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April 2009 Archives

April 1, 2009

Disneyland - Miscellaneous Observations

Just some notes and observations on some things going on or upcoming at the Disneyland Resort.

As I posted in my recent blog entry, the new Celebrate! A Street Party opened on March 27. This not a traditional parade - it's more of a traveling dance party with three performance stops, so getting a good viewing spot is a little more of a challenge.

The Celebration Roundup and BBQ at Big Thunder Ranch opens on April 2.

According to Disneyland.com:

"Want to do something out of the ordinary to celebrate your special occasion? Have a cowboy-style party in the spirit of the Wild West!
* Authentic Western favorites like barbecued ribs and chicken, corn on the cob, beans, cole slaw -- and a surprise dessert
* Delightful live entertainment
* Disney Character appearances
* A Critter Corral"

Priority seating can be made by calling Disney Dining at 714-781-DINE (3463).

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique opens in Fantasyland on April 17 at the site of the former Once Upon a Time shop behind the castle. Call 714-781-STYLE (7895) to make reservations.

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According to the Orange County Register the Yamabuki restaurant at the Paradise Pier is scheduled to close on April 11. http://ocresort.freedomblogging.com/2009/03/26/39-disney-employees-told-restaurant-will-close/6929/

Last week I noticed that they were handing out pamphlets near "it's a small world". These contain a list of the Disney characters that can be found in the updated attraction, as well as some idea of where to find them. People in line for the attraction were perusing it and seemed to be enjoying the idea of hunting for the characters. (While I guess I can't take credit for it, I *did* suggest in my blog right after the attraction reopened that having some kind of guide would be a good idea. :-)

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We saw the new Monorail Orange on the track last week.

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Disney's California Food and Wine Festival starts on April 24. We saw some signs and banners advertising the upcoming Festival, as well as a glossy info sheet at the Wine Tasting Terrace at DCA.

Points at the Disney Vacation Club's Grand Californian Villas went on sale to the public on March 27. If you missed it, I have photos of the models and a writeup of the "Hard Hat Tour" I took of the site last week in this blog entry.

I had a nice chat with a CM at the "Birthday Party" kiosk outside of the Plaza Inn. She showed me her box of "What Will You Celebrate" buttons, and said she had lots of new ones - like "I Graduated", "Happily Ever After", "Just Engaged", and "Family Reunion". They have a lot of fun stuff available at the restaurants for people celebrating birthdays - there's a pop-up Disneyland Castle centerpiece, Goodie Bags, and a Princess or Pirate-themed birthday treasure chest. At the Plaza Inn there's an afternoon birthday celebration with Pat E. Cake (and Mickey and Minnie!) for $15.99/person.

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My last item will probably be old news to you by the time you read this blog entry - but I'll mention it any way. Disney Cruise Line is planning to establish a permanent presence on the west coast by homeporting the Disney Wonder at the Port of Los Angeles in 2011. You can read the press release here. It will be interesting to see what new itineraries there might be in addition to the Mexican Riviera cruises they've done in the past. My friend Masayo suggested one that I had not considered - Hawaii, anyone? :-)

April 5, 2009

A Couple Downtown Disney Dining Experiences

I ate in Downtown Disney a couple of times last week, and thought I'd share.

The first time I was on the lookout for a snack. I was thinking of getting a Mexicone at Tortilla Jo's Taqueria, but as I was walking by Ralph Brennan's Creole Cafe, I noticed they had a few new menu items. The new section of the menu is "Cajun-Asian". I can't say I've ever associated New Orleans with Asian food, but ok. But on the menu they had a Cajun Wonton Salad, Chicken Pot Stickers, and Blackened Chicken Spring Rolls. (You can see the menu, with a more complete description of the new items, HERE.

Both the Pot Stickers and Spring Rolls sounded good, but I decided to go for the Spring Rolls. There were two of them, which they cut in half. The spring rolls were crispy, and filled with chicken, cabbage, caramelized onions, corn, tomato, and pepper jack cheese, and served on a bed of shredded lettuce and red cabbage, with a side of honey mustard dipping sauce. They were really tasty - just a little bit spicy but not overly hot. At $6.99 it's pricey for a snack - but in Downtown Disney you're not going to find much of anything for any less than that. I really enjoyed them, and would definitely get them again.

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Friday night Lee and I had dinner at the Naples restaurant. We are still trying to get around to eating at every Disneyland Resort restaurant, but we still have quite a few left. We had a Priority Seating at 5:15, and were seated right away. At that point there were still empty tables. But the restaurant was full long before we left, and we were amazed at how quickly they really turned the tables - within a minute or two of a table being cleared it was re-set and they were seating a new party!

They have tables outside and inside - it was a very pleasant evening, and outside would have been fine, but the available outside tables were in the sun so we sat inside. But we were right next to the big door that opens to the outside, so it was kind of the best of both worlds!

Our server Florica took our drink orders - a glass of pinot noir for Lee and passion fruit iced tea (yum!) for me. And then she disappeared for a while which concerned us, but when she came back she apologized for the wait - she'd been handling a problem with the kitchen. And certainly after that we had very good service. Florica was back to check on us regularly, and anytime dishes were ready to be cleared someone was right there to do it.

While we'd been waiting to order they had served us a basket of really nice chewy (but not tough) ciabatta bread. It came with a bowl of olive oil and spices, which was also excellent.

We ordered the spinach salad to share - fresh spinach with goat cheese, pancetta and candied pecans with a citrus (orange) vinaigrette. I'm glad we ordered it to share because it was huge. Of course, for $12.50 it *should* be good-sized!

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For entrees, we both wanted the Ravioli Della Zucca (Pumpkin Ravioli), but we decided to also try the Rigatoni Di Pesto Con Gambero (Rigatoni with Shrimp).

The Pumpkin Ravioli came in a light olive oil broth with chili flakes. It had just a little bit of a kick, but not enough to overwhelm the flavor of the pumpkin. It was really excellent, though they could have been more generous with the number of ravioli in the serving. There were also pieces of broccolini in it, and there could have been a few more of those, too.

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The Rigatoni was just ok - it was a fairly large serving of pasta, but there were only five shrimp in it, and I thought they were a bit tough. The pesto sauce was flavorful and not too garlicky. It also had a few blistered tomatoes and slivers of toasted garlic.

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I have to say that nothing on the dessert menu looked particularly good to me. Our server recommended the Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Peppered Berries, but Lee wanted to try the Cannoli. It was filled with a sweetened ricotta cheese with cinnamon and some miniature chocolate chips. I didn't think it had very much flavor and I didn't really care for it - not something that I would order again, that's for sure.

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As Disneyland Annual Passholders we got a 10% discount on the bill, which was $78 with tax and tip.

Would I eat there again? I don't know...given the other choices available in Downtown Disney, probably not. The pumpkin ravioli was really good, but other than that nothing on the menu is all that appealing to me. And I think the pizza is ridiculously expensive - the cheapest family size pizza is $37.50.

You can view the Naples menu HERE.

April 13, 2009

Disneyland: Upcoming Events

Actually the first event is one that's already happened - and that's the opening of the Celebration Roundup and Barbecue at Big Thunder Ranch. We have the menu on-line - it's fixed price barbecue chicken, ribs, beans, coleslaw etc., served family style. There are vegetarian options, also. Though not billed as a character meal, Woody and Jessie make the rounds, and there is a fairly continuous show going on featuring Tex Tumbleweed and Miss Chris, the owner of the place.

I haven't been there yet, but from most reports I've seen people have been pleased with it - the main thing that seems to put people off is the price - $28.99 for adults and $18.99 for kids, not including tax and tip.

Next up is the opening of the new Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Fantasyland, behind Sleeping Beauty Castle. That will be opening on Friday, April 17. Appointments are already being accepted - call 714-781-STYLE (714-781-7895). We have information on the services available as well as the prices HERE.

Disney's California Food and Wine Festival starts Friday, April 24. Deb Koma and I will both be covering the opening weekend. There is still availability for most of the Signature Events - though all but two of the Napa Rose Cooking Schools are sold out. And the new Sweet Sundays event is also proving to be very popular, as four of the six are also sold out. (I will be attending the opening session on May 3.) Sample menus for the World Celebration Dinners are available though to see them you have to get to the actual event sign-up page which means completing the first page of the registration process. The daily event schedule has not yet been published, but I hope that happens soon so I can plan. Deb and I hope to see some of you there!

April 24, 2009

Disney's World of Color Construction Update

The Disney's World of Color nighttime spectacular will be coming to Paradise Bay in the spring of 2010. In preparation for that the bay was drained and construction walls put up around it, though from the bridge near Ariel's Grotto you can see what's going on. They have been doing a lot of construction in there - setting up lots of platforms/stages that seem to cover much of the central part of the bay! There are signs along the edge of the bay giving a little bit of information on the show - it will feature characters and scenes from movies like Finding Nemo, Toy Story, and Pocahontas. Two of the three-d'ish-looking pieces of concept art depict scenes of Crush surfing a wave, and Pocahontas in a swirl of leaves. Lots of water screens, lighting effects, and even some pyrotechnics will be involved. There should be viewing from all around the bay, but they seem to be doing a lot of work to set up a viewing area in the former amphitheater section.

Lee shot this video clip from the bridge, which will give you some idea of what it currently looks like - you can see that the former Sun Wheel (set to re-open on May 7 as Mickey's Fun Wheel) now features the classic pie-eyed Mickey face.

April 25, 2009

Disneyland Press Event - Celebrate Today

Deb Koma and I attended the Celebrate Today press event at the Disneyland Resort today.

The press event featured the many new and upcoming events at Disneyland this spring and summer. It was a very busy day, so we'll just hit the highlights for now, with more details later.

We started our morning with three video interviews. First up was a segment on Disney's California Food and Wine Festival, which started today. Deb Koma got to stomp grapes in this one - she said they were very cold! (Sorry that there is no video of this one - I was using an unfamiliar camera and somehow put it in a weird format that we haven't figured out.)

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Next up was an interview with Alex Villa plus Jessie and Woody, on the new Celebration Roundup & BBQ. Here's the scoop on that - and when you see the desserts, you'll know that I do mean "scoop!"

(Deb and I want to say a HUGE thank you to my husband Lee, who did all of the video processing on these videos, which took most of his day.)

Last but not least, Deb received a makeover from the Fairy-Godmothers-in-Training at the new Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, which opened last week in Fantasyland.

The style Deb received is called Pop Princess. Doesn't she look great? She received a lot of (positive) comments on it the rest of the day - but once we came back to the room she took it off - we wanted her to wear it to dinner tonight. :-)

Next up were lunch at the aforementioned Celebration BBQ and then we saw the new Celebrate! A Street Party We'll have more on those later.

I must say that the What's Next presentation was the one that I was most looking forward to. This was where they told us about all of the cool things that are coming up this summer in the Summer Nightastic. Everything starts on June 12.

The TLT Dance Stage at the Tomorrowland Terrace will feature DJs Monday-Thursday nights, and live entertainment Friday-Sundays.

Disney's Electrical Parade is returning to Disney's California Adventure with a new Tinker Bell float to lead it off. The Pinocchio and Snow White Diamond Mine floats are returning after an absence of several years. There are new and updated elements on the rest of the floats, also.

Pixie Hollow Enchantment - by day it's the queue for the Pixie Hollow Meet and Greet, but at night it's a pixie festival, where all the pixies have added their own special magic.

Fantasmic! returns with a lot of enhancements, including hi-def digital projections on the water screens. There's a new crocodile who will be following the pirate ship, and their are two new "cast members" - Flotsam and Jetsam, who will be gliding on the surface of the water. Their mouths open and their eyes move, and they are quite manueverable. There is also a new 40' tall dragon who is fully automated.

Magical sounds like an amazing new fireworks show. In addition to Tinker Bell's flight, Dumbo the Elephant will also fly! The show will feature the voice of Eden Espinoza (Elphaba on Broadway). Steven Davison, Vice President of Parades and Spectaculars, actually acted out portions of the show, as you will see in this clip where he acts out the finale.

It was a great day - we'll have more details on some of the upcoming events soon.

April 29, 2009

Disney's California Food and Wine Festival 2009 Opening Weekend

The 2009 run of Disney's California Food and Wine Festival opened at Disney's California Adventure on Friday, April 24.

Deb and I were quite busy with the Disneyland Press Event that day, so we didn't get to spend much time enjoying the Festival. I was in the park for about 45 minutes in the morning just walking around and taking a look at the different venues - there are some pretty significant changes this year. But we spent almost all day Saturday there.

First, the main demo kitchen has been moved to Sunshine Plaza, and is called the Chef's Showcase Stage. The entire stage and seating area is under a big tent, which anyone who has sat through a cooking demo in the hot sun over the last few years will appreciate! (The queue area is still largely in the sun, though.) That takes up just about ALL of Sunshine Plaza, though, and with the Festival Merchandise cart also located in that area it creates quite a bottleneck in the Plaza. And when people are lined up along the street for either High School Musical or the Pixar Play Parade it makes it very difficult to get to/from the Hollywood Backlot area.

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I did not have the opportunity to attend any of the cooking demos over the weekend - every time I passed by there seemed to be a very long line. It looked like the sessions were filled at least 30-45 minutes in advance, and for this weekend's Celebrity Chef (Robert Irvine) it was filled over an hour in advance, at least on Saturday.

The Taste of California Marketplace is gone this year, since the restaurant location they had been using in previous years (Lucky Fortune Cookery) is being renovated. Instead, most of the Festival food offerings are full size (and full price) menu items at the various counter service restaurants around the park. You can find the menus HERE. There are also some additional items available at The Lounge (upstairs at the Golden Vine Winery) and the Wine Shop and Bistro at the Lower Patio is also offering food items this year in addition to special Festival wines by the glass or the bottle. But nothing is really "tapas" sized or priced, so unless you're with a large group who is sharing, I think it's going to be difficult to try very many of the items in a day or even two.

The food lines at the counter service restaurants were insane on Saturday afternoon. Pacific Wharf Cafe was out the door and across the walkway so we didn't even try that. I wanted to try the Chicken Tamales, which were the Festival offering at Cocina Cucamonga, so I got in line there, with about 8 people ahead of me. It took 25 minutes just to order. Fortunately the food came within just a few minutes after that, but still - 30 minutes to get a counter service meal??? Deb wanted to try the Festival's Lobster Salad Roll at Award Wieners - and it took 30 minutes for her, too. Ridiculous. I guess the good news is that there were a lot of people ordering the special Festival menu items, especially the tamales. (And by the way, the tamales were quite good - I hope they will become a permanent menu addition like some of the other food items did last year. Deb said the lobster roll was good, but not as good as the lobster roll at the Epcot F&W Festival - but it was also a whole lot bigger for about the same price.)

But I digress -- I was talking about new things this year!

The Wine and Beer Walks are new this year, and they seemed to be quite well-received from the crowds I saw around them. At the wine walks, for $10 you purchase a "passport" that allows you to taste four different wines. There are two wine walks - one with International wines, and one with California wines. I didn't see the price for the beer walk, but I would imagine that it's similar - there is only one beer walk, but I know they had beers from Asia and the "Old World" in addition to the United States.

Disney's California Food and Wine Festival 2009 Opening Weekend

There is a second "kitchen" demonstration area at Bountiful Farm again this year, but this year it is just for "Kitchen Conversations": demos of various culinary techniques or talks on using spices, picking produce, etc. and no samples are served. We saw a demo on how to filet a fish. These you can just walk into - no need to arrive early. In fact, we arrived at the fish filet demo a few minutes after it started and there were still plenty of seats.

As I mentioned, the Festival Merchandise Cart has moved to Sunshine Plaza. There is also some merchandise for sale at a cart at the Lower Patio of the Winery.

The Festival Welcome Center is still near the entrance of the park, but it's next to the Information Booth now instead of in Sunshine Plaza. It looks like a nicely decorated and staffed area, with Cast Members available to answer questions or make reservations for people who wish to attend some of the Signature Events.

Disney's California Food and Wine Festival 2009 Opening Weekend

Deb and I attended two wine tasting sessions on Saturday - Quintessa/Veramonte and Duckhorn. (Duckhorn is suddenly famous because two different Duckhorn wines were served at President Obama's Inauguration lunch.) Quintessa was the first of the day and was not full, Duckhorn was at 3:00 and reached capacity about 30 minutes before it started. There were wine spills at both of them - I don't know if the tables are closer together this year or what, but people were banging their chairs into the tables behind them hard enough to spill the wine and crash the glasses onto the floor. Such a waste of good wine...

We also watched one of the Junior Chef sessions - that was fun. The area looks like it would accommodate about 25 kids, but there were only about 12 in the one we saw. The kids all get paper chef hats and a place at one of the three tables. Ingredients for Magical Mango Fruit Bars were already laid out, and with some instruction by Chef Lily (with some help from guest Chef Goofy!), the kids mix up the ingredients which get poured into a large popsicle mold, which goes into the Magic Freezer and turns into a huge frozen fruit bar. On their way out the kids get a real frozen fruit bar to eat. Cute show. Some of the kids are really into it, and then there was the poor girl who was terrorized when Goofy came out, and another small boy who had a meltdown when his chef's hat came undone and fell over his eyes.

Disney's California Food and Wine Festival 2009 Opening Weekend

On Friday night we attended the first Winemaker dinner, which was Arrowood Vineyards. It was really awesome - definitely my favorite of the three we have attended in the last two years. But I'll have a whole review of that on the site later.

Lee and I will be back this weekend for the first Sweet Sundays event (those are new this year), and I hope to try one of the wine walks and some of the other Festival food offerings. And I'll be sending Lee off to do the research on beer tasting and beer walks. :-)

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About April 2009

This page contains all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in April 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

March 2009 is the previous archive.

May 2009 is the next archive.

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