Friday, June 10, 2005

I Was a Space Alien, Snubbed by An Astronaut!

Weekend Assignment #63: Recount a noteable amusement park experience. No, it doesn't have to be about getting sick on that rollercoaster... although (heh) those usually are pretty good. It can be any sort of memorable moment: cute, scary, funny, nice, whatever.

Extra Credit: What's the scariest amusement park ride you've ever been on?

I can never tell just one story in response to John's assignments.  But this week I'll limit myself to two of them.  Well, plus the Extra Credit one.

The Enterprise and I were like THAT!Story #1:  I Was An Alien Preceptor

At Universal City Studios (Hollywood)in 1989, there used to be a show called The Star Trek Adventure (TM).  Before the multimedia show, Universal staff would pull people off the line to appear in a "new" seven and a half minute Star Trek episode.  Footage from the first couple of Star Trek movies (possibly just the second one), plus a voiceover by Wiliam Shatner, were combined with new scenes featuring the volunteer "guest stars" in bad makeup, okay costumes, decent sets, and a cliché-ridden script played mostly for laughs.

As I say, I was an alien called a "Preceptor," doing the usual thing mysterious and advanced aliens did on Star Trek: testing humans and their enemies to see whether such creatures are enlightened enough to be invited 'round to dinner someday.  The other two Preceptors and I did this by making silly guestures, including the old standby, "wax on, wax off."  I did not get a line, and it annoyed me that the director changed our gestures toward the end of our brief rehearsal, so that we didn't have time to learn the new routine.  I'm convinced that this was by design.  This show would not have been fun for the live audience if we'd actually done a good job!  But what the heck.  I had fun anyway. 

The attraction is long gone, of course, replaced by the much more ambitious, much better attraction at the Las Vegas Hilton, The Star Trek Experience.  I've been there, and was properly impressed.  But I'm still glad I did that silly thing at Universal.

Story #2:  Buzz Aldrin Tells Us to Buzz Off

the best place in the house to take photosNine years after the Enterprise incident, in 1998, John and I were at Disneyland, attending the opening of the "New" Tomorrowland.  Characterized by John (and a lot of other Disney fans) as un "unmitigated disaster," it replaced an aging but "fun" future with a postmodern wink at a Jules Verne future.  The Astro Orbiter had replaced the Rocket Jets, the Rocket Rods replaced the PeopleMover, and a preshow for the Rocket Rods (i.e., ten minutes of entertainment for an hour-long line) replaced the Circlevision 360 Theater.  Bronze and copper color schemes replaced the more futuristic white and blue and silver, even on the roof of Space Mountain.  I liked the Rocket Rods, despite the very long wait for a ride that was always breaking down.  But overall, it was really a downgrade of Tomorrowland, as ill-conceived and ill-designed attractions replaced the more dated ones I'd much rather see, such as the Carousel of Progress.  But I've already ranted that rant, so let's move on.

To celebrate Tomorrowland's "Opening Day," Disneyland invited a bunch of astronauts for ceremonies, photo ops and a VIP-only sneak preview day to ride the new rides.  The most famous of the astronauts who showed up was Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon.  When Buzz settled down for a chat with someone in a roped off area of Tomorrowland Terrace, John had an idea.  The great man was sitting just a foot or three away from where the public was allowed to be that day.  So after a brief discussion of finances and feasability, John and I made a mad dash to the Disney Gallery (above Pirates of the Caribbean in New Orleans Square), where we bought a reproduction poster of the classic 1955 Tomorrowland attraction Rocket to the Moon.  Perfect!  Aldrin had taken a real rocket to the moon, and now here he was in Tomorrowland, where one of the new items on display was  a rocket meant to look like the original attraction. (Unfortunately, it was only a giant decoration for a pizza restaurant.)  What a perfect thing to get autographed!

It's time to play "Spot the Moon Walker!"  Can you find Buzz Aldrin in this picture of the "new" Tomorrowland?

Buzz at Tomorrowland

But when we got back to Tomorrowland with our wonderful and expensive poster ($30, I think), Buzz wouldn't sign it.  Darn him. 

John has also failed to get autographs from Barry Bonds and Michael Jordan, among others.  "I've been snubbed by the best," he says.

Below: the poster and the guy who didn't sign it.
the best place in the house to take photos  Buzz at Tomorrowland

Extra Credit:  I'm not big on roller coasters and stuff.  Oh, I love Space Mountain, the Matterhorn and the Indiana Jones Adventure, but you'll never catch me on one of the seriously fast and scary coasters, the ones with "hang time" or that do 60 mph upside down or something.  Nope.  Not for me.

Honestly, the waterfall drop toward the end of Splash Mountain is right on the edge of what I can handle.  It wasn't until I'd been on the thing half a dozen times (not all during the same trip to Disneyland) that I finally managed to do the drop without involuntarily yelling a four-letter word. 

But the scariest ride I ever took was on Space Mountain at Walt Disney World.  It was probably 1986.  I was there with John, and he encouraged me to finally try the ride I'd been afraid of since 1976.  At the time, though, the ride vehicles were open toboggan-style cars with simple canvas straps.  A cast member got us in there in a hurry, and the car lurched forward before I was properly strapped in.  I was also too fat to really fit in the car with John very well.  I spent the next several minutes on my first "adult" roller coaster ride ever, in the dark, not quite seated  properly and not really secured in the car!  Heck, I'm lucky to be alive!


Take Me Back to Yesterland

Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Time!

"E" Tickets


Las Vegas: The Non-Gamblers' Experience

Haunted by the Mansion

New Year's Eve at Disneyland: The Lights!  The Trauma!


ondinemonet said...

Karen :)

You are a star!!! How cool is that?! I love it! You are so much fun to really are!

Always, Carly :)

mygr8creatures said...

If I knew you, I could guess Buzz was just scared if you seem as if you're from Arizona...oops, I mean an alien...Sometimes these things have a way of showing through even if we hide them :)  I imagine most astronauts would be scared of aliens. Really, his loss though.  You're a great story teller and wouldn't it have been nice if he could have had a more positive review in your journal!

plittle said...

A lot of celebrities are refusing to sign autographs these days, due to the advent of things like e-bay. They suspect everyone of having an ulterior motive. Especially if you are asking them to sign something that might qualify as 'memorabilia.' They are more likely to sign a restaurant napkin than they are a poster or baseball card.

ryanagi said...

Giggle! My brother was in one of those Star Trek productions at Universal...pretty funny! And I can't believe he wouldn't sign your poster! It's such a COOL poster!!! Pfft to Buzz! (Off topic...did you ever see the episode of Fraiser that he was on? Funny stuff.)

madmanadhd said...

Oh MAN you are SOOOOOO dang lucky! You telling me that you actually took part in the Trek Adventure before it was put out to space dock. GREEN with envy here. We are not Vegas people but hope to get there just for the Trek Experience at the Hilton. Maybe we'll just beam on over sometime.

So the Buzzmyster snubbed you guys, bummer! Maybe he was fearful of contamination? I've heard others rant about the disappointing "upgrades" at Disney. It has been years since we were inside the park although last November we were in town for a convention but couldn’t spare the cash for tickets. Had a blast at Downtown Disney, loved the night street entertainment.

Thanks for the stories, wonderfully told as always.

fisherkristina said...

Wow, you were in a Star Trek thing!  Too bad they messed it up on  you.
Poo on Buzz! -Krissy

onemoretina said...

  Hey, Karen .. My son got picked for the Star Trek Adventure at Universal Studios, too.....  He thought he had died and gone to heaven ! I think we still have that overpriced tape they sold .........Tina