Well, anyway, let's talk about the Tropical Hideaway. I don't remember what was there before before, because the first time we noticed that area at all was when Aladdin came out and they remodeled whatever had been there into Aladdin's Oasis. It was a fancy restaurant that was probably ahead of its time, because I'm sure it would have done much better if they opened it now. All I remember is seeing a commercial with a fancy sundae served in a chocolate lamp, and then when we went there the first time, Mom showed us the menu and said, "Are you going to eat any of that?" and of course we said no, so that was the end of that. I think they served Middle Eastern / Mediterranean food, but I was eleven, so I really couldn't say.
Anyway, the restaurant was short-lived, and the next thing we knew, they were having cute little story-telling time there. Barker Bob (you may be more familiar with his brother Shishka) told the story of Aladdin with help from Aladdin and Jasmine themselves, complete with corny jokes and asking the audience to audibly gasp in horror whenever we heard the name Jafar. The first time I really remember seeing it, it was with Mom and our sisters, and as we walked into the venue, Barker Bob said, "The girls are here! We can finally get started!" We repaid the compliment by being ridiculously exaggerated in the audience participation department, and as a result, the stage manager came to us and thanked us because that kind of thing really helps the performers, and she gave us honorary citizen stickers. I put mine in my Aladdin sheet music book, so I still have it.
A few years later, they used it for an Indiana Jones show in the Summer of Indiana Jones (it was the year Kingdom of the Crystal Skull came out), and then when they started trying out reserved seating for Fantasmic! and Paint the Night, they sold picnics lunches that came with reserved seat tickets from the entrance, but the place was mostly closed off and all we could do was look sadly at the entrance and wish we could go inside again. (Oh, but sometimes they had Aladdin, Jasmine, and Genie stand outside for meet and greets, and after Moana came out, the area designed for people to wait to be seated was used for her meet and greets.)
Now they've finally decided to use the restaurant aspect of it again...sort of. Anyway, they've changed it back to a Hawaiian theme (I don't know what was there before Aladdin's Oasis, but I know there used to be a Hawaiian themed restaurant there, because I've seen videos of the old Disneyland TV show), and they're calling it the Tropical Hideaway, which I assume is a reference to the opening lyrics of the Tiki Room song, which say, "Welcome to my tropical hideaway."
They also decided to have some Disney(?) magic by letting Rosita hang out there. See, after the hosts of the Tiki Room sing the opening song, the Birdmobile comes down with all the showgirls--cockatiels. Pierre introduces them, and they all have French names, which is probably what inspires Jose to ask, "I wonder what happened to Rosita." And because Disney can no longer let mysteries remain mysterious, they decided to bring her out of hiding.
So here's our problem with it. First of all, based on the lyrics of the song, the Tiki Room itself is the tropical hideaway. Now we have two tropical hideaways, in pretty much the exact same spot, but not really connected (the restaurant is right next to the Tiki Room). Second of all, if Rosita is hanging out right outside, now Jose sounds like an idiot for not knowing where she is. And if the Tiki Room and the restaurant are the same tropical hideaway, then Jose is really not paying attention.
Now when they announced the return(?) of Rosita, the blog posts I read led me to believe that she was waiting for a boat (her perch is right by the Jungle Cruise docks) to take her away...which kind of makes sense. If she was a Birdmobile girl and decided she was fed up with the whole business, or she had a better opportunity or whatever led to her no longer being with them (as Jose strongly implies), then okay, maybe she's waiting for a boat to take her to the next step in her life's journey. I kind of expected her to say a few things about why she left or where she was going or something, and that had the potential to be kind of cool.
Lucky for me, I don't have to give them any more credit than that, because she didn't say anything along those lines, at least not as far as we heard. She mostly just sits around telling Jungle Cruise style jokes...probably most of them discarded from the Jungle Cruise. And if you ask me, she would not make one of the funniest skippers. So she says things like, "Does anyone know a talented rhino? My band needs a new HORN section!" I'm okay with bad jokes, but whenever she starts talking, it's kind of like when you're having a lovely conversation at the dinner table and some oblivious kid comes along and says, "Hey, I have to tell you something completely irrelevant!" She's fairly easily ignored, though, so it's not too bad.
What I did have trouble with was her delivery. I couldn't tell if she was trying to play it natural, or trying to be really obvious with the punniness. I like both approaches, but you have to take them all the way. And the worst was when she said she learned a few things out in the jungle. "For example, you can never trust a tiger. They might be lying." She pronounced the G in "lying," which makes me think the actress didn't understand the joke.
And that led us to another observation. The whole time, we were noticing how wide and open the place was now, as opposed to Aladdin's Oasis, which was more closed off, presumably for a more "private" dining experience. You can see everywhere from this new place, and I'm pretty sure you can see if from everywhere. And so we kept asking each other, "Do they know what 'hideaway' means?" After hearing that lion joke, we're not sure they did. But in their defense, it's possible that they were going for heavy irony on both counts.
As for the restaurant itself...well, it's pretty. They kept a bunch of lamps from Aladdin's Oasis in a corner, because the idea is that it's a marketplace where vendors come from all over. They have different flavors of the iconic Dole Whip. We tried the pineapple/raspberry swirl and it was pretty much what I expect from sherbet soft serve.
So yeah. That's that. The other thing I wanted to mention is on Big Thunder Mountain. After their last big refurb, we noticed they added some fake plants to the very rocky mountain, which was annoying because the plants looked very fake. Later, and I don't know if these were added later or if I just didn't notice for some reason, I realized that some of the plants were Venus flytraps. Keep in mind Big Thunder Mountain is supposed to be in the deserts of the Wild West. Venus flytraps are tropical. Then it occurred to me that maybe they just added them as a joke for Halloween, because I didn't notice them until the Halloween decor was up, after all.
For some reason, we didn't go on Big Thunder much after that, and the one time we did, it was too dark to see. So yesterday, we made sure to go on the ride and check. The Venus flytraps are still there. All I can do is shake my head.
And this has been my fault-finding blog post. So to end on a positive(?) note, the Tropical Hideaway is really pretty, and Big Thunder is still a fun ride.
Today I'm thankful for getting to spend the evening watching anime, making okay progress on work, the Tropical Hideaway not destroying the lovely mosaic of Aladdin's carpet that graced the entrance of Aladdin's Oasis, getting plenty of rain the last few days, and the rain being just about done for a while (according to the forecast).