But now it's time to go back to Tokyo Disneyland, where we had one of the cutest experiences ever. We took a little time clearing out of the hub from the Electrical Parade, so by the time we made it back to Tomorrowland, we could see that Space Mountain was already developing a sizable line. On the other hand, the Stitch Encounter was right there in front of us, had a relatively short line, and took us inside fairly quickly. That last part is what I think was the deciding factor, because we were cold. It's kind of weird to think of that now, when it's seven-thirty at night and more than eighty degrees outside (it's February, for anyone reading this in the future), but it's true. We were very cold.
Also important, we had never done the Stitch Encounter before, because they don't have it in California. They do have it in Florida, and I think I remember seeing a picture for it with a link to an article about the rides in Florida to skip, but I'd never done it before, so I wanted to do it anyway! Besides, the people who write those articles usually (based on the one or two we've read) don't know how to enjoy life.
The queue area was pretty fun. It was all futuristic, with screens all around, including one big one that seemed to have Stitch's vacation photos or something. It kept showing him in different places, like at the pyramids in Egypt. When we went inside the encounter room, they explained that this was...some place with an official name...and its job was to monitor Stitch to make sure he stays out of trouble, and to make sure evil aliens like Gantu don't come to destroy him. Eventually it dawned on me that this was like Turtle Talk with Crush, in that it's an interactive experience with an animated character, but we liked it a lot better, because we have a bias toward 2D-style animation, Disney (as opposed to Pixar), and Japan. So I don't know how much better this experience is objectively, but subjectively, it was the best thing ever.
So anyway, the guy from the Stitch-monitoring organization says okay let's see where Stitch is now...what!? He's in outer space!? What in the world is he doing out there? So we pull up a visual on him, and that's when we see Stitch inside his spaceship and he explains that he and Lilo had a fight, so he was running away to look for new friends. The organization guy said, "Well guess what! We have all these people here, and they would love to be your friends!" Then Stitch started jumping up and down and clapping and it was the adorablest (much like Page sitting on Athena's lap right now, but way more active). Then Stitch recognized somebody from the audience, and he pulled up a picture of him so he could show the rest of us who he was. His name was Kohei, and Stitch saw him...I think he said at a coffee stand or something, but I didn't quite catch it. Then he said Kohei was looking pretty good, did he cut his hair? Yes, Kohei did cut his hair. I like it, it makes you look younger. You look like you're about five years old. There are lots of people here who look like they're five years old! And a lot of people who look like they're Not five years old.
Then Stitch turned his attention to the five-year-olds, all of whom were sitting on the floor up front. He asked them to introduce themselves, so they started saying their names one at a time as Stitch pointed to them. So one kid would say her name and Stitch would point at the kid and repeat the name, then another, and a few kids in, Stitch started kind of mumbling the names, probably because little kids aren't the most articulate bunch, and then he said this was going to take forever so let's save time by having everyone say their name at the same time. Okay, that didn't work out the way I hoped, but I think I got it. (Hopefully everyone's having an okay time following when I'm speaking as Stitch and as me.) So Stitch started naming all the people in the audience, and he said a few names, then he started mumbling again (maybe this time it was more in a "faking it" sort of way), and then he just started going, "Tanaka, Tanaka, Tanaka, Tanaka..." and pointing at random people in the audience. (Two important cultural notes here: First, in Japan you usually address people by their family name (last name) until you get to know them really well, and even Stitch knows that it's rude to do otherwise without permission. Second, Tanaka is like the Japanese equivalent of Smith. I've had to explain that to two people now, and it took me by surprise both times.)
So then Stitch turned to individual grownups in the audience. First he addressed a woman who introduced herself as Mutsumi. "Where are you from, Mutsumi?" "Nagano." "Nagano? I love Nagano! ...But I've never been there." Next, he talked to a man who introduced himself as Gin. "Hi, Gin! Have you ever been to Nagano?" "*thinks* Yes. Yes, I have." "I have a friend from Nagano! Her name is Mutsumi! Where are you from?" "Tokyo." "Cool, who else is from Tokyo?" A bunch of people raise their hands. "Wow, I have a lot of friends from Tokyo. All the rest of you, if you ever come to Tokyo, you can stay at Gin's house!"
We think he talked to someone else, and he probably picked on Kohei once or twice, but then we see a planet in the distance, which catches Stitch's attention. He points it out and asks who wants it. A bunch of people raise their hands, and he calls on a woman who introduces herself as Ami. He tells her that, because she raised her hand so energetically, she gets to be queen of that planet! And this was the cutest thing ever, because he said "queen" in English, but with a Japanese Stitch accent, so think about how they say "queen" in Chihayafuru, and think about Stitch saying it that way, and think about how "Queen Ami" would sound. It's adorable. Then he made Ami put her hands over her head in a crown shape and recite the queen pledge, which she had to repeat after him. He started out in Japanese, but then he switched over to his alien language, and he scolded her when she didn't repeat it word for word, or use the right intonation. She finally managed to get the whole thing out...and Stitch accidentally did something with his computer, and then the planet exploded. So Stitch tells Ami, "Ummm...something went wrong, and your planet exploded. Kohei did it!" he added, pointing to Kohei.
After that, Stitch changed the subject! He asked Queen Ami if she'd ever made one of her friends mad. She said yes, and then Stitch asked her what she did when that happened. She said she apologized, and he asked how do you do that? And she said, "You say, gomen ne! (I'm sorry!)" And Stitch said, "Gomemenanane?" (I'm sort of making that up, but I think you get the idea.) He tried a few times, and eventually he got it right, and Queen Ami gave him her seal of approval. Then he said, "Hold on a minute, I have to do something." So he turned around and pulled out his phone (which gets the most amazing reception) and dialed a number. If you guessed he was calling Lilo, you guessed right! And he said, "Lilo?" and tried again to say "gomen ne," but he was still having a hard time with it, so Lilo was like, "What?" But eventually he got it, and he asked if they could still be friends, and she said of course! So Stitch turned his spaceship around and started heading back to earth. And then we all take pictures together, which Stitch showed us on his screen. And it was so cute, and so sweet, and it still makes me tear up to think about it. Awwwwwww♥♥
After that we realized that oh hey, we're hungry, and it's still cold. Fortunately, Tomorrowland Terrace happened to be right nearby, and it served chicken nuggets and french fries, so we could have some food without having to gear ourselves up for an adventure when we were already low on energy from dealing with the cold. The best part is that they were Mickey Mouse shaped chicken nuggets, and they tasted amazing. Hands down the best chicken nuggets we had the whole trip. Also, I was feeling a little bit adventurous, so we ordered the dessert to share, even though it was a cheesecake and we generally prefer to leave cheese out of our desserts. But it was a strawberry cheesecake with a pink chocolate Mickey garnish, so it was super cute, and if you haven't learned that we have a weakness for super cute desserts by now, then you are not paying attention.
So we ate our dessert, and we went outside...and found a kitty cat! Not a Disney character cat--a real life cat, and it, too, was soooooo cute! I took a picture.
It was still cold, but Tomorrowland soon gave way to Fantasyland and right there was Winnie the Pooh's Hunny Hunt, with a line that was much shorter because people don't generally stick around very long once the nighttime spectaculars are over. So we went on it, and I want to take this opportunity to point out that there is an audio-animatronic in the Blustery Day room of Owl's treehouse. The robot is of the whole house, including the tree, and it has Owl inside it, and as the tree sways back and forth in the wind, Owl slides across it in a bucket and ALMOST FALLS OFF THE EDGE! The animatronics in this ride are so amazing. They even make Pooh look like a plush toy, as opposed to the Winnie the Pooh ride here, where he pretty much looks like fiberglass. ...And it's possible that comparisons like these are why photography is not allowed on that ride.
Aaaanyway. We made it out of the ride just in time to catch the second half of the fireworks, also known as the last three minutes. Some of you may remember when we got the first Koe no Ouji-sama CD, and we commented about one of the mini-dramas, that created a hypothetical scenario in which the Koe no Ouji-sama is supposed to impress his date with something that tops Fantasmic!, and that impressive thing turns out to be the fireworks. You may also remember that we were like, "How is that even possible? Fantasmic! is the bestest ever, and their fireworks show is so short!" The one fireworks show that came close to topping Fantasmic! in impressiveness is the Remember! show from Disneyland's 50th anniversary. ...But then we saw Japan's Fantasmic!, and got so burned out (ha ha ha) on long, over-the-top fireworks shows that we can totally see how a refreshingly short fireworks show would top Japan's disappointing Fantasmic!. Also, they have fireworks that explode into Mickey Mouse shapes. In California, they'll set off three spherical fireworks in a Mickey pattern, but the ones I'm talking about will explode and form the outline of the Mickey emblem. It's pretty cool.
Then, since it was right there, we went on Small World again, because it's the best. And then, Cecille had expressed a desire to go on Snow White's Scary Adventure, because she never got to go on it when she went to California Disneyland the one time in her adult life (the fact that she's only been once in her adult life simultaneously makes me sad and gives me hope for mankind). So we went on it, and we were like, "...What just happened!?"
The first thing we noticed was the sign in front of the queue area, warning parents that when they say it's Snow White's "scary" adventure, they're really not kidding; this ride might be too scary for children. (It was cute, though, because it started out by saying, "Beware of the Wicked Witch!") The second thing we noticed is that, before they send you into the dark part of the dark ride, they send you past Snow White's wishing well, which has me going, "Heeeey, we don't get a wishing well!" (Actually, we do. It's in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle, on the east side, and Snow White sings "I'm Wishing" every fifteen minutes, and fish come out of the moat and do a little dance like in "Kiss the Girl," but fewer of them.) And most of all we noticed that wow, this ride really is scary! I almost wonder if they felt like they had to up the ante because they don't have Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (where you blow up twice and go to hell (not true; you blow up once, then get hit by a train, then go to hell)).
Quick rundown of the ride, California version (we're now realizing again that we don't remember the order exactly; we actually don't go on that ride very much when we go to Disneyland with Gaston): You start out in the dwarfs' cottage and they're singing and having a good time, then you go outside and see the Wicked Queen watching outside the window, because she's a creepy stalker. Then you go to her throne room and you see her reflected in the magic mirror, and she says, "Magic Mirror, on the wall..." and then turns around and it's the creepy hag, aaaahh! "With this disguise, I'll fool them all!" And then you go through her dungeon and it has creepy skeletons, and you go outside and see her in a boat getting ready to go poison Snow White, and you go through the dark scary forest...and at some point you go through the dwarfs' mine, but I can't for the life of me remember where it falls in the sequence, but it's my favorite part because it's all nice and sparkly.
Anyway, you also go past the cottage and the door opens to the wicked hag, and she offers you an apple and it's super creepy (like, we know someone who refused to sit on a certain side of the ride vehicle to avoid the witch jumping out), and at the end, you see the dwarfs making their way in single file up a treacherous cliff, and the witch is at the top, using a lever to try to get a big boulder to roll down on them, then lightning flashes and you see her silhouette fall (she may or may not be falling on you, based on the positioning) as you go through the doorway that opens onto the storybook page that says, "And they lived happily ever after." And you're like, "That was a little abrupt, but cool."
So, Japan version. It's pretty much the same, except you start in the throne room, and then go through the dungeon, and everything is scarier. The scary forest part is longer and the crocodile logs are spookier, and in the mine (the mine of all places!) has girders added for the express purpose of being creaky and about to fall on you, taking the rest of the tunnel with them. And then! at the end, that boulder looks dangerously like it's going to fall, not on the dwarfs, but on you! And I seem to remember there being a kind of a blackout effect...and then it's over. Not even a happily ever after storybook page. And we were like, "Did they just kill us? Did they just drop a boulder on us? WHAT HAPPENED!?"
We all seriously considered going on it again, but we are easily distracted, and Peter Pan was right there. So we went on that instead, and now I have another observation to make. It was in this line that I was musing on the differences in the facades between Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland, California. In California, when you get into a line for a Fantasyland ride, it feels like you're going into part of a castle. In Tokyo, it feels like you're going to a wooden booth or circus tent, like the kind of thing you'd see at a Renaissance festival. I wondered why the difference, when the castle thing was so much cooler, but then I remembered seeing old videos of the original Fantasyland from back when the park opened, and they looked much the same as the Tokyo version. And then I remembered that California's Fantasyland had a major upgrade back around 1984...which is a year after Tokyo Disneyland opened. So Tokyo Disneyland was designed after the original Disneyland after all. And I felt better.
After that, it was getting close to closing time, and we didn't want to miss out on buying Dear Danny merchandise, so we headed off to Frontierland to do just that. Our motivation was assisted by the fact that it was cold, and we knew that store had exactly the blankets we wanted to buy. The "in" thing at Tokyo Disney parks these days are hooded blankets, designed after Disney characters--Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Chip, Dale, and some princesses. The reason we didn't buy Chip and Dale right away is that we wanted to see if there were any princess ones we liked, but by now we'd seen them and decided that Chip and Dale were the best fit. And here's the best thing about these blankets: aside from being super warm and cozy, they have snaps on them so you can wear them like a poncho! And more snaps so you can wear them like a bolero jacket! Or you could use it like a regular blanket, or fold it up and roll it into the hood and use it as a cushion! So versatile! Japan comes up with the best stuff!
So there we were at the Trading Post, buying blankets and Danny plushes and a Danny pin, and I just couldn't contain myself anymore, I had to tell the cast member, "Kono eiga mimashita kara! (Because I've seen this movie!)" And his eyes grew big and asked, "So Dia tu Mai Haato?" that took me off guard, because I was sure he would say some Japanese title that I didn't recognize, but instead he just said the name in English. He immediately cleared up my confusion by explaining that So Dear to My Heart was never released in Japan. What! You have this adorable store dedicated to Danny the Little Black Sheep, and no one has been able to see the movie!? This cannot continue!!! So we came up with a brilliant scheme to order the movie on Blu-ray and send it to the Trading Post cast members along with our own Japanese translation of it (which very well might be garbage, because our E-J skills have yet to be tried, unless you count our conversations, which...let's face it). But the plan has already hit a snag (if you don't count our ridiculously packed schedule as a snag), because they haven't released that movie on Blu-ray, either! I was sure I saw some Disney Movie Club ad for that movie on Blu-ray... I wonder what the ad was for.
But anyway, we remain undeterred. When we find time, we'll work on translating it, and we'll figure out the movie format later. Maybe they can buy it on iTunes (we could, even while in Japan!), and surely someone in Japan has a Region 1 or region free DVD player. So someday...
Happy with our new purchases, we continued on our way to Adventureland...and saw two more kitties! Aaaaaahhh! I don't think I got a good picture of them because the camera was protesting again, but I assure you, they were adorable. We had time for one more ride, and the train was still running, and there were cast members outside who were very excited to let us know that, so we hopped in line. Cecille wasn't exactly thrilled about the idea, so when she saw that the Jungle Cruise was also still running, she suggested we do that instead, but those cast members were so excited, I didn't want to let them down. We hadn't gone on the Jungle Cruise earlier, mostly because it was very cold, and that plus the concept of translating jokes for Cecille (in the bitter cold) was a pretty powerful deterrent. I told myself it was okay, because it wouldn't be long before we came back to Tokyo Disneyland. Still, I felt bad now, because I didn't know that Cecille had any desire to go on the Jungle Cruise! Thinking back on it, she might have only suggested it because she thought it would be more interesting than the train, which she admitted later, she did not want to go on. But what she didn't know about the train is that it takes you back in time to see the dinosaurs, and she said earlier that her favorite movie is Jurassic Park, so hopefully that was enough consolation.
Then the park really was closed, so we reluctantly left. On the way out, I noticed for the first time that the tiling on the ground outside the store in Adventureland was laid out to look like Kaa from the Jungle Book, and that was the coolest thing ever, so I tried to take a picture...but the camera refused, so I didn't. And that's why I'm mentioning it here.
We made our way back to the train station, where he had to take one train for two stops before we could get on the subway back to Ikebukuro. There was a pair of very sweet girls who got on the train before us, but saw we were all together and so changed seats so we could sit together. So nice! And that's how we ended up sitting across from a guy with a Tinkerbell phone case (so we can be pretty sure he was there for Disneyland) who did not look unlike the famous voice actor Tomokazu Seki. Unfortunately, we weren't confident that he looked enough like him to justify saying anything, and besides, what would we have said anyway? Also, he had headphones in, clearly indicating that he wasn't really open to conversation.
Eventually we made it back to the hotel and went to sleep, looking forward to the next day's return to DisneySea.
That one turned out to be long, but it's all original (no links to previous posts)! And I finished up our day at Tokyo Disneyland.
Today I'm thankful for finishing our Livingstone translation, getting to encounter Stitch, our super adorable and warm and comfy and versatile Chip and Dale blankets, having our very own Danny plush, and getting to see the differences between Snow White's Scary Adventure here and Snow White's Scary Adventure there.