We had just finished with another endearing Stitch encounter, and we were on our way to Fantasyland. We walked through the castle gate, as one simply must do, and we were pointing out the statue of Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey to lyschan, as there's a parody of that statue in Noragami, when we noticed some guests walking down some stairs on the side of the castle. What's that all about?, we wondered. Glancing around, we saw a queue area, with a cast member there to answer questions. And so we asked her questions!
I said, "So, what is this exactly?" and she said that it's the line to go inside Cinderella's castle and see the throne room and stuff. What! That's just like the Sleeping Beauty's Castle walkthrough at Disneyland, only probably not nearly so Maleficentric, mainly because Maleficent isn't in Cinderella, but also because people don't care as much about Lady Tremaine as they do Maleficent, which is weird because they're practically the same person (she says, simply because they're played by the same very distinct voice actress (but they are both pretty darn evil, and their faces are shaped similarly)). Naturally, we had to get in line.
The line took us to a very regal hall where another cast member let us into an elevator. When we got off the elevator, we were in another very regal hall, only this one was lined with illustrations of Cinderella's story, starting from the very beginning as narrated by Cruella de Vil. Okay, so Cruella de Vil didn't narrate Cinderella's back story, but her voice actress did. But not in the castle, because it was all in text only. And there was another cast member there to help us know where to start reading. Once we got to the part where the stepsisters left for the ball, the hall opened up into a bigger room, which had pieces of fine art (sculptures and stuff) on display to illustrate the key scenes, all in different art styles. There were also magic dioramas that moved and transformed. It was pretty amazing, the one with the dress transformation. She was standing there in her torn up dress, and the Fairy Godmother goes, "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo!", and the whole scene changes, with no trace of what had been there before! We figure it must have been a hologram effect or something, but whatever it was, it was cool.
I took a lot of pictures here, so I may not have registered the exact order of everything, but after the room with the dress transformation diorama, it makes sense that the next room would be illustrations of the ball. And in that room (whatever the art represented), every so often, you would hear some skittering coming from the walls, and then one of the wall ornaments would flip open and out would pop Jaq and Gus! It was so cool! And I think that room had the fitting of the slipper and everything, so the next room was the finale room which means...
Photo ops! Woohoo! They had an ottoman where you could sit and try on the slipper. Athena posed next to it in the attitude of, "Yeah, there ain't no way my foot's fitting into that." We have Anastasia and Drizella feet (and yet the Cinderella story never gave us self-esteem issues about our big feet; go figure). They had more portraits with characters from the movie, with a cast member there to suggest that maybe we would like to take a picture with the flash on. So I tried it, and bam! SPARKLES!!! Waaaah, that was so cool! So we made sure to get pictures with us in them. The one had all of Cinderella's friends from the Tremaine estate, and when you took a picture with the flash, there are sparkles and the word "friends". On the other side of the room was a portrait of the Fairy Godmother with her wand poised for magic. I think you can guess what the sparkles looked like in that one.
Finally, they have a throne you can sit on. And when it feels your weight, then there are more sparkles! Only this time, you can see them without a camera viewfinder. We took a picture of lys posing as King Yato.
It was all very lovely, and then we went outside to the veranda, which gave a lovely view of It's A Small World, and we went down the stairs that alerted us to this attraction's existence in the first place.
We continued on our merry Fantasyland way, stopping to go on Snow White's Scary Adventures...and Athena is saying she doesn't think they call it her "scary" adventures in Japan, just Snow White's Adventures. Neither of us remembers for sure, but either way, it's scarier than the "scary" adventures in California, so I don't know what that tells you. But that rock is totally about to fall on the guests. (But if you've seen the movie, you know that lightning strikes and the rock falls the other way, but then we're still going that way, so...)
Anyway, we came upon the Haunted Mansion, and learned that The Nightmare Before Christmas takes over the Tokyo Disneyland Haunted Mansion every year, too. The fastpass situation was just such that if we got fastpasses, we could go on Peter Pan's Flight and then right back over to the Haunted Mansion, so it was like, "We'll just wait in two lines at once!" And oh man, I like their Peter Pan's Flight so much better. I would feel worse saying that if they hadn't added oddly greenish pixie dust to the California version recently. But in their version, when you fly out the nursery window, you go over the courtyard where Nana is tied up, and all of the animatronics move more, and the way they do the pixie dust on the pirate ship is so much nicer, and, and, and...
But before we went on the Haunted Mansion, we noticed we were right next to Captain Hook's Galley, which is where we got those delicious milles crepes last time, so we wanted to get them again! ...Only they didn't have them this time. This time, they had castella cake with caramel custard filling. That sounded pretty good, too, so we tried some! It was a Mickey-shaped sponge cake sandwich, with caramelliness in the middle. I think I prefer the milles crepes, but it was still pretty tasty.
While we were eating those, we heard something going on over in Frontierland (the Galley is right on the border of Fantasyland and Frontierland...oops, I mean Westernland; I keep forgetting that), so we headed on over to check it out. There we discovered a couple of MCs dressed in frontier style clothes of Halloween colors, leading a couple of teams through some frontier games. I can't remember what they were doing when we got there...a race, or something? Yes, maybe I remember them using brooms to move a can... Or I'm imagining it. But then they moved on to another game, which had a fancy title that I don't remember, but it was basically making animal sounds. The MCs would show whoever's turn it was a picture, and they had to make the sound that animal makes, or if they didn't know, they could make something up, or even just shout the animal's name Pokemon-style (come to think of it, that's how Yukine imitated a tsuchinoko when he was forced to play one in Yato's retelling of his tsuchinoko hunt).
It was pretty interesting, because I'd see the picture and immediately think of the sound I was used to hearing from growing up, but then the team members would make a different sound, I would be like, "Oh yeah, Japanese onomatopoeia is different..." Unfortunately, we didn't quite catch the snake sound, because there's no way to accurately spell "ssss" in Japanese, so it must have been different. Oh, that reminds me, they were also supposed to do an action, so the girl did a slithering move. And that reminds me something else! One of the girls had to make a bat sound, and that's one we actually learned from anime and manga rather than children's books or anything growing up, but more importantly! back at DisneySea when we were on our way to use our Indiana Jones fastpasses, it was getting dark, and we saw bats flying around the Lost River Delta! It was so cool! We were like, "Hmm, that bird is flying kind of erratically... Waaaait..."
But anyway, the best part of this whole thing is that somehow, one of the teams ended up with a foreign tourist who didn't know so much Japanese, or at least they treated him like he didn't, and he did nothing to disillusion them. The picture he got was a porcupine. I assumed he was American at the time, so I figured he probably wasn't really as confused as the MCs thought he might be, but if he was from Australia or somewhere (Tokyo Disneyland is much closer to Australia than any American Disneyland), then maybe he wouldn't be so familiar with porcupines after all. (I actually have seen real porcupines; they had some at the LA Zoo, and at the Fresno Zoo, and I think even at some miniature zoo type thing they had at BYU...but not when we attended, one time when we visited as kids, and of course they have some in the Grand Canyon diorama at First Disneyland, but those ones are stuffed.)
Anyway! the important thing is that the MC wanted to make sure this guy knew what animal it was, but apparently he doesn't know the English word for it, so he described it for the guy as, "A mouse with sooo many needles." The Japanese word for hedgehog (which is like a little porcupine) is "hari-nezumi", which means "needle mouse". The Japanese word for porcupine is "yama-arashi", which means "mountain rampager", and there's a boy band of porcupines in Polar Bear's Cafe called Yama Arashi (a parody of Arashi, naturally), so Athena's solution to the problem was to sing Yama Arashi's theme song, which would have been pretty hilarious if she had been the one to get that animal, and if she knew more of the song. I think in real life they make a kind of clicking sound, somewhat like a capybara. Come to think of it, they probably are related.
Unfortunately, I don't remember what the porcupine guy did (I think he did a gesture to indicate porcupine spines, but that's the obvious thing, so I could have invented that memory). There was a skunk, too, and of course our answer to that one is, "He can call me flower...if he wants to..." Maybe we should learn the Japanese translation of that line...
But after the animal sounds game, they brought out special guests! And we kind of lost interest because of our intense anti-Pixar bias, which is focused most strongly on Toy Story, but they brought out Woody and Jessie, who joined their respective teams (they were Team Woody and Team Jessie) in a horseshoe toss tiebreaker. They rigged it so the team with the tiny little girl won. And what did they win? A picture with Woody and Jessie! Tadah! And then they went to give the other team a consolation prize...and Woody and Jessie very graciously offered to take a picture with them, too! Aww, how sweet.
By then we were like, "Okay, seriously, we have to use these fastpasses," so it was back to the Haunted Mansion: A Holiday Nightmare for us! Where do I begin on describing this one? I mean, it's the Haunted Mansion, and everybody knows that they put all these Halloween Town Christmas decorations on it for Halloween through Christmas, right? And they're Tim Burton style? But of course, there were differences, partly because their Haunted Mansion isn't exactly the same as ours, and partly because Japan does things differently (better, if you ask me, but of course you know we're very biased).
The first difference we noticed was when we went under that...okay, so you know how in big houses, they have those, like, catwalk things, only they're much nicer, like because they have a fancy staircase and you can see the upper floor from the lower floor? When you first get on the doom buggies in Japan, you go under one of those, and! for the Holiday Nightmare (I don't know if I'm remembering that subtitle accurately, by the way; just adding a disclaimer in case somebody comes along and is like, "Hey, that's not what it's called!), they have animatronic statues of Jack and Sally welcoming you to their party or whatever. We were like, "Whoa, that's so much more involved than in California!" But then we went on the California one again a couple of days ago, and remembered that at the doom buggy boarding area, they have a whole big moving display thingie with all the Halloween Town residents wishing you a Merry/Scary Christmas. But the CA one is plywood, while the Japan one is fully sculpted statues.
We moved on to another not-in-California room, where they had a vampire teddy bear playing the organ while Sally looked on dreamily. She didn't move as much as the welcome Sally (in fact, we don't think organ Sally moved at all), but the vampire teddy was pretty spazztastic, and Sally was in a contemplative pose, so she didn't stand out as being too static. What I'm saying is, the Tokyo Disneyland stuff always seems to be so much more dynamic, even when it's not moving. I did realize that my assessment might be unfair, and when we went on Haunted Mansion Holiday here to compare the two, the animatronic figures did indeed move more than I remembered, but... (and I'm always so critical) But they just added a new Sally figure this year, because until now, the only Sally they've had in CA is the one replacing the tiny ghost that says, "Hurry back!" at the end, so they've increased her presence by adding a life-sized figure of her in the graveyard scene. And she even moves! She blinks (and it's not even a projection!), and she moves her foot up and down. So at first I was like, "Oh wow, they actually have her moving and everything!" but, always critical, I also had to make note that she had her hands crossed under her chin (she was leaning forward on a tombstone, resting her elbows on top of it), and both arms seemed to be just one mass fused together, so I was back to my, "Making it as cheap as possible, eh?" attitude. Eh heh heh...
But back to Japan. There were two other noticeable differences, the first of which being that the naughty/nice list in the attic had a lot more Japanese names on it (they list people who worked on the attraction), and the second and best thing about the ride is that in the ballroom, there's a little door that, in California, opens into the library, where there's a Christmas tree made of flying books (poltergeist style, I guess), but in Japan, it has Jack and Sally under the mistletoe, and it was sooooo cute. Oh! And the organist in the ballroom is wearing a Santa hat. And! (I guess there were a lot more than two noticeable differences after all) they don't have an enormous gingerbread house, which is a shame because the gingerbread smell they pump into the room in CA is delicious, but instead they have a Christmas cake, which is one of the big Christmas traditions in Japan, so they couldn't very well leave it out. And finally, in CA, they replaced the Hitchhiking Ghosts with Oogie Boogie, who has a roulette wheel that supposedly determines what hologram gift is going to follow you home (we got lit dynamite last time). It wasn't always that way; I seem to remember going on the Haunted Mansion one year when they were advertising brand new Oogie Boogie! So I think what they have in Japan is what they had before they added Oogie. In Japan, they replaced the Hitchhiking Ghosts with Lock, Shock, and Barrel, and one of them rides in your doom buggy with you until the end of the ride.
And there you have it. That's the differences between the two Haunted Mansion holiday overlays. And now we need to get ready for church, so more on that later.