Imagine an event so special, it's only taken place seven times over the past 46 years. The next three times it happens, it won't even be on North America. And I live only 34 miles away from it.
Yesterday, Disney's California Adventure opened.
Yesterday, I drove down to Anaheim after work.
I mean, c'mon, who knows where the next Stateside Disney Theme Park is going to be? And I'm sure as hell not going to Tokyo DisneySea in 2001, Disney Studios Paris in 2002, or Honk Kong Disneyland in 2005! But I'm here now, so I figured I'd go for it.
And it wasn't even crowded. At first I thought it was because I was there from about 9:30 pm - midnight. But now, after reading the reports (Orange County Register's "The great big, crazy crowds that weren't") I guess it was a pretty mellow day for the new park all around.
The park looks pretty good at night, too. I walked around the mostly empty streets (less crowded than I've EVER seen Disneyland - imagine Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in February, right before the park closes, but long after the parades and fireworks have ended). I took a few pictures. Y'know, so I can look back at them in fifty years and say, "Who am I? What am I doing here?" Er, wait, no. More like, "And this was opening day of California Adventure." To which my children and grandchildren will probably roll their eyes, and Daniel will reply, "See! He's ALWAYS been a Disney geek!"
Besides providing fodder for familial jokings, it was pretty cool to just wander around the new park on it's opening day. I bought a mug that says, "Opening Day" on it, and they were handing out maps that also said it. Sure, I assume that these will be available all weekend long. (Heck, they're available now on eBay) But I know I got mine on opening day. That's more important to me than selling it for a quick buck.
I also took the time to do an attraction that we had missed on our somewhat lame Employee preview a few weeks back - I did the "Golden Dreams" movie with Whoopie Goldberg. That was a bad idea, as it somewhat tained the magic of the evening with a sub-par attraction.
First, it seems that someone (Eisner? Paul Pressler, Chairman of Theme Parks and Resorts?), someone said, "Build us a show just like Epcot's American Adventure - but with one one-thousandth of a budget."
Hence, no audio-animatronics. It's just a movie.
And it's in a small theater, too. I was outside, looking at the building, thinking, "Whoa. This is going to be cool." I got inside, and it seats fewer than HALF of the MuppetVision theater. It almost feels like the pre-show area for a bigger, much more epic attraction. Oh, wait, no, this is California Adventure.
Oooh, but it has gut-renching realism - not everything about California is happy! Spanish missionaries broght diseases! Chinese railroad workers died! Japanese-American concentration camps during WWII! We done some bad things, but we're good people! Oh, yeah, Ceasar Chavez and his Mexican worker's rights - or whatever. Yeah, they do lots of sucking up to Minorities, in fact, I think the only White Guy is Jim (?) Mulholland, who made the aqueducts for Los Angeles. But he's all crusty and old.
Actually, White people ARE the minority now in California, what's it now - 49.9% White? Not that it really matters, but throw us a bone - at least Ronald Reagan or someone!!
Well, okay, I guess I was wrong - John Muir was in it. Wait, wasn't he in American Adventure, too? Yeah, they probably even used the same speech, to save a buck.
Come to think of it, this one also had a portrayal of Rosie the Riveter - though this time she was an Africian-American woman.
But the part they ripped off from American Adventure that upset me the most was the ending - they did that montage of clips superimposed against a sky of clouds. If they had used "Golden Dreams" (ironic, since that's the name of the movie and all) I just might have had to kill someone in Imagineering. Thank God they didn't.
The montage, though, is about three times too long. It covers everything from Rodney King (the first time that's ever been in a Disney Theme Park, I bet) to Tiger Woods to Kobe and Shaq to, my personal favorite transition - Ice Cube to Jerry Garcia. I literally laughed out loud, it was so random. First comes Cube, in that now traditional method of slowing down the film so it comes out all choppy looking, then he fades to Jerry Garcia playing guitar. Only in California!
And I guess that's the point of California Adventure. This ... thing, could only happen in California. No other state in the Union (with the possible exception of Texas) thinks of itself in such high regard. Noone would ever THINK to make Disney's Vermont Adventure! Disney's Kentucky Adventure! Only California thinks that they're so great as to warrent their own theme park.
Yet somehow it's strangely fitting, I think, that Californians need a fake reality of their own state.
Last Updated on: February 9, 2001
© 2001-2004 Joshua Paul Edwards
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