Tag Archives: theme park

it’s a kind of magic

Disneyland Castle
We went to Disneyland at the end of last week, my son’s first ever visit, a fifth birthday treat. The main destination was the wonderful Cars Land, which I’ll write about next, part of the adjacent Disney California Adventure park, but the main Disneyland park is the original and really is a fabulous place. I first went in 2002, on my first trip to America, having wanted to go all my life. I was a big fan of Disney films as a kid and as a grown-up, the Jungle Book and Aladdin especially, and Disneyland is addicting. Expensive too, and you find yourself constantly forking out money, but it is Disneyland after all. The attention to detail is staggering. I particularly enjoyed the Star Tours ride, the Star Wars themed one, and the Jedi Training Academy for the kids was very entertaining. While my son went back to the hotel for an afternoon nap, I had some time to sketch so I sat and drew the classic Sleeping Beauty Castle. This has been here since 1955 (so it’s older than many buildings on the UC Davis campus!), the original Disney Land.
Sketching Disneyland

Here’s another sketch from the area inside the castle grounds, Fantasyland, which is full of very sketchable things. As I sketched, kids got on and off the King Arthur Carousel, lined up for the Peter Pan flight ride, strolled about with cotton candy and ‘churros’ looking for Mickey and his mates, while embarrassed daddies took their little girls into the Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boutique to get dressed up as princesses and little boys found swords and shields to dress as knights and fight dragons. Happiest place on Earth.
Disneyland Fantasyland

splish-splash!

six flags: shouka

We went to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom at the weekend. It is a large theme park in Vallejo, formerly known as Marine world, and alongside the enormous scary rollercoasters and thrill rides there are plenty of zoo animals, such as tigers and elephants and alligators. However, their main attractions are of course the marine life. I have never seen a walrus in my life, but wow those things are huge! They moved about too fast in their pretty small tank for me to sketch, but I did take the opportunity to sketch some of the shows we saw. Above, in a packed amphitheatre, Shouka to Killer Whale danced about for the audience. I’ve never seen a killer whale show to my memory either, and it is quite amazing how high those massive beasts can jump. It reminded me of that stupid Shark v Octopus film, which we caught on TV the other week (and watched for its utter ridiculousness). Shouka was a far better entertainer, though she didn’t take bites out of any jumbo jets. I was amazed to learn that killer whales are found everywhere in the world, equalling human beings in their dispersal. Funny how you never hear see them at the supermarket or on the subway though.

We also saw the dolphin show, acrobatic and charismatic, they even sang songs (probably “goodbye, and thanks for all the fish”). My son in particular loved the dolphins. I sketched while he watched, trying to capture them as they dove in and out, and I managed not to get my sketchbook splashed on. I started a new small cahier moleskine, I’m calling it the ‘red moley’, for small quick in-your-pocket sketches. I am about to start my next watercolour moley (number 8) but these ones are fun to have too.

six flags: dolphinsanimals at six flags

We saw sharks, and sea-lions, and I got to sketch a very sleepy lioness (opposite the enclosure of a sleepy and very cuddly looking tiger), while we sat for a rest, feeling very sleepy ourselves. I enjoyed the butterfly habitat, with all its colourful butterflies flying around us, and sketched one beautiful (and patient) one. We got milkshakes – by the way, if you go here and buy milkshakes, they won’t give you a straw to drink it with, ‘for animal safety’. The plastic forks and spoons and other junk food paraphernalia is allowed for some reason but straws are all out. I didn’t go on any rollercoasters, though I did start to queue up for one (until I got to a sign saying it was 60 minutes until the ride – no thanks). Eventually I did go on one ‘thrill’ ride, called Voodoo, which just straps you in and spins you around and around before letting you feel gravity and fear for a second or two, before it’s over. I had my eyes closed for most of the time. It was a tiring but fun family day.