But anyway! There are about a million adorable stories from our trip to Disneyland with Little Sister #1 and her kids, and if I want to tell all of them before the memories get crowded out by new ones from our trip to Disneyland with Little Sister #2 and her kids, I better get cracking!
So Celeste, her husband, her kids, and her sister-in-law made it down here on Tuesday night. They stayed at the Paradise Pier hotel in Downtown Disney, which meant it would not be convenient for us to hitch a ride with them to the park, so we met them there. (They invited us to hang out with them at their big fancy hotel, but we had a million years of work to do, so couldn't really afford to spend the time to walk there, hang out, and walk back.) When we got to the esplanade (also known as "the area between the two park entrances"), I texted Celeste to let her know we were there, and she said that's where they were, too! We spotted them as they met up with Kimee, who, being an official Disney cast member, was able to get three of them into the park for free.
They didn't notice us, so I raced to a nearby turnstile to get into the park ahead of them and surprise them when they came through. They must have noticed us before we made it, though, because as Athena went through, a tiny little girl came running over to give hugs. Unfortunately, this was discovered too late, so Athena kept going and the girl (our niece) ended up stumbling and falling on the ground. Fortunately, she is pretty small, so she didn't have a long way to go, and it didn't hurt her too much. She didn't even cry. ...At that point, anyway. Of course there was crying; this is little kids at Disneyland.
So now we were all together, and Celeste was in a bit of a rush because she wanted to make sure to sign up her oldest for the Jedi Training Academy before it filled up. Fortunately she wasn't in so much of a hurry as to refuse to do anything else, because her kids love the Disney characters, and who should appear as we're walking down Main Street but the big cheese himself, Mickey Mouse! He saw our niece and came right over for a hug (I mean, who can blame him; our niece is adorable)...which kind of freaked her out. She's not quite three, which means she's at the age where big furry characters can be simultaneously fascinating and terrifying. But Mickey knows what he's doing, and he managed to win her over fairly quickly. They high-fived more than once. He kissed her hand, which I mainly only remember because Athena just reminded me that Mickey wanted a picture with us, too, and he held out his hand for me to put my hand in so he could kiss my hand, too. And this sticks in my memory because I was a little clueless at first. I'm not good at charades...
After our meeting with Mickey, we resumed our journey to Tomorrowland for Jedi training signups.
Hype seems to have gone down enough, and the crowds were small enough at that point, that we didn't have much to worry about, but we didn't know that at the time. There was a line, after all. And while Celeste and the boy waited in line to get him signed up, Athena, Silvia (names changed to protect the innocent), and I took the girl on Autopia. The rest of this is boring, so I'll skip ahead, except to say that there was a lot of waiting around, during which time our niece said that she wanted to go back to the hotel, and also told us that she wanted to see Princess Jasmine and, "what's his name again? I forgot." We told her his name is Aladdin, and then she kept talking about wanting to see Princess Jasmine and Prince Aladdin. Awwwww. (Spoiler alert: Aladdin and Jasmine are about the only characters we didn't meet.)
There was time before our nephew's big debut, so while Celeste took him on Space Mountain (she warned him again and again about the Ghost Galaxy ghost, and he said he would be fine; what she forgot to warn him about, which was definitely not fine, was the dark. oops), we took Rosetta (I need a codename for the niece) on Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters. Kids usually love this ride because...actually, I'm not sure why. I'm kind of ambivalent about it. Maybe if I'd known, I would have been better prepared with Rosetta. I kept trying to give her the blaster so she could shoot stuff, but she just sat politely with her hands in her lap, making no move whatsoever to take it. Then it occurred to me that, oh hey, we were in a series of dark rooms full of weird-looking monsters. What two-year-old little girl wouldn't love that?, she asked sarcastically. We passed by the ride again later, and Rosetta told her mother she did not want to go on that again.
When we got off the ride, who should appear but some...Storm Troopers? I'm not sure if that's what they're called in the new movies. The guys that look like Storm Troopers and work for the First Order. I thought it could be fun to heckle them, so I did, and we had a bit of an altercation. If I were better at improv, I'm sure it would have been amazing, but it was just, "Down with the First Order! Boo! Boo!" and the Storm Troopers came and tried to look menacing. Well, they succeeded with Rosetta, because as it turns out, Rosetta is not okay with bad guys even in broad daylight. She took it very well, but this should have been a warning. We did not heed it.
Finally, it was time for Gilderoy (nephew's codename) to make his Padowan debut. Celeste took him to the prep area to get his robes, and we went and found a seat. We waited and waited and waited, and then! at last the show began. A line of little Padowans came marching over from what used to be Innoventions, through the center aisle, and onto the stage. The show proceeded as usual, with the main girl being played by a different (and much less annoying) actress than when we'd seen it before. It was kind of amazing, like, "Hey, I don't hate this character anymore. She still makes bad decisions, but at least she's amusing."
The Jedi Master taught the Padowans their routine. Gilderoy mostly seemed to stand there wondering what to do, but would occasionally make a delayed move with his lightsaber, or hold it up at a semi-appropriate time. He's not exactly the type to take direction... It was pretty cute, though.
And then it was time to open up the training temple, where the Padowans would face their fears. We all helped the Jedi Master use the Force to lift the stage...and Darth Vader and Kylo Ren came out! Aww, grandfather/grandson bonding...by slaughtering little children. Or acting intimidating while letting them beat them in a very simple combat exercise. Well, anyway, this was when Rosetta couldn't take it anymore. She was interested when the temple came up, because finally something was happening, but then it was scary bad guys. She kept telling Athena (who was holding her to make sure she could see above the rest of the audience) that she didn't like this. We all tried to stick it out until Gilderoy had his turn, though.
It was kind of a long wait for two reasons. First, since he wasn't listening to the instructor, he didn't get in line until toward the end, and second, and more importantly, he was freaking the heck out, too. From what we hear, he's not a big fan of scary movies, either (where by scary, I mean bad guys doing scary things, not necessarily horror). It's possible that when his parents told him he would get to fight Darth Vader, he didn't stop to think about what that really meant. So he was ready to drop out of the academy (he even ran to mom in the middle of the show (it's okay; he wasn't the only one, and I'm sure the cast members get this kind of thing a lot)), but Celeste convinced him to stay, and he went up and fought Kylo Ren...who told Gilderoy he would turn to the dark side. Usually, the Jedi Master is supposed to say something like, "Never!" to kind of bolster the kid's fighting spirit, or maybe just as fighting words. We don't know the reason, but when I think about little kids fighting Sith lords, I think they would probably be encouraged to know they have a Jedi backing them up.
At any rate, the Jedi Master seemed distracted and said nothing, so we were hoping this wasn't the one time Gilderoy was listening carefully. Whether he was or not, he was pretty much done at this point. I think he just kind of froze. The Jedi Master got back into it enough to at least get our nephew to use his lightsaber to touch Kylo Ren's, and they called it good. Gilderoy then ran back to his mom, and they took off his robes and gave him his commemorative button anyway. We tried to stay for the rest of the show, but the kids were officially done with this business, so we left and went to do something happy.
Specifically, that happy thing was going to meet Tinkerbell. Celeste knew that her kids were going to want to meet the characters, and that they might not get a chance to see all of them, so she had the following exchange with Gilderoy: "Now, we might not get to see all of the characters, so if you can see only one, who do you want to see?" "All of them." "But we might not get to see all of them, so who do you want to see the most?" "All of them." Repeat a few times until Gilderoy gets the message, at which point he says, "Tinkerbell, because my little brother hasn't met my girlfriend."
You see, Gilderoy and Rosetta met Tinkerbell at Disneyland two years ago, before Gilderoy even really knew who Tinkerbell was, and he has been calling her his girlfriend ever since. Now he was ready to introduce her to his family. So we got in line!
Unfortunately, none of Tink's friends were available that day, so we didn't get to meet any of the other pixies, but Tinkerbell was amazing. First, as soon as the group ahead of us walked off, Rosetta raced over to give her a hug. When Gilderoy came up, the first thing she noticed was his Jedi button, so she started asking him all about it. "If you can fight Darth Vader, that must mean you're pretty brave. Are you brave enough to fight pirates?" "What do you have to do to be a Jedi? I bet I can do it, too." Gilderoy told her she had to have a lightsaber, and that made her pause, but I pointed out she could probably make one, and she said, yeah, she has a friend who knows all about light, and she can tinker with things.
The best was when Celeste explained that Gilderoy saw her when he was two and has been calling her his girlfriend ever since. She looked right at him and said, affronted, "Well where have you been!?" Then she accused him of growing up. He told her he's four now, and she asked, "Well, how did you skip from two to four? What, did you skip three?"
Anyway, she was the best. And when the conversation was over and it was time to pose for a picture, she leaned over to Gilderoy like she was going to kiss him on the cheek. It was adorable.
I should maybe also mention that, before we saw Tinkerbell, the character host at Pixie Hollow told us that they had to shrink us down to the right size, so Gilderoy kept asking how we shrank and why. ...But I don't remember any more about that.
So we left Pixie Hollow and who should be right in the walkway meeting guests but Mary Poppins and Bert. (Every time we see Bert at Disneyland, we say, "50 years later, he's younger than he's ever been." What I'm saying is, the guys they cast as Bert all look a lot younger than Dick van Dyke did when he played Bert.) Of course we lined up to say hi. While we waited, who else should walk by but Peter Pan! He seemed to be on his way to something, so while Celeste held the spot in line, we took the children to get a quick picture with him. (He seemed like he'd done some growing up himself. I wonder if waxing would prevent him from ever having a beard in the future...)
Once again, when it was finally our turn, Rosetta dashed up to Mary and gave her a hug. So Rosetta talked to Mary while Gilderoy talked to Bert, and none of the other grownups caught any of what was said, but Mary and Rosetta seemed to be getting along very well. It was just so sweet seeing how kind and caring Mary was. I did catch enough of Bert talking to Gilderoy to comment on how his accent got fancy. He was using the more stereotypical English accent--by which I mean the one that makes Americans assume English people are smart. So I'll grant that he's probably better at using accents than Dick van Dyke was in Mary Poppins, but it wasn't the right accent for Bert (who's supposed to speak in a Cockney accent). I'm a little exasperated by all these park characters using different accents than the ones in the movies.
While we were waiting in line to see Mary and Bert, the children's father, who was walking around to keep the baby from fussing, had wandered over to where he got a view of Snow White's Grotto and discovered that none other than Princess Aurora herself was there meeting guests. This was Very Important, because Aurora is Rosetta's Favorite Princess (of this time). Unfortunately, by the time we got to her, the line had been closed. Boo.
Oh well. It was just about lunchtime, anyway. But first! we managed to convince Celeste to let us check if Farley was out so they could all meet him. (We talk about Farley to our sisters, but they don't seem to care, and Little Sister #2 even felt the need to tell us seeing him might not be the best use of their Disneyland time. For some reason, our family seems to hate all our friends, which frankly I find to be baffling, because they seem to like us well enough, so I would think they would have a little bit of faith in the people we like...) And he was! So we took them all to meet Farley, and we got a birthday button for Celeste, because it was in fact her birthday, and we sang Happy Birthday to her in bluegrass style, accompanied on the fiddle.
Then we headed over to Red Rose Taverne for lunch, because when we asked him what he wanted to eat, Gilderoy said he wanted a burger and fries, and that's something they have on the kids' menu there. So while the grownups looked at the menu and decided they didn't want anything, we took Gilderoy to order, so he was right there listening the whole time when I ordered a burger and fries for him. And I know he really was listening this time, because when the cast member asked if I wanted it with or without cheese, I said, "Uhhh, with," and Gilderoy corrected me.
So we got food for ourselves and the kiddos, and we put it on the table in front of Gilderoy...and he pushed his meal away and said, "No, thank you. I want vegetables." His mother tells us (speaking from experience) that he doesn't really want vegetables (he never eats them). He only thinks he wants them because someone told him they would make him big and strong. While this is no doubt true...well, actually, I think protein is more likely to make him big and strong, but vegetables will keep him healthy long enough to get there...but the point is, we already had a meal for him, and it was paid for and everything. So Athena explained to him that the meat would also make him big and strong, and the potatoes would give him energy to make him big and strong. He replied, "These aren't potatoes." But he ate most of his food anyway, so we're just going to call it a win. The little twerp.
Next on the agenda was the Royal Hall to meet some princesses while Gilderoy and his dad braved Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (if you think this was a terrible idea after Space Mountain, allow me to point out that the kid loves roller coasters, just not the dark). But before we got there, we saw that Rapunzel and Flynn Rider were doing a meet and greet just outside the hall. (This is a common thing. There's the Royal Hall, and right outside the Royal Hall is a little nook where they have more meet and greets. I'm not sure what the reasoning is behind this; I think originally the characters went straight there after doing a show at the Royal Theatre, but now it's just whoever. I also used to think it was for the more "minor" princesses, because Merida used to be there all the time, and Elena was switching off with Rapunzel... I don't know.) So we asked Rosetta, and she confirmed that yes, she does want to meet Tangled, so we got in line.
After waiting and waiting and waiting (it wasn't that bad, but when you're with a toddler, sometimes it feels like time drags more, because watching a toddler trying to wait and imagining their boredom...), it was finally our turn. In keeping with her usual behavior, Rosetta ran over to give Rapunzel a hug. And I don't think "run" covers it. It's more like she ran! over to give Rapunzel a hug, with such force that Flynn made a facial expression that said, "Whoa!" and then out loud said, "I guess we know who her favorite princess is." No, she's just like that with everyone, to the point that even before the last group finished up, I was getting my camera ready so I didn't miss the moment. That being the case, I was distracted and heard Flynn's comment as, "I wonder who her favorite princess is." So I wasn't trying to correct him when I said, "Well for now it's Aurora, but it changes by the day."
Still, she was a great hugger, and didn't refuse to give one to Flynn when he asked. Then they noticed her Tangled shoes, and Flynn pointed out that the shoes use Rapunzel's hair to stay together (they're Velcro shoes with Rapunzel's hair on the straps) and said, "Why didn't we think of that?" to which I replied, "Well, you'd have to cut her hair," at which point Rapunzel moved her hands defensively over her hair, and Flynn said, "Yeah, we don't want to do that. We already had one dramatic haircut."
It was a good time. And then the conversation ended, and it was time to pose for the posed picture, and we were just finishing up and about to thank them for their time, when suddenly Rosetta exclaims, "Aurora!" and dashes off!
For at that very moment, who should walk by but Princess Aurora herself, on her way to her shift at Snow White's Grotto. And Rosetta just totally ditched Rapunzel for her, so it's a good thing we had inadvertently warned them that Aurora was the favorite princess of the day. The trio of aunts looked apologetically at Rapunzel and Flynn and thanked them for their time, and we all laughed as we followed Rosetta who followed Sleeping Beauty over to Snow White's Grotto.
By the time we were in line for this meet and greet (even though we were right behind Aurora, there was already a line of people waiting to meet her at the grotto), we were joined by the rest of the team. The encounter started out the same in the case of Rosetta, but our little Gilderoy Lockhart in the making decided to get fancy. When it was our turn, Rosetta ran in for her hug, and Gilderoy got down on one knee and bowed to her. (This worked especially well, because Rosetta was so small that the princesses and other characters were always crouching on the ground to talk to her, so it was okay that now Gilderoy was even shorter than his sister.) Aurora was suitably impressed.
They had the usual conversation, what have you done today, etc. We told her that Gilderoy met his girlfriend Tinkerbell. Of course we told her that Rosetta totally ditched Rapunzel to see her. Unfortunately, I don't remember much of what Aurora said, because I think I was still busy laughing about what happened with Rapunzel. I do remember that she was very nice.
And I think that's enough for today. There's still a lot more to talk about, so hopefully I'll manage to get to all the important stuff later.
Today I'm thankful for having an adorable time at Disneyland with the kiddos, the best Tinkerbell, getting to meet so many characters (having little kids with you makes it a lot easier), getting a yummy-looking caramel cake for Bread Day, and finally getting to read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince again (I remember so little from that book, it will be like reading something new!).