As I just typed out the title of this post, I had to stop and pinch myself, because I did indeed get to attend the Star-Studded Red Carpet Premiere of Disney's 'Zootopia' at the Disney El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. (I know. Shut up.)
DISCLAIMER: Prepare yourselves for a ton of over-sharing and lots of photos - both pro and personal. Also, there may be some serious fangirly gushing. Because if there's one thing I excel at, it's over-sharing. You've been warned.
If you know anything about Los Angeles, you probably know that it doesn't rain much here on the west coast. And by "much," I mean "at all." Of course, you know where this is going, right? The day of the premiere of the latest Disney animated film, 'Zootopia,' it rained. And rained. It rained in a the-drought-is-probably-over-as-of-today-halleluiah kind of way.
I should interject right here that we in So Cal don't really know what to do when the wet stuff starts coming down. So, Jon and I left really early in the day to make the drive to Hollywood. We live about an hour south if there's no traffic and road conditions are perfectly perfect. That was sooo not the case the day of the premiere. I'm not complaining. We live in California. Driving is our life. But rain is not. I'm mentioning all this by way of explanation and awe (as you'll soon see).
It took us 3 hours (!) to drive 60 miles. Luckily Jon and I were super excited to mix it up with the celebrities and do our best to look cool and blend in on the red carpet. WE WERE GOING TO A HOLLYWOOD PREMIERE, DAMMIT. Sorry for yelling. We were just über-pumped and it was taking FOR-EVER. *sigh*
Now, we knew that all the red carpetty stuff usually takes place outside of the theater. So we had no idea what they do in case it rains. Before I give too much away, let me remind you that this is Disney we're talking about. What we found when we arrived was A-MAZING.
They had completely covered (!) the red carpet with a giant plastic tent-thing. The Red Carpet itself was completely decorated to look like the Zootopia Central Station. The giant plastic tent-thing added to that beautiful illusion. Disney Magic is real, people.
Isn't that just completely GENIUS?
Can I just tell you right now that walking that Red Carpet is equal parts thrilling and exasperating. Everywhere you turn there are celebrities and faces you recognize. And you're so crazy-excited to be there, and you want to document the whole thing, (which of course, means sharing on social media) but you're so overwhelmed and you're not quite sure how to act or what to do next.
That was us.
Plus, there are a bizzillion people taking all kinds of photos. In fact, there's an entire bank of paparazzi angling for photos and interviews and for this particular premiere, Disney had pulled out all the stops and seriously, the photo-ops were abundant.
So we slowly made our way down the red carpet and to the El Capitan Theatre, stopping every few feet to take it all in and document the magic.
They gave us identifying wrist-bands and special tickets and cute Zootopia headgear and we kept stopping just to take a breath and take it all in. By the way, the weird thing about seeing famous people outside of where you would normally expect to see them is that they are difficult to identify. It's much more like, "Hey! Isn't that the guy from that one show?" as someone who looks really, really familiar (or do they?) casually walks on by with their family. Hollywood, you never cease to fascinate.
At one point on our Red Carpet Adventure Jon says, "Mom! That's Johnny Knoxville!" But mom was busy Tweeting and Instagramming all this magic and having forgotten that she'd handed all her stuff for Jon to hold, said to him, "Go ahead and take a picture." Jon just stared helplessly with his hands full of my stuff and watched Johnny Knoxville not just walk by, but brush against him as he did. *sigh* Red Carpetting is not for the faint of heart.
Also, that gorgeous red carpet? SOAKED. We were slogging and squishing our way all the way to the entrance of the El Capitan. But then, so were all the beautiful people.
Jon and I were still playing the "Hey! Isn't that the guy from that one show?" Game. Recognizing many while being able to identify a few. At one moment, Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell (Yes. I knew who they were.) turned around just in time for me to take the Worst Photo of Them Ever. Having said that, it was a pretty cool and ridiculously surreal Hollywood moment.
[Note to self: Keep cooking and writing. You'll never make it as Paparazzi.]
Here's the photo we took of the Zootopia cast and crew just before we all entered the theatre:
And here's the Official Disney Photo:
Clearly they've done this before.
Finally we made it to the theater entrance and took our seats.
My review of the movie? First, let me remind you that I had already seen a good 20 minute chunk on the day I visited 'Zootopia' the Walt Disney Studios back in October - read about that here. I was looking forward to seeing how the story unfolded. But WOW! I was not prepared for the plot twists and turns that took the story in a completely different direction from what I was expecting.
Jon and I both LOVED it! We're not the only ones, either.
And can I just tell you how much fun it is to be in a theater as the credits rolled and the people whose names were on the screen are actually sitting there beside you and applauding each other? Talk about surreal. There was an indescribable kind of joy and energy in the theater impossible to duplicate in another setting. Seriously. Magical.
The film itself? Delightful. Fun and funny. I promise. Take your whole family to see it. This weekend!
Meanwhile, back to my Magical Night...
After the movie we were treated to a wonderful after-party which included lots of delicious food and even some live animals brought by the Wildlife Learning Center. Meet Lola The Sloth. She was quite the popular girl at this event. (Follow her on Instagram @lola_the_sloth)
I swear, I was so completely filled up with Happy Disney Magic. The Red Carpet was a blast. 'Zootopia' was fantastic. We had eaten and seen a sloth. I didn't think my night could get any better. And then I spotted HIM.
I had seen him from afar earlier on the Red Carpet. He was wearing his trademark Hawaiian print shirt and shaking hands with everyone. John Lasseter, animator, filmmaker, creative genius behind the Disney/Pixar storytelling magic. My hero. *sigh*
And he was standing Directly. In. Front. Of. Me.
I boldly stopped, extended my hand, congratulated him on a wonderful film, and introduced myself as a *gulp* blogger. He looked me directly in the eye and thanked me for all I do. (Wait. What?)
"May I have a photo?"
"Of course," he said.
"Look cute," I instructed.
"I always do." He shot back.
We both smiled for the camera.
I thanked him again. Disney Magic is potent stuff, boys and girls. It's the stuff dreams are made of. One of the highlights for me, besides now, meeting John Lasseter, was watching people continue to play the "Hey! Isn't that the guy from that one show?" Game - but this time they were looking at my son, Jon.
The whole night was just completely delicious that way.
Driving 3 hours in the pouring rain and enduring the ensuing traffic jam for an evening of Disney Magic? Worth it.
'Zootopia' opens in theaters everywhere on Friday, March 4th, 2016.