January 28th, 2017


Nighttime unspectaculars

So we went to Disneyland on Thursday. We'd been wanting to go for about a week but couldn't because of time and/or weather constraints, among other things, but then Gaston called, so we decided to go! And I think the main takeaway from the trip is that we still have an inability to like things. But that might just be because it ended with nighttime spectaculars, and those are what tend to impress us the least these days.

Anyway, they're having their Lunar New Year celebration again, only this year, instead of only doing it for the one weekend, they're having it for two whole weeks! They've expanded the celebration area to include the World of Color viewing area, and they put some of their special food vending booths there so they could have special food items. We didn't try any of them, because of our aforementioned inability to like things, which is especially applicable to food. But they had a Korean food stand, a Chinese food stand, and a Vietnamese food stand. And all I remember as far as offerings is that the Vietnamese food stand had a purple sweet potato flavored macaron, and we discussed how, while the flavor may be Vietnamese, macarons probably weren't, except wasn't Vietnam controlled by France at some point?

But more importantly, this year they had a troop of Chinese acrobats. They were in the middle of a show when we arrived on the scene, and we saw some women do some pretty impressive balancing with their feet. They had these drum-like things that they juggled around...and I forgot to take my iPad, so I had nothing to take pictures with. When they finished their routine, a guy came out and did a routine on a vertical pole that made our cores hurt just watching it, but it was so amazing. As the routine went on, he started balancing on top of the pole, and then he raised another stand even higher, and really it's impossible to do it any justice in text. You may have to Google it for a video or something. Then they did some rope tricks that were basically like jumprope, but on a horizontal circling lasso instead of a jumprope. It was pretty cool.

After the show, Gaston got some food and we sat down to color some paper lanterns while he ate. But before I could finish coloring, we heard the announcement for the procession that they do every year, and we had to go watch! The first two years we saw it, it was pretty much the same, but this year it was very different, and my guess is that they had the acrobats do all the performing instead of whoever they had doing it before. This year, they had some men juggling hats, which was pretty cool, and then they had some women doing tricks with the diablo, or whatever that's called. And then they had some guys do some basic acrobatics, and Mulan and Mushu were there the whole time. It was kind of neat, but it wasn't as pretty as it was before, so even though the hat juggling was a lot of fun, I think I prefer the older procession.

We wandered around some more, Gaston wrote a wish for the wishing wall, we watched some calligraphers do their thing. One of them wrote the character for "rooster" in all the different forms of Chinese script--standard, cursive, clerical, bronze, oracle bone...and I think one or two more. Seal script was one of them--it looked just like the style used for the names in Noragami. Gaston treated us to some mango pudding while we enjoyed the music of a Vietnamese performer. It was nice.

Eventually we made our way over to Disneyland (the Lunar New Year stuff was at California Adventure), because the other thing we wanted to do was watch the Electrical Parade. We should have gone and started saving seats much sooner than we did, but sometimes people have a hard time giving up their delusions that the Madness isn't so mad (or maddening) and people don't start saving seats seven hours before the show. I think it would be less maddening if the shows were worth it (I can hardly blame people for saving seats for Fantasmic!), but...

Nevertheless, despite the fact that people had already started claiming curb space on Main Street, we went to visit Farley first. I think that was probably a good call, because we do have fun with Farley. And then we went to dinner, wasting even more time. Athena and I figured it might be okay anyway, because we discovered recently that there tends to be more room over by It's A Small World, so we could go over there. ...Only we couldn't, because despite our concerted efforts not to tell Gaston that they'd added something to World of Color for the Lunar New Year, he found out about it, and now we were planning to see World of Color and would need to get out of the park and to the viewing area in time. We ended up having an hour, but people are so nervous about getting seats, it's ridiculous. On the other hand, we can't blame them, because...

Well, you see, for World of Color, you're encouraged to get Fastpasses, to the point where if you don't have a Fastpass, you must watch the show from the farthest area there is. We imagined this was an attempt to mitigate the ridiculousness of seat saving, but oh my gosh, it's so bad. The Fastpasses specifically say "come back between this time and this time [the later time being a few minutes before the show]" and "early arrivals will not be accommodated." So let me tell you how they "don't accommodate" early arrivals. They make a waiting area for them. So basically, they let you get in line to save seats. And I guess it creates some intense FOMO in people, because ever since we found out about it, Gaston has still insisted that we go extra early, so we can get in line to save seats, which, by the way, you still have to do for about an hour after they let you into the viewing area. It's madness.

But I was talking about the Electrical Parade. I think we found an area to watch it from about an hour before it started. There were already a bunch of people in front of us, and one man behind us, who was saving seats for his family and hoping we would let them go in front of us when the parade came by because his four-year-old daughter was there. We had no problem with it, but there was a massive guy with a massive stroller in front of us, and this was the source of much grumpiness, which was only exacerbated by the cast members and their inability to do anything about it. I get that they're only doing their job, but oh my gosh, whatever the policy is now is completely stupid.

The man saving seats behind us reminded us that oh yeah, KIDS want to watch this parade, and children are little and can't see over grownups. Disney's new policy is to fit as many people onto the curb as possible, which requires, not only to have everyone stand up, but to move the benches to the front of the curb so that there's more room for people in the back. So basically, the policy is not for people to actually see the show, but for people to be in an area where, theoretically, if they could see through people, they might be able to see a show. (Or at least, this is what we gather.) I explained to a cast member that if a three-foot child is standing directly behind a nearly six-foot adult, there's no possible way the child can see over that adult. The only solution they could offer was to ask the people in front of us if they would be so kind as to let the shorter people in front, and it's a lovely solution in theory, but in practice, we asked massive dude with massive stroller if he could help us out and his response was, "There's nothing I can do."

The other "helpful" solution was that "it's a big parade, they'll see it, I guarantee you." And we have used this argument for people in regard to the fireworks--it's in the sky, you won't miss it! But that does not hold true for parade floats. Half the floats at best are visible above the crowd--for the rest of them, even Athena and I had to crane our necks to see what was going on, and we are not of insignificant height. And so the management of the crowd and the discomfort of having to move around to get a good view of anything made the parade significantly less enjoyable.

Nevertheless, I'm not sure I would have been so enamored with it even if we had started saving seats early enough to be seated on the edge of the curb. (Incidentally, parade seating policy used to be that everyone but the back row had to sit down, but you can't fit as many people that way.) There's the nostalgia factor, sure, and the music is infinitely better than what they play for Paint the Night. But I don't know; it just seemed tired or something. And they didn't start it with the Blue Fairy. And we could tell it wasn't the original original Electrical Parade, because there was a Tinkerbell float, and they didn't have human-sized Tinkerbell in the parks until the Tinker Bell movies started being a thing (which was decades after the Electrical Parade started).

So there was that, and then it was over to California Adventure to not enjoy World of Color again. The extra part they did before the show was called "Hurry Home," and it was about a paper lantern that, we guess was out playing? and had to make it home in time for the new moon...which is what pulled us out of the show right away, because the very first sentence of the narration started with, "Under the glow of the new moon," and we were like, "New moons don't glow." But they did have a moon projected onto the roller coaster which waned as the story(?) went on, so at least somebody was paying attention. So the lantern was supposed to avoid the dragon Mushu, who would blow him off course, and there was a little playful sequence of Mushu blowing the lantern around, and the animation was oddly stylized, like maybe it was supposed to be paper cutouts? Mushu blew the lantern to see Mulan as she sang Reflection, and then the lantern made it to its family for the new year. It was kind of a "huh?" sort of story. We think it's not a great addition, though, because it basically relies on the water screens for the audience to see what's happening, but A)that's the boringest thing to do in World of Color anyway, and B)it was kind of windy that day, so the screens were more like a mist, and pictures don't really read well on mist.

Athena and I would have been happy to leave, now that we've seen the new bit, but Gaston actually likes World of Color, so we stayed and criticized it some more. I know, it's terrible. We're just really tired of the show lately, because we've ended up watching it so many times (relatively). Sometimes I wonder if there's, like, a "make your own World of Color!" app, which I would use to re-choreograph the whole thing, but with the exact same music, and then I'd post the video and it would go viral because it's so much more magical somehow, and everyone will be like, "Why can't they do the show like this?" But of course, I am almost certainly overestimating my ability to design water shows. ...Or am I?

Oh well. Maybe someday we'll like things again.

Today I'm thankful for getting to see the Chinese acrobats, Gaston buying us some mango pudding, getting to sort of watch the Electrical Parade again, dreams of someday convincing people that there are better things to do than save seats for nighttime spectaculars at Disneyland, and getting lots of time to practice the piano today.