Sunday, April 22, 2012

Of mice and men

I think I understand America now. I think I understand why they would come to believe that their country is the best in the world. When it comes to the sport, the spectacle and the overall production of orchestrating thousands of spectators, food and excitement, they are second to none. I cannot help being impressed by the adrenaline and thrill when the local team scores a goal / home run / power play. At those moments it all makes sense.

Now that I am situated in California, I headed out to Disneyland for a day. Embarrassing fact: I didn't even realise that it existed until my colleague pointed it out to me. Even though I'm almost 34, I still have managed to retain my child-like wonder (some would say immaturity) so I relished the opportunity to go on all the rides and rekindle my childhood once more.

The first ride we went on was a boat ride through the 'dangerous waters' of Africa ... which translated to a few poor man's animatronics and little else. We were accompanied by a tour guide who had probably done this ride a few thousand times. He was probably one of the most grizzled, cynical and near-suicidal hosts I've ever come across. And he couldn't have been funnier. He brought a deeply sarcastic and well-worn Bill Murray impression to the Groundhog day-like proceedings. For every twist and turn he had been given a few thousand takes to perfect his stand up. I am unsure whether Disney would agree but I thought he was brilliant.

The final shows for Disneyland were amazing: synchronised audio, music, story, lighting, fireworks. So outside of the basic premise of watching a collection of explosions, a story had somehow been interwoven (themed by various Disney stories). Pretty amazing. This was followed by the show at the Disney's California Adventure (opposite Disneyland) that was a water show, with various streams of water synchronised to music - Bellagio eat your heart out. It also had various elements seamlessly woven together to produce one coherent experience.

And so, from the grizzled host to the impressive final shows, they showed an amazing ability to surpass simply showing off fireworks, water spouts or cheap animatronics. They were able to transcend their basic mediums so the basic elements became meta to what they actually wanted to show: the human spirit and the desire to do more.