Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Blistered and Burned

Let me start by saying how excited I am to be in California today. I heard a radio ad for a jewelry store, advertising engagement and wedding rings for same-sex couples. Tomorrow, we're finally flying back to DC via Detroit (so I'll try to grab an octopus for Angie). On to the post-mortem on Disneyland.

  • Final thoughts on "The Happiest Place on Earth":
    • I like Walt Disney World better when it's all said and done. It's a lot larger and has a wider variety of things. Plus, they actually have real animals there.
    • Disney's California Adventure, the newer park of the two in Anaheim, is more your classic theme park with a real roller coaster and other such rides. I prefer Disneyland because it's much more unique.
    • I was dying to get there too early one morning to see if someone would say, "Park's closed. Mouse outside should have told you."
    • It's great that Disney envisioned a park where the adults and kids can both enjoy themselves. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's okay when the adults drag their kids, who want nothing more than to go to sleep and are screaming and crying to signify as such, around at 9PM to see fireworks after 12 hours or so at the park.
    • It really strikes you, as you ride the rides, how many of the early Disney movies are really badly disguised morality tales. On the Snow White ride, you learn how taking an apple from a stranger can put you in a coma. On the Pinocchio ride, you learn how eating too much candy and shirking responsibility can turn you into a "jackass" (the ride actually uses that word). On Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (I assume it's based on The Wind in The Willows), you ride around London uncontrollably until you blow up and go to Hell. Seriously, Hell. And don't get me started on how racist Splash Mountain is.
    • The amount of money that goes into the park is unfathomable. Their free Aladdin show is basically a lower-quality Broadway-esque show with big sets and special effects and a huge three-tier theater. The amount of planning is a whole different story. I'm sure that there are any number of college courses about how the parks are designed for maximum feel and separation of the different areas.
    • It's fun to people watch a little and see how many different types of people love Disneyland. This weekend was "Raver's Weekend", apparently, where a bunch of people dressed in all black with weird hair and jewelry descended on the park. It's really easy to be cynical about the whole thing, but if you let yourself, you can also easily get swept away.
    • Which brings me to the last point. The park was impossibly crowded today, our last day there. Some websites I found say that it's around 60,000 people per day this time of year. It was ridiculously hot as well. I was so ready to go home, but then I watched a special on the making of Disneyland and then a parade that featured characters from various movies. It was energizing to see these things I grew up with, to do a cool handshake with Goofy or take a picture with Mickey. It's so easy to get lost in childhood and never want to leave. That's the real magic of a Disney park and no other place can come close to duplicating it.
  • Your List Sucks!: Top 5 Rides at Disneyland/Disney's California Adventure
    • 5. Davy Crockett's Canoe -- I'm a sucker for something as cool as being able to actually paddle a free-floating canoe around a river, even if the staff has bigger paddles and really decides where the thing is going.
    • 4. Haunted Mansion -- I love the old Disney stuff. There's something about the cheesiness and the classicness of the animatronics and the music. This is true of the Tiki Room, the Pirates of the Carribean (minus the out-of-place Jack Sparrow stuff), and especially the Haunted Mansion.
    • 3. Twighlight Zone Tower of Terror -- I had never ridden it before, so I didn't know what to expect. The special effects are cool, but the ride itself is a huge rush. You look out over the entire Caliornia Adventure park... and then you're falling 13 stories.
    • 2. Toy Story: Midway Mania! -- I give it props because it's the newest ride, opening up tomorrow. We got to preview it a couple of times over the weekend. You sit in a car with someone else and go from screen to screen, using a gun to play different midway games, while a computer keeps your score versus your partner's. It's not anything that I haven't seen a million times on a Wii, much less Duck Hunt, but it's different from anything I've seen at an amusement park.
    • 1. Space Mountain -- It's just fun. The excellent music, the darkness, the speed (which tops out at only 28 MPH, but feels so much faster). It's all you can ask for in a ride -- pure fun.

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