I did want to mention that my analysis of Haunted Mansion Holidays in general is that I guess the point of haunted house things is to freak you out by making you feel uncomfortable. The normal Haunted Mansions do it with eeriness and things out of the ordinary. The holiday versions do it with constant, loud, jarring music. Both are effective, but the latter gets to be rather annoying, so I have hope that one day they'll decide they've had enough of Haunted Mansion Holidays and either come up with something new or just drop it. Or at least not have it up for a whole third of the year.
But anyway, we finished at the Haunted Mansion and took a hop, skip, and a jump over to It's A Small World, which continues to be a great ride. After we got back, we read an article about nine or ten things this woman hated about Disney World and discovered that from a certain perspective, the attraction can be seen as a little racist. From other articles I've read, my guess about this is that it can be seen as reducing the people from the different countries to a narrow stereotype. I'm not sure I can defend that, except to say that how else are we supposed to let people know that so many different cultures are represented? If we just have them all wearing modern non-culturally-specific clothes and doing non-culture-specific things, we're hardly celebrating the diversity of cultures around the world, which is what the ride is about. And I don't think the ride is saying that everybody from each culture is exactly like that, and I seriously doubt it's saying that everyone from every culture stands around singing "It's A Small World" nonstop, so... I don't know.
My personal interpretation of the ride is that, even though we come from different cultures with different landscapes and different styles of clothing, we're more alike than you think, and we can take all of those things and work together for peace and harmony. It's also a celebration of heritage. And as for the people of each culture potentially being offended to be represented as a stereotype based on old ethnic costumes etc., I want to point out that the Japan section of the Japanese version of the ride (in Japan) is very much like the one in America, only bigger, and instead of two girls wearing kimonos, there's a girl wearing a kimono and a boy wearing hakama.
Anyway, I'm not opposed to having a discussion about all of that kind of thing, but ultimately I think It's A Small World is a celebration of diversity, not an attempt to pigeonhole people from every country into a tiny stereotype.
After the ride, we went on the teacups! We had to, because Noragami. On previous trips, we tended to pass it by, because the experience didn't promise to be a whole lot different than the one in California. But it is a little different. For instance, this one has a roof like the one in Florida. And in the center of the teacup area, there's a big teapot where the dormouse comes in and out, which is pretty cute. On days when we're not feeling up to a lot of excitement but we still want to go on the teacups, we have done an almost unthinkable thing, which is to ride the teacup without spinning the wheel to make it go faster. (This is so unthinkable that when we suggested it, people looked at us blankly for a few seconds, and when we made Gaston try it, he was surprised at how leisurely the ride can be. Clearly, the wheel has some sort of enchantment on it to make people think it's mandatory.) But today, we had to go fast, of course! Because Noragami.
So we spun and spun and spun! And spun and spun and spun! And it went really fast! We made sure our braids were hanging over the edge of the teacup, so we could see how high they went from the centri...petal? centrifugal? I don't know which is the right one, but it was one of those that makes our braids fly up. I think we got them at a pretty good angle, but we still didn't manage to get them horizontal like the one time after Anime Expo. Nevertheless, it was very intense. I had to let go of the wheel a couple of times because I couldn't take it anymore. Then I would rally and join in the spinning again. It was a lot of fun, and afterwards, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my eyes stopped spinning in their sockets after only about a minute. (I've had times on that ride where I had to stop for quite some time and wait for my eyes to find their proper focus again. This is why the teacups are not for the faint of heart.)
I was feeling a little queasy, though, so now the important thing was to get something to eat! It may seem counter-intuitive, but I've found that I'm more prone to nausea the emptier my stomach. So we settle it with food. And fortunately, there was a stand selling tipo tortas, which is a name that was apparently invented for a particular type of snack at Tokyo Disney parks. It's basically like a biscotti with filling, and we got the chocolate one, which tasted a lot like a chocolate Poptart. lyschan got the sweet potato one, and that one was pretty tasty, too (she gave me a bite to try). And while we sat and ate, we noticed a single kernel of popcorn on the ground that happened to be shaped like a Mickey. It was an accidental hidden Mickey!
Anyway, the line to Winnie the Pooh's Honey Hunt was long as usual, so we grabbed some fastpasses and moved on to Toon Town. We made it a point to visit Toon Town this time, because last time we noticed that the entire land is sponsored by our good friends at Kodansha (but we couldn't fit it into our schedule then). It's actually a lot like our Toon Town in California, but just not quite. First we went to Goofy's house, where they actually turned it into another attraction. See, when they first opened Toon Town in California, Goofy's house was a bounce house. We were pretty unhappy about it, because we were already too tall to be allowed inside, at the young age of ten. But for whatever reason, they took all the bounce out of Goofy's house, and now it's a walk-through, with a playground outside. In Japan, they made a new attraction out of it. Goofy is trying out some new painting technology that's supposed to paint your whole house in a snap!
So we get to help Goofy paint his house. You can team up or go individually, but a cast member asks how many machines you want, and then you get a paint gun. There are three different guns--the spin-the-wheel kind, the mash-the-button kind, and the pull-the-string-out-like-on-Toy-Story-Mi
Then we went on Gadget's Go Coaster, which actually did not have the exact same track as in California. And they actually have two coasters going at once! Wild.
We stopped by Huey, Dewey, & Louie's diner for some french fries and juice to keep the blood sugar up, where we saw a bunch of characters posing for pictures, including the Three Little Pigs! We decided that we didn't care enough to wait 35 minutes for Roger Rabbit's Car-Toon Spin, but we did take some more pictures around town...mostly of Club 33 1/3. Some readers will know that there's a "secret" Club 33 at First Disneyland for people who are willing and able to fork out thousands upon thousands of dollars for a yearly membership, and since we're not exactly interested in fancy food or the ability to *gasp!* drink alcohol inside Disneyland, we usually don't care about it. But this one was different, because the sign for the club was right next to a Kodansha logo. And that made us go, "Hmmm..." Then we saw the doorbell cover, which somebody had left open, and it had a message in Japanese and English for guests of Kodansha to press it for admittance. And we were like, "Hmmmmmmmm..."
Of course, that all makes us sound very opportunistic, but let me assure you that we have no plans to act on any of this information. But of course we wouldn't mind if we somehow manage to get to a point with Kodansha where they would let us in.
And then we went to the sound effects factory and opened up a bunch of crates. There were a bunch of Japanese tourists there that seemed surprised, so I guess the idea that you can open the crates is a well-kept secret. When you open them, they make loud sound effects, like of fireworks going off, or a train passing by. There were some tourists sitting on the steps to the electric company door, but I had to open it (I really, really felt like it!), so I said excuse me and stepped past them to open the door. And everyone was shocked! (pun intended) to see me get zapped! That's one of my favorite things in Toon Town. (In California Toon Town, there's a sign that says not to open the door unless you really feel like it. In Japan, they don't have signs like that, because if a sign says don't do something, the Japanese people are smart enough not to do it.)
Then it was time to go to Critter Country, because even though the only ride there is Splash Mountain, it has a really neat sign and critter houses and stuff, and I wanted to check it out last time, but we didn't get to it. And of course, someone had to go on Splash Mountain because Noragami. We're still pretty opposed to the whole drop situation, but! at DisneySea, the Indiana Jones ride alerted me to the fact that they do indeed have single rider lines in Tokyo Disney Parks, so I figured we could send lys through the single rider line, and then she could experience Splash Mountain without having to wait too long, and we could just wait outside. So when we got to the line entrance, I started asking cast members about a single rider line, and just as lys was asking, "So what is this 'single rider' business?" a cast member told me, "Just go this way!" so we sent her along, all by herself, with no answers to the question. Eh heh heh... Fortunately, she's a smart cookie, so she figured it out, but I'm still amused and full of chagrin at the image of us standing at the line entrance, waving, and going, "Bye! Have fun!" with a very staunch attitude of not following her.
(For anyone who doesn't know, single rider is when you go through a shorter line, and they use people one at a time to fill up empty spaces when the number of people in groups doesn't fill up the ride vehicle. One of the first times we used it, a cast member explained, "If you don't mind riding without the rest of your group, we don't mind not making you wait in line.")
Athena and I took up a post by the drop where we could see lys ride by, and it was about then that we realized, "Oooohhhh wait, we never explained to her how single rider works... Oops..." And then it was a while before her ride vehicle passed by, so I was worried for a while, comforting myself by pointing out that at least the cast members hadn't sent her back yet. But then she rode by and we were excited and relieved. The boats actually go by outside the drop long before they go down the drop, though, so we still had some waiting to do, but it was nice. Critter Country is beautiful, and they played "The Ants Go Marching" (or at least we assume it's that one and not "When Johnny Comes Marching Home", because this was Critter Country, not Liberty Square), and as we were commenting on that, we noticed ants marching by on the rock in front of us! So that was fun.
Eventually lys came down the drop, and I kept trying to get a picture of it, so I ended up with a ton of pictures of other boats, but my camera battery started protesting, so I was turning it off and on again as she came down. Bummer. But she was able to do the heart pose with the group in front of her, so there's that. Then we raced to the exit so we could meet her as she came off the ride. We used to always wait at the place where they show guests their photos for our party, so it was nice and nostalgic.
We continued to admire Critter Country, and I was tempted to buy one of the Halloween Mickey ears hats. This year, they're having a music festival theme for their Disneyland celebration (at DisneySea, they're having a villain theme, with Mickey and Friends dressing as Disney villains), so Mickey has a hat that reminds us of Michael Jackson, but in all honesty I couldn't say if that's what they were going for, because I know nothing of pop music. But it was kind of fedora-ish, with rhinestones all along the hatband. And I thought to myself, "I'm really not into all this Halloween stuff, but those Mickey ears amuse me no end," so if I were to buy Halloween apparel, that would be it. Or that super awesome bat cloak or whatever it was we saw at the Emporium later. But the cloak was like seven thousand yen or something, so we were like, dude, I can make one of those myself.
Anyway, we hadn't been to Adventureland yet, so after we got fastpasses to Big Thunder, that's where we went! Oh but first we went to the Danny store, because it's Danny! And they had new Halloween merchandise! Or maybe old Halloween merchandise--we wouldn't know, it's not like we go every year. But it was new to us! And some of it had this super adorable picture of Danny carrying a trick-or-treat bucket and wearing a witch hat. So we bought it! And we took a picture with Danny outside the shop, who is now dressed up for Halloween, and in a different pose, so you know they didn't just put a hat on the old statue.
And then we went to Adventureland, where unfortunately the Jungle Cruise was closed. We need to go on that again now that we have better Japanese listening skills. But we did go to the Enchanted Stitch Room, and we made it a point of visiting the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, because it's Tarzan's Treehouse in California now. And it was nostalgic. The boys' bedroom was so tiny! It was hard to imagine three boys sleeping in that room before, but these days... On the other hand, they had a whole outdoors to play in, so they didn't need that much room to sleep. And the organ was playing like it always did before. Aaahh...
From the treehouse, we could see that the parade was coming our way, so when we finished there, we hurried over to the parade route to watch before going on Pirates of the Caribbean. I don't think there's a whole lot of commentary from here on out. We went on Pirates, then we had dinner, then we went to catch One Man's Dream which is still great, then we snagged some seats for the Electrical Parade. Then we went on Honey Hunt and Big Thunder, from which we could see the Fantasmic! fireworks, and we went on It's A Small World again because we all love it so much, and then we went on Star Tours because we hadn't seen the Japanese version of the new version. I kind of wish they'd bring the old Star Tours back, because it was just nicer. It was a simpler time... They're making everything too Epic these days.
We had kind of hoped to not stay until closing, because we didn't want to be too exhausted on the day we needed to make sure we had everything packed and ready to go, and lys was hoping we could squeeze in a trip to Nakano Broadway, which we still needed to locate and get directions etc. (That ended up not happening, sadly, because it didn't open until noon, and it was about a half hour train ride away, and we needed to get back to our hotel to get our luggage and then lug it to the airport.) But we lost track of time and ended up having to race to Fantasyland to pick up some coveted merchandise (there was a three-spouted Alice in Wonderland teapot that lys fell in love with) before they closed the park for the night. We just barely made it and heard the park closing announcement, which included nothing about our shopping convenience, so we were worried the the World Bazaar would not stay open an extra hour like Main Street does, because we still had some souvenirs we wanted to buy.
Fortunately, the World Bazaar showed no sign of closing, so we were able to do some last minute shopping anyway, but the stuff we really wanted was outside at Bon Voyage anyway, because it was DisneySea stuff. Athena and I wanted to each get one of the Mickey & Friends t-shirts that were designed for the 15th. Speaking of shirts, though, lys got an Alice one that was very cute (not a t-shirt; she's more stylish than we are). We also got a set of clear files with the very sparkly art of each character with his or her wish crystal. And then we made the long(-ish) train ride back to Tokyo to prepare for our last day in Japan (of this trip).
The next day, since we had discovered that Nakano Broadway was opening so late, Athena and I suggested that lys join us at Sunshine City, where they might have something she was looking for. She was looking for a souvenir for her movie-buff father. Apparently there's a great Mandarake in Nakano Broadway for that, but maybe there would be something at Sunshine City, too. As for Athena and me, we wanted to check out the Disney Store and, more importantly, the Pokemon Center, because if they still had the sleepy Bulbasaur they were selling back in January, we were totally gonna buy one. For better or worse, they did not have one, and strangely enough, we weren't nearly as tempted by their selection of plushies as we were in January (although there was a Pikachu dressed as the Statue of Liberty that was pretty enticing).
After some shopping there, we made a quick stop at Animate to buy a birthday present for Cecille (and some Anubis merchandise for us), and then headed back to the Noragami art exhibit for one last look, and to buy some more keychains. Athena looked at all the messages people had left for Adachitoka and found the one by the anime's CGI director, which was neat. Lys bought ten more keychains, which is how she got Take-chan and Daikoku to go with her Kofuku, who had gone missing at that point but was later found. She also got two Hiyoris, which worked out because we got two Yatos, so we traded!
Then we picked up our luggage and lugged it to the train station. There were a lot of stairs, and we had more luggage now (for the souvenirs), so we made a habit of taking two trips up and down the stairs--lys and I would go first while Athena guarded the rest of the bags, then lys would guard the bags on the other end of the staircase while I went to meet Athena and bring them all together. But! on the last stairway, before I could get back to Athena, a bunch of station attendants walked by and saw that she had a bunch of luggage, and with barely a word, they picked it up and carried it up the stairs for her! Wow, what service!
Then we figured out (sort of) how to take the train back to the airport, and eventually made the long journey back to LAX. Customs was a hassle as usual, and we had the extra fun bonus of having lost our apartment keys during the trip (there was a time at the San Francisco airport where we thought we heard something drop, so we looked around and didn't see anything; Athena thinks that's when I dropped the keys), so we had to call our cat-checker-in-onner to let us in to our apartment. Fortunately, she hadn't yet left for work. After that, we ordered pizza for dinner, and then we tried to watch So Dear to My Heart, but halfway through, we were forced to acknowledge that we couldn't keep our eyes open after the long, long day of travel (there was some joking about time zones, and how it seemed like so long ago that we ate those crepes in Sunshine City, but really, it was happening right about now), so we gave up and went to bed. Only we all actually stayed up longer doing stuff, but it's a lot easier to stay awake when you're moving, as opposed to sitting watching a movie.
The next morning, we saw lys off when the Super Shuttle came to pick her up, and then we went back to bed and slept until eleven, which is really late for us. We thought about trying to get some work done, but ended up giving up on that idea, and took it easy instead. And then a week and a half went by, and now here we are. Tadah!
And that concludes our most recent Japan report. It was a short trip, but it was a lot of fun.
Today I'm thankful for another great trip to Japan, spare keys, getting to try the tipo tortas, super cute Halloween Danny merchandise, and the kids being reasonably well behaved in Primary today.