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August 2009 Archives

August 16, 2009

Disneyland First Time Visitor - Your Tips

Last month I asked for your tips to help AllEars® reader Nancy plan her first trip to Disneyland this fall. Thanks to everyone who responded. In the interests of length, I have edited and combined similar responses.

Before we start, though, I wanted to mention that AllEars® blogger Jack Spence wrote a couple of blogs sharing his thoughts on Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom, and I think those would be helpful:
Disneyland vs. Magic Kingdom Part 1
Disneyland vs. Magic Kingdom Part 2


Several of you commented on preparing yourself and setting your expectations.

From Craig:
I think the most important planning step for a frequent WDW visitor going to Disneyland for the first time is attitude. When you're a frequent visitor to one Disney property, half of the fun of visiting another Disney location for the first time is to see the many similarities and many differences between the two. Be prepared for smaller, but don't make the mistake of equating smaller with not-as-good. I'll allow for one disappointment: arriving at Main Street for the first time, be prepared to wonder what happened to the castle.

From Amanda:
The first thing I would suggest is to go into the trip realizing that DL is a lot different than WDW. Some WDW vets express disappointment when they see DL for the first time, because they expect it to be the same. It isn't, but it's wonderful and so much fun in its own right! :)

From Maureen:
For the first time DL visitor:
-read some history of DL so you can appreciate its past as well as its present
-be sure to do the rides and attractions that are unique to DL
-take time to notice the little things;the shops are filled with wonderful, charming detail
-start planning your next trip because you'll want to go back !

From Dan (a first time visitor last year!):
I would suggest taking two full days (at least) to see the Magic Kingdom. There's just so much packed into the space (yet it doesn't seem cramped).

A number of you mentioned concentrating on the attractions that are at Disneyland but not at Disney World, such as the Matterhorn, Indiana Jones, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin, Grizzly River Rapids, and Monsters, Inc.

From Dayle:
Ride the Storybook Land Canal boats - charming and amazing examples of bonsai. Matterhorn Bobsled since this is a Disneyland original. Indiana Jones - much better than Dinosaur. I also think Space Mountain and Autopia are better than the Magic Kingdom counterparts.

From Kameo:
[After arriving at park opening] I'd recommend heading straight to Matterhorn in Disneyland. It is fantastic (though a little rough) and does not have fastpasses. The line can be unmanageable if you wait to ride it later in the day. Also, you absolutely must hit Indiana Jones. It is a great ride (think of the ride vehicle for Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom) and you should hit it or Space Mountain immediately after Matterhorn.

From Dan:
I'd say make sure to take the Disneyland Railroad for a complete circuit of the park, as my suggestion to first timers.

From A.D.:
Others will have plenty to say about attractions - the only one I want to highlight is the Sailing Ship Columbia, a very under-appreciated attraction; don't miss the museum!

From Barb:
Couple of things they really gotta go for in Disneyland. Our Pirates of the Caribbean, just a much better start and finish than WDW, our Peter Pan, for the amazing fiber optic stars :)

From Shirley:
You absolutely, positively, must experience the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. I still do not understand why they don't have this fantastic ride at WDW. The waiting area is not to be missed as well.

The #1 recommendation was the Aladdin show at DCA, where I received several comments such as the following:

From Dayle:
Biggest recommendation for first time visitor to Disneyland Resort is to see the Aladdin show at the Hyperion Theater within California Adventure. This is a Broadway caliber production with fantastic sets and performers.

From Amanda:
At California Adventure, definitely make time to see the Aladdin musical! There is one character especially who makes the experience very entertaining! This is something I would go see multiple times on a vacation because it's that good!

And of course there were lots of recommendations on places to eat! :-) Quite a few of you suggested the Blue Bayou (I have to admit it's not one of my favorites, though).

From Gabriela:
While dining at DLR isn't as big of a deal as WDW, I would suggest at least one meal at the Blue Bayou. The best food may not always be guaranteed, but there's just something about eating right next to PotC.

From Suzie:
I think that the Pirates of the Caribbean and the Blue Bayou restaurant are must dos. The ride is awesome, of course but the eatery is wonderful and themed so well!

There were quite a few other less-well-known recommendations, though:

From Dayle:
In Disneyland, skip the ice cream carts and go to the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street. For maybe a $1 more, you get a large hand scooped ice cream sundae with the fixings.

From Kameo:
For food, be sure to try the corn dogs! They are in the little red cart just to the right of main street when walking toward the castle. They are the best value in food at Disneyland.

From Barb:
They gotta head to DCA for a swirl ice cream at Catch A Flave- absolutely the best ice cream in the park. We actually will make the drive up from San Diego just to get a taste of it ;)

From Gabriela:
And if you know someone who can get you into Club 33, then go for it!!! Other table service restaurants worth a stop include the Carnation Café on Main Street, and Wine Country Trattoria over at DCA. Great counter service places for me include the French Market at DL (good t.s. food at c.s. prices, mint juleps and live music! what's not to love?), and the choices over at Pacific Wharf at DCA.

From Connie:
If you enjoy character dining, do go to Disneyland Hotel's Goofy's Kitchen. It is one of the best character dining experiences-I have been to many. So many unique characters that you do not usually see or meet. The characters intermingle with the children so well. Another very nice dining experience is at Paradise Pier in California Adventure. It is Ariel's Grotto. Here it is a restaurant, in Disney World it is a meeting area. I would strongly suggest arranging a Fantasmic package with dessert so you can really enjoy the show.

And there were quite few miscellaneous, but very helpful, suggestions!

From Kameo:
As with Disneyworld, always arrive to the parks at open as this is the time you will get on the most rides in the least amount of time.

From Van:
Just returned from DL for the first time with my son. I would recommend going on the welcome to Disneyland Tour if for any other reason than the priority seating to Aladdin and the fastpasses which can be used for any ride, even those that don't normally take fastpasses, like the Matterhorn. It is relatively cheap by Disney standards and you can save money with your Disney Visa Card or AAA.

From A.D.:
For the convenience factor, many of the "Good Neighbor" hotels located near Disneyland are just as close as the Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier. (The monorail will save you some walking *if* it's open, but it won't save you much time, especially if you have to wait.) Disney's Grand Californian Resort is the only place that really will save you walking time over the other hotels in the area.

From Shirley:
The New Orleans square is beautiful as well (another "why don't they have this at WDW"). Be sure to stroll through it and grab lunch there as well.

From Brittany - a Jungle Cruise Skipper!:
Ride the Jungle Cruise at night, it's more exciting that way. It is not like the WDW one in many ways! The Celebrate parade is fun, IF you have small children, but please don't wait around for an hour for it, it's good, but not that good. You MUST watch the fireworks in Sept. if Magical is still the show going on then try to stake out a spot before 9pm. The very best spot in my humble opinion would be in the Plaza, which is that little area just after Main Street USA but just before the Hub.

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Disneyland AllEars® Meet and Greet!

AllEars® Team members Deb Wills, Laura Gilbreath, Lisa Berton and Cathy Bock invite you to come by and say "Hello!" at 11 a.m. on Sunday, October 11, 2009, at the Disneyland Plaza Garden Stage.

Directions: Walk down Main Street until you reach the statue of Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney. The entrance to the outdoor covered stage with tables and chairs will be up and to the left.

Let us know you plan to attend by emailing allearsnet at yahoo dot com


August 21, 2009

Summer Evening at Disneyland

Lee and I visited Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure last Saturday evening - I wanted to see the new and updated Electrical Parade and some of the other things that you can only enjoy after dark.

For a Saturday evening in the summer the parks were not too crowded. Splash Mountain had a 75 minute wait, but things like Buzz Lightyear and Star Tours were 10-15 minutes.

We wandered around Disneyland a bit trying to decide what we wanted for dinner. We went by the Celebration BBQ, which had a menu/format/price change in July. The characters are no longer at the meal though there is still entertainment on stage. Lunch is $19.99 for adults and dinner is $24.99 but drinks and dessert are no longer included in the price. (The price for kids 3-9 is $9.99 at either lunch or dinner.) Corn cob wheels and polish sausage are offered at dinner but not lunch, though either way it is still all-you-care-to-eat. Doesn't seem like much of a price decrease to me - at least not for dinner, by the time you pay for your drink. Still too expensive in my book, though I would consider going for lunch. I wish they would go back to the counter service BBQ idea they had there about 10 years ago.

We ended up having and early (5:15) dinner at Rancho del Zocalo. The portions have been slightly reduced in size since we last dined there, but it's still quite a bit of food. We both had the enchiladas - I had the regular cheese enchiladas, and Lee had the cheese enchiladas that came with tortillas and several slices of carne asada.

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After dinner we went over to Disney's California Adventure to wander around and wait for night to fall. We did something we'd never done before: went to the Cove Bar (next to Ariel's Grotto) and had a drink. It's a full-service bar, and Lee was impressed by the selection of beers on tap. They also have quite a selection of specialty drinks - like various flavors of Comospolitans, Mojitos, and Margaritas, and drinks that glow. I was hoping they might have some dessert-type items, but they only serve appetizers: nachos, crab cakes, artichoke dip, buffalo wings, fried calamari, and bbq chicken pizza. So I had a Godiva Dark Chocolate Martini instead. It was supposed to come with a chocolate stick, but they were out of those. :-( Lee had a beer.

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It was a nice way to relax for a while, and it was pleasant to be outside, though it started to cool off quickly once the sun disappeared.

One of the things we had planned to see that night was the lights on Mickey's Fun Wheel, and as it got darker we could start to see them. When Disney re-themed Mickey's Fun Wheel they added a bunch of new LED lighting and at night these are animated in number of different patterns and colors. We'd never seen it before, and I have to say that I was fascinated by all of the different colors and actions that it was able to produce. We must have watched it for about 20 minutes over the course of the evening, and I don't think we ever saw a repeat. Here's a short video that's just a sample of the kind of thing that it can do.

(If you're interested in more, I put up an 8:30 minute clip also, it's HERE.)

With all of the construction walls up around Paradise Pier it is a little more of a challenge to find a spot to see the Electrical Parade. Parade viewing is not allowed at all between the Golden Zephyr and what used to be the entrance to Golden Dreams. But with less than 10 minutes until the parade started we found a spot in front of the Golden Zephyr, where we were standing behind a row of people who were sitting, and that was a fine spot. There was a construction wall on the other side, which meant that there were no people there, so the characters focused all of their attention on our side of the parade route.

What can I say? As far as I'm concerned, Disney's Electrical Parade is still the best nighttime parade ever. The "new" soundtrack didn't sound any different to me - just more crisp and clear, maybe - it's still just a catchy and bouncy as ever. The lighting looks great, and it was nice to see the "new" parade elements: Tinker Bell's float leading it off (though I miss the Blue Fairy!), the Seven Dwarfs' mine (which gives three of the dwarfs something to do besides follow Snow White around), and the two Pleasure Island floats. The latter replaced the Dumbo's Circus floats.

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We followed the crowds out of the park who were mostly headed to Disneyland. We weren't trying to see the fireworks, but we did catch a little bit of Magical, including a glimpse of Dumbo flying around the castle. We were trying to get to Pixie Hollow, to see more of the Pixie Hollow Enchantment light/fountain sequences. Unfortunately we had a bit of a wait - they go off about every 15 minutes, but even though the fireworks were over before 9:45, the first Pixie Hollow show wasn't until about 10:00. And then it ended up being the one we'd originally seen in June (which you can see HERE).

So we waited another 15 minutes, and saw this one:

Unfortunately the HD video camera doesn't have a wide enough angle to show you everything that's going on - like all of the jumping fountains and the lights in the trees and on the fountains.

It's really a fun little show - I'll be sorry to see it end, though I hope they will bring it back in the future - maybe for the holidays?

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Disneyland AllEars® Meet and Greet!

AllEars® Team members Deb Wills, Laura Gilbreath, Lisa Berton and Cathy Bock invite you to come by and say "Hello!" at 11 a.m. on Sunday, October 11, 2009, at the Carnation Plaza Gardens in Disneyland.

Here's a picture of the entrance to the Plaza Gardens, which is located between Frontierland and the castle.

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August 24, 2009

Disneyland Half Marathon

The Fourth Annual Disneyland Half Marathon is coming up on Sunday, September 6. Lee and I will be running it for the second time - we ran the Inaugural event in 2006.

I decided to run it this year because of this spiffy extra medal that Disney offers - if you finish either the Walt Disney World Marathon/Half Marathon or the Princess Half Marathon in Florida, and then run the Disneyland Half Marathon in the same calendar year, you get a special "coast-to-coast" medal in addition to the regular medals you get for finishing the race. Since I ran the Princess Half Marathon in March, I am eligible this year. This picture does not do it justice - I've seen other photos of it, and it's huge, and just gorgeous. I'm really looking forward to adding it to my collection! :-)

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With the construction going on at DCA the race course has been changed this year. We will still run through both parks, but instead of running past Paradise Pier at the beginning and Soarin' at the end, it's reversed. The route we take through Disneyland is different than I remember, too - looks like we don't run down Main Street at all, and instead we exit the park back in Critter Country. We won't run through Downtown Disney at all, though I don't think that's such a bad thing - there were lots of people. I was really hoping they would change something in the "scenic streets of Anaheim" section, where we wind back and forth through the industrial park area for several miles, but we'll be doing that again. Looks like we will get to run on the field at Angels' Stadium again, though, and that was a lot of fun last time.

The map of the race course is HERE

So that's what we'll be doing in a couple of weeks...wish us luck!


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Disneyland AllEars® Meet and Greet!

AllEars® Team members Deb Wills, Laura Gilbreath, Lisa Berton and Cathy Bock invite you to come by and say "Hello!" at 11 a.m. on Sunday, October 11, 2009, at the Carnation Plaza Gardens in Disneyland.

Here's a picture of the entrance to the Plaza Gardens, which is located between Frontierland and the castle.

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August 27, 2009

Making Music at Disneyland

Just wanted to share a couple of short videos from recent trips to Disneyland.

The first one features the Dapper Dans. Those strange pipe-like things they are holding are called "Deagan Organ Chimes". They make a cool sound!

Mr. Potato Head is almost always doing something interesting - but I'd never heard him sing before!

blueline.gif

Disneyland AllEars® Meet and Greet!

AllEars® Team members Deb Wills, Laura Gilbreath, Lisa Berton and Cathy Bock invite you to come by and say "Hello!" at 11 a.m. on Sunday, October 11, 2009, at the Carnation Plaza Gardens in Disneyland.

Hope to see you there!

August 29, 2009

Disney's California Adventure Boardwalk Games

At Disney's California Adventure earlier this year, the Boardwalk Games in Paradise Pier re-opened, with the games re-themed to incorporate Disney or Pixar characters. The games are Goofy About Fishin', Bullseye Stallion Stampede, Casey at the Bat and Dumbo Bucket Brigade. Initially they were offering the same stuffed animals for prizes that they'd had previously, but this summer the large prizes changed, and are now themed to the game! I think some of them are pretty cute - especially Dumbo and the Mudville Wiener Dog.

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At Goofy About Fishin' everyone wins a prize. Players use a fishing rod with a magnet on the end to "hook" one of the fish that are swimming by in the water trough - the prize is determined based on the color of a dot on the bottom of the fish, and some are worth more than others.

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Bullseye Stallion Stampede is a horse race. Each player plays their own game of skeeball to accumulate points which make their horse move forward in the race. First horse to finish wins the prize. Prizes are based on the number of players in the game - the more players, the higher the level of prize.

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In Casey at the Bat (this classic baseball story was featured in the Disney movie "Make Mine Music") players attempt to throw a baseball into the catcher's mitt. No small prizes for this difficult game - anyone who does it wins one of the large prizes.

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Dumbo Bucket Brigade is a water pistol game. Each player has their own "fire hose" and hitting the center of the target makes each clown fireman climb his ladder. Players compete against each other and the first fireman to the top of the ladder wins. The number of players determines the size of the prize.

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Instead of paying cash to the operator, players swipe a game card to play each game. Game cards are available at nearby kiosks, which take either cash or credit/debit cards. $5.00 buys 500 points, most games are 250 points.

blueline.gif

Disneyland AllEars® Meet and Greet!

AllEars® Team members Deb Wills, Laura Gilbreath, Lisa Berton and Cathy Bock invite you to come by and say "Hello!" at 11 a.m. on Sunday, October 11, 2009, at the Carnation Plaza Gardens in Disneyland.

Hope to see you there!

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About August 2009

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

July 2009 is the previous archive.

September 2009 is the next archive.

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