Thursday, May 04, 2006

Come Aboard, We're Expecting You!

If you were to ask me "What is your favorite ride at Disneyland?" I would answer this way: You know when you come in through the turnstiles, and then merge left with the milling throng, you go through a tunnel under the railroad Station, and all of a sudden there you are on Main Street U.S.A. You look down the lane with Tomorrowland on your right, Adventureland to the left, and Sleeping Beauty's Castle dead ahead. Then you look down at the face of your son as he drinks it all in, and that's my favorite ride.
The worst part about that ride is that you can only do it once a day, at best. If you want to do laps on an attraction, I suppose you could time your visits to Space Mountain or Indiana Jones, but for me I would gladly queue up half a dozen times for The Jungle Cruise. If you have to ask why, you haven't been on the ride for several decades. Truth is, not much has changed on this ride in the fifty-one years. The fact that little if anything has been done to make the actual experience any more realistic is part of the charm. State of the art animatronics from 1955 aren't exactly state of the art anymore. What would keep me coming back? The patter of the boat captains as they navigate the treacherous waters of Orange County. The trick is to try and get on as many different boats as possible, and listen to the slight variations of the schtick that pours effortlessly from these intrepid cast members. In a place where irony is at a premium, The Jungle Cruise is a place where you can float in a sea of sarcasm and mockery. To Disney's credit, they have figured out that they have many more thrilling and diverting amusements, so to keep things fresh, they let their employees make fun of it. "Do you know what the difference between the crocodiles and alligators are? The crocodiles are made of plastic and the alligators are made with fiberglass."As the boat rounds a bend to view a pride of lions gnawing on a zebra carcass, you might hear, "Ohhh, don't worry kids. See, those lions are only protecting that sleeping Zebra. Look! It's Simba and Nala from The Lion King! [Singing] Can You Feel The Love Tonight."
Yes, I know this is not for everybody. There are charms to finding the places where you can make the skeletons tell you to sit down in Pirates of the Caribbean, or knowing exactly when to make the obscene gesture when your picture is taken on Splash Mountain, but this is comedy. In terms of jokes per minute, you could do a whole lot worse and still have to pay a two-drink minimum at the Laff Factory down the street. The best thing about being on the Jungle Cruise ride is that they never try to trick you into believing that you are any place but the Jungle Cruise ride - and as Bill Hicks used to say, "It's just a ride."

1 comment:

haywagon said...

Space Mountain vs. Liquid Space. Tough call. If you have a camera to try and take pictures of yourself while you're riding, I'd have to go with Space Mountain.