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March 2000 Update
(posted 8/11/00)

This is a belated update, written in August 2000.

Work scheduled me to be spending a week in the Woodland Hills area of California, which is about 50 miles away from Disneyland. Due to traffic, though, the drive time is close to two hours. During the week, after my teaching obligations were done, a long drive was made just to spend a few hours in the park. For the weekend, a full Saturday was available and part of Sunday before driving back to fly out of LAX.

Not much had changed since my previous visit to the park. Rocket Rods were working again, and the new Tarzan's Treehouse was finally open. The Treehouse is structurally the same as the former Swiss Family Robinson tree, but branches have been redone to give it more of a jungle look. In addition, a new tree has been built away from the main tree with a staircase built into this tree and a suspension bridge leading over to the main area. The walkway that leads to the Pirates "overpass" goes directly under this bridge.

The new walkthrough is much more interesting than the old version, to me anyway. Hidden speakers throughout the tree play an instrumental jungle sounding version of the Collin's song from the movie. There are many scenes you walk past featuring figures of Jane and Tarzan. The first is the "bedroom" of the parents which has been torn up by the tiger, who is seen perched on a branch. At intervals, a loud roar is heard and a blast of air shoots out giving onlookers a scare. A baby cradle is suspended by ropes and a crying baby can be heard -- it's cry turns into a baby version of the famous Tarzan yell.

Other scenes include Jane drawing Tarzan -- a large tapestry against the wall magically sketches out likenesses of Tarzan (via a projection). There are several other scenes leading up to the ground level destroyed campsite "hands on" area which features pots to bang and make noise. An animatronic baby elephant is near the exit, and there is an area with various insects on display, including animated butterflies. (Did you notice they move their wings slowly?)

Critics of "classic Disneyland" have generally panned this attraction citing no animatronics, etc. but the new version certainly has more things in it than the original. As a small tribute to the former version, an old style record player churns out the Swiskapolka theme originally heard in the organ room. Overall, this new treehouse has many more details to notice and see meaning you can go through it multiple times before taking it all in -- something the original was lacking. ("Oh, look! A pillow on the bed I've never seen before" is replaced by "hey, I didn't see the shotgun shells on the floor before".)

The new 45th Anniversary Parade was okay, looking mostly like a Fantasia 2000 display. The music was slow and orchestrated, and no speakers (as far as I could tell) were on the floats. The floats look great, but it's certainly no Mulan or Lion King. Disneyland has done so many great things with parades it must be hard to do better each time. (Even the fairly lame Light Magic did have some awesome use of fiber optics.)

Over at the Haunted Mansion a book had appeared next to Madame Leota. The book seemed to change pages from day to do (possibly from the ventilation system or a cast member changing pages). Using a zoom digital camera you could almost make out what page it was open too. Also, two other hidden changes were made. In the ballroom, along the far back wall, you will see a table. On top of the table is... Aladdin's lamp. Rumor has it that one of the ballroom dancers is now wearing a dress designed for (or used in?) the Beauty and the Beast stage show. If you look carefully, you can notice the dress with all the extra ripples and the Belle-ish hair. I suspect that is the one they are talking about.

Construction on Disney's California Adventure continues, with parking still a mess. The new parking garage was still not open. Merchandise for the new park was in full swing with a cart just outside the entranceway selling T-shirts, hats, keychains, post cards, etc.

That's it for now, unless I can recall anything else to add later.

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