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September 2007 Archives

September 1, 2007

The Main Street Electrical Parade!

Well, ok...make that Disney's Electrical Parade, now that it's at Disney's California Adventure and not Disneyland.

But it's still a "spectacular festival pageant of nighttime magic and imagination in thousands of sparkling lights and electrosynthomagnetic musical sounds!"

These days it runs at DCA during peak seasons, which generally means the two weeks around Easter, mid-June through Labor Day, and about three weeks during the Christmas holiday season.

We saw it on a recent Friday night visit - there were a fair number of people waiting in the area around Sunshine Plaza, but about 10 minutes before it started we walked up the parade route to a spot near the Golden Dreams Theater and had a front-row seat right on the edge of the parade route. We also saw the parade a lot earlier than all those people who were at Sunshine Plaza, since it starts at Paradise Pier and ends in Sunshine Plaza.

The Main Street Electrical Parade

Soon enough the lights dimmed and we heard the first strains of that very bouncy Baroque Hoedown. Makes me smile just thinking about it. The Electrical Parade is by far my favorite - SO much better than SpectroMagic! (And I know there's at least two people out there who agree with me!) Lee leaned over partway through the parade and asked me what happened to the scary clowns, but nope, there's nothing creepy about the Electrical Parade - it's all whimsical and fun.

The Main Street Electrical Parade

One thing we'd never noticed before is the music coming from the spin-around turtle, bees, and snail. They actually have their own "electrosynthomagnetic musical sounds", sort of a slower, deeper, more plodding-paced one for the snail, and a higher-pitched, faster snippet for the bee. I thought I recognized a bit of the melody for "Golden Afternoon" from Alice in Wonderland in there. For some reason I'd never really noticed the Cheshire Cat on the front of Alice's float - he fades in and out, so maybe he's just usually faded out when I see him!

The Main Street Electrical Parade

When I told someone at work that we'd seen the Electrical Parade he asked me if they'd switched it to using LED lights yet. Gasp! I was horrified! It wouldn't be the Electrical Parade if they didn't use light bulbs, would it???

Laura

September 4, 2007

Is it Possible to See Both the Disneyland Electrical Parade and the Remember Fireworks on the Same Night?

That seems to be a fairly commonly asked question...and the short answer is yes, if you're willing to accept a less-than-optimal fireworks view.

For those of you who aren't as familiar with the Disneyland parks...at Disney's California Adventure (DCA) Disney's Electrical Parade (DEP) begins at 8:45, and the Remember fireworks at Disneyland (DL) start at 9:25. That's a pretty tight time schedule, but since the two parks are right next to each other it's quite easy to go between them, at least under normal circumstances.

On a recent Friday night visit Lee and I decided to try to see both shows. First step was to see the DEP from some place closer to the beginning of the parade (which starts at Paradise Pier) rather than the end - we chose a spot near the Golden Dreams Theater, which is right next to a walkway that goes around Grizzly Peak and past Soarin' and then out to Sunshine Plaza. The last float of the DEP passed us at about 9:10, and we were off and running (well, ok, walking quickly, but many people tell us we might as well be running!). The parade was still going at Sunshine Plaza (it was about halfway through) when we scooted by and out the exit. (As we have Annual Passes we didn't have to worry about handstamps.)

I don't know if we just managed to get out early or if it just wasn't very crowded that night (or maybe a little of both) but we arrived at the entrance to Disneyland and there were only a few people in line at the turnstiles - we walked into the park at 9:21 and found a spot on Main Street near the candy store which had a clear view of the castle. Unfortunately it turned out not to have a good view of the fireworks - they were going off to the left of the castle instead of over it, and our view was blocked by a big tree. :-( Oh well. We had a good view of all of the changing lights on the castle and were far enough back on Main Street to really appreciate the perimeter fireworks that go off from the buildings on Main Street.

So, you CAN see both the Electrical Parade and the Remember fireworks in one evening, but you have to plan it right and get a little bit lucky with the number of people who have the same idea...and you have to realize that you won't get a great spot for the fireworks. As an alternative, we saw a number of people sitting in the Main Entrance Plaza between DCA and DL who were planning to watch the fireworks from there - but of course from there you can't see the castle or hear the music. I've also heard that the Mickey and Friends parking structure has a good view of the fireworks - though it has the same lack-of-castle-and-music issue.

Laura

September 8, 2007

Dinner at Hook's Pointe

Hook's Pointe is a "casual" table service restaurant at the Disneyland Hotel - as you can tell from the name it has a slight "Peter Pan" theme to it - there's a map of Never Land painted on the ceiling and some of the tables have views of the Never Land Pool area. It specializes in mesquite grilled meat and seafood.

Hook's Pointe dining room

Pomegranate Splash

On a recent Friday evening we had a 6:40 Priority Seating time - we arrived on-time and were seated immediately. Even though the restaurant wasn't crowded (and at no time during our meal were all tables occupied, or even close) we were seated at a table not with a view of the pool, but a lovely(?) view of the Croc's Bits and Bites snack bar next door. Our server Roberta quickly arrived to introduce herself and take drink orders - they have an amazing variety of cocktails (or "foofy drinks", as we call them). It had been a hot day and I wanted something crisp and refreshing and she recommended the Pomegranate Splash - which had pomegranate juice, cranberry juice, grenadine and several other things - and it was excellent.

Though the same could not be said for the water...we both opted for "regular" water instead of Pellegrino or some other fancy expensive bottled stuff - but it really tasted odd. Which is odd in and of itself, since water isn't supposed to have any flavor! It tasted a bit salty to us, though our server assured us that it was filtered.

Our server brought us a basket of warm sourdough bread - it was delicious! Crisp and crusty on the outside but soft and chewy inside with that yummy sourdough bite to it. I had to be careful not to fill up too much on the bread!

Inland Salad Crab dip and pita wedges

For our appetizers we split the Inland Salad - fresh greens with blue cheese, apples and candied walnuts and a delicious apple cider vinaigrette - and Hook's Crab Spread - a crab, spinach and artichoke dip served with pita bread. I'm not a big fan of crab and didn't really care for the latter, since it had a lot of crab, and I would've preferred more spinach and artichokes!

Pork Chop


I selected the River Boat Pork Chop for an entree - Kansas City pork chop grilled with a sweet balsamic sauce, braised cabbage and garlic smashed potatoes. I thought the pork chop was a bit dry and tough to cut, but the sauce was tasty, as were the mashed potatoes.

Mahi mahi


Lee ordered the Fish of the Day - Mahi-mahi that was grilled with Cajun spice and served with a couple of jumbo shrimp, mashed potatoes, fresh vegetables and a caper sauce. It was very good - the mahi was very nicely cooked and not dry or fishy-tasting (I often find that mahi tastes fishy to me).

Chocolate cake


For dessert I ordered the Year of a Million Dreams Chocolate Cake - this was a chocolate cake with five different layers of cake and filling. It looked delicious but it was strangely tasteless - I could barely discern any chocolate flavor at all in the cake or the fillings. It was pretty disappointing.

Chocolate chip cookie


Lee ordered the Fresh Baked Chocolate Chip Cookie - our server warned us this needed about 10 minutes to prepare since the cookie was baked to order. It's definitely worth the wait, though. Although square like a brownie the "cookie" was crunchy on the outside and still warm and gooey inside just like a fresh cookie should be. Yummy. It was served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce, with a cookie wafer "sail". And it was quite large - it would easily have been enough for both of us.

Overall I have to say that we were both underwhelmed with dinner - the food was fine, and the service was very good (much better than the Vineyard Room a couple weeks before), but there was nothing very special about the experience - it wasn't really any different than eating at an Applebee's (except for the price!). Actually my favorite thing about the restaurant was something they had for the kids - kids' meals came with a straw that had a light-up figure on it, with their choice of Tink (green) or Hook (red) - I wanted one of those!

There was nothing wrong with the meal, but it's not a place we'll return to anytime soon.

The menu is available HERE.

Bon appetit!

Laura

September 20, 2007

Quick weekend trip to Disneyland

I made a quick weekend trip to Disneyland and actually spent the night up there for a change - mainly because I was doing the Segway tour which started at 7:15 a.m., and would have meant getting up *really* early if I left from San Diego!

I met my friend Patty at my hotel on Saturday (Best Western Park Place Inn - more on that in a later blog), and she surprised me with a Disneyland birthday button! My birthday was the day before - I've never had a birthday button before. And it was fun - CMs at the turnstiles and in the park said "Happy Birthday, Laura!", and so did several guests, and I got singled out for some special attention by the Laughing Stock Company, and the Mariachi Divas over at DCA sang "Las Mañanitas" (the Mexican birthday song) to me and two other birthday people who were watching.

There were banners up at the parks (mostly where you saw them on your way out) advertising this year's Disney's HalloweenTime, which starts on September 21 - a week earlier this year. It was very festive last year, with great decorations! I hope to visit this weekend.

Now that summer is over the park is a lot quieter (even on Saturday it wasn't horribly busy, and it was a beautiful day - sunny and shorts weather, but a lot cooler than it had been in the last month!), and the Nemo line is down to something semi-reasonable - 45-60 minutes most of the time.


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I don't think I've mentioned this before - the "yellow submarine" monorail that they premiered at the Finding Nemo grand opening is still decorated and has been in use ever since the opening (though they removed the conning tower!) - it's really cute - we saw it zooming around a number of times.

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The construction of Toy Story Mania at DCA is beginning to take a more visible shape - as Patty pointed out to me the facade is taking on more of a Victorian look than the seaside amusement park look of the rest of the area. There's rumors that there are lots of changes coming to DCA (especially Paradise Pier) in the next few years, so maybe this is the start of it?

I saw the Remember fireworks at Disneyland that night from a spot near the castle where I could actually see the projections on the castle for a change. There's some really cool stuff - stars during the Main Street portion, flying spooks and hitchhiking ghosts during the Haunted Mansion section, skull and crossbones for Pirates, a moving duck target during the Frontierland Shooting Gallery bit (that's my favorite - it just quacks me up), crazy swirls for Toontown, "water ripples" for the Submarine Voyage, and a "light speed" pattern for Star Tours. I like that show more each time I see it.

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The next morning Patty and I did the Segway tour - but you can read all about that HERE. It was a lot of fun - I liked it even more than the Epcot Segway tour, I think.

While waiting for the tour to start I *finally* got a decent picture of the new cloud-patterned "CALIFORNIA" letters in front of the park - just in time for them to change to the Halloween candy corn, I'm sure!

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After the tour I wandered around the Disneyland Hotel taking pictures - and eventually found the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) sales office and models that are way on the far side of the Dreams (aka Bonita) Tower. I asked about the Grand Californian DVC, and they said they had no news on that...but it was finally announced earlier today. The press release is HERE.

Other news bits...

Ariel's Grotto at DCA will be starting a daily character breakfast on September 21, which runs through January 6. Breakfast will be served from 8:30 to 11:30 - $25.99 for adults and $13.99 for kids. Since the park doesn't open until 10:00, Cast Members will direct guests to the restaurant either from the main entrance or the Grand Californian entrance. Priority seating arrangements can be made up to 60 days in advance by calling Disneyland Dining: 714-781-DINE (3463).

And there's a new tour for the Halloween season - Disney's Happiest Haunts tour runs daily September 21-October 31. It starts at 6:00 at night and visits three attractions - Tower of Terror, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Haunted Mansion Holiday. From what one of the guides told us, each tour guide gets to assume the persona of a character of their choice - like a pirate, or a miner or a psychotic actress. The tour includes creepy stories, and it's not for young children or those who might be easily frightened. Lee and I are signed up for the tour on September 28, so we'll know more after that. In the meantime, what we know about the tour is HERE.

It was a short trip but a lot of fun!

September 22, 2007

Staying off-site - the Best Western Park Place Inn & Suites

bwpp4.jpg Earlier this summer I wrote a blog entry about staying on-site vs. off-site at Disneyland, and how there were certain advantages in proximity to staying off-site.

I had the chance to experience this for myself on a recent overnight trip when I stayed at the Best Western Park Place Inn & Suites, which is as close as you can get to Disneyland's entrance - the hotel is right at the crosswalk of Harbor Blvd that goes over to Disneyland's bus area and main entrance.

I was pleasantly surprised when I checked in just before noon on a Saturday and my room was ready! I put the parking permit on my car (good until 3 p.m. the day I checked out) and grabbed my bag and took it up to my third floor room. The hotel is one very long narrow building with external staircases and corridors, though there are elevators, too. Not much in the way of landscaping or grounds - it's either building or asphalt parking area. (Though as you'll see in a later photo, there were some potted plants on the edge of the walkways on the first floor.)


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My room was quite nice - much better than I was expecting, actually. Just inside the door was a small seating area with a sofa (which pulls out into a full-size bed), a table, chair and a lamp. Beyond that was the bedroom area with two queen-size beds, a desk and chair, wardrobe with television, and a good-sized refrigerator and small microwave. A closet with full-length mirrored doors held an iron and ironing board as well as extra pillows. The sink and vanity were outside the toilet/shower room - there was a lot of counter space on the vanity, which had a blow dryer and a coffeemaker. The shower head was nice and tall, and the shower curtain was one of the bowed-out "no touch" types. All the rooms had individual wall-mounted air conditioning/heating units. Everything was very clean and the carpet, tile, furnishings, bedding, etc. all looked fairly new.


The pool area is located in the center of the complex. Nothing special about the pool - it was on the small side for a hotel pool. There's also a hot tub there. The laundry room and vending machines are nearby. There's a small store in the lobby where you can buy sundries, souvenirs, and some food items.

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Wireless internet access is included, though I didn't bring a computer so I was unable to try it. There's also a free Continental breakfast available next door at Captain Kidd's from 6:30-8:00, but I had to be up and off early enough that I didn't check it out.

But the best thing about the hotel is its proximity to Disneyland. It took me less than 4 minutes to walk from Disneyland's main entrance to the hotel's entrance - and it only took that long because I had to wait about a minute for the light at the crosswalk to change. That's a lot closer than any of the Disney hotels - even the Grand Californian, where even if you cut through DCA it's still a little further than that.

It's not themed, and it's not Disney, but it was clean and comfortable - and very close to the parks. A good value for my money, and I'd stay there again.


September 25, 2007

Disney's HalloweenTime Returns

Disney's HalloweenTime returns to the Disneyland Resort for its second Halloween season - it officially started on Friday, September 21, though the decorations have been going up over the last several weeks. But it's not really official until Haunted Mansion Holiday opens, and on Friday Jack Skellington and the HalloweenTown gang returned for their 7th season.

I visited on Saturday - had to see what was new! Most of the decorations are the same as last year - the cute Halloween display along the tram route, big character pumpkins over the main entrance, the huge Mickey pumpkin in Town Square and the many jack'o'lanterns in the windows on Main street. You can see pictures from last year HERE and HERE.

The new addition this year is Goofy's Candy Corn Acres in Sunshine Plaza at Disney's California Adventure. "Sweetness and Sunshine in Every Bite." It's very cute - Goofy has been busy planting all sorts of kinds of Candy Corn - carrot candy corn, pumpkin candy corn, cactus candy corn, etc. Each is in its own garden patch with a sign identifying the variety. There's even candy corn kernels hanging from the palm trees!

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There's a stage where Goofy's prize-winning "World's Largest Candy Corn" is displayed...if you notice, it appears that someone has taken a bite out of it! Well, periodically Heimlich pops up and raves about how much he *loves* candy corn, before he disappears again.

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The stage is also the setting for some live entertainment - the show I saw was hosted by the Mayor of Candy Corn Acres (also the town's dentist, and he encourages everyone to eat lots of candy corn!). Chip and Dale, in their straw hats and neckerchiefs, were also on hand to help. Various audience members spun the wheel located up on stage to determine what games we were going to play - Candy Corn Bowling, where audience members used a candy corn bean bag to knock over some candy-corn colored bowling pins, Corny Jokes, where the audience had to answer candy-related riddles (What kind of candy can you make a shirt out of? Cotton candy.), and Wordscramble, where the audience had to come up with words spelled with the letters of "candy corn". Chip and Dale came up with acorn, of course. :-)

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Disney characters make frequent appearances there throughout the day - I saw Farmer Mickey, Minnie in her candy-corn-colored dress, and Pluto.

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Oh, and they've also changed the background music in that area - instead of classic California tunes, now it's all candy-themed songs - On the Good Ship Lollipop, The Candy Man, My Lollipop Tree, Sunshine Lollipops and Rainbows, etc.

It's a fun addition, and I have to say that there's no kernel of truth to the rumor that says it's all a plot, and that the area is a husk of its former self. You can't believe everything you "ear". :-)

September 28, 2007

Sweet Halloween Treats

When I was at the Disneyland Resort last weekend, I noticed that a number of shops and restaurants are featuring special treats for the fall season. Some of them are rather cute and clever, so I thought I'd share.

The Blue Ribbon Bakery at Disneyland and Baker's Field Bakery at California Adventure are both featuring these cute Mickey pumpkin muffins and cookies.

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I found the Mickey pumpkin cheesecake at Plaza Inn and the Pacific Wharf Cafe.

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These candy corn cookies (candy-coated, of course!) and pumpkin sugar cookies were at the candy counter in Greetings From California.

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The French Market, the restaurant located closest to Haunted Mansion Holiday, offers several creative desserts with the attraction's theme - like Jack (Skellington)-in-the-box chocolate cake.

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And several different desserts served in Zero's food bowl - from a selection of fresh fruit to a piece of blueberry or strawberry cheesecake decorated with your favorite trio of hitchhiking ghosts!

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They almost look too good to eat! (Notice I said "almost..." :-) )


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About September 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in September 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

August 2007 is the previous archive.

October 2007 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.