Okay, so we had just left the train station, and now we were on our way to Adventureland, because it's our favorite land and we haven't spent nearly enough time there because Gaston doesn't like anything there and there haven't been any events there. We suspected that Indiana Jones would still be closed for refurbishment, but we had hope, so we checked the information board on the way there. Sure enough, it was still closed...as was Pirates of the Caribbean and apparently even the Haunted Mansion (but at least it should be opening later). So we had to wonder if there was anything to do on the west side of the park at all, other than Splash Mountain, which doesn't count because we don't like that one.
Fortunately, the first stop in Adventureland is the Tiki Room, and that was still open. So we went to the pre-show area to wait for the show to start. While we were there, we ran into a group of people who looked like Disneyland manager types. One of them noticed us and asked if we were twins. We did our "We get that a lot thing," and then said yes, we are, and it would be more obvious if we had our birthday buttons, but apparently they ran out. Well, the manager pointed out that they should have some at the information booth, or maybe even right there at the Dole Whip stand. We were about to go ask when the Tiki Room cast member in charge of the show said she'd go get some for us. Yay!
A few minutes later, she was back...with no birthday pins. Boo. But she did have "I'm Celebrating!" pins and, once again, "Happily Ever After!" pins. I expressed my main concern about the latter, being, "Aren't those wedding pins?" I mean, usually when I see them, they're on young couples. I had memories of seeing them on people and thinking, "Aww, how cute! They just got married!" Cast Member said no, they're not wedding pins--they're happily ever after pins--fairy tale pins. I wasn't really convinced, but we took both options anyway and put them on after we took our seats inside the Tiki Room.
I spent a lot of time thinking about "happily ever after" after that. I can see where some people need to be reminded that it's possible to be happy without being married, and some people never get the opportunity to get married so we shouldn't consign them to never living happily ever after by suggesting that the phrase can only apply to married couples. But on the other hand, I feel like I'm still in the "once upon a time" part of my life, and if I were to say that I'm living "happily ever after," it kind of feels like saying, "Yup, already got what I wanted. I'm just living the dream now!" And that is certainly not true. (Although in some aspects of my life, I probably am.) So I don't know. I just didn't like it. The pin is pretty enough, though, except that Athena pointed out that it's wrong anyway, because it has a picture of Cinderella's pumpkin coach on the way to the ball, which is not the "happily ever after" time anyway. Maybe the whole point is that if you get an attitude adjustment, you can always be living happily, forever after! ...I don't know. Anyway, we did wear the pins all day.
But more importantly, the Tiki Room cast member got our attention before the show started and said, "See me after the show." So we watched the show, which continues to be awesome (Walt Disney sure did know how to tell a story), and instead of marching out the exit in time to the Tiki Room exit song, we went back to Cast Member...who presented us with birthday buttons! Yaaaaaaaay!!!! She wins everything! She's totally the best! She said they didn't have any at the information booth after all, but she managed to track them down. I don't know where she got them, but she did! Hopefully she didn't take them from unsuspecting toddlers or something. But they didn't have names written on them yet, so they're probably legit. (And in our bitterness toward everything, we jokingly say, "The toddlers would've deserved it." No they wouldn't. Probably.)
And now we had renewed hope for the day, which was encouraged by the lack of crowds in Adventureland. Admittedly, that could have been a bad sign, but it's just...we're just so tired of seeing Fantasyland so crowded these days. Anyway, about that being a bad sign...we walked toward the Jungle Cruise and saw the tell-tale "cast member standing in front of a rope" that meant "s/he is there to explain to guests that the ride is not currently operating." As soon as I spotted him, I said, "Aww, no!" and he replied, "Yes!" and I said, "Wait, are you not closed?" "No, we are closed. I just thought we were shouting random words." He said they had some problems, partly because of the strong winds we'd been having, but they were working on it and should be open again later. Well, at least we were having positive interactions with the cast members.
Then we walked by Tarzan's Treehouse, which was also closed.
And that concluded our tour of Adventureland, so we found ourselves (walking past the closed Pirates of the Caribbean) gazing out over the Rivers of America. We asked ourselves if we wanted to turn left and not do anything in New Orleans Square and Critter Country, or turn right and not do anything in Frontierland or Fantasyland. We decided to go shopping. And most of the stores in New Orleans Square were boarded up. ...Okay, that's not exactly true. They had a lot of boards up to cover up the outside touch-up work that was going on, but it was arranged so that the stores were still open and shopping was still a definite possibility. But then we remembered there are only two stores we really like there (except for the glass store, which we never go in anyway because it's full of breakables). But we looked around in both of them and found some neat pirate cosplay accessories.
By the time we walked through that little shopping arcade, the Haunted Mansion was open for business, so we figured what the heck and went on it. While we waited for it to start, we were near a group of teenagers who were talking about rides and who of their friends were scared of which ones, and when we got off, we heard them behind us saying in relieved tones to each other, "That wasn't so scary!" It was cute.
We kept going to Critter Country and went on Winnie the Pooh, then looked around the shop there. That's where I heard a mother asking a cast member for birthday buttons. Seriously, this was a major problem. I saw a bunch of little girls wearing "happily ever after" pins, too, so I really have to wonder. I also wonder if the "I'm celebrating" pins were the consolation pins they had for boys, because when they first offered us the "happily ever after" pins, the guest services guy called them "princess pins." Anyway, the funny part of this story is that the mother was asking for her two daughters, who were turning exactly half our age. And when I interrupted the conversation to say yeah, we had to have a Tiki Room cast member track down pins for us, the woman started and said I sounded just like her daughters. It made me wonder if they were our doppelgangers or something. We never saw them, but maybe that's a good thing.
Then we noticed Tarzan's Treehouse was open so we did that, and then went on Peter Pan, because it's one of the best rides in Fantasyland but we never get to go on it because we don't have time before our event or Gaston doesn't want to wait in line. Or we don't want to wait an hour. That line gets long. Afterward, we weren't too keen on any of the other extra long Fantasyland lines (they were a little extra long that day), so we skipped Alice in Wonderland because it was closed, and It's A Small World because it was closed, and then we went to Toon Town, where any attraction with water as a feature was closed. So we went on Roger Rabbit, where I theorized about why the lines were so long and whether it was calculated or not (it's the off season! why are the lines so darn long? oh yeah, because everything's closed!).
Then it was time for lunch, where we had another great cast member experience, because we asked for tap water, which they usually put in the little cups. But today, she put it in the taller cups, and when I commented on it, she said she likes to do that on hot days, for the guests' sake. And I was like, "Aww, you're the best!"
Next, we checked to see if the Jungle Cruise was open yet, and it was! And we got to ride in a boat with a really good skipper! He was the best skipper we've had in a long time, and whenever that happens, we have to analyze what s/he did, to figure out what made it so much better. First of all, he had a good energy level, and second of all he was in tune with his audience. He also seemed to understand where all the jokes came from, and worked to make them easier to get right away. For example, at the elephant bathing pool, he was all, "Don't look, don't look! They're taking a bath! ...Oh, it's okay. They're all wearing trunks." And he had some new-ish jokes, like, when referring to Bertha, who had been in the shower for over fifty years, he said, "And kids, what do we learn from this? If you stay in the shower too long, you turn into an elephant." (<--especially good because it betrays your expectations in a good way. normally you'd think (especially if you've been on the ride before) he was going to say something about getting all wrinkly.)
I also liked that he started the tour by saying, "I'll be your skipper for as far as we make it," and that he didn't call too much attention to the joke, either. He was also especially awesome because he told us that the Temple of the Forbidden Eye (the Indiana Jones ride) would continue to be forbidden until May 9 (now we know when it's going to open again, and that it actually will be in spring!). And when we got to the piranhas! he said, "They're man-eating piranhas, so ladies, save your men, or throw 'em in. It's time to make a choice." A minute later, "Aw, you hopeless romantics. They're all still here!"
Oh! and in head hunter territory! His strategy was to try to blend in, and he tried to get the whole boat to do it. And when some people weren't trying, he said to them, "If we get attacked, it's all your fault." And of course, we did get attacked, because that's what happens on that ride. And he even made time to sing about the boa constrictor sitting in the tree, H-I-S-S-I-N-G, a joke that often gets skipped since they added the piranhas. He also made time to sing us a birthday song! It wasn't very long. XD (Also, you see the importance of birthday buttons.)
Well, that by itself made for a pretty awesome day, but there's more! ...And a couple of them might take a while to write about, so maybe I should save them for later. But now that we've listed them to each other, I think I should go on a little longer, for balance's sake. So what did we do next...? (<--honestly trying to remember)
I'm a little fuzzy on the order, but there was Big Thunder Mountain somewhere in there, and not watching the Fantasy Faire show because we just missed it, and Space Mountain where the line was surprisingly short (but not quite as short as it said it was, but that was okay, because Celeste called and that gave us more time to talk to her), and then missing the Fantasy Faire show again because the seating was all filled up already, and then there was Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. I always like watching that show, but this time I was a little distracted, because!
Okay, so at Disney World, they just opened the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster, which has "the most charming animatronics they've ever made," or something like that, and we've seen the videos and... Okay, so lately, Disney Parks have been
Then they started using it everywhere. They even added an effect to the Indiana Jones ride...and that's where I started being wary of it. Actually, no, come to think of it, they use a similar effect in the Little Mermaid ride, and I don't like it there, either. But the Indiana Jones ride is a better example of why it doesn't work--there's a big statue face of Mara, and they use the effect to make it look like she's crying or something. But because the image is just an image, it looks really flat--there's no dimension to the imaginary liquid, so it's obviously fake.
And the point of all that is that that's the technology they use for the faces on these new Seven Dwarfs animatronics they're so proud of. I thought about it, and a lot of the dwarfs have really loose facial skin, so I was maybe willing to say, "Eh, I guess it was just 'too hard' (too hard for Disney should not really be a thing) for them to make the faces move realistically without using a projection instead." So I wanted to watch the Abraham Lincoln animatronic, and see how intricate his facial movements were. The answer: pretty intricate.
So I don't know. I tend to think that an actual, physical sculpture looks better than a flat projection of a face, even if it's on a sort of face-shaped surface. And maybe they look better in real life than on the videos, but the fact that the faces glow on the new ride is a little off-putting. I don't know.
Today I'm thankful for awesome cast members who track things down for you, having lots of great interaction with cast members, having a really great Jungle Cruise skipper, having birthday buttons, and managing to finish our work today.