The Great Escape
With Disneyland’s newly opened Tomorrowland and SeaWorld’s “Rockin’ Summer Nights,” why not indulge in a bit of escapism by taking in a theme park?
To avoid the crowds, leave work early to visit Tomorrowland, Disneyland’s latest high-concept view of the future, the fourth in the park’s 43 years. But this isn’t your father’s Tomorrowland. Today’s vision is a dreamy oasis of edible plants, anchored by the new Astro Orbitor, ride inspired by visionary Leonardo da Vinci. Another attraction, Rocket Rods XPR, follows the path of Tomorrowland’s former PeopleMover but at a much higher speed. A “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” 3-D film replaces the passe “Captain EO,” and an exhibition of near-future technology, “Innoventions,” is scheduled to open in July.
Also debuting at Disneyland this summer are a new parade and stage show. On June 19, the “Mulan” nighttime parade fills the park’s streets with Chinese acrobats and Asian-themed floats, nightly at 8:45 and 10:15 p.m. The remodeled Fantasyland Theater opens with “Disney Stars LIVE!” Animated characters from the latest films (including “Aladdin,” “Hercules” and “Pocahontas”) perform together in a musical revue with several performances daily. Both shows run through Sept. 7. Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m.-midnight. Saturday, 8 a.m.-midnight. Sunday, 8 a.m.-midnight. Ball Road at Santa Ana Freeway, Anaheim. Adults, $38; senior citizens age 60 and older, $36; children 3-11, $28. (213) 626-8605, Ext. 4565 or (714) 781-4565.
You’ve seen Tomorrowland, now delve into the “imagineering” behind it at UCLA’s Armand Hammer Museum. A new exhibition, “The Architecture of Reassurance: Designing the Disney Theme Parks,” explores the history of Disney theme parks from their original concept to the most recent developments, presenting about 350 objects from the archives of Walt Disney Imagineering. Included are plans, drawings, paintings, models for the parks and their attractions, promotional posters, advertisements and historical photos. Ends Aug. 23.
The museum is hosting a series of children’s events in conjunction with the exhibition. Beginning at 11 a.m., children can listen to the International Peace Choir’s “It’s a Small World,” a presentation of music and dance that the choir will perform in ethnic costumes.
At noon, veteran puppeteer and Disney songwriter Dave Kinnoin tells “Disney Tales,” followed by hands-on art-making workshops at 1 p.m. Children ages 3 to 6 can design their own three-dimensional theme parks using construction paper and architectural drawings, in a workshop led by Disney Imagineers Steve Beyer and Lisa Covell. Museum hours: Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 10899 Wilshire Blvd. Events free with museum admission: adults, $4.50; seniors and non-UCLA students, $3; UCLA students with ID, $1; children 17 and under accompanied by an adult, free. (310) 443-7000.
When the sun goes down, things heat up for SeaWorld’s “Rockin’ Summer Nights” with extended park hours, new shows and live music. Observe a manatee or two at the new Manatee Rescue, the only exhibition of Florida manatees outside their native state. Get up close to beluga whales, polar bears and walruses in Wild Arctic, and get soaked in Shamu’s House of Douse. “World Rhythms on Ice” returns with skaters and gymnasts, and the “Sea Lions’ Tonight Show” parodies SeaWorld shows. “BandJam ’98" transforms Main Gate Plaza into a nightclub where visitors can jam to rock, rhythm & blues, country and swing bands nightly, 7 p.m. to close, through Labor Day. Saturday: Sha Na Na; Sunday: Big Time Operator. Park hours through June: Sundays-Thursdays, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fridays-Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mission Bay, San Diego, Interstate 5 to Sea World Drive. Adults, $34.95; children ages 3 to 11, $26.95; under 2, free. (800) 23-SHAMU.