And I probably better start with our trip to Disneyland on Wednesday, because there were new experiences to be had. Okay, so there was mostly just the one, which was Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout. I'm pretty sure there's supposed to be a colon in there somewhere, but I'm not sure if it goes before or after "mission" so I just decided to ignore it. I will point out, though, that the name of the ride is what gave us our first impression of "seriously, you guys with the lack of attention to detail." So the facade for the ride...okay, the concept is that the Guardians of the Galaxy have been added to the collection of the Collector, and all the tourists are going to go see them as part of...this tourist attraction thing he made by putting his collection on display. In fact, I think he was going to explain that, but got interrupted. More on that later.
So basically you're going to the Collector's...hotel, or whatever it is, to go see his collection, but Rocket has escaped and he's going to break them all out. So the sign for the ride has it look like this fancy event that you're going to, where it says "Guardians of the Galaxy," because that's the main attraction. But underneath that, it has "Mission Breakout"...where half of it is in the logical font (for lack of a better word) of Rocket having slapped it on there in red paint, but the other half is still in the fancy text as if it's part of the original sign. It doesn't make any sense.
Other than that, most of what we saw seemed pretty well done (except for another thing Athena is pointing out to me just now). We didn't actually go on the ride. I mean, are you kidding me? It shoots you up and drops you down thirteen stories. But Gaston wanted to go on it, and he doesn't like to do things by himself, and we wanted to see what it looked like inside the building, so he took advantage of our company and we took advantage of his wanting to go on the ride, to make it ever so slightly less awkward when we got to the loading area and the cast member said, "How many in your party?" and we said, "Oh, we're not actually going on the ride. Can you show us the way to the exit?"
So I will now describe to you the queue area for Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission: Breakout. It starts outside...or it does if you're in the standby line, which we were because it was early enough that the line wasn't ridiculous yet. The cue winds through a courtyard, which is surrounded by pieces of Tivan's collection--specifically plants. More specifically, aloe plants, because we're guessing they wanted things that looked weird and could survive on low water. (Disneyland's being super water conscious. They even just installed some astroturf by the tram stop.) Not all the plants were aloe, but most of them were. And we know this because each item in the collection has a little plaque with its name and a short description. And this is where they really got us--the name was written both in English and in the fake alphabet that they made up to represent whatever one language Tivan decided was the second most superior over all the other languages he's come across in his journeys through the universe (which was still so remarkably close to English that it clearly came from a culture that spoke fluent English but had a different writing system). The E looked like the kanji for eye, and there was another letter that seemed to have the symbol for Ohm in it. So we had fun teaching ourselves the alphabet and trying to read the inscriptions everywhere that didn't have an English translation.
Once we got inside, we got to see the truly "unique" pieces of the collection. This room was the best and worst part of the line at the same time, because there were like a million things to look at already, then they had a big video screen that had a ton of different things going on, and worst of all, that's the part where the line moves fastest, so there was hardly any time to look at all this stuff they clearly put a ton of effort into. There was a creepy cocoon thing where the plaque said Tivan didn't want to harm the creature inside it, so they just took the whole thing. There was a golden retriever that was actually an animatronic figure so it moved and looked very sad. It broke my heart, because you could see the paw prints and scratch marks it put there when trying to get out. I definitely think there's a bit of a sadistic streak in all of these edgy entertainments. And those are the only two things I remember seeing before we got to the next room. (Athena says there was something that looked like Ultron, which does ring a bell now that she mentions it.)
As for the video, we happened to get there right as Tivan's little servant girl was saying, "Welcome to the..." something Tivan collection or whatever they called it. Like I said, there was a lot to see, so I wasn't exactly riveted to the video, but I did manage to glance up at it just in time to see a piece of Tivan's collection that looked remarkably like Stan Lee asking if he could get his parking validated. As we waited for them to let us into the next room, we got to watch the part of the video that had the Guardians of the Galaxy arguing about stuff. They were noticing the electronic displays on their cages that let all the tourists know what that item of the collection is, and they were commenting on what they all said. Like Gamora's said she was whatsisname's daughter, and she got all mad and yelled, "I am NOT his daughter!" and she kicked the wall. Groot responded to something with his usual, "I am Groot," and Quill noticed the display come up right then and said, "According to this, you're [don't remember] colossus," and tiny Groot got all mad and said, "I am GROOT!" I admit, that was pretty adorable. And finally, the major punchline. Rocket was listed as a "pet rodent." I don't remember the banter surrounding that, though, because then they let us into the next room.
And this is the part that doesn't quite make as much sense again, but it might have if we had been listening to the cast members instead of the Guardians of the Galaxy arguing with each other. We were in the back of that group, so our attention was easily divided. But suddenly the people in front of us all raised their hands for some reason, which we gather from later information has something to do with a scan for access into whatever area you want to go into. This particular area was supposed to be Tivan's office--"private" office, in fact. But if he's letting thousands of tourists go through it a day, we're thinking it's not all that private.
So they let a certain amount of people into the office, and the cast member comes along and says something about getting a transmission, but we might get a visit from a special guest. The transmission was from Tivan, and the dude was working for Tivan, so I think his loyalty is questionable, because he knew who the special guest was going to be, and definitely acted like he was in league with him. And that leads me to the question: if Tivan's own staff is working for the Guardians of the Galaxy, what in the universe does Rocket need our help for? I really think the cast members would be in a better position to help.
Okay, so Tivan is beaming in to explain the whole tour that we're about to embark on (or that Gaston was about to embark on), but he doesn't get very far before you start catching glimpses of raccoon tails and paws in the shelves above the entertainment system. Finally Rocket manages to mute the transmission, and then he pulls up in fully audio-animated animatronic beauty, to give his explanation of what's really going to happen. We didn't go on the ride, so I couldn't say how it actually works, but I'm guessing that once you got to a certain part, he told you to raise your hands for scanning, and then he was going to do his thing to break everybody else out. And this is another confusing part: how does Rocket know we're all willing to help him. One would assume we wouldn't even be there to begin with if we didn't have some interest in seeing Tivan's collection, and while there probably would be some protesters and activists, and maybe even a few who were bold enough to be there casing the joint to formulate some plan to help the captives, you would think that the majority of them (at least the ones being let into Tivan's "private" office) were legitimately just there to see the collection, and some of them might even be big fans of Tivan or loyal to him for some other reason, and would be horrified at the idea of stealing his entire collection. But Rocket makes no attempt to make his case; he just assumes we're all going to help him. Okay, raccoon boy. Whatever you say.
I will say, though, that the fully animated Rocket animatronic did look pretty darn good. When it was just a paw or tail, it looked kind of meh, but the full robot looked good.
After Rocket tells you the plan and the cast member sees you off with a "Good luck, guys! I mean...I didn't see anything!" you go to a more warehouse-type area, and that's where you get to see Harold, the old abominable snowman from the Matterhorn before they upgraded it. And then they put you on the gantry lift, so we left Gaston and went to wait in the area where you can look at the pictures they took of you on the ride. We immediately noticed the "not" English writing in the back of the lift, so while we waited, we passed the time by decoding it. It said "Do not feed the creatures." We were very proud of ourselves.
Gaston did not oblige us with a detailed narrative about what happens when you actually get on the ride. All he told us was, "Rocket breaks you out and then you see scenes of the Guardians fighting the other monsters in the collection." So basically we're getting that it's another slightly interactive movie. He did confirm that the golden retriever was freed, so that's a relief at least.
And there you have it. After we got out, we spent some time trying to decode the writing on the gift shop window, but then a cast member came and told us what it said, the jerk. I told him, "Way to spoil the fun!" and he was kind enough to let us decode another inscription on our own. Then he told us a bit of trivia about some of the writing inside the ride. There are all kinds of pipes in the one area, and they're labeled with things like, "water," "acid," etc. Probably "spinal fluid," which seems to be a thing they're obsessed with. So apparently the guy who made up the alphabet was going around painting all the labels, and then there was a pipe that didn't have a label yet, so he asked the woman over him what he should put on it, and she said something about how just about everything in this ride is fueled by her tears, so he wrote her name "'s tears" on that pipe.
Later, we went to see Farley, and a couple of his other regular visitors had come by to say hello, too. So we all chatted until Farley's set time was over, and Gaston says to us, "What do you want to do now?" and one of the friends said, "Do you know about the trading cards?" and we were like, "???" and she took that as a no, and then she took us on a quest through the entire west side of Disneyland to collect these cards. At the first shop, she asked the cast member for the trading cards, and the cast member said, "You mean 'collectible cards.' We don't trade these." I think the main reason for not trading them, though, is that you can get every one of them for free, so what's the point in trading?
But what they are is a set of six collectible cards printed in monochrome on regular card stock and not glossy (the cards are free, so you can't expect Disney to make them expensive to make), each featuring one of the attractions that's been closed since they started work on Star Wars land: Fantasmic!, the Disneyland Railroad, the Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes, Tom Sawyer's Island, the Columbia, and the Mark Twain. They list the date each one is returning this year (Tom Sawyer's Island is already back), and the date they started way back when. On the reverse side of each card is a piece of a map of Tom Sawyer's Island. We were told it was the original map, but when we put it all together, we could see it was the map of the Pirate's Lair version that started around 2007.
So that was neat. And we also watched the fireworks. They've brought back the 50th anniversary fireworks show, which was the first one to use projections on the castle, only they've upgraded the projections so they're full color and fancier. They look alright, but I think they're more of a distraction than an accent now. Before, they used spotlights, so the projected shapes were the only light added to the castle, but now there are images on the entire surface of the castle. It creates light pollution that diminishes the fireworks, like looking at the stars from the city. But when they project ghosts on the Matterhorn for the Haunted Mansion sequence, it looks really cool. It's still a good show, and I love it because it was designed when they still cared about matching the visuals to the music, but something about this version had me less impressed. On the bright side, it means I don't have to weigh the options of beautiful firework show vs. avoiding the Madness anymore. On the not so bright side, this doesn't really bode well for the Fantasmic! "upgrades."
Well, I've been typing long enough, so I'll save all the AX reporting for next week. Today I'm thankful for getting to Anime Expo without much difficulty, having a lovely first day, reminders of the magical powers of lemonade, another good Bread Day haul, and getting to see the queue area for the Guardians of the Galaxy ride.