Legacy Content

Port of Discovery
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by Rhett Wickham (archives)
November 27, 2002
Rhett looks at Port of Discovery, the interactive area at Treasure Planet at the El Capitan Theater.

Games Ho! A Donut Sugar High Enduced Geek's Visit to Disney's Port of Discovery

Rhett Wickham

I have a secret name for my friend Philip. I call him “my favorite Martian.? This is not to imply that he’s in any way like the late Ray Walston, or alien-like in appearance. In fact, he and his magnificent and brilliant Egyptologist wife are the handsomest and perhaps even sexiest couple we know. But Philip has grown to be a cherished friend because he simply comes from another planet, lives 24-7-365 on said planet, and makes not a single apology for it. Were it not for the pejorative risk involved, I’d think of him as “my favorite geek.? But Martian is more appropriate since Philip is an accomplished and gifted screenwriter (you all know his wonderful science-fiction and fantasy and horror movies and television shows, but as I’m sworn to anonymity I won’t name any ee eee *aaaahfirestarterchoooooo!* excuse me I think I have a a ah aaaaaheventhorizonchooooo!* bit of allergies today. Where was I? Ah, yes. Geeks.) Since all my friends are very comfortably self-identified geeks it would be difficult to ever choose a favorite. (Actually, not everyone is a geek, our spouses are referred to lovingly as “geek enablers? as they tolerate and sometimes even indulge our various geekish passions.) But Philip holds a special place in my posse (You’ve no idea how long I’ve wanted a posse. I don’t really have one, but I like how it sounds.) He’s stepped up to the plate and jumped in at a moments notice to play a grave digger in a recent children’s show I staged. He openly wept at the screening of “Lord of the Rings? we attended. He understands that the “The Right Stuff? is a work of genius and the kind of film “only a guy can get?, which he proved by literally jumping up and down with the excitement of a twelve year old when we shared our favorite moments from the movie. And best of all he willingly wore mouse-ears all day at my Disneyland Birthday Extravaganza. (Photos of a very droll and mildly amused Philip in his Mouse Ears can be obtained for a price and you’re welcome to address all inquiries here to me care of LP, but be prepared to pay BIG money!). Now I think he’s on the verge of inviting me to join in one of his role-playing game groups (see, that posse thing is getting closer by the minute!)

So when my own “geek enabler? was unable to join me for a preview of John Musker & Ron Clements’ new animated adventure “Treasure Planet? -- followed by a tour of the special Port of Discovery attraction -- I needed someone to step in. I instantly recalled Philip’s reserved but nonetheless audible “kewl!? in response to a preview of “Treasure Planet? some months back. Philip it was. We set the time, the location, and I pumped up the anticipation level.

The set up was perfect - two childish adults, each with their own unique fixation on fantasy fiction, ready to screen a science-fantasy treatment of a favorite childhood book followed by a trip to a playground. If you check the records you’ll see that the Homeland Security Alert went from yellow to orange during that three hour period.

So Philip arrives at the El Cap towering over me. Of course Linda Hunt towers over me, but Philip towers over most people so his arrival on Hollywood Boulevard was hard to miss. I’m busy taking pictures that didn’t turn out, and Philip, who is rather shy and moves about with a quiet, observant, perfectly measured disdain, is standing calmly among the crowd as I move about with the energy of an infant lab rat on his fifth consecutive week of a strict diet of caffeine. (I like to think of myself as a good training tool for the future “Philip as a Dad.?)

The film itself was a treat, and I’m eager to see what Kirby has to say about it, but suffice it to say that Philip was impressed and already is making some room on his shelf for the DVD. That’s two thumbs, way up. (Philip’s is up a bit farther, thanks to my vertical challenge thing.) Then we were off to Disney’s Port of Discovery.

The Port of Discovery is the latest in a long line of temporary live attractions designed and built around Disney’s animated film premiers. It’s origins are in the “Pocahontas In The Park? premier in New York, and the “Hercules’ Forum of Fun? at the Chelsea Piers.

Since that time, Disney has tied their premier runs in their anchor cities with similar attractions. The primary locale for these has been the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles. The “Treasure Planet? event is their best effort since “Hercules.?

We were greeted by a very lovely duo of statuesque cast members dressed in full Captain Amelia regalia, sans the feline features (although I’m fairly certain I heard Philip purr at the sight of them, so I might have missed something.) We walked up the gangway and opened the doors to an expansive interior lit in galactic blues and golds and reds and populated by stilt-walkers, jugglers, and the various alien denizens of “Treasure Planet? space port. No wait, those were the other guests. Ah, but there was Jim and B.E.N. (a terrific and very effective costume for B.E.N. by the way!) and a room full of science and physics hands-on exhibits and experiments. In true lab rat fashion I was ready to try them all, but Philip had cleverly noted the availability of Krispy Kreme donuts and hot chocolate in the galley of the Space Academy off to our right. This quick thinking saved us a rather long wait in line, and by scurrying quickly from the napkin dispenser to the table and back I was able to circumvent standing in line a second time to snag not one, but two etherium-blue frosted classic Krispy Kremes and a chocolate frosted vanilla crème filled as well. Philip went to get coffee (whether in an effort to keep up with me or simply to have an excuse to make me stand still, I’m not sure) when I lost sight of him for a moment, distracted by the stilt walkers. I quickly discovered him huddled in front of the “Treasure Planet? video game consoles and mumbling “video game….must play…must play.? I confess to not quite understanding this part of Philip’s psyche. I’m just not a video game junkee. Where I have the CD player on as background, Philip typically has his PS2 on his television 24-7. This appears to have seriously effected his cats who spend time lounging on the living room sofa when he’s in his office writing. I swear they have developed opposable thumbs. No, really!

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