Anyway, I still had some Disneyland stuff to blather on about. When we last left our heroes, they were waiting an inordinate amount of time for the fireworks, so one of them ran over to California Adventure to buy a comic book with which to pass the time. The book: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. It tells the story of Abigail Bullion, who starts out the comic by telling the readers that her mother gave up on trying to make her a lady years ago, but apparently her dad didn't get the memo. This made us sigh an, "oh, you're one of those..." sighs.
We never really had anything against that type of character before. They were a dime a dozen in the cartoons and books we watched/read growing up, and as long as they were interesting, we didn't care one way or the other if they wanted to be ladylike or tomboyish. But these days, it seems like there's so much complaining that this type of character doesn't exist (or maybe I'm still upset about that stupid open letter to Pixar that went viral so many years ago) that I guess I get tired seeing yet another one, knowing full well that people are on Facebook as we speak complaining that there aren't heroines like this. It all goes into my theory that the people who complain about it are just not reading/watching the right material. Also, I'm tired of the whole "if a woman character doesn't act like a man all the time, she's not a strong woman" nonsense.
But anyway, we tried not to let our bias prejudice us against the comic, and we kept reading. Abby came from Boston to Rainbow Ridge to live with her father after her mother died. She'd been to Rainbow Ridge before and felt a strong connection to the mine at Big Thunder Mountain, and had been dying to come back every since, but her mom wouldn't let her because it was too dangerous or something. Meanwhile, the town's dying because the mine isn't making enough money, but the mine can't make any more money because if they try to get to where all the gold is, the mountain will kill them. But the head miner guy is like, "Let's go anyway! Money! MONEY!" and the other guy, Chandler, is like, "NO! You'll kill us all!!" And the premise seems not that original, but interesting enough. And we like Abigail anyway despite her cliche-ness, and despite her slight resemblance to Marion of Indiana Jones fame (who acts all tough but goes crying to Indy the second anything goes wrong). Abby hasn't gone crying to anybody yet (except maybe her horse, but I don't think she was really crying), but she has gotten herself into trouble a lot, and needed to be rescued three times in one comic! And that just goes into my theory that stupid boys tend to find themselves in distress more than damsels do.
Unfortunately, the comic only took us about fifteen minutes to read, so now we still had two hours to kill. That called for one thing: toffee pretzels. We had seem them on sale with all the special 60th anniversary merchandise, and we were determined to try some! But until then, we had been in a hurry to do everything, so it wasn't until then that we were able to get any. But we did, and they tasted more like caramel pretzels than toffee pretzels, but they were still yummy! We think the idea came from Tokyo Disneyland, because the packaging (and especially the magnetic clip that came with it) matched the souvenir food packaging style we saw when we went to Tokyo Disneyland so many years ago (we still have the clip from the shortbread cookies we bought!).
And then we waited. And waited and waited and waited. Eventually, the new nighttime parade, Paint the Night started. We only saw the top half of it, because there was no way we were going to move from our fireworks spot, and there was a pretty sizable crowd between us and the parade. Our main impression is, "It sure is sparkly." There were I think eight floats, but they were designed kind of strangely--like, there'd be a big tall thing in front, and then little things trailing behind it. Normally, the big tall thing would be in the back so you can see it all at once, right? Maybe I'm remembering previous parades wrong, or maybe it just looked weird because we were so far away. But anyway, they had floats representing Tinkerbell, Cars, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story, Frozen, Monsters Inc., and Mickey Mouse.
They all had lots of bright sparkling lights and fancy high definition screens that had scenes from the movies on them. (For example, the Monsters Inc. float had a bunch of doors that were animated to open up and show different monsters, and the Beauty and the Beast float had a big storybook-shape screen behind an oddly idolized version of Belle which showed their silhouettes dancing and stuff.) And about half the costumes had sparkling lights all over them, and half of them for some reason remained unlit. So when the Fab Five preceded Mickey's (super awesome, but still kind of backwards) finale float, they were on these light-up vehicles...and kind of hidden in the shadows above them. It was weird. They were tall enough that we could see them over the crowd, but they were so dim compared to everything, it was a little sad.
I want to say that I didn't like the music very much, but I have to reserve judgment on that until we can see the parade from up close. We were too far away to hear it properly.
The parade passed by where we were and we were ready to move on to the next thing (but not physically move, because we were NOT giving up our spot), but we had to wait for the parade to make the rest of its way down Main Street before the fireworks started. And then...they finally did! And they had the introduction with Tinkerbell, and she's so pretty and flying and it's so awesome, and they had Peter Pan projected on the castle talking to her, which was kind of neat, and there was fire in the sky! and we started to tear up a little. After the introduction, they went into Step in Time, for which they projected the scene from Mary Poppins onto the castle, to make it look like chimney sweeps were jumping in and out of the turrets, and that was really cool. I think they got Dick Van Dyke to record new lines for it and everything (at least, that's what it sounded like, although the lines weren't exactly new).
And then it was pretty eh for the rest of the show. We liked that they used Pink Elephants for the Heffalumps and Woozles song, and seeing them march upside-down along the walls of the castle was kind of cool. But other than that, we never really cared much about their projection mapping technology, and a lot of the footage seemed like it was recycled straight from World of Color and/or Mickey and the Magical Map, which might be okay anyway except that we're not big fans of either of those shows, either. There was also the problem in that we weren't sure if we should watch the show on the castle or the show in the sky (the actual fireworks). It was hard to watch both at the same time, so I mostly ended up watching the castle. Athena made a concerted effort to watch the fireworks instead, but she had to concert her efforts so much that she didn't have enough mental capacity left to process the fireworks. But she liked that they used the heart-shaped fireworks for See the Light (during which they of course project images of the lantern scene on the castle, and it looked strangely low-definition; I think that might be because of the castle's walls' texture, but that doesn't change the fact that I wasn't really impressed by that visual effect).
For the big climax, they reenacted the initiation scene from Finding Nemo, which might have been more super awesome if we were bigger fans of Finding Nemo, but on the other hand, it's not like Nigel is in that scene anyway. The climax did use flamethrowers and they made the Matterhorn look like a volcano, but musically and choreographically, it wasn't all that impressive. Also, Nemo making it through the ring of fire didn't really come across. They just had this little Nemo thing (a puppet, I guess?) use Tinkerbell's flight wires to "swim" up toward the Matterhorn a little ways, and then he swam back? I guess. And then they had a finale without even bringing Tinkerbell back. We just found it all underwhelming.
So we were in a bit of a huff that the fireworks weren't better, and then came the worst part! We decided to hang out for a while to let the crowds die down before trying to make our way out of the park, but after several minutes the madness hadn't ebbed, so we decided to brave it after all. It wasn't until we finally made it outside (after a somewhat harrowing experience--seriously, I remember going through Adventureland after Fantasmic! let out, and it was probably the same, but on a much smaller scale, and there weren't quite so many strollers) that we realized where everything went wrong. California Adventure closed. At the same time the fireworks were ending.
The general trend is that people in California Adventure try to get the most out of their tickets by going to Disneyland after it closes, and people in Disneyland try to leave Disneyland once the fireworks are over. So in other words, we have two park-closing crowds (the biggest crowds of the day, other than maybe at opening) converging in opposite directions and it all adds up into a big nightmare. Is it an oversight in planning? Or is there some sinister motive behind it all? I don't know, but what I do know is that I'll be loathe to stay at Disneyland past six o'clock for a long time now. ...We'll see what happens on Monday.
And there you have it. In summary (as if you expected any differently), we weren't impressed.
Today I'm thankful for getting to see the fireworks (even if we didn't like them that much), surviving the crowds, getting to try the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad comic (I'd be willing to buy more), finishing our first draft of Say I Love You, and getting to watch Reign Storm tonight.