Monday, February 19, 2018

Unauthorized Fun: Lunar New Year Zodiac Tour

Last-minute inspiration, ACTIVATE!

I'm not joking about the above, by the way. I didn't have any idea what to write about this week until...sometime around mid-day on Friday. Yeah. But then I remembered that we just had the Lunar New Year, which has become a bona-fide Thing at the Disneyland Resort in recent years. The “official” celebrations can be found in California Adventure, where all the cool kids go for their multicultural fix, but this installment of Unauthorized Fun takes place on the other side of the Esplanade.
It's not because of Disneyland least, not entirely. It's mainly because there are just more animals over there.
The concept behind this unofficial tour is pretty simple: Cycle through the entire Eastern Zodiac by seeing a Disneyland attraction for each where said animal shows up, in case that wasn't clear. Just to keep things interesting, I decided to see if I could find a different attraction for each, because honestly? You could check off practically the entire list from “it's a small world” alone, and while that might be fun for me, because I adore that ride...most people are going to start squirming around halfway through the second go-around.
Since we just embarked upon the Year of the Dog, I'll set things up so we end there. Here's what I came up with!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Flipping the Script: The Matterhorn


It occurred to me the other day that I've probably attracted some new readers with my Tumblr assuming you're out there, welcome aboard! You'll get the hang of things around here pretty quickly, but to assist the process, here's a “cheat sheet” for the major kinds of posts I am in the habit of making.
When you see the After-Action Report tag, I'm reviewing and/or commenting on a current attraction—you could theoretically drop in on the Anaheim resort the next day to fact-check me. Sentimental Paleontology, by contrast, is for my thoughts on extinct attractions. (Get it? Extinct...paleontology? Get it? Dangit, I explained the joke. Never explain the joke.)
Armchair Imagineering is where I stash my detailed ideas for things that could be added to the park, in a parallel timeline if not this one. It is distinct from Imagineering Theory, which is more about the principles of attraction design.
With Unauthorized Fun, I offer potential ways to enjoy Disneyland that you won't find in any brochure. And then there's Kidnap the Magic, wherein I offer potential ways to take Disneyland home with you...that you won't find in any brochure. (This is how I label the posts regarding my themed parties, of which there are embarrassingly many, and my craft projects, of which there are embarrassingly few.)
In Source Materials posts, I examine how things and concepts from the real world are used to great effect inside the parks. On the other hand, there are also Beyond Blue Sky posts, where I pull out all the stops on my wildest fantasies, and the topic is often how things and concepts from the parks could be used elsewhere.
Huh, I never realized before how many matched pairs of topic categories I was setting up.
The last few post categories don't line up so neatly, however. The Second Sense is a tag I put on any post dealing primarily with in-park music (especially area music) and other audio. It Came From the Fandom is something I pull out when I run short of time and ideas—I bang out a quick post promoting a Disneyland-related thing from elsewhere on the internet. (We just had a nice example last week.)
And finally, the newest post category, introduced right near the end of 2017: Flipping the Script, wherein I propose a rough outline—more than an elevator pitch, but less than a full treatment—for a film based on an attraction that doesn't have one yet.
And that's what this week's post is! What luck!

Monday, February 5, 2018

It Came From the Fandom: Making Spaces

(The following is not a paid endorsement.)
This episode of It Came From the Fandom is a little different from previous ones. Y'see, the work I choose to highlight—the Making Spaces podcast by Ian “Skipper Ian” Kay—is not actually about Disneyland, or at least not exclusively, and maybe not even especially. But it is about theme parks, of which Disneyland is and likely always will be the Most Triumphant Example.* Furthermore, Kay has not only been blogging about Disney theme parks for quite a while longer than I have (I would also say more competently), but he is intimately connected to them in a way most of us will never be: he earned his nickname working as a Jungle Cruise skipper in Orlando. (He has since moved to Southern California, and Skipper, if you're reading this, we simply must meet up at the DLR one of these days.)
So Making Spaces is, like most of Kay's online work, about theme parks, and in particular their potential as a unique storytelling medium. There are three episodes up so far, with a fourth due to be posted any day now...aaaaaaannnnnyyyyy daaaaaayyyyy noooowwwwwwww...
Have a listen, and if you like what you hear, make sure to check out some of Kay's other online musings!

* TV Tropes term. Investigate at your own risk.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Armchair Imagineering: Let's Play Some Games!

Consider this a follow-up to last week's post about the singular Legends of Frontierland.
Legends was, for all intents and purposes, a LARP.* It was free to play and almost entirely freeform, with potentially infinite complexity once you got past the simple surface mechanic. It was group-oriented and loaded with continuity. The reward for playing was the game itself. And it garnered an adoring consistent player group.
The Adventureland Trading Company, operating at the same time, was almost entirely its opposite—pay-to-play, revolving around standalone prefabricated tasks comparable to scavenger hunts. There were no consistent characters to interact with; in fact you hardly had to interact with anyone in order to do it. The reward for completing each task was a nice little iconic souvenir. I didn't try this one, but according to those who did play, the souvenirs are great value for the cost, and you got the satisfaction of “winning” them, not merely buying them.
Each was well suited to its setting, of course—on the one hand, people coming together to community-build with few resources besides the various skills they brought with them, and on the other, individuals exploring in search of rare prizes. You might think of the two games as the ends of a least, it's hard to envision a game being more extreme in any particular and still being a viable theme park activity. So perhaps obviously, ever since the summer of 2014, I've occasionally wondered what games for Disneyland's remaining themed lands might potentially be like. Which lands are better suited to something in the Legends mold and which would be better served by something modeled more after Trading Company? What other permutations of basic game features would be possible? Is the Dilettante going to answer any of these questions, or is she stuck in rhetorical mode again?
Wait, what?

Monday, January 22, 2018

Sentimental Paleontology: Legends of Frontierland

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Disneyland is primarily a locals' park. Management may not like it—they might prefer a scenario where they can keep selling the same old thing to a new batch of rubes every week instead of constantly racking their brains trying to keep an experienced and therefore discerning crowd entertained—but it is what it is. If you ask me, it's for the best. Without the need to impress repeat visitors, would we have gotten the Indiana Jones Adventure with its three potential “treasures” and unpredictable vehicle motion? Without those picky Annual Passholders making up such a large percentage of the crowd, would there be any incentive to keep changing up the parades, fireworks, and live entertainment? If the average guest didn't know where the good off-property restaurants were, would Management bother to ensure quality food options inside the park(s)?
And sometimes, that drive to keep the locals enthralled produces results that are just plain...well, enthralling. Pure magic. In the summer of 2014, they achieved just that, and in perhaps the unlikeliest of ways, with a temporary attraction called Legends of Frontierland.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Kidnap the Magic: Another Themed Party Masterpost

(Continued from last week.)
In all my Kidnap the Magic posts, I haven't touched California Adventure once. So this should be interesting.

Disney California Adventure

The concept of a theme party celebrating California makes about as much sense as the concept of a theme park celebrating California...which is to say, it makes as much sense as you put into it. I have Definite Opinions about how California Adventure could have been a hit from the start, if only they'd kept in mind what they were actually building.* That said, California is still kind of a weird theme for a party...and a hard one to convey unless, like, you bake cookies in the shape of the state map or something. Making the theme of the party in fact a Disney theme park based on California just complicates matters further. There's no instantly recognizable set of icons comparable to the “Mickey Mouse + castle” I identified for Disneyland last week.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Kidnap the Magic: A Themed Party Masterpost

With a new year comes new calendars...and for many people, the activity of marking off portions of them for holidays and vacations. It is the former that concerns us today.
Under my Kidnap the Magic tag, I have offered several ideas for party themes based on Disneyland attractions, most of them keyed to specific holidays or seasonal events. It's been quite a while, because I ran out of suitably thematic holidays well before I ran out of possible themes. But I still want to fill in those gaps, hence this post: a one-stop shop for all your basic guidelines for planning themed parties based on the Happiest Place on Earth.
For each area in the resort, I'll outline a few different aspects. Themes refers to party themes, not park themes, and basically boils down to which section(s) of the big-box party store you should scour for decorations and the like. These are often seasonally specific, but no worries—it's not unusual to be loved by anyone for a large store to stock some of everything year-round, and a whole lot of whatever is coming up soon on the calendar. Food and Music should be pretty self-explanatory. And finally Disney Movies you can tap for imagery, party entertainment, or other inspiration, covering not just those movies which actually tie in to the local attractions, but also those with a similar setting or vibe. Unusually for me, I'll address both animated and live-action films, because not to do so...would be pretty silly, as we'll see.