Let's see...we left on Monday, and we didn't get there in time to go to the park, so we checked in to the hotel and went to bed. Our hotel room had glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling! And it had a black light, so when the stars started to fade, we could just brighten them up again! It was pretty neat. There was a milky way and everything.
But anyway, this story is about Disneyland. It was a pretty low-key trip, actually. We went on Star Tours, and it was almost exactly the same as the second time we went on the new version, only it started with Darth Vader instead of the scanner droid. But if there had to be a repeat, I must say, the Hoth bit is pretty excellent. I also discovered that, although the 3D makes me a little more prone to motion sickness, I can stave it off by un-3Difying the ride! (This is accomplished not by taking off the glasses (which creates double vision), but by closing one eye.)
We also went on Finding Nemo, because...well, partly because it's a cute ride, and partly because we hadn't been on it since we found out the English dub voice of Vanille (Final Fantasy XIII) is one of the voices in it. She sounded more like Fang in the ride, but I could kind of hear it, I think. She didn't talk much. Why didn't she talk much? Because she's not actually in Finding Nemo, and apparently everybody only wants to hear the characters. I suppose that's a logical desire, but even though we'd been on the ride before, we were saddened by it. Something about the fact that it's a "sequel" to the movie, but pretty much all the same stuff happens. It's like watching the first episode of The Emperor's New School.
Anyway. We also went on Haunted Mansion Holiday, where we noticed for the first time that part of the poem goes "unlike no other," and now none of us can let it go, except maybe for Alice, because she's pretty laid back. We had a long discussion about how "unlike no other" actually means "like every other." It's not pretty being a language geek. But it wouldn't have been that hard to make the words fit the rhythm and still be grammatically correct.
Anyway. At some point during the day, we finally managed to track down the elusive honey lemon cupcakes. They're actually "lemon bumblebee cupcakes," which makes sense because there's not really any honey flavoring. The menu claims that the frosting is honey lemon, but we didn't taste any honey. Maybe they were short on honey that day? I don't know. It was a really cute cupcake, though. It had a pile of frosting on top that was taller than the cupcake, and of course it looked like a beehive, with a little frosting honeybee on top (it was a honeybee; bumblebees are all black...I think? maybe I should stop being a know-it-all) that had almond slices for wings. And there were sparkles on it! I just wish the frosting had a little more flavor. The cake part tasted really really good, though.
And in the middle, between the cake and the frosting, there was this odd...filling? I don't know what it was. It was like an extra moist part of cake or something. And everyone who tried it reacted just like this: Cupcake goes into the mouth, there's a pause, and then, "...Oh wow." Two out of three of those reactions were followed with a, "That's lemony." (Gaston tried some of the cupcake, but Alice, who is diabetic, refrained.)
That's about all we did before the party, except for a little shopping in what I like to call the Sparkle Shop (a place that sells crystal stuff), some failed investigation of the Strange Clouds above New Orleans Square, and a trip to California Adventure because the place where we don't like the flat bread pizza is Gaston's new favorite place for lunch. Next time, I should really get the spaghetti. Oh, and we went on the Little Mermaid ride again, where we decided that part of the problem with it (the reason it doesn't feel so immersive) has to do with the empty sets. For example, Ursula's lair is practically empty. They should have at least have that shell she was lounging in when she first showed up in the movie. Also, they seemed to be trying too hard in certain areas (Ariel's tail fins move on their own, and we're not sure fish fins are actually made to do that--are we wrong?), and neglected others (like Ursula's backdrop).
Okay, so then we went back to the hotel to iron our costumes and chill out for a while. Eventually we got our costumes on and headed back to Disneyland for Mickey's Halloween Party.
This year, the party...was a little boring. We got there, we filled out some paperwork, and then we went around in search of candy. There were a few pretty awesome costumes, but I'll talk about those when we have pictures. We walked around most of the park's west side, and finally made it to Fantasyland. The line to see the princesses was a little too long for our liking, so we checked out the villains meet and greet, which had mostly masked characters who are harder to communicate with, and decided that Pixie Hollow was our best bet. It was pretty awesome last year, after all.
But! shock and dismay! Pixie Hollow had been transformed into a treat trail. We got candy, but no fairies. And we can get candy anywhere. We were bummed. So we went on Ghost Galaxy, and then got some dinner at the Plaza Inn before finding a spot to watch the fireworks from. We found a place right next to some people in amazing costumes of Mary Poppins, Burt, and Donny the Mouseketeer. (Okay, Donny's costume wasn't amazing, per se, but it was adorable.) We talked with them for a while about how the party used to be cool (they were frequent attenders as well), and how they need more characters walking around and stuff. And then the fireworks started.
This time we were prepared. As I probably mentioned last time (but that was a year ago, so I don't expect anyone to remember), they have this big inflatable moon that rises over the castle at the beginning of the show. They project villains' faces and shiny patterns and stuff on it, and it's pretty awesome, but also entirely too distracting. But, because we remembered it from last year, we were able to tell ourselves not to give it more than a glance each time a new theme started playing. So we were able to enjoy the fireworks to their fullest, and we decided that the Halloween fireworks are much better put together than the summer fireworks show (but I think Dumbo is cuter than Zero). We were amused because the main thing that told us we needed to stop staring at the moon was that last year, Athena caught sight of some pretty amazing fireworks that twirled around as they went up, but she only caught a glimpse of them because of the distracting moon. That's when she decided the show was a failure (which it's not, now that we know better). After the show this year, Gaston mentioned the "new" twirly fireworks. Bwahaha.
After the fireworks, we went to City Hall to file a complaint about the lack of character interaction, and then we went and waited for the parade to start, where we ran into Mary, Burt, and Donny again. Gaston asked if they got in trouble for having such amazing costumes (they looked just like the characters), and Mary said yes, a cast member did get on their case about posing with other guests, but she pointed out to them that she understood, but do they really want to disappoint that little girl? Gaston pointed out that that wouldn't have been an issue if Disneyland had had an official Mary Poppins wandering around to take pictures with. And so we feel justified in our complaint.
Then the person in charge of the parade grand marshals came and said we were waiting for two more people. Remember that paperwork we mentioned before? What happened was, after we got into the party, we were on our way to Frontierland when we were stopped by a cast member who complimented out costumes and then asked if we wanted to be in the parade. Are you kidding me? Of course we want to be in the parade!
Tangentially, when we were little, we had ambitions of being in parades at Disneyland, which, come to think of it, we could have easily achieved if we'd bothered, like, learning to dance or something. We came up with schemes of writing and asking if our Girl Scout Troop could be in a parade or something. Our dream was finally realized in the year 2000, when the 45 Years of Magic parade included a ton of guest participation. They sent the omnibus all along the parade route before it started, and if you looked like you weren't afraid to make a fool of yourself in front of hundreds of people, you got picked to be in the parade! They gave you a funny animal hat and a tutu, and taught you a little dance routine. You got to keep the hats as souvenirs, but not the tutus. When we heard about the omnibus thing, we devised a plan. We were like, "We're among the best song leaders our Girl Scout district has ever seen. When the omnibus comes along, we'll be leading the audience in Jaws!" And so we did, and we each got a hippo hat. Sarah got a rhino.
Back in the more recent past, we got to be in the parade again! Obviously it was a different parade this time, but that's even better! What happened was, because it's a Halloween party and they want people to come in costume, they encourage it by choosing costumes they really like from the crowd and inviting them to participate in the parade. As it so happened, Mary, Burt, Donny, and two more of their friends had been asked to be in the same parade, so we were all parade buddies!
We met on Main Street near where the parade would be starting...which reminds me of something hilarious (if you're a sadist). As we waited for our parade boss, we watched Duffy the Disney Bear pose for pictures (because that same place is a common character photo op place). The next day, we found some Duffies for sale wearing the same jack-o-lantern costume, and Gaston said if he'd seen them before, he would have gotten one, and held it up (from across the street, where we were) so Duffy could see it, and pretended to stick a pin in it like a voodoo doll. It would have been awesome if Duffy played along.
But anyway, the other Burt and Mardi Gras Mel (I don't know if his character had a name, so I made one up; he was wearing a lovely Mardi Gras dress) finally showed up, and then they took us Backstage. Ooooooohhhh....
...And reminded us that we weren't allowed to take any pictures. Guests are not supposed to see Backstage, because for some people it ruins the illusion. They had a big fancy car for us all to ride in, with a chauffeur and everything. (Of course there was a chauffeur; it was part of the parade--they're not gonna let us drive a parade car. But he was really nice.) And once they had us all arranged, they took a group photo! Each group got a free print, but for some reason, the picture came out really blue, so we went and ordered a digital copy to fix it. That was going to be my visual aid, but Gaston (the photo fixer) hasn't emailed us a fixed copy yet, so you'll just have to wait.
Once the picture was taken and we were trapped in the car and could no longer run amok, it was safe for the characters to come say hello. Most of the face characters avoided us...actually all of them did. We don't think a single one of them got too close to the car, but Peter Pan did turn and wave enthusiastically when Athena called his name. And when Gaston called out to Belle, she rolled her eyes and walked away. Every other time he called out to her, she looked pointedly away. Bwahaha.
But! the masked characters came and hung out with us. Especially the Country Bears. Unfortunately, I don't remember any of the Country Bears' names, so I can't say who was doing what, but there was one who was a prima ballerina. And the monsters from Monsters, Inc. Woody was really friendly, too. He was the first one to say hi, and he came to say goodbye when the parade was over, too. The prima ballerina bear snuck around behind the car and stood next to Chimney Sweep Burt in a "boo" position, and waited, frozen, until someone finally got CS Burt to look behind him. He was sufficiently startled.
Eventually the parade got started, and it was a blast. Everybody was waving and taking pictures. We were allowed to take pictures now that we were no longer Backstage, so we got some cute pictures of people in costume watching the parade. Unfortunately, I didn't have the camera out when we saw the really awesome Lumiere and Babette. Gaston was fantastic. He sat there all cool, casually waving to people and thanking them for coming to see his show--especially when we passed by cast members, who would crack up. I almost wonder if our costumes were mainly a hit with the people who worked at the park.
Then we were at It's A Small World, and the parade was over. More masked characters came over to say hi. Donald gave Donny a high-five. (I think it was our parade boss who said that, while they dress up all the time, they don't get to see the guests do it that often, so they love it.) I was especially happy to see Mickey up close. It was hard to be "in character" because I was just too excited about everything.
Then we had just enough time to get our prints...where we ran into Mary and Burt again. That's where I asked the awkward question of where we might have seen them before, because they just looked so darn familiar, it had been bugging us all night. But they couldn't figure it out, either. Ah well. We did find out that Mary was a professional costumer. That explained a lot.
And then it was back to the hotel. Alice had to leave early the next morning for work, but we went back to the park with Gaston. Not a whole lot happened, except one, we saw the happy married couple whose reception we attended last Saturday, and two, we went to Big Thunder Ranch, where there was a guy doing card tricks. They were pretty much what you'd expect of card tricks, but that doesn't make them any less amazing. Our favorite was the one where he asked me to say a card, and then he took this deck that had a flipbook drawn on the backs of the cards (a card-toon book, he called it), and in the animation, a little stick figure took off his hat and pulled out exactly the card I said. It was amaaaaaazing!
At about noon, we left for Gaston's new house (which is much closer to Fresno than it is to Disneyland, which is why we all stayed in a hotel), where we watched our Wednesday night TV shows while he went to help teach dance lessons, and then we stayed late up talking. And then we came back home, and here we are. Tadah!
Today I'm thankful for another great time at Disneyland, getting to be in the parade, getting to meet fun fellow cosplayers, getting to go to the store today, and neat card tricks.