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December 2011 Archives

December 2, 2011

Holidays at the Tokyo Disney Resort: Part 2--Happy Anniversary DisneySea!

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So the first day in Tokyo DisneySea (TDS,) was the last day of non-holiday programming for the season. Typically the week between the Halloween and the Christmas festivities is pretty dead, but this trip it was fairly packed the whole time--probably because of the 10th Anniversary.

Planning Tip #4: Bring money for the monorails.

Unlike in the US parks, trains and monorails are vital to the transportation of the bulk of the population in Japan, and are consequently more tightly regulated there. The train in Tokyo Disneyland (TDL,) actually has only one stop in its circuit, apparently because any train with more than one is regarded as transportation and comes under higher, public jurisdiction.

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The monorail (also known as the Disney Resort Line) has four stops: Resort Gateway (where you get off for Ikspiari and the Maihama Railway Station,) TDL, Bayside Station (closest to the Disney Official Hotels,) and TDS. It's clean, well-run, and extremely cute. Would you pay to ride the monorail if it was reliable, arrived every 6 minutes, and looked like this?

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For their anniversary celebration, TDS had an abundance of new merchandise and decorations.

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More impressive even than the rides at the Tokyo parks are the shows. They almost all utilize a staggering amount of CMs and tend to be much more elaborate than similar shows in the US parks. This becomes even more remarkable when you consider that they change out their shows much more frequently than we do here, with different parades every few months as the seasons change. What this means, is that, for the locals who come regularly, the new shows are the main attraction--and they are willing to wait for them.

Planning Tip #5: Be prepared to wait.

If a new show is out, and there's something like two hours between performances, it is not uncommon for the viewing area line to be full for the second showing before the first one has occurred. For parades and shows that abut general walking areas, they have rules that people can't put mats and blankets down to save places more than an hour ahead of time.

The Anniversary show was called "Be Magical!" What I always find amusing in some of these shows is that they ask the audience to participate by doing hand gestures, pointing, etc at certain times during the performance...but they are actually meticulous enough to have a rehearsal period before the show, in which CMs come out and teach everyone the exact order they want--perhaps thinking that people would not participate if they weren't prepared, for fear of making a mistake.

Here's a great YouTube video someone took of the first ~1/2 of the show:

The show takes place in the Mediterranean Harbor area, with different characters coming out to interact with viewers at several different locations around the water, thus increasing its repeatability. It's a fun show, with a huge amount of characters.

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The symbol of the celebration was the Sorcerer Mickey hat--large ones, each themed to their respective land, were placed around the park.

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Plastic magical wands were sold in the stores for around $25 which caused some sort of interactivity--lights, music, dialogue--when waved around each hat. The wand lit up a separate light for each hat you visited, and when you had filled up the wand, you returned to the store and received a fairly nice medallion as a reward.

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In keeping with the whole Sorcerer Mickey theme, they introduced a new nighttime show this year replacing BraviSEAmo!...Fantasmic. I have to say, I was less than excited when they announced this, given that Fantasmic isn't really a new show for us here. Steve Davison directed a supercharged "Fantasmic 2.0" however, which is really spectacular. It centers around a huge collapsible illuminated hat that is alternately a screen for animation and a stage that expands and contracts with the action.

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While the story is pretty much the same and includes a lot of similar elements to the versions with which we're familiar, there are some new structures, such as a circular mirror frame that pours down water for its own projection screen.

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Their dragon, while a little more abstract than DL's, has a terrific entrance and exit.

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While the show does make an attempt to give everyone something of a view, even floating around huge balloons in areas of the harbor where the water screens aren't visible, my main complaint would be that this is a pretty hard show to see. In what seems to be a developing Davison trademark, if you really want the full effect of all the water screens and close-to-the-water floats, you need to be in a relatively small viewing angle...and you'll be competing with all these people for that space.

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After three nights of trying to get a decent view, I finally capitulated and paid to eat dinner at Oceano, one of the restaurants in Miracosta, so that I could watch Fantasmic from the balcony. It wasn't cheap, but the alternative to never get a good look at all, was unattractive.

Besides, Oceano is a gorgeous restaurant in and of itself. It's a buffet, which makes it a great choice if you're interested in trying a bunch of different, sometimes curious foods.

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So that was the bulk of TDS' 10th Anniversary events. Given that I was there at MK this year for WDW's 40th Anniversary, one can't help feeling a little like the farmer who showed the ostrich egg to the chickens--"this is just to show you what's being accomplished elsewhere."

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Next time: Christmastime at TDL.

December 7, 2011

D23 Update

Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to a D23 Update at the Walt Disney Studios on Thursday, December 1, 2011.

On Thursday, December 1, 2011, D23 hosted a media session to share some information on upcoming activities and I had the opportunity to attend. The event took place on the Walt Disney Studio Lot in Burbank. Below are several pictures and a couple videos that chronicle the experience.

The first stop of the day was in the Walt Disney Archives, on the first floor of the Frank G Wells building on the Disney Studio Lot in Burbank.

A quick look around the archives. If you would like a more extensive look check out my D23 section at http://www.disneygeek.com/d23 and you can see pictures from a D23 Studios and Archive tour I went on a few years ago.

A couple of Mickeys official portraits.

Some awards..

Here is a wider shot of the room. As you can see it is tight and the displays are around the outside of the space.

All Disneyland Fans remember this outfit.


Walts inspiration for audio animatronics... a mechanical bird.

Volumes of publications, books, etc.. line the one wall.


Steven Clark, head of D23, gave a brief welcome and introduction.



Becky Cline, Director of the Walt Disney Archives, prepares to show us some items from the collection.

First up a cell from Steamboat Willie

The script for Steamboat Willie


A soundtrack for Snow White, back before it was called a soundtrack.

Next up a book showing some concept art from Snow White since to celebrate the 75th anniversary of its release.


If you read your D23 Disney Twenty Three Magazine (the issue with the Muppets on the cover) you will know the story of the unused Dumbo sequence that was recently discovered. Here is some of that art work.


Next up from the original Mickey Mouse clubs, from the movie theater days not the TV show.



The Academy Award for one of the True Life Adventure films was brought out and if you wanted you could take your picture holding it.

Next we moved down the hall to the theater for a brief presentation on D23 that featured Steven Clark (right) and Tim O Day.

First up an overview of D23 and the philosophy of its events.

A look back at the 2011 D23 Expo. Planning is already underway for the 2013.
They have sifted through the guest feedback and are working on ways to try and make the lines more manageable. They know the D23 Expo is not Comic-Con and they want to balance the capacity, lines, and scheduling better for the next one.


Next up a look back at the Sip & Stroll that happened last Fall. It featured a celebration of Bob Gurrs 80th birthday this year.

There were several 50 and Fabulous! films presented at the Studio.

The Disney and Dickens event (the label is incorrect on here, this years is sold out already).

Magic and Merriment is running for two sessions this year to increase capacity. (I have pictures from the first one in my D23 section if anyone is interested).

Some new events this upcoming year.

The Smoke Tree Ranch Roundup will give you the opportunity to experience the ranch as Walt did and learn about some of the Disney connections such as the cabins that WED worked on.

Two of the special guests that will be at the event.

Next up a Journey to Marceline. (this will take place in conjunction with the annual Disney Shareholders meeting that will be held in Kansas City this year).

This year in addition to the 50 & Fabulous films they will host others from the vaults that are celebrating anniversaries.

There will be a round of events taking place across the country celebrating Disney Fans.

The idea behind these Fanniversary Events will be to highlight many of the milestones reached across the company. Such as Snow Whites 75th or Fantasmics 20th.

Next up Destination D, for those who have not attended one. These events focus more on the history of subject. The first one was to celebrate Disneylands 55th and as you all remember the original idea was these would run on non Expo years. But due to anniversaries and interest they are now running every year.

The second was for Walt Disney Worlds 40th. I have pictures from both of the first two if you browse the rest of the D23 section.

The 2012 Destination D will be celebrating 75 Years of Feature Animation.

It will be held at the Disneyland Hotel again this time around.


The popular studio tours will continue into 2012 and now will take place on both Sat and Sun of the selected weekends in order to double the capacity (I have pictures from one of the first ones from a few years ago in another section)

To wrap up the presentation a remind of the two D23 membership levels.

To close with a talk about the Magazine. The Spring issue of the Disney twenty-three magazine will highlight 75 years of feature animation and today they had a special treat for us. They were shooting the cover for it and we were allowed to stop by the shoot. So that was our next stop.

It is hard not to be happy standing in the shadow of the Dwarfs on the Team Disney Building and in front of the old Animation Building.

Here are several video clips from the shoot. We were not allowed to take still pictures, but video was ok. You will see:
Kathryn Beaumont, voice of Alice and of Wendy Darling


Alice Davis, Imagineer and costume designer

Lisa Davis, voice of Anita in One Hundred and One Dalmatians

Joe Hale, animation producer

Dickie Jones, voice of Pinocchio

Margaret Kerry, live-action model for Tinker Bell

Burny Mattinson, legendary storyboard artist

Floyd Norman, animator and story man

Richard Sherman, composer and lyricist

Ruthie Thompson, supervisor of Scene Planning department (Ink & Paint)

Tyrus Wong, background artist


After the photo shoot we went back inside and upstairs to the Walt Disney Archives Library. Here is the front desk area.

There were file cabinets and bookshelves filling most of the room. On top display cases.

Along the front window more items from the archives.


Working my way to the back of the library. Along the way passed a lot of wardrobe items.

Several rows of cabinets

From the Country Bears!

This is the piano that used to be in Walts Office.

What a great collection of items!

Henry's shoes from the Country Bears.

More bookcases, displace, and wardrobe pieces.


The Roy O Disney building was being renovated so the plaque was here for safe keeping.

A wider shot of the space to show how it was set up.

There was a reception for the legends and they hung around to talk and view the archives.

A figure from WDWs Mr. Toad.

Made my way back around to the Piano.



How the Piano looked in Walts office

Steven Clark gave a brief toast and thank you to the legends.

Then a special treat for us. Richard Sherman sat down to play a couple songs for us.

He opened with Feed the Birds


Here is a video of Richard Sherman playing a couple songs from Mary Poppins... you cannot help but take yourself back to what it would have been like for Walt to hear him playing the same songs on the same piano a few buildings away.

The assembled crowd.

Posing for pictures.


Somehow he found his way back to Piano for an encore...

This video features a song from Mary Poppins that did not make it into the final film.

Continuing the look around the room at the various display cases.


This shelf actually looks a little like mine at home.. I have quite a few of these books in my library!


Thought this was a cool collection of Happy Meal toys.

Walking back through the front desk area on my way out.

Hope you enjoyed this brief tour of the Disney Archives and some information on D23. For additional photos and details from this trip or other D23 events you can check out the full Update I posted on my site in the D23 section, http://disneygeek.com



December 8, 2011

December to Remember - Day 0

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Lee and I are back at WDW for the All Ears December to Remember events. 15 years - congratulations Deb Wills and Deb Koma and all of my other fellow All Ears team mates! And thank you to YOU, all of our readers - All Ears wouldn't be what it is without you!

I'm not planning to do my usual descriptive blog about this trip, but will share a few photos as I have the time.

The new Katsura Grill opened at Epcot today, in the former Yakitori House restaurant. Lee and I had dinner there. The menu has most (if not all) of the items from Yakitori House - teriyaki chicken bowls, beef curry, and noodles, but also has some new items, like the Okonomiyaki, which is a Japanese pancake, a chicken katsu sandwich, and the Tsukemen Salad, a cold ramen noodle salad. Unfortunately, we didn't try any of those - it was a very chilly evening at Epcot (cold front going through, and very breezy), so we had the Udon Noodles - with tempura shrimp for me and with beef for Lee. Both really good. My only complaint is that the bowls they use do not insulate well at all, and my soup cooled off much faster than I would have liked on a chilly evening.

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Katsura Grill Menu

They didn't make the restaurant any larger, but they moved the ordering counter back and added a queue and another register or two so it's not quite as chaotic and crowded inside. They also lightened the color of the decor inside so it seems larger.

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I'm sure you'll be reading a much more detailed review from Jack Spence soon - we talked to a manger who saw Lee's AllEars hat and said that he had talked to Jack earlier today. :-)

Something I had NOT heard about at all - there's a new sake bar/drink stand - it's on the same side of Japan as the Katsura Grill, approximately across from the steps leading up to Tokyo Dining. (It used to be a merchandise cart). They offer several kinds of sake, sake cocktails, frozen sake beverages, beer, a seasonal smoothie, green tea, and soft drinks. I don't know the name, though. It was chilly so we didn't try anything, but I want to return to try one of the sake cocktails - or even the Amasake frozen beverage if it warms up enough.

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We treated ourselves to a Pumpkin Spice Funnel Cake from the stand next to the American Adventure. It was really good!

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I thought these projected snowflakes were really pretty.

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From our balcony at the Boardwalk we could see the Illuminations fireworks - this is part of the holiday finale. While I love seeing it up close, I think it looks a little better from a distance.

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December 9, 2011

December to Remember - Day 2

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Today (Friday) started really early - we had to be at the entrance to the Studios by 6:30 for the Toy Story Maniac Eat and Play Meet. What a fantastic event! A huge thank you to our sponsor, All Star Vacation Homes. I so wish that we had not had to limit it so much so that more of you could have shared it with us, but the very nature of the event meant that it had to be small.

Sarge from Toy Story met us outside the turnstiles and marched us all up Hollywood Blvd do the Sorcerer's Hat, where we took a group photo (only our two official photographers were allowed photos because the park was not yet open, so I don't have any photos of that).

We went back to the Prop Shop for a buffet breakfast. Just being in the Prop Shop was a treat - there were so many interesting things from all sorts of Disney movies displayed on shelves around the room and overhead.

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We had a really nice breakfast - fresh fruit and pastries, hash browns, two kinds of "family omelet" skillets, turkey sausage, and bacon.

December to Remember - Day 2

Deb spoke to us briefly, as did Steve and Sarah from All Star Vacation Homes.

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Then Sarge came back. He posed for pictures with everyone, made some people do push-ups, sit-ups, or jumping jacks, and was really a hoot. "Sir, yes, sir!"

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At the end he demonstrated some of his best "Green Army Man" poses - this one was my favorite.

December to Remember - Day 2

At about 8:45 we walked over to Toy Story Mania and right onto the ride! Great fun riding it with so many friends.

The park had just opened as we exited the ride - and it was really amazing watching all the people come down the street and descend upon the ride entrance and the fastpass machines. The line stretched waaaay back past Little Mermaid. Wow.

It was a great morning - another moment to remember from this December to Remember.

But it didn't end there! Tonight we were back in the Studios for Sweet Bites and Street Lights. We started with a dessert buffet in the Animation Building, where we were joined by a very dapper Mickey and a very glamorous Minnie!

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And after the park had been cleared of guests we went back to the Streets of America, where Deb Wills flipped the switch to turn on the Osborne Lights!

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They are just so beautiful, and we had the streets to ourselves.

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The lights danced to several songs, but all too soon it was time to say goodbye.

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Another fabulous event - thank you to our wonderful Mouse Fan Travel sponsors!

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What a terrific day it was!


December 11, 2011

December to Remember - Day 3

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Today's big event was the Open House at one of the Grand Villas at Kidani Village. We arrived about 10:15, but other All Ears team members were already there and hard at work.

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The villa is two stories - there's a nice living room area at the top of the steps on the second floor.

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Here's the view out the huge picture window from the second floor balcony.

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We covered a lot of the horizontal surfaces with All Ears swag!

December to Remember - Day 3

In the dining area there were refreshments - here are some of the sweet treats provided by babycakes nyc (and some Mickey krispie treats, too).

December to Remember - Day 3

Fruit, cheese platters, drinks, and other snacks were provided by our sponsor, Orlando Stroller Rentals.

December to Remember - Day 3

Owner Shannon Tanner had a couple of their strollers on display.

December to Remember - Day 3

I think everyone enjoyed themselves - they could chat with All Ears team members, or take a Kidani Village tour with Jack Spence, or a Hidden Mickeys tour with Steve Barrett.

December to Remember - Day 3

There was quite a market in All Ears trading cards upstairs, as well as pin trading downstairs.

December to Remember - Day 3

Every half hour or so there was a raffle for prizes like t-shirts, hats, or bags.

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Thank you to all of you who came by and joined us - we hope you had a good time!

(For those interested in seeing more photos of the Villa - Jack Spence took a bunch of photos, and those will be making their way to AllEars soon.)



December 12, 2011

December to Remember - Day 4

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Today was the final day of "December to Remember" events - it has gone so fast!

It was another early morning for us - we got up to attend the Team AllEars® Run/Walk/Wog Yer Buns Off run, which started at 7:00. Team Captains Michelle Scribner MacLean and Mike Scopa and several other members of Team AllEars were there, as well as several other AllEars readers who came out to run with us! Most of us went around Crescent Lake and out to the entrance to the Studios and back - there was one overachiever (cough, Lee, cough) who did it twice.

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Ray Sharpton, who has been so supportive on the Facebook page, and with his attendance at most, if not all, of the events, was our official starter.

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Afterwards we enjoyed some well-earned pastries from the Boardwalk Bakery. :-)

This afternoon was the event Deb Koma and I had planned together - the Around the World CHOCOLATE Challenge. We were very fortunate that the rain showers held off until AFTER our event - whew!

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For those of you who don't know, the idea for this event grew out of something Deb and I and two other chocoholics did back in 2000, where we attempted (in one short afternoon) to eat something chocolate at every pavilion in World Showcase. You can read the article Deb wrote about it - Chocolate Around the World.

We had a special gift for everyone who was there - chocolate, of course, but the kind that melts in your mouth and not in your hand!

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Thank you to the ~90 of you who attended - we hope you had a good time. Even if it apparently wasn't quite as much of a "challenge" as we had anticipated. You're all just too smart for us!

December to Remember - Day 4

Tonight was the final December to Remember Grand Finale event. There was an Illuminations Dessert Party. Originally we were supposed to be at area in front of Italy, but it was supposed to rain, so we were moved inside to the upper floor of the American Adventure building! That was actually really a nice place to be! From the windows we could see the Candlelight Processional.

December to Remember - Day 4

There was a very nice dessert buffet provided by our sponsors, Orlando Attractions Magazine and MEI Travel / Mouse Fan Travel.

December to Remember - Day 4

The promised rain arrived, and it had been raining just before everyone entered, but fortunately it had stopped by the time we went out to see Illuminations at Italy. The holiday finale of Illuminations is one of my very favorite things, and I really enjoyed seeing it up close.

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Afterwards it was time for another surprise - we all walked towards the front of the park where we rode Soarin'! Just our group - no other guests.

And then it was time to say goodbye to all our company....It has truly been a December to Remember, with so many wonderful moments. It just went way too fast!


December 18, 2011

December to Remember - The Food

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We had the opportunity to dine at several restaurants during our trip, and try some new restaurants and new dishes.

Of course we started with an established favorite, breakfast at Pizzafari at Animal Kingdom on Thursday morning. I had my favorite breakfast bargain - the oatmeal with apples, brown sugar, and raisins, for just $2.79. They weren't quite as generous with the apples as they were the first time I had this, but it was still good and pretty filling.

December to Remember - The Food

Lee had the Spinach and Goat Cheese Frittata, for $6.99. It came with breakfast potatoes, but was not quite as much food as he wanted, so he went back and got a side order of bacon. (There's a lot more food on the Bounty Platter - eggs, potatoes, bacon, sausage, french toast, and biscuit, and it's only $8.29 for all of that.)

December to Remember - The Food

We had lunch that day at Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney - that's another bargain (each sandwich is only $5.99), but the lines are so long...I didn't take any photos, though. I had the All-American, which is turkey and cheddar with cranberry sauce, and Lee had The Original, with roast beef and cheddar. I also had a bowl of the broccoli cheese soup ($2.99), which was really good. I remembered to bring my AAA card, so we got 15% off with that. I wish we had an Earl of Sandwich in San Diego - though it would be really crowded here, too.

On Thursday night we ate at The Wave at the Contemporary, with DebK. We didn't have a reservation, but were seated within 10 minutes after our 6:45 arrival.

Deb and I both had the soup of the day, which was a yellow split pea soup with bacon. It was ok - it had an odd spice in it that we couldn't identify, but that neither of us cared for.

December to Remember - The Food

Lee had the Fall Harvest Salad with apples, candied walnuts, Midnight Moon cheese, and an ice wine vinaigrette. This looked really good and he liked it, but we thought it was a very small serving for $6.99.

December to Remember - The Food

My entree was the Oven-roasted Chicken - with potato waffles and black-eyed peas and rice for $18.99. The chicken was very good. I wasn't sure what to expect from potato waffles, but the taste and texture was pretty much like regular waffles.

December to Remember - The Food

Deb had the "Lacquered" Pork Tenderloin. It was served on a bed of smoked and pulled pork with boniato bread pudding and corn succotash for $22.99.

December to Remember - The Food

Lee went back and forth between the Flat Iron Steak and the Grilled Beef Tenderloin, but decided on the tenderloin. It was served with planet carrots, mashed potatoes, and a poblano chile ring for $29.99. The chile ring wasn't what any of us expected from the description - it was more a deep-fried entire chile than a ring.

December to Remember - The Food

We had good service and it was a very nice relaxed, laid-back dinner.

For lunch on Friday, eight of us from AllEars had lunch (celebrating a birthday!) at the Brown Derby. We had a wonderful time with a good server and one of the managers who made it a special celebration for our birthday girl. Most people had the Cobb Salad for lunch. I actually had two appetizers - first was the fried prawn, served on a bed of polenta and wilted greens. It was very good.

December to Remember - The Food

I also had the Bibb Lettuce Salad, which was a very healthy serving, unlike the one Lee had the night before. It had cherry tomatoes and parmesan cheese with some cracked peppercorns - I enjoyed it, but it's not for someone who doesn't like pepper.

December to Remember - The Food

Lee and a couple of others had the Udon Noodle Bowl with with Wok-fried Coconut Tofu, Soy Beans, Sugar Snap Peas, Bok Choy, and Shiitake Mushrooms in a Red Curry Broth. They said it was very good, though the noodles were doing a good job of eluding the chopsticks. :-)

December to Remember - The Food

On Saturday evening Lee and I had dinner at Sanaa at Kidani Village. We'd had lunch there before, but not dinner. We arrived early enough that it was still daylight outside and we could see a few animals out on the savanna, but soon it got dark. I don't know - maybe if we'd had a window table we still could have seen something, but from where we were we could no longer see outside.

We both tried one of the Wine Flights. I had the East London flight, which included one white blend and two red blends. The white blend was really good - it had viognier, riesling, and sauvignon blanc. Very refreshing and a little sweet. The middle red (Bordeaux blend) was my least favorite - it wasn't bad, I just didn't like it as much. I had actually expected that I wouldn't care for the third wine, the Pepper Pot, but it was very good.

December to Remember - The Food

Lee's flight was three red wines, and he enjoyed all of those as well.

The Sanaa menu is always challenging for us because there's so many things we want to try! We started with the bread service. There are four choices of bread and you're supposed to choose three - I don't know why they don't just give you some of ALL of them. We really enjoyed the fresh naan and the papadum, which is kind of like a crisp tortilla cracker, only it's not made with wheat or corn. It had an unusual flavor but it was very good. We also chose three accompaniments - red chile sambal, mango chutney, and red pepper hummus. It would be very easy to fill up just on the bread!

December to Remember - The Food

We ordered the appetizer sampler, which came with potato and pea samosas, lamb kefta, and roasted cauliflower. I really like samosas, and these were good, and not too spicy. The lamb kefta (spicy lamb meatball) was a little bit hot to my taste. The roasted cauliflower was good - Lee let me have almost all of that. :-)

December to Remember - The Food

Ordering entrees was difficult! I decided to do something from the Tandoor oven part of the menu, and had the Tandoori Lamb with five grain pilaf. It was ok - it was pieces of lamb and some of them were a little bit tough.

December to Remember - The Food

Lee ordered from the "Slow Cooked in Gravy" section, where he was allowed to choose two - he had the Spicy Durban Chicken and the Coconut Curry Lamb, with Basmati rice. They were both excellent - both fork tender and nicely seasoned.

December to Remember - The Food

It was really a good dinner, but we passed on dessert - nothing sufficiently indulgently chocolatey for my taste.

Sunday afternoon we returned to the new Katsura Grill in the Japan pavilion to try a couple of the new menu items.

We were very intrigued by the Okonomiyaki: "savory grilled Japanese pancake with vegetable topped with a tangy sauce". I really wasn't sure what to expect. But it was good - it was somewhat remiscent of a potato pancake (though it wasn't potatoes) topped with a layer of cabbage and then the sauce. We both thought the sauce was a little bit overwhelming, and would have preferred less of it. (But you can scrape it off.)

December to Remember - The Food

We also tried the Curry Chicken Cutlet, which was pieces of breaded fried chicken (Chicken Katsu for those of you who have traveled to Hawaii) topped with curry sauce served over steamed rice. The chicken was very moist and flavorful and the dish was really good and very filling. It was not a spicy curry at all - it had some veggies in it and was very mild.

December to Remember - The Food

Our final meal was breakfast at Kouzzina with our friends Ilene and Paul on Monday. We had a terrific server (also named Laura) and it was a very nice meal. They introduced some new items on the breakfast menu not too long ago. Paul had one of the new items - the French Toast Baklava. This is made with grilled fig and anise bread with honey, walnuts, and cinnamon, and it had cinnamon apples on top. He said it was very good but very rich. It was served with choice of bacon or chicken sausage.

December to Remember - The Food

Lee had one of the other new dishes, the Breakfast Skillet, with eggs, Pequillo peppers, Nueske's bacon, onions, and Greek cheese on Sweet potato hash and topped with arugula. He commented on having salad for breakfast, but I think he ate all of it! :-)

December to Remember - The Food

Ilene and I were more conventional, and had the American Breakfast with two eggs (scrambled), potatoes, and choice of bacon or sausage. It was good, but I suppose there was nothing remarkable about it. :-)

December to Remember - The Food

We bought a new Tables in Wonderland card at the beginning of this trip, and as you can see, we got some use out of it! It hasn't paid for itself yet, though. :-) (For those not familiar with it, it costs $75, but gives you 20% off at most table service restaurants at WDW.)


December 19, 2011

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, December 16, 2011. The main focus of Part 1 is to check in on the progress of Cars Land as well as Buena Vista Street. Part 2 will feature Disneyland and some of the holiday festivities.

I arrived at the Disneyland Resort right as the afternoon winds were kicking up.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1


Heading to DCA first to check out the construction progress. The facades on the West side of the street are slowly taking shape.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1

More framing going up.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1

The backside.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1

There were posted warnings that if the winds continue World of Color may be cancelled (it was not). Also surprising they were still passing out Fastpasses in the Yellow section for the first show, an indication that the park was not too crowded yet.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1

Everything looks so peaceful from this shot. (the winds were really howling at this point).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1


They were keeping everyone clear of the Christmas tree due to the winds.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1


Thanks to the winds it was fairly clear as you looked around from the Fun Wheel.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1


A wider shot of the Radiator Springs Racers area.. wow is it impressive!

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1

The base of the radiator cap is moving along.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1

The RS can be seen now.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1


The arch by the Wharf is just about painted. Also there is now a tree there.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1


The Curios store signage is up now.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1


The courthouse/firehouse looks great!

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1


Over to the Flying Tires area. Looks like the lights are going in (you can see them strung in the background as well as the lifts).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1

Ramone's sign is up.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1

The Cozy Cones are inching along. Also the backstage fence behind them looks to have been painted.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1


Behind the cones it is hard to tell what is going on.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1


A look at Mater's, notice there is a tractor out (about the middle of the shot). Also more props near the shack.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1


The rock work makes a great backdrop for the Wharf. What a difference!

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1

They were painting the underside of the archway.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1

Filmore's windmill was going full speed thanks to the wind. Here is a riveting video of the windmill in action from two angles for those who are interested.

Sarge's has received the first layer of its roof.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1


The sign for Mater's Junkyard Jamboree is up.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1

Not sure what to call it but something else out in from of Filmore's.. guess it is a windmill of sorts?

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1

A wider shot of the area. The trees do look great.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1

The most exciting change... Route 66 has received its blacktop. It is really moving along.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1


Cannot wait to see this at night!

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1

More details emerging.. notice the lamp post by Filmore's

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1

A look down Route 66. Stanley's base is installed.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1


Over to Mater's. More props installed around the shack.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1


In Flik's Fun Fair, Flik's Flyers were closed temporarily.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1

As were the fountains.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1

The walls were down around the Red Car stop near Tower of Terror.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1

Only visible change to me was this strip under where it will stop. Guessing this is a sensor of some kind. Wonder if it is for charging too?

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1

Much of the scaffolding on the Carthay Circle Theater is now down. And the details are starting to emerge.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1


Moving on. Here is the East side of the street. Scaffolding up around the old Candy store sign and the Elias and Company facade steel is up.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1


The West side (where the train used to be)

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1


The palm trees have been opened up, just in time for the winds to give them a work out.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1

Bright new gas pumps in Condor Flats.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 1

Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the Disneyland Resort. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com



December 20, 2011

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, December 16, 2011. In part 2 are shots from around Disneyland including some of the Holiday festivities, a video of The Magic, the Memories, and You!, and some evening photos from Disney California Adventure.


Next stop Disneyland!

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2

Arrived on Main Street as the Christmas Fantasy Parade was making its way down the street. Noticed the lead unit that features Duffy was not there. I liked the Toy Soldiers leading the way!

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2

A very odd sight for mid afternoon. Star Tours Fastpasses available for less than an hour away and a short wait?

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2

Some shots from the Monorail. Thanks to the windows being up and the sun they are not the best but you can get a quick glimpse of the state of things.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2

Wow out of focus... but you can see how the store facade has been extended with the new steel (the black steel)

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2

Noticed what appears to be new stoppers on the monorail station gates to stop them from swinging all the way open. Guessing this is to help herd guests to the proper cars?

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2

Went for a second ride to get the other side and had a similar problem with the window.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2


The wait times around 4pm.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2

A look at the new signage for the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe which is slated to open in January.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2


A new weather vane.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2

Cartoon Spin was down (as was Small World when I walked by)

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2

Walked through the Big Thunder Ranch area as well as Santa's Reindeer Round-up

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2


The line for Santa was short, too.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2


Looks like the sign had some issue thanks to the wind I would assume.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2

The Billies in the Golden Horseshoe were the next stop for me.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2

The wait times around 5:30.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2

A look down Main Street.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2

During the wintertime enchantment/snow event the lights all turn white.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2

A look at the castle.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2


Even ElecTRONica felt empty this evening.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2

Poreotics were performing this weekend. This group is the reigning champion of America's Best Dance Crew according to the intro. Here is a video of their 8:30 performance.


Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2


Back to Disneyland to catch some of the Snow Fall since the fireworks were cancelled due to wind.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2

Stuck around for the Magic, the Memories, and You. There is a Christmas/Holiday segment added to the middle of the show.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2


Here is video of the entire show.. it is not the best, seems the camera did not like the location but you can sort of see it and can hear everything. (The holiday segment starts about 7 minutes in.)


Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/16/11 - Part 2


Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the Disneyland Resort. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com


December 23, 2011

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his cruise aboard the Disney Dream. This set of pictures are from Day 1 as he toured the ship, focusing on the Christmas decorations around the ship and the tree lighting ceremony. For pictures of the ship in general please visit disneygeek.com for his full update.

No Christmas decoration visible as you approach the ship...

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Nor outside the terminal.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

But inside there are some and Mickey was out in a holiday sweater to greet guests.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Inside the terminal there are some wreaths, ornaments and a tree.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

A wreath over the check in area.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1


Minnie came out in relief of Mickey for photos.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

The tree.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Heading on board.. a member of the cruise staff waits once you step into the atrium.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Garlands ring the lobby atrium.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1


There's a tree off to the side which will be lit in a special ceremony later this evening.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1


More garland on the main stair case.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1


Back to the main tree which will be lit in a special ceremony later this evening.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

The District Lounge on Deck 4, Aft

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Inside 687. (the tree is almost behind the pole)

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Another tree in the corner.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Back to the atrium.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1


The Bon Voyage bar on Deck 3, Midship.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

The Oceaneers Lab on Deck 5.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

This is the room that joins the lab and club.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1


Heading next door to the Oceaneers Club.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

The wreath behind the front desk.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Inside Andys room.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1


Back to the center room..

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Inside Pixie Hollow.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Monsters Academy.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

The Small World Nursery lobby.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

The Vibe, you can just barely see the tree in the distance.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

This is in the Edge.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1


The Outlook on Deck 14.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Next up the Senses area. There are some wreaths in the waiting area.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1


This is the Cove Cafe on Deck 11.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1


A look into Remy on Deck 12 Aft.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Next door at Palo.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

The Enchanted Garden down on Deck 2.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Waiting for the King Triton Tree Lighting Decree a trio out performing some Christmas favorites.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1


Video of the King Triton Tree Lighting Decree

Now some stills from the ceremony.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Snow fall...

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

The gift shops had merchandise on sale for 40% off... what is Christmas without some shopping?

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

That wraps up the first day and a tour of the Disney Dream Christmas decorations.

Holidays aboard the Disney Dream - Day 1

Next I'll have photos of the holiday decorations at Castaway Cay. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disney Dream Update I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com



December 27, 2011

Holidays at the Tokyo Disney Resort: Part 3--Christmas comes to Tokyo Disneyland

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In case you missed: PART ONE and PART TWO

At Tokyo Disneyland (TDL,) Christmastime comes in a timely and comprehensive fashion.

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Even the monorail stations have their own decorations.

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As with every other Disney Main Street, TDL's World Bazaar has their tree sparkling and gleaming already, surrounded by eager photographers.

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TDL's holiday offerings include a wide variety of entertainment, including their own version of Disneyland's "Nightmare Before Christmas" Haunted Mansion overlay.

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Although it looks relatively similar on the outside, as if the DL decorations had been transported and planted on the WDW mansion, the inside has a number of variations on the theme--a large cake multilayered cake in place of the yearly gingerbread house in the ballroom scene, for example.

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A seasonal overlay also comes to the Country Bear Jamboree--nostalgia writ large for those of us who remember it from Disneyland.

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Of course they had a Christmas parade--the floats are charmingly decorated, and seem to feature these elves quite a bit, which are either cute or off-putting, as your tastes run.

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There seem to be two show stops during the parade, which are reasonably long, so positioning is important if you want to see the whole thing. If you ask the CMs where you should stand in order to get a good view of the stop, they are likely to ask you what your favorite character is, in order to direct you to the area where that float stops.

Some great but lengthy YouTube video of the parade:

Although people stake out their places fairly early for the parades, it is in some aspects much less stressful to try to watch them at TDR, because of the relatively strict control the CMs exercise (although always in the most cordial and polite manner) over the audience. There are designated areas for sitting, versus standing, and people are repeatedly admonished to remove hats and hairbands to facilitate other people's view. Raising cameras or children over the level of your shoulders is similarly not allowed.

Planning tip #6: Don't mistake politeness for weakness.

Because, in general, Japanese service is usually considered to be very conciliatory, with a high degree of deference, it can sometimes be tempting to assume someone coming in with an aggressive manner and a disinclination to follow rules would just be able to ride roughshod over everybody. The reality is a little different; for the most part, they have developed certain methods and procedures for various circumstances (sometimes extremely efficient and rational, sometimes less so) and there are typically no alternatives or exceptions permitted. My personal belief is that their culture is deeply dependent on conformity to a group standard, with any deviation seen as an invitation to chaos. Is a certain level of inflexibility a fair tradeoff for a more ordered, considerate way of doing things? You make the call. Either way, it can make for a more relaxing viewing experience when you don't have to worry about someone coming and standing right in front of you two minutes before the parade, or yelling and screaming at the CMs until they get their way.

Along with the myriad decorations that pepper the different lands, there is, of course, an abundance of seasonal merchandise to purchase as well.

Planning Tip #7: The souvenir you want, may not be the souvenir you get.

One thing interesting about the TDR is how different the general tastes must be as far as what they want to buy. They don't seem to have much use for t-shirts there--there are very few for sale, and you don't see many people wearing them around the parks. The ones they have are fairly generic looking, and only a couple even have "Tokyo Disneyland" written on them. While the assortment of pins available seems to have increased in the past years, there is still nothing like the mania for them that you have here, in the States, and the trading of pins inside the parks is prohibited. Mickey ear hats must have taken a dive in popularity as well, because I don't think I saw any this last trip--jillions of hairbands and furred hoods were sold in their place.

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The mainstay of TDR shopping is 1) cell phone charms, and 2) cookies. Individualizing the appearance of their cellphones seems to be a huge deal there, so there are endless seasonal trinkets around. The Japanese people also have an elaborate gift-giving obligation structure known as "omiyage," which, as far as I can tell, requires them to buy massive quantities of cookies and candies for their friends and family whenever they go anyplace, so massive Emporium-sized stores are dedicated to that.

Back to Christmas: A castle show also takes place with holiday fireworks. One of the aspects of TDL that has always been a little lagging compared to the Western parks, is their pyrotechnics. Japan in general, and Tokyo in particular, has a long history of devastation by fire, so I think there are strict regulations about how extensive shows like this can be. Nevertheless, I thought this show was greatly improved over the previous one I saw there, which seemed extremely short.

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Their nighttime parade, Dreamlights, also gets some holiday touches, with new wardrobes for a number of the characters, and at least a Santa hat for others.

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So that was the bulk of the holiday offerings over at Tokyo Disneyland, not counting the million little (and not so little) decorative touches and photo opportunities.

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Next time: Christmastime at TDS.

December 28, 2011

Holidays at the Tokyo Disney Resort: Part 4--Christmas comes to Tokyo DisneySea

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In case you missed them: PART ONE, PART TWO and PART THREE

If Tokyo Disneyland (TDL) was well and truly decked out for the holidays, Tokyo DisneySea (TDS) was certainly not far behind.

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Each land there has a Christmas tree of its own, specifically themed. Among them:

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Mermaid Lagoon...

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New York Harbor...

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and Port Discovery.

An unofficial mascot for the winter season seems to be Pablo, the Cold-Blooded Penguin, from the Three Caballeros.

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Pablo can be purchased in any of a number of convenient sizes and formats.

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Planning tip #8: If you want it, buy it.

The Tokyo Disney Resort (TDR) seems to change out their merchandise at a much faster clip than the US parks do. Things that you see in the shops at the beginning of your trip may sell out mid-week, and be replaced by different lines of merchandise altogether by the end. You may be used to being able to do all your shopping on Main Street after park closing, but usually the Tokyo shops close pretty close to regular park closing. A few of the bigger stores at the very front of the park may be open a little later (particularly the ones selling decorative packages of cookies,) but you can't really count on the other ones being available to you for very much longer. You may also be used to doing your shopping at the end of your trip: Remember, that because of their ticketing system, out of six days in the parks, you may only be able to park hop for two of them. If you go in to the parks for four days, then buy an extra day or evening to finish up shopping, you'll only be able to go to one park...so choose wisely. Ultimately, what I've found, is that if you find something you're reasonably sure you want, you should just go ahead and buy it then, because there's no guarantee it will be there later, or even that you'll be able to get to it, subsequently.

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The real attractions for the holidays at TDS, however, are the shows. Terrifically executed and phenomenally popular, they are completely worth the time and effort it takes to secure a spot for them.

The morning show, taking the place of the regular "Be Magical!" presentation, is "Christmas Wrapped in Ribbons." As with all the shows, there's a heavy character component, with all the different mascots for each of the separate lands coming together to sing and dance.

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Here's a great YouTube video that gives you a good idea of the show from a variety of different viewpoints.

The next show is a regularly scheduled one which is given a holiday overlay:

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Big Band Beat is a revue of various swing and big band hits. Along the way, various characters come out and perform different numbers, with Mickey doing a big spotlight drum solo towards the end. For the holidays, they add on some seasonal songs and snowfall at the end. There is a live band and I CANNOT TELL YOU HOW MUCH I LOVE THIS SHOW. I actually did prefer the show that preceded this one, which was a collection of Broadway show tunes and had no characters, because there was just something mind-blowing about sitting in this gorgeous theater, with the live orchestra and the swell performers doing the show completely straight and in English (it is located in the New York Harbor area,) and then remembering that YOU ARE IN JAPAN, IN A THEME PARK.

Because of the inclusion of the characters, you don't get quite as good a sense of total displacement, but it has great production values, and all the performers keep to an extremely high standard. If it means anything to you, I (through really bad timing,) managed to get in line when the wait was two hours long, and I saw it twice. Unfortunately, they prohibit photos or video during the show...but I imagine anyone determined could find some online anyway.

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The third and main new show of the season is Christmas Wishes--it takes place in an outdoor theater, and is popular enough that they assign seats for it based on a lottery system. You get to stick your ticket into a machine and select one of the show times for the day. You either win, and get another ticket with a seat number, or you get the sad trombone of failure. If you lose, you're done for the day--you can't try again for a different time.

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The costuming is elaborate and beautiful, and the show is basically a collection of character-performed holiday songs set loosely in a framework of what each character wishes for Christmas. The singing is in English, but all the spoken words are in Japanese.

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With its completely unironic good cheer, it reminded me strongly of the old "T'was the Night Before Christmas" show that they used to have during the MK Christmas Parties...which always kind of reminded me of the old Lawrence Welk shows. It's a cute show with higher production values and more performers than anything you're likely to see in a US park.

Here's another terrific video by papaMICKEYokwy of the first part of the show (the second half is posted on his YouTube channel.)

That makes up the bulk of the major holiday offerings from TDS, although there were a thousand more decorative touches/signs/etc., around the resort and the parks.

Next time: Odds and Ends.

December 29, 2011

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, December 23, 2011.


They were directing ECVs to an open gate on the far side of the entrance area. I thought they should also be directing strollers down there too.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

A lot more crowded than last week but not holiday gridlock yet...

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Only a few more weeks before the Bakery is slated to close.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

The new bakery has no real visible changes from last week. But a banner is up saying it is coming soon.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

The wait times around 11:45am

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Caught the 12:20pm Toy Soldier Jam Session in the Small World Mall. This brief show happens several times a day.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Here is a video of the performance.


A couple of temporary carts in the Esplanade selling tickets. The line at the booths was short too as I walked by.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Next up DCA. Buena Vista Street is moving along with a lot of visible progress. The framing of the facades is moving quickly.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

This is the west side facade over the restroom/locker building.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11


More tarps and scaffolding are down on the Carthay Circle Theater.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11


The West side of the street, this is where the train used to be.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11


Checking out the east side of the street.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Back to the west side. Notice the large tree that is now in place.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

The walls have been pushed back and the queue for Disney Jr is now usable. The planters have been reconfigured and some new light. What a difference a few changes make to the area.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

It allows for a different view of the Carthay.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11


They were doing some landscaping this afternoon. Always fun to watch a tree fly through the air..

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

A look down Route 66 reveals work crews have taken over the street with trucks, dumpsters, and port-a-potties.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Upon closer inspection noted new signs down the block.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Several tractors out on Maters for testing.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11


Thought this was interesting. There was a table out front of Paradise Gardens advertising what is available at the grill and they had some free samples.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

It seemed awkward to me and gave me a Costco vibe.. did not really work in the area.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11


Some shots of Cars Land from the Fun Wheel.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11


The Cozy Cones.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

More trees going in and being moved around.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

A better view of several tractors at Maters.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

The Carthay is a nice addition to the skyline.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11


Most of the scaffolding on the far wall is down. Only a few more stories to go.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Another view of the new signs on Route 66.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Another flying tree..

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Rumor is some work will be done to these stores early next year... will not believe it till I see it since I have heard this before.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

A random Christmas tree shot..

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

No line for Santa.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Holiday inspired sour dough bread.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Wow that is a lot of trees now as you look into Cars Land.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11


With the trees moved you can get a clear shot of Maters sign now.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Stopped by the Disney Gallery and walked through to the Opera House Lobby. Seems time to update the display case.. tomorrow is now today.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

I do not think I ever took a picture of Walt in the castle model...

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Some of the current mouse ear options.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

The wait times around 4:30pm

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

A random Castle shot.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11


The wheel chair boats are back in use at Small World, I remember reading a while ago they were pulled offline for a while.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Small World Holiday.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

This is interesting.. Tointown? Guessing this is from the wind or could it be a prank?

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11


A couple pictures from the Wintertime Enchantment

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11


Video of the event.

(Laura's note: Put your mouse cursor on the video and click on the snowflake icon on the youtube toolbar!)

The wait times around 7:40pm

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Back to DCA.. the new gas pumps in Condor Flats after dark.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11


ElecTRONica was not too busy this evening.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Some pictures from ILLUMINATE performing. This group was on America's Got Talent.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11


Video of their performance plus some techno remixes of Christmas songs. The video quality of the performance is pretty bad, but you can probably get the drift of the show from it.

The new lights were on near the Carthay.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Cars Land appeared to have some show lighting tests going on. The lighting was not the usual bright white work lights.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11


Over to Disneyland a look at some of the Emporium windows.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Waiting for the snow fall... Believe had already been cancelled for the evening.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11


Video of the Believe replacement - a second performance of Wintertime Enchantment plus the White Christmas snowfall finale.

That wraps up this trip. Hope everyone has a great holiday season!

Disneyland Resort Photo Update 12/23/11


Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the Disneyland Resort. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com



December 30, 2011

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his cruise aboard the Disney Dream. This set of pictures is from Day 3 as he toured Castaway Cay. For pictures of the ship in general please visit disneygeek.com for his full report from the cruise.

Backing into Castaway Cay.

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

As we approached the dock a Christmas tree came into view.

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations


The Kargo Handling Tram stop had some decorations too.

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

As did the welcome sign.

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

Time to head ashore.

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

A photo op near the tree as you got off the ship.

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations


The Post Office had some decorations too.

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations


Along the walkway some more.

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

A closer look.

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

The tram was decked out for the season with reindeer antlers.

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations


The tram stop.

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

Along the first portion of the tramway some of the poles were decorated.

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations


A better shot of the reindeer tram.

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

Even the back...

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

As you went further into the island there was less in the way of decorations. So a couple random shots as I walked the Island..

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

The tram to Serenity Bay was not decorated.

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

Nor was anything out at the bay.

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

A group of carolers roaming around the dining areas.

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

The cruise activity cast members had holiday shirts on.

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

A closer look.

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

The characters had a different holiday design.

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

I just liked this shot...

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

Heading back to the ship...

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

A closer look at the tree.

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations


A couple more pictures of the Island from the ship before we departed.

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

A better shot of the small building near the ship and its decorations.

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations


Thought the light house tree topper was great.

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations

One last shot of the photo location to end.

Castaway Cay Christmas Decorations


Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the Christmas decorations on Castaway Cay. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full update in the Cruise Section of my site, http://disneygeek.com



December 31, 2011

Season's Greetings! Still!

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Although I am very fond of the holiday season, I often find myself woefully behind on celebrating it. Often, our household ends up postponing a lot of the actual enjoyment of Christmas things--movies, music, etc.--in lieu of meeting the many cheerful obligations that must needs be met before the actual Christmas Day. I understand many people have their tree up directly after Thanksgiving, and then are briskly sweeping the last of the needles out to the curb the day after Christmas. I understand that these families exist, and yet they are as remote from us, who only get our tree down when the city threatens to stop recycling them, as a functioning Yeti.

Perhaps you too, are not completely tired of the holiday season? After all, even Disneyland is keeping their ornamentation up until Three Kings Day, this year. If, like me, you are just now getting the time to relax into the seasonal spirit, I offer up some festive images from some of the various parks and resorts I visited recently.

From the East Coast, to the West, and off to the Far East, best wishes for the upcoming year!

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About December 2011

This page contains all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in December 2011. They are listed from oldest to newest.

November 2011 is the previous archive.

January 2012 is the next archive.

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