Tag Archives: disneyland

Lines: Leveling Up at Disneyland

22 Jan
Fun Phones not operating sign in Toontown

I think not

Embarrassing but true: On my day trip to Disneyland this week, I was more excited about using the Touring Plans Lines app on my Droid than riding the Matterhorn.

Here’s the thing: I’d only used Lines once since they’d added the gaming mechanics, and since I’d come down with a bacterial bronchial infection during that August trip to Walt Disney World, I spent far more time sweating out fevers and watching Phineas and Ferb than touring the parks. So, while I’d opened up the app a few times on that trip, I hadn’t really taken it for a spin.So, I was thrilled to receive a review copy of the new Disneyland version of the Lines app shortly before my planned day-trip to the happiest place on earth, in the middle of a business trip to Southern California. I knew that the advice on wait times that the app provides would be less crucial on a chilly Wednesday in January than on peak times in the park, so was mostly stoked about leveling up a time or two, and earning a few badges on the way.

Fun Phones in Toontown

My Droid + Lines > Toontown Fun Phones

How it works: Within the Lines app, you can view current estimated wait times for all attractions in the park, and post wait times based on your own experience. The wait time estimates in the app are developed through 10 years of historical data gathered by the Touring Plans team, plus user-reported times gathered through the app. And it’s these user-reported wait times that bring the gaming mechanisms into play: As you report wait times, you can level up by reporting increasing numbers of wait times, and earn badges by reporting times for specific attractions, combinations of attractions, or times of day.

(My son had warned me that achievement-based gaming systems can lead to long boring stretches of nothing but grinding on menial tasks in order to earn badges. But if grinding can mean walking around Disneyland, count me in.)

Golden Horseshoe Revue

The view from my charging station on the balcony in the Golden Horsheshoe

A message board is built into the app, with separate sections for Disneyland Chat and Walt Disney World Chat. There seems to be a fairly healthy community of Lines fans hanging out in the chat most of the time, which came in handy when I had questions about the best place to charge a cell phone (Golden Horseshoe balcony, where you can charge up while catching a show), or whether there are any coast-to-coast badges that we bi-coastal park fans can earn (nope, but there are multi-park-in-one-day). You can also look at each users’s stats, and when you submit wait times, you’re told who the current “top submitter” is for that attraction. And as with most popular message board systems, there’s a lot of trip advice and social chat as well.

The user interface is quite good, with the occasional irritating glitch. For some reason, it seems to re-set to its home page whenever I slide out my Droid 2 Global keyboard, but that was easy to deal with once I realized I only needed the keyboard when using the Chat (and then simply opened it before drilling down into the Chat section. Everything also got easier once I realized that, if I just left the app on the list of attractions for the park, I could just click on the “+ Time” button in the upper right to be brought to a page from which I could select any attraction and report a wait time.

Mr. Toad and I

Meeting with a Research Associate

In addition to the gaming mechanics, another feature had been added since last I’d used Lines: You can now submit wait times not just from the posted time on the attraction, but also by timing your own wait using the app. This wasn’t just cool, it also allowed me to post wait times for attractions that didn’t have a posted time, or where I was sure the posted time wouldn’t match the actual wait (for example, a 10 minute posted time for Pinnochio was a walk-on instead).

I haven’t tried any of the Disney-sponsored phone apps, as (to the best of my knowledge) they’re not available on the Droid. But I suspect I wouldn’t enjoy them as much as the Lines app, since Disney wouldn’t be likely to allow as much un-moderated interaction among users as the Lines app supports (I do believe the Lines folks would clean up anything seriously wrong posted to the Chat, but they don’t seem to sanitize things as a general rule).

So, how did my day at Disneyland turn out? Well, I was right – a chilly Wednesday in January means very short wait times for most attractions, so I didn’t rely much on the app to guide my steps. In fact, I’d entered the park with the One-Day Touring Plan for Adults, but abandoned it after the first few attractions, since both experience and the Lines app were telling me wait times were short enough that the criss-crossing of the park which this plan includes wasn’t actually necessary under the circumstances. I rode every attraction I wanted to, sometimes two or three times, and even lost track of how many times I went on that wild ride with Mr. Toad.And my new Lines stats? I’m now an Unofficial Scholar, having submitted a total of 65 wait times so far. I’m hoping to level  up again next week; if I can submit another 10 wait times before this weekend’s trip to my BFF’s WeddingFest at WDW is over, I can get promoted to Crowd Specialist. Plus, I earned a few new badges, my favorites being Shrunken Ned (Wait times for every attraction in Adventureland) and Nowhere in Particular (5 wait times for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride).

Plus yes, I did ride the Matterhorn, and I have to admit it was more thrilling than leveling up. The fact that it’s got a working Yeti (unlike Expedition Everest) is a darn impressive selling point. But it’s a good thing I don’t have to choose between Lines and the Yeti, because it would be a close call.

Captain EO, We Hardly Knew Ye

29 Jun

Geoff Carter of Your Souvenir Guide takes us back to 1986 with his reminiscence of Captain EO’s opening night.

We cracked wise about Michael Jackson as the line rolled up Main Street, past the building that would become Star Tours (“Get ready for the ULTIMATE THRILL EXPERIENCE!”) and into the Magic Eye Theater, recently converted from the Space Mountain Stage. We talked shit about Michael Jackson even as we put on our 3-D glasses and the Magic Eye Theater darkened to an enveloping canvas of stars. We snickered nervously as Jackson entered the film and issued an unconvincing ultimatum (“We’re goin’ in”).

I don’t actually recall whether I ever saw Captain EO in the parks (though, of course, YouTube is my friend). I visited Disneyland just once during its run, in February of 1989, so it’s possible I did, and that the memory’s just slipped away like so many other odds and ends (was I really supposed to have already forgotten so many things by my 40s?). My then-girlfriend was quite the Michael Jackson fan, so I’ll bet we went.

Watching Captain EO today brought on the inevitable nostalgia for a time that never happened, a carefree and optimistic late 1980s. (Well, at least that time never happened for me.) And I do love the Supreme Leader, even if only because she feels a bit like an early (and unfortunately less creepy) version of the Borg Queen.

But I can’t quite support the petition drive to bring back Captain EO to the parks. No, it’s not just the fact that Michael Jackson has been accused of some horrible things….it’s the fact that the movie hasn’t aged particularly well, and I’d rather see Disney investing on moving forward rather than backward.

And really, when I reminisce about Michael Jackson, I wanna go farther back. The Jackson 5 ABC was the first real album I owned, and I can’t help but mourn a little for the way this glorious, golden-voiced child’s life (and death) seem to have turned out.

Matterhorn T-shirt Shoulder Bag

15 Jun

Based on anecdotal evidence I’ve gathered at countless thrift shops, I think it’s safe to say that a lot of people come home from Disney with t-shirts that made sense at the time, but quickly lose their appeal once the vacation is over. For some reason this seems especially true of Eeyore shirts, but I digress.

If you’ve got some t-shirts like that yourself, or if you’re willing to scavenge the thrift shops for other people’s purchases, there’s plenty of ways to transform a discarded t-shirt into something you’d actually like to wear.

Cashing in on the green and DIY aesthetic of books such as Sew Subversive: Down and Dirty DIY for the Fabulous Fashionista and Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt, Simplicity has a “go green” line of sewing patterns which incorporate re-purposed materials. I made the bag pictured below using Simplicity 2972, using a t-shirt I’d found in a local thrift shop, an old pair of jeans, and about $4 worth of interfacing and lining. Strictly speaking, it’s not a Disney t-shirt…but this girl grew up with Disneyland’s Matterhorn, you know what I’m sayin’? And amusingly enough, I just so happened to finish the project on the Matterhorn’s 50th birthday.

Matterhorn shoulder bag

Matterhorn Shoulder Bag Detail: Strap

Matterhorn Shoulder Bag Detail: Lining

Now, I do have a couple complaints about the pattern. For one thing, the packaging (of course) heavily stresses the “go green” angle, but only one of the five bags pictured is actually made from recycled materials. Also, while they tell you any men’s L or XL t-shirt will have sufficient fabric for the required pieces of the bag, this simply wasn’t the case. I don’t think even a XXL would have made it, as there simply wasn’t a long enough piece of shirt to cut the main front/back piece from. Instead, I needed to throw that old pair of jeans into the mix to have enough fabric, in large enough pieces.

But those quibbles aside, I’m quite happy with my bag. And actually I kinda like it with the denim in the mix, though making the straps was a little trickier than it would have been with jersey. (Also, the interfacing simply wasn’t necessary with the denim, which saved me a step or two.)

If I were to do this project over again, I’d likely use the t-shirt only for the flap, and perhaps use the rest of the t-shirt fabric as lining (more re-use, more better), using denim for the side pieces. I’m a bit concerned that the denim strap attached to the jersey sides of the bag may not hold up well over time, even with the interfacing to support the jersey. Or, I’d buy a couple t-shirts that color-coordinate and work well together thematically, and make the entire bag out of jersey (as Simplicity envisioned), but that would be a much slouchier bag than I prefer.

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