We arrived at the Disneyland gates at 9 a.m. and the line was surprisingly short. Considering the holy trifecta of popularity here (Disney, Michael Jackson, a post-mortem tribute), only about an estimated 400 fans had started lining up as early as 9 p.m. last night. Men, women and children were in Jackson Tees, some had fedoras, a couple of girls even had the Jim Henson-designed EO winged creature Fuzzball from the movie perched on their shoulders.
Amber, 24, from Huntington Beach, was the second to arrive at midnight early this morning, dressed in a white, homemade, rainbow bedazzled MJ-inspired motorcycle jacket. When asked why she decided to show up so early she said, "Well, it's Captain EO, it's Michael Jackson," she explained, with a smile. "It's just a childhood attraction that I went to basically when I was born. My mom worked here and when I was a newborn, she brought me onto the ride. So it's like from newborn to [when I was] 13 years old, I was here at least two days a week going on the ride, so I'm going back to that tradition."
Further down the line, we found Keri, 18; Mary, 18; Brian, 18 and Josh, 20, all students from the nearby Chapman University. The four had camped out last night starting at midnight--but decided to sleep in their car in the Disneyland parking lot when they saw the short line. After picking up a free stack of IHOP pancakes--smart kids--they re-joined the line at 7:30 this morning.
Though all four explained that they didn't receive the opportunity to watch Captain EO when it was played the first time around at Tomorrowland Theater, they say they have definitely seen the film online via YouTube.
"We're basically fanatics," explained Mary. The four had found out about the rather quiet re-opening of Captain EO via the web, of course--Twitter, MiceChat, forums. "We watched This Is It in preparation last night, listening to Michael Jackson--it was awesome."
And then the press was ushered gently to the theater, where all signs of Honey, I Shrunk the Audience have disappeared, that familiar EO logo in its place.
The Tomorrowland Theater holds about 575 people at max capacity, and the film runs 17 minutes long. We were all handed those familiar yellow 3-D glasses by cast members in futuristic uniforms, the doors opened, and we took our seats.A giant Milky Way-like universe appeared on screen and an asteroid spiraled towards us--kids in front of us grabbed at the air in response. Captain EO, played by a soft-spoken Michael Jackson, as you know, rose out of a spaceship floor to applause and wooooos.
While we won't give away much about the attraction, the most important thing to know? Disney has worked hard to preserve Captain EO just as you remembered it, keeping that classic '80s, cheese ball, kitsch aesthetic totally intact, even choosing to show the original, slightly grainy 70mm print. Though there are a few new surprises thrown in--think pulsating seats, strobe lights, puffs of air--Disneyland has preserved EO... the right way.
Cheers went up from the crowd as the lights dimmed, and cheers went up again when the final musical number of "Another Part of Me" by Jackson (off the Bad album) came on.
After the film was over, photographer Andrew Youssef leaned over and asked, "So when do you think the demand for the return of Honey, I Shrunk the Audience will start?" My answer: "When Rick Moranis dies?"
We made our way afterward to the Star Trader store around the corner to check out the EO merch--all decked out in the original (puce-colored?) logo, of course: Caps were $24.95, adult Tees went for $26.95.
Interested in going? Not a bad idea, actually, even if you're afraid of crowds. By the time we left around 10 a.m., the line still wasn't terrifyingly long, a cast member estimated it was about 40 minutes long, stretching from the theater to the large ball/water fountain that stands at the entrance of Space Mountain. Though there are no Fast Passes available for the attraction, with so many seats inside the theater, and the film showing every 20-25 minutes, it's the fastest moving line in the park.
If you're not willing to battle crowds--or uh, if you're too cheap--you can refresh your memories with the original film available for viewing right here on YouTube:
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For a full rundown of our morning, check out the OC Weekly Twitter feed, complete with pictures, commentary and more. For even more awesome photos of the return of Captain EO, just check out our full slideshow here.