Infrequently updated blog of thoughts and feelings whenever I have time to sit down and write. It seems as though I have less and less time to sit down and write these days. That's why this page is static most of the time.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

L.A. Film Festival

Plans change rapidly here. Screenings sell out, Nathan changes his mind about what he wants to see, and I just make it up as I go along. I'm still devouring documentaries, but Nathan wants to see the sights. On Monday, we spent the whole day at Disneyland, waiting in line. Of course, since this was the first day that the refurbished "Pirates of the Caribbean" re-opened, that became our first priority.

I have only been to Disneyland four times in my life (the first time, I was 17, the second time when my son Alex was 3 and the last time when Alex was 6 and Nathan was 3). Nathan doesn't remember much about that trip, since he spent most of the time in our hotel room being very sick. He only got to see Disneyland briefly, and was too sick to ride most of the kiddie attractions. But surprisingly, he did find that some visuals in Toontown brought back memories from his earliest childhood. He remembered the Roger Rabbit cars, but has no memory of Captain Eo or throwing up in FrontierLand.

Pirates was an adventure in itself. A one and a half hour wait in line was rewarded with a spectacular ride. The attraction has been skillfully updated to include not only the musical score from the film, but also several animatronic reproductions of Johnny Depp's Cap'n Jack Sparrow and a remarkable appearance by Davy Jones. Word has it that the ride will be updated throughout the season to add new animatronic figures of Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightly.

It was noon by the time we had a chance to explore the other attractions. We walked right into The Haunted Mansion, since almost everyone else was still in line for Pirates. The line for the Indiana Jones Adventure was only 20 minutes long, so that was a great thrill. As we were leaving Indiana Jones, I discovered that the Jungle Cruise had been re-opened. The last time I was in Disneyland, the Indiana Jones attraction was still under construction and I was afraid that it would replace the Jungle Cruise entirely, since it was in the same location and the Jungle Cruise was gone. But my fears were unfounded. My favorite attraction from my first visit is back, and just as good as I remembered it.

Splash Mountain was something of a surprise, since I had never had a chance to see it before. It wasn't around when I was a kid, and the last few times I have been here, my children were too small to ride it, so this was my first opportunity (and because Nathan loved it so much, I ended up riding it three times, while he took four trips through it). What was most surprising about it was that the entire ride revolves around the environment of Disney's Song of the South, a film that the studio pulled from release almost a decade ago due to concerns about political correctness. Most children and teenagers today have no context for the ride, since the film cannot be seen (except through on-line file sharing technology and old VHS tapes or laserdisks). For those who are unfamiliar with Song of the South, it is a clever adaptation of the old Uncle Remus stories about Brer Rabbit, told within the framework of an idealized vision of a Southern plantation and its black and white residents. Uncle Remus is a slave who tells the Brer Rabbit stories to both the black and white children of the plantation. It was a technological marvel in the 1940's as one of the early combinations of live action and animation where the two elements interacted almost seamlessly.

We ended up staying until the park closed at midnight. We were both exhausted by the time the tram took us back to the parking structure and it was a very long drive back to L.A. We ended up sleeping until noon the next day.


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