On Friday we finally went to Disneyland. We started to get sunburned on Thursday, so our first order of business once inside the park was to buy some sunblock. We probably could have gotten some maybe a little cheaper if we'd gotten it at the Seven-Eleven, but we wanted Disneyland sunblock, dangit, and we didn't care if it was just normal Coppertone sunblock. Incidentally, I'm not sure how many people know this (I didn't realize until I worked there), but you can get small essentials at almost any register in Disneyland--tissue, headache medicine, batteries. We would have bought some sunblock on Main Street, but since the main park opened a mere few minutes after we arrived, we headed over to Fantasyland first.
We went to Tinkerbell's Toy Shop, but they didn't have any sunblock, so one of the ladies there, in an amazing show of excellent customer service, called the guy working at the Princess Shop across the way, and he came and let us into his not-yet-opened shop to sell us some sunblock. When he came, he asked for the lady in need of sunblock and when I was pointed out he said, "She's not a lady. She's a princess!" Awwwwww!
We're a little crazy though, so we didn't apply the sunblock until after we went on Snow White's Scary Adventure and Pinocchio's Daring Journey. Then we hit a few more rides and found ourselves getting off of "it's a small world" (according to all the maps and info stuff, apparently there are no capitals) just in time to hear the end of Jasmine telling the story of how she met Aladdin over at the Disney Princess Fantasy Faire. She was really pretty, too. There were a lot of really pretty princesses at the Disney parks last week--we were so jealous.
When Jasmine was done, they got the area ready for the Royal Coronation Ceremony. There was no crowning, but that's what they call it anyway. What happens is Sir Elias and Lady Lilian (though maybe there's a different knight and lady on different days) teach all the little girls and boys (and their parents and the geeks like us who were there anyway *grin*) how to be princesses and knights (I guess princes are too wussy?). So first we learned how to wave, then we learned how to curtsy (or bow, if you're a knight), and then they taught us a little dance routine, which is like way more complicated than Mickey's dance in Fantasmic!. It was so cute, too, because they kept pointing out that the reason all the Disney princesses are so beautiful is that they're polite and courteous and considerate and stuff. I guess that's why that Belle at California Adventure was so pretty, too. Definitely very considerate.
After we finished our lessons, they announced the arrival of three Disney princesses. In the show we saw, the princesses who stopped by were Mulan, Belle, and Aurora (pink dress, for the curious). Then we got to practice everything we learned, and then they brought out these poles with all these ribbons hanging from them, so we're like, "Yay Maypole!" and then we're like, "Yeah, right, they're not gonna teach everybody how to do a Maypole." And we were right, but it's still very cute, and a princess joins the guests at each pole. We were excited because we got to dance around the pole with Mulan. She was seriously so cute.
Then we did our dance one more time and said goodbye to the princesses and it was all very adorable. One thing I noticed before the whole thing started was that some of the guests were taking pictures and asking for autographs of the ladies-in-waiting type people, even though they're not really specific Disney characters, which is another example of why you have to be careful when cosplaying at Disneyland.
Our travels took us eastward where we found ourselves in Tomorrowland. We decided that two hours was a little too long to wait for the Finding Nemo attraction, since there was a ton of other stuff we wanted to do and the park was crowded enough that we weren't sure we'd get to do it all as it was. And there were no fast passes either, so we decided to check back later. We never did find out if they had single rider passes, though. Hm. Anyway, we headed over to Space Mountain, but on the way we noticed that the next session for the Jedi Training Academy was about to start at Tomorrowland Terrace. That was something we had to see!
Now there's some stuff in it that would have a better impact if you don't know what's going to happen ahead of time, so if you plan on seeing it yourself already, then I suggest you skip the next paragraph. Not that it's anything you couldn't have figured out would happen anyway, but, you know. *shrug*
When we were done shouting and had gotten the Jedi masters' attention, they both walked onto the stage, followed by their padowans. One of the Jedis walked onto the stage, took his cloak off, and started doing some awesome lightsaber moves. It was awesome. I don't think I can say "awesome" enough in describing it. He introduced himself as Master Endo... something (maybe Solares?), and the other Jedi as Master Saitana, whom he had trained. I don't remember if their padowans got introduced, but we're thinking no. Then he started calling younglings up to be trained with lightsabers. After he'd called up about thirty kids and they'd each gotten their Jedi robes and training lightsabers, he taught them a routine with the lightsabers. When he was almost done, he kneels down in front of the very tiny little girl next to him and says, "When in battle, you may want to aim a little higher, because chances are your opponent will be bigger than you. We won't be fighting any Ewoks." And she stared at him. "This is awkward. You have no idea what I'm talking about." Stare. "You're very intense. I respect that." And this is all with his (likely fake) British accent; we loved it! Anyway, once their training was just about finished, suddenly some Stormtroopers ran in. The Jedis called all the younglings to one side of the stage for safety, and then the stage behind them lifted up and there was Darth Vader. He starts blabbering on about how he'll complete their training and come to the Dark Side blah blah blah, and Master Endo was like, "No they're with the Light Side and we'll fight you," and all that stuff, and we think it was when Master Endo reminded Vader that they outnumbered him that he called out Darth Maul who was very cool and scary looking, if a little short. The Stormtroopers were pretty short, too, actually. That's SoCal for you, we guess. So Darth Maul walks around scaring the audience for a while, and I'm just staring at him in awe because he looked really cool, so he points at me and glares! Aaaaaaaahhh! And then the little younglings all took turns fighting Darth Vader and Darth Maul, so basically you have these kids that are like two and three feet tall fighting Sith lords and it's the cutest thing ever. At one point, Darth Vader stepped to the side and a little girl had to fight the Stormtroopers instead, so Master Endo had her do a Force push, and she'd put her hands out and the Stormtroopers would fall back. Adorable♥ When each kid had gotten a turn, Yoda's voice came on and started saying Yoda type things, and then Darth Vader and Darth Maul left. Master Endo used Jedi mind control to get rid of the Stormtroopers, and each of the kids got a diploma and was promoted to padowan. We were so jealous.
Afterwards, we thought of buying Jedi Training Academy shirts so we could at least pretend, but we decided not to. It wasn't until our scalps were sunburned and we were leaving the park that we thought, "Maybe we should have bought hats." Epimetheus. Oh well.
The line to Space Mountain was also very long, so we decided to go on it later, and went on Star Tours instead. Then we finally headed to the west side of the park. On Pirates of the Caribbean, we realized that we weren't remembering wrong when we thought they'd taken out the guy telling you all about "You've seen the treasure, you know where it be hidden... These be the last friendly words ye'll hear," which means that Barbossa saying them in At World's End is now one of the only places we can hear that second bit (don't know about the first one, though). (The other places would be collector's CDs that have that kind of stuff--at least I think they exist.)
We got lunch and went to sit down for the parade. We were pleased to discover that we had judged correctly where the Lion King float stops to do it's extra fancy bit (or at least correctly enough--the Penny Arcade would have been a little better), and we got to see the birds do that awesome twirly stuff on the ropey things. But then we realized that probably the best place would be the hub at the southern end of Main Street, because the parade goes all the way around it, so you'd get to see like three floats at once.
Then we headed west again, and after Big Thunder and a brief chat with a kid at a drinking fountain about Kingdom Hearts (I was wearing my Kingdom Hearts shirt, and I think I got more comments on it that day than in my entire history of wearing that shirt--though at Disneyland it makes a little sense because there's a chance they're selling the shirt there, and they'd want to get one themselves), we headed over to Tom Sawyer's Island to check out the Pirates' Lair stuff. I have to give a warning about Tom Sawyer's Island to anyone who thinks they might want to venture there. If you go with a big group, you may end up trapped there for a long time. Everyone splits up to explore at their own pace, and by the time you're ready to go, you find someone, but they're not ready to go, and by the time they are, you've found something new, and of course you still have to find everybody else and they're not done yet. It's very dangerous. Innoventions is the same way. That's why anyone who's gone with us hasn't been either of those places with us.
But alas, we had bad timing, and all the Pirates' Lair stuff (Lafitte's Tavern, Will Turner Black Smith... shop thing?) was all closed and roped off so they could get ready for Fantasmic!. We wandered the rest of the island because we were in search of a specific piece of merchandise (which we never found. Yar), even though we were exhausted, and then we headed off. As the raft came to pick us up, we noticed a friend of ours from college was there, but she was pretty preoccuppied, so we didn't try to get her attention. We also ran into Winged Nike, a girl we'd met at AX, while filling up water bottles in Frontierland, so it was a day of random reunions. It's a small world after all. *grin*
And then we went on to Critter Country to go on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and then fulfill a dream. See, it was a lifelong dream of ours (or a dream we had since Winnie the Pooh opened in about 2002 or 2003) to buy ourselves some of the super-expensive candy in the candy shop at the exit. As we sat there deciding what to get, one of the cast members commented on my shirt, and we talked about Kingdom Hearts for a bit. We all know there's going to be a third one. We finally decided on what they call Peanut Butter Heaven (a ball about three or four inches in diameter with a layer of caramel and peanuts at the bottom, then a ball of peanut butter and some peanuts, and all covered in chocolate), but they were having a special on fudge (six for the price of four, and for three more dollars you get a special collectors' tin. Normally I can ignore the lure of collectors' tins, but this one had Mickey Mouse on it and came with fudge) so we took another while trying to figure out what kind of fudge we wanted. I have a feeling we will be very sad to see it gone.
Having finally accomplished our dream, we headed back east and hit the Haunted Mansion. Neither of us is sure exactly why we did that, because we're really not that into it ourselves. We were especially not into it that day, which may or may not have had something to do with it being our first time at Disneyland since hearing about some of the actual haunts in the park (other than the heartwarming one about Walt Disney's apartment), and with our having been on Big Thunder and reminded of the brutal death that occurred there a few years ago, and thinking about if that guy was haunting the place. Also, since they added the whole axe-murderer thing, and I was thinking about real ghosts, I was worried about there being malicious spirits around and it was pretty uncomfortable in general. Though at one point I thought I heard the voice of Tony the Tiger asking to be let out when you're going through the hallway with all the locked doors--that was pretty amusing.
We checked on Finding Nemo again and decided it was still too long, and went on Space Mountain. The line for that was pretty long too, but there was this adorable little girl in line in front of us who just stared at my shirt for like half an hour. When her mom put her down, she stood in front of me and kept staring, so I asked if she liked my shirt and she nodded real big and went to hide behind her parents. When she'd look me in the face, I would wag my eyebrows at her, as I do to most little kids when they look at me, and instead of grinning and looking away (like most kids do), she tried to do it herself. By the time we got inside the mountain, she was pretty good at it. It was way too cute.
Next we went to watch the fireworks. We were fortunate enough to find seats almost right in front of the castle, despite our showing up after eight-thirty. We would sometimes jump in on the conversation the people behind us were having, and at one point the one guy brought out his cell phone on which he'd taken a video of when he and his friend were on Pirates and it broke down so they had to get off the ride and walk through all the cast member exits and stuff. It was pretty neat.
Before the fireworks started, there was an announcement that they might be postponed because of strong winds in high altitudes. We prayed really hard that we'd get to see them anyway, so we were very happy when they started. We didn't notice until afterward that Tinkerbell wasn't in it (we couldn't remember when she was supposed to show up, but we did notice the long pause between fireworks at one point), so we figure they decided they could still show the fireworks, but it was too risky for Tinkerbell to have her flying around in them. It was also a little sad that they didn't have the gobos on the castle like they did before, probably because of all the stuff they put in the lake for the Year of a Million Dreams.
We made the mistake of leisurely making our way to Fantasmic!. It would seem that the majority of the tourists have caught on to our strategy of watching the fireworks and then going to see the later, and therefore less crowded, showing of Fantasmic!. But then again, it was Fantasmic!'s first day back, and there were some people saving seats for the earlier show (9:00) as early as five.
So instead of our favorite spot in the seating area up front, we ended up in our old spot behind the lights. This turned out to be for the best, though, because we ran into our friend again! She wasn't as busy this time, so we got her attention and talked for a while. She was on the other side of the lights from us because! she's a Fantasmic! techie! That's got to be one of the coolest jobs ever. So we had some small talk, and then she commented on my shirt and we all started fangirling about Kingdom Hearts. It was awesome.
After Fantasmic! (still one of my favorite things of all time), we wanted to go on Indiana Jones again. It was really hard waiting in the standby line, because by that time our feet and legs were almost dead. As long as they could keep moving they were fine, but standing in line is called standing in line for a reason. But! we were saved when a woman came up, asked us how many were in our party, and handed us each a fast pass. We were almost at the fast pass collection stop already, but it was really nice to be able to keep moving for that little bit. So many tender mercies on this trip.
We decided to wander around the shops in Adventureland for a bit, where we decided that we would pass on Finding Nemo this time around. It was really sad saying it out loud, but we had worked our feet so hard they were trying to grow roots so they wouldn't have to move another millimeter, but they couldn't because they were too exhausted.
On our way back to Main Street, we rounded the corner around the Tiki Room. Since it's sponsored by Dole, they sell pineapple juice and pineapple ice cream and the like. In our experience, that shop usually closes early, so as we rounded the corner, we both thought, "There's the place that sells pineapple ice cream. Too bad it's... not closed!? It must be destiny!!" So we bought some pineapple ice cream. We did a little bit of shopping, and I bought piano sheet music from the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest soundtrack. We're among the few people in the world who don't own that soundtrack, so it was interesting playing those pieces for the first time. And then we walked back to the hotel, dreading our walk to the train station the next day.
The next morning, as I was walking around packing and stuff, my right ankle was feeling very off, so I started out limping on our walk back to the station, but that didn't last too long and we made it safely to the station. We were very glad that there would be so little walking for the rest of our journey, and we were especially glad to make it home and not have to walk Any More. It was actually very interesting, because usually when I'm so exhausted physically, I'm exhausted mentally and emotionally, too, but this time I felt pretty energized except for my poor poor legs. So all in all, I think the vacation was a success. Now hopefully, I'll remember to tell about the nice cast member at the Star Trader. But later.
Wow, just writing that up has me exhausted again. Or more likely it's the heat. At any rate, it was very long, so our thanks and respect to anyone who made it all the way through both reports. We do have pictures, but I'm too lazy to post them unless people are eager to see them (don't hesitate to ask!).
Today I'm thankful for friendly Disneyland cast members, conversation-starting t-shirts, miracle fast passes, getting to see the fireworks, and Fantasmic!.