I think it's finally time to talk about this week's Disneyland trip! But I'm too lazy to transfer pictures from the camera, so those will have to wait.
Let's see if I can remember what happened!
First! We almost ran a lady over. It was kind of an odd thing. We were crossing the busy street next to Disneyland, and the light was green, so we kept going, but there was this woman in the crosswalk, walking along as if she owned the place. We almost hit her (we were actually probably like six feet away), and Gaston honked at her and she just glared. Not long after that, we were eating breakfast at Earl of Sandwich, and we saw a woman walking by outside. Turns out it was the same woman! And she was being escorted off the premises by Disney security.
Also at Earl of Sandwich, we noticed a guy working there with a very LDS name (straight out of the Book of Mormon), so Gaston casually asked, "So where'd your name come from?" He was all, "It's...see, I'm a Mormon..." Then Gaston revealed that he was LDS, too, and was just playing with him. Related to this incident, this trip we often discussed how Gaston is an extrovert and the rest of us (us and his wife) are introverts, constantly using him for his extroversion. Like how we wanted to use him for Legends of Frontierland. But in our defense, almost every time we decide we have to ask a Disneyland cast member something, I'm the one who does it. And all the stuff we wanted to use his extroversion for was stuff he totally would have wanted to do if he hadn't broken his leg (or that he did want to do anyway, but couldn't for the same reason). And we didn't only want to use his extroversion; we also wanted to use the fact that he actually likes food, so he could eat the pineapple parfait and we could get the pineapple juju.
Anyway, at some point we found ourselves in Frontierland, over at Big Thunder Ranch. Farley the Fiddler was there, so we hung out with him for a while. One of the ranch hands came by to let him know that there would be no running of the goats that day, and even though we hadn't planned on watching it, we were now sad that we couldn't. Either Gaston or Farley made a comment about somebody getting their goat, and so the ranch hand told us the origin of "got your goat." According to her, racehorses used to have pet goats to keep them calm. Then people would come along and steal the goat the night before the race, so the horse would spend all night freaking out and wouldn't be able to run in the morning. Or at least, not run well
Soon after that, it was time for the show at the Jingle Jangle Jamboree, and Farley told us we had to see it, so off we went to watch it. It was pretty great, done in the old melodrama style, with the sweet heroine Holly Day, the heroic sheriff Douglas Fir, and the sinister villain Noah Count. It was called "No Home for Miss Holly Day." (It actually had two titles, but I don't remember the other one.) It took place in the town of Dry Gulch *Cough*, specifically at the Horseshoe Road Inn (Neigh). (We all loved the name of the inn, but it felt incomplete somehow. Gaston couldn't quite put his finger on
Anybody familiar with melodrama parodies can probably figure out that Holly Day owed Noah Count mortgage money on the inn, and if she didn't pay up soon, there would be No Christmas!! (Or no Christmas party, anyway.) She's trying to figure out what to do when Sheriff Fir comes along to give her an early Christmas present. Based on the distinctive shape of the box and the fact that he kept getting down on one knee to give it to her, she had a pretty good idea what it was and said no, she can't accept his gift until the inn is saved. He said he had a plan and ran off. Then Count suggested that Miss Day might not have to pay the rent...if she would marry him instead!
I don't remember the exact flow of events from there, but Sheriff Fir came back with the rent money! "How did you get it?" Miss Day asks, happy but incredulous. "Oh, I just returned the ring I bought you!" It was so brilliant, because those things do cost an arm and a leg. Suddenly Miss Day was a little less happy, though. But Count didn't want to let things end there, and he hated Christmas (always thought the idea of Santa was creepy, and he's been a lifelong Naughty Lister), so he kidnapped Miss Day and tied her to the train tracks! (You have to have a tied-to-the-train-tracks scene in a melodrama.) But Sheriff Fir came to save her! So he and Count had a fight while the train came, and they wouldn't stop fighting even though the train was almost upon them! So Miss Day took matters into her own hands and jumped off the tracks. It was a pretty simple solution, really.
Then Mrs. Claus came and gave Noah Count the Mr. Fluffy doll (aka a teddy bear) that he always wanted and never got (classic Christmas villain backstory) and Christmas was saved for everyone in Dry Gulch *Cough*!
We hung around for a while after that--Mickey Mouse came out for his meet & greet shift, so we shook his hand, and then we went over to color our deputy badges (Sheriff Fir was handing them out before the show; Farley told us to make sure we got them). Pluto came over to say hi, and Gaston told him he didn't have any treats for him, sorry. They told us not to feed the animals; blame The Man. Pluto seemed pretty happy with that exchange, despite his initial disappointment.
By then we'd missed our fastpass window for Space Mountain, so...I don't remember what we did after that. I think we went on Big Thunder, and then we wandered around trying to figure out which restaurants had special holiday items. We were unsuccessful in that attempt, so we went to the Fantasy Faire and got some garlic cheddar bagel twists. While we were eating, who should come along but Sheriff Fir and Noah Count! They were walking along like best of friends! I guess that's the magic of Christmas. (Actually, they were probably on break. They weren't in costume, but Count had very distinctive facial hair.) So we said hi and told them great job in the show. It was a good day for running into people and saying hi. Or running into people and sending them to the hospital. We almost did that, too.
Stuff happened, and eventually it was time for the fireworks, which were incredibly early, because the park closed at eight. It's a really pretty show, but it made us cry a lot, because Christmas is a time of year with a lot of emotional memories that we tend to lock away because they're not all good ones. Then they play this really powerful song about "remember the magic" or something and the tears just come pouring out.
Then it was time for the park to close for normal guests, but the reason Gaston was visiting this particular week is that we had all registered for a special annual passholder anniversary event thingie...which we're pretty sure was just their test-run for their new seating policy on Fantasmic!. Now, instead of saving seats for literally four hours before the half-hour show, you have to get a ticket. (They have a similar policy for World of Color.) Tickets can be obtained either at a special fastpass distribution place, or with specific meals at specific restaurants (but for today, they were only available at the fastpass place). Tickets also have color codes, which determine what section you watch the show from. So now we have very mixed feelings about this practice, because as career Fantasmic! seat-savers (we spent the entire summer of 2004 saving seats for people to watch Fantasmic!), we appreciate that people will be "forced" to enjoy the rest of the park longer. But on the other hand, we can't afford to eat at the Blue Bayou every time we want good seats for Fantasmic!.
While we waited for the show, we decided to check out the character meet & greets...mostly because we saw one as we came out of It's A Small World. And we were like, "What the!? Scrooge McDuck and Darkwing Duck!?" So we sneaked over to where they were taking pictures, and got stealth photos between guests. We didn't want to wait in line.
Then we thought, "If they have Scrooge and Darkwing out, what other obscure characters might they have?" We were in luck, because the next character meet & greet was just a few yards away! It was the cast of Robin Hood! Robin, Friar Tuck, Prince John, and the Sheriff of Nottingham. We did our thing--sneaked up and got a picture--the whole time Athena and Gaston were noticing how hilarious Prince John was being, holding out his ring for people to kiss it, sucking his thumb at one point, etc. So Gaston decided to tease him. He shouted, "Prince John is the phony king of England!" and started running at top speed (which was not very high, because his leg is still recovering).
Prince John froze. After a second, he recovered and gestured at the Sheriff of Nottingham...who started coming after Gaston. It was awesome.
We continued on our secret photo quest and saw Frollo hanging out with Jafar and Governor Radcliffe, Esmeralda with Clopin, and the Country Bears trading shifts with Brer Fox and Brer Bear. Apparently some Aladdin characters were hanging out at Aladdin's Oasis, but they were too far in to let us take sneaky pictures, so we left. Instead, we went in search of gingerbread cookies. First stop: the Candy Palace on Main Street. After looking around, we found no gingerbread, so instead we started talking to cast members. Gaston tried to impress them by telling them confidential-ish titles we may or may not be working on. We TOLD him it was confidential, the jerk, and we didn't even know if it was final yet! That's WHY these things are confidential. They didn't really seem fazed, at any rate.
The important thing is that one of the cast members was a big Disney trivia buff, and he talked like he knows Rolly Crump (an Imagineer) personally, but best of all was the story he told us about Alice Davis, the costume designer for Pirates of the Caribbean. She really wanted to make two sets of costumes, because she knows how animatronics work, and that hydraulic fluid stains. The higher ups refused to give her the budget for two sets of costumes, but fortunately for her, they didn't know how much fabric was necessary for costumes, so she bought double the fabric anyway. So then, shortly after Pirates opened, a fire broke out on the ride. There wasn't a whole lot of fire damage, but the sprinkler system went off and destroyed all the costumes. The higher ups go to Ms. Davis and sheepishly ask her when she can make a new set of costumes. She tells them, "I'll have them ready tomorrow." They were already done.
After learning a little more Disney trivia and finding another cast member to call the candy store in Critter Country about gingerbread availability, it was time to get our seats, so off we went to watch the glitchiest performance of Fantasmic! anyone has ever seen. (Okay, I'm pretty sure some people can contest that description--it's not like Mickey was literally on fire or anything this time--but it was pretty bad.) Pinocchio was gone. No substitute or anything. He was just gone. Then Snow White's barge started doing its fancy lighting thing before its turn came up, and then it just turned off entirely. Not surprisingly, there was no dragon. Bring back Dragon-Head-on-a-Stick! At least as an understudy, for crying out loud! And there was no Mark Twain Riverboat, which we should have expected anyway because it's been docked for refurbishment for a while now. Fantasmic! doesn't restart officially for another three weeks. It was just really anticlimactic, which, granted, might have had something to do with the fact that we were talking through the finale (about how glitchy the show was).
For the first time in years, we watched the show from a left-of-center position, but that happened to put us really close to Critter Country, so off we went to obtain gingerbread. Then we went shopping for a mug, because we decided Gaston comes over enough, he might as well have his own mug to drink out of. (Since there are only two of us, our selection of dishes is very limited, and Gaston is a bit of a snob.) But we couldn't find a good one before Gaston's leg started filling him with pain, so we collected the complimentary annual passholder Christmas tree ornaments that were our consolation prize for being guinea pigs for the new Fantasmic! ticketing system, and we went home.
The next day, we started out in California Adventure, because we needed to get milkshakes. Not right away, but with Gaston's leg being what it was, if we didn't start there, we would never go there. The milkshakes were delicious, and then we went to see the Viva Navidad! celebration (there's supposed to be an upside-down exclamation point at the beginning of that title). It was really cool--they brought out a float with the Three Caballeros, and a bunch of Mexican dancers, and there was singing and dancing. And then, somebody remembered that Joe Carioca is from Brazil, so they brought out a bunch more dancers and danced the samba. And they had such big smiles, and they invited kids from the audience to dance with them, and it was just very lovely all around.
They also have special merchandise for the event, including the perfect mug for Gaston, because it's Christmasy and has the Three Caballeros. We were unaware that Gaston was a fan of the Three Caballeros, but the point is, it worked out brilliantly, and our theory is that his leg was trying to tell him not to buy a mug at Disneyland because the perfect one was waiting for him at California Adventure.
As we left California Adventure, we came across a bell choir, that sang pretty songs and had pretty costumes, and nothing else I can say about them can really describe their awesomeness. Just think of an awesome eight-person bell choir dressed in 1920's fashion. (I have pictures; I'll post them at some point in the future. Probably.)
Then we went to Disneyland and road the railroad around and around. I was going to say "and around," but we only took the circle tour twice. Almost twice, actually. But! the really cool thing there was that at one of the stops, we were joined by a man in what appeared to be a Disneyland maintenance costume. Our extrovert friend lived up to our expectations and started talking to him. He had an interesting little device that, according to Gaston, looked like an old palm pilot. The cast member explained that it was a closed captioning device--it picks up a signal from the rides that have narrations, like the train, and displays captions on its screen for guests with hearing disabilities. That day, it was this cast member's job to ride around the train and make sure the devices were working. Pretty fascinating stuff.
Eventually it got to be time to eat something and go on Space Mountain, so we stopped by the Pizza Port, where they did have a holiday offering, but which we ignored the day before because Gaston, upon hearing about it, said, "That sounds weird," in a "and I don't even want to try it" kind of voice. But since the offering was roast turkey pizza, we were like, "We like turkey. And pizza! Will they still be serving this after Thanksgiving, because we do NOT want to come back next week." So even though we know the Pizza Port is not Gaston's favorite place to eat, we took advantage of him being very absorbed in a phone call to go inside anyway. And he followed us!
So we got a slice of roast turkey pizza to share, and a slice of cheese (also to share) in case we decided the former was completely disgusting. As it turns out, it was actually pretty good! Even though it had Craisins and white sauce instead of my beloved marinara. But there was too much sauce on it, so despite the good flavor, there were textural issues, and we let Gaston finish it. Not surprisingly, he thought it was pretty good, too.
Then we went on Space Mountain finally, and then to Wednesdays with Walt, which was a recreation of the second episode of the Disneyland TV program. That particular episode featured an introduction by Walt Disney, followed by the feature-film Alice in Wonderland. So basically we watched Alice in Wonderland on the big screen. At Disneyland! And then Gaston tore himself reluctantly away from Disneyland's beautiful Christmas lights, and we went to look at Olaf's Winter Village for a while before going home. He went back up north, and we translated a chapter of UQ Holder!. And then died. Only not really.
That ended up longer than I planned, so here are some highlights: fun show at the Jingle Jangle Jamboree, unusual character meet & greets, glitchy Fantasmic!, closed captions on the Disneyland Railroad, delicious milkshakes (oh wait, we didn't really talk about that). And roast turkey pizza.
Today I'm thankful for the idea of a roast turkey pizza that doesn't have too much sauce, the choir being willing to stay after church for another choir practice even though they were there early for more practice (the ward music director is determined that we WILL sing this piece next Sunday), the fun show at the Jingle Jangle Jamboree, having extrovert friends to exploit for their extrovert powers, and getting to hear Logan sing "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam" (sort of) on the phone today. (Mostly it was his Mom singing, while he joined in for the parts that generally get shouted, and then he kind of sang along for the last couple of lines. Soooooo cute.)