Also, I remembered something interesting(?) that happened at Disneyland on Friday that I wanted to write about but forgot. We all went on the Buzz Lightyear ride, and that ride comes out into the Little Green Men store, which is one of our favorite places to buy pins. While the rest of our party was busy emailing pictures of themselves on the ride to themselves, we decided to pick up a pack of pins from the set Mom is collecting, since she'd already paid us to do that. We were wearing our Chip and Dale hats, so as we were waiting for our receipt, a cast member came along and said, "You guys need this pin." It was actually a set of two that was just released this month.
Remember those "best friends forever" necklaces that you'd buy as a set and each friend would get a piece of it and it wouldn't be complete until you put them together? This pin set was like that, only each part of it had Chip or Dale on it, and when put together, the pins formed an acorn instead of a heart. We did need it, but we decided to get it later, since our other purchase had already been rung up. Then our party was still shopping for a long time, so we went back to the counter and said, "Our party's taking forever. Give us the pin." And now it's ours! Tadah!
Anyway, I still have a day at California Adventure to report on. We started by eating breakfast, then waiting forever and ever in the security check line. Eventually we met up with Alice's parents inside California Adventure, and now we had to figure out what we wanted to do while we waited to meet up with the rest of Alice's family. So first we got fastpasses to World of Color, and then, since Alice's parents hadn't seen the Grand Californian hotel yet, we went through the special Grand Californian park exit and into the hotel. It is indeed a very shiny hotel, and they were in the process of building a gingerbread replica of it in the lobby to display for the holidays.
After admiring the decor and the architecture, everyone was satisfied, so we headed back to the special Grand Californian park entrance to go back into California Adventure. And that's when disaster struck! Dun dun DUN!!! There was a cast member stationed just before the bag check, asking to see people's room keys. We had no room keys, so we weren't allowed to the bag check. None of us was too keen on going back through the regular security check line (because it had taken so forever earlier), so we were even more averse to taking the long way back into the park than usual. Gaston was also incensed because hello, we had just come from inside the park, why can't they let us back through there?
Eventually a lead was called in, and he just kept repeating to us that the policy was that this entrance was for hotel guests only until eleven o'clock (it was ten), and we said yes we understand but there was no sign, so we didn't understand that when we came in the park through this exit, so can you please make an exception because it's not crowded and seriously there should be a sign or something. He told us the policy again. We know the policy. We are annoyed. He takes our passes for some reason. We assumed it was to prove that we had actually been in the park, because they can scan them to see if they were activated, just like with the fastpass machines (for example, you can't take a friend's Disneyland pass and use it to get them a fastpass for later, because it won't have been activated at the front gate). That thought reminded me that oh yeah, we had gotten fastpasses! We did have proof that we were in the park!
As soon as I pulled out our World of Color fastpasses, the room key checker relaxed and said she'd go get the guy who took our passes. He reminded us once again of the policy (we KNOW!), and gave our passes back, saying they'd make an exception. This of course had me wondering why on earth he needed our passes to begin with, since he didn't seem to be doing anything useful with them. And so, since everybody else had reservations at the Carthay Circle, we resolved to wait until we knew no one in our party would be there to interrupt our telling of the story and go to the Chamber of Commerce to see if we could find anything out.
But first, we went on Grizzly River Run, and since it was a cool, overcast day and I was the one who pushed for it the most, I was prepared to deal with the karma of that decision and come out of it completely soaked. Fortunately(?), I ended up not getting too wet, but I guess as a little "tsk, tsk", some water went straight into my shoes and drenched my socks, so I did have to walk around with wet feet for a while.
After some wandering, it was time for lunch, so most of our party went to the Carthay Circle and we went to Smokejumpers. We noticed that the menu had milkshakes, and since we've started a quest to find the best milkshakes for under $6.50 at Disneyland, we ordered some! ...And the quest continues.
Then it was off to the Chamber of Commerce, where we ran into a cast member who had been very helpful to us before. This was a good sign, even if she didn't recognize us. (She sees a lot of people, we imagine.) We told her our story, and she was very apologetic about the way we were treated, and when I mentioned that they took our annual passes and we wondered what they did with them, she took them again (only this time without leaving our sight) and scanned them, and informed us that there were no notes on them. Wait, what? Apparently, they really can put notes on annual passes in case there's trouble. These notes usually don't show up for regular use (when a pass is scanned at the gate, the passholder's picture shows up on the cast member's computer, and maybe some other information, like birthdays), and usually only mean anything if, for example, there have been several late payments (for people who are on the payment plan, a plan that we hate with the intensity of a thousand suns). We found this to be fascinating information, but I'm really not sure what the ramifications of it are. Right now, I mostly just wonder how we can be exemplary passholders to the point of getting maybe a little special treatment.
We had no idea how long everyone was going to be at lunch, so we went to our favorite place ever (though it's somewhat less favorite now, especially since we've been to DisneySea), the Animation Building. First we went to the Beast's Library (that's where they have a "which Disney character are you?" quiz) and just sat on the bench there and enjoyed Alan Menken music and longed for the good old days of Disney animation. After a while, we figured why not take the personality test, and I got Tinkerbell, and Athena got Sally from Cars, and then we went to the main room with all the giant screens and watched all the segments of beautiful Disney art (and the ones with art we don't care about, too). I also made a list of the segments so we could prove to Gaston that they play them in a specific loop and not at random. We remember far too many disagreements.
Once we'd seen the whole loop, we decided we might as well get a move on, and the plan was to wander over to Goofy's Sky School, but just as we got to the Carthay Circle, we noticed Gaston standing there and pulling out his phone. Before we could catch up to him, he joined Alice's father and started walking. Athena called out to him, but not loud enough for him to notice over all the crowd noises, and we were too tired to pick up the pace. Besides, he was probably calling me, and it would be pretty hilarious to let it run its course. Sure enough, a few seconds later, my phone started vibrating. I answered it, and Gaston asked where we were. I said, "About ten...twenty feet behind you." Then he turned around and we all laughed. We caught up with everyone else at the Little Mermaid ride.
After that, we spent a lot of time hanging out in Cars Land, but there was an important matter of business to be taken care of. Alice's aunt had made reservations for Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen, but Gaston had reservations at Big Thunder Ranch, so we had to go see if we could cancel them or something, because he was still full from lunch and it was too late to not show up without paying a lot of money. Alice's hope was that we could find someone who didn't have a reservation, and give our reservation to them. So the four of us raced to Big Thunder Ranch (which, lucky us, is on the opposite end of the other park), and there, sure enough, was a group of people who looked like they wanted to eat there but didn't have reservations. They had a set of little boy twins with them, so maybe it was the twin energy that drew us together.
The rest of our party was now in line to see the Aladdin show, which started in about thirteen minutes...which is just about how long it took us to get to Big Thunder Ranch. So we raced back over to California Adventure! (After Athena and I stopped to buy some kettle corn, because our lunch was not as recent as everyone else's, and if we didn't let our metabolisms know that we weren't done eating for the day, we were sure to go into starvation mode and get headaches.) And found out the show got canceled at the last minute.
So the logical thing to do now is to go back to Disneyland and go on the Matterhorn! (It was somewhat logical. Alice's grandfather and uncle were going back to the hotel to take a nap, and Alice's aunt wanted to stay in the park and the Matterhorn was the one thing she hadn't done that she wanted to do, and no one else had any opinion, and she hadn't just been racing back and forth between parks.) It turned out to be a really good thing, though, because! We figured out how to conquer the brain rattling!
It's been chilly lately, so Athena and I were wearing our jackets. I thought maybe it would help to take my jacket off and use it as a cushion. It didn't seem like much, but it was something. So I tried it, and the whole way down, I'm thinking, "Wow, this is a smooth ride. Maybe it's because we're on the smoother side of the mountain." (There are two tracks. One is less twisty-turny.) But then we got to the bottom, and I hear the people in front of me saying, "Bumpy!" And Athena said it was pretty bumpy for her, too. But for me, it was smooth! So our hypothesis is that Disney could have made the ride a lot better with just a little bit of cushioning in the cars. We're going to have to try it again to see if the results can be replicated.
After that, it was time for hot chocolate, and that means Ghirardelli's! (Which of course means going back to California Adventure.) Athena and I don't like hot drinks, and we were disappointed in the milkshakes we'd had at Smokejumpers, so we were sorely tempted to put our quest on hold and get milkshakes anyway...until a cast member directed our attention to the menus. We looked one over carefully and discovered something called a cocoa float. Chilled Ghirardelli hot chocolate with two scoops of ice cream. This sounded like one of the most amazing things of all time!
...But it was cold, and we didn't want to freeze our insides, so after much deliberating, we opted to settle for some chocolate covered pretzel balls, which was just the right thing because I was craving something salty, something floury, and chocolate. And that ended up being our dinner. You can see why we need to make sure to eat very healthy(?) when we're not going to Disneyland with friends. (The reservations to the Jazz Kitchen were also canceled, because everyone was still too full from lunch.)
Finally, we went to the Animation Academy (Alice's mother loves to draw the characters) before heading over to the pier for World of Color. They all had special seating from eating at Carthay Circle, and we only had our regular fastpasses. We assured them that we would be fine sitting somewhere else, because then we could make snide comments without ruining anyone else's enjoyment of the show (at least, not anyone in our party), but the cast members said it would be okay for us to join them, and so we did. And we watched the show and talked about what needs to be fixed the whole time. It's kind of an interesting intellectual exercise, so at least we weren't bored, mostly. And people were spaced out enough that we were pretty far from everyone, including other park guests, so we're pretty sure no one was bothered by our snide comments.
Today I'm thankful for the super cute new pin set we have, learning of awesome new ice cream floats we need to try, surviving today's Core 3 workout, the very friendly and helpful guest services cast members, and having potentially conquered the brain rattling.