Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Visual Comparisons: Part 1

Ah, there you are...

  As you can see, this post's title is accompanied by a "part 1" indicating that it will be the first in a series. This series won't be a back to back installment with a final chapter though. Think of these Visual Comparison installments as small trivial posts. There are many things that you can compare with photos when it comes to the Haunted Mansion; especially if you have a constantly growing photo library the size of mine. So, let us begin this first installment:

  As many of my readers already know, I'm an avid Orlando Mansion supporter. I'm used to receiving negative feedback from some of my readers for my constant nagging about the Anaheim original. In this initial installment of Visual Comparisons, we will take a look at some elements in the attraction, comparing the Anaheim versions of the element to the Orlando version of the same element. You can't argue with visual proof.

  I think we'll start in the Attic, because I don't like to go in chronological order all the time. Plus, I was specifically asked to share a comparison of one of the most infamous elements that all S&FS readers should be familiar with: The dreaded garage door of ugly in the attic scene. Both the American Mansions have a garage door locate at the same point in the attic scene off to the left of the track. The only thing that makes them different is, well; just look:

Photo Credit: R. Padilla
  That's Disneyland's Attic garage door. Now here's nearly the exact same shot, taken at Walt Disney World in the same spot:

Photo Credit: A. Grancoin-Vinet
  Both shots were taken using flash; you can see the glare on the back of the Doombuggies in each shot. But the Orlando version of the door doesn't reflect the light of the flash like the Anaheim version because it's been painted black. From the look of it, I'd say at one point the Disneyland door may have been painted black, although it's pretty clear that it hasn't been painted in years. The shiny metal finish of the Disneyland door is further illuminated due to the brighter lighting in the attic scene. While I don't have good enough pictures to prove it visual for you, take my word for it, as I've been on both fairly recently.

  The Ballroom scene has two sheets of reflective materials dividing you from the show set. One of those is between you and the ghosts, and the other is between the ghosts and the set. The later is the huge sheet of glass which is used to achieve the pepper's ghost effect while the former is a sheet of plexiglass used to keep anything a guest might throw over the balcony from landing down bellow where it could turn into a "ghost object" in the show scene. (Another fun fact about the plexiglass is that it can be used to explain why your reflection can sometimes appear in the ballroom scene without spoiling the entire effect for someone. If a first time rider sees the glare or reflection, you can simply tell them that the plexiglass is there so that the ghosts can't get onto the balcony where you are) Anyhow, the plexiglass bounces off the lighting in the attic scene, creating a pretty crisp visual reflection in the final pane near the Duelist, Organist, and Dancers. Both American versions reflect the attic scene, but at Orlando, I've noticed that it isn't as harsh as it is in Anaheim. 

  I've never liked that the reflection was there in Walt Disney World's Mansion, but when I visited the Disneyland version in May, I noticed how much brighter the reflection was. After re-riding the Orlando version several times over the past months, I've realized how much less of a reflection there is in the Liberty Square version. This is one place where I must give proper acknowledged to Phantom Manor. They don't have any issues with reflections of another scene in their Ballroom. That can partially be attributed to the fact that they have a long dark hallway in place of the the first stretch of what is normally the attic scene. Also, they don't even have a garage door; only an indent where one normally would be:

Photo Credit: M.Brilhart
  So yeah; that's one more post about the ugly garage door.Who knew it was possible to do two full posts on such a lack-luster element in the Mansion? Next time, we'll look at something that isn't as technical and more show-related. Until next time...

I'll see you all a little later...


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Non Omnis Moriar

Ah, there you are...

   No, the Strange and Frightening Sounds blog isn't dead yet, as the title says. (If you can read Latin, and no, we won't be talking about Phantom Manor in this post. It's just a phrase after all) It's been quite a few months since I last got around to writing an entry on this blog. A lot has happened since my October 2012 visit in the last entry, but for the sake of time and keeping up with what's going on now, I'll cover those events as briefly as possible. Let's start back in November of 2012, when I took my first Disney Cruise.

   I really wish I would have sat down and done a full entry or two on this while it was still fresh in my mind. All I can say is if you ever get the chance or opportunity to take a Disney Cruise, do it. For an amusement park obsessed soul such as I, the Cruise provided a taste of what a real vacation feels like. Instead of rushing around like a chicken with my head cut off attempting to cram in as many rides as possible, I sat and relaxed in a hot tub; where I could look down through the floor and see the ocean bellow. I when to Broadway style shows nearly every night, dressed up in lavish suites. I dined in the company of an amazing team of hosts and hostesses on the finest of cuisine. I visited the islands of Puerto Rico and St. Thomas; seeing the real life locations that inspired the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction's environments. At first, I wasn't sure how much I'd enjoy the cruise because it lacked amusement attractions, which is what I always base my vacations around. By the end of the week though, I was dreading having to disembark from the Disney Fantasy; even though I knew an overnight (literary over night, with extra magic hours keeping in the Magic Kingdom park until 3:00 in the morning) visit to Walt Disney World was waiting ashore.

   Of course, the vacation can't last forever, so I had to return to my normal life for a bit. Of course, that was only for a few weeks. By the end of November, I returned once again to the most magical place on earth to experience Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party for the first time. I think it was during this visit that I really began to notice how great the condition of the Haunted Mansion was. Several things were missing, but I looked them over because part of me said that their demise wouldn't really hinder the ride overall. The sound for the Raven in tree next to the attic and the wolf in the graveyard were not functioning; and the pop-up ghost in front of the Phantom Five band was missing too. But other then that, the ride was looking better then ever. All the audio animatronic characters were preforming up to high standards. The ride sounded and looked great! I don't know if I can say the same for some of the other attractions.

   Over the course of 2012, I watched the condition of Splash Mountain get worse and worse. It's been reported by well-known sites like MiceChat that the mountain itself is falling apart due to an issue with the pipes inside that supply water to the live plant life covering the mountain. That tarp added over the loading area isn't just meant to block out the sizzling Florida sun; it's there to catch falling chunks of chic-a-pin hill. The audio animatronic cast has dwindled in size as more and more characters vanish for repairs and never return. The ones that remain are constantly acting up, and sometimes, not operating at all. Certain characters like Br'er Frog in the Laugh'n Place scene and the Porcupine in the Time to be Turning Around scene are never on cue with the rest of the singing and underline music, and seem to reset themselves mid-song; never actually carrying out their full loop. Certain speakers are way to loud, causing popping and static to degrade the sound coming out of them. As of this writing  the attraction is down for a nearly three month refurbishment. Hopefully, some of these issues will be addressed; but I'm still hoping that Splash will be the next candidate for a year or two long refurbishment, similar to the ones that both American versions of Space Mountain have received. It's desperately in need of it, especially if the mountain really is falling apart as many sources say it is.

   As for Pirates of the Caribbean at the Magic Kingdom, I can safely say somebody heard my complaints. They have been constantly trying to repair the condition of the attraction since my ravaging rant last year about the ride's quality, story and show issues. The Pirates are looking as good as they have in recent memory, although it's clear that the cuts in maintenance over the years have taken their toll on the Magic Kingdom version's cast. Somebody seems to be taking my personal issue with the quality of the musical trio of pirates to heart. I can see the improvements in their range of motion over the past few visits; although I still say replacements are in order whenever the funds are available to do so. Compare the Walt Disney World trio to the other three versions of the musical marauders from the other versions of the attraction around the globe in the images bellow. Maybe you'll see why I complain about them so much:

   The Very Merry Christmas Party was pretty cool. To see the snow on Main Street was neat, even though I was wearing shorts and a short sleeve t-shirt. The great thing about these special ticket events is the lack of lines everywhere. You can't beat walk-on's to Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain, which are a rarity at any time of the year. I was pretty spot on with my guess that I'd enjoy it, but it wouldn't top the Halloween party; but that's because I'm more of a Halloween type of person.

   This brings us into January of 2013. After surviving the impending Mayan Apocalypse and enjoying another 13 Days of Christmas event, the time came to make one last visit. My annual pass is nearing it's expiration as I write this... I just returned about two days ago, so this visit is fresh in my head, but I won't linger on it for too long. After all, with so many visits in such a short span of time, what more is their to talk about? Those missing elements in the Haunted Mansion returned. Instead of a Droopy Eyes pop-up (see image, Droopy Eyes is the one to the left) in front of the Phantom Five band, we now have a Mister Winky (the one to the right) with an ear-ring. The extra Droopy Eyes pop-up switched places with the former location of this particular head, over by the crypt featuring arm holding the trowel. The sounds for the Raven and Wolf are back; but the Raven has been drastically turned down in volume, which isn't an issue as he's been too loud for years.

   There really is a lot more I could cover about my recent visits, but if I cover one thing, I'll feel like I have to cover another, an so forth. So we'll leave off here. I've had the most amazing year owning an annual pass. The 14th is going to be a terrible day for me, but I know deep down that I'll return to the most magical place on earth someday. Just not in a few weeks as has been the norm for me for the past year. I've got plenty of non-vacation report entries I've been dying to write. So keep up with the blog, because we're only just getting started...

 Hurry Back...