My family just came home from a wonderful week-long vacation at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. We are big Disney fans, and have a blast every time we go, but this trip we saw some new stuff, and actually learned a cool secret that I’m willing to share with you GeekDad readers, as long as you all promise to use the knowledge sparingly.
First, the interesting new stuff:
Disney is doing a very cool job of keeping their rides updated with new bits and pieces from the movies and shows they’re putting out. For example, we rode Pirates of the Caribbean. While some folks were dismayed by the updates that included Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow from the recent movies as a character on the ride, we’ve never minded. It’s a fun bit of cross-promotion that updates the ride to ensure newer, younger riders will still connect with it. Last time we rode it, there was a spot where the visage of Davy Jones (Bill Nighy in the movie) was projected promising dire fates for those on the ride. But this time, in the same place, we were delighted to see Ian McShane’s Blackbeard instead. Who would’ve thought Lovejoy would ever be on a Disney ride?!
Once we’d gotten rid of the boys (foisted off on their grandparents), my wife and I were able to go un-ironically ride some old-time favorites. Our number one fave is the Enchanted Tiki Room, of course. I’m so glad they’ve not tried to update that like they did in Florida.
But a close second is It’s a Small World. Yes, it’s about the cheesiest, shmaltziest of the old rides, but it still has a sense of innocent fun that’s hard to resist. And interestingly enough, it’s been updated in fun, subtle ways to make sure kids of the current generation will still connect with it. My wife and I were surprised and delighted as we noticed nods to certain Disney movies wherever the culture of one of the countries represented on the ride shared a connection. There was Alice and the Mad Hatter in the UK area, and Mulan showing up in the Chinese section, and even Lilo and Stitch in the Hawaiian part. It became something of a game trying to find the characters.
Okay, finally the secret. While this may not be that much of a secret to true fans, or that important to most tourists, we thought it was really cool.
World of Color is one of the big attractions at the Disney’s California Adventure theme park (adjacent to Disneyland). Think of the fountains at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas done bigger, and by Disney. It’s a really cool thing to see, and people grab space to see it hours in advance. We found a great way to see it, in comfort.
You see, one of the best features of California Adventure that’s different from Disneyland is that there are places to get beer, wine, and even mixed drinks in the park. In fact, there’s a lovely little bar called The Cove behind Ariel’s Grotto (a restaurant in the park) overlooking the lagoon where World of Color is presented. World of Color is presented at 9:30 pm most nights. Turns out if you stake out a table at The Cove by last call (at 8:30 pm), and pay a $10 per person charge, you can hold onto that table and chairs, and watch the show with whatever appetizers and drinks you have. Sure as heck beats standing in the crowds.