Oh man, this weekend has been intense. Yesterday, we went to a baptism and a Halloween party, and both of those were pretty great, and we got to get to know our new ward a little bit better, but the party resulted in us staying up late. That would have been okay, too, maybe, I think, but church today was sooooo tough. We're doing our Primary sacrament meeting in two weeks, so we spent second and
third hour practicing, but the problem was the counselor in the Primary presidency who wrote the program doesn't know the new kids well enough (remember, we just changed our ward boundaries a few weeks ago) to know what part to assign to whom.
So! even though we were supposed to be practicing the program, nobody had any spoken parts, and that meant just practicing the songs. But! because the ward is still new, we don't have any official Primary teachers, and all the people who were standing in the last couple of weeks were either busy or figured since they weren't official they wouldn't be part of the program anyway, and the Primary presidency was off in the corner assigning parts to kids, so basically we had a Primary that was triple the usual size, doing the regular restless kid things, and only Athena and me to rein them in. And I was stuck at the piano, so there wasn't a whole lot I could do. It was exhausting.
And now here we are almost too tired to post about our Japan trip.
But I'm going to try anyway!
Where did we leave off? Oh yeah, the parade had just finished. Well, after that there was one main thing I wanted to make sure we got done, so off we went to
Westernland! Our goal was Camp Woodchuck, but we got sidetracked because the Mark Twain had just pulled in to the landing, and we realized we'd never actually been on the Japanese Mark Twain before. And since they just opened the new Rivers of America here in California, we wanted to compare and contrast! Turns out...it was actually very similar. Only their frontier cabin is still on fire. We were pretty excited to see that. Also, none of their antlered critters have obvious panels in their sides for maintenance or whatever those panels are. And the railroad-destroying beavers are a 100% United States original. The beavers at Tokyo Disneyland are considerate enough not to destroy the pillars...obviously that would be because if the Beaver Brothers or their relatives went around ruining train tracks and word got out, it could be very bad for their canoe business. Come to think of it, we've never gone on the Beaver Brothers' canoes... Maybe next time.
Anyway, I'll also point out that the nature around Tokyo Disneyland's rivers is greener. Maybe because it's, like, not in a desert. And there's...okay, so in the original Rivers of America here in CA, part of the Native American scene involved a...shaman? (I'm really sorry if I'm getting the terms wrong!) One of the wise old men of the tribe, at any rate, was telling some of the younger members of the tribe about the invention of the flute. (One time I think we were on the Columbia when a tour guide said it was about churros. I know
we were on the Mark Twain when the captain told us that the animatronic figure was a re-purposed Abraham Lincoln.) F
For one reason or another, they decided to take that guy out of the tribe when they remodeled the Rivers of America here in California, but they didn't want to get rid of him entirely, so now they've built this special rocky outcropping for him where he stands there and tells the story...to the trains and boats as they pass by? First of all, we can't possibly hear the whole story that way, and second of all, who's making this old dude stand on the edge of a cliff waiting for tourists to pass by just to tell them a tiny snippet of a story about a flute in a language they can't understand anyway? It doesn't make any sense. So I was relieved to see that, much as our Disneyland seems to be copying their Disneyland these days, the random old man telling stories over the edge of a cliff is not something that was originally at Tokyo Disneyland.
Oh! I should talk about the steamboat itself! It's very very much like the Mark Twain in California, but it seems a little bit bigger maybe? And it has the fancy room areas like ours does, but we seem to remember theirs having two fancy rooms on the second level and ours only having one... I'm not sure. Anyway, they had fancy leather benches and velvet curtains. (I had to check our pictures to be sure. In my memory, I registered it as, "Oh, this is like ours!") What I am sure of is that on the first level we saw an area and a cast member that looked very much like a real live person operating a real live steam engine. I never stopped to think about what powers our Mark Twain, and I'm pretty sure it is a steam engine, but I've never seen anything that resembled someone operating it before.
We finished our river cruise and hurried on to Camp Woodchuck. This is another thing we knew about because the American Disney Parks Blog won't shut up about our favorite not-so-secret Disneyland. I'm pretty sure we would have gone there anyway, because of course we make it a point to wander the whole park. And! I happen to have pictures of the construction that I took from Tom Sawyer's Island back in January 2017. Fans of Ducktales will remember (or maybe have been reminded; we haven't seen the reboot, so I can't comment on that) that the Junior Woodchucks are the scouting organization that Huey, Dewey, and Louie belonged to. And now! they officially have a lodge in
Westernland! Only, we guess because they already have a cafe in Toontown, the nephews aren't represented nearly as much as Donald and Daisy.
The attraction consists of a restaurant designed to look very much like a camping lodge, complete with a balcony that allows you to eat over the river (this is important to me, because our Disneyland has the Hungry Bear restaurant that used to be right on the river, but for some reason they added a super wide sidewalk between the restaurant and the river so...), and a meet and greet where you can go meet Donald and Daisy in their scouting outfits. We don't really do character meet and greets (it's a shyness thing we have yet to overcome; I mean, I think about it and remember that every character encounter I've had at Tokyo Disney Resort has been great), but we did wander around and take pictures of the restaurant. They had scouting paraphernalia, portraits, the Junior Woodchuck theme song (with lyrics in English, I think to the tune of "I've Working on the Railroad"), and all kinds of things that reminded us of our Girl Scouts days.
The menu mostly featured waffle sandwiches, and we might have been willing to try the chicken sandwich, but we weren't quite
ready to pick off all the vegetables, so instead we just settled for the s'mores-inspired dessert, and oh my goodness, it was the fanciest s'more you will ever see. It's a brownie (with walnuts, sadly, but not to intrusive levels, fortunately), with a dollop of chocolate mousse, garnished with a small waffle for a graham cracker (ice cream cone style waffle this time, but flat) and a toasted marshmallow on top. The dessert was served with a garnish of trail mix, consisting of blueberries, cranberries, chopped almonds, and chopped strawberries in a strawberry sauce, all in a very decorative circle around the brownie. And you'll be proud of us, because we ate everything except the blueberries. ...Okay, and only one cranberry each. But we ate the strawberries. It was pretty yummy.
And because we were eating s'mores, instead of eating at the table, naturally we had to take them to eat around the campfire. This is the one aspect of the lodge that did not
remind us of scouting, because the campfire was apparently (as indicated by the large insignia) donated by Scrooge McDuck, so it had a big metal grill over the whole thing, instead of being set up all open-flame style. No bonfires here. It's a safety hazard. Come on, you're at a theme park, people. We don't know if there was real fire or just orangey lights and steam, but the area around it was lovely, and hung with banners for the different Woodchuck troops. We were very pleased that one of the troops has chosen the old Disney mountain lion for its mascot. (It's such an obscure character even I don't remember if it has a name. But his picture was all over the lodge.)
So we had a lovely time at the lodge, and then we continued to explore
Westernland. Big Thunder was closed for refurbishment, but we did run into the cowboy and pioneer girl that were playing games last Halloween. This time, all the games were pumpkin-related, like the "carry an egg in a spoon" changed to "carry a little pumpkin in a big ladle." We actually caught the beginning of their show, so we totally raised our hands to be on a team, but they wanted teams of three so we didn't get picked. I'm sure we would have if we'd obviously been with one other person, but alas. That's okay, though, because the big exciting twist is that Woody and Jessie come out to play with you in the last round, and then you get to take a picture, and I really think Woody is not a nice guy. I would have been okay being on Team Jessie though. Joan Cusack is awesome.
Toward the end of the show, almost everybody was distracted by a child who had come to watch, who was wearing a giant kigurumi Woody head. It was kind of scary, but since it was on a little kid, it was also pretty awesome and adorable. And we were all like, "Woody! You better get a picture with that child!" And he did, so it all worked out.
By then we were right by the shooting range, which is another thing we'd never done at Tokyo Disneyland (I think we've only ever done it once at our Disneyland...), so we decided to try it out! Their shooting range is set up like the inside of a bar, and there's a bartender and a guy in a chair...I think? I don't remember; we were too busy trying and failing miserably to shoot stuff. You get ten shots, and at the end of it, you get a little paper with Goofy on it that tells you your score. If you hit enough targets, you can get a sheriff's badge! Athena's the only one who played and she got a zero, so we did not get a sheriff's badge. Oh well.
We moved on to Adventureland, where we went to the Enchanted Stitch Room and impressed the cast member who gave the pre-show instructions because she asked, "But what is a tiki?" and I started pointing at all the tikis in the waiting area. I thought everybody knew... I was just pointing because I like answering questions. We also discovered, before that, that they offer subtitles for this show! That's something that might have been helpful when we went with other people... We chose to go without them, but now professional curiosity has me wondering about them. We did not subsequently check to see if they offer them for Out of Shadowland, but that's something we're definitely going to need to find out (we want to show that play to everyone we know, and most of those people don't speak Japanese).
We also went on the train, which I mostly only bring up for two reasons. First, it was really cool when the cast member showed us to a car to sit in and said, "Chip to Dale go-annai itashimasu!" "Go-annai itashimasu" is what they always say when showing guests to seats, or when they're about to give instructions before a show or something, and it basically is a very humble way of saying, "I'm going to show you where to go/what to do/etc.", but when they know your name, they can say it! And of course Chip and Dale aren't our real names, but it was still really fun.
The other reason I mention it is that we realized that this train has a left turn. Just one more way that our Disneyland is copying Japan. (I kid. I'm sure the new left turn at California Disneyland is just a matter of expediency, but they just seemed so excited every time they mentioned that the train was going to open up again and they'd say, "Now for the first time ever, featuring a left turn!" (I imagine it might actually be very exciting for the kind of train enthusiasts that surely drive the train at Disneyland, but to us average passengers, it's just like, "...Okay."))
We stopped by the bazaar to check out the prizes and pins, and they had big plushes of Chip and Dale in their Crackin' Duo Halloween band costumes! The consolation pins were really cute, too, so we decided that yes, we definitely wanted to play, but it was getting close to time for One Man's Dream and there was a line, so off we went to watch the show! It was the same as always, so I won't bother reporting on that again. We had told a cast member at the bazaar that we would be back, and just in case she remembered, we didn't want to let her down, so we started rushing over to Adventureland...and came across a crowd of people looking at three extraterrestrial lifeforms who I guess had just arrived on Earth to explore or something? We missed the beginning of the show.
And actually they might not have been lifeforms, because they had to charge their batteries at one point. But the main thing is they were actually guys in spacesuits, and they did a really cool dance routine, which I may not have gotten many pictures of because I spent a lot of battery on One Man's Dream. (At the beginning of the show, I told myself no, I already have pictures of One Man's Dream; just enjoy the show. Then in the middle of the show, I remembered that last time I tried to photograph it, my battery was dying so I didn't have any good
pictures. So I compromised by finding what I felt was a decent angle of the stage, and I held the camera in place while I watched the show normally, and I just clicked whenever I thought it looked cool.)
So these aliens did a really cool dance routine, because they were trying to build a relationship with the people of Earth, I think? And oh my goodness, these guys were adorable, because whenever the audience clapped, they got the biggest smiles. We had a special fondness for the blue one, because something about his chin (we could only see the bottom half of their faces) reminded us of our beloved favorite voice actor. They didn't talk, though; it was all just their robot voice director thingie. And he told them, while they were so happy that the audience liked their dance, that it wasn't good enough because apparently "yorokobaseru (to make happy)" is not the same as...I don't remember. Something that involved being part of the same in-group. They couldn't just dance for
us, they had to dance with
us! So, as they do for many of these off-theater productions in Tokyo Disneyland, they taught us a little dance routine! And I am so incredibly uncoordinated that I really could not do it to save my life. But I tried! And my efforts did not go unnoticed, because each of the alien robots pulled up someone from the crowd to dance in front of everyone, and the blue one (our favorite) asked me! (I think we stood out even more than usual because of the Chip and Dale hats.)
So we finished the all-together dance routine, and everyone was happy and we were all friends...but then! the alien robots started running out of battery! Oh no! If they didn't get to the charging station fast, they would...I don't know, probably just stop moving or something, and then someone could pick them up and charge them later, but it seemed very dramatic at the time. And they almost didn't make it! In fact, they wouldn't have if we didn't clap and chant "I do believe in fairies!" ...Wait. No. It was just clapping. But we had to do it in rhythm, and I think that involves believing in robot aliens or something, right? And as we clapped, each one of them would move very stiffly to the charging station, and when they made it, we all cheered! (I don't remember if we actually cheered, but let's say we did, because it sounds happier. At the very least, I'm sure I clapped louder.)
When all the alien robots were charged again, they did another dance for us, and then we were all friends, because you're always friends at the end of these shows, and that's why I heart them so much! (I should also give a shout out to the red alien robot, because he was an incredible moonwalker. And he'd do that thing where he would fall backwards and he'd be like two inches from the ground, and you'd be like, "How is he not collapsing!?" because his feet were managing to hold him up. He'd be great at limbo.)
Well, all our hurrying had been thoroughly interrupted, and we'd just made some new Tomorrowland friends, and we were right by the Stitch Monitoring Station, so we figured we might as well make another new friend and do the Stitch encounter. This time it didn't have too much variation from the two versions we've already mentioned, so I'll just remind you all that it's a thing and it's adorable. We did learn that this show does not offer subtitles, because the cast members said, "This show is all in Japanese, is that okay?" It's different every time, so they can't do subtitles. This is probably also why neither of us will ever get to be queen, alas. (Unless we move to Japan and somehow miraculously meet one of the people that does Stitch.)
And we continued to lollygag on our way back to Adventureland. They had a super cool photo op thing in the World Bazaar and we did not want to miss taking our picture there! It was really awesome. It was a giant pumpkin that was carved out to look like a stage, with microphones set up and everything. And outside, there were a bunch of ghosts, some of them sitting at a table like they were judging your audition, and some of them standing around like members of the crew. It was so cool. And the cast members had the line running like a well-oiled machine. They had three of them there to take pictures for you, and whenever one of them finished taking pictures, they would go to the next person in line who hadn't handed over their camera, and hang on to the camera until that group of guests was onstage. It was amazingly efficient! And, even more surprising, not one of them had an official Disneyland camera. All pictures of guests were either taken on guest cameras, or on those Polaroids I mentioned on Friday. Speaking of which, this may have been about when we got two more of those pictures; this time one with a Donald border and one with a Daisy border, because we ran into two cast members together who had Polaroids. They wrote "Happy Halloween 2017" on the borders, too, and it was so cute, because she finished writing Happy on the first one, and then she paused and was like, "How do you spell Halloween?" We think she was asking the other cast member, but we were like, "Hey, it's an English word. We'll help you out."
Then we finally made it to the Adventureland bazaar, but it was dangerous, because right as we got in line, we heard the music to Minnie! Oh, Minnie! start up, and we were a little bit torn. We decided Minnie! Oh, Minnie! isn't our favorite show, and we'd rather play an Adventureland game. When we got to the front of the line where we pay to play, the cast member there was super impressed with our costumes, and that made us super happy! We are
rather pleased with the craftsmanship, if we do say so ourselves.
Then we played a game where we were supposed to navigate a rubber ball down the river to the goal. It was like those wooden mazes where you have to tilt it to get the ball to go through, and it was extra hard because the path was going to be on an incline no matter what you did. The cast member hosting the game was really helpful, though. First he showed us how to play, and then he gave us strategy tips. Then Athena had her first try, and he gave her even more tips based on how she was doing. She even got it almost to the goal! ...But it fell off the edge at the very last moment. So she didn't get to get a big Dale plush. And I failed all my tries, too, so no big Chip plush, either. Instead, Athena got the Chip and Dale Halloween pin, and I got the Clarice one! Pretty good consolation prizes, I'd say.
When we finished playing, we discovered a band of monkeys had taken over Adventureland! And by that, I mean a small band of three wearing jungle style costumes, and a bunch of monkeys from The Jungle Book, and Baloo. There was singing and dancing and clapping, and of course they taught us a dance routine, too. The bandleader said Chip and Dale (that's us) were dancing really good. (Okay, we just checked our pictures, and it looks like the monkeys were before the games. It's the same stuff, just in a different order.)
Soon we realized we were hungry. Fortunately, as we were leaving the World Bazaar to go to Adventureland, we discovered the waffle house! I don't remember the exact name of the restaurant, but the point is, it was all waffles, and waffles are something we can eat. And here's the best part: this was our first time ever having Mickey waffles! That's right, we basically live at the home of the Mickey Mouse waffle, and we had to go to Japan for our fourth time to finally try them. I could say, "Obviously, because in Japan, they serve them with chocolate or strawberry syrup if you want," but we got them with maple, so that argument doesn't hold any water. Our assessment: they taste pretty much exactly like we expected. They're your average waffle.
We had just enough time to catch a ride on the Haunted Mansion before the Electrical Parade, and we have some things to say about the parade, but! we're helping with a Priesthood Preview tonight and it's getting close to time to go, so I better wrap this up.
Today I'm thankful for getting to see Camp Woodchuck, elevated s'mores, finally trying the Adventureland midway games, super adorable robot aliens, and super awesome photo ops.