Monday, March 20, 2017

It Came From the Fandom: Disnerland

Aaaaarrrrgggghhh, I didn't want to have to do this again so soon, but stress and a busy schedule hit me right in the inspiration and I wasn't able to get a proper post ready in time. So here, have some more fan stuff!
This time the spotlight is on “Disnerland,” a Tumblr blog that spoofs Disneyland, Walt Disney, and occasionally Walt Disney World in the most quirkily specific way. What it does is, it translates the names of theme parks, themed lands, attractions, and even the wording of Walt Disney quotes into what I can only call “Disnerland dialect.” It's not lolcat-speak. The spelling is always correct, and so, mostly, is the grammar, if you allow that certain words change their part of speech in the translation. For example, the word “world” is always rendered, in Disnerland, as “global.” As in “all the global.”
Most of the dialect consists of weird, but somehow logical, substitutions like that. “Family” becomes “house bunch.” Thoughts, ideas, and imagination are all referred to as “head stuff,” while dreams, even the aspirational kind, are “sleep stuff.” Money is “coin.” The founder himself has been transformed into “Wald Disner,” and his most famous creation is “Man Mice.” It's absurd, but the absurdity is methodical enough that you can pick it up quickly.
It's also dripping with affection for the thing it's parodying. Disney parodies are almost embarrassingly common, but finding one as adoring as this is extremely rare. No one who actually felt any hostility toward Disneyland would bother to create such a pervasive jargon for their snark. No one aims sincere mockery at Space Station X-1 or the Tomorrowland Art Corner or the entry plaque. (For one thing, before you can make fun of something you have to know about it, and only dedicated fans of Disneyland are instantly familiar with all those long-extinct attractions.) No one would go to such effort to erase the lettering from attraction poster after attraction poster, match the fonts, and replace it with the aforementioned jargon, unless they enjoyed spending that kind of time with those posters.
More to the point...Disnerland isn't actually saying anything negative, or even wry, about Walt Disney and the Disney theme parks. There are no jokes about Walt's supposed anti-Semitism, how expensive the parks are, or how unsuccessful California Adventure (“Disner's Cooltown Vacay”) was at first. It's just posters, quotes, and ads, run through the Disnerland dialect filter but otherwise unchanged.
But I've rambled enough. Why not click the link up top and see for yourself?
I would.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Second Sense: The Townsfolk of Main Street, USA

Main Street, USA is themed as an idealized 1900s American small town, where everyone knows everyone else, children respect their elders, and folks are happy to help each other out in a time of need. You know...the kind that probably never really existed, at least not to the extent our national nostalgia supposes. But either way, you can't have such a town without the townsfolk.
Who are the residents of Main Street, USA? Are they just the Cast Members that we see manning the shops and eateries? You could take that assumption for granted and stop there, but if you did, you'd be missing the fascinating meat of the story. There are a number of small (but highly important to those involved) dramas playing out right under our noses in this town. You'll never find them if you merely look for them.
You have to listen for them instead.
Your two main sources are the party line telephones in the Market House, and the second-story windows of East Center Street. Pay attention, note the instances of recurring names and concepts, and you can get...not a complete picture, by any means, but some interesting—and potentially alarming—connections start to crop up...

Monday, March 6, 2017

Armchair Imagineering: Escape From the Shadowman!

I've inspired myself! It happens sometimes—spend enough time spitballing ideas, and one of them is bound to stick to the wall. While writing last week's post, I liked my sketchy idea for a dark ride based on The Princess and the Frog so much that I decided to develop it in more detail. It's a pity I was sick a few weeks ago and had to do a filler post, or this would have come out just in time for Mardi Gras, but we all have to play the hand we're dealt.


Dr. Facilier has turned us into frogs because...reasons! We must escape his shadow-minions through the Louisiana bayou and return to New Orleans before midnight on Mardi Gras because...also reasons!
Obviously, this ride concept references the plot of The Princess and the Frog in only the broadest of strokes. I keep saying that the best rides are those that focus on the guests rather than making them passive observers to a narrative, and I stand by that. We're not here for Tiana and Naveen. We're here for us.
You'll see what I mean when I get to the details of the ride itself.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Imagineering Theory: Princess's Interesting Dark Ride

Last week, I noted that there are actually very few Princess rides in the Disney theme parks (because it's hard to make a good ride out of a love story) and then did a little analysis of the two that do exist in the Disneyland Resort: Snow White's Scary Adventures and The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel's Undersea Adventure. This week, I thought it might be fun to follow up on the first bit. Which Princess movies would make good dark rides? How best to translate the themes and settings of a given movie into a quality ride?
It promises to be an interesting intellectual exercise, at any rate, so let's get going!

Monday, February 20, 2017

After-Action Report: A Tale of Two Dark Rides

Much to the delight of little girls (and often the chagrin of their parents), Disneyland features what might charitably be called a lot of Princess content. There’s the Castle, of course, with its walkthrough attraction. Several shops focus exclusively on Princess merchandise from dolls to costumes to stationery sets, the Princess movies are favorites for abridging into stage shows, every parade has a Princess unit, and the Princess character meet-and-greets eventually got so popular that an entire sub-district of Fantasyland was built around them.
But you know what the Disney Princesses don’t get very many of? Actual rides. And this is true not just of the Disneyland Resort but of Disney theme parks as a whole. Seriously, how many rides centered on a Princess character can you think of? Like, three, right?
This may be because for all their popularity and grandeur, the Princess movies are not ideal for conversion into rides. Remember the cardinal rule of good attraction design: Put the Guests in the Center of the Action. Most of Disney's Princess films actually don't have a lot of action per se, focusing more on an internal journey (falling in love, discovering self-worth, etc.) than an external one. Show someone a movie, letting them spend upwards of an hour getting to know the main character, and you can usually get them to go along with an internal journey. But a theme park ride rarely affords its participants more than about ten minutes to absorb its content—nowhere near enough time to develop a sympathetic bond with a character, even if they weren't distracted by the physical presence of it all.
Nowhere is this clearer than in comparing the two Princess rides that can be found in the Disneyland Resort. One the one hand, we have Snow White's Scary Adventures, the classic that does it all right, bizarre points and all. On the other, we have The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel's Undersea Adventure,* the newcomer that falls flat in so many ways.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Armchair Imagineering: Disneyland Merch That Should Exist

On this blog, perhaps more often than I should, I sometimes wind up speculating about Disneyland merchandise that I wish existed, from LEGO sets to plastic figurines to more LEGOs. Considering that I really can't justify purchasing a lot of the totally awesome goods that already do exist,* it's probably gross folly for me to keep imagining more, but you know, I just can't help myself. I'm not a terribly ambitious person, but if I can prompt just one person to post that Futurama meme—you know the one—it will be a point of pride.
Thus far, I have focused on Disneyland-based toys that I wish existed, because a) I am a giant nerd who never really outgrew toys, b) toys are usually not very expensive, whereas collectibles intended for grown-ups can be prohibitively so, and c) Disneyland and toys go really well together. The park sells gobs of plush animals and action figures and pretend weapons and children's costumes, some of which are even specific to Disney theme parks. For this post, I plan to branch out from that, but I'm kind of freewheeling it, so we'll have to wait and see what all I come up with.

Monday, February 6, 2017

It Came From the Fandom: Little Big Planet 2 Custom Levels

Well, folks, I’ve been sick this week. I haven’t had the energy and focus necessary to think of a good topic to write about, much less put in the actual work. So instead I’ve decided to roll out a new post category: It Came From the Fandom. As fandoms go, the one for the Disney parks is not the most productive in terms of creating content like fan art, fanfiction, etc….but it’s out there if you know where to look. Since I do know at least some of the places to look, from time to time I’ll share my findings with you.