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ElecTRONica takes on the night at California Adventure

Welcome guest author “Neuron’s user Zoe55” with a report from California Adventure’s ElecTRONica dance party:

I enjoyed ElecTRONica. It’s something I think you should check out if you liked the movie Tron, or maybe if you even didn’t. If you strip it down to its core I find it to be Glowfest done right (as it is one large neon and black light rave dance party).

Compared to Glowfest, the costumes are more tasteful and they’re really cool as they look like the Program circuit suits. The performers have yet to nail their choreography (as they appear to be looking to other dancers for cues), however when ElecTRONica has been around for a while I do believe the dancing will get better. The performers not only have cool costumes they also have some pretty awesome props (a light up cane and a large number of Identity Discs (otherwise known as Data Discs)). Performers on the stage that used to house Drawn to the Magic, encourage the crowd to join in as one of them actually instructs the guests in a line dance fashion.

The lighting effect for ElecTRONica is amazing in some aspects, and lacking in others. During the preshow to ElecTRONica the Hollywood Pictures Backlot is empty, and its pitch black except for blue lighting effect that gives it the illusion of the “Portal” as your host for the evening puts it. The “portal” refers to when (in the original movie) Kevin Flynn is zapped into the computer by the Master Control Program (aka the MCP) who uses a laser the ENCOM Company has been working on to transfer matter. When Flynn is zapped into the computer, he falls through numerous circuit boards and programs before finally landing, and this is what the portal is reminiscent of – the laser pointing to the preshow’s crowd and all.

When you enter the Hollywood Pictures Backlot, projections are seen on the top half of all the buildings, at the end of the street is a large screen. An electronic voice will periodically announce that you must keep your identity discs on you at all times (which you can buy at the ElecTRONica booth next to the ElecTRONica face paint booth) and Programs (the humanoid programs inhabiting the computer world dubbed Space paranoids by the game Kingdom Hearts) will appear on the screen and throw Data Discs toward you, which will cause a chain reaction of projections on the top of the buildings. Sometimes Lightcycles zip along the buildings as well.

Navigation of the backlot can be trickey. To get to Monsters Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue, Flynn’s Arcade, (Studio 12, formally California Adventure’s short lived eatery, Hollywood and Dine that was one of the first of DCA’s opening year cost cuts) the former Drawn to the Magic Stage, the ten minute 4D Tron Legacy Preview in the Muppet’s Theater, as well as the “End of Line” Club (what the MCP in the original movie would say after he had finished speaking, it’s term or even use in Tron Legacy is currently unknown) which used to be the Coca Cola truck seating area (which was pretty much pointless, is now a Tron City themed bar to get drinks during ElecTRONica) you need to go underneath the Recognizer (the large, Security Gate looking enemies) that has been souped up for it’s Tron Legacy appearance along with the rest of the original Tron content with the exception of a few 1982 style Tron Data Discs zipping around in the hands of a few performers.

The Recognizer will, from time to time, shoot off lights and say something similar to the voice in the street talking about keeping your Identity Disc with you at all times, lest you wish to be derezzed (A term in Tron meaning to be deresolutioned, a way of erasing a program). Where the Sorcerer Mickey fountain once stood is now a large mini-stage for the host of the evening as well as the DJ, with stands for dancers everywhere that will call out for everyone to dance with them, whether it is by instructed dance moves, free styles, or a light up hula hoop. The lighting effect in this area are heavy black lights, that are diluted by some cheesy spinning flower lights coming from the Drawn to the Magic stage (which will from now on be referred to as the Laserman stage) and other lamps high on towers. Random spot lights spin around the area, while projections that are barely visible due to the vibrant, detailed, and colorful background of Monsters Inc. are spinning in time to the music, reminiscent of the World of Color Road show abstract projections, if you so happened to watch that.

The Tron Legacy 4D show in the Muppet Theater is surrealistic, as anyone who watched the 1982 Tron would be freaking out at all the references, and anyone who has yet to see the original Tron would like it for it’s use of 4D, and it’s amazing graphics (if not plotline that is surprisingly there in a 10 minute preview.) Now as a super nerd for Tron, I personally was hyper ventilating the entire time and freaking out as Recognizers, Identity Discs, Lightcycles and the Game Grid (as well as Kevin Flynn) all made appearances. What was rather cool however before I get to the 4D aspects, was the opening Walt Disney logo that was in a digital, almost blue print-esque form, unfortunately there were no cameras, video devices, or phones allowed.

Getting to the 4D, when you first walk into the theater the entire theater is drowned in blue and green light, and when it starts wind is blown in your face as Sam flashed through the digital world, and lights go up the walls of the theater as he goes down an elevator. In a way, forgive me for sounding cheesy, it really does make you feel like you’re one step closer to actually standing right next to Sam. It leaves you wishing they would release Tron Legacy in theaters, in 4D.

As you leave the Muppet Theater, in front of you through the crowds of dancing people, past the End of Line Club, is Flynn’s Arcade, the large red neon sign and all. As you approach it, Studio 12 has been projected with images to make the top look more like Flynn’s facade, as if there were a thunder storm going on with Recognizers and others of the sort flying by. In front of the Arcade, are four makeshift Wii outposts so to speak, where you can compete in a Tron Lightcycle video game tournament, where the two finalist’s games are actually projected onto the building. Before entering the arcade, to the right is a small alcove with a touch screen Coca Cola vending machine, with only three choices, each costing three dollars. Coke, Diet Coke, and Coke Zero. The bottles that come out are an interesting, ice cold aluminum bottle.

Inside the arcade, you can smell the thick musty and dusty interior from not being used since the opening of DCA (and a few rare private parties) I’m sure. As you look up, you notice makeshift brick walls with Recognizer images on them, that clearly do not reach the ceiling – so you can see the far walls which are far, far away from the walls you see, leaving you to wonder what they’re possibly doing back there. Some might disagree with me but I think they’re doing something back there for two simple reasons. The first is its terribly cramped in there. When you walk in its wall to wall people in a very small room that’s maybe, what, 40 feet by 40 feet (at the most)? That is actually very bare bones when it comes to arcade machines. In front of you are two lines of arcade machines making three paths, one in between, and one on either side. A foosball table is sandwiched in-between machines on the center right aisle, as an air hockey table is sandwiched in the center left. Along the right wall there’s well, nothing, while along the left there’s a few arcade machines. (All dating back to the 1980s, things such as Galaga, Pac Man, Wizards of Wor, Donkey Kong, and the like). Along the left back wall, are four or five machines that give you tokens, which are golden and on one side says ElecTRONica, Disney’s California Adventure, while the other side says Flynn’s Arcade. This space is small and insufficient, and I know Disney could and would do better if they had the space – which I’m sure they have.

The second reason I think they’re doing something that’s not finished is because as you look down the two center aisles, at the end of the pathway, it’s sort of like nerd angels begin to sing, in my case anyway. There it is, THE Tron Arcade machine, with the neon sign above it that reads, Home of Tron. (Ironically, in the original 1982 movie there was a billboard on top of the building that said Home of Space Paranoids, which do not fear is in the Arcade as well. In the preview for Tron Legacy however, the Tron Arcade machine is like it is in the arcade in DCA, and opens to become Flynn’s old office.)

Now, if you look closely at the Tron machine, it seems very normal. Sure, once in a while you hear a very loud noise of coins being dropped in, and the lights go out and the lines from the preview of “I got a page from your father’s office.” “So?” “So, that line’s been disconnected for years.” “What, do you expect me to walk in and have him sitting there and go, ‘Sorry kiddo, I lost track of time.'” go off, but besides that it seems very normal, the game functions and people are playing it. But behind the machine, is the distinct outline of two, very large barn doors like in the preview for the movie. They can try and tell me all day it might have been a loading dock, but they can get every single one of those arcade machines in through the front door, they don’t need a back door. (Personally I hope when Flynn’s Arcade is all well and done it’ll have a Lightcycle video game, like the motorcycle games where you actually sit on a lightcycle. I can dream, right?) While Flynn’s Arcade has loads of promise, it has yet to achieve it and so I’m sorry to say there’s not much left to talk about here. Leaving Flynn’s arcade and heading to the Laserman stage prior to ten thirty, you will see many guests dancing in lines as I mentioned earlier.

Now at about ten or ten fifteen, there’s a short dance show, which simply whets your appetite for Laserman, as you know that was a teaser for something that’s going to happen. If you wait, at around ten thirty to ten thirty five, a man in a black suit with green circuitry walks onto the raised dais on the stage, and a singular green laser beam shoots to the sky. He plays with it for a while, and you simply think it’s mirrors on his hands that he’s using to bend the light, and to be honest you do feel a little underwhelmed.

And then he grabs he laser beam, and literally takes it off the stage.

Move over light saber, Laserman’s weapon is much cooler. The laser is connected to nothing but his hand, and he spins it around, and splits it in half and carries two independent lasers in his hands. Unfortunately, when he returns it to the dais he’s on it is simply a laser in the ground of the dais he’s standing on, that spins around him like a Lazy Susan. While the rest of the show is cool as he does choreographed laser moves, it isn’t quite as glamorous as his updated light saber. When his show ends, he slaps the lasers out to the crowd through the mist that’s been swirling around him the entire time, to illuminate the makeshift sunroof over your head to read “ElecTRONica”.

Now after Laserman, there’s not much to do if you’ve done everything else prior. The only thing left to do is dance to remixes of 80s music (and some new stuff thrown in there for good measure, like Katy Perry’s Hot and Cold.) such as Flashdance, and a bunch of Journey songs for mere example. While I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with a dance party, if you’re not into it or playing Pac Man for endless hours, you’re better off to call it a night, turn off your circuits, and de-rez from the system to return to California Adventure, Disneyland, or even home.

Below are three videos from ElecTRONica: