So about that trip to Disneyland. We woke up kind of early on Wednesday, so we decided to have breakfast at the Mimi's Cafe across the street from the park. The seasonal menu had chocolate mousse muffins, which were amazing. Gaston pointed out that with that much chocolate, it's not a muffin--it's a cupcake. (His wife is diabetic, so he's always worried about the sugar content in things.) We agreed, but we didn't care. It was tasty.
Gaston already had his admission into the park (annual pass), so he took the car to the parking lot while we walked to the entrance to buy our tickets. We still hadn't decided if we wanted to make it a full splurge and get annual passes again, but as we walked, we realized that we'd forgotten our pins. Celeste gave us a bunch of Disney pins to trade, and here we were with an opportunity to trade them, but no pins. Well, of course that means we'd have to come back, so we decided to get annual passes after all! Tadah! I don't know if we'll get to use them again in the near future, but in case we do, we'll be ready!
We met up with Gaston and then it was off to our first destination: Star Tours. Now it's called "Star Tours: The Adventure Continues," which is really a misnomer, because it's a prequel to the first ride. Unless the continuing means "continuing back into the past" or something. But we were really excited anyway, because we had always been saying that they should program the Starspeeders to take you on different tours, like we could go to Tattooine and get caught up in the pod race, or maybe we could actually go to Hoth, like the ads (there's a movie screen in line that shows commercials) said.
So the line is pretty much the same, but now the Starspeeder that R2-D2 and C-3PO are checking isn't all shot up with laser holes. And there's a droid checking luggage, and you get to see all the stuff inside. One time I saw him destroy a tennis racket because he thought it was too suspicious. And the droid that used to warn you about how he wouldn't ever ride a Starspeeder has been replaced by a droid that looks the same but now sounds like Patrick Warburton. He has a body scanner (it's a security camera that shows like a heat-scan or something?) and accuses people of looking suspicious. He also says stuff like, "And for those of you traveling with small children...good luck with that."
When we finally got to the front of the line (after a harrowing twenty minutes), we impatiently watched the pre-flight video, and the hangar-cam, where we got to see C-3PO knocked inside the Starspeeder--into the pilot's seat, of course.
So the flight attendant does the safety check to make sure everybody's got their seatbelts on, and then they lowered the cockpit shield to reveal that the pilot was missing, and C-3PO was there in his place. The flight was scheduled to start anyway, and despite 3PO's protests, R2-D2 (our navigator) started the ship anyway. So we start down the runway...
And Darth Vader appears! Oh no! And he uses the Force to stop the ship! Why? Because there's a rebel spy on board! What! Actually, we'd heard something about this before, and we were always like, "What are they talking about?" especially when they'd say things like, "If you don't want to be the rebel spy..." That was especially confusing because one, they pick guests to be the rebel spy? and two, why the heck would you not want to be the rebel spy? What happens is they use a camera to show one of the passengers, so it really is somebody in the Starspeeder. When we saw it, I whined, "But I wanted to be the rebel spy!" (We'd also seen online that they have merchandise that says, "I am the rebel spy." And I wanted it.)
So anyway, Darth Vader knows that one of us is a rebel spy, and R2 tries to get the ship away from his Force hold, but he's holding on pretty tight, so we get shook up some, and then R2 fires the blasters, which shoots the whole ship backwards! And we need to get out in a hurry, so we book it--R2 activates lightspeed and we end up on Tattooine! And! we're in the middle of the pod race! (We always knew that would be a good idea.) So we raced around for a while, and then we practically crashed into the audience as C-3PO tried to get us off of Tattooine.
Back in space, we receive a hail from none other than Yoda himself! Wow! He says one of the rebel alliance is on our ship blah blah blah, and after the whole thing, 3PO's like, "I'm afraid we've just joined the rebel alliance." ...So that's how he got to be a part of that.
Anyway, we needed to get the rebel spy back to her rebel pals, so off we went to Naboo. We went underwater and one of the monsters grabbed us with his tongue! And shook us around! And then R2 zapped it! It was a lot like what happens on the Finding Nemo ride, and on the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride at DisneySea (only in both those cases, it's a giant squid). And then we went through the city of the Jar-Jar people (I don't remember what they're called), and we surfaced, and there was a hangar! And as we pulled into it, one of those pointy yellow ships crashed right into our windshield! Right through it! Nearly poked our eyes out! (I forgot to mention this ride is in 3D now.) And the rebel spy was safe, and so was the alliance.
But now how are we supposed to get to Endor?
Anyway, we left through the gift shop, and then we went on a couple more rides before heading over to California Adventure, for the next item on our list of Things We NEED to Do This Trip: Ariel's Undersea Adventure...or whatever they ended up calling that ride. We call it "The Little Mermaid" ride, as I'm sure most people do.
Oh wait! One of those rides was Jungle Cruise, which I wanted to mention because our skipper just happened to be the guy who played LeFou when Gaston played Gaston in Beauty and the Beast. When we came to the apes trashing the camp, he said something about how he was so tired of apes with guns--that's why he left Fresno. We were genuinely amused by the joke so we laughed, but it's true that LeFou didn't seem too happy to see Gaston. Gaston suspects it had something to do with Prop 8 and how we (including Gaston) were for it.
California Adventure is undergoing some intense renovations right now, so we went in through the entrance, and then we had to go faaaaaar to the right before coming out into the park where we could actually do stuff. It's just as well, though, because we weren't that far from the Little Mermaid ride. But we suspect we would have gotten to it faster if we didn't have to go around Grizzly Peak first.
Anyway. It was decorated all nice and pretty and under-the-sea-like, with shells pressed into the concrete, and spineless urchins topping the...thingies...in the line... Whatever, we have a picture. We'll show it to you later. There was a mural of the movie, like on the other Fantasyland rides (Peter Pan's Flight, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Pinocchio's Daring Journey, Snow White's Scary Adventures), only this one was a little over the top, because they gave Ariel a halo. And there were a bunch of shells going by that looked very much like the Doom Buggies in the Haunted Mansion, only with much brighter colors.
We finally got to sit in one (after a harrowing five minutes), and off we went! through the back of a sunken ship. First we saw Scuttle who was trying (and mostly failing) to begin the tale of Ariel's adventures. Then we went under the sea! Ooooohhhh! They had projections of a water surface on the walls beside us, and they give a gentle blast of cool air to help you feel like you've gone under. (Gaston's problem with that was that the water was not level, you know, like, sea level. I admit, it did seem odd.) And then we saw Ariel swimming by, collecting things! She was computer animated, so she was all 3D and stuff, but she just didn't look right. Mainly her proportions were off, I think. I mean, I know cartoon characters have odd proportions, but she didn't look like Ariel.
And then we went to her grotto where she was singing about being part of that world, and we rode right by the audio-animatronic figure (I seriously think I could have touched her without any trouble, we were that close), and she was really really tiny. Well, she is the little mermaid, after all. The best part of that scene was the statue of Eric; it looked amazing, and I want one.
So basically we go through the whole movie, only, in contrast to the new and "improved" Sleeping Beauty walkthrough, which has more Maleficent than you can shake a stick at, they kind of glossed over the whole "defeating Ursula" thing. They did have a pretty amazing (as well as gigantic) animatronic figure singing "Poor Unfortunate Souls," but...and maybe I'm just being overly perfectionistic, I don't think her gestures were theatrical enough. (Ursula's kind of a drama queen, y'know?) The "Kiss the Girl" sequence looked really good, though after discussing the air-blasting to help you feel like you're going under the water, we decided they should blast air on you again when you come out of the water. And they had these really nice looking...storks or cranes, I'm no ornithologist, but either way, I wouldn't mind having one.
The problem with the whole thing is that, yeah it's nice and the animatronics are all fancy and advanced, and it was gorgeous...but it didn't really feel like we were in the movie. It was kind of lonely, like Quasimodo sitting up in the belltower, just watching while everybody else has a life. We think part of the problem is that they kept putting us below the water's surface, which kind of makes sense, because we were under the sea for a while, but when we were topside and there's a little wall partitioning the "water" from us...it kind of detracts from the magic.
So I was wondering if I've just gotten too jaded as I've gotten older, and maybe those unhappy thoughts were what had me doing a tremendously bad job on Toy Story Midway Mania. But anyway, we passed by the soft serve ice cream place right as Gaston was thinking he'd like to have some, so we all got some, and it was probably the best soft serve ice cream we've ever had. Almost worth the $3 a pop we paid for it.
And then we did a bunch of stuff...we tried out their new renovated pizza place. Right! We wanted to have a Disneyland Restaurant Tour kind of thing going. We told Gaston about it, and he was all for it, but we were so stressed out from Tuesday that we didn't want to think too hard about food. But as we were wandering, we happened on the newly renovated pizza place, and it looked intriguing, so we stopped in. It used to be called Pizza Oom Mow Mow, and it had a beach theme. Now it's called Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta, and it has a fancy Mediterranean theme. They even had a fancy Mediterranean band playing. It was kinda neat. Except for the fact that fancy restaurant means fancy food, and I'm learning that fancy food, while fancy, is not usually better. We each got a flatbread pizza. I'll grant that that's not especially fancy, compared to the five-cheese ravioli that Gaston got, but it was "fancy" compared to the kids' meals pizzas, which looked oh so delicious. The flatbread pizza was...not so delicious.
After that, we went to Goofy's Sky School. See, right now, someone at Disney has this idea that all the rides need Disney characters--something about a nostalgia factor being what brings people to Disneyland. Actually, Walt Disney did employ the nostalgia factor in building Disneyland, but he did it with the idea that you can feel nostalgic about things other than the Disney movies you watched as a kid. Probably something to do with the lack of VCRs back then. So back when Walt Disney was making attractions, all the characters involved were Disney characters by virtue of the fact that they were born at Disneyland. Now, they're sticking Disney characters in everything.
That being the case, there was a little roller coaster at California Adventure called Mulholland Madness, based on the Mulholland freeway in Los Angeles. The point was that driving in LA is scary (a true fact, attested by our friend Kyoya). Everybody we knew who had been on this little roller coaster (that is to say, almost everyone we'd ever been to California Adventure with) love love loved it. And they'd go on it multiple times, despite the utter lack of nostalgic Disney characters. Nevertheless, they decided it needed a Disney character, so they painted it blue and changed all the cars to look like little airplanes, and stuck pictures of Goofy all around it.
So now it's the same little roller coaster, with Goofy. It's not really better or worse; it just has Goofy. I like Goofy pretty well, so that's fine; we just can't really get on board with the "it must have a pre-existing Disney character!" philosophy. Case in point: The Tiki Room Under New Management. Apparently in Florida, they added Iago and Zazu to the Tiki Room. Also apparently, most people hated it and wanted the original back. So when the new Tiki Room burned down in a fire, they decided to bring back the original. Or so we hear.
I admit, though, that I do like the little posters (actually not little at all) that illustrate each of Goofy's flying lessons. They're posted all around the track so you can learn by doing, I guess. Anyway, I think it's cute.
Then we did more stuff...we went on Star Tours again. It was great. We finally got on board (we used fast passes this time, so it was a harrowing...five? minutes), and it was time to take off but there was no pilot, so C-3PO started flying against his will, and then! a bunch of Stormtroopers showed up with a scanner droid! And they discovered that there was a rebel spy on our ship! (Again, not us. *pout*)
And then we guess they started firing at us or something, so R2-D2 got us out of there, so we went to Hoth! And nearly had an AT-AT fall on us! And then we fell down a ravine! It was pretty awesome; like a water slide, only in a Starspeeder and with snow and not water. (Right, I guess that would be more like a sled. Forgive me; I'm not really familiar with snow.) So we got out of there, and then Yoda showed up again and we all joined the rebel alliance again, and then we found ourselves in an asteroid field with a hail from Boba Fett! He's after the spy! Oh no!
So we flew around in the asteroids for a while, and then we landed and the rebel leaders there were so happy to see us they applauded! Awww, 'tweren't nothin'.
And I still don't know how we're supposed to get to Endor. Darn rebels; when will they learn we have places to go?
And then at some point it was time for the parade! Yay! New parade! It was all pretty and had Mickey playing the drums, and wearing a mask with a moving mouth! Still not as awesome as the interactive Mickey mask, but pretty awesome. And I think I'll save most of the parade commentary for when we post pictures, because I got a bunch. (Only because we watched it twice. Our photo policy is generally to not worry about pictures for a show we haven't seen.)
I will say, though, that it feels a little empty to not have a big finale with Mickey Mouse. He started the parade this time, so he wasn't in the finale, and it just didn't feel right.
Speaking of such things! We witnessed a time warp on Wednesday! When we got into the park, there were a ton of Disney characters out wandering around, including Pinocchio and Gepetto. We didn't stop to talk to them because we had a Starspeeder to catch, but as we kept walking to Tomorrowland, we passed by the restaurant where they have all the birthday parties, and through the crack in the bushes we saw, standing next to Chip (I think)...Gepetto! How did he get there so fast!? And since when was Gepetto in such high demand? (Not that I can blame whoever's demanding him; he is pretty awesome.)
We did more stuff, including walk over to the Hungry Bear Restaurant for some honey lemon cupcakes...only to discover that the restaurant was already closed. Boo. And we wandered around some more, had dinner (after just sitting and talking for a while, because we were very tired)...Right, dinner was pizza at Village Haus. They have changed the menu since we last ate there, and the pizzas seem to have been altered, but for the better. Those pizzas were soooooo good. Vastly superior to the flatbread ones. They had Black Forest cupcakes, too, but we opted not to get them because one, they were $5 each; two, Gaston told us Black Forest usually means chocolate and cherries and I wasn't quite prepared to deal with fruit for $5; and three, we figured we'd just get cupcakes the next day when the Hungry Bear opened again.
Then it was time to mosey back to California Adventure for World of Color. By this time it was getting cold. Coldness at night is a bit of a novelty for us right now, which is why we forgot to bring our jackets (we used to be smart enough to bring our jackets even if we went to Disneyland in, like, July). We discussed the possibility of buying new ones, especially because they're selling these really pretty Ariel ones, but they were kind of pricey, so we decided to Think About It. Then Gaston pointed out that if we weren't going to buy them right then, we might as well not buy them at all, because all the cold stuff (World of Color) would be over.
After we had this discussion, we passed by Grizzly River Run, and we looked at the waterfalls and the fog and everything, and we were all like, "Wow, this place looks really cool at night. I've never been on this ride at night!" Never having been on Grizzly River Run at night is surely not uncommon, because it's a rapids ride, where you get wet. Sometimes very very wet. Really it would take a certain degree of insanity to go on this ride at night. So we were like, "Hey, we're just going straight back to the hotel after World of Color. Why not hit this ride first?" And we all agreed that that was a fantastic idea.
So we watched World of Color, where of course we made sure to get as close to the action as we could. This meant the very front row...of the wet zone. (It's a water show; you get close, you get wet.) As we waited, shivering, for the show to start, we talked about the one time Gaston and his dad camped out in a blizzard and nearly died trying to make it back home after their truck broke down. Good times. (It wasn't that cold for us that night, though, fortunately.)
World of Color continues to be generally awesome, but particularly lacking in places. I had to wonder again if I'm too old and jaded to taste the magic anymore. That's okay, though. The next day we would see Fantasmic!, and then we'd be able to test that theory (despite World of Color's incredible amazingness, we've always preferred Fantasmic! (in theory; we actually hadn't seen Fantasmic! since we've seen World of Color)). Gaston was all pumped up because the show was so awesome, and I was all sad because it wasn't awesome enough. They did switch out the Pirates of the Caribbean sequence to match the fourth movie...but the wind was such that mostly we saw a bunch of colored mist instead of mermaid attacks.
So now that we'd pretty much sat through a twenty-minute drizzle, it was time to go get really wet. We went on Grizzly River Run. For a second we thought they'd already shut down for the night, but we were in luck! It was still running. And it was amazing. Super awesome. And when we went through the cave, they blew warm air at us so that we wouldn't get hypothermia! And then as we passed by the guy in the shed who's there to make sure everything's working at the big waterfall that you go over, he crossed himself. Several times. I'm not sure if it was because we were about to go over a waterfall, or if it was because we were about to go over a waterfall at night.
Either way, it was super awesome, and there were a couple of guys in the raft with us who were really disappointed that they'd been on the ride like six times that day and never got hit with the geyser at the end. They decided to try one more time. And Gaston was like, "Yes. Go on this ride again and again, until you sober up."
Then, instead of going straight to the hotel, we decided to go shopping. Athena had forgotten to pack one of her shirts (I had forgotten to pack stuff, too; that was one hectic Tuesday), so we thought, what the heck, let's buy a new one. We told Gaston about it, and he was happy to help us pick one. We went to the World of Disney store in Downtown Disney, because the selection is best there (well, there, and on Main Street, but World of Disney was right where we got let out of California Adventure) and shopped around. Gaston found some shirts that said "Bride" on them, and because we all have twisted senses of humor, he suggested we each get one. Then everybody who saw us wearing them would be like, "Yeah, rock on!" and then they'd look closer and be like, "...Wait a minute."
We finally decided on a really cute Mickey Mouse shirt, and a shirt with an Ewok making puppy dog eyes and the slogan "Save the Trees."
Then we finally made it back to the hotel and got ready for another day at Disneyland.
Whew. And here we thought that we wouldn't have much to say. Man, how long have I been typing?
Today I'm thankful for our checks being overnighted, getting to go on the new Star Tours, amazingly delicious chocolate mousse muffins, getting to go on the Little Mermaid ride, and surviving World of Color followed by a night time excursion on Grizzly River Run (without getting hypothermia!).