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Alethea & Athena
Listen to the sea, listen to the sea♪ 
15th-Sep-2016 05:20 pm
Today is so exciting, because we finished our work quota and didn't have to work overtime, even though we took extra time out from work to go to the grocery store! Aah, I feel so free! ...I may not feel the same way when we work on the edit tomorrow and it takes forever, but for now, I will relish in the freedom. We'll probably play Ace Attorney.

And! because we have so much time today, we definitely have time to get back to our Japan report! Not that anyone was necessarily waiting with bated breath for that or anything, but we like to talk about it.

So where did we leave off? Actually, I know exactly where we left off. We were about to go to Tokyo Disneyland. Only we didn't, we went to DisneySea instead, because lyschan pointed out that since we'd be more tired on Tuesday, we should maybe go to DisneySea on Monday so as to better enjoy the park that we like better. It was a fair point, and Dreamlights would be a better finale than DisneySea Fantasmic!, too, so we decided to go with it.

And so! off we went to DisneySea! We bought our tickets and waited in line for the park to open, and when it did...we headed straight for a store! Why? Because we learned from our adventures at Nasu Animal Kingdom that we don't want to get sunburned, so we wanted to get some sunblock. It was a good thing, too, because if we hadn't gone into the store, we wouldn't have seen the little video advertising the Crystal Compass, so when we saw it on sale, we would have been like, "Oh, that's a cute little wand thing. La la la..." and never given it a second thought. But now we had a vague idea of what it was, and we wanted it!

See, Tokyo DisneySea is currently celebrating its fifteenth anniversary! And as part of that, they have all kinds of little things going on, and new costumes for Mickey & Friends and etc. There was a show explaining the story (more on that later), but basically they're calling it the Year of Wishes, and the wishes are represented (or something) by crystals held by Mickey and his friends. So throughout the park, they have...you know, I bet they had a fancy name, but I don't know what it is. Maybe if I got out our Crystal Compass instructions I could find out. (Athena says no, not there (she read all the instructions), but it might be in the entertainment guide or something...) Anyway, throughout the park, they have these things. They're a crystal, like the crystals held by Mickey and his friends. Some of them have statues of, say, Goofy next to them, and some of them just have banners to let you know whose crystal it is. But there's a slot where you can put your Crystal Compass, and then you press the "Send" button, and the crystal begins to shine, and the character it represents laughs, and a point on your Crystal Compass lights up green to acknowledge that it got that crystal. The center of the compass lights up in whatever color represents the character for that spot. We got Goofy first, and his color is green.

We actually had to ask a cast member for help, because we were a little confused about the whole thing (we hadn't read all of the instructions yet, because we were busy moving from one thing to another--there's so much to do!), and she showed us that for all the guests who didn't want to fork out 3000 yen for a Crystal Compass, you could just put both hands on the statue and it would have the same effect. I thought that was really nice--you can still participate with or without spending extra money.

And that all being the case, we decided we had to get a Crystal Compass, because we were at our favorite place in the world while it was celebrating its fifteenth anniversary, and we absolutely wanted something commemorative. Naturally, we made sure to get all of the colors. We would have wanted to anyway, because the only way to get Mickey's color is to get all the other colors, and Mickey is my favorite!

So anyway, we bought that, and then we made the looooooong walk to the first attraction. We hesitated, because we weren't sure if we wanted to do the exact same thing we did almost every time we went, but in the end, we just like Mysterious Island, so we headed toward 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. And we got fastpasses for Journey to the Center of the Earth, because some rides you have to get a fastpass on or there's no telling if you'll ever get to go on them. I'm pretty sure I already have detailed descriptions of both of those rides, so I won't write new ones here, but if you want to read them you can probably find them easily enough by clicking our disneysea tag.

So we went on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and we checked in at Goofy's crystal, and then, there in front of us was a magical churro stand! Longtime readers will remember that the first time we went to Tokyo Disney Resorts, we were really impressed by the fact that there was a different flavor of churro at every churro stand--maple in Critter Country, sesame at the Arabian Coast, honey lemon in Tomorrowland--but when we went again in January, the selection of flavors was significantly reduced. They had vanilla ones to celebrate Frozen, and Mickey-shaped ones which were neat but tasted like regular churros (but still better than the ones in California, because they still cost less than four dollars and they were shaped like Mickey Mouse). That disappointment is probably a big part of why we were so excited to see this wonderful, marvelous churro stand.

So what was so magnificent about it? Potato churros! (Imagine some kind of a fanfare here. Or maybe, like, the sound it makes in the Legend of Zelda when Link opens a treasure chest.) We were thrilled! Unusually flavored churros were back! And it was potato! We like potato flavored things! Lys was less than impressed. She was all, "...I don't get it." This only added to our amusement, because we are sadists. Then we had the very educational exchange of, "What do potatoes even taste like?" "They taste like potatoes!" If I had not been so distracted by my eagerness to eat a potato churro, I might have thought to say something like, "You know, like french fries, or potato chips." Depending on the potato chips. Some potato chips taste like grease. I think for the best potatoey flavor, Baked Ruffles would probably help. Original, of course, or else you'd mostly taste whatever other flavor you got.

But as for these churros. We started to tell somebody about them the other day and they were concerned that it was a potato churro that was still rolled in cinnamon and sugar. Fear not, they did nothing of the sort! Now these churros cost more than any other churros in the resort (which had us concerned at first, because we hadn't seen any other churro stands, so we were afraid they'd raised their churros and were starting to gouge us on churros like they do here in California, but they still cost less there than they do here), and we think that's because they were made differently, like with potato flour or something. Whatever you use to make potato bread. Their texture was different from regular churros, too, which corroborates our theory. Also, they roll it in salt to make it a savory churro! Huzzah! (<--meaning unknown) And I think they also have some potato flavoring in the salt mix, because when I tasted just the churro's coating, it was a very intense potato experience. (Another good way to find out what a potato tastes like!)

And that was probably a longer story than you ever wanted to hear or read about potatoes and churros. So let's move on. Of course we went to King Triton's Kingdom to see all the neat stuff there. We went on The Whirlpool for the first time, and that was neat, because all the ride vehicles have sparkly bubbles on them. Basically it was like the little kid's version of the teacup ride (and for those of you thinking, "Wait, the teacup ride is for little kids," let me assure you, it is not for the faint of heart). The wheel in the center didn't turn, so we couldn't kill ourselves with dizziness. I realized later how much of a blessing that was (more on that when we get to the Disneyland report (not much more, though; don't get your hopes up (you probably already figured it all out))).

We watched the new Ariel show again, and it's growing on me. It still feels lonelier than the first one we saw, but it is nice that they have Ariel's sisters. (They're on screens, which is why they don't really help the show to feel less lonely.)

After spending some time under the sea, it was time to use our fastpasses, so we journeyed to the center of the earth (probably nowhere near there, actually, but let's use our imaginations!), and then it was getting close to time for the Year of Wishes show! ...But I wasn't in the mood to wait for twenty minutes, so instead of heading out to the Mediterranean Harbor, we went to the fort that I want to live in, which I called Fort Magellan in our last DisneySea report. Soon after that, they featured that attraction on the Disney Parks Blog and called it something else, and we were like, "What!? Nuh-uh! Then why did I think it was Fort Magellan?" Apparently I thought that because there's a restaurant there called Magellan's, so I put the two together: we're in a fortress, and there's the name Magellan in big letters over a doorway.

So what is the "real" name of the fortress, you ask? Apparently it's "Fortress Explorations", but I refuse to acknowledge that as the name of the fort itself, because "Fortress Explorations" is the name of something you do, not the name of the place where you do it. So in my imagination, it will continue to be Fort Magellan until they give it a better official name, but of course everyone can call it whatever they want.

Anyway, we explored the fort for a while, and we found some places where you could get a great view of the harbor and decided it would be pretty neat to watch the show from there. And indeed, the view was fantastic! ...But they don't play the sound, so we couldn't really hear what was going on. The problem was compounded by the fact that the harbor is so big that they have three designated viewing areas, and in order to let all the guests who weren't too uppity to not save seats know what was going on, they had a different MC in each location. They were all micked...micced...? Miked? Spell check is telling me it's "miked". Anyway, they all had microphones that connected to speakers that were loud enough that we could hear all three of them! At the same time! But they weren't in perfect sync, so we couldn't make out any of what they were saying. So watching from the fort turned out not to be the best of ideas, but we could still see the pretty boats come out carrying Mickey and friends. And the jet skis and the kites and the fireworks. I really couldn't tell you any of what happened except that there were all those things that I listed. And dancers! Of course, there's always dancers. And as the show went on, they would bring out more and more dancers and characters. And at one point, I made out that Mickey's wish was that everyone could have a fun time at the parks...or something like that. I understood it at the time, but it didn't register in my memory very well. So I think the show explained about the crystals and the wishes and everything, but we still don't know what it's all about. Maybe it says on something we brought home.

But anyway, the one advantage of watching from the fort is that we didn't have as far to walk to get to the Arabian Coast, and naturally we had to go there, because it's where our beloved Sindbad attraction awaits us. But we always go through Jasmine's palace and ride the carousel and watch the show at the Magic Lamp Theater. And we went through the marketplace and asked to see if the pins were any different, and they were! They had super cute ones of Mickey and Minnie and some villains (for Halloween), so we all played the game so we could lose and get consolation pins. Seriously, these are some pretty nice pins for just 500 yen. Every time one of us would throw the ball and it wouldn't go in the basket, the cast member was so sincere in saying, "Oh, so close!" and we were like, "No, it's totally cool. We're in this for the pins." And lys didn't want a pin, but she played anyway, so we got Mickey dressed as Captain Hook, Minnie dressed as the Wicked Queen, and Jafar. And they're super cute (as previously stated).

And then we went on Sindbad's Storybook Voyage! Ah, my beloved... We got to the grand finale room and we pointed out to lys how awesome they did the fireworks, and then! we stopped. Just stopped, right there in the grand finale room. An announcement came on a couple of times that they played in Japanese and English, and it was really fun, because it was still all in keeping with the theme! The announcer was like, "Sindbad requests that you remain seated..." but the best part was when he said...oh I don't know if I remember it exactly, but it was something like, "Sindbad bestows his gratitude upon you" for cooperating or whatever, and I was like, "YES!!" because I love it when dialogue is made fancy in keeping with a theme.

After we heard the announcement a few times, the lights came on! We wondered if they would have to evacuate us, and how exactly they would do that, since it's a boat ride. But eventually they started us up again, and we made it out safely (after taking full advantage of the stopped boat to get some good pictures of the finale). I think I heard a cast member say that if you wanted, like, a priority pass to talk to one of them, but I couldn't make it out well enough so I didn't want to try. But that's okay, because if you're going to get stuck on a ride, Sindbad's Storybook Voyage is not a bad one to be stuck on.

Moving on, we went on Jasmine's Flying Carpets and off to the Lost River Delta where we got fastpasses for Indiana Jones. Fortunately for us but not so much for lys, Raging Spirits was closed for refurbishment. We knew she wanted to go on it, but we weren't so sure we did, but if she went on it, maybe we wanted to go on it, too, but maybe we wanted to wait for her at the gift shop, but we weren't sure, and now we didn't have to figure it out. So we got our fastpasses and kept walking...right into the waiting area for Hangar Stage. We had seen, back in January, that they were working on a new show to play there, and now here we were and they were letting people in to wait to see that very show! We'd never been to the Hangar Stage previously, so we were very curious, especially since we love Tokyo Disney Resort shows. (Actually, in all honesty, there are some shows that we like well enough but don't love, and we noticed a bunch of them started after the first time we went to DisneySea in 2008, so we were wondering if it was a timing thing, like maybe Tokyo Disney Resorts are also doing things of lower quality. It's an unfair theory, really, based mostly on my disdain for using screens on everything and the fact that that's what they do with the new King Triton's Theater, and if I had thought about it better, I would have remembered that I love love love A Table is Waiting, which also started after our first trip to DisneySea.)

So even though it was a while before the show, and partly because when I checked my phone for the time I forgot to calculate the different time zones so I thought it was starting a lot sooner, we lined up! And then we realized we had about an hour before the show actually started, but we decided it was cool anyway, because it was a good chance to relax and get off our feet. And when the cast member asked if we wanted to wait in the right side or the left side, I said, "Uh, I dunno, what do you recommend?" he said, "Well, it's pretty much the same either way, but the left side is in the shade." And I was like, "Ooh, good point!" so there was that.

After a while, they let us go inside the theater, and the set was very fancy looking. At one point, knowing that Athena and lys had entertainment guides, I asked what this show was even about...but before they could find it I said maybe I didn't want to know, maybe I wanted to be surprised. Athena read the description to herself anyway, and the one thing she told me was that there were no pre-existing Disney characters in it. I wasn't sure how I felt about that, but the set was very enchanting. They did use projections for the backgrounds, but oh man, they were so much prettier than...they were very pretty and high quality images, made up to look like a jungle. Well, of course it was a jungle, we were in the Lost River Delta.

...But I've already been typing for an hour, so I think I'll save the summary of the show for next time.

Today I'm thankful for getting to go back to DisneySea, having a commemorative Crystal Compass, potato churros!, getting our work done today without having to work overtime, and so many helpful cast members.
16th-Sep-2016 02:05 am (UTC)
Oh, those potato churros! Even though I didn't (don't) get it, I was entertained by your enthusiasm. Okay, so I think I've focused my confusion on the subject: potatoes are normally something you add flavours to (like chips or fries or stuff), so to have something flavoured like potato seems backwards to me. If the texture was different you're probably right that they added actual potato or potato flour to the batter and I can see that being part of the appeal, but since I only tasted a bit of yours and hadn't ever had another churro to compare it to, the novelty was lost on me. Finally, I don't think chips or fries taste very much like a real potato anyway. (except sometimes the frozen fries you can make at home that are thicker and sometimes don't cook all the way through, and then they do just taste like a potato and it's weird. sad childhood memories.) They taste like fried salty starchiness. And sometimes that's delicious and totally hits the spot but...

Oh no, did we go too wild on the teacups?? I may have been a little possessed by Kofuku at the time... (sorry, I couldn't wait for the Land report.)

It was okay that we couldn't go on Raging Spirits, because I didn't know what I was missing out on because I'd never been on any of the rides in the park before this trip! And I got to experience plenty of other fun new things. So I didn't mind at all :)
16th-Sep-2016 09:28 pm (UTC)
It's true that we usually add flavor to potatoes, just like we usually add flavor to corn, and Japan adds a wide variety of flavors to both of those things (like milk potato chips and all Umaibo are flavored corn), but Japan also adds corn flavor to things, so it makes sense that they would add potato flavor to things as well, since both corn and potatoes do have distinct flavors. Milk potato chips are a pretty good example, too, because milk is another thing that we usually add flavors to instead of flavoring things as milk. So I think it's just a matter of Japan and their in-depth study of food in all its flavors, textures, etc.

Also, are you suggesting that fries are not generally made of real potatoes? Because they definitely taste like something, and unless they're not made of potatoes, that something would have to be potatoes. (Although of course we will admit that their flavor will be affected by the kind of grease they're fried in. That's why we tend to like our potato chips baked.) I mean, they could be made of some synthetic potato substance, but I've had so many fries that claim to be made of real potatoes, and that are "natural cut" with the skin still on them and everything...

Haha, no, we know our limits. You weren't the only one with your hands on that spinning wheel. (Not that kind of spinning, the other kind of spinning. The kind that spins a teacup.)

We're glad you had a good time even without that extra bit of loopiness.
16th-Sep-2016 09:58 pm (UTC)
No no, I'm not denying that fries are made out of potatoes! It's just that they're so thinly cut and then fried and salted heavily and by the end there's not really enough plain potato left to taste that flavour anymore. So they taste like salt (or other seasonings, or the taste of the fried-ness... I don't mean the grease, I mean... it's probably something about the starches breaking down into sugars as they cook).

Alright, potato has a flavour and corn has a flavour (and milk has a flavour certainly—I like my goat milk when it's been in the fridge for a few days...), but when you turn them into flour and make other things out of them, they usually lose most of that original flavour or blend into the other stronger flavours. I know there are brands of corn chips that taste more like corn (because those tend to be my favourites), and I like corn muffins because they taste like corn... I just can't think of anything that I've eaten and thought "That tastes like potato!" except like an actual baked potato (or the sad french fries mentioned previously). Even instant potatoes, which should be all about tasting like potato, don't taste like potato. Man, that return plane trip's meals still make me sad to think about.

If we come across potato churros again I will give them a fair try and see if I still can't taste any potato flavour :)
17th-Sep-2016 08:27 pm (UTC)
Yeah, we never really thought, "Wow, that tastes like a potato," either, until we tried Ben & Jerry's Late Night Snack ice cream. It was based on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, so we haven't seen it since he moved to The Tonight Show and got a new flavor, but it was vanilla ice cream with a salted caramel swirl and chocolate-covered potato chip...chunks. And it was the weirdest thing, because we were like, "Clearly these are not potato chips, because they are spherical, but they definitely taste like potato chips..." and that was probably the first time we realized we'd been tasting potatoes all along. (I still don't know what those chunks were made of, though.)

You don't have to wait to find potato churros to figure out what a potato tastes like, though. You probably already know what it tastes like (in fact, you indicated as much in your comment), but you can always try a Baked Ruffle, or one of Chik-Fil-A's waffle fries.
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