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November 2008 Archives

November 2, 2008

2008 Tower of Terror 13K Race

As some of you might remember, Lee and I ran the inaugural Tower of Terror 13K last year, and were less than impressed with it. Just not very "Disneyish" by our standards.

This year, since we were going to be there at race time, we decided to run it again (I say "we", but it was Lee's idea!). And I have to say that they made a number of improvements and changes this year, and we enjoyed it much more than last year.

Package pickup was held in the brightly-lit rooms of the Coronado Springs Convention
Center, rather than in the much smaller, and quite dark, Pleasure Island Club like last year. It was very well-organized, with lots of helpful volunteers to point you in the right direction if you couldn't figure things out. I *did* think it was odd to have the pickup there rather than in the Boardwalk, which was one of the event's "official" hotels. Disney provided bus service to Coronado Springs from the official hotels, though we had our own car and didn't use that. (This year there were three Disney hotels where Disney provided transportation to/from the race - unlike last year where runners were told they had to provide their own transportation, which greatly contributed to the traffic problems before the race.)

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While we were at pickup we spoke for a while to a man who is very involved with staging the race. He told us that they had addressed a number of guest comments/complaints this year, like transportation problems and lack of entertainment.

We relaxed that afternoon and picked up a couple of sandwiches at the Boardwalk Bakery that we could eat as an early dinner. We finally left the room about 9:00 (the race started at 10:00), since all we had to do was walk over to the race area from the Boardwalk - no bus or car transportation required!

They had a lot more theming in the pre-race area this year - to enter the area you went through this tent-covered red carpet entry. That was fun.

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There were several large "Guest Register" signs set up where you could sign your name.

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They were giving out some kind of "room key", but we didn't arrive in time to get that - I'm not sure what it was. If anyone out there knows, please let me know!

Another fun thing they had were temporary tattoos of the race logo. I got one on my arm. It's actually held up very well - as I'm writing this it is the following Friday (the race was Saturday) and it still looks good and hasn't peeled off at all. (I had co-workers looking strangely at my arm when I got back to work yesterday, though - you could just see a little bit of the tattoo under my short-sleeved shirt. I was happy to show it off, though. :-) )

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The bag check area was called "Luggage Services". This year Disney Security was actually checking all of the bags that were being checked - something they did not do last year. I think people probably brought alcohol in to the party last year and they were looking for that.

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There was a DJ dressed as a bellhop that was providing entertainment in the pre-race area.

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There was no 6.5K this year - just the 13K, so there were fewer people in the starting area. The race had ~3500 entrants, with 2725 finishers. There were no start corrals, and we were supposed to line up according to pace at the signs provided, but unless you got there early you couldn't actually get to any of the faster paces. We were stuck out by the 15 minute/mile pace group, even though we run a 10-11 minute/mile pace.

Like last year, the starting line entertainment was a couple of bellhops, but even with the big screen we could barely see them, much less hear them. The music was a LOT better this year - last year it was pretty harsh stuff. I couldn't tell you what it was they played this year, but it was better! :-)

The weather conditions were also a huge improvement over last year - the temperature was about 70-72, but there was a bit of a breeze and the humidity was way lower than last year - I think last year it had to be close to 100%, but I'm guessing it was in the 60-70% range this time. Still warmer and more humid than I like it, but at least this year it didn't feel like I was trying to breathe underwater!

There were no race delays this year, and the race started right on time. As usual, we spent the first couple of miles dodging around walkers and slower-paced runners, but after that the congestion eased up.

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Like last year, part of the course was on a dirt road (which we found out was part of the cross-country trail at Wide World of Sports), but unlike last year it was well-lit and dry. They had obviously dumped some gravel/dirt on it recently and that helped with the footing. They also abandoned the "insane asylum escapees" portion that they had there last year. Though they had some other surprises, like these scary-looking "twins" near Mile 3 in the Wide World of Sports complex.

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We got to take most of a lap on the cushy running track, where there were unseen spectators (spectral spectators?) in the stands cheering as we ran by.

There were three water stations - approximately Mile 2, Mile 4, and Mile 6. All were well-staffed with plenty of volunteers.

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We were on a boring section of road after coming out of the Wide World of Sports complex between miles four and five, when we came upon the Disney characters. And even better, Disney Villains!!!! This was one of my main complaints last year, so I was really happy to see that someone had gotten that message!

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In addition to the characters, there was other entertainment along the course - a couple of bellhop DJs, go-go dancers, plus Dr. Bones. :-)

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The course was basically the same as last year, so we came back into the Studios at about mile 6.5 and went down Hollywood Boulevard and onto the Streets of America, then back into the Lights, Motors, Action stage, where they had the camera on us so we could see ourselves on the big screen. From there we were on part of the Backlot Tour route, including the section that goes through the costuming "tunnel" - whew, it was really hot and smelled like diesel fumes in there! We were both getting pretty tired and having to push it in this last mile, but we made it down Sunset Boulevard and back behind the Tower of Terror and then on to the finish. We bested last year's time by two minutes - finished in 1:27:27 this year, despite the stop for character photos. We were both glad it was over, though!

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The finish area didn't seem to be quite a congested this year - or maybe it's because there were fewer people (since there was no 6.5K this year). After we got the timing chips cut off our shoes, got our Tower of Terror medals, and got our photo taken, they gave us bottles of PowerAde and water, plus a Halloween-themed cellophane bag containing a banana, an orange slice, a couple of hard candies, and a blueberry muffin.

We claimed our bags and had something to eat. Like last year, this post-race area was backstage behind Rock'n'Roller Coaster, but this year it wasn't such a struggle to get out of there. We'd brought clean clothes to change into, and that felt pretty good. The temperature outside was still quite pleasant for t-shirt and shorts.

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There were a number of attractions open at the Studios during the post-race party, but the only one we really cared about was Toy Story Mania! We had less than 10 minutes to wait the first time, and immediately got in line again, and waited ~15 minutes the second time. After two rides in fairly short order our right arms were really tired (rapidly pulling the string on the gun apparently uses muscles we don't normally use!) and the line was even longer, so we decided to head back to the hotel. It was about 12:45 by then. The post-race party at the Sorcerer's Hat had already wound down, even though the park was open until 2 a.m. They had posted the results there, but we knew we could check them on-line the next morning, so we didn't bother taking a look.

It was kind of a long walk back to the Boardwalk - our legs were pretty tired!

Overall this was a much better experience than last year - much more enjoyable. I appreciated the thought they put into adding some activities and interest to the pre-race area. And I know people enjoyed the tattoos - I saw them on legs, faces, arms, and even on the back of a bald guy's head!

Loved, loved having the villains on the course! That was a very unexpected surprise, and SO appropriate for the theme of the race. The three lady face characters (Evil Queen, Cruella, and Maleficent) were all appropriately haughty and snarly and pleasantly unpleasant. One thing that *was* missing was a Disney Cast Member to take photos, so we don't have any of the two of us with the characters.

Being able to ride Toy Story Mania during the post-race party was a lot of fun, though the lines were longer than I would have liked - probably means they were correspondingly shorter at Rock'n'Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror, which we didn't ride during the party.

I would've liked them to do a better job separating the runners from the walkers - the pace group idea didn't work. I thought that last year they asked walkers to stay near the back for the start, but if they did that this year I couldn't hear it - and obviously lots of walkers didn't hear it, either.

Disney made a lot of improvements in the race this year and I think it was a much better event - it had more of the "Disney touch" that was missing last year. And I want to say a huge thank you to the tremendous volunteers - so many came out to hand out water, point us in the right direction, cheer us on, hand out food or medals, cut timing chips off shoes, and a whole myriad of other tasks that were required to make it safe and fun for the participants. Thanks to all of you!

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November 16, 2008

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - Days 7-8

(This is what happens after you get home from vacation - it takes a long time to get back and finish that trip report!)

So Tuesday we started our day at Animal Kingdom. A cold front had moved in and the weather had turned chilly, even though it was sunny - the high was 63 that day, and it was breezy, so it felt very cool.

We sent Lee to get Fastpasses for the Safari while Jim, Sherry and I had breakfast at Pizzafari. It's not Tusker House but it's not bad - and they still have the giganto cinnamon rolls that Tusker House used to have. It was nice and warm in there, too. :-)

After breakfast, once again we headed off from Harambe on our two week safari. And once again those blasted poachers messed it up for us. Sigh.

We had a really excellent safari, though - Jim and Sherry were really good luck on this trip! A great variety of animals and many of them available for photographs. We saw this mama and baby elephant...awwww.

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Lots of animals on the savanna, too, and several rhinos, and we could even see three cheetahs! I've never seen them sitting up the way they were - unfortunately I was on the wrong side of the jeep and didn't get a photo. But we also saw the lion posing majestically - he was actually awake!

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Our friend Kenny collected our Fastpasses when we went through the line for Expedition Everest - it was fun to see him. Sherry and Jim were sitting behind Lee and me, and Sherry saw us with our arms up and yelled "You're crazy!!!" :-) She managed to keep her eyes open on the second ride, though.

We said goodbye to Animal Kingdom and went back to the Boardwalk and on to Epcot for a last day of eating around the world. I think it's really best to visit the Food and Wine Festival during the day on weekdays - it's not nearly as crowded, as you can see from this photo.

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Sherry had requested another meeting with Crush, so we headed off to the Seas pavilion. Went in through the gift shop so we didn't have to do the clamshell ride again. We had to wait a few minutes for the show - Sherry amused herself by playing one of Mr. Ray's quizzes. The show was fun - I think this Crush didn't have the accent down quite as well, but was a little better at the improvisation. He went over to a little girl and asked her name, which apparently freaked her out and she started crying and went to find her parents. He looked up and said "I totally did not mean for that to happen". Duuuuuuuude. :-)

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I wanted to visit the Festival Center (over in the old Wonders of Life pavilion) so we went over there. It's sad to see everything shutdown in there.

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We wandered around looking at the gift shop items, and I had a glass of the Prosecco (a mildly fizzy wine - not as bubbly as champagne). It was a little dry for me - I prefer the Martini and Rossi version.

There were no food or wine demonstrations going on while we were there - in fact there were no food demos at all that day. They had some nice areas set up for them, but with everything so close together I can see where it would get noisy, as Deb Koma and others have commented.

Outside one of the demo areas they had this paper display set up - I thought it looked neat.

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Oh, one thing that struck us...before we left we went to the restrooms...notice anything different about this sink?

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If you said "You have to turn it on yourself!", DING, DING, DING - give yourself 10 points! It was very odd to see that - I hadn't had to turn on a sink in a public restroom all week - even the airport restrooms are automatic now. Speaking of which...Disney should find out who supplies the automatic faucets for the Atlanta airport and change over to those - they put out a really nice stream that doesn't splash all over the place like too many of the Disney ones do.

Let's see...we took Jim and Sherry into Club Cool, but we couldn't get them to try Beverly. Lee even tried saying how good it was, but they read the description, and got to "bitter" and said "No thanks!" :-)

So then it was time to do some more eating around the world again. Lee tried the Spicy Beef Empanada from Chile, and he enjoyed that.

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Then we popped into the Mexico pavilion to take a ride on "it's a small mexico"...I mean the Gran Fiesta Tour. We'd warned Jim and Sherry that it was pretty lame - they vaguely remembered the old version from their trip 18 years ago. Apparently it was a much rougher voyage than usual, because someone in the boat in front of us got seasick - we got stuck and had to wait within sight of the dock for about 5 minutes while they cleaned that up. That boat was taken out of service! Ewwww.

We kind of wandered around World Showcase trying various things - some that we'd had before, and some that were new. I tried the Durban Spiced Chicken on a Skewer with coconut milk-infused root vegetables, which was pretty good - though I can't say I tasted the coconut milk!

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I wanted to try the three-cheese plate at The Mouse Catch, but they were out of the Dorothea cheese from Holland, so I had the Asiago from Italy and the Manchego from Spain instead. (They had these same cheese selections in the Festival Center - but they were more expensive there!)

Since it was still a chilly day, Jim thought the idea of something warm, like the Seafood Gumbo sounded good. Warm *and* spicy. :-)

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I got another lamb slider from New Zealand - that was one of my favorites. Lee and Jim had some more beer from the Sam Adams booth. We saw Miyuki, the candy artist in Japan. She wasn't nearly as animated as usual - it looked like she wasn't feeling well. :-( Her creations were still beautiful, though.

It was still chilly, and the sun was going down so we headed inside to see The American Adventure. Always a good show. For dinner we went to the fish and chips place at the UK, though I had to go to the beer place next to Rose and Crown to get my favorite Woodpecker Hard Cider. British Invasion was performing and lots of people were watching so there was no place to sit - we walked down to Off Kilter's stage and used the benches there, since they weren't performing that day.

Jim and Sherry decided to head back to the room after that to get out of the chill, while Lee and I made another trip around World Showcase. I wanted to try the Milk Chocolate Creme Brulee in France. They had a chocolate creme brulee several years ago that was awesome. Unfortunately this one didn't measure up - I couldn't taste any chocolate in it at all. Very disappointing.

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On our way around World Showcase I also bought a cheese plate from Ireland - it comes covered with plastic wrap, and I thought that would make good airplane food the next day (and it did, though I took out the chutney before I traveled with it!).

It was getting too cold for me, too, so we also headed back to the Boardwalk. Since I'd been so disappointed with the chocolate creme brulee, I consoled myself with a piece of chocolate mousse cake from the Boardwalk Bakery. That was MUCH better! :-)

Wednesday morning we had to get up and get to the airport early enough that going to a park was out of the question. We thought we'd have a nice breakfast at Spoodles instead, since we'd enjoyed the one earlier in the week. We had a pretty awful server, though. First we didn't see him for almost 10 minutes, and then once he showed up at our table he put his pad down on the edge and basically said "Whaddaya want?" (He didn't actually say that, but that's pretty close.) No "good morning, sorry for the wait" or any kind of pleasantry. We had to point out to him that we only had two coffee cups on the table and he sort of stomped off to get two more. Now, he *did* have several tables at once and he seemed a bit overwhelmed, but still.

Fortunately the kitchen was efficient (and fortunately it was not our server in charge of delivering our food to the table!), so that part went ok. And once the people at two of his other tables left he was a little more attentive and pleasant. Still not Mr. Personality, though. I had the waffle and Lee had the French toast, and I think Sherry also had the waffle and Jim had "The Italian" - two poached eggs on top of toasted focaccia with Italian sausage, tomatoes, peppers, onions, parmesan cheese, diced potatoes and fresh tomato sauce.

One our way back to the Boardwalk we stopped at the lobby to get our boarding passes - unfortunately they weren't able to give Jim and Sherry the passes for the third leg of their flight, but we got ours ok. It would have been very easy to check our bags, too, but we weren't quite finished packing by then, but we'll keep that in mind for the future - it would be very nice to go to the airport and just head straight for security. Especially since I've seen the bag check lines be *really* long. Fortunately we didn't have that problem this time.

Our flight was about an hour earlier than Jim and Sherry's, so we said goodbye to them at the Delta counter where they were still trying to get their boarding passes straightened out, and went to our gate. We had a good flight home - we had a newer 757 on the Atlanta->San Diego flight, and I was able to play trivia again. I didn't have much competition this time, though, so after posting several high scores I retired. :-)

It was a great trip - we survived the Tower of Terror 13K, got to do Toy Story Mania 4 times, ate our way around the world, had a great time at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, had two animal-filled safaris, had great dinners at Jiko and Marrakesh, enjoyed at lot of good wines at City Tastes - Spain, Soared over California, talked with a turtle, and had a blast sharing a place we enjoy so much with good friends.

Oh, by the way, I found my watch - it turned out that it was in my trick-or-treat bag! When stuff started flying out of the basket and the bag towards the end of Space Mountain I was grabbing in the dark and throwing what I thought was candy into the bag. Well, obviously I grabbed my watch and an AA battery and threw them in the bag, but didn't find them until I opened up the candy bag a couple days after we got home. :-)

November 22, 2008

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - Food Booth Review

Ok, so for yet another Festival we didn't make it to *all* the food booths...but since there were four of us we tried a lot of different things.

Favorites:
Laura: Lamb slider (New Zealand), Chilaquiles (Mexico)

Lee: Chorizo Quesadilla and Chilaquiles (Mexico), Kielbasa with Potato Pierogi (Poland)

Sherry: Wild Mushroom Soup (Poland), Boston Crab Cake (Sam Adams), Pot Stickers (China)

Jim: Beer, Leek and Goat Cheese Quiche (France), beer, Seafood Gumbo (Louisiana) (and did he mention the beer?)

What we tried:

Cheddar Cheese Soup - This is one of Lee's favorites every year, and Sherry enjoyed it, too. A little too rich for me, and a small serving for the price ($3.25).

Maple Glazed Salmon with Roasted Corn and Arugula - Another offering that Lee has every year. I find the smell of the salmon cooking as you walk by to be unpleasant. The roasted corn and arugula salad served with it was good.

Boston Crab Cake with corn and barley salad - Lee and Sherry enjoyed these - lots of crab and not so much cake (which is why I *don't* like them!).

New England Lobster Roll - Expensive at $7, but it's pretty good-sized. Sherry and Jim enjoyed it.

Cajun Crawfish Etoufee - Jim said this was quite good, and a bit spicy. (He got and ate this while Sherry and I were watching Serveur Amusant, so I didn't get a picture.)

Seafood Gumbo (shrimp, crab and catfish stew) - ditto.

Praline Bread Pudding with Bourbon Caramel Sauce - Lee loves bread pudding, and he enjoyed this. (Ditto on the no picture explanation.)

Grilled Beef with Chimichurri sauce - Lee also enjoyed this last year. I can't eat the beef, but the potatoes that come with it are good.

Spicy Beef Empanada - I think Lee had these two different times.

Chilaquiles (baked tortillas with chicken and cheese) - A perennial favorite! Very tasty (I like the mildly spicy green sauce) and a generous serving for $4.00. We all enjoyed this one.

Quesadilla con Chorizo (spicy sausage and cheese tortilla) - Lee enjoyed this one, too.

Quiche au Fromage de Chevre et poireaux (goat cheese and leek quiche) - I liked this one - it had the nice goat cheese tang. I couldn't taste the leeks, though.

Creme Brulee Chocolat au Lait (milk chocolate creme brulee) - Chocolate? WHAT chocolate??? I couldn't taste any - this was very disappointing.

Apple Strudel - You'd think for $2.75 they could give you something a little bigger.

Spanakopita - Sherry and I tried these - she liked it, but it was a little too "spinachy" for me. Too much spana, not enough kopita. ;-) (And no picture because it was the first thing Sherry and I had that first evening, and we were starving!)

Boxty with bacon chips and Kerrygold garlic and fresh herb butter - Basically a potato pancake with onions cooked in butter. LOTS of butter. I think this has no redeeming qualities whatsoever - but it was really good.

Irish Cheese Selection (Reserve Irish Cheddar, Dubliner and Ivernia Cheese) with Apple Chutney and Brown Bread - These were excellent - I couldn't tell you which cheese was which, but Sherry seemed to know - she and Jim especially enjoyed the Dubliner. I thought they were all good!

Cream Puff with Mascarpone and Gianduja Chocolate - Sherry tried this and said it was very good - so good that I don't think she even offered to share... :-)

Chilled Tomato and Garlic Soup - Pretty much like the description. Not bad, but there are other things I enjoyed a lot more.

Creamy Wild Mushroom Soup - Sherry tried this and said it was good, even though it doesn't look very appetizing!

Kielbasa with Potato Pierogies with caramelized onions and sour creme - I think we all tried and enjoyed these - we had them at least twice. I ate the pierogi and onions and gave the kielbasa to Lee.

Pastelon de Amarillo (beef and yellow plantain casserole) - Jim and Lee enjoyed this, and at $2.75 for a very generous serving it was a bargain!

Cheese: Asiago Pressato, Italy, Manchego, Spain - Not as good as the Irish cheeses, but still tasty.

Durban Spiced Chicken on a Skewer with coconut milk-infused root vegetables - They were a little skimpy on the chicken, but it came with a nice serving of the root vegetables. I didn't taste any coconut milk, though.

Samosa with Tamarind Sauce (spicy pea and potato pastry) - A little bit of a kick, but very tasty!

Shrimp in a red curry sauce over rice - Jim and Sherry tried this - good, but nothing they raved about.

Mango Mousse - Lee ate most of this one...mostly what I remember about it is that it was very sweet.

Spicy Tuna Roll - Sherry enjoyed this.

Chicken Sha Cha - It seemed like a larger serving than I remembered in past years, and was flavorful and not dry.

Pork Pot Stickers - Sherry especially liked these.

Bay Scallops with baby greens and cranberry vinaigrette - This was not quite what Lee and Sherry were expecting from the description - it was a salad with pieces of scallops. The salad part was good, and it's always nice to see something green for a change!

Lamb Slider in a brioche roll - One of my favorites every year. They were fairly generous with the lamb this time.

Pepperberry Prawns on the barbie with sweet potato hash - Lee and I enjoyed this - the prawns had a nice flavor and the hash was good, but there wasn't very much of it.

Overall Impressions:

It was nice to see the food booths spruced up and painted a little bit differently this year, to go with the Cities in Wonderland theme. (And if you click on that link you'll hear our friend Paul do his "Tables in Wonderland" line. :-) )

I thought the prices were fairly unchanged from last year, and there were definitely several items that provided large servings at a low price. (Of course there were also a few I felt were overpriced.)

The food quality seemed quite good to me - in previous years we've gotten chicken and other items that were dry from sitting around too long, but we didn't have that issue this year.

I was disappointed in the dessert offerings - there was nothing that wowed me. Most of the desserts I didn't even try because they weren't appealing. And the milk chocolate creme brulee was especially disappointing.

That's about it - we're already looking forward to eating our way around the world next year!

(Note to self: For future reference do NOT write about food before lunchtime...I'm starving!!!)

November 23, 2008

The Holidays are back at Disneyland!

The holiday season at Disneyland officially began Friday, November 21, and my friend Kristin(e) and I spent the day there seeing what was new and different - and what was missing. Of course the major "new" thing was the reopening of "it's a small world" after a very lengthy rehab that started in late January. The holiday season at Disneyland usually starts a week to 10 days earlier than it did this year - my theory is that the opening of "small world" delayed it this year.

I took tons of photos, and could write in a lot more detail but I'm only going to hit the highlights here - hopefully I'll have time to do some more in-depth reviews later.

There's new snowflake designs over the entrance turnstiles - they look even better at night.

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First thing we did at park opening, of course, was hot foot it back to "it's a small world". There was a short line, but we didn't wait long. It really does look shiny and new!

Here's one of the new boats - I think they are narrower than the old ones. The rows seat 2-3 maximum - the older boats could get 4 in the middle rows.

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From what I could tell the attraction, at least in its holiday configuration, hasn't changed very much. The Disney characters have not yet been added - I think that is supposed to take place after the holidays. There are a number of small changes throughout, but maybe I'll get to that in a later blog.

I only noticed two big changes:

The first was in the Hawaii/Polynesia/Australia room, where the rainforest scene has been added to the end. This link will take you to a larger picture.

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The second was in the final room, where there's a huge sun at the end of the room.

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When we exited, the line was still fairly short, so we went again - we knew it would just get longer as the day went on! The clock went off while we were waiting in line the second time - wow. The figures look brand new - so bright and shiny!

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They seemed to be having a slight problem with the water flow - at the same point in both of our rides (going into the last room, I think?) we really slowed down to a crawl - and neither of our boats was overloaded at all.

And then we continued on our holiday tour around the rest of the park...Toontown is once again decorated for the holidays.

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And Santa's Reindeer Roundup is back at Big Thunder Ranch. The reindeer (all 8 of them!) were looking groomed and beautiful. We arrived during a performance of a magic show in the stage and watched the rest of that - lots of sleight of hand and prestidigitation. A number of audience members, both kids and adults, were called on stage to participate. It was a lot of fun.

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The decorations are up in New Orleans Square also - that's always one of my favorites. And of course Haunted Mansion Holiday is still running - we took a ride on that.

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Critter Country is also looking its usual festive self - I'm always a little surprised they do as much decorating there as they do, since it's not as popular as most other areas of the park. We stopped into Pooh Corner to see what kind of holiday treats they might have there - really not too much, actually. A candy apple snowman and chocolate-covered snowman marshmallow on a stick was about it.

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The castle has its icicles and dusting of snow - never mind that it was almost 80 degrees. :-)

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We headed over to DCA for a while. The candy-cane striped "California" letters are back in front of the entrance, and the wreaths and garland adorn the Golden Gate Bridge. But what happened to Santa's Beach Blast??? Sunshine Plaza looks strangely bereft and unadorned. That wasn't the only thing missing - the garlands that normally adorns P.T. Flea and the Farmer's Market was also gone, as was any kind of decoration on the buildings in the San Francisco area, though the building-formerly-known-as-Golden-Dreams was decorated.

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The tree is in its usual spot near the entrance to Paradise Pier.

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The city sidewalks, busy sidewalks, were dressed in holiday style in the Hollywood Studios area.

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And Flik's Fun Fair had the normal oversized ornaments and lights, though the Santa "pencil eraser" was gone.

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We went back over to Disneyland to see the first showing of the Christmas Fantasy parade - got a nice spot on the curb in Town Square, where we were almost at the end of the parade route. It's pretty much the same, though there's a new Toy Factory float this year, replacing the previous one. It goes along with the building block theme they have for Buzz and Woody's floats.

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The Times Guide, which covers Friday through next Thursday, actually has NO times listed for the castle lighting, tree lighting, or "it's a small world" lighting. We asked a Cast Member, who had times in his guide for the "small world" lighting (4:57 p.m.) and the tree lighting (5:00), but nothing for the castle. Hmmm. We went back to "small world" for its lighting ceremony - there was an annoucement on the street and a short countdown, and all of the lights went on. Ooooh...ahhhhhh. :-)

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I think the colored lights on the topiary animals are new - or at least I'd never notice them before.

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We waited there another 20 minutes to see the holiday projection sequence - the first one of those was about 5:20 - they take place about 5 minutes after the clock chimes each quarter hour.

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We went back to Main Street to see if the castle was lighted yet - nope. Asked another CM, who thought it might not be until after the fireworks (which started at 9:25), but then we heard a passing guest say 5:30. So we waited a few more minutes, and sure enough - the lights started twinkling and coming on at 5:30. There was a very short soundtrack that went with it - a conversation between a mother and child about snow. It's still really beautiful this year! I think there are some additional effects on the buildings on Main Street, but we didn't see those - did see the trees behind us in the hub light up, though.

xmas08_castle10.jpg

That was the end of our day and we headed home. It was another great day!

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About November 2008

This page contains all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in November 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

October 2008 is the previous archive.

December 2008 is the next archive.

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