was completely cut off. While the fixing of California Adventure will be great when it’s done, going while it’s still in process can be very frustrating. (Especially when you’re trying to manuver around the area to get to the Grizzly River Rapids FastPass distribution as so that you can get a FastPass for World of Color because that is totally the reason that you wanted to go to Disneyland in the first place)

Paradise Pier is an area that used to infuriate me, and it still slightly does, but enourmously less than it used to. Paradise Pier still has one of the same problems that it had before, the fact that all of the rides and attractions were just off-the-wall carnival/amusement park faire. There’s the flying swings, the ferris wheel (though Mickey’s Fun Wheel was easily one of the most fun things I did in the park, but only if you ride the swinging gondolas), and various spinning/dropping rides. The area used to have a few more attractions, but thankfully they were destroyed when the area started it’s refurbishment. Some more of these very standard attractions still need to go, but the Silly Symphony Swings, Mickey’s Fun Wheel, and King Triton’s Carousel of the Sea can stay, and need to be replaced with some more “Disney” attractions. They need to make more attractions like Toy Story Midway Mania that take the idea of something from a carnival or amusement park and turn it into something new and interesting. Putting that rant aside, the area is definitely much more aesthetically pleasing to look at, the new look for the land was started when Toy Story Midway Mania opened and everything else just fell into place. The Victorian style buildings and structures are gorgeous to look at and there are numerous little touches around the area that made me smile from ear to ear.

Unfortunately, the new eateries and Goofy’s Sky School were not open by the time I was there (they opened shortly afterwards, which really annoyed me), but the Little Mermaid attraction was open (for part of the day, it broke down for a few hours and actually scared me a little bit with the thought that I wouldn’t be able to experience it). Once again, though, different topic for a different day.

Most of the other areas in the park were just about the same, except for the Hollywood Pictures Backlot which was set up for ElecTRONica (and is rumoured to be in the next wave of improvements to the park). I did get to look in at some of the construction of Cars Land, and I’m pretty excited for that to open.

 

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My Time With Pottermore

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine (the same one who helped me establish the philosophy of the Lost Boy) solved the question presented to get into the beta of Pottermore and quickly posted it on a number of Facebook walls within our group of friends. Throughout the following weeks, I waited impatiently for the beta to actually open for me and over the weekend, it finally did.

For those of you who don’t know, Pottermore is a kind of companion piece for the Harry Potter books. It has a number of interactive images for important scenes in each chapter that allow you to explore the books in a deeper fashion than reading just the books would allow. While exploring these scenes, you can find content that was not in the books like deeper explanations of aspects of the book like the make-up of wands and how that affects the wand’s choice in a wizard and the different attributes of spell casting that each material helps or hinders and also explains the backstories of some characters that were never explained in the book. The biggest one in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is Professor McGonagall and her story is told through three parts that really show how she became the woman she is.

The website is not a replacement for the books, it’s just a companion piece. As stated earlier, it only has key scenes from each chapter. If you had not read the books or seen any of the movies, you would be completely lost, Pottermore is a fans only experience, but it pushes all of the right buttons to make it something that the fans will really love.

Within the story, you get your own letter to Hogwarts, go to Diagon Alley and get the required supplies, a pet (which becomes your avatar for the site), and your own wand (my wand is 12 1/2 inches, Aspen wood with a Dragon Heartstring, and is surprisingly swishy), and once you get to Hogwarts, you are even sorted into a house (I wanted to be a Ravenclaw, but I was sorted into my second choice of Slytherin. There is a surprising amount of people who should be other houses that are sorted into Hufflepuff, though) and are able to compete in the House Cup (I am proud to say that as of the writing of this post, Slytherin is in the lead). You earn house points by finding items within the scenes, casting spells accurately in a Typing of the Dead styled minigame, mixing potions in a timed minigame that is surprisingly difficult but fun, and competing in Wizard Duels with other people playing Pottermore.

The site is still in beta testing, but it is supposed to open to the public in October. It has some stability issues and is going to need a crapton more servers to counter-act the number of people that will be trying to use the site. The beta version has some serious stability issues due to lack of servers and I can only imagine how bad it will be when it actually launches.

If you are a Harry Potter fan, definitely check out the site when it actually goes live. It’s a fun little companion piece to a fun series of books that will delight the fans for years to come.

 

Lost Boy TV: Thundercats (a Preview)

When it was announced that a new Thundercats series was in production, I along with many others who grew up with the series were immensely skeptical about the quality of the new version of a classic show. When some production art was released, a schism was formed. Many people did not like the updated character designs, but I was one of the equally large group of people who through that they were improvements over the decidingly silly spandex laden designs of the original 80’s show. They still retain some of the individual flavour of each character, and each character that has been revealed in the new show still have the recognizable powers of their 1980’s counterparts. The 2011 Thundercats seems like it’s going to work as it doesn’t completely throw out all of the things that people knew and loved about the originals, it’s more of an update of the franchise.

The story of the 2011 show starts before the original series with Lion-O not even being the king of Thundera yet, he is still a prince who is just trying to find his way. Tygra is his adopted brother, and is the much more capable of the two, which makes everyone think that he would be the much better choice for the heir to the throne of Thundera than his brother. Snarf is no longer the most annoying thing in the show as he doesn’t ever speak and is now just completely adorable. Cheetara is a member of the warrior clerics who has an interest in Lion-O. WilyKat and WilyKit are orphans who have to pick pockets in order to survive.

As of the writing of this post, there are only three episodes of the show that have aired. Lion-O and his adopted brother Tygra live in relative happiness with their father, Claudius (voiced by Larry Kenney, the voice of Lion-O in the 80’s series). This all changes when the Lizardmen attack Thundera with legendary technology and take it over. The Lizardmen take the survivors hostage, but Lion-O, Tygra, Cheetara, WilyKat, WilyKit, and Snarf escape and must seek out the Book of Omens before Mumm-Ra has a chance to get his hands on it and the magic is possesses. The show has taken on a much darker tone and has a larger focus on an overarching story than the very episodic original series.

The animation in the show is rather amazing. The show is a combined effort between Studio 4°C and Warner Brothers Animation and the results are stunning. The animation is fluid and detailed, which should be expected of a property with this prestige and budget.

The most important thing to note is that they do still do the “THUNDER! THUNDER! THUNDERCATS! HO!” and the theme song for the new show is an instrumental version of the original Thundercats theme song.

What I have seen of the show is leaving me very hopeful for the rest of the season, so I will more than likely review the whole first season as soon as it’s finished. Thundercats airs at 8:30 every Friday night on Cartoon Network