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Monday, May 22, 2006

I Done Went To Disneyland

Yep. I done done it.

I happily went to the Happiest Place on Earth - or the happiest place in Anaheim - this weekend with a Friend On The Inside - a Disney employee. He was able to say the secret password which got us into the park for free and got us discounts on everything in the park.

Yes. Discounts! Oh, such happiness!

So a $6 hotdog became a $4.50 hotdog. But I don't mind paying $4.50 for a hotdog, when I'm saving a $300 admission price.

I exaggerate - as is my custom. The Disneyland entry fee is nowhere near $300. It's actually $200...per person.

I exaggerate again.

It's not really $200 per person.

It's $79.00.

And I'm not exaggerating. No, not this time.

True, if you're not old enough to go to the restroom by yourself it is cheaper. But I am old enough to go to the restroom by myself - and have been for two or three years now. I'm happy to have not had to spend that money.

But that $79.00 does admit you to both amusement parks.

Yes, BOTH parks.

Disneyland has a new companion park. "California Nightmare" it's called - or something like that. It's entirely devoted to providing you with the experience of going to Los Angeles - Hollywood specifically - without having to perform the upsetting and unpleasant task of actually having to go there. Any tourist who has actually spent a day on Hollywood Blvd. will tell you, "This wasn't what I expected. It's a bit of a let down. I got jabbed with a dirty needle."

There has been a concerted effort to turn Hollywood Blvd. into a more tourist-friendly avenue - or boulevard - with some success, but it's been an uphill battle. Disney's "California Land of Horrors" gives you a Hollywood Boulevardish experience that preserves - maybe "conjures" is a better word, as there really is little there to preserve - the illusion of Hollywood glamour. The park presents a clean, crack- and booze-free row of shops and eateries, utterly absent of cars - or bikes, or anything with wheels - where Raymond Chandler and all his wretched kind have been exterminated forever...

...or have they?

Lurking at the back of this nausea-inducing pseudo-H'wood is one of the few "California Adventureville" thrill rides. As you turn right on Sunset Blvd." - which is impossible in real life, but in this freaky Disney-universe Sunset Blvd. is perpendicular to Hollywood Blvd. - you are struck by the sight of a large decrepit hotel - taller than any hotel actually in Hollywood. And from this hotel, you hear screams - hideous human screams of terror! There's the Hollywood I know and love!!

The "hotel" houses a very good - and scary (hence the screams) - free-fall ride with a Rod Serling "Twilight Zone" theme. The Tower of Terror, it's called. Standing in the long line to board the ride you are invited to contemplate a crumbling, cobweb-ridden hotel lobby which certainly was modeled on the lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel, the venerable Hollywood landmark just west of Disney's El Capitan Theater (in the theme park, the El Capitan only appears in a background painting - apparently that is one part of Hollywood that Disney would prefer you visit in person).

"Barton Fink" is one of my favorite movies about Hollywood, and what Disney has done with the Tower of Terror is create a fine Barton Fink ride - Hollywood as decay, delusion, addiction, the cracks wallpapered over but always there. Even the ride operators' magenta bellhop costumes remind you not of "Hey, welcome to Hollywood! You're going to be a star!", but of Steve Buscemi's bellhop character, "Chet", who repeats his awful name ad nauseum. Then writes it down for the newly arrived Barton Fink. Then underlines it.

The Tower of Terror saves Disneyland's "California Adventure" park from being an obscene tourist trap and turns into a work of art.

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That witch is too scary to stand next to. You're my hero.

- By Blogger djn, at Mon May 22, 10:55:00 PM GMT+1  

She used to scare the hell out of me when I was a kid.

She still does.

- By Blogger Neal Romanek, at Tue May 23, 12:01:00 AM GMT+1  

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