I guess we'd better ask our boss next time we send him an email. Sigh. I hate being stuck in the middle.
Anyway, back to Disneyland.
So we had this dream that prevented us from waiting in line to ride the tire zip-line-ish thingies, which is a little sad, because it seems like fun. We'll just try again on a less crowded day. (We've done it before, so it's not like our lives are incomplete or anything.) And we went on the Little Mermaid ride, which seemed darker this time, and I think that probably helped with the world-immersion. Then we made a quick stop over at the animation building to try some stuff with the personality test, and then we went back to Disneyland.
Our dream was twofold. First, we wanted to have lunch at Village Haus. That's where they have pizza that we like a lot, as opposed to pizza that makes us go "what is this?" like the stuff they have at the California Adventure place that Gaston likes. I bet their spaghetti is good, but anyway, we wanted pizza.
Second, we wanted to go on Indiana Jones. It's one of our favorites, and we don't go on it very often these days because Gaston doesn't like it. He'll go on it anyway, but we don't like to make him because, among other reasons, he doesn't make us go on Splash Mountain. And if we could just make it into the line before Gaston and Alice got back from car shopping, we would be set!
But first, we noticed Big Thunder Ranch was finally open, so we stopped in to look at the reindeer. We had heard that all of Santa's reindeer must be female, because male reindeer shed their antlers in the winter, so we asked if that was true. In fact, it was not true. It is true that male reindeer shed their antlers, but it's also true that female reindeer shed their antlers. Male reindeer shed their antlers earlier, but that happens in January, which gives them plenty of time to display their antlers while taking Santa around the world to deliver toys. The cast member there pointed out the two male reindeer they had, and one of them had the biggest antlers of the whole lot!
Then it was off to Indiana Jones, where we discovered that Disneyland is trying all kinds of bizarre plans to regulate crowds, and most of them seem to be failing. Since the line was about an hour long, Athena held my place while I went to the Bengal Barbecue to get some Tiger Tails (they're really just breadsticks, but they're yummy). That's when she found out that, because fast passes make it so they can't use the whole queue area they built inside the temple, they decided to try using part of the Jungle Cruise line to get more switchbacks. It made for an interesting situation when the line for the ride intersected the path where people were trying to exit the ride.
But there was hope! We noticed that they had reinstated the Single Rider Pass. I don't know if I've explained this before or not, but just in case I haven't, a cast member explained it thusly: sometimes they have a hard time filling all the seats on a ride, because the seat numbers and the group members don't always add up properly. For efficiency's sake, they like to fill as many seats as possible, and so, if you don't mind helping them out by splitting up from your group, they don't mind letting you get on the ride sooner. There was a ride way back called the Rocket Rods that had this problem big time because each car had five seats, and groups tend to come in even numbers. It usually had a really long line, but we could get on it in ten minutes or less!
And so we got some single rider passes. Instead of sending us straight to the place where people disembark from the ride, as they had in the past, they sent us through the wheelchair line. In most cases, there's not a difference, but a little known fact about the Indiana Jones ride is that it's one of the first rides that was specifically designed so that someone in a wheelchair could go through the entire line. Of course, with fast passes and everything, they've altered that somewhat, so the wheelchair line is shorter than the regular line...but in fact, it is not shorter than the fast pass line.
It was also a little annoying, because the whole point of the single rider pass is that they don't have to keep track of our party, but since it's mixed with the wheelchair line, they had to keep track of all the parties until we finally got to the ride. And it also means they don't get their single riders very quickly, so it doesn't help them with the efficiency thing, either. Our conclusion was that the single rider line is shorter than the standby line, but fast pass is better, which isn't really right.
On the bright side, because we were in the single rider line, we got to see something I've been looking for for quite some time now. I think I'd seen it before, but then I forgot about it for a while, and I hadn't been able to find it since. See, when they built the Indiana Jones ride, they had to expand the park a little to make room for it. And so part of the parking lot had to go. (They had a giant parking lot; it's where they built California Adventure.) The part that went away was in the Eeyore section, and so, as a tribute to the old parking lot, they hid an Eeyore parking lot sign inside the queue area. We even knew which room it was in, but when I started remembering it existed, I could never find it.
As it turns out, it's so high up, you can only see it from a little section of the queue area that only gets used for guests in wheelchairs now. And while we were in line, one of the cast members took her flashlight and showed the Eeyore sign to one of the little kids who was waiting. And so we finally got to see it again! Yay!
After the ride, we decided to get fast passes, just in case Gaston and Alice were gone long enough for us to use them, and then we went on the Jungle Cruise, during which Gaston called to let us know they were back. So we got back together and did more stuff, including going back to look at the reindeer and color some reindeer-themed coloring thingies.
We went on the Columbia sailing ship, which was awesome. The problem with it, though, is that they have cool stuff below deck to look at, but we go on it so rarely that we wanted to make sure to see everything along the Rivers of America, too. We spent the whole ride running back and forth to take pictures. It was awesome. We'll have to go on it more frequently, I think.
We also did a lot of not riding things because of long lines. Sigh.
And we went to the Tiki Room, where I noticed for the first time the lyrics to the song they sing as they herd you out to make room for the next set of guests. I don't remember them very well, though, so I'll have to pay better attention next time, when it's less crowded and therefore less rushed.
Eventually, we went to see World of Color. Every time we see it now, we get into a discussion about its awesomeness in relation to Fantasmic!. See, one time, Gaston and Alice went with Alice's family, and one of the members of their party was trying to convince everyone to skip World of Color and watch Fantasmic! instead. Her argument was that World of Color wouldn't be worth it. How did she know this? Someone she knew had seen it, and said it wasn't very good. And we're all in agreement that you're doing yourself a disservice if you have the opportunity to see World of Color and choose not to.
On the other hand, we actually do prefer Fantasmic!, and we weren't very happy with Gaston's allegations that there must be something wrong with you if you wouldn't rather watch World of Color. Eventually we worked it all out, and we still agree that if you can only see one and you haven't seen World of Color, you need to see World of Color. But if you've seen both and made up your mind about which one you like better, definitely go with whichever one you like better.
And then we watched World of Color and came to the same conclusion we come to every time we see it, which is that it's pretty awesome, but would be that much awesomer if they'd do something about the long stretches of just talking. On the other hand, they had added a Prep & Landing bit for the holidays which was pretty cool. I always like it when they make laser pictures. Gaston says we like Fantasmic! better purely for the nostalgia, but really it's because Fantasmic! has a tighter storyline and better coordination between sound and visuals. Plus we like to see the characters "live." With Fantasmic!, there was only one part that had us sitting there like, "Okay, we've seen it. Can we get to the next cool thing?" and they've fixed that. (When Fantasmic! first started, there was a giant float for that part so it didn't drag, but they had technical problems with it, so they took it out for a few years. Now they've added something else that works just as well, if not better.)
After World of Color, we went back to Disneyland to catch the second half of the fireworks, and then Gaston took Alice back to the hotel so she could get some sleep before leaving for work at four in the morning.
In the meantime, we had just enough time to use our Indiana Jones fast passes before finding seats for the second showing of Fantasmic!. It was a little tough, because the first Fantasmic! was still going on, and Adventureland is really close to the Rivers of America, especially down on the end where Indiana Jones is, and Fantasmic! is huge, so every time there was so much as a flash of light, we would get impatient to see the show. (We specifically opted not to watch the first Fantasmic!, because we wouldn't get to see it from the beginning if we tried to make it there right after the fireworks.)
And then, finally, after about two years, we got to see Fantasmic! again. Oh, it was so happy seeing Fantasmic! again. (Another thing that makes Fantasmic! better than World of Color: Fantasmic! has musical cues to let me know when it's good to cheer. In other words, better interaction with the audience.)
There was one thing we were especially anxious to see Fantasmic! about, and that's the dragon. When we saw Fantasmic! two years ago, it was after they had upgraded some of the technology, but the dragon was still giving them problems. So instead of seeing Maleficent transform into a dragon, we saw her rise up on a platform and wave her wand around at Mickey (because the dragon was broken). Not quite as awesome.
Two years later, they've worked out most of the bugs, and Gaston had told us the new dragon is super awesome, so we were excited to see it. So when Maleficent appeared on stage, we were psyched. And then the transformation started, and they put up the water screens to
...and we were a little disappointed, actually. The head looked awesome, and the movement of the head and neck were great, but as Athena points out, Mulan put it best when she said, "My ancestors sent a little lizard to help me?"
Okay, so it wasn't that bad. But man! Before, the dragon was a puppet with...I seem to remember hearing there were two people inside the head, but I could be remembering that wrong. All you could see were the head and the wings, which stretched across the entire stage, giving the impression that the dragon is covering all of Tom Sawyer's Island (assuming you haven't been to Tom Sawyer's island in a while and therefore don't realize how big it actually is (we should go there again...)). Now the dragon is a robot that just sits there on stage, this tiny little thing with its tiny little wings. That was the most disappointing--the wings really were tiny. They were the best part of the dragon before! Anyway, before, the dragon's head--just the head--was about as big as Mickey. Now the head is maybe half as big as Mickey, and the dragon itself...it just isn't as intimidating.
The part that made me the saddest was how they kill the dragon off. I know I'm a sadist, but just hear me out. The manner of killing is still the same: Mickey takes his sword and zaps Maleficent all Legend of Zelda style. Before, after he did that, you'd see this electric shock go all through the dragon, lighting up the wings (which, I remind you, stretched across the whole stage) with lightning-style zigzags. Now, a couple of little fireworks go off in its neck, while they shine lasers on it in a meager attempt to replicate the awesomeness of what once was.
Needless to say, we were not impressed.
But! the finale is our favorite part anyway, and it was the same! Well, except that they replaced Mary Poppins, Burt, and a couple other classic Disney characters with the cast of Toy Story, which makes us go blah, because we were never big Toy Story fans and Mary Poppins is super awesome. They still have chimney sweeps dancing around the Mark Twain's roof (oh right, for the finale, they send out the Mark Twain steamboat with a bunch of Disney characters on it). And they still finish it with Mickey on the island, so it's okay. We just hope that one day they can at least make the dragon's wings better. Man.
Despite our disappointment in the dragon, watching Fantasmic! wiped away all our stress, and we were feeling much much better about life in general. After the show, we finally used our Space Mountain fast passes and went on It's A Small World Holiday, which made Gaston very upset that they used the German for "happy holidays" instead of "merry Christmas," since Germany is THE Christmas country, and if any German saw that, they'd be like, "What are you doing, you godless heathens?" Or so he tells us. (He spent two years in Germany on his mission.) And we still joked about "New Year Happy." But it was still very pretty, and there were some gorgeous dream catchers in the tribute to America room (about which there was more discussion; Gaston is for it, we're not against it, but think it should be altered at the very least to include something other than the midwest and southwest (the Hollywood Bowl doesn't count)).
Well, that's enough rambling for now. Today I'm thankful for finally getting to see Fantasmic! again after two years, finally finding the Eeyore parking lot sign again, getting to see a bunch of adorable reindeer, getting to watch anime today with a kitty on each lap, and getting to go on Indiana Jones twice.