Anyway, Gaston did come over, which is why we went to Disneyland yesterday instead of on Monday, which would have been closer to our birthday. But since he and Alice were both coming, and Alice had plans on Wednesday night, they didn't drive down until yesterday morning. Nevertheless, when Gaston called on Sunday to wish us a happy birthday, it was established that this was going to be our birthday trip to Disneyland, and if that was going to be the case, we wanted to get there at opening so we could enjoy the early hours before everyone got out of bed and the crowds got ridiculous. Unfortunately, the park opened at nine, which meant there were fewer of those hours, and there were feline shenanigans in the morning that ensured a later departure than we had hoped. The cats were awful cute, though. (The shenanigans mostly involved Page asking to go outside, or at least to have the door opened, at which point about all the neighborhood cats decided they wanted to come in and eat her food. Tangles, as usual, tried to stay even longer.)
Eventually we did get out the door, though, and we got to Disneyland about half an hour after it opened. Our goal was to get on Indiana Jones first, because it's one of our favorites that we don't usually get to go on when Gaston comes over. But it was closed! Oh no! So we went on the Jungle Cruise instead, and we had a guide with some pretty good energy. Her name was Flor, and she said, "That's right, in Spanish it means flower, but in English it just means floor." She also pointed up at some of the plants and said those were their hibiscus plants, and then pointed down at some other plants and said those were their lobiscus plants. And when she pointed out the 500-pound Indo-Chinese tiger, she said, "Not to be confused with the 498-pound Outdo-Chinese tiger, which is a completely different tiger." But then we got to the backside of water and I don't know why, but I'm really disappointed at the fact that none of the skippers seems to realize that the backside of water is supposed to be really sexy. Someone came up with O2H and now it's this chant they do all the time, and we're like, "But that's not what it means!" Also, linguistically, from what we know about chemical formulas, it's just wrong. It's a whole other molecule, not water at all. If you don't want to go with the risque backside of water, stick with the don't try this at home joke. It's funnier.
She was still really good overall, though. And since we went in the morning at this time of year, we got to see some morning glories in bloom, and that was really nice.
We ran into the Disneyland Band a few times. The first time, they were playing a theme park medley, which is always fun, and they ended with the theme from Fantasmic!, and that made me very happy. But then they had some band members come up and start making Frozen puns, so we decided to get out of there. They got payback on us for ditching them, though, because we decided to sneak around behind them and take the drawbridge through the castle (they were performing right in front of the castle), and right as we got to the back row (you know, where the percussion section is), they started playing Let It Go, and the drummer really let his drum have it when I was as close to him as possible. (Not on purpose, but the timing was amusing.)
It wasn't long before we were back in front of the castle (on our way to the Royal Theatre), where the band was playing another set. Or the same set. We went on Pinocchio and Casey, Jr. (we got to sit in the caboose!), and maybe the lines were short enough that the band could have been playing the whole time...but the Pearly Band came out while we were in line for Casey, Jr. ...But we think they tend to play in front of Snow White's Scary Adventure...which is not that far from where the Disneyland Band would have been playing, but might have different speakers? I don't know. The point is, we got back out in front of the castle and the Disneyland Band was playing again. Or not again. Whatever.
The point is! Belle and the Beast were there, too, and the band played Be Our Guest and Belle and the Beast danced to it, and it was very cute. And then we got a seat at the theatre and read Noragami Stray Stories (the one about Kiki! I wonder if she'll ever show up in the main series) while we waited for the show to start. It was a really great show this time; it had our favorite Smythe and Jones, and for the first time ever, Belle delivered all her lines in a way we found to be satisfactory. We were very impressed.
Gaston and Alice showed up right after the show ended, and there was the Disneyland Band yet again, this time joined by Mickey and Friends! Woohoooooooo! They invited everyone to march with them down Main Street to where they were going to do a big number with Mickey and Friends dancing and the Dapper Dans singing. It was a lot of fun, and Mickey and Minnie kissed, which always makes me happy. Gaston is friends with one of the Dapper Dans, so they kept pointing and gesturing at each other when the Dans weren't required to do anything for the choreography. (We'll call him Red, because he's the red Dapper Dan. Red played Gaston in a production of Beauty and the Beast when Gaston played the Beast. So now whenever we're with Gaston walking along Main Street and we come across the Dapper Dans, if Red is in the group, we'll stop and watch, and after their set, they'll chat for a bit until Red gets caught up signing autographs and taking pictures.)
Through their pointing and gesturing, Red communicated to Gaston that we should catch their next set, so we checked their set times and then headed off to use our Big Thunder fastpasses. On the way, we got distracted looking at ducklings and baby turtles. We like all the ducklings, but also the Disneyland turtles seem to be breeding as well, and Gaston is kind of obsessed with them. I can't really blame him, though, because we have seen the baby turtles, and they're only like two inches around! They're so tiny! They're tinier than the ducklings! And ancient Japanese wisdom states that anything tiny is adorable (Sei Shonagon, the Pillow Book). Nevertheless, ducklings are fluffier, so. But the point of this story is that Donald was out for revenge. At least, that's my story because it's funnier.
Of course because it was our birthday, Athena and I were wearing our DisneySea Year of Wishes t-shirts because they're our favorites. Athena's has Donald Duck and mine has Mickey Mouse. One of the ducks seemed to take issue with that, because it rose out of the pond, flew over us...and I had to go to the restroom to clean up my shirt. It was not the best birthday experience. But I didn't let it ruin my day!
After Big Thunder, we went back to Main Street to wait for the Dans to show up, and then we followed them to where they were going to perform. They did a really great show, using organ chimes, and singing a park medley (I always love me a park medley, especially when it has Snow White songs), and they gave us extra attention, I assumed because we were with Gaston and Red knows him. But apparently it was actually because it was our birthday.
After the show, Red and Gaston chatted for a while, then Red had to take pictures and sign autographs for a little bit, and we were about to mosey off when Red pulled himself away and gestured for us to follow him. We went inside the entryway to the store they had been performing in front of, and Red pulled in the other Dans and said they were going to sing happy birthday to us! But the tenor had disappeared, so they were going to do it without the melody! And we were like, "Hey, that sounds cool!" I don't remember exactly how it happened, but instead, Red remembered that hey, Gaston is a singer, and he said, "You know the melody to Happy Birthday, don't you?" So Gaston got to join the Dapper Dans in singing happy birthday to us (and the tenor showed up in time, too). It was really neat, and Gaston was totally stoked, like, "I actually got to sing with the Dapper Dans! That's gotta be the best birthday present ever, to have the Dapper Dans and your friend sing to you like that!" And we were like, "Well, considering we can probably get you to sing for us anytime, and in fact we do hear you sing whether we want you to or not, I'm thinking it's more of a present for you..." Alice even said as much (only without the middle part). But we thought it was cute, so instead, I said, "Happy my birthday!" I like to see my friends excited.
Our next major stop was the Carthay Circle Restaurant, where Gaston had made us lunch reservations. Usually we prefer not to focus on food too much if it's supposed to be something we like (we're just not foodies; that's a thing, isn't it? not being a foodie?), but we'd been to the Carthay Circle before (for Gaston's birthday) and we really liked the service and, more importantly, the desserts! so we approved of Gaston's idea for a special birthday treat. This time, I don't know if it was because of our birthday or just good timing, but we got to eat in the Buena Vista room, which is a private room for parties of five or fewer. The service was amazing as always, and we just got plain pasta like last time. But our server recommended that, since we would have to pay full price anyway, we might want to get the protein on the side, just to get more of our money's worth. We agreed, and our pasta was served with a grilled chicken breast, and oh my goodness you guys, it was seasoned to perfection. It was so amazing. It was just a grilled chicken breast, but it was the best grilled chicken breast I've ever had in my whole life. (I think they just used salt and pepper, too.) Gaston and Alice both got the salmon, which they both said was very good.
Then it was time for dessert, and since they'd changed out most of the desserts since the last time we'd eaten there, we did the same thing as last time and ordered one of each dessert, then we split them all into four pieces and passed the plates around so everybody could try them. There was a caramel monkey bread, a citrus cheesecake, a marshmallow turnover (the only one that we had last time), and a chocolate hazelnut crunch. Fortunately Gaston and Alice liked all of them, but as usual, we were pickier. Despite the marshmallows, I think the marshmallow turnover was my favorite. Why? Because it was the sweetest. The chocolate hazelnut crunch was good, too, because it's really hard to go wrong with chocolate, but Athena and I both tasted some extra bitterness. It worked well with the chocolate, but it was really bitter. And it just reinforces in my mind the idea that sweet desserts are out of style, and as someone with a sweet tooth, that makes me sad. Fortunately, I think the marshmallow turnover must be a signature dish or something, since it was still there, so I suspect it will stick around for a while. On the other hand, so far it looks like we eat at the Carthay Circle about once every year and a half, so it's not like it's going to make a huge difference in our lives.
Anyway, it was a very nice experience all around, even if we weren't in love with the desserts, and as an added bonus, because it was our birthday, two of the desserts were on the house (one for each of us), and Gaston and Alice paid for our lunch.
After that, we mostly just hung around and went on more rides. Athena and I have decided that we're so over movies, we don't care about being spoiled for them anymore, so we might as well watch the sneak peeks they have, and if we like them enough maybe we'll bother seeing the movie. So we went to see the sneak peek for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. We were not surprised to discover that the visuals were stunning. The characters are interesting and fun as usual, and the story seems like it might be interesting, too, but... All the story and stuff in the excerpt we saw was interspersed between what we believe to be an entirely overlong action sequence. So I think we would like to see some kind of abridged version, or to maybe watch it at home, when we can pause it and take a break when we're tired of sitting through pointlessly long action sequences.
The only other thing really worth reporting is that Alice had not yet seen the Red Rose Tavern, so we went over there for a dinner/snack kind of thing (the Carthay Circle really filled us up at lunch). While we were sitting there eating, the ambient music started playing the orchestrated version of "Me," the song Gaston sings to Belle when he proposes to her in the stage version. Naturally, our Gaston started singing along. The people at the table next to us made it obvious that they were listening, so he started playing to an audience, but still not too loud; he didn't want to disturb everyone in the restaurant. Nevertheless, apparently that whole area of the restaurant heard him, because when it was over, the whole room started applauding. It was neat. It makes me want to do cool Beauty and the Beast things. And it also proved that having our friend sing to us isn't that rare a treat.
When we'd satisfied ourselves with Disneyland and its attractions, we headed over to Joe's for some Italian Ice, and then Gaston and Alice dropped us off and headed down to San Diego where they had other plans for today. And we wanted to pass out, but we had to get ready for bed and stuff first. It was exhausting, but it was a very, very nice birthday trip.
Today I'm thankful for another wonderful birthday trip, getting our own special serenade from the Dapper Dans, having another lovely time dining at the Carthay Circle Restaurant, the most amazing chicken I've ever had in my life, getting to ride the caboose, getting to see the best cast in the Royal Theatre's Beauty and the Beast show, and just having a really great day.