It got off to a kind of rocky start, because Gaston has decided that it's really neat to get there right before the park opens and race everybody else to the Peter Pan line. But there was some confusion about when park opening really was, so we got there a whole hour early. Oops. Then Alice couldn't find her pass, which led to the ongoing quest throughout the day for lanyards. (We had stopped to talk to some security guards right after bag check, which is when the pass was revealed to be missing; one of them suggested buying a lanyard with a little plastic sleeve to carry the annual pass in. The funny thing is, Alice found one she liked pretty early on and bought it, but the quest continued because now Gaston wanted one.)
Anyway, we did eventually get to park opening, and I triumphantly made it as one of the first people in line (I think I was about sixth, actually), but then I heard one of the cast members say, "Keep your whole party together!" and I imagined how annoying it would be to have the line in front of you constantly inflating as the slower runners caught up to their party, so I stopped and waited for everyone else. We still made it onto the ride in only about five minutes, so that was neat, but I'm actually not a fan of this tradition. Peter Pan's Flight is a great ride, but we're okay with just waiting in line for it, and maybe take advantage of the early hours to go on Alice in Wonderland, which also tends to have a very long line. Or use that time to actually eat breakfast.
It would seem that the new routine is get there at park opening, go on Peter Pan, then go to Big Thunder, but we did get to spend some extra time in Fantasyland (we love early morning Fantasyland) because the line to Storybook Land was short. Then we did go to Big Thunder, and afterward we walked by the Golden Horseshoe, where there was a band of six musicians playing up on the balcony. By the door, there was a sign telling citizens to keep an eye out for the Silver Dollar Six, a band of desperadoes posing as musicians, and that a reward was offered. Well, we figured we'd found them, so we wanted to go report, but the sign didn't give any indication of whom we were to report to. We headed over to the information booth outside Bonanza Outfitters and asked, but the lady there wasn't able to help. So after listening to the music for a little while, we moved on to New Orleans Square, where we discovered that the caricature artists there also do really neat landscapes and now I'm sort of maybe considering buying one at some point. You know, like I've been sort of maybe considering buying a character sketch for the last seven years or so.
In a surprising plot twist, Gaston advocated going on Indiana Jones, which was really nice because that's our favorite!
We finally had breakfast at the River Belle Terrace, where they had a new (to us) menu item: cinnamon roll french toast! Athena says you can tell it's pretty new anyway, because its name doesn't match the Mark Twain / riverboat theme like all the other menu items (excepting, of course, the Mickey Mouse pancake, but that gets a pass because it's Mickey). I don't think I really need to describe the dish anymore than I already have, but just to make it very clear: they sliced cinnamon rolls in half, and then cooked them like french toast. They also sprinkled powdered sugar on it, and drizzled on some cream cheese frosting. That was almost a deal breaker (we do not like cheese in our desserts), but you can get it without the frosting (like Athena did), and I tried it and it wasn't too bad.
Later we watched Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and had the inevitable conversation that we always have about how it's so very applicable today, and by then it was almost time to redeem our fastpasses for the Royal Theatre show, so we headed that way...when the Disneyland Band came marching down the street with Mickey and all his pals, and the announcer came on and said they were going to do a sing-along! What! We had to join in! ...But the show was about to start. Of course we'd seen it a million times, and Alice even said we could go watch the sing-along if we wanted, and we thought about it, but once we have plans to do something, we have a hard time randomly deciding not to, so we told ourselves it's okay, we can come back anytime and go to the sing-along, and we went to watch the Frozen show.
The actors playing Mr. Smythe and Mr. Jones were new to us, and Mr. Jones was very enthusiastic and loved to emphasize things (sometimes to great comedic effect, sometimes not so much). It was...pretty much the same show as always, though. It's a funny show, but it doesn't have as many opportunities for huzzahs and fies, so it's just not as fun as the other ones. We probably would have enjoyed the sing-along more.
But anyway, never mind that, because next comes the best part of the trip! Sort of. See, Gaston is a foodie and his favorite thing is to eat delicious food while having good company. And so he had made reservations (for his birthday) to eat at the super fancy restaurant in California Adventure, the Carthay Circle. We were excited because it would be a new experience, and we were sure the food would be delicious...if there was anything on the menu we could bring ourselves to eat. Fortunately, Gaston and Alice got used to our eating eccentricities long ago, and they eat in fancy restaurants more frequently than we do, so they were able to help us out instead of being exasperated at our being so difficult.
Nevertheless, we knew we were difficult, and this was a fanciness like we had rarely experienced before, so we felt very out of place and apologetic and like is it okay for us to be here? (To which the answer is of course they'll let anyone be here who is willing to pay that much money.) I didn't even realize how stressed out I was over the whole thing until we had been served and it occurred to me that I had pretty much the opposite of a hearty appetite. But before I get to that, our server was amazing and very friendly and understanding about our pickiness. It's funny looking back on it, because there wasn't very much on the menu that we would be willing to eat, so we asked for a kids menu, and I felt so bad I was trying to hide behind the menu. But our waiter was all, "No, no, no. It's all about preferences. Whatever you want, I'll get it for you. If you want something from the kids' menu, I'll make sure you get an adult-sized portion." And even though he was very much a foodie himself, he wasn't judgmental in the least, and it was very helpful.
So the regular menu did have a cheeseburger on it, and we almost went ahead and ordered one plain (I was worried that that would be an insult to the chef, but Gaston and our waiter assured us that it would be fine, and the chef wouldn't even know who ordered it), but for some reason we decided to go with some plain past from the kids' menu instead. (In retrospect, that was probably a better idea, because when we're stressed into lack of appetite, we don't digest meat as well.) The waiter asked how we wanted it: tomato sauce, alfredo sauce, just some olive oil? We went with tomato sauce, and then he asked if we wanted any vegetables with it, to which the response was, "Noooo, no, no no." So he wrote a note "no vegetables" and went and placed our order.
For the curious, Gaston ordered the pasta special, which was being offered because it was also the weekend of the Disneyland Half Marathon, and which was full of new and unusual but very delicious flavor combinations. I'd say what they were for the foodies in the audience, but I don't remember. Eheh. All I know is that the pasta was like a unicorn-horn shape, the likes of which Gaston had never had before. Alice had the...I don't remember what it was called, but it was chicken with salad. But it wasn't just any chicken--it had been infused and/or marinated with strawberry, so it was strawberry chicken. When we heard about that, we thought, "Hey, we can eat chicken! And we like strawberry flavor, just not the texture!" So I would almost want to order that next time, except for the salad. Our waiter said we could create new things based on the menu...hmmm... (Also, we saw Alice's chicken, so we know we wouldn't have to worry about bones.)
They also got an order of fried biscuits, which were more like...savory cream puffs? It was bread on the outside, but cheese and smoked bacon and jalapenos on the inside. I was feeling adventurous enough to try one, so Alice cut one in half for me, and I tried it! Ha! ...And I didn't like it. The smoked bacon was indeed very smoky, and smokiness is not a flavor I enjoy.
A different waiter delivered our food, including...vegetable pasta. What. Athena and I probably would have accepted it and just picked out the vegetables, but Gaston and Alice, who have more experience with this kind of thing, had no qualms about saying, "That's not what we ordered," and making him take it back. Later our waiter showed up and saw that Gaston and Alice had their food but we didn't, so he asked what was up. Gaston and Alice explained that the waiter brought pasta with vegetables, and he said, "That's funny, because that's specifically what I told them not to do. I wrote a note in what I thought was English..." Then he went to the kitchen and brought us an even larger helping of plain pasta with tomato sauce. ...The extra helping would have been a lot better if we hadn't been so stressed out by everything.
On the other hand, we had a great time socializing, which was the other important part of the meal, so that was good. And then there was dessert. We asked for the dessert menu, and it had four items, all of which looked delicious. So we got one of each and split them all into four. And they were all plated beautifully, just like in shows like MasterChef. (We got excited, and either Gaston was joining in or making fun of us when he said in a redneck voice, "It looks just like on the TV"...several times. But he was taking pictures, too, so we're pretty sure it wasn't pure mockery.) There was a lemon pound cake with buttermilk ice cream, creme brule with blueberries (we let Gaston eat all of those), a dark chocolate mousse bar with strawberries and strawberry croutons (apparently this chef really likes to get creative with strawberries), and a marshmallow turnover with popcorn ice cream. And the popcorn ice cream really did taste like popcorn! And it was garnished with kernels of kettle corn! Our favorite was the chocolate mousse, though, because our favorite is always chocolate. I think it was just what I needed after the (good) stress of this new experience.
By the time we finished, the restaurant was getting ready to switch from lunch to dinner, so it was pretty empty, making it easy for us to look around. The restaurant is a scale reproduction of the Carthay Circle theater, which is where Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered in 1937. Some of the decor (like the carpets) is an exact copy of the theater's decor, and some of it is designed after the film (like chandeliers made to look like the Wicked Queen's crown; we weren't so sure about using spooky decor like that, but since it was over the wine storage place, we thought it was more fitting). There are photos all over of Disney creative people receiving Academy awards and stuff. It's really very nice once I get over the, "This place is too fancy! I can't be in here!" thing.
After that, we mostly just wandered around and sat and relaxed, sometimes talked to cast members, sometimes shopped for lanyards, until it was time to watch the fireworks. We did have a bit of a misadventure attempting to cross the parade route to see if we could get on Space Mountain before the fireworks. Athena and I made it across and bobbed and weaved through the crowds to get to Space Mountain, where we discovered the wait was 55 minutes (so much for the nighttime spectaculars drawing the crowds away from the lines), but Gaston and Alice didn't get across before the cast members stopped traffic to let more of the parade through. They were really close, though, so they got a great view of that part of the parade.
We watched the fireworks from further down Main Street this time, so we were able to see all the projections they did on the Main Street buildings...which were mostly just the same as on the castle, except during The Circle of Life, when they had a procession of animals walking along the buildings toward the castle. And then we watched the parade and were once again dazzled by the sparkling costumes.
By that time, we hadn't eaten since lunch and it was now about eleven o'clock, so we did more shopping for lanyards and then headed to Earl of Sandwich where we finally got to eat again. We were worried because we didn't know if they had anything on their non-breakfast menu that we'd like, but! the kids' menu had grilled cheese sandwiches...with cheddar and Swiss cheese. I have had Swiss cheese, and I don't like it. But we were able to switch that out for mozzarella, and the sandwiches were amazing! So we were very happy. But also very tired, so we all went home and went to sleep...after watching a couple of Studio C sketches. The Adventures of Abraham Lincoln had us in sleep-deprived giggles all that night and into the next afternoon. (The first time we saw it, we had not been sleep-deprived, and we thought it was funny then, so I don't think sleep deprivation is a requirement for enjoying it...but it didn't hurt, either.)
The next morning, Gaston still hadn't found a satisfactory lanyard, so we went back to Downtown Disney for some shopping. This was a plan to our liking, because we recently discovered that there's a kiosk in Downtown Disney that sells macarons, and we wanted to try it out. But they were expensive, so we each only got one (sea salt caramel brule), but they were amazing. I think ultimately Gaston found one that was suitable but not sparkly enough, so the plan was to buy it, take it home, and bedazzle it.
And then we went to Target, because Gaston had had enough of our lack of proper ventilation in the hot hot summer, so he was determined to buy us a fan. (But he did check to make sure we wanted a fan first, so that was nice.) Also, all four of the lights above our bathroom mirror had gone out, and they have a really weird base, and since he has a better knowledge of lightbulbs than we do, he took it upon himself to find and purchase some for us. ...And then it turned out that the CFLs were twelve dollars each, and they didn't have LEDs with the right base, so we got one CFL after promising to check Amazon for LEDs later.
Finally, we went to Joe's Italian Ice for what the east coast people call "water ice". Only we didn't just get water ice; we got Joe Latti's, which is soft serve ice cream under water ice under more soft serve ice cream. It was delicious but a little hard to eat. (I got lemon, Athena and Alice got strawberry kiwi, and Gaston got mango tango. They also had a poison apple flavor, which Gaston tried (it's very tart) and the employee assured us no one had died from it yet (to which we added, "That you know of.").)
After that, we went to a baptism, where we realized just how tired we were, and then we came home and passed out. At least, we wanted to, but we still had some stuff to take care of to get ready for teaching Primary today. ...And then we passed out.
Today I'm thankful for having a lovely time at Disneyland for Gaston's birthday, getting to eat at the Carthay Circle restaurant, our waiter there being super helpful and nice and understanding, the super delicious desserts (which Alice thinks they also serve in the lounge, so we can go throw $12 (a dish) at them whenever we want), and finally getting to try Joe Latti's (which people in our ward have been telling us about for months). And The Adventures of Abraham Lincoln.