Rejon's 30th birthday was about as perfect a day as anyone could ask for.
It started at this British restaurant in Hiroo, Captain Cook,
which she'd been to for brunch once before
And ermahgerd, the decor is so warm, cozy and inviting,
and impressive all at the same time!
Since Rejon had made a reservation, we sat at a large corner table that had a windowed partition for privacy, though the little Japanese boys at the table adjacent didn't know that and we made godawful faces at each other off an on.
But, so, point is, look at this antler chandelier!
Even the soap in the bathroom was tasteful and imported, and they clearly couldn't resist making everything as freaking British as possible. Lost it at the Becks book.
Behold! Tea (with free refills, same as the simple coffee) and a soy cappuccino.
Birthday waffle! Look how excited she is!
Gluten-free French toast!
Small, definitely, and just one slice, but it was great to have the option.
And finally, NiQui looking cute with her classic English breakfast!
This is the only place I've been to in Tokyo that I would actually call "a nice restaurant", and I really want to go back before we leave, whenever that is.
And then it was onward, to the happiest (and coldest, Jesus!) place on Earth. Rejon made the wise call to get half-day tickets for a bit less, because going first thing in the morning would have just been stressful and very tiring. So, we got in line to enter at 3, and met up with Irena and Shogo a little bit after getting there. It's crazy quick from Tokyo and from the train station, by the way.
And - eee! These pictures don't do the main boulevard into the park justice, but it was truly a magical and festive sight to behold that brought out a sense of childlike wonder in us all and god damn do I sound like one of their resort vacation package commercials
Seriously though, it was absolutely lovely. Gorgeous.
Group pic! The mighty, towering Christmas tree of doom stretches the abilities of DSLR and smartphone camera alike.
Believe it or not, the park was not as crowded as we would have thought it'd be at all, considering that it was a Saturday during their Christmas Fantasy event and everything.
I do declare, Mr. Beauregard! This delightful pseudo-southern manor house-esque architecture is fixing to give me a case of the vapors!
We all took so many pictures of her standing like this, like a firing squad or something. It was pretty awkward. But for real though, she is clearly an extremely happy and cute birthday princess.
"This is pretty much exactly what I expected; all the classic Disney images, basically the same park and everything, but just with thousands of Japanese people swarming all over it."
The addition of Irena to the group was basically a huge upgrade, because, as it turns out, she's a Disneyland expert. Hugely entertaining and energetic, she's the only Australian diva on Japan's professional entertainment wrestling circuit, and she receives tickets to the park from her fans often enough for this to have been her 5th and final visit of 2016.
NiQui and I were in line for snacks while she and Rejon went to the other side of the park to see if there were any Fast Passes left. We were talking about her - all good things - and her expertise when, just as I was saying how inhumanly fast and efficient she was and how she knew precisely where to go for everything, she popped up out of nowhere right next to us and was just like, "Hey guys".
Our eyes widened and we looked at each other like, "Holy shit".
This is what all of the gift shops looked like. Just, you know, one rung under "violent chaos"
The attention to detail in the Coca Cola decorations was pretty impressive.
I mean, look at this winter-themed Victorian folding screen ad!
It reminds me of this wooden puzzle cube I have back home and loved growing up; it all stays together but you flip it and fold it in different directions to create charming Victorian Christmas scenes just like this.
Irena generously bought the hot dogs, fries, and Cokes, and when the three of us came out of the snack bar, Shogo was standing there casually in a fluffy Sully blanket shawl, eating popcorn out of a large plastic R2-D2 bucket hanging around his neck, and was like, "Hey guys".
"... Did.. Did you just buy those right now?"
"Hm? -crunch- Yeah."
"Hm? -crunch- Yeah."
"But.. Didn't you, like, just get here? When did you have time?"
"Oh, they're right over there. -crunch-"
"Oh, they're right over there. -crunch-"
Before introducing herself or even saying "Hi", Irena rushed over and started touching and looking over R2-D2, and talked of her mighty need to obtain the BB8 popcorn bucket.
This became one of the running themes of the day.
We squeezed into tiny cold spots on the pavement, balanced most of the food on one of my feet, and waited for the parade to start. Rejon's previous visit to Tokyo Disney was kind of a disaster and she didn't get to see it, so our hopes we high: everything she wanted was being fulfilled immediately, and it was still light outside.
I know they're hard to see, but I brightened all of these up as much as I could without making them look all wonky and washed-out; the candy cane dancers were soo pretty! We all wanted to grow up to be one, as little Japanese girls watching in the crowd lol.
The snow machine was also pretty neat, but the pace of the music seemed frenetic! We're not sure why it was so fast. You can see a few select clips of the parade (learned my lesson about videoing entire parades after the first time I did that, in Seoul..) at the bottom of this post.
Eee! The French Quarter decorations with the Mark Twain riverboat bellowing and spewing steam in the background! It was too cold for that shit, though; we didn't want to be high up on a slow and deliberate mini river cruise. Rejon was more than satisfied already and didn't even care; she was happy to just wander around and feel the magic and nostalgia.
We went over into Adventure Land, but the waits for rides were too long.
On the bright side, though, we did all get popcorn (the only proper meals that day were had at Captain Cook), and NiQui got the super cute Minnie Mouse bow-shaped bucket. Then Shogo and Irena started using the app that tells you how long ride wait times are, the sun set, the cold descended, and things started to get moving.
Okay, yeah, you know what, it was really pretty. And really fucking cold.
You probably noticed in that group pic that I was the only one without a proper coat, because I'm an idiot sometimes. Who was raised in the desert. Dx
But seriously though Shogo, we took like 10 group pics in front of the castle how did none of them come out?!
One of the best items I spotted in the gift shop we all spilled into for the warmth was this triple-spouted Alice in Wonderland teapot. Love it! The Nanoblock sets were also stupidly cute.
And then Irena told us of a glorious secret that I'm going to let you in on now, faithful readers few.
"Well, I don't think it's the same for Space Mountain, but you can go on Splash Mountain as a single rider, and basically just fly past everyone in line."
"What? Even without a Fast Pass?"
"Yeah. It's like the same thing, but we would all ride separately."
Okay, Splash Mountain at night is deeefinitely spoopy. Way spoopy.
We couldn't believe it worked. This mad woman, she actually did it; it actually worked.
NiQui and I were talking about how unexpected Disney problems with Irena were the best as we brought up the rear of the group, literally running to keep up as stunned and incredulous people standing in the mile-long line looked on helplessly. That must be how it feels to fly Business Class.
The inside of Splash Mountain is, you know, stylised to look like a mountain, so it was pretty dark and the not-sure-if-real stone floor was pretty uneven in spots, so our only problem was trying to avoid tripping as we ran. And then we burst out into the front of the line, were ushered into three or four different logs, and we on our merry way.
Yeah, I went for a couple of pictures inside the ride lol.
The part with the glowing blacklight beehives was super amazing, actually.
NiQui, predictably, made friends with all of the people in her log, and that terrified middle-aged woman next to me even made small talk. The combination of Disneyland and Christmas is magical; both make people friendlier. Can we weaponise this and spray it all over the planet as a fine sparkly mist or something? Good-naturedness? That would be great.
Because it's pretty pricey and was surely my only chance to go, I told the group that I just wanted to try to get on one ride, so I joined Rejon in her perpetually-smiling state of contentedness at that point. NiQui and Shogo, with their popcorn buckets, were already there. The only thing missing was BB8.
Early on, circa Parade Time, I had spotted a couple of kids carrying this adorable snowglobe-esque plastic lantern, which softly changes colours, and decided I had to have it. I'd asked Hannes for a little extra money in case I had the chance to get Rejon a slice of cake or keychain or something that I could say was from him, but when I got home late that night I was just like, "This is what I spent your money on, sorry". He hates it lol.
Irena and NiQui decided they wanted to do the Nightmare Before Christmas Haunted Mansion thing, and Shogo had helped me and Rejon find a bathroom - which he was amazing at, it was hidden in a dark corner and there was no line - while they powered over to it. When we got back we couldn't find them at all, though we knew they must still be somewhere in the long snaking line segment that was outside and within view. Incredibly, when Shogo and Rejon explained this to one of the staff members, he was full-on just like, "Okay, go ahead and go backwards up through the line until you can find a join them".
What sorcery is this?! I can't believe he let us do it!
And it was so awkward, we had to squeeze past so many people!
It was such a long wait mostly outside in the cold that I wondered why they had been so determined to go on this particular ride, but hey, everyone has a chance to live their dreams at Disneyland.
It was cute and unspectacular, though the visual effects were very impressive. The ghost holograms dancing in the ballroom were so lifelike, it was crazy. And look at this neat picture I snapped!
I'd wanted to go on Peter Pan, my favourite from when I was very small, but the line was too long, so we all finally caved to Irena's insistence that we go on Dumbo instead. This was after we had stood in line for Snow White for about ten minutes before having to choose something else because it had broken and gotten shut down temporarily.
Initially the line for the stupidly delicious-smelling chocolate popcorn (in addition to different buckets all around the park there are lots of different flavours) was also too long, so we were a bit stuck for several minutes, but ended up getting both: they fixed Snow White quickly, and we hopped back in line, even though Irena had been on a Snow White-hating tangent since Dumbo ("She's a dumb bitch! You know a witch is after you, trying to kill you, and you open the door for the first creepy stranger who comes to your house in the woods and let her poison you?!") and didn't want to ride it. She was a good sport about it, lol. And then, when we got off, the ride attendant told us in adorably broken English that "fire flower" is now. (花火, literally "fire flower" in Japanese):
That's right, we got to see the fireworks show.
And then we got the chocolate popcorn, too!
But it smelled a lot better than it tasted.. It wasn't actually very chocolatey :(
The glorious end to our Disney evening was the mad dash across the park to try to make it to Star Tours in time, because 9 o' clock was creeping up on us. I'd been singing its praises all day, especially once I'd found out that it's been overhauled to be a Star Wars ride instead of the random non-franchise 80's outlier ride I grew up with, and it was also the only thing Shogo actually wanted to do there. He had silently, patiently, fuzzily, crunchily waited for it all day.
Tomorrow Land was pretty cool at night, even though my phone pictures in the dark suck; the original 50's / 60's retrofuturistic design endures and remains stylish.
We were literally running for the ride because they were getting ready to clip the ropes into place and close it, when Shogo suddenly stops and is like, "Hey, isn't it here?"
I'm like, "What? No man, that's popcorn, come on, come on, we've gotta go!"
And he's like, "I mean, the BB8. They have the BB8 one here. Isn't that the one she wanted?"
We stopped running. "Aww, that is so sweet, that you're thinking of Irena and not of yourself at all! But hurry the fuck up, let's go!"
"Yeah, I'll just get it later or something!" Irena called, already far ahead of us.
They clipped the line shut a few people after us. Just made it.
And this cute little fucker, from Short Circuit! Or, wait, no, that wasn't Disney..
Anyway, the new ride is fantastic, and everyone loved it. It was really a thrill, and manages to successfully cram in loads of references from all seven Star Wars movies (Rogue One wasn't out yet at this point). I might've loudly said, "Fuck you, Jar Jar Binks!" in my excitement before realising that wasn't PG, but that's okay.
Now a nighttime one!
I sweat the duckface wasn't intentional, I'm just incapable of shutting up.
Takes a lot of dedication to show up in a coordinated group outfit this unattractive, lol
Naturally, we stopped in the last gift shop on our way out, after having scoped out and decided on what we wanted to get before.
And never forget, kids, that Woody is up there in the sky watching you masturbate.
Wait what the fuck.
I liked this particular poster and wished we could've ridden this great roller coaster, but we made it onto a total of 6, count 'em 6 rides, and we were all extremely impressed with ourselves. And Irena. Okay, mostly with Irena.
I got these cute chocolates in adorable festive tins and took them to Germany to share with Hannes' parents and friends. They were a big hit!
The detail was pretty impressive, and obviously the tins are for me. Don't touch them.
Those are mine.
All in all, a wildly successful, fantastic day!
And Rejon created a new meme for us when we were trying to make a democratic decision at one point; she put her foot down, wiggled, and said "My birth-day's more im-por-taaaant!"
Yes, yes it is.