Let's see... On Friday morning, we woke up, ate breakfast, and headed off to California Adventure! Yay! We started with the Hollywood Backlot, because that's where the animation building is, and we knew that Kimee would have fun there, especially since she had already expressed a desire to see Turtle Talk with Crush. Of course, the other common option is to start out in Condor Flats and go on Soarin' Over California, then continue along the trail that leads to Grizzly River Run. But Soarin' is kind of motion-sickness inducing (even though it's super awesome), and Grizzly River Run likes to spin you around. Getting dizzy when you're already slightly nauseous is not a good idea--a fact we've learned the hard way more times than we should have had to.
So we went to Hollywood Backlot. It was going to be about eighteen minutes to the first Turtle Talk show, so now we had time to play in the Sorceror's Workshop! This area has a bunch of zoetrope type things, where you draw a sequence of pictures and place them in the round thing with slots, then spin it around and look through the slots to see your pictures move! It's hard to come up with ideas and even harder to animate them, so we almost never try it, but they have pre-drawn animations to look at, like Goofy walking, Donald throwing a fit, Peter Pan flying, Tarzan swinging through the trees, etc. So we looked at those a bit, and then continued on into Beast's Library.
It was awesome in Beast's Library, because nobody was there yet, so we each got to sit down in front of a book and take the character personality test! We both got Belle, Celeste got Cinderella, Kimee got Princess Dot, Mom got Mulan (then changed one answer to get Cinderella), and Sarah was pretty unhappy to get Mrs. Potts. It probably wasn't such a good idea to tell them that part of the test was based on facial recognition technology, especially because when we came back later to change our last answer so we'd get villains instead, Sarah was very unhappy to get Ursula. She tried it again without smiling to see if it would change her picture and she still got Ursula. I guess we should have remembered that there aren't that many female villains, so she shouldn't get so worked up about it. Athena and I both got the evil witch from Snow White (and when it says "evil witch" instead of "wicked queen," it means post-transformation), and we weren't complaining. Much. Athena took the test again with a different smile and got Maleficent. Heh heh.
We didn't have time to visit Ursula's Lair (the sign says Ursula's Grotto, but Ursula's Lair sounds cooler to me), because it was time for Turtle Talk! Dude! So off we went, and it was awesome, because there were only like eleven of us in the whole audience, so we knew it was going to be a more personalized show. I was the first person Crush talked to, and right as he was asking me where I was from... the screen froze. It was kind of cool, because the... um... I don't know what they call him, but he's the guy who takes the microphone around to everyone. He said, "Hey, Crush, is the water getting cold out there?" Apparently it was freezing cold! So they had to stop the show because they didn't know how long it would take to fix the problem.
So off we went to Ursula's Lair! This place is really cool, because you get to dub Disney scenes! They have some cool effects, too, where they make it look like Ursula is stealing your voice like in the movie. When we were done playing around, Crush was still being thawed, so we went on Monsters, Inc. instead (but not before one of the Turtle Talk attendant guys gave us a No Strings Attached card for having to miss talking to Crush on our birthday).
By the time we were done visiting Monstropolis, Crush had been freed from his frozen prison, and we finally got our chance to ask him how he feels about global warming (a question we actually didn't think of until after the first show got interrupted). He's against it.
Next, it was time for Drawn to the Magic! It's a show where three "animators" talk about how much they love Disney movies. There's one guy who likes to draw heroes, one girl who likes to draw the princesses, and one guy who likes to draw the magical characters. They argue about which category is the best, and then they call volunteers from the audience to help them prove their points, as well as inspire them to draw... their already pre-drawn drawings. (Don't worry about the details; it's just a show.) First, a little girl gets to make a princess pose, and then a little boy gets to do a hero pose and say a heroic line ("Reach for the sky!" a la Woody). Then they sing a bit of Friend Like Me, and another kid (in this case Kimee) gets to finish the chorus.
(Kimee comments that she had a hard time focusing, because when she heard that she would be singing part of a song about a friend, she couldn't stop thinking about You've Got a Friend in Me from Toy Story. Sad state of the world.)
Then the "animators" sing a very lovely medley of Disney songs, and then there's a finale where they bring their drawings to life! And we get to meet Woody, Cinderella, and Mickey (which is why I always end up cheering loudest for the magical characters, even though I generally like heroes the best).
After the show, the magical characters guy came over to give Kimee his pre-drawn drawing of Sorceror's Apprentice Mickey, which was totally the best one of the lot, even without character bias (the Cinderella and Woody ones looked kind of odd). He thanked us for being such a good audience (we're nothing if not enthusiastic!) and posed for some pictures which I most likely won't be sharing because they're on Mom's camera.
Then we met Cinderella, and Kimee got her picture with Cinderella, and then Celeste got her picture with Cinderella. Cinderella asked Celeste if she was Kimee's sister, and Celeste said, "Stepsister," and Cinderella looked impressed and said, "And you're so nice to each other!" We think there may have also been a sentence expressing approval, but we weren't there so we only know secondhand, and memories are fuzzier that way. And then we met Mickey, but we didn't start saving a place in line early enough to meet Woody, but that's okay because we're still annoyed with Pixar.
And at some point Kimee went to get Mr. Incredible's autograph, which I only bring up because while I was taking her picture, the attendant asked which of us was Athena, and then wished us both a happy birthday. I was so distracted taking the picture that it didn't occur to me at the time, but after we left I wondered why she would ask that. Athena was standing on the other side of me, and her birthday pin with her name on it was on the side away from the attendant, so how would she know that someone whose name with Alethea would be hanging out with an Athena? Did she know us somehow? Had she been talking to the people in the animation building? (Celeste and Sarah put on quite a show when the Emperor's New Groove segment was playing on the monitors in the entrance hall.) Was she talking to the "animators"? I don't know! Maybe she's a manga fan! I kind of wish I had conversed more. Alas.
After spending a loooong long time (but a super fun time) in the Hollywood Backlot, we went on Grizzly River Run (skipping Soarin' to save for later) on our way to the Toy Story ride. On the way to the Toy Story ride, we ran into the Green Army Men, who were recruiting toys for Andy's toy box. Volunteers had to perform arduous tasks, like freezing into the proper poses very quickly, and throwing ladybug bean bags into a gigantic bucket.
We got distracted from the Toy Story ride for a bit and went to get some free tortillas, but the tortilla factory was closed, so people got sourdough bread samples instead. Then we went to the Toy Story ride, but it was down! Oh no! This became a fact that plagued us throughout the day, causing us to walk aaaaaaaall the way around Paradise Pier at least three times to find out if the ride was up and running yet. It caused us to wonder who in the world designed California Adventure's layout, and what they have against people's feet. Seriously, putting a giant "ocean" in the middle of a theme park with no way to get across it except to go around is a very, very cruel thing to do.
But anyway, we settled for stacking our odds in the midway games instead. We won another platyduck, a Timothy, a Dumbo, and a Bull's Eye, without any retries. But Celeste really needs to work on her softball aim, so no Casey at the Bat plush for us. It's okay; she tried.
Eventually we decided it was time to see if they would let us in to Ariel's Grotto earlier than our reservation. I was totally planning to take pictures of the restaurant, but I failed. Though come to think of it, I think they'll let us in the restaurant without a reservation--they just won't feed us (which is just as well because we don't eat). Anyway, they gave us a nifty little buzzer thing that would go off when our table was ready, and we went across the street to shop in the shop there while we waited. With the new Alice in Wonderland movie, they've got a bunch of new merchandise, including stuff from the animated movie. I pointed out a t-shirt with the Tweedles on it to Athena, and Mom immediately picked up two in our size and bought them. Wow, thanks!
Finally it was time for lunch! We went back into the restaurant and down the stairs, where Ariel was greeting people! Unfortunately, they only let us take one picture, so Athena didn't get a two-shot, but she was very nice anyway.
Our waitress sat us down and took our drink orders: waters all around, except for two orders of light (why must it always be light?) punch that came with souvenir light-up Tinkerbell clips. (Sarah actually ordered a Buzz Lightyear one, so we could see one of each, but they were out of Buzz.) She brought us our appetizers--a tower of three plates with salad on the bottom, saladless vegetables in the middle, and fruit on the top. And another waiter brought us bread! The bread was really neat--they baked it to look like seaweed!
While we were eating our appetizers and bread, a crier (I think that's what they're called?) came out to inform us that the princesses would be along soon, so we should get our cameras and autograph books ready. He had an interesting accent, so when Athena wondered out loud if it was real, Celeste and Sarah told us that yes, his nametag said he was from Switzerland! Cool! (We didn't see it because he was behind us.)
The princesses all came out one at a time and greeted each table. We met Belle, Snow White, Aurora, and Cinderella. Before we got to meet all of them, another crier came out and called everyone over to teach us some royal customs. First he taught us how to express happiness, with a "Huzzah!" (He even spelled it out for us: H U Z Z A H exclamation point!) Then we learned how to greet fellow royals from a distance, moving our hand as if washing the royal windows. And then we learned a little dance that involved a lot of spinning and almost made us dizzy. (Oh right, there was curtsying and bowing in there somewhere, too.) Aurora visited our table after the lessons and thanked us for joining them.
The award for best princess of the day went to Cinderella, probably because she was the most talkative. She wished us a happy birthday, and asked if we came to Disneyland for our birthday every year. We said we try to, but a couple of years ago we went to Tokyo Disneyland. She got really excited and said, "Then you saw my castle! It's a little bigger than Aurora's, but we won't talk about that." She asked where we were from like this, "Where is your kingdom?" And we took a picture with her and Kimee, and then she said, "And now let's get a birthday picture!" And she was still just so impressed that we had gone to Tokyo.
The entrees were all amazing, according to the people who eat food. Even I could tell that the chicken was amazing (but I didn't eat all of it, because I couldn't bring myself to cut too close to the bone). Mom had the tri-tip, and she said it was the best she had ever tasted, which is saying a lot, because we live in Fresno, and people are obsessed with tri-tip here. And then we shared a dessert platter, which I'm not going to explain because I got a picture of it. Athena and I each got extra cake for our birthday, which was very yummy. The desserts were small, but that's reasonable, because people who eat food would be very full by dessert time.
I think that covers most of the really exciting stuff for the day. We went on more rides, and used our No Strings Attached card on Soarin' (deja vu...). Mom's back started hurting, so she went back to the hotel early, and the rest of us did a little shopping and then headed to the Magic Kingdom where... we did more shopping! And riding. Athena and I stopped at the bakery to get some chocolate croissants while the rest of our party went on ahead to the bathrooms by the Tiki Room. On our way to meet them, we stopped by the information booth to asked if the Toy Story ride in California Adventure was running again, and wouldn't you know it, after all our back and forth while we were still in that park, it was finally fixed. But that ride is on the opposite end of California Adventure from the entrance, and the wait was forty-five minutes, so we decided that walking all the way across both parks and waiting in line for forty-five minutes was not something any of us had the energy for.
We went on a few more rides and then back to the hotel where my patience ran out when somebody knocked on the door and then vanished. I answered the door because everyone was completely exhausted and I still had a little energy left, so when I saw that nobody was there, I suddenly became very angry. One of the guys, who had arrived that night to join us at Disneyland on Saturday, had come back to our room to retrieve his cell phone, but discovered it was in the guys' room after all and disappeared before I got to the door. And then he tried to lie and say it was the management, but we saw right through it because it didn't make any sense and people had heard his voice.
Anyway, I managed to contain myself and get to sleep, but the next day turned out to be a bit of a trial.
Today I'm thankful for everyone loving the food at Ariel's Grotto, Mom buying us nifty t-shirts, having a fun time meeting the princesses, having a fun time at the animation building with everyone, and being at home where we can get enough to eat without going out of our food comfort zones.