Sunday, June 17, 2007

Hurry Up and Wait

I walk faster at Disneyland. Lots of people do. It’s probably the one place where I walk much faster than anywhere else. There seems to be some magnetic super-force that pulls me into the park and commands me to get going, something I’ve been conditioned into since I was a little kid. Next time you’re there, look around and notice that all of the kids are running from something and/or to something, and there’s very little time to stop and notice all of the minute details that Walt infused into his dreamland.

But then, show up on the premiere of a new ride and you’ll see all kinds of different and interesting things, especially when you’re moving about two feet a minute toward the front of the ride with a change of scenery as gentle and gradual as a glacier.

I thought it would be fun to be there on the opening day of a new ride, and I’ve got a schedule that allows it. Kara didn't want to go, as she didn't want to waste three hours of her life waiting in line; plus the kids would have gone bananas standing around for something like that...but… I knew just the guy that would go with me.

Last Monday, I met my friend Tris at Disneyland so we could be one of the first—well, the first couple of thousand as it turned out—to ride the new Finding Nemo ride at Disneyland, an attraction that finally utilizes the hibernating Submarine ride and the fleet which was pulled out of dry dock for the occasion.

They updated the look of the subs, giving them a nice coat of yellow paint...unlike the military grey of the originals.

I like Tris. I like him for a couple of reasons: One is that he knows a lot of useless information (next time you see him, tell him your birthday and he’ll tell you Billboard’s number one song for that day, or give him a year and he’ll tell you the Academy Award line up…stuff like that) and it is fun to talk with someone who knows a little bit about everything, who is neither pretentious nor conceited about it either. The other reason I like Tris is that he’s punctual and he rarely forgets things. We agreed to meet at 1pm in front of the Downtown Disney Monorail Station, and as I pulled into the parking lot at 12:58, I saw him already trudging toward Disneyland. And of course he remembered to bring me a disc full of mp3s I had asked for…which I forgot that I had asked for them.

This is a panoramic shot I snatched while we were waiting in line. There was only another hour to go, but at least we could finally see what we were aiming at.

Monday ended up being a day of waiting. For whatever asinine reason, they were only running one Monorail that day, so we waited for about 20 minutes for it to show up, and we though we were smart by standing next to one of the gates toward the end of the platform, when actually, they were only loading people from the first gate. Then again, the station announced this fact, but we, of course, were gabbing and not paying attention; plus, with the large open canopy covering the platform, any announcements sounds like a Burger King Drive-thru call-box shouting out your order underwater. But also, when do general announcements ever apply to me? Hardly ever because I’m not an idiot. Look around during your daily activities: Warning signs, safety signs, and general announcements are designed for idiots who have no idea what they’re doing or where they’re going.

This light is is under the awnings they erected back in the day when they had two Autopias...and I mean new in that they probably put it there 10 years ago, but Tris and I debated for a good half hour on what kind of lights were there before this one. We concluded ugly florescent. I have several pictures of this light from different angles if you want to see them.

The Monorail dumped us off in Tomorrowland, which is nice because the Nemo ride and the Tomorrowland Monorail Station share the same structure and we figured we could disembark the Monorail and immediately embark the Nemo ride.

That turned out to be wishful thinking. When we came down the ramp of the station, we were thrown into the throngs of humanity, as every Disney freak and out-of-towner was amassed in a very threaded, sinuous well organized queuing arrangement designed to accommodate the heaps of humans. We started to make our way to the back of the line, and we walked and we walked and we walked all the way out of Tomorrowland, across Fantasyland to the entrance of It’s a Small World. That was the end of the line, and that’s where we stood.

These guys entertained the line and passersby for a while, a pretty cool rhythm group disguised as a maintenance crew with trashcans and drum sticks. Here is a video clip of their performance.

Twenty minutes later, we were still there, but as the afternoon wore on, the line soon snaked its way around the corners, passed the Tea Cups, onto the platform where they old boat ride used to be, around the side of the Matterhorn, across the walkway and through a number of switchbacks—sun’s in our eyes, sun’s not in our eyes—until we finally dumped out onto the outskirts of Tomorrowland where we trekked through about 10 switchbacks, each time getting closer to our goal.

This brazen bird had no fear of people as he continued to land on the railing down where the old boat ride used to be. I don't know what it is, but I could have reached out and touched it if I didn't mind having my finger taken off.
Just your average crowd shot at Disneyland. This was part of the line that ran back and forth next to the Matterhorn.

Along the way, we met and saw some interesting characters: The guy in front of us with his two kids (we ended up knowing their kids’ names well. “Page stop that.” “Colton come here.” “Page don’t eat that!”)… anyway, the mother seemed nice and chatty but the father kept exclaiming how a couple of strippers would make the line more bearable and every other word from him was the f-word, which seemed surprisingly out of context of the Magic Kingdom, espeically when you're talking with strangers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for swearing, but not when there’s kids around. We saw this globe of a lady with an equally rotund kid in a stroller stuffing his moon-round face with some kind of Moon Pie (how come pudgy kids are always eating?), and every time I saw her, I wondered how she was going to make it into the sub. If I remembered right, the seats are tiny (and I was right; they’re about a foot wide…put a ruler up to your pants and tell me how many seats you’ll need… I could have used two, and this woman was twice the man that I am!).

Left: This is the only instance of graffiti that Tris or I have ever seen at Disneyland, but notice what it says... some idiot couldn't spell Huey or Louie so instead he came up with Thuy... morons.

Right: One of the staff photographers was there snapping pictures of people in line and he made us salute like fancy-pants sailors. Note in my expression the high level of reluctance to look like an ass of a tourist... and why Tris is saluting with his left hand is a mystery. Maybe he was just blocking the sun. When the photographer used my camera to take another picture, he again told us to salute, and I snapped: "We're not saluting!" Hey, we had been waiting for two hours at this point... I almost slapped a kid for looking at me crooked.

After three and a half hours of following the guy in front of me, we finally made it on the ride, and I won’t tell you anything about it for fear of ruining some of the effects, but I’ll tell you this: The ride itself wasn’t worth three and a half hours, but the fact that we got to be there on the first day was.

Right: Yeah, bubbles! The ride officially started and this the view out of my little porthole, which I'm glad to report didn't leak like the old ones used to.

The afternoon swept in and we decided to avoid traffic and stick around a little longer… and the best place to wait out gridlock is in the wine cellar, naturally! Tris and I were the only two people in there for a couple of hours, and we each had a couple glasses of wine. It was the first time—besides going on the ride—that we had sat down all day.

So, I took pictures of everything… but as you can see here, they're out of order... it'd be a pain to switch them all around for the sake of chronology so just do it in your head.

Right: My view inside the submarine, down the long line of squished people. Luckily for us, a party of four left after discovering there were only three seats remaining ("What, the guy can't count to three?" I heard one of them mutter), so we could spread out a little. I would hate to have to stand all day long operating the ride, and you'd think they would have built in a seat, after all it's been 47 years since this ride first opened.

Left: This was the final home stretch, about 10 switchbacks between the Tomorrowland Terese and the Submarine Lagoon. Notice the platform with the cameras and lights. No doubt they were filming for some kind of promotion or news event. There were cameras and lights everywhere. I waved at one so you may see me on "The Wonderful World of Disney" Yipee.

1 comment:

Tris said...

It takes talent to salute with either hand. Just call me Ambidex-Tris.


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