We actually didn't get on the road until about three o'clock on Tuesday, despite making arrangements to leave at one. We're not really in silly name mode today, so we'll stick with the same aliases we used as last time for the guys we went down south with: Anton and Vang. Anyway, I was actually kind of happy about the delays in getting going, because they weren't our fault, and, as I've mentioned earlier, I've been going through a phase of being terrified of offending people and having them hate me forever. And in our experience, "offend" and "inconvenience (verb form)" are synonymous. So when I told Anton and Vang that I was happy about leaving late because I was afraid of inconveniencing people, Anton said, "Next time you're afraid you've inconvenienced someone, light them on fire. That's an inconvenience." And despite the horribly violent image of actually doing that (although he did say only light them on fire a little bit, like maybe their sleeve or something they can put out really fast), it helped me feel less like a jerk about stuff.
His solutions for a great many things as we talked on the way down were to either light people on fire or punch them in the face, probably because, as he admitted later, he was feeling irritable because of having a bad couple of weeks. We thought it was funny, but only because we know he'd never do it. And aside from that and an outburst at someone driving between lanes for some odd reason, we would have never known he was in a bad mood.
We got to Disneyland just in time to take the monorail into the park and go on the Finding Nemo ride, and then we headed to an Italian restaurant Vang wanted to go to outside of the park. They serve everything family style (I think that's what they called it), so the portions are gigantic. Their menu says a large can feed a small country (but really about five or six people).
After dinner, we checked in at the Disneyland Hotel. My fear of hotels (developed at AX'07) had not been alleviated by the not-very-happy demeanor of the woman on the phone when I called to make our reservation, but I decided that was just because I was a jerk and called on New Year's Day, because everyone we talked to in person at the hotel was very cheerful and friendly. I still felt like a little bit of a jerk for sending the boys an hour away to sleep on the floor at Gaston's place, but at least that way they didn't have to worry about helping pay for the hotel, and they didn't seem to mind too much (I hope; nobody ever seems to mind too much at first). When we got to our room, I felt a little worse, but at the same time kind of forgot about it, because the room was so awesome it distracted me.
It was decorated to look very much like a normal hotel room, until you look a little closer and notice the pixie dust around the top of the walls with a drawing of Tinkerbell in the corner, and the comforters with their drawings of different attractions from the park. The headboards on the beds were wood, so I think the decorative pictures on them were burned in, but I'm no expert, so I couldn't say for sure. Anyway, they each had a picture of Sleeping Beauty's castle, and the TV cabinet (also wood) had a copy of the original blueprint of Disneyland that they showed to the bankers to convince them to fund the project. There were pictures on the wall of scenes from the Jungle Cruise, and the wallpaper in the bathroom (which had two sinks!) had pictures of topiaries of Mickey and friends. It was kind of weird though, because they had Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, and Daisy, but no Donald. Donald get so little love in the States. Maybe they figure he gets enough popularity in Japan.
We explored the hotel grounds before heading to the park the next morning. We had actually been to the Disneyland Hotel once before--for our first Anime Expo in the year 2000. That was back when we lived close enough to commute to the convention every day, so we didn't reserve a room and didn't know what those were like, but we have very fond memories of the property, so it was double happy. They have this one area by one of the towers that's a bunch of walkways crossing over each other above a little pool with waterfalls and stuff, and it's just gorgeous. And it had a gazebo in a rose garden that would be so perfect for a Host Club cosplay gathering. Unfortunately, we didn't think to bring our camera, so there are no photos (despite the fact that Anton and Vang both brought cameras--we just never got around to exploring the hotel with them (we'd already seen it!)).
Before we headed to the park, we got chocolate filled croissants (so yummy) and then went to Guest Services, where we picked up our pirate trivia challenge materials. They give you a sheet of card stock with a list of questions on it--most of the answers can be found on the ride Pirates of the Caribbean, so they also give you a pencil and a glowstick so you can still read the questions in the dark. When you come back with the answers, they give you access to their treasure chest. It was kind of funny, because the questions were on card stock, so we didn't want to fold them up, and we ended up carrying them around with us all day. I dropped mine in Tomorrowland and nearly panicked because I didn't want to lose my key to the treasure.
The guys told us they wouldn't be getting in before noon, so we were on our own for a bit. We got into the park when only Main Street was open, and we were going to continue our quest for Sarah's picture frame, but the announcer mentioned the Disneyland Through the Years movie they were showing, so we watched that instead. We were the only two in the theater, which was kind of neat. The movie has Steve Martin (who got his start at Disneyland) giving a brief history of Disneyland, with Donald Duck trying to take over as host. It was really funny when they started subtitling him. We're big fans of subtitle humor. If you haven't seen the episode of Animaniacs where the Warners get abducted by aliens, you should really see if you can find it. We were crying by the end of the movie, though--we're so sentimental *sniffle*
We went on Jungle Cruise, where we had a really good tour guide for the first time in a while. There's this handrail thingie to help guests get in and out, and when someone walked by it to his seat, the guide said, "Congratulations, sir, you've just passed the bar. You're now free to practice jungle law." When we got to the Bengal tiger, he said, "Can anyone tell me why they're orange with black stripes?" There was a long pause, and he said, "...'Kay, I'll take that as a no." And when we got to the savanna, he pointed out all the animals: "There's some giraffes, baboons, zebras, and those ugly things there. They weren't here before. Must be gnu." ...So we like puns.
We went on Indiana Jones where I was too late in trying to help a couple of Japanese people when the guy at the front of the line asked them how many were in their party. He had two empty seats and was looking for people to fill them, so he asked them, but by the time I worked up the nerve to jump in, he'd already sent the car off. And then we went on Pirates to answer the questions we didn't already know the answers to. They ask really hard questions! Like "How many chickens are there at the base of the auctioneer pirate?" We thought we knew the ride pretty well, but we read that question and were like, "There's chickens?" That one and "Not counting ride vehicles, how many boats do you see on your voyage?" remained unanswered until we joined up with the rest of our party and counted again to make sure. And when we turned in our answers, they were still wrong! (Though of course there were members of our party who heard the right answers and were like, "That's what I thought it was.")
After we went on Big Thunder, it was almost time to meet our party, so we headed to Main Street, and the firetruck happened to pull up just then. I was undecided as to whether we should hitch a ride until I saw the driver handing stickers to the people getting off. So it was decided. And while we waited for a few more passengers, the driver took a look at our pirate questions. One of them asks what flag flies over the ride's facade. We hadn't answered it because we hadn't checked at the point we wrote down our tentative answers, but we did know it was a United States flag by then. He told us it used to be the flag of Louisiana, which would be pretty cool (since it's in New Orleans Square). We finally drove off after the driver warned us that we might be going at high speeds of three, maybe even five miles an hour. It was pretty intense. And he didn't offer us stickers because I guess we're too big or something, but we asked anyway and got them after being reminded to say please. Eheh.
We finally met up with our group and did a bunch of stuff and things. Wow, I don't even remember. Right, Innoventions! We don't usually go into Innoventions because it's a trap. And this time, it proved to still be a trap. See, you go in, and they have a bunch of stuff for you to look at and play with, so everyone goes off to look at and play with whatever they're interested in. Inevitably someone will get bored and go to find people so they can leave. They'll find part of the party but not all of them, and by the time the newfound party members have found the rest of the party, the first person's found something they really are interested in, and it's just a vicious vicious cycle. Hence, a trap. We were in there for like two hours, and we were hardly even doing anything! But Gaston and his wife who joined us this time had a good time looking at this giant touchscreen computer where they were using Google Maps to look at the place he served his mission (which, admittedly, was much cooler on this computer than on a regular desktop computer).
Eventually we managed to pull everyone together by luring them with tickets to the Asimo demonstration. It was a pretty cool demonstration--we got to see Asimo walk and play soccer and go up and down stairs and dance para para (it was totally para para) and run. Whenever Asimo gets brought up, Gaston likes to point out how when he was a kid, a robotics expert of some sort told him they would never make a robot that can walk like a person in his lifetime. But they did! And we think Asimo is actually a girl (or was originally planned to be), because there's one very brief part where Asimo says thank you or something, and bows in a very Japanese fashion, only with the hands in front of him in the feminine way to bow, as opposed to at his sides in the masculine version. (Or at least that's how we learned men and women bow in our Japanese classes at BYU.)
After the show, we finally got everyone out of Innoventions. Well, after the show and a brief stop at where they used to have the Segway (or however it's spelled) test track to talk to the cast member who was there riding a Segway about why guests can't ride Segways anymore. I don't remember why she said, but she did tell us about the Segway tour of California Adventure which sounds really awesome. They give you a tour of the park before it opens, and of course, everyone is riding a Segway.
Lunch, we've been told, is a good motivator for getting people out of Innoventions, and that may or may not have helped in this case, for our next stop was lunch. So it was off to the Golden Horseshoe for food and entertainment. We watched Billy Hill and the Hillbillies perform again, and this time we were happy to see the original bass player back. We think the original mandolin player may have been back too, but it's been ten years and the hair was different, so it's difficult to say for sure, especially since they didn't have him show off his mandolin skills, which may be an indication that it was a different guy after all.
After hitting Pirates of the Caribbean and having everyone help us count boats and chickens, it was off to California Adventure, where we did a bunch of stuff, including request more sketches at the sketch place. Maybe if we actually bought a sketch, our requests would count more. Of course we asked for Snow White and her prince again... oh wait, I haven't told that story yet. Maybe some other time. But we also asked for Sora from Kingdom Hearts. I was a little impressed by the lady there, because when I asked for Sora, she immediately knew who we were talking about. And she said she didn't know if they could get him because he belongs to Square-Enix, but we argued that he's a Disney character, too, and she agreed and wrote his name down anyway because we also all agreed that we could at least try. Of course, if we don't get a bunch of other people requesting him too, it won't do us any good, so if any Kingdom Hearts fans are reading this and planning to go to Disney's California Adventure soon, let us know and we'll tell you where to go and request him! And we also requested our usual Beast in human form.
There was Toy Story and Mulholland Madness (the little roller coaster that apparently is surprisingly super fun) and then Anton and Vang went to get their camera equipment while we headed to Main Street with Gaston and his wife in another attempt to find that picture frame. After the place on the right side of Main Street told us to go to the Emporium on the left side of Main Street, and the Emporium recommended we go to that same place on the right side of Main Street, we realized our quest was in vain (until checking The World of Disney in Downtown Disney later), so instead of meeting up with Anton and Vang, we headed off to Fantasyland and caught a few rides before it was time for Fantasmic! to start. It's kind of funny how lately we're never planning to watch Fantasmic! but we always do anyway, and it's never our idea. But of course we're not complaining *grin*
Despite it being a minute after park closing time, we managed to get on Indiana Jones before heading out to Main Street (open for one more hour, for our shopping convenience) where we met Anton and Vang. Anton was upset because the castle was reflecting beautifully on the moat, but he couldn't get a picture of the whole thing (castle + reflection) because he needed a wider lens and permission to get on a stone columny thing on the other side of the fence, and had neither. So instead he got a picture of the Adventureland sign, and then we headed to the Art of Disneyland gallery to take pictures of all the fancy paintings--and boy are they fancy. While we were there, we got prints of one picture with Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Ariel, Jasmine, and the Blue Fairy standing around a pond for Mom, because each of the princesses represents one of her daughters (or stepdaughter, as the case may be), and she can now be the Blue Fairy (which we had kind of thought of for her before anyway, but now that artist (whose name we really ought to have checked) has made it official). And we got a print of a painting of the wishing well from Snow White with a few doves sitting around it by the Prince's hat (and maybe cape--we don't remember, which is why we regret not taking closer looks before giving them away), and on the ground you can see Snow White and the Prince's shadows. And for Aurora, we got a print of a painting of the forest animals from Sleeping Beauty wearing Prince Philip's clothes, with another hidden scene in the clouds. They were all very very pretty, and we wouldn't have been too upset if they decided they didn't like Disney enough to keep the prints, because we would have loved to keep them ourselves. We didn't get one for Celeste though, because we didn't see any Cinderella ones. So it's probably also good that we didn't get the one of Mickey Mouse painting a portrait of Walt Disney for us, because now we can all be printless.
We had dinner at the Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney, and then headed back to the hotel, where Guest Services was already closed. So we had to wait until morning to get our treasure. We finally did, and even though our answers didn't quite match (and we forgot about the rats and bats! man, that was dumb (one of the questions was to list at least eight animals you find on the ride--there's about fourteen different kinds, so it wasn't too hard)), we each got a little velveteen bag with chocolate coins inside. Very nice.
We got into the park an hour early that day, because we were staying at the hotel so we got early access. We even asked if it was okay to bring friends with us who hadn't stayed at the hotel, and the lady we asked not only said it was okay, but in a tone of voice that was like, "Of course it's okay! Do you even need to ask?" (in a friendly way, not a snarky one). So back about a year ago when the one guy tried to let us in early with him, it would have been totally okay, and we didn't have to stay back because we hadn't stayed at a hotel. Oh well, now we know if it ever happens again.
We took Anton on the Fantasyland rides that he had never been on, where the question was brought up, "Why do all these rides end in fiery death?" This was a reference to Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, for obvious reasons (you blow up twice and go to hell), and the Alice and Wonderland ride, which ends with you riding through an unbirthday cake as it explodes. Soarin' Over California also ends with you riding into the Disneyland fireworks show (at which point everything goes black), so you really gotta wonder.
We had breakfast in the park for I think the first time ever, but possibly the second because we might have done it years and years ago, but we still didn't eat at a place with characters, so maybe it doesn't count. I say it does, though, because I had a Mickey Mouse pancake. It had a face on it with blueberry eyes, a cherry nose, and a pineapple mouth. I only ate the pineapple (and the pancake, of course).
Vang really wanted to take a picture of the Haunted Mansion, which he didn't get to do because it was closed for refurbishment and therefore very difficult to get a good shot. But standing in front of the mansion playing the pirate song from Peter Pan was a group called the Bootstrappers, consisting of four pirates: the lead singer, the guitarist, the fiddler (the only girl), and the accordionist. That's right. They had an accordion. It was awesome.
They started telling us about how much they hate this cursed land of Disnay (emphasis on the second syllable), like how they have this place called Tomorrowland. The guitarist told us, "I stood there, in the same place, for nigh on four hours! And it was still. the same. day!" When asked how she liked Fantasyland, the fiddler replied, "Well I'm still sober. No fantasy there." (I'm not sure I approve of that one actually.) And then one of them started to tell us about the worst place of all: the cursed dinghy parade. (Incidentally, both syllables in "cursed" are pronounced.) "You get in a dinghy, and it takes you to a bright place, with these horrid little children, and they're all singin' in tongues. And the worst part is, after the whole thing, you can't get the blasted song out of yer head." (That was a paraphrase, sadly.) And then they played the song--like a dirge, while making jerky robot-like movements.
They sang another song, and then one of them said they should do something for us, since we were nice enough to stand around listening to them sing, so the fiddler said, "Let's rob 'em!" and started marching toward the crowd. They stopped her and said, "No, something nice. I was thinking we should swear at them and make them pirates." So one of them started calling us names, and then they realized that they really meant "swear them in." We decided not to take the pirate oath, because we're just too honest. And then we all sang "Yo-Ho (A Pirate's Life For Me)," which is apparently the best pirate song ever. And at one chorus, they said, "Just the ladies!" so the ladies sang, and then "Just the men!" and they all sang, and then "Just the men who think they're ladies!" and there was silence. "Smart crowd," they said.
And at some point in the middle, a kid walked up by the lead singer pirate because there was a trash can nearby and he wanted to throw away the napkin that came with his churro. The pirate, being a pirate, went to steal the churro, and the kid just handed it to him. The pirate was very confused. "This is the first time I've tried to steal a sawdust stick and had it just given to me," he said. He did end up giving it back, though.
We went through Tarzan's treehouse, because the guys were taking pictures, and we think you can get some pretty amazing views of the park from there. I don't know if they agree as much, but they did snap some shots. And then we headed to Toon Town to get a picture of the Mouse himself. I was pretty nervous, meeting one of my favorite characters of all time. But mostly it was because I have a hard time interacting with the masked characters because I can't always understand their gestures, and I'm not always good with the quick responses. Fortunately, the guys were pretty good at it, so it didn't become a problem. This Mickey was a really good one, too. When you go to Mickey's house (something we haven't done in like fourteen years), they let in a few groups of guests at a time, and everyone gets a chance to pose with Mickey. Mickey was great--he would hold out his arm for you to take and do other such things to help with posing. And he gestured to the little kids to join him on the platform he was standing on, and when he did, he moved just exactly like in the cartoons. I was really impressed.
And when we asked him if Minnie wouldn't get mad if we took the picture we thought of four years ago but never got a chance to take (one of us on each side of him, kissing his cheek--we wanted to submit it to the photo-mosaic thing they did for the 50th anniversary, but life was super crazy at that time), he just put a finger to his mouth (Shhh!) and zipped his lips. At first we were like, "Gasp! Mickey!" But then we realized it's actually not entirely out of character, but only because it's just a kiss on the cheek.
The rest of the day was shopping and rides without anything too outstanding happening. Oh, except for the character quiz they have in the Animation Building in California Adventure. The last question is, "Do you like to eat lunch with nice people, or eat nice people for lunch?" which is the question to determine if you're a hero or a villain, so we took it twice. I got Lady and the Evil Queen, and Athena got Mulan and Maleficent. By that time, we had met up with Vang's brother and his fiancee, and they got Lumiere (Vang's brother), Mrs. Potts (his fiancee), and Cogsworth (Vang, by process of elimination), without even coordinating their answers.
Before we left, we bought some t-shirts we spotted in The World of Disney store. They had the designs that we saw all over the merchandise they were selling (and we failed to buy) at the Tokyo Disney parks, so we had to get a couple. Unfortunately, they had four designs, and we weren't feeling rich enough to buy all of them, so we'll have to get Sorceror's Apprentice Mickey and Tinkerbell next time. For now, we stuck with the two designs we saw the most of in Japan.
We still had to go to the hotel because a)that's where Anton had parked (using our free hotel parking) and b)that's where we had checked our bags. When we got there, we saw Goofy standing in front of a directory looking very confused. It was awesome, and I was really excited to make the guys take a picture, but someone seemed to give him directions before we got there. Fortunately, Goofy seemed to want to amuse more guests, because he didn't actually head for his kitchen. (Goofy's Kitchen is the big character dining place at the hotel.) So he posed for his picture, and then we gave him directions. It was awesome.
And then we came home, and now here we are.
And that took much longer than I'd expected. Seriously, every time we go to Disneyland, I think I won't have much to write about (I even thought that after we got back this time), and yet there ends up being so much. Just goes to show that there's always something worth talking about at Disneyland.
Today I'm thankful for finding those t-shirts with the Tokyo Disney designs, discovering the Art of Disneyland gallery, Asimo being adorable, awesome character portrayals, and pirate treasure.