Earlier this month, the Cute Little Red-Headed Girlfriend and I went to the Disneyland Resort for the Official Unofficial Gay Day Weekend at Disneyland. We decided to stay at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel, a blend of Western architectural and decorative styles (rustic lodge, Arts and Crafts Bungalow, large doses of Mission) in oversized, Las Vegas-style proportions. Since we were vacationing less than 45 minutes away from our home, it seemed appropriate to stay in a hotel designed to be a simulacrum of the experience of living in our state.
Our first day was spent at California Adventure, the new Disney theme park that first gained notoriety among So Cal locals for how much it sucked. Some work was done to improve the park after that but the bad rep hasn't completely faded. It's definitely different from Disneyland--more edutainment than entertainment--but it has some great attractions like the Soarin' Over California ride, which was the closest thing to a virtual reality experience I've had anywhere.
I made a beeline for the Animation attraction, which I hoped would be different from but as good as the Magic of Disney Animation attraction at the Disney-MGM Studios in Florida. It actually comprised several attractions, including a presentation on Walt Disney's life and career as an animator, a synchronized live and animated presentation on the process of creating animated characters, an exhibit on character animation and a series of "interactives." The interactive area included hands-on examples of early animation technology and a karaoke kiosk that let you record your voice over an animated segment. I couldn't help but think of my fellow animation enthusiasts, like Steve Wintle (who has just left blogging) and Mark Hebert.
Disneyland was, as usual, nothing more nor less than the happiest place on earth. Sharing it with the Cute Little Red-Headed Girlfriend, who had never been before, was a treat. She fell in love with many of the rides, including the Enchanted Tiki Room, which I'm pleased to say is looking a bit sharper than the last time I saw it, when it was facing the possibility of forced retirement. I was surprised to see that graphic artist Shag had several Tiki Room-related items for sale inside the park, which are also available through his web site.
The Haunted House had been thoroughly renovated the day before with a "Nightmare Before Christmas" theme. It was really well done, but I had to wonder if the Disney folk hadn't been reading Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, which revolves around a similar Haunted House renovation. Art imitating fandom, once again?
Disneyland was crawling with queers, and nobody seemed to bat an eye at it. My favorite gay scene in the park was just outside the "Hungry Bear" restaurant, where we all gathered for an informal lunch. I stood in line behind five gay gays, all with roughly the same build as John Goodman, wearing mouse-eared hats embroidered with their names: "Mary," "Mary," "Mary," "Mary," and "Mary."