It's weird, too, because this trip to Disneyland wasn't strenuous at all. ...Okay, so maybe it was a little strenuous, walking around in the sun all day for two days, and carrying around garden statues and stuff. So maybe it was a little strenuous, but it didn't feel strenuous. It was pretty low-key, which was nice. Apparently Gaston has the same problem we do when going to Disneyland with people: always worrying about whether or not everyone else is having a good time. That attitude tends to make you care less about what you yourself actually do while at the park, so since none of us really cared what got done or what didn't, all the stress was gone. (Maybe not all the stress; just because someone says they don't care one way or the other doesn't mean I'm not going to worry about it anyway.)
But in that vein, there wasn't a whole lot of newness that happened, so there's not a whole lot to report on event-wise. We did end up talking to a lot of fun people, though. See, since we weren't worried about going on rides, we were able to do some shopping, and that got us talking to cast members.
I think it started with Gaston buying a cookbook. He had just been to one of the cooking demonstrations, and he really liked the chef, so he got her book and had her sign it. During the demonstration, they talked a lot, and he came to be known as Bacon Guy, so that's how he had her sign the book (to Bacon Guy). She actually signed it to him and his alter-ego, and then we walked over to Disneyland, where our first order of business was to find a place that would hold the book so Gaston wouldn't have to carry it around all day.
We walked into the Emporium on Main Street, and asked the first cast members we saw if we could check the book with them. They said no, we'd have to take it to the newsstand outside (not a long walk, and it turned out to be very helpful when we forgot to get the book before leaving the park, because you don't have to be in the park to access the newsstand). And then we noticed the pins on the cast members lanyard. First we noticed the Chibi Aladdin, and from there we kept noticing more and more, until we exhausted all but one of our supply of pins we had for trading. Then after we checked the book and came back to Main Street, we glanced at another cast member's trading pins and used up our last one on a Mad Madam Mim pin that we couldn't pass up.
(Before I go on, I want to point out here that when we walked into Main Street the first time, we saw a filming crew and a kid wandering around like he was looking for something as the cameras rolled. Athena saw the clapboard and discovered it was for Leo Little's Big Show. We may or may not have managed to sneak into the background, but I did get a few pictures of the filming!)
Come to think of it, I don't think any of that pin trading stuff I just mentioned really builds up to what happened later, but we did a lot of pin stuff. It was after we exhausted our trading pins that we discovered a bunch of pin traders setting up shop outside Westward Ho!, the Frontierland pin shop. We saw a bunch of really cute pins, but we couldn't trade anything because we wanted to keep all the ones we had. We also saw a bunch of villain sets, and of course we asked if they had Gaston ones, because our Gaston is always on the lookout for Gaston merchandise. All the traders told us there was no Gaston in that set. One of the sets was villains with their pets, and we all wondered why they'd specifically invent a set to discriminate against Gaston like that, since so few villains don't have pets. (We also pointed out that Gaston made it clear that he wants dogs, and if Pain and Panic counted as Hades's pets, LeFou could easily count as a pet for Gaston. But anyway.)
But the last couple of times we were at Disneyland, we noticed they were selling several sets of pins that seemed to be part of a series. Each set was based on a Disney animated feature, and had about four pins--the main characters, sidekicks, other supporting characters, and villains. When we saw them, we thought, "Oh! All these sets have villains! That must mean that the Beauty and the Beast set has Gaston!" But every time we looked around a pin store, there was no Beauty and the Beast set. We would even ask around and find nothing--though several cast members had told us that it does, in fact, exist. So this time, we made it our Quest.
Every time we were in a shop that sold pins, we would ask about the Beauty and the Beast set. We kept getting different reports, but the most common seemed to be, "It exists but we don't have it here. Check the other stores if you want, but you can probably find it online." We also found out that they get shipments about twice a week, so our quest continued into Thursday (it started on Wednesday, as I'm sure you can guess).
As we browsed pin stores in search of the elusive Beauty and the Beast set... Oh wait! First I have to tell about the girl we saw outside the Haunted Mansion. This girl was standing there talking to her friends, and she had a messenger bag covered in pins--Beauty and the Beast pins. She had a bunch of really nice ones, and some funny ones like Cinco de Mayo Beast (wearing a sombrero) and Beast dressed as a police officer. Where do you get pins like that? Man! (Though we both seem to have vague memories of seeing Beast as a police officer on the shelves a long time ago...)
So we stopped to talk to her, and we told her that we were in search of Gaston pins, and she said she didn't have any because she hates Gaston. So even when she got him in sets, she would trade him away. Our Gaston was Not Happy with her. Oh well, it was amusing anyway.
Right. As we browsed pin stores in search of the elusive Beauty and the Beast set, we also discovered a lanyard medallion shaped like the weird bat/bird thingies they use as decorations on the Haunted Mansion. It had a button on it, and when you pressed it, it shone a black light that was supposedly used to "decode" certain pins. So we looked around for a while, shining the light on all the pins in the shop, but we couldn't find any. Finally, we asked the cast member working there and she called somebody to ask about it. Apparently they don't carry those pins anymore. Boo.
The next day, we had woken up early to see how many rides we could get on right after the park opened (a lot; that's one of the best times to get on rides), so we had been to all the Disneyland pin shops by the time we finally wandered over to California Adventure, where we watched the Aladdin production they put on in their fancy Hyperion Theater, with its terrifying cliff-dweller balcony seats. Oh my goodness, the thought of falling from those seats. They even had rails between each of the rows! And there was this little kid sitting right in front of me who was squirming, and I was so afraid for him! Like, "Oh no! What if he falls! There's another kid in front of him! They'll go down together! Unless that guy and his girlfriend act as a cushion and stop them."
We weren't impressed with the Aladdin show, by the way. We knew we wouldn't be, because we'd seen it before. We had a huge problem with the characterization, because they had made Aladdin out to be not so bright. To save time, Jafar saves Aladdin from the guards directly (instead of from prison) by claiming to be Aladdin's father. He says, "I'm the boy's father," and Aladdin says, "You are?" Aladdin's much quicker on the uptake than that! Fortunately, they changed the dialogue in that bit, so Jafar says to Aladdin, "Play along, boy!" (we figure that's for the audience's benefit, so they know that Jafar isn't actually Aladdin's father), so Aladdin's not stupid anymore. Now he's just angry all the time.
We've heard that Disneyland likes to cast actors who are decent, but not super good, because super good actors can leave any time for better work. Based on the stage shows we've seen at Disneyland (Aladdin, Snow White), that seems like it could be true, but that would be really sad as far as the Disney Standard. Walt Disney was all about high quality, darnit!
But anyway. After the Aladdin show, Gaston went to another cooking demonstration (the chef there talked about the magic of Disney; the recipe he wanted to demonstrate called for a type of mushrooms that are out of season and impossible to get, and if they'd asked him, he would have told them that a certain other kind of mushroom (that is in season) would have been just fine, but they got him the out-of-season mushroom anyway--and enough for everyone at the demonstration to sample the dish!) and we went on Mulholland Madness.
But the important thing is that after the ride, we stopped at the California Adventure pin shop. We didn't find the Beauty and the Beast pin set, but we did! find a set of pins that said, "Hey, you can decode us with a black light!" (It didn't say it like that, but you get the idea.) But! that store didn't have a black light shining medallion! Nooooooo!!
But wait! We'd seen those pins before! It was a set of Haunted Mansion pins representing the portraits in the hall before you get in the doom buggies, and we remembered them because when we looked at them we were like, "Hey, they have the nice versions... but where are the scary versions?" Now it made sense! And we remember looking at them in the display case... at the store that did sell the medallion!!
So after a few more attractions, we went there as our last stop before shopping and then home. We found the medallion, but the pins were too far away to work! So we asked the cast member to let us see them up close, but she didn't have a key to the display case! Ohhhh noooooo!!! But! she did call for someone who did have a key to the display case.
We waited for a while, and finally the Keyblade Master showed up. We felt a little bad for causing such a hassle when all we wanted to do was look--we had absolutely no intention of buying this pin set. But when KM showed them to us with the black light, they were pretty darn awesome. To pay for the hassle, we bought a couple of Si and Am pins, and during the whole thing, we got to talking with this guy. We told him about our pin Quest, and as it turned out, he used to be the resident pin expert, so he knew all about it! The Beauty and the Beast pin set does exist, but they only sell it in Florida! Nooooooo!!!
(We can actually get it online, but it's still kind of annoying.)
Anyway. We had a lovely discussion about Gaston and how under-appreciated he is, and our Gaston kept talking about how the only reason Belle went for the Beast and not Gaston was the Beast's money. And we were like, "Um, no." But it was all good fun.
After that, we caught some more pin traders outside, and Gaston got to talking with one of them for a while. He told us about the Disney soda shop next to the El Capitan theater, and now we totally want to go there but it's all the way in Los Angeles and we have no money. And he also pointed out that they say that all the princesses live happily ever after with their princes, but after the hype of the movie has died down, you never see the princess with her prince ever again. (Not entirely true, but not entirely false.) He and Gaston liked the idea of a Prince Reality character, who's a total bum sitting at home watching cable TV, with his princess wearing scrubs because she works like sixty hours a week as a nurse or something. And we were like, "Let's not encourage this behavior in our men!" Ugh.
Then we spent a little bit of time talking to the watch artist in the watch shop. We had seen him a couple of weeks ago drawing a really nice picture of Prince Eric, who we think is the most underrated Disney prince. So when we saw he was in that day, we got really excited, and of course, since we were with Gaston, we asked if he had any Gaston art. He was like, "Of course!" But the sample wasn't in his sample book, so he went and got the sample for us, and it was Gaston holding up the bench at the tavern with the Silly Girls sitting on it. Very nice. He also had a really cool piece of the Beast looking all surly in the shadows.
Then! we promised Celeste we'd buy a certain ring for her, and we got to talking to the lady at that shop, too. Her name tag said she was from Tibet, which was kind of strange because she didn't look the least bit Asian. So Gaston, outgoing guy that he is, asked her, "Are you really from Tibet?" And she confessed that she grew up in Chicago. But her mother wanted unique names and birthplaces for all her children, so she went to Tibet just to give birth to her. She talked to us about being twins and stuff, too, and she liked us all so well that she gave us pins! Not the trading pins--the "I'm Celebrating!" pins that are also sometimes called "buttons." Gaston got an Honorary Citizen pin (because she wanted to give matching ones to the twins), but he already had one, so he gave it to us.
Speaking of people being interested in our twin-ness! We were hanging out at Off the Page (our favorite Disney collectibles store right next to the Animation Building in California Adventure), asking the artist if we could get a Sora sketch (apparently he really is owned by Square-Enix, and her managers would have to fill out a lot of paperwork to get permission; we offered to fill out the paperwork for them, but I don't think that helped), when a different cast member came around and asked us if we had decided (based on our shirts) which of us was Tweedle Dee and which was Tweedle Dum.
Then we started talking about the basic twin stuff (have you ever traded places in class to take tests, etc.), and Gaston noticed his hearing aid. Gaston's father is almost completely deaf, too, so he started asking about what kind of hearing aid it was and how well it worked and stuff. Apparently this particular hearing aid--or hearing aids, I guess--communicates with itself so that both ears work together... or something. Anyway, it sounded like pretty cool technology. Gaston talked about how his father became a dentist, because when he was young he read an article about a deaf dentist and decided if the one man could do it, so could he. He even went and met the first deaf dentist, and found out that all the text messaging software that's been invented was started by this first deaf dentist. Pretty cool.
Whew, that's a lot of stuff for a trip that wasn't so eventful. But it was really fun!
Today I'm thankful for making it home safely, having an awesome time at Disneyland, the cats not having killed each other while we were gone, getting lots of neat new pins, and finally learning what the real deal is with that Beauty and the Beast pin set.