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January 14, 2010

Green Army Men Invade Disney's California Adventure

Alpha Gollihugh brings us this breaking story from Disney's California Adventure!

A new show on the roll at Disney's California Adventure features the Green Army Men from Toy Story. From under the bed in the upstairs bedroom of the Toy Story Midway Mania ride, come Andy's army men, full-sized and looking for recruits. They march, they drum, and they teach any volunteers to be "real toy soldiers". Even the important fact, "that toy army men have to hold perfectly still if any humans come into the room".

"Hup 2-3-4, hup 2-3-4, army men set up!"

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The army runs on beat......set up the drums.

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"I see some out there that would make fine soldiers for Andy's army!"

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"I can't hear you.......come forward and line up here!"

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"Calling Andy, I mean 'commander'.......shall we train the new recruits?"

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"Come on recruits, quickly now, in line....."

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"Now we need to train you................follow me...March!"

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Weapons training: "Ready...fire! Ready...fire!.........This will really 'bug' them!"
(They are throwing lady bugs)

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"An army marches to its drummers..................ok recruits......listen and come in on command!"

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"Toy soldiers must know that when people enter the room you must hold absolutely still...............like this."

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"Time to move on. Remember army men, Base is the big green box under Andy's bed."

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This fun little show is performed several times a day. The Green Army Men come out from backstage near the Maliboomer, and recruit likely candidates as they travel along the boardwalk to Ariel's Grotto. Training sessions take place on the boardwalk in front of Ariel's Grotto.

(A big thank you to Alpha for putting this blog together!)

January 17, 2010

Disneyland Rovings and Ravings

I went to Disneyland on Friday - the first time I'd been there in six weeks. When you don't visit Disneyland for six weeks, things change!!! There's too much for me to put in one blog so I'll split it into two. With lots of photos, since it's easier to show it to you than describe it!

The updated Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln has re-opened in the Opera House on Main Street. Jeanine Yamanaka took a lot of great photos of the pre-show area which you can see HERE. No photos or video or any kind are permitted inside the theater once the presentation starts, though.

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This version is actually very close to the original from the 1964 New York World's Fair. Much of it is narrated in Lincoln's own words by actor Royal Dano, including a portion of a letter where Lincoln provided a short autobiography, describing himself as follows: "I am, in height, six feet, four inches, nearly; lean in flesh, weighing, on an average, one hundred and eighty pounds; dark complexion, with coarse black hair, and grey eyes, no other marks or brands recollected." (From a letter to Jesse Fell, dated December 20, 1859.) The "Two Brothers" Civil War story returns in this new version - I've always found that very moving and sad.

The body movements of the new animatronic still look robotic to me, but I thought the face was very lifelike, especially the eyes. Pretty amazing, really. The audio *sounded* recorded, though, and not at all like a real person speaking - I was disappointed in that.

Disneyland's 55th birthday is on July 17 this year, and new merchandise, with The Happiest Memories on Earth theme, is already on the shelves in the Disney Showcase shop on Main Street. My favorite is the retro ticket book memo pad though I have a feeling that next week they'll be selling a lot of the mini umbrellas! (Major rain coming to California next week.)

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In the Emporium I was surprised to see Disney-themed college t-shirts for sale - Alabama and Texas I understand since they were in the Rose Bowl, but, not being a college football fan, I didn't get the significance of Ohio and UNC.

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The new popcorn buckets and travel mugs feature The Muppets, with the Celebrate Volunteering theme. I love seeing the Muppets in the parks!

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There's a new Disney's Honorary Volunteers Cavalcade which also features the Muppets, but Alpha will have more on that in an upcoming blog.

I guess I'll go around the park counter-clockwise...In Tomorrowland, Honey I Shrunk the Audience is shut down to make way for the return of Captain Eo in February.

Over in Fantasyland, holiday "it's a small world" is still running - that surprised me, though it shouldn't have, because it usually is up through the end of Martin Luther King weekend.

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The new Troubadour Tavern has opened at Princess Fantasy Faire, replacing the former Enchanted Cottage Sweets and Treats. The new menu (HERE) still features bratwurst but also offers baked potatoes and corn on the cob.

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The Celebration Roundup and BBQ has a seasonal theme: Big Thunder Winter Roundup.

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Even the tablecloths have a wintry design.

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I liked this colorful winter vegetable garden that was planted outside of Big Thunder Ranch.

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There's walls all around the Rivers of America while it is being refurbished, though I got a pretty good view of it from the bridge next to Pirates of the Caribbean, and from the stairs near the Hungry Bear restaurant.

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Back in Critter Country they are doing some work on Pooh's Corner, though the shop is still open.

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I went in there to see what kind of seasonal treats they might have - there were some chocolate-covered marshmallows on a stick with candy hearts on them and some heart-shaped cookies and crispie treats.

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I'm not skipping Adventureland or Toontown - it's just that nothing there seemed changed to me.

I was able to see parts of two of the Disneyland Band's shows - when they performed just inside the turnstiles, and then again when they performed in Town Square.

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The park really wasn't crowded, especially first thing in the morning. For the first hour and a half just about everything was a walk-on. By 1:00 the longest posted wait was 35 minutes for Space Mountain. It was a great day to be in the park.

Part 2 will cover DCA, Downtown Disney, and the hotels.

January 19, 2010

Disneyland Rovings and Ravings - Part Deux

Part 2 of my photos and observations from my trip to Disneyland on Friday.

I'll start with the resorts, since that's actually where I began my day - walked there from the Pinocchio Parking Lot (I arrived early enough that I was parked outside in the Pinocchio lot rather than inside the garage, which suited me since the walk from there is a little shorter to/from the hotels).

The remodeling of the Dreams Tower at the Disneyland Hotel still continues - it looks to be about halfway done. If anyone has the opportunity to stay in the new rooms please send us some photos!

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At the Paradise Pier, the new Surf's Up Breakfast with Mickey has replaced the Lilo and Stitch character breakfast. It's a breakfast buffet - there is no longer an a la carte menu. Stitch is still at the breakfast, along with Mickey, of course, but no Lilo. The buffet includes: an omelet station, breakfast flatbreads, Mickey waffles, chocolate peanut butter banana French toast, smoothies, parfait station, chilaquiles and smoked salmon. $25.99 for adults and $13.99 for kids, tax and 15% gratuity will be added.

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For those who would like a hot breakfast but not the buffet, the Surfside Lounge is offering breakfast now in addition to the usual coffee and pastries. The menu is HERE.

A number of things going on at DCA. The construction walls are still up around Paradise Bay, but they have finished the structure they were building at the end of the bridges between Paradise Pier and Pacific Wharf so those walls are down, and that makes it not quite so claustrophobic. This looks like a big light and speaker tower to me.

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And of course work on the World of Color show is continuing in the bay itself.

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The bay has been refilled and so the nice reflections are back again.

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There's still plenty of construction walls up all around Paradise Pier, but the ones between the bay and the former Golden Dreams attraction have been moved closer to the bay so that there is a little more room to walk now. A wall completely blocks the walkway in front of Jumping Jellyfish so you have to go around the S.S. Rustworthy past Pizza Oom Mow Mow for the moment.

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The Wine Country Trattoria and the Wine Terrace are both closed while the restaurant is being remodeled - it is scheduled to open again in April. And while we're talking about food and restaurants, here's a reminder that Disney's Calfornia Food and Wine Festival returns from April 16-May 31. No information on the schedule or events is available yet, though.

Big changes back in the Hollywood Backlot area - the center of the street is blocked by construction walls, and you have to go up one side or the other depending on whether you want to go to Playhouse Disney and the Animation Building or the rest of the backlot area.

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The reason? The tracks for the Red Trolley are going in, and the trolley itself is supposed to open later this year.

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The walkway is so narrow that they have had to close Award Weiners - there's no room for the line for this popular counter-service restaurant.

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On the construction walls are vintage Disney movie posters.

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There's a new Annual Passport Processing Center in the far corner of the backlot, which was a food court restaurant called Hollywood & Dine when the park first opened, but has been closed for years. I was told this location is "temporary", but not just how "temporary" it is.

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I tried something I'd never had before - I was in DCA early enough that the Pacific Wharf Cafe was still serving breakfast AND I was actually hungry. I really like their soups and salads in bread bowls, but for breakfast they serve scrambled eggs in a bread bowl. It also came with two slices of nice crisp bacon and some fruit - a bunch of grapes and some sliced oranges. The eggs were a little dry but everything else was excellent. The eggs need a little oomph, so I got a couple of packets of salsa from Cocina Cucamonga. No way I could eat all that bread, and I ended up taking most of it home where it made for a fine soup bowl for some homemade split pea soup that night. For $5.99 it was good and very reasonably priced. The breakfast menu is HERE. I don't think the breakfast menu has changed at all in the five years I've been collecting menus for AllEars - I keep expecting the prices to go up.

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There's a couple new stores that have opened in Downtown Disney recently. D Street is Vinylmation central, but they also carry "cutting edge apparel" for men and women as well as other collectibles and artwork.

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But my favorite new store is The Cupcake Store, which is located at the end of Downtown Disney near the ESPN Club. It's a little shop right in the center, which sells gourmet cupcakes. They are nicely decorated with flowers, chocolate, candy sprinkles, etc. There's vanilla, yellow cake, chocolate, red velvet, and vanilla coconut and they are $4.95 each. I'm not sure why I took a photo of the shop and didn't take any pictures of the cupcakes!

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Something that is not new, but I'd never noticed before, is this remote-control boat area on the side of the Rainforest Cafe. There was no one playing with it when I was there, so I don't know how popular it really is.

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And that brings us to the end of my ravings - for now, at least.

January 23, 2010

Kidani Village at Animal Kingdom Lodge

In December we stayed at the new Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village for the first time, and I've been meaning to post a follow-up of what I thought about it. There were a lot of things that I liked, but also several things that I didn't.


Since I have lots of photos of the room, I'm going to start with some of the things that aren't so photo-intensive - and also start with the "negatives".

Pembe Savanna - this was the savanna view we had, which is on the "back side" of the resort. It's a lot narrower (especially where our room was) and doesn't have as many animals as the Sunset Savanna - I was very disappointed in how few animals we saw from our room. Next time I will request an even-numbered room - those look out onto the Sunset Savanna.

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Internet access - though it was free for us as DVC members, the network connection was in the Master Bedroom and NOT out in the living area as it is at most of the other resorts. That was very inconvenient for us since there were nights when I was up late blogging and Lee wanted to go to bed. I wish they would go wireless like they do at the Disneyland resorts. Next time we'll have to bring our own (much longer) network cable, I guess.

Air Conditioning - This was really annoying. There is a vent on the ceiling right inside the doorway to the room, and it was CONSTANTLY blowing cold air - it's on a building-wide system and you can't turn it off. So it always seemed cold in our room - we actually had to turn the heat on! The maintenance people came to our room one morning because they were changing A/C filters and we asked about it - they seemed pretty frustrated about it, too. All they could do for us was close off the vent a little bit, which helped, but did not get rid of the problem.

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Motion-activated fans - these were in the bathrooms and the toilet room and were also annoying since they made a fair bit of noise. You sure couldn't sneak to the bathroom in the middle of the night!

Parking - Since Kidani is so large and spread out it was nice to be able to park under the building and relatively close to our room. But there's only one entrance/exit to the parking, and if your room was on the far end of the building like ours was, it was quite a long and circuitous road to get there. There did seem to be another exit about halfway, but it was blocked off for some reason. The garage is divided into sections named after Lion King characters (Timon, Pumbaa, Simba, etc.). The cast members at check-in really need to tell you what section you should park in, otherwise you can end up a LONG way away from your room. There's a place on the room key envelope where that info is supposed to be provided but the CM who checked us in didn't fill it in.

Dining - There is NO quick-service option (especially for breakfast) at Kidani, and the "store" is woefully small with a very poor selection. Yes, you can take the bus over to Jambo House and go to Mara, but that's quite a ways to go (and could be quite a wait for the bus). Lee walked it one morning, and even at his pace it took 13 minutes to go one way (of course from our room it took five minutes just to get to the lobby!). Sanaa is really good, though, and we really enjoyed our meal there - we will definitely eat there again, and we hope the menu stays as varied and interesting as it is and doesn't get "dumbed down" as we've seen at other WDW restaurants.

The Lobby - I really loved the lobby at Kidani. It feels like a scaled-down version of the one at the main Animal Kingdom Lodge, but it also seems more inviting and cozy. I really liked the glass torch lights. And the Library room was a nice place to hang out, too.

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The rooms are beautiful and large - we stayed in a one bedroom villa, and it was very comfortable - I could easily stay there for several weeks or months and feel quite at home! I did find them to be a little bit dark, though - which fits in with the theme, but I prefer something brighter. And it took us a long time to figure out the light switches! Many of the lamps had their own switch, and in some cases the switch was on the *cord* and not on the lamp itself. In the dark the night we arrived those were very hard to find.

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I LOVED the master bathroom - it was HUGE!!! I would especially love to have the big walk-in shower at home...

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On very cool thing about the one bedroom villas is that they have two full bathrooms, and the second bathroom was very nice, also.

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All of the detail in the decor was really amazing - the designers out-did themselves this time.

There were Lion King characters carved into the furniture:

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And also painted on the murals in the master bathroom:

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And even woven into the curtains!

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Lee noticed that the legs on the dining room table had hooves like a giraffe.

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And here's the back of one of the chairs out on the balcony:

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There were lots of other interesting decor details, too - I liked the ostrich egg in the lamp.

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One interesting thing at Kidani: there were quotations painted on walls all over the building - one cast member told us that there were 40. I think we saw 10 or 12 of them - given the size of the building it would take a long time to roam the hallways and viewing areas and track them all down. Might be a good rainy day activity, though!

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Jambo House vs. Kidani

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Hmm...I've stayed at both now...and they both have their stronger/weaker points. The rooms are a lot nicer at Kidani, since they were built as DVC Villas to begin with, and are not converted hotel rooms like Jambo House. But there's a lot more dining options at Jambo House, and it doesn't seem to be spread out quite as much. I also think that any of the savanna views at Jambo House are better than the Pembe Savanna (but Arusha or Sunset savannas at Jambo are equivalent to Sunset Savanna at Kidani). Parking is more convenient at Kidani - once you get there. :-) I think the lack of dining at Kidani is a big problem - I don't think most DVC members cook while on vacation, but still, it's nice to have ready access to some grab-and-go type items for breakfast or a quick snack, and that's just not available at Kidani.

January 26, 2010

RIDEMAKERZ at Disneyland's Downtown Disney

RIDEMAKERZ---FINALLY A SHOP FOR MEN AND BOYS
by Guest Blogger Alpha Gollihugh

As we were visiting in Downtown Disney, California last week, we discovered something new, a shop for men and boys. How many times have you dragged your boys and men through the "cutsie" shops in DTD, and they are just waiting to get to dinner or wanting to visit the next park? Here is a shop that they may actually LIKE to visit while you are shopping.

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This is the shop that used to have all the villages and cute figurines and decorative items. Well, they are gone and "souped up cars" are now the line of merchandise.

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The doors are wide open, and a cute salesman is there to help you fulfill your dreams of miniature hot rods. Step in and choose a car body, and then go wild choosing all the different chassis parts, wheels, decorations and decals. When you have chosen your main parts, you come to the assembly line to power screw them into place. Some pieces are quite tiny and smaller children may require an older helper to attach them.

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More body parts, finishes, models, and posters.

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Buckets of tires of varying sizes and prices.

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Here is one of the finished cars with spoiler, special engine, top rack and the special adaption to make it a remote controlled car. For the younger ones, this last step can be left off and it will be a push, or display car. They have cars that you can try, and the boys we saw were having a great time.

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So here you go guys, something to do while the women discover all the other joys in Downtown Disney.


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About January 2010

This page contains all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in January 2010. They are listed from oldest to newest.

December 2009 is the previous archive.

February 2010 is the next archive.

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