Monday, October 08, 2007

I'm Back -- Vacation Notes

I'm back from a hectic vacation to Las Vegas, the most surrealistic city on the face of the earth, where I attended a friend's wedding, followed by a trip to the LA area where I met my youngest daughters and their four children at Disneyland and California Adventure, followed by a trip to Hollywood and the Universal Studios.

Some random thoughts:

1. Disneyland has expanded since the last time I was there, with new attractions and Disney's California Adventure park right next door. Both parks, along with Universal Studios, presented some totally incredible 3-D movies.
2. Splash Mountain is a simulated log flume ride, with a 50+ foot drop into water at the end. It was not for the faint-hearted, that's for sure, but I noticed that inside the "mountain", as you ascended to the final splashdown, you could see animatronic characters such as Brer Rabbit, Brer Bear, Brer Fox, etc., presented totally without context. Since the Disney Company took Song of the South out of circulation many years ago because of some negative racial stereotypes, particularly with the portrayal of Uncle Remus, the movie has never been released for home video (at least in this country), and no one reads Joel Chandler Harris any more -- and certainly not the Uncle Remus stories, I'd bet that probably 80% of the guests floating by were clueless as to what they were seeing.
3. The top ride in each park: Space Mountain in Disneyland (try to get a front car--I've been on the ride probably 13-14 times and this was the first time I got the front) and the California Screamin' roller coaster at California Adventure, complete with a rocket takeoff and a tight loop around Mickey Mouse's head.
4. Water World is the best show by far at Universal Studios.
5. The Terminator 3-D is way overhyped. It had some good 3-D effects, and the blending of live stage action with action on the screen was interesting and visually pleasing, but the overall effect was kind of blah, especially when compared with the 3-D effects in Shrek or A Bug's World.
6. In Hollywood you can now buy the traditional "maps to stars homes" with an added twist: The maps now include notorious crime scenes, such as the locations of the Tate and LaBianca murders.
6. Don't buy an expensive bottle of Scotch at a cheap California price and expect to bring it back with you on the plane. Fortunately I figured this out before I needed to know it, and sent my bottle home with my kids, who drove down and back. Unlike the guy I met at the Seattle airport, who managed to unload his own whiskey at 50 cents on the dollar -- to me, ha ha -- when he learned that he couldn't take it on the plane.

So all in all, it was a great trip and a lot of fun. I walked more in four days than I'd probably walked in the last four months, managed to drive 650 miles in a rental car, a little red Chevy that I dubbed "The Red Shark" in honor of Hunter S. Thompson, and didn't get arrested once.


Anonymous said...

welcome back phony soldier, you were missed!!

Jenn O'Neil said...

Glad you are back and that you had fun.