BTW, you just gained a wealth of credibility by skipping the Jungle Snooze. Kudos on your superior foresight and park planning.
Disneyland's lift hill has stuff to see like Johnny Depp's final animatronic and the eyes in the tunnel, which fascinated me when I was a kid and still does today. I loved the final loop. I liked waving to the crowd to those waiting for the ride. From the crowd point of view, seeing people on the boat is more interesting than seeing empty boats.
I wish that Disney would throw in a fog effect as you come up the lift in the Anaheim pirates, to create a "coming to consciousness" moment that would delineate between the pirate world and the "real" world in the ride - like the drop does at the beginning. Just coming up that lift chain just seems so unfinished to me.