But anyway, wow I still haven't finished the Disneyland portion of this report. I'm not sure exactly when this happened, but since I know we had to pass by It's a Small World to get from Pooh's Hunny Hunt to the Haunted Mansion, I'll say it happened then. We ran into Characters.
We also went on Pinocchio's Daring Journey at some point, but I have no idea when that was. It was exactly the same, only the hidden Mickey was gone, the strength tester thingie that Mr. Honest John and Gideon were playing on made a different (and far less irritating) sound, and it all went by a little fast. Oh, and the Blue Fairy seemed prettier.
But anyway, characters. They had Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, and Prince John hanging out in front of It's a Small World. There are a few unusual things about this. First of all, I think the last time I saw any Robin Hood characters at Disneyland was when they were doing the 45 Years of Magic Parade before the 50th Anniversary stuff started. I don't think I ever saw Robin Hood afterward (maybe once he was one of the (seemingly) randomly selected characters in the Fantasmic! finale, Athena points out), and that's to say nothing of Friar Tuck and Prince John, whom I don't think I've ever seen at Disneyland ever (except maaaaaaybe in Fantasmic!). But it was awesome, because Robin Hood and Prince John kept messing with each other. And Friar Tuck kept finding small children and dancing with them. It was so cute. We got the feeling that the masked characters (I think the term "kigurumi" is more appropriate; it's the Japanese word for costumes like the ones most Disneyland masked characters wear) are a lot more active in Tokyo, but after talking about it for a while, we realized that we've had a lot of fun with some characters in America, too. We just don't stick around for them as much.
The Haunted Mansion was interesting. I wish we'd taken a picture of it (we were in a hurry the one time, or Athena would have), but we can always get one from the official website. It's different from the California one, because it's based on European mansions instead of Southern ones. If the Disney World one is the same way, that might explain part of why the movie Haunted Mansion was kinda dumb and based the mansion that was actually in the southern United States inside the movie on European mansions instead of basing it on, like, the ride at Disneyland or something. I guess it would be okay to try to merge all the Haunted Mansion rides into one for the movie, but doesn't everybody know that the one Walt Disney was directly involved in is obviously the best? (Clearly biased.)
Of course, our Haunted Mansion recently made some changes that haven't been made to the Tokyo one, which might make the Tokyo one better anyway. One of them being that our Haunted Mansion decided that it would be cool or something to have all the ghosts in the ballroom dancing through the furniture, which has been a source of constant annoyance to us, because hello, part of the reason they're ghosts is that they don't quite agree with this whole "dead" thing, so they're not going to be like, "Oh hey, I can walk through furniture!" They're going to walk around it like they always did. In Tokyo, the furniture is still on the sidelines where it should be. They also don't have the ax-murderer (just a normal bride ghost), which makes us happy, because we still don't like the idea of malicious ghosts in Disney's Haunted Mansion.
Their ghost host sounds a little meaner though. I don't know if it was Walt Disney or Paul Frieze (the original voice of the ghost host) that decided that it's much much much better to have an actual hostly host, but, as I said, it's much much much better. It's actually a little scarier that way, too. Paul Frieze's ghost host is brilliant. But nobody seems to be able to figure out how he did it, because even the little substitute ghost host they got to do the new safety message is just downright mean. I'm like, "Okay, I know you're going to lower the safety bar. Calm down and leave me alone! I didn't even touch it! Man!"
Athena says they have a library in the Japanese Haunted Mansion, but I'm having a hard time remembering it, which is frustrating. But when she described it to Celeste, it sounded really cool. I have very very vague recollections of it. Athena says she also thinks the ghost host said something about the books flying off the shelves.
It's kind of interesting, because, while most of the rides were shorter (if anything) than ours back home, this one seemed to be longer. Or at least it seemed to have a lot more stuff. But mostly little things, like the graveyard seemed bigger.
I don't know why we insist on always going on the Haunted Mansion even though it tends to creep us out until we find something to distract ourselves, but since we did, we now needed to find something to distract ourselves. So we wandered over to Critter Country. The only attractions in Critter Country are Splash Mountain and the Explorer Canoes (in Frontierland in CA). We don't like drops at all, so we weren't going to go on Splash Mountain, and we knew from past experience that we weren't all that interested in the canoes (in the words of a guide from the canoes, "If you're having a hard time paddling and looking at the scenery at the same time, it's okay. Just keep paddling."), but we wanted to look around anyway. And boy are we glad we did, because we found our Holy Grail of snack stands. They had maple churros. Maple. Churros. And so of course we had to get some, because maple is one of the best flavors ever.
Our next order of business was to eat the maple churros, and fortunately, there was a seating area right there, just for that purpose. We had only just sat down when Br'er Rabbit showed up, followed closely by Br'er Bear and Br'er Fox. Br'er Rabbit had a way of signaling kids to follow him that looked like he was challenging them to a martial arts battle, and from there on it was impossible not to watch them. They seemed to have a lot of fun, too. Br'er Rabbit and Br'er Fox were always grabbing each other's arms and pretending to eat them, and there was a lot of hiding behind trees. Especially the one time Athena relates when Br'er Rabbit and Br'er Bear were getting ready for a showdown, and Br'er Rabbit started waving to the train that was passing by behind Br'er Bear, who then turned around to wave also. At which point, of course, Br'er Rabbit went to hide behind a tree.
We sat watching them for about ten or twenty minutes until Br'er Fox noticed us and came over to hang out. I sometimes have a hard time communicating with kigurumi characters, because I can never tell what they're trying to say, since they're not allowed to talk in any language. But we did figure out that he wanted to know if we had a camera so we could all get a picture together. He looked around for the cast member who was supposed to be there for that purpose, but she was preoccupied or something, because she was nowhere to be seen. It's really amusing how powerful these guys are, though, because they just wave their hand and somebody--anybody--nearby is ready to grab someone's camera and take a picture for them. Unfortunately, our camera was a little confusing (I think it might be partially because I had the flash turned off) so the girl taking the picture couldn't figure out if she was taking the picture or not. But since she tried several times, we actually got a bunch of pretty nice ones. Finally Athena took the camera and we got a picture with just me and Br'er Fox, and we all figured out it had been working.
Afterwards, Br'er Fox patted his cheek. It took me a while (and some help from Athena), but eventually I figured out that he wanted a kiss. Then he got a kiss from Athena and went off all twitterpated. It was very cute, but I wonder what Timon would think of my two-timing. (Did I ever tell the story of when Timon proposed?)
We finished hanging out in Critter Country and finally headed for Westernland, the one land we hadn't visited yet. We went to the Country Bear Jamboree, which no longer exists in California. As we were sitting and waiting for it to start I was like, "Wait a second... I hate country music." But we didn't always hate country music, and the Country Bears went away before we did, so it's all good. It was really interesting, because half of the show was dubbed into Japanese, but a lot of the songs were still in English. We were sad, though, because they didn't have the California Bears (originally girls) song, and they were missing one or two more. But it's been a long time since we saw the original (or were those songs added later on?), so I don't know.
We finally got our chance to go on Big Thunder, and it's the same... but different. But still a roller coaster, and that's the main thing. Later, we learned from someone that the Disney World Big Thunder was very disappointing, and was a lot shorter than the CA one and stuff, so I think this one wins in that regard. There was also a roadrunner, which I don't remember on our Big Thunder. I'll have to keep an eye out next time. And finally we went on the Western River Railroad, which is like the train that goes around Disneyland, but different because it doesn't go around the whole park. But a lot of the narration is still the same, only in Japanese. We still got to see the dinosaurs, but we didn't get to go to the "present day Grand Canyon."
And now, after a bunch of misses and not checking the schedule carefully enough, we finally got our act together and made it to the day's last show of One Man's Dream II. From what we understand, there was a show called One Man's Dream that went away, but it was so popular they made a sequel. This show is why we were always in a hurry when we went to Tomorrowland.
And I just got a call from our Relief Society President, who's going to be here in about half an hour to take us to Family Home Evening, and since we're still in pajamas, I think I'd better break it off here. Wow, still not out of Disneyland. I'm almost done, I promise!
Today I'm thankful for awesome kigurumi characters, maple churros (I miss them soooooo much), pictures with Br'er Fox, having a ride to FHE (they're calling it FHE Quest, and not telling us what it is; I hope it lives up to the automatic hype that comes with secrecy), and French Toast Crunch.