It's time for another Animate Your Night event up at the Walt Disney Family Museum. The theme this time? “Enchanted Tiki Oasis”. Jeans and I assumed it would be pretty cool – it's the 50th anniversary of the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland, so we figured that the event would be more or less themed around that ride. The website promised:
“Welcome to our tropical hideaway, you lucky people you! Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room as we team up with the Tiki Oasis gang for an adventure-filled night of Hawaiiana. Join Charles Phoenix for a time travel tour extravaganza with his Retro Disneyland Slide Show. Enjoy eats from Wexler's and other food trucks. Sip on exotic cocktails from San Francisco's own Smuggler's Cove, while enjoying special performances from the Maikai Gents, Uni & her Ukelele, and DJ Otto von Stromheim. Don't miss live velvet painting from Mikel Patton and enter for a chance to take home an original velvet tiki creation. Top your evening off with the Tiki Room's signature dessert, the Dole Whip.”
OK, awesome. Since Jeans had to work late at her summer job, I had to drive up to San Francisco by myself. I was slightly terrified, because I've spent nearly my entire road career avoiding driving in the big city. But it was time to put that behind me, so I put on the big girl pants and drove on up. It wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been, because traffic was rather light. Thank goodness.
(But I hope Jeans doesn't think I'm going to start pulling my weight behind the wheel. Oh no. That's not how this relationship works.)
So unbeknownst to me, Tiki Oasis is a big convention with a large fanbase. As a result, the museum was PACKED with fans of Hawaiiana and 1950s culture. On the one hand, this meant tons of people dressed in utterly adorable 1950s dresses, often with Hawaiian themes. On the other hand, it meant that it took approximately a million years to do anything because the place was so crowded.
Unlike our first Animate Your Night event, no food was provided. Sure, there were food trucks outside, but somehow that didn't seem nearly as exciting as men running around with snacks on trays. (On the other hand, I don't know how they would have gotten through the crowds.) There was a table selling Dole Whip, though, so we got into line for that. It's one of the must-have treats at Disneyland, after all! So we waited in line. And waited. Waited some more. It was just one guy and the line snaked around the room, so it took FOREVER. But eventually we got our frozen treat and it was almost as awesome as I'd hoped it would be. The flavor was slightly off – it wasn't true Disneyland Dole Whip – but it was close enough.
We wandered through the museum galleries on a scavenger hunt. Usually they aren't too bad, but this particular hunt was really difficult! Even when we asked museum staff for help, we couldn't find some of the answers to the questions. I think we eventually just fudged some of the answers with our best guesses, but we got a small pin with a Jungle Cruise boat on it, so we must have been close enough.
The guest speaker of the evening was Charles Phoenix. I'd never heard of him before, but apparently he's something of an Americana pop culture celebrity. Cool! His schtick, it seems, is collecting old slides – he finds them at thrift shops, garage sales, and the like – and from them, he has gathered a nice collection of old Disneyland vacation photos. He scans them into his own slideshow, and gives talks about retro Disneyland. It was hilarious! Not only was it really cool to see what the park looked like in its early years, but Phoenix had a running commentary on park features, fashion, and pop culture from back in the day. Plus, he's such an animated fellow that he's practically a cartoon character – appropriate for a Walt Disney museum, natch – and with a loud jacket, bow tie and perfectly coordinated shoes he was almost distracting, because you wanted to watch him as much as his slides.
The evening started out a bit slow, because of the crowds and the frustratingly difficult scavenger hunt, but the sheer delight of Charles Phoenix and his slide show made the drive totally worth it. I'm so glad we went!
The museum hasn't yet announced the next Animate Your Night. I wonder what the next theme will be...