Let's see... On Thursday, we had plans to meet up with Kyoya about an hour after the park opened. Gaston had to leave at about eleven, because he needed to drive back up to Fresno for a relative's (I think he said cousin's, but I don't remember) wedding. When I called to tell him we were going to Disneyland on Thursday, he said, "That's the worst possible day you can go." At first I was worried that he knew something about the crowd situation, so I was relieved to find out it was only bad for him. He got to join us on Wednesday, so it all worked out.
But the point is, since Gaston would be leaving Disneyland early, we had to get back to the hotel by ourselves. The hotel had a shuttle (actually a kind of bus system among many hotels), which was all well and good, but if we didn't take the shuttle to the park, we'd have no idea where to find the shuttle back to the hotel. So we left early and waited and waited and waited and waited for the shuttle. When we finally made it to the park, we had no idea what time it is, or how long Gaston might have been waiting for us. He had stayed behind to pack, and he told us he was going to stop by Jack in the Box for breakfast, but the shuttle had taken a really long time to get to us. So that time it actually was a harrowing wait. But we don't know how long it was.
The reason I bring all this up is that now we were in a hurry. And the significance of us being in a hurry is that we didn't feel like we could afford to stop. And the reason we would need to stop is that one of the cast members in charge of checking inside people's bags to make sure they don't bring bombs into the park looked remarkably like our best friend from high school, whom we haven't seen in years. We went through a different line because it was shorter, and once we got through, we felt like we needed to keep going. So James, if you happen to be reading this, and if that was you, we're sorry we didn't stop to chat! We didn't really have any time to chat, either, but we could have made plans to meet up in the park after his shift.
When we got onto Main Street, we saw that it was like 9:40. What!? We had been aiming to get into the park at nine! We were sure Gaston had been waiting forever, but as it turned out, we beat him there and had time to start eating the chocolate croissants we bought for breakfast (nowhere near as desserty as the chocolate mousse muffins, but we do like chocolate for breakfast). When we met up with Gaston, we decided to go on Indiana Jones, because according to Gaston's app, the line was only a minute long, and we never got around to using our fast passes the day before. It turned out to be a very good idea, because as we walked into Adventureland, we ran into Kyoya! So we didn't have to worry about being late to our rendezvous.
So the four of us went on Indiana Jones, then we just let momentum take us to Pirates of the Caribbean. They switched Davy Jones out and replaced him with Blackbeard, which on the one hand is a good move, because Blackbeard is a way scarier villain and deserves the awesome effect more, but on the other hand...that effect really matches Davy Jones better than it matches Blackbeard. Ah well.
After the ride, we followed Gaston, who just went wherever he wanted without looking back. We finally caught up to him in the Christmas ornament shop. Across the street was a pin shop, where the cast member caught us explaining the pin shop to Kyoya. She asked if that was Japanese we were speaking, and we confirmed, asking if she knew any. She said she knew sukoshi. Kyoya was impressed, and we taught her that next time she had a Japanese guest, she should say "maido." Gaston tends to feel left out when we speak in Japanese for too long, so he told the cast member he could start speaking German, but with the Japanese and the German, people would start to get nervous. He added, "If it helps, I'm actually Swiss." (He's actually American, but of Swiss descent.)
After Big Thunder Mountain followed by a trip to the Big Thunder petting zoo (lots of adorable goats), it was time for Gaston to say goodbye, and off he went to his cousin(?)'s wedding. In the meantime, the rest of us got in line to meet Rapunzel. That was another actually harrowing wait of about an hour. The meet and greet was a bit of a flurry, too, because I had out our camera, our autograph book, and our photopass (which was actually my annual pass--they come together now!). I peeked in earlier and was a little disappointed to find Rapunzel alone (even though I actually like her a lot better than Flynn Rider, which is really unusual for us), but when we got there, Flynn was there, too! Yay!
Rapunzel asked if we were trying to grow our hair as long as hers, and we said we didn't think that was possible. Athena says she wasn't being defeatist, she promises, but anyway Flynn said that it could be--if we wish hard enough, Mickey might give us a little extra bit of pixie dust... Which was all pretty awesome, because everyone knows Tinkerbell is in charge of the pixie dust, but it's just like Flynn Rider not to pay attention to that kind of thing.
But the whole time I was distracted, because I didn't know if Kyoya could understand anything that was happening, though come to think of it, he may not have cared too much. (Although we did make sure to ask him if he wanted to meet Rapunzel.) We all took a picture together, and Athena said that Flynn better be Smoldering...but we actually haven't looked at any of the pictures that were taken to find out. Except for the one on Kyoya's camera, but Flynn's face was covered by the time stamp. Anyway, Kyoya said it was a good picture, so the whole thing was probably worthwhile.
Rapunzel's attendants shooed us through the exit...and right into Village Haus. Sweet, time for lunch! And we had more of their tasty tasty (non-flatbread) pizza. Kyoya had a chicken sausage in a pretzel roll. Disneyland's trying to have a more elaborate menu for sure. Anyway, he said it was really good. But the point is! while we were eating, we noticed Rapunzel walking away from her tower toward Frontierland (and the character break room, we're sure). A few minutes later, we noticed Flynn walking the same direction. But the awesome thing--the thing that makes me wish I'd whipped the camera out as soon as I saw Rider coming--is that he met Rapunzel coming back the other way, and they hugged! It was so cute! Aarrrgh! Photo op completely missed!
Ah well, you can't win 'em all.
After that, we headed to Tomorrowland, where we did a bunch of stuff. We hadn't taken Kyoya on Space Mountain before, and we saw Captain Eo and got fast passes for Star Tours. We think it was after that that we went to Pixie Hollow. Kyoya had said he would like to meet Tinkerbell, because she's cute (not sure if he meant in the "adorable" sense or the "cute girl" sense, but we know he likes cute things, so we assume the former, but possibly both). So even though I was nervous after the hectic Rapunzel encounter, we got in the line to Pixie Hollow, which was a lot shorter than the Rapunzel line, and completely in the shade.
When we got close to the front of the line, the cast member (who had an interesting accent that sounded Irish to me, but his nametag said he was from Switzerland, so...) told us we would be meeting Fawn, Tinkerbell, and Vidia. Great! Fawn and Vidia were the only fairies we hadn't met yet! (Except for Terence, but he may be a lost cause now.) It's actually pretty great how Pixie Hollow has treated us. Every time we went, we saw a different fairy, and the first time we went, we saw just the fairy we had a question for. (See our July 2009 report.) The cast member also called Fawn "Miss Chatterbox," which sounded like a good thing, but also potentially a bad thing, all things considered.
We asked Kyoya what you'd call somebody who talks a lot in Japanese, but he couldn't think of a word. I'm sure we've come across something, but neither of us can remember.
Anyway. We went to see Fawn, and she was very pretty. She asked us if we were twins, and I held off on our more common answer ("We get that a lot" (that's also in our July 2009 report, come to think of it)) because it would only complicate the conversation and I was worried about interpretation enough as it was. She asked who was Tweedledee and who was Tweedledum (looking back, I'm a little surprised at how much the characters were acknowledging other characters that day; I guess the worlds aren't completely isolated after all), and we were like, "Uhh, I don't know. This is our friend from Japan!"
I don't remember exactly what she said, but it was a lot like, "Ah, sugoi! Daisuki, DisneySea!" (Oh, cool! I love DisneySea!) And we were all like, "Whoa!" So she and Kyoya had a little conversation in mixed English and Japanese, where she asked if he knew about the Spring Carnival and he said yes, and she asked if he'd been to Disneyland before, and he said yes two years ago, and she asked, "Did I meet you then?" and he said no. She asked if he was having fun, and he didn't quite understand, so she said, "Tanoshii?" And he said yes. And you can't tell from the way I'm writing it, but there was a lot of happy smiling.
We went on to meet Tinkerbell, and we saw her standing with her backs to us, examining a door-like thing. I imagine what's supposed to happen is something like this:
Tinkerbell notices the guests and engages them in conversation, by saying something like, "Where are you visiting from?" There's a little bit of small talk, and then SHOCK! the door opens and we're all amazed and worried to see Vidia there, ready to steal the show! And probably say mean things to Tinkerbell and stuff.
What actually happened was this:
Tinkerbell noticed the guests and engaged them in conversation by saying, "And where are you visiting from?" We looked over at Kyoya, who said, "Japan!" And Tinkerbell said, "Youkoso!" (Welcome!) Kyoya asked her if she's been to Japan, and she said she likes bringing the seasons there. The door opened and Vidia was striking a dramatic pose...and we were all so absorbed in our conversation with Tinkerbell that we hardly noticed. So Vidia had to come interrupt, and Tink cheerfully introduced her as her tomodachi Vidia. Then she told Vidia what she said to us, "I said you're my friend." Tink remembered that Vidia didn't go with them to Japan, which didn't make sense to me, because Vidia's the high-and-mighty wind fairy and of course she's been everywhere. But then I realized that probably what happened was when they had the Spring Carnival at DisneySea, they sent all the fairies there and taught them some Japanese. So Vidia was lost because they probably did that before they started having Vidia meet people. Or Japan doesn't care about Vidia so they didn't ask for her and she had to stay home.
But man, Tinkerbell was adorable, and Vidia was gorgeous. She had a really great attitude to match the character, too; I just hope she's not like Vidia in real life. (Favorite Vidia moment from the movies: when Tinkerbell finds the button path to the little house the girl made, and she picks up all the buttons and hands them to Vidia to hold for her, and Vidia just drops them again. Bwahaha.)
So that was pretty amazing, and then we went to Toon Town for a while. Kyoya really liked Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin, and we failed to go see Mickey. I should have asked Kyoya if he was interested, because the line was only fifteen minutes long, and before Kyoya left, he said, "I didn't get to meet Mickey!" And we were like, "Gaaan!" It's so hard to tell if people like meeting characters or not. (That's why we ask questions, duh.)
Then we took a break while we waited for the parade, and tried Mickey Mouse ice cream bars for the first time ever. We never really thought they were anything special, but we recently heard from someone else who had been to Disney parks a million times but never tried them that he had one...and promptly had two more, they were that good. And they were indeed very good.
And we watched the parade, and I got a bunch of pictures and...sometime soon after that we took the train to New Orleans Square to try out the Mickey Mouse shaped beignets. We were a little sad that the Tyrannosaurus Rex-Stegosaurus battle was closed up. Boo. We were a lot sad to hear the train announcer remind everyone that there would be no Fantasmic! tonight. What!? No Fantasmic!? What are we even doing here!? Man, it's a good thing we bought annual passes. We haven't seen Fantasmic! in over a year! It was after they switched the dragon into an animatronic one, but they couldn't get it to work then, so it was a dragonless Fantasmic!. So we haven't seen Fantasmic! with a dragon in...way too long! Aaaaaaggghh!
Man, it's a good thing we got annual passes.
I had discovered the place where you can get beignets while we were watching a Halloween dance party around the time of the Villains Victory Party (which was the last time we had been to Disneyland), but it was closed. So I made a note of it, and now, after ten months, we could finally try them out! ...And they actually weren't that great. Nowhere near as good as the ones at the Jazz Kitchen restaurant in Downtown Disney. But they work as a vehicle for powdered sugar, which was rather tasty. I was wiping sugar off my pants for a while after that, and Kyoya called it "satou no gyakushuu" (revenge of the sugar, or, in a Gundam context, Sugar's Counterattack, and of course, the Star Wars version is The Sugar Strikes Back).
Then it was off to Critter Country for the Winnie the Pooh ride for two reasons. First, when we were in line for the Matterhorn, Kyoya noticed (and pointed out) a Tigger stroller. This alerted me to the fact that he would be interested in that ride. And second, Winnie the Pooh is right past the Hungry Bear Restaurant, where they have the legendary honey lemon cupcakes. But the restaurant was closed! Again!
Man, it's a good thing we bought annual passes.
Then we went on Winnie the Pooh, and Kyoya enjoyed it, and then we went to use our fast passes for Star Tours. But it was broken down! Oh no! So we decided to go on the Astro Orbiter instead. It's kind of like the Dumbo ride, but faster and higher. And in rockets instead of elephants. The line wasn't very long, but we ended up waiting extra long because! they were filming something! And we have no idea what it is! Of course we thought to ask a cast member, but the only one we got a hold of arrived after the film crew, so she didn't know what it was, either. But we passed by the actors later, and they were speaking a language that didn't sound like English, so we think maybe it was a Disneyland promotional video for another country. Or something. Either way, it was kinda neat.
By the time we got off, Star Tours was up and running again, so off we went to catch our flight! This time, Darth Vader showed up again, and we still didn't get to be the rebel spy! (But I found the guy who was, so if the camera chooses the same seat every time, now I know where it is. But from what we heard before we went on the ride, we believe that it chooses differently.) So R2-D2 got us out of the spaceport, and this time we went to the Wookiee planet (I think it's called Kashyyyk, but the Imagineers must have figured only the geekiest Star Wars geeks would know that, because 3PO called it the Wookiee planet), and after flying through a bunch of trees...we hit a Wookiee! We actually hit a Wookiee! He held onto the windshield for a while, but then he slid off.
Oh, and of course we had to evade Stormtroopers on speeder bikes. So R2 got us off of that planet, and then we received a transmission from Princess Leia. She explained about how we need to get the rebel spy back to...wherever...and added, "Help me, Star Tours. You're my only hope." So then it was off to Coruscant! Where we got stuck in traffic! Only it was going the other way! Aaaaaahhhh! But eventually we made it to a landing bay, and I think this is where we almost crashed into a fuel tank. And there were hidden Mickeys! Yay!
...But we still don't know how we're going to make it to Endor.
After a hitting the Buzz Lightyear ride, it was time for Kyoya to call his ride home. We had about half an hour left, so we went on Indiana Jones for the third and final time, and then we walked with Kyoya to the front gate, where we said goodbye. He told us more than once throughout the day that we need to go to Japan more often. Maybe someday we'll have the money to go again.
Anyway, we still had a good two hours before the park closed, and even though there was no Fantasmic! (boo! boo, I say! boo!), there was a fireworks show that we hadn't seen yet, so we stuck around. First order of business: dinner. We went to the Golden Horseshoe for some chili cheese fries and discovered that, like most everything else on the entire park menu, the price had gone up. But in this case, so had the portions, so it was a win. Then, after catching a show at the Tiki Room, it was time to find a place to watch the new fireworks show. Actually, it's not a new show--it's about two years old, but we still hadn't gotten a chance to see it!
The fireworks were...alright, I guess. They were really low-energy, which is not what we look for in any sort of Disneyland entertainment, especially ones involving so many explosions. They used a lot of dialogue from the Disney movies...only re-recorded, so it didn't sound the same and wasn't delivered as well (because the actors were trying so hard to sound like the original voices that they forgot to actually be the characters). Okay, so the dialogue might not have been exactly the same, but it was close enough that there wasn't really a need to change it. The highlights of the show would be Tinkerbell (as always) and Dumbo. For this show, they actually have Dumbo flying around above Sleeping Beauty's castle.
The problem: the reason Tinkerbell works is the forced perspective thing. When you put a baby elephant in there to compare her with, and it's only twice as big as her (if that), then you all know it's not a real fairy. Maybe it's okay because you can meet her in the parks? But they shrink you for that... Anyway, the other problem, which I think is a bigger one because it exemplifies a lot of the storytelling problems with the show, is that right before you see Dumbo, the music they play is the very gentle "Baby Mine." Well, that's fine; it's a nice song, and it leads into the Dumbo thing pretty well. But then, they build up the energy really fast by having Timothy shout something like, "You can do it, Dumbo! You don't need the feather! It was just a trick!" And then Dumbo starts flying! Wooooo!
...and immediately they go back to playing the very mellow "Baby Mine." Like there's not any exciting music in Dumbo?
So yeah. We didn't much care for the new show (even though Dumbo looked really cool, and adorable). So we sighed as we shopped for some jewelry and then went back to the hotel. (On the bright side, not worrying about the fireworks will make it much easier to catch Fantasmic! in the future.)
The next morning, we set out for the train station early enough to catch an earlier train than expected! ...But there wasn't an earlier bus to transfer onto, so we ended up spending like an hour or two at Union Station in Los Angeles. This turned out to be a very good thing, though, because! they have a new(?) food court there! So we got to have very very yummy pepperoni pretzels from Wetzel's Pretzels (yes, we did have a lot of pizza this trip; there may not have been much variety, but considering past trips, we think the fact that we stayed well fed is a win). And! they have a Famima! And Famima has all kinds of neat things. We got some vanilla Hello Panda and some strawberry Hello Panda. And! we got a pack with all five (available) flavors of Hi-Chew and a Hi-Chew pen! For less than $4! Wow!
And then we finally made it home and wanted to crash, but we worked instead. Tadah!
Okay, so I took longer writing than I wanted to. But by the time an hour was up, there wasn't much left to report on...it was only an extra ten, fifteen minutes.
Today I'm thankful for another great trip to Disneyland, Pixie Hollow surprises, getting to see the not-so-new fireworks show, super delicious pepperoni pretzels, and Hi-Chew pen!