by Guy Selga Jr. on March 6, 2013
I’ve been with TouringPlans for a little over 8 months now. During my time in the parks I ride most attractions dozens of times a week while I collect wait times. But would you believe that there are still a few attractions that I have never taken the time to experience? Recently I decided to change that and experience three attractions that I’ve never done. What are the attractions? Three of Disney California Adventure’s finest: Operation Playtime, Wilderness Explorer Ceremony, and The Happy Camper. Not exactly E Tickets, but it’s better than sitting at home, right?
This show features four random Green Army Men from the Toy Story series of movies. The Green Army Men have traveled to Paradise Pier to find new recruits for Andy’s toy box. Their recruitment process requires volunteers from the audience to make loud noises and jump up and down while the other three Green Army Men drum rhythmically. The drummers remind me of the old Trashcan Trio that used to play in Tomorrowland years ago, except this time they are themed to a movie. This show is a quick diversion. I’m not saying it’s bad, but I can’t imagine anyone going out of the way to see it. While I was watching, most people who stopped to watch just happened to be walking by when the Army Men parked their jeep. Yes, jeep. Operation Playtime does not take place in any traditional venue. The Green Army Men’s jeep enters the park through the same gate the Pixar Play Parade uses for its daily performances. It then travels past Silly Symphony Swings, Goofy’s Sky School, and Jumpin’ Jellyfish. The jeep finally parks in front of the Golden Zephyr, and the show is started. Should you take time out of your day to see it? If you have kids in your group that need to let off some steam, then absolutely. Groups without kids may find some enjoyment when the Green Army Men start drumming. Either way, if you choose to watch the show it won’t take much time out of your day. The duration of the show is around 9 minutes.
The Wilderness Explorer Ceremony takes place on a small stage located inside of the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. The story of the show is that you have completed all of the challenges found in Redwood Creek and you have been accepted in to the prestigious Wilderness Explorers. The show stars a scout leader who teaches the audience the Wilderness Explorer oath and official call (Kaw! Kaw! Rah!), along with Russell from the movie Up. Unlike Operation Playtime the entire audience is encouraged to participate in this show. Kids are asked to sit in the front row, while adults sit in the upper rows. The venue for this show is very small, holding fewer than 50 people. The 8 minute show is very simple, consisting only of the the oath and call I describe above, and then the introduction of Russell. It’s worth noting that this is the only way to meet and greet the costumed Russell character. After the show is finished you can line up and take a picture with him near the stage. He does not sign autographs.
I had seen The Happy Camper dozens of times while making my rounds through DCA but never took the time to sit and actually watch him. Now that I finally have, I’m happy to say that he is a talented performer. Unfortunately there is not much room to sit and watch him do his thing. Your choices are a bench located to the right of his stool or in the middle of a crowded walkway. I guess that the point of The Happy Camper is to provide atmospheric entertainment and not a traditional show. That makes sense considering he plays for 30 minutes each set! I did sit through, and enjoy, his entire set. While I was watching him it became clear that he’s a big fan of interacting with the guests that are passing by. I must have heard him sing happy birthday at least 10 times to random guests with birthday buttons. His set list (when he wasn’t singing happy birthday) consisted of traditional camp fire songs and folk music, and is all performed solo on his guitar and harmonica. If you do want to give The Happy Camper a try, he plays near the entrance of Grizzly River Run.
None of these attractions are headliners, but they are a few of the live entertainment options that make the Disneyland Resort so great.