Today we went over to a cousin's house. The original plan was for the kids to spend the day out in their yard, which has all kinds of stuff. Unfortunately, some local inhabitants had other plans.
|Damnit, Jim, I'm a doctor, not an apiarist.|
So we went to an aquarium instead, where we got to see the bravest man in California cleaning a tank:
Yes, folks, the fish really were in there, all cowering in the left corner. So much for using them as watch fish in my swimming pool.
And then, because the cousins outvoted us, we ended up going back to (drumroll, please) Lego Land! Did I mention that I can't wait till these passes expire next week?
Lego Land, like every amusement park on Earth, has a generic "Wild Mouse" type roller coaster. Here it's called "Technic." It's not bad, but while waiting in line you're subjected to this horrible synthetic-industrial-pop soundtrack that plays the same 30-second sequence over and over AND OVER again. Until you want to move like Shields & Yarnell (yes, I'm old). How the people who work on the ride put it up with it all day I don't know, but you'd think one of them would snap sooner or later and add "going Technic" to the American lexicon.
Lego Land sells these little plastic packets, each with some sort of collectible minifigure in it, and they change minifigure sets (16 in each! Collect them all!) every 3 months. And once they're gone, THEY'RE GONE. Never to be released again in any form.
|This is what they look like.|
Now, I personally don't give a shit. I mean, they're freakin' Legos! And each minifigure is $2.99 ($3.22 with tax- you learn that fast). But my kids saved up a crapload of money just to buy them here (Grumpyville has 3 Lego stores, but that's not good enough for them). Of course, each kid has a specific request: Craig wants Little Red Riding Hood, Marie wants King Neptune, and Frank wants Astronaut Soldier That Looks Kind Of Like The "Halo" Guy.
Of course, they don't actually SELL the damn things labeled, so you can see what they are. They're in giant bins in every Lego store (and there's one every 50 feet here), sealed in identical plastic wrappers. You have no clue which one is which. So your kids (and everyone elses) stand around fondling packages, trying to figure it out. "Dad, does this thing in the bottom corner feel like Neptune's trident/a picnic basket/a space rifle?" And, of course, I have no idea. It feels like a hard piece of molded plastic, okay?
You'd think they'd put a label on them, to help kids. But the store dude told me that's not allowed, because it brings down the value for collectors. Yes, collectors. People who will pay big money in a few years for a sealed plastic packet, that for all they know has a broken figure and a rat turd in it. Because what's the point of blowing 2 months worth of salary on a small plastic toy if you actually know what it is?
So, each Lego store usually has one employee with a good sense of touch who can feel around and tell you what they are, sometimes. Not always. You have a 1 in 16 chance of being right.
THEN there's the guy at The Big Store, which is the main sales place at the park entrance.
I don't remember his name. Something like Ricardo. He reminds me of Franck Eggelhoffer, the insane wedding planner (played by Martin Short) in "Father of the Bride (1991). Complete with the nonspecific accent and flamboyant mannerisms.
But damn, this guy is good. No matter what they pay him, it isn't enough. He sells his weight in minifigures every 10 minutes. He should have his own TV show.
Kids find him and ask for, say, the Easter Bunny figure, and he takes it from there.
"The Easter Bunny, yes? You want Ricardo to find an Easter Bunny for you?" And with great theatrics he walks over to the bin, runs his fingers over 200 packets in 10 seconds (he doesn't look at them- sometimes he closes his eyes for effect) and then whips one out, snaps his fingers, announces "Ricardo has found the Easter Bunny!" and tosses it to the kid. Then it's the next kid's turn. This guy has some sort of zen-Lego magic touch. Even the other employees are in awe of him.
The best part is when some kid questions him "Are you sure this is the Easter Bunny?" Ricardo claps his hands and indignantly exclaims "Ricardo is NEVER wrong!" and goes back to his next request. And, I must admit, on this and several past trips (he draws a crowd, he's that good) I've never seen him screw up yet.
Then the real insanity begins.
Every Lego Land employee has one or more of these coveted minifigures on their name badge, and kids can trade if they see one they want. So my kids will bring some from home to do this. Marie loves to buy them in the store, pocket the accessories, and then trade the naked figure for a fully equipped one, pull off their aceessories, and repeat (warning: this doesn't always work, depending on the employee). I've actually seen roller coaster rides delayed because kids are trading figures with the guy who works the controls.
Where this makes you want to pull your hair out is when your kid just spent 30 minutes looking for a certain figure, finally gets Ricardo to find it for them, is overjoyed to have bought it, and one minute later trades the damn thing to a guy selling churros outside the store. This happens all the freakin' time, and makes me glad I brought my Rogaine.
At one point, in an exchange that had me in hysterics, I watched as Frank traded figures among 3 park employees and 4 other kids who were walking around Pirate Shores, and at the end of 10 minutes he discovered he had his original figure back, with absolutely no new accessories.
I don't understand it either.
But you know what has REALLY pissed me off on this trip? It's going to sound stupid (because it is).
They used to have this great attraction where families would race firetrucks against other families. Four families would compete in a vicious, no-holds-barred competition to pump giant Lego fire trucks across a track, aim 2 water cannons to put out a fake fire, and then pump the trucks back. You play for pride (not even a cheapshit $2.99 Lego figure, FFS) but for 10 seconds afterward the victors can bask in the glow of having won.
|Hell on wheels. With kids.|
Now, for reasons which the staff will only explain as "an accident happened," YOU CAN'T RACE. You all try to pump the cars slowly across the track, getting to the fire at the same time (waiting for the other trucks to arrive) then put out the fires, get back in the trucks (waiting for the idiots who can't figure out how to work a toy water cannon to finish) and then go slowly back to the finish together.
WHAT THE HELL IS THE POINT OF THAT?!!! If you're going to do some manual labor at Lego Land, it should be to prove you're better at it than other families!
Obviously, it's really pathetic that this pisses me off as much as it does, and likely takes the phrase "first world problem" to a new level.
I'm going to bed now. King Neptune, Astronaut Soldier Guy, and Little Red Riding Hood are looking like they want to start a threesome, and I'm keeping them from getting it on.