austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Or am I needed here?

Chessington World of Adventure has live shows. At least a live show, anyway. That's The Penguins of Madagascar Live: Operation Cheezy Dibbles, based on the Penguins who were part of the extremely popular series of short videos showing the flat-screen TVs at the store were all working. When we were younger bunny_hugger and I were indifferent to the live shows at amusement parks; now, we're more interested.

The show would have the taste of mass-marketed entertainment slathered over it more obviously than did the shows at Cincinnati Coney Island or at Waldameer. Those might have been written by the Amusement Park Live Show Central Command, but they at least had to have the names of local park mascots plugged in. Here, the show starred the Penguins plus what I guess is a regular bad guy from the show, some tall-foreheaded mad scientist who's part octopus or can change into an octopus or something. But what the show loses in home-grownedness, and in being full of the kinds of references that marketing tells management are the sorts of subversive wacky antics all four sectors love, it picks up in having professional voice actors doing the voices, as well as in having costumes and special effects of a higher quality.

Particularly, the costumes were able to do some neat metamorphosis tricks. The mad scientist reveals his octopus side in a flash, live on stage. His jacket had been bundled tight around him, for the popular cartoon ``marshmallow on a stick'' body type. On cue that unfolds and flops out into a bunch of tentacles and this makes for a pretty solid effect. As part of the mad scientist's scheme to uglify the world he zaps the Lead Hero Penguin, who gets uglified on stage. The main trick of that is done by his right wing expanding into an inflatable scorpion claw; while the audience is dazzled by that he turns around and stage minions (dressed as I guess octopus women, though not as elaborately as the mad scientist) run up and velcro on googly eyes and a long tongue and some disturbing-looking green sores. It's a great effect and I expect to see inflating and deflating limbs appearing at furry conventions in the near future. Anyway, all ends with everybody de-uglified and there's a bunch of dancing and that's that.

Almost the last thing we would get to --- the park only closed at 5 pm, incredibly, for an early summer Friday --- was the monorail. This was also the hardest thing to find because while it wends through much of the park there's not much hint where the station was. It turned out to be from the castle at Market Square. We also had an odd last-minute delay as for some reason the monorail car we were waiting for had to go out empty; there was some muttering about something being tested, which was as much explanation as we'd get.

But the ride would give us the chance, first, to see much of the park from higher up; and second, to see more of the animal exhibits. We hadn't had the chance to get to the Sea Lion Square, for example, or the areas with large birds or their fossa, large cats, capybaras, or the like. We stil wouldn't get good views of them, since we were on the monorail, but we got to see them at all. Also to see the Aztec Temple hotel that's just off the park, and some of the bungalows where staff stay, according to the prerecorded park tour guide messages. It's a handsome park, and viewing it from above just emphasizes how good the place looks.

The last thing we got to was a final go-round on the Vampire, and the chance to prowl around the gift shop. Sadly the park didn't have what we'd really want, ride shirts or park shirts that we could wear back in the United States to mark us as oh Lord dear those kinds of people to amusement park ride operators. European amusement parks don't have adult ride shirts the way United States parks do, more's the pity.

But that all closed out the park, and we walked as slowly as I could get away with to the exit. There I noticed finally that it was possible to buy discounted next-day tickets, as we had done at Holiday World. I'd have suggested we try that in the hopes that the closed roller coasters would be open, but the ticket booths were all closed anyway. And as it happened the closed roller coasters wouldn't be open on Saturday anyway, and the park would be by reports much more packed. Still, it might've given us a chance to see the animals better.

So we wandered back to the train station, and from there ultimately back to our hotel. We didn't go to bunny_hugger's uncle that day. We did go to a pub, the Eight Bells, that was just behind the hotel. It was a nice place, one we'd kept on seeing, and it felt friendly and open to tourists. It also claims to have been in existence since 1629, which I have to admit is a pretty impressively long streak. The 'T' on the Eight Bells name, on the pub's north end, had fallen over.

The menu had only a couple vegetarian items, but one of them was jacket potatoes and we were certainly up for that. They weren't, though; after some consultation they reported that the jacket potatoes had run out --- they're a lunch item, after all --- and we found other things to order. We would go back to the pub the next day for lunch, figuring to get jacket potatoes at the appropriate meal, but they didn't have them then, either. Perhaps they're less friendly toward strangers than they appear, and the first round of hazing is you have to appear a certain number of times before they'll let you order the jackets? This seems eccentric, but then, what else explains the potato absence?

Trivia: The Burroughs Adding Machine Company saw total sales of $655,329.42 for 1932. By 1937 they had risen to $8,163,404.29. Source: Before The Computer: IBM, NCR, Burroughs, and Remington Rand and the Industry They Created 1865 - 1956, James W Cortada.

Currently Reading: After the Reich: The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation, Giles MacDonogh.

PS: Reading the Comics, July 29, 2015: Not Entirely Reruns Edition, second of these since the last roundup. Most of the comic strips are repeats but my commentary is all new.

Tags: amusement parks, animal liberation 40 years on tour, chessington world of adventure

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