So now it's time to talk about the stuff we did at Disneyland on Wednesday. I know I mentioned Annual Passholder Days, but I'm not sure I ever explained what they are. Every week they had a theme, and there were three locations where annual passholders could go and get little treats related to the theme. First, we usually checked in at the Opera House on Main Street, to get wristbands for an episode of the Disneyland TV show, a lot like what they showed when they were doing Wednesdays with Walt. So much like it, in fact, that at least two of the episodes shown had also been shown at Wednesdays with Walt. Second, there was Blue Sky Cellar, where you could go color a coloring page that was (sort of) related to the theme, and pick up some recipe cards for dishes served at the park (also sort of related to the theme...at least at first, but not so much later).
Finally, there was Stage 17, where they'd show a cartoon and have a unique character meet and greet. The first week they had Jiminy Cricket (for "From Mickey to Main Street"), the second they had Baloo and King Louie (for...something with Adventure in it), the third week they had Roger Rabbit (for "Fantasy and FUN!"), and the fourth they had Baymax (and sometimes Hiro for Worlds of Tomorrow). We ended up watching the characters play around for a while because we always had to wait forever for the little cartoon to play, and it was neat, but the only characters we really wanted to get in line for were Hiro and Baymax, because we wanted them to sign our manga. Gaston said that was ironic because we had way more to do with the creation of that manga than the characters at the park did, and I hadn't thought about it in a while so by the time I remembered the real reason we wanted the autograph it wasn't a good time to explain. But the point is, whether or not the actors playing Hiro and Baymax at Disneyland had anything to do with the manga, they're technically supposed to be the real Hiro and Baymax, and duh we want the real Hiro and Baymax to sign our manga. But we think they weren't doing autographs anyway, and more importantly, the line was ridiculous, so we weren't too broken up about not sticking around.
Anyway, there were more important quests to be had. First, Gaston wanted to check on some trees at the Redwood Creek Trail. Apparently there's a species of redwood that, as far as anybody knew, only ever existed in California until it went extinct many years ago. But then! fewer years ago, they discovered the same species in China! And this was a very exciting thing because everybody thought it was extinct, and Gaston and his dad think it's so cool that they made sure to get some for their ranch or whatever it is that they have barn owls for. And wouldn't you know it, they have this tree right here at California Adventure! Two of them, even! And apparently this is astounding even though it makes perfect sense (at least, if I were making a little adventure trail based on the redwood forests of California, I would probably want to have all the kinds of redwoods there are, but on the other hand, considering the way Disneyland sometimes phones it in these days...).
So we went to go check on them, and sure enough, there they were, starting to grow new needles for the spring. And Gaston was so excited about the whole thing that he wanted to make sure all the cast members at the Redwood Creek Trail knew about it, so he went around spreading the good word of the dawn redwood.
But then!!! A random woman came along and muttered, "That's a bald cypress," indicating what we thought were the dawn redwoods, and walked away. Well now we have conflicting reports. What are we to do! Well, Gaston has a smartphone, so let's look it up, duh. And what we found is that dawn redwoods and bald cypresses are very difficult to tell apart! Tadah! We still don't know if the trees at Redwood Creek trail are really bald cypresses or dawn redwoods, but we do know that the Disney horticulturalists put a metal tag on each of the trees so they can keep track. In other words, somebody knows, but that somebody is not us.
The other main thing I wanted to talk about happened while we were taking a snack break. Gaston had a corndog and we had some ice cream nachos, and for some reason we started talking about Critter Country. We remembered that at Tokyo Disneyland, there's a whole critter village in Critter Country, with critter houses and everything, and I was pretty sure I'd taken a picture of them. So I took out my camera to see if I had any pictures that had a clear enough view of them (we looked through some pictures the other day, and a lot of them turned out blurry, boo), and the best one we came across showed Critter Country from a distance, as the train passed by. It was a view from Tom Sawyer's Island, so it was across the river. I showed it to Gaston, and he said, "Wait a second, that's the train?" And I said, "Yes...?" And he pointed out that it looks just like the concept art that was recently released, showing the changes they're going to make to our very own Disneyland Railroad as it runs along the Rivers of America. In other words, our Disneyland is copying Japan's Disneyland.
Actually, we've suspected this to be the case since we got back from Japan. It's mostly little things, but the other big one I remember is that they changed the Disneyland Band situation so now it is quite similar to the brass band situation in Japan. There's also the restaurants that have a forced-perspective castle on the roof to make it look like there's a real castle in the distance. (They haven't done this at Disneyland yet, but they built a Beauty and the Beast restaurant in Florida and it reminds us of the Queen of Hearts restaurant in Japan, which I remember seeing on our first visit.)
Of course, I couldn't blame Disney Parks in the States for wanting to be like Disney Parks in Japan, because Japan's Disney Parks are super awesome. But another thing we were noticing at Disneyland on Wednesday is all the places it seems like they're just not putting in the effort. We went on Pirates of the Caribbean (designed when Walt Disney was alive) and noticed that every living creature depicted on that ride is moving--even the chickens packed up in crates. On the other hand, The Little Mermaid ride has a ton of petrified fish. (To be fair, there are also petrified animals on Snow White's Scary Adventure, but The Little Mermaid is trying to be bigger and better and more advanced.) And the thing is, what really makes Japan's parks great is that you can see the same kind of love and attention to detail and willingness to work really hard to make it super awesome. And until you have that, no amount of copying their form (as opposed to their substance) is going to put you on that level of awesome.
And that's my soapbox for today.
Today I'm thankful for getting enough work done today that it seems reasonable to stop, Page's renewed interest in burrowing under blankets, having lots of leftover pizza to eat today, getting to see every week of AP Days, and AP Days being over (or close enough anyway).