Monthly Archives: January 2011

My Awkward Social Situation

Okay, so I’m new to this whole MYWTM blog and I haven’t actually worked out the best strategy for approaching social situations at the park. Do I tell people about the blog? Will they think I’m weird? Do I just try to act inconspicuous? What’s the proper way to handle direct questions when I’m doing something strange?

Well, I discovered the improper way of dealing with this the other day, in what I now call My Awkward Social Situation.

So here’s the setup. I went into the Emporium, the biggest shop on Main Street, to blog about (wait for it, wait for it) the Emporium. The plan was to take several pictures in the store and then a couple outside. All went well until I decided to get a little fancy-schmancy and take a picture of the shot glasses.

Yes, that’s right, taking a picture of shot glasses got me into an Awkward Social Situation, and not because I was talking about alcohol or anything. You will find out the reason why the picture of the shot glasses was important later on my actual post about the Emporium. Suffice to say that I had already walked in and taken several pictures around the store before approaching the shot glasses.

The shot glasses are at the registers, so when I went to get a direct shot there were 3 cast members standing there who had seen me wandering around taking the other pictures.

When I got near the shot glasses, one of the cast members said, “Oh, this must be your first visit!”

Of course it wasn’t, but I couldn’t think of anything to say in the moment, and by the next sentence out of the cast member’s mouth, it was too late to disabuse him of the notion.

“Here’s a First Visit button!”

My split second hesitation at the first statement locked me into what would only devolve into a series of increasingly uncomfortable exchanges. Because at that point, he had already given the button to Theo in his stroller. What was I going to say? “No, actually I’ve been here quite often, so I don’t need the button. I was just taking pictures of the inside of this store because, having been here a hundred times, I feel the deep need to permanently memorialize a store full of t-shirts and things to drink out of.”

Of course not. But I couldn’t think of a reasonable-sounding explanation for why I was taking these pictures and in my brain freeze, it just didn’t occur to me to tell the truth. I said, “Oh yeah! Yeah!”

Yes, that’s right, I lied to a Disneyland cast member. And I know what you’re saying because I’m saying the same thing:

WHY ON EARTH DID YOU LIE TO A DISNEYLAND CAST MEMBER???

I don’t know. I truly don’t. But that was my first instinct. All you armchair psychologists–go to town with that one.

Anyway, so now I’m there feeling terrible, AND I still needed the picture of the shot glasses.

I sort of panicked a little. It felt like it was too late to tell the truth because I would be totally embarrassed, but I didn’t want to leave without my picture, yet I didn’t want the charade to continue any longer. What to do? What to do?

I couldn’t think of a way to say, “hey, could you step aside because I really want to get a picture of these shot glasses for no reason that I can think of to tell you right now” so instead I said, “Thank you! Hey, I’d like to get a picture of all of you!” so I could have the shot glasses in the background.

Thanks! Bye!

That worked and I was proud of myself for another split second, until the awkward situation turned into a VERY awkward situation. The cast member handed me a Happy Anniversary  button, saying “Here, have a Happy Anniversary button.” Which…what? I was clearly there BY MYSELF with my child in a stroller taking pictures of the inside of a store. Does that look like someone who is celebrating an anniversary???

No. No it does not.

The situation continued to spiral out of control when the cast members, who had nothing else to do in the mostly empty store but talk to me, started asking questions. And since I had already lied about it being my first visit, there was nothing I could do to prevent what happened next…

Cast Member: How are you liking the park so far?

Me: Uh, it’s great!

Cast Member: Where are you from?

Me: Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, Northern California? [note, I lived in Northern California from 1999-2004. Not that that makes it better.]

Cast Member: That’s great! How long are you here for?

Me: Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, just the day?

The questions continued, as did my vague and increasingly dishonest answers, not to mention my sense of bewilderment (why am I lying???) and guilt. I knew I had to extricate myself from the situation ASAP, so I exaggeratedly looked at my watch and did the totally transparent, “Oh look at the time! I gotta go!” (and do what? Take more pictures of the insides of stores? Actually, yes.). Still, I walked out with a First Visit button (and another Happy Anniversary button). And I’m totally afraid of ever running into those cast members again and having them be like, “Oh, you’re vacationing here AGAIN? Just for the day?”

Yikes.

Theo summed it up perfectly:

Oh, there's something on my stroller?

Hmmmm, this doesn't look right

Lemme take a closer look

Mom, why does this say First Visit when this is TOTALLY not my first visit???

Good question, kid.

The worst part was that in my panic I was thrown off my game and missed taking a couple of pictures I wanted to take for my post, so y’all are just going to have to wait on that one. Sorry.

King Arthur Carrousel

You know, Facebook has made class reunions totally irrelevant, since you can now find all of the people you hated in jr. high and high school and then feel smug and superior at their sad lives all year, every year, instead of once every 10 years. Oh, and also, you can catch up with people you actually LIKED and see how they’re doing a couple decades later. Such is the case with my childhood friend Mari, who I last saw our freshman year in high school (she moved) and met up with again today at Disneyland!

My Year With The Mouse–bringing old friends together since 2011!

Anyway, it was a blast to meet up with new assistant MYWTMouseketeers: Mari, Mark, Emiko (age 6), Aiko (age 3), and Kaito (almost 1).

Doesn't this look like a fun group of MYWTMouseketeers? They are!

Today we decided to ride Theo’s favorite attraction: King Arthur Carrousel.

The first thing you should know about King Arthur Carrousel is that there are two R’s in the spelling. According to my vast internet research (about 3 minutes on Google), carrousel is an acceptable spelling variant of the more common carousel (as is carousal, carousell, and apparently some others–it’s an old word so you can probably make up your own spelling and it will still count). Now why did Walt pick the double R spelling? Hard to say. Disneyland.com doesn’t give an explanation. Some guy on the themeparkreview.com message board says that he thinks Walt called it a carrousel to distinguish it from the ones at carnivals he didn’t want Disneyland patterned after.

You can’t believe everything you read on the internet, but that sounds about as good an explanation as any, I suppose. I didn’t click to page 2 of the Google results so there may be a better one further in the list. If you have a definitive answer with a reputable source, I’d love to hear it!

Theo is a little dubious about that double-R explanation

The second thing you should know about King Arthur Carrousel is that it was built in 1922 (coincidentally, the same year our house was built!) and contains 68 white horses. Okay, that’s two things. Apparently the original carrousel (purchased from a park in Toronto) had other animals, but Walt wanted everyone to ride a white horse like King Arthur, so they rounded up (heh) some more white horses and ditched the rest of the animals. Perhaps that was when Walt also changed the spelling from carousel to carrousel. This whole paragraph is true fact (except that last sentence) straight from the Disneyland.com site, so you can believe that. The site also says that “many” of the extraneous non-equine  carousel carrousel animals were relocated to the Casey Jr. Circus Train. It doesn’t say what happened to the rest of them, but I like to think that they were all retired to a carousel wildlife refuge in Montana or something.

Or maybe you can just find them on eBay.

Anyway, the King Arthur Carrousel (you’re not supposed to use “the” with it, but it looks weird otherwise) is really a gorgeous ride. All of the horses are “jumpers” which mean that they all go up and down, because there’s nothing worse than getting all excited about getting on a carousel and then the ride starts and then you realize that your stupid horse is one of the ones that doesn’t go up and down. Well in King Arthur’s world, they all do.

Aiko was a little concerned that the horse would turn into a real horse once the ride started. She was relieved to find out otherwise.

Another cool thing about the King Arthur’s Carrousel is that it’s computerized to start and stop in the same spot each time. That’s very handy, and also ensures that every guest gets the same exact ride length, which is very egalitarian and très Disney.

We found Emiko right where we left her--in front of Pinocchio!

Even the tots can ride! Also, it’s extremely important for an adult standing on the ride to stand in between two horses. I learned this because apparently someone on our ride wasn’t doing this and the ride operator said THREE times to stand in between horses. Sometimes I wish they would just come out with, “Hey–you! Lady with the garish yellow shirt and bad 80’s hair! Get between the horses!” instead of just hinting at it several times.

Mark and Kaito demonstrate the two acceptable and safe riding positions: on a horse and in between two horses. Pay attention!!!

The nice thing about the Carrousel is that the line is usually pretty short. I don’t think we’ve ever waited more than one or two iterations for our turn. The stroller parking is also pretty straightforward. Just park and go.

Stroller parking is...pretty much anywhere.

So what’s the difference between a carrousel and a merry-go-round? Well again, Google gave me several opinions, the primary of which seemed to be that carousels have horses and merry-go-rounds have multiple animals or that carousels turn counter-clockwise and merry-go-rounds turn clockwise, but there’s also a significant amount of dissent on that front. The International Museum of Carousel Art, which seems quite trustworthy despite their unfortunate use of Comic Sans, states that the terms are completely interchangeable and there is no distinction. I’ll go with that.

MYWTMouseketeers queued up and ready to go!

Another nice thing about the carrousel is that it’s a great photo opportunity. It stands right across from the castle drawbridge so when you enter Fantasyland you go all “oooh” and “ahhh” at it. Makes for a great group picture.

Okay, everyone look directly into the sun!

The King Arthur Carrousel is not one of the special just-at-Disneyland rides at the park but it’s a solid good time for the younger set, and almost always a quick wait. Theo gives it two thumbs up.

I AM AN AWESOME PHOTOGRAPHER!!!

It’s A Holiday, Small World

So I’m not sure what the official name of the Small World Holiday ride is, but let’s just go with that.

It’s A Small World is a classic Disneyland ride. I can remember, as a child, loving Small World above all else. Dumbo too, but the Dumbo line is soooooo sloooooow. Anyway, yeah, Small World gets a bad rap because of the annoying song (I bet you’re singing it now–am I right?), but honestly it’s a really great ride.

A couple of years ago they revamped the whole thing, primarily because the average guest weighs more than they did when the ride opened in 1966. I’m not just being bitchy here. It was a real problem. The ride was designed with boats floating in a trough, carried along by nothing but the current of the water. As the guests got heavier, the boats sank further, and the current alone had a harder time moving the boats along. Seriously, your boat would kind of get stuck. And while it was a rather humorous bonding experience to be reaching out with the other guests and pulling yourself along the concrete walls, it was definitely Not A Disney Experience. I mean the only time you should be doing that kind of thing is on the Explorer Canoes.

So they shut the whole thing down, and while they were busy on the trough, they revamped the dolls as well. The New and Improved Small World featured two major changes: 1) more bouyant boats with a track to help them along when necessary, and 2) Disney characters added to the scenes. #1 seems self-explanatory. If you’re familiar with the “Little Tikes” brand of children’s toys, the boats are like riding in a Little Tikes boat. For #2, I was concerned this could go very, very badly, but they actually did a great job. It was things like subtley adding Ariel to the mermaid scene, or Aladdin and Jasmine flying overhead in the Persian scene. Tastefully done.

ANYway, so when it comes to holiday time, Disney completely transforms Small World into the Holiday Small World Extravaganza! (please say this with an Italian accent, and that’s not the actual name) They basically re-do every scene to turn into a holiday related theme. And not just Christmas, because Disney is all about Inclusiveness.  Additionally, if you hate the Small World song, here’s your chance–it’s now a medley of Small World, Jingle Bells, and Deck the Halls (which if you’re a pagan, you cannot possibly get more pagan than Deck the Halls). The outside also looks great.

The clock face is wearing a Santa hat! No, seriously--it's wearing a Santa hat.

Approaching the loading station, you see one of many strings of lights and bulbs. I’m fairly certain these garlands are directly from the 60’s, because the cellophane look is absolutely something I’ve seen in pictures from the era.

The jaunty hat is adorable too

Check it out--Santa is in the Eskimo scene!

Candles! And a Christmas tree with candles! And candles!

Can Can Can you ring in the new year?

I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO TAKES BLURRY PICTURES!!!

A dragon for Chinese New Year

Okay, really. Chinese New Year happens in like February, but I’m not going to fault Disney for being multicultural.

This one's better, but the light on my nose looks weird

It's Saint Lucia!

Peace On Earth--I can TOTALLY get behind that. And also behind the Little Tikes boat in front of us.

Also, Holiday Small World does this thingie on the outside that I call the “Psychedelic Nutcracker.” It’s kind of hard to describe, but every 15 minutes or so they show this film thing with flashing and colored lights and the facade lights up at different coordinated times and basically the kind of thing you don’t want to be looking at if you’re prone to seizures, and it’s to music, where one of the prominent songs is from the Nutcracker. Here is yet another example of my stellar photography skills.

I AM AN AWESOME PHOTOGRAPHER!

So basically that’s it. Holiday Small World. Don’t miss it.

Really.

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