Today we're going to be celebrating the 20th anniversary of Muppet Treasure Island. It was released on February 16, 1996, and we saw it on February 19, and we remember that because 1996 was the year Athena was remembering dates. It's actually pretty easy to remember, too, because we saw it the Monday after it came out, so all we really had to do was look up its release date and do the math, but the truth is we did remember it. So we were thinking of watching the movie on Friday night, but we didn't want to have the pressure of having to watch a movie on the exact right night, since we've been so busy and stuff.
Anyway, since we're celebrating this movie, I thought I'd write a little about why it was so important to us. We didn't have a lot of friends in high school or middle school, and Dad wanted to make sure we weren't bored all the time, so he took us to see a lot of movies that year. And even though this one came out in February, it remained our favorite, much as we hated to put a movie with music by Alan Menken in second place. The Hunchback of Notre Dame was firmly in second place, though. We also saw Independence Day but it didn't make much of an impression, except that we had juuuust started learning Japanese so we were able to recognize that when the Japanese guy came on and gave orders, it sounded like he said "konnichi wa." Unfortunately, we haven't been able to confirm if our memories of what he said were accurate. Maybe someday...but I really don't have any interest in sitting through that movie again.
So what made Muppet Treasure Island such a favorite? Well, mostly I think back then we were feeling really escapist. Jim Hawkins has a song about how there's gotta be something better out there for him, and we really related. Also, it was really funny and zany! And the songs were a lot of fun, too. And most of all, it has heart. ...And I guess I'd have more to say if I'd seen it recently, but I haven't, so there you go. The point is, I recommend it!
And since I don't have more to say, but I think this post is a little too short for my liking, I will bring up something that is sort of related in a way. As you all know, we've taken several ill-advised trips to Disneyland since we got back from Japan, and I haven't said much about any of them because I was still reporting about Japan. Well, most of the trips were pretty much the same-old same-old (although the first one involved the Lunar New Year celebration, but that was pretty much the same as last year), but there was one very important new thing.
The Jungle Cruise is down for its regular extensive refurbishment, which means it isn't going to be open again until May. But with planning and construction going on for the new Star Wars Land (I'm really hoping they come up with a more creative name for it, but based on their current naming trends those hopes are not high) expansion, about half the park is closed. (I'm not sure if that's even true, but that's how people are talking about it. Let's see...the train, the Jungle Cruise, Splash Mountain, the Columbia...and I think that's it. Maybe Tom Sawyer's Island. But there's still stuff to do.) But the point is, some cast members had mercy on the guests who would be visiting during this time of attraction dearth, and instead of just letting people walk by the Jungle Cruise as if nothing is there, they have Jungle Cruise shows!
The shows alternate between a Land Cruise and a Skipper Skool. We only did the Skipper Skool, so I can only guess that the Land Cruise is the skippers' doing a land version of the cruise, probably a lot like the Skipper Skool, but with one important difference. At the Skipper Skool, they hand out jokes and guests get to take turns telling the jokes. Most of the jokes are exactly what you'd hear on the real Jungle Cruise, but of course you're just sitting there watching a bunch of skippers, so there are no plants or animals or anything to look at...except that there are! They've collected stuffed animals of every animal on the cruise, and the skippers running the show will take turns picking them up and making them move like the animals on the ride. It's pretty hilarious.
...And I just realized that my describing it is not going to be as good as pictures. So you'll just have to wait until I get them uploaded and ready to share! But I will tell you that when we got to the hippo pool, the skipper had a plush hippo toy and he made it wiggle its ears, while another skipper pulled out a bubble wand and started blowing bubbles. It was awesome.
Today I'm thankful for Skipper Skool, Muppet Treasure Island and the joy it has brought us, having plans to watch Muppet Treasure Island again tonight, Jungle Cruise skippers who clearly love their job, and scoring a chocolate mint cake at bread day.