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February 2012 Archives

February 5, 2012

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, February 3, 2012. He includes video of the new Valentine's Day tag to "The Magic, the Memories, and You".

Setting up a mesh around the La Brea Bakery as the remodel/expansion moves along.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

In Disney California Adventure, Grizzly River Run is undergoing its annual refurbishment.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12


The Miner 49ers were performing, their act is being retired.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail has reopened. You could smell the new paint/stain/sealer whatever you want to call it.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Nothing really new or different jumped out at me on my quick walk-through.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12


Dug was out for pictures.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Moving on down the trail scaffolding up as they are working on the building and the lift hill for Grizzly River Run.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12


The rock face overlooking the Pier is nearing completion. Notice anything missing here? They have removed the safety line and poles that went across the top of the range.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

More painting along the Pier.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

The facade work on the shops is moving along. What a difference.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

A check in on Cars Land. The toothpicks are being removed on the rock face.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Scaffolding is up on the back side of the range. They are working their way around covering it up.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

All five Cozy Cones are painted now.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

A closer look. You can see the backstage wall taking shape behind the cones. I like the detail. That looks like an A/C unit below the window.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Looks like the frame for a backstage gate being assembled behind the cones. Also looks like one of the Red Car garage doors is open.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12


The pavement work in front of the Little Mermaid sure looks done. I was surprised the walls are still up.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

More scaffolding is down on the radiator cap.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

The Ellis Island Boys performing at Paradise Gardens

Work has begun to transform the tortilla factory to the Ghirardelli shop.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Due to the work on both sides it is a very narrow walkway to the first aid/baby care center.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

A closer look down the street. The large pile of landscaping dirt has been distributed.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Tires on the roof of the shack now.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Looking down toward Buena Vista Street palm trees have sprung up along the Carthay side and another view of the trees around the fountain.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Walls in Bugs Land. Appeared to be around the water fountain area. This made a narrow walkway even narrower.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

The fountain on Buena Vista Street was on today. As you can see the water was being blown around a bit.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

A closer look at the detail work emerging on Buena Vista Street. This is above the ice cream store.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

An Elias and Company sign taking shape.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Over to Disneyland. Some painting going on.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12


Valentines day decorations up around Town Square.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

More painting.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

The waits around 3:30.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

The coffee cart is behind walls.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

No signs of work at Plaza Gardens yet... really seems like something should be going on.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

The moon was visible already.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Some signs have gone up on the Matterhorn construction walls.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

A ride on the Monorail to check out Buena Vista Street. Notice the Elias and Company sign on the left.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

A closer look reveals something taking shape. Is this the base for the Walt and Mickey statue?

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

A second ride on the Monorail, looking north now.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

The Red Car station is starting to take shape I think (the bricks in the foreground/left of this shot).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

In Downtown Disney the Lego Store is behind walls as work is getting under way to remodel and enlarge it.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Get it.. one block down....

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

They have moved into the old Island Charters space during construction. There are only a couple aisles inside. It felt a little cramped and odd to take pictures inside so I did not.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

As you can see the store itself is vary bare bones since it is temporary. And a very small space.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Moving on, the work outside Catal is wrapping up in this area.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

A little further down still an open trench.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Back at Disneyland the Soundsational parade greeted me on Main Street.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12


New Orleans Square is decked out for Mardi Gras which is going to be celebrated for five weekends this year starting February 10.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12


In an effort to ease traffic congestion they have moved the entrance to Cafe Orleans to the other side of the building.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

A closer look at the beads on the light.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12


The new entrance for Cafe Orleans.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12


"it's a small world" has reopened after removal of the holiday overlay.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Looks like the clock can use some TLC.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

The queue area was blocked so you walked out near the parade route/extended queue.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

And back to DCA in the evening...Some lights on the fountain on Buena Vista Street.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Next up Cars Land. Guessing we have to be getting close to final lighting in some areas.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Ramones was lit up this evening.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12


A closer look.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Back to Disneyland and the Small World Mall for the Magic, the Memories, and You! Featuring a new Valentine's Day segment. Video of the show. The new segment starts at 7:01 in this video.


Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Gone with the Wind will be showing at the AMC Theaters in Downtown Disney on Valentine's Day weekend.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Walked through the Disneyland Hotel on the way out. They are continuing to add details to the Fantasy Tower lobby. The entrance area was behind curtains. Looked like a permanent display/mural/something is going in.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

New chandeliers in the lobby & chairs in the waiting area.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12


The far area is a kids waiting area.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/03/12

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



February 7, 2012

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

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The Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend took place at Disneyland January 27-29. The Health and Fitness Expo was on Friday and Saturday, the Never Land Family Fun Run 5K was Friday night, the kids' races were Saturday morning, and the Tinker Bell Half Marathon was Sunday morning, starting at 5:45.

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

This event was geared towards women, but men were allowed to enter, too. :-) There were over 11,000 women registered and only 920 men, so guys, with that 12:1 ratio, you're really missing the boat if you don't think about participating. :-) (Lee ran it with me, and he enjoyed the scenery. A lot.)

Though it was the first year for this particular event, Disneyland has six half marathons under its belt, so I thought it was well-organized and went off without the first-year glitches you typically would expect.

It was a new half marathon course - this one went north into "Old Anaheim" and to Anaheim City Hall before coming back south - we still got a tour of the industrial park area, but it was shorter than it was on the normal half marathon course. We went through Disneyland/Downtown Disney between miles 1.5 and 4, but didn't get into Disney California Adventure until miles 11.5-13.

Course Map

Lee and I approached this one a little differently, and decided we were going to have fun with it. So we did something we'd never done before, and ran in costume - both of us with sparkly running skirts and pixie wings. (I also had a rainbow tutu - couldn't convince Lee he needed one of those, too, but we saw a couple of guys out on the course wearing skirts and tutus, and I think he felt a little envious then!) We found our sparkly running skirts and wings for Lee at team-sparkle.com. They also had a booth at the Expo, where they gave us some great ideas about how to attach the wings securely and in such a way that they didn't cause friction. It really worked - we did not find them uncomfortable or distracting at all.

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

We drove up from San Diego on Saturday morning and were at the Expo by about 11:00. It wasn't too crowded at all, though of course our line at the packet pick-up was the longest one. ;-) We were running as a team entry, so there was a special number range for us, since our packets had team bibs as well as our regular bib. Because we were a team, I was surprised that I was in Corral A, but Lee was in Corral C. We asked at Runner Relations, and were told that no men were in Corrals A or B, because they wanted a woman to be the first across the finish line. Bummer for me, since it meant I had to go back to Corral C! We got our Coast-to-Coast Challenge wristbands, too.

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

The Packet Pick-up area was in its usual place in the underground parking garage of the Disneyland Hotel. They had put up some Tinker Bell decorations at the entrance.

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

And inside were some pixie-ish backgrounds for photos.

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

The Health and Fitness Expo was also in its usual spot in the Convention Center of the Disneyland Hotel. It seemed like most of the usual vendors, though there were a couple of new and different ones - we were very intrigued by sporthooks.com, which sells a variety of hooks to hang your medals from. They'll even do custom things. (I think Bling Junkie works for me...)

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

The booths selling tutus, wings, sparkly skirts, wands, tiaras and the like were doing bang-up business - it looked like just about everyone was going to be running in wings!

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

The runDisney booth had the glass running slipper on display. :-)

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

We also got our Tinker Bell shirts. I must confess I was worried about what this one might look like - I was afraid it was going to be too girly - but I was very pleasantly surprised. It's a nice simple design and I like it. They had shirts of different cuts for men and women which was also very nice - I really don't like the boxy unisex ones we've been getting lately from Disneyland and WDW. The woman's shirts were very slightly fitted - flattering, but not too tight.

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

There was a pretty nice selection of Official merchandise. But not nearly the selection of Coast-to-Coast merchandise that we saw at the Expo in Florida - for one thing the t-shirt that Lee and I bought there was not to be found in California (and not because it was sold out by the time we arrived - one of our Team AllEars mates was there first thing when the Expo opened and was disappointed not to find it). So I'm really glad we bought the shirts in Florida!

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

Here's what I brought back from the Expo...(the shirt with Tink's face is one I bought).

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

On Saturday afternoon we met up with several fellow Team AllEars members who were running the race - and since we'd all done at least one race in Florida three weeks ago, we were all getting the Coast-to-Coast medal, too.

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

We had a great time chatting with Carol, Jill and Mike.

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

One very nice thing about the Disneyland races is that most of the hotels in the area area close enough that you can easily walk to the start - no need for buses! So you don't have to get up quite so insanely early. Lee and I were up at 4:15, and were over in the race area by 5:00 (the race started at 5:45). Though by then they were already encouraging people to head to the corrals.

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

We saw Jill, and later happened to see Mike and his wife in our same corral - actually they found us, because they saw Lee's wings! :-)

The race went off right on time - there were even some fireworks during the singing of the national anthem.

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

Minnie and Daisy were on the stage at the start line, and we saw Tink's pixie-dusted flight trail above us, too.

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

It was dark when we started, and the race course was pretty congested and narrow when we got into Disneyland at about mile 1.5 (we had already run backstage a little bit). The first thing we saw on entering the park was an enormous line off to the side for the people waiting in line to get their photos taken with the princesses. Yikes. No thanks. There was a line of about 16 people waiting for Hercules and Tarzan, and we did wait for that one. (And it's not true that I chose this particular photo-op to compare Lee in his sparkly skirt and wings with Disney's two hunkiest heroes. That was just a side benefit. :-) )

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

I have to say that I did not enjoy the Disneyland part of the race very much...since it was so early in the race the runners were still very bunched together and that meant that the lines for character photos were a lot longer. A lot of the paths we were running on were narrow and very congested, and we had to walk just because it was too crowded to run. The first water station I thought was in a very poor location - we had just come off of Harbor and were about to go backstage, so between the turn and the abrupt narrowing of the course plus the water station on both sides there was no way to run through there and we had to walk.

It was great to get out into Downtown Disney where the paths were a little wider, plus we had lots of spectators to cheer us on (spectators are not allowed in Disneyland while the race is in progress). Just outside the Disneyland Hotel were a couple hundred ladies from the Red Hat Society cheering us on in their red and purple hats, outfits, feather boas - they were just terrific. Thank you so much for coming out!

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

The route took us on the street behind the Mickey and Friends parking garage, which is a typical suburban residential area! I had no idea there were real houses just two blocks from Disneyland! We ran about a mile before getting back to more commercial areas again. But it was very quiet - I think because it was a residential area, there were no bands or cheerleaders or other groups along that stretch to entertain us.

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

And that was one area this race disappointed me - I thought there was a lot less entertainment along the course than there is during the Disneyland Half Marathon - I didn't see the same type of community support both in numbers and variety (this one had mostly cheerleaders and bands - I saw one Hawaiian group but I missed the mariachi group that is always at the Disneyland 1/2). Thank you to all of the bands and cheerleaders that DID come out, though!

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

The participants really had a lot of fun with this race, I think - there were wings and tutus everywhere you looked, as well as other Disney costumes, too. I saw Maleficent running with Princess Aurora - talk about an odd couple. I mentioned the 12:1 female:male ratio - well, I gotta give it to the guys, they were SO supportive, and I'd say the majority of the men were in some kind of costume, whether it be wings and tutu, Peter Pan, Captain Hook (or other pirate), prince - I even saw a guy dressed as Minnie Mouse (as he went blazing by me!)

We went into "Old Anaheim" and around the Muzeo at about mile 7 and then were on our way back to Disneyland - though we still ended up with a partial tour of our favorite (not) industrial park (my least favorite part of the Disneyland 1/2).

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

There were lots of people cheering us on along Disney Way, but once we went into DCA at about mile 11.5 there was no one to cheer us except a few cast members until we had almost gotten to mile 13. Since we had just run the Disney World marathon course three weeks before, it was VERY fresh in my mind how most of the last 2.5 miles was run in public areas where there were lots of people to cheer you on, and I really missed that here.

We went all around DCA - we came into the park next to the Tower of Terror, then down Hollywood Blvd and past Soarin', then a left turn past Grizzly River Rapids and out to Paradise Bay, where the Monsters, Inc. characters were greeting runners - I think most of us were too tired to be scared, though. :-)

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

We went past the Golden Vine Winery and into "a bug's land", and then backstage behind Cars Land - all we could see was the back side of the Cadillac Range, though. Our last character stop was for the Toy Story gang - we had the Green Army Men and Jessie. Buzz was also there, but the photographer didn't get him in the shot. :-(

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

I was very disappointed that there were only two sets of characters in DCA - yes, because of construction walls the course was narrow in places, but they easily had room for them near the Tower of Terror and near the airplane outside Soarin'.

There were lots of people cheering for us when we came back onto Disneyland Drive and around the corner onto Katella before going into the Simba parking lot where the finish line was. I high-fived Daisy and Mickey as I ran to the finish line. Our time was 2:35:34 - not our best time (five minutes slower for me than the relay three weeks before), but I'm going to attribute the slower time to the drag factor from the wings. :-)

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

The nice volunteer gave me my Tinker Bell medal.

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

And we both got our Coast-to-Coast medals, too - it took us just three weeks to do it - the shortest possible time. :-) There were 581 Coast-to-Coast medals awarded, so not nearly as many as they will give out in September (it was about 2500 last year).

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

It was a beautiful sunny morning, but after we'd gotten refreshments and had someone take our picture (thank you to the team-sparkle.com ladies), we wandered back to our room to relax and shower.

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

We had an early lunch at Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta at DCA - four-cheese ravioli tasted very good, and Lee enjoyed in BBQ Chicken flatbread pizza. We wandered back to our room via Downtown Disney and the new Cupcake Store. They just reopened in a new permanent kiosk the previous Tuesday - I was glad to see them back because I really enjoyed the cupcakes when they had a temporary location a couple of years ago. The Pure Chocolate cupcake was VERY good, and Lee enjoyed the Red Velvet cupcake, also.

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

Later in the afternoon we met Team AllEars at the Tiki Bar for Dole Whips - yum.

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

And afterward we went to Pixie Hollow to get our picture taken with Tinker Bell - it seemed the polite thing to do since we had not had a chance to tell her how much we enjoyed her race. :-) I was actually very surprised that I didn't see anyone else in line with their Tink medals. (She was a pert and sassy Tink - Lee told her he had worn wings during the race, and she asked: "So where are they now? Ohhhh...I see, didn't want to wear them to the park..." :-) )

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details

The race was really a lot of fun, and I'd definitely run it again. I thought it was even more of a "fun run" than the regular Disneyland Half Marathon, and it seemed like there were more people in costume for this one. I thought 12,000 was a nice number, but since it sold out, I'd expect it to get bigger next year.

The start and finish were in a different area - they were south of the Paradise Pier Hotel rather than north of the Disneyland Hotel. It was much easier to get to the start corrals - it wasn't nearly the bottleneck that we are used to. I think that area also worked a little better as far as traffic flow went - it didn't affect the people going to/from the hotels and parks and Downtown Disney like usual.

The course itself...I think I prefer the Disneyland 1/2 marathon course, mostly because of the opportunity to run through Angel Stadium - though I think this one was a more interesting overview of different parts of Anaheim.

My only real complaint about the race was the location of the characters - there were a lot in Disneyland, but it was just too crowded because it was too close to the start, and in DCA, where everyone was spread out, there were only two sets of characters.

Here's my bling for January - not bad, huh? :-)

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details


February 10, 2012

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com shares some of his thoughts and observations from a stay at the newly renovated Disneyland Hotel He has a full set of pictures on his website as well as an extended look at the renovation progress in his Construction Progress Section dating back to March of 2009.

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations


I had not stayed at the Disneyland Hotel in ages. Mostly since I can drive to the park and back home I do that to save some money or I stay at another local hotel. But I was lucky enough to get my quiz question in fast enough and won one of the 40 rooms the Disney Parks Blog gave away. The prize pack included the room, parking, and two one day park hopper tickets. The contest and prize redemption went extremely smoothly with no hiccups or hassles at all and I even ended up moving it a week to try and avoid some rain and go with better weather. Thanks Disneyparks Blog!!

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

Check-in was a breeze. I think it took me under 10 minutes from the time I parked until I was moving the car to the regular parking lot. Parking was not a big problem but I was a long long way from the lobby thanks to what I am assuming were guests at the fitness expo.

My room for the evening was a standard room on the 5th floor of the Fantasy Tower (lobby tower).

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

The room faced North so I could see the Mickey and Friends garage.

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

And if I looked a little to the right Disneyland. It would have been a great view of the Disneyland Fireworks had they gone off this evening.

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

The room featured two queen beds and a sleeper sofa, a chair, TV, and desk.

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

There was a separate alcove with a vanity and mirror.

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

There was also a closet.

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

There was complimentary wi-fi as well as a wired connection available in the room. We would have liked to have seen a sink (or the sink) outside of the bathroom so two people could in theory be getting ready at the same time. If one was showering and one at the sink.

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

The highlight of the room was the head board that spanned the two beds. When you turned it on it played a short tune and the embedded fireworks lit up. I thought this was a cool Disney touch!

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

The loss of a balcony, compared to the pre-renovation rooms, did not really bother us. The walls/floors did seem a tad on the thin side still. I swore we could hear the toilet flush two or three rooms/floors away. Also I thought the water pressure in the shower was miserable, but I am assuming that was due to flow restrictions?

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

Some perks of staying on-site, which due to the short time I was there and my other commitments/plans I really did not take advantage of, were:

  • Early entry into California Adventure at 9:15am through the Grand Californian entrance. This allowed for you to get a World of Color Fastpass as well as ride the Little Mermaid.
  • Magic Mornings at Disneyland where they open select Fantasyland and Tomorrowland attractions one hour early. This happens on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays normally.
  • Classic Attraction Trivia Challenge - Wish I had seen this one earlier.... - You can get a trivia game to play when you visit some Disneyland Attractions (Jungle Cruise, Nemo, and Small World). You pick it up at guest relations then return it for something. (Guessing a button or something? Has anyone done this??)
  • Art of the Craft Tour of the Grand Californian is a free walking tour of the hotel looking at some of the pieces and design elements
  • When I checked in they also gave me two Fastpass exchange cards that were good for two Fastpass tickets each which I thought was a nice perk of staying on-site

Unfortunately due to my limited time and late arrival I did not have time to give the new pools a try...I was curious about the monorail slides... guess I will just have to go back someday!

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

I enjoyed my evening at the Disneyland Hotel and the convenience of being able to walk right to my room was great! The room itself was nothing over the top but had enough Disney touches that it was enjoyable.

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

The grounds of the hotel have come a long way with this newest renovation. The pool area and dining options are great.

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

The rooms are a step up from where they were in the early 2000s and the overall feel of the hotel is much more Disney than it has ever been in my opinion. I still miss some of the old (early 90s late 80s) hotel options such as the marina, dancing waters, water falls, larger shopping area with a the great art store, the Neon Cactus, the Monorail Cafe and of course the infamous Disneyland Hotel tram that was always an adventure to take through the Disneyland parking lot.

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

A question that am asked quite frequently via email is are the Disney Hotels worth it and my family be disappointed? The answer to this is always tricky and I usually try to answer the question with a series of questions and ifs... it really depends on your expectation going in. If you are a frequent Walt Disney World visitor and know the advantages and immersion you get staying on site this is quite a different experience. The Grand Californian is close to a WDW experience but still different because of the size and location. WDW resorts are large and spread out for the most part. Everything in Anaheim is more compact in both size and location. As I mentioned above the Disney service is great at the hotels and the Disney feel is much stronger now at the Disneyland Hotel and the Grand has always had it. The Paradise Pier still lacks in my mind, but in full disclosure I have not stayed there in years either so maybe it has changed too...but walking through I just do not get that feeling like I do at WDW resorts or the Grand and now even the Disneyland Hotel. As with anything Disney you do pay a premium. Whether it is worth it or not is really up to the individual, your expectations, and your financial situation.

If you are interested in seeing the pool area more in depth or the theme suites on the 11th floor of the Adventure Tower check out my update from June 2, 2011

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



February 12, 2012

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos of the New Orleans Bayou Bash from his trip to the parks on Friday, February 10, 2012. The Bayou Bash festivities will run over the next five weeks on February 10-12, 17-21, 24-26, and March 2-4 and March 9-11.

New Orleans Square is decked out for the Bayou Bash.

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12

I was pleasantly surprised to see signs with the show times.

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12

I found the signs helpful, wonder if others did. Next step would be to have the show times printed in the times guides.

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12

Throughout New Orleans Square there were special menu items for the event. Here are the two Cafe Orleans offerings. Fat City Snapper for $17.99, and a Banana Foster Crepe for $7.99.

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12

A character Meet and Greet was set up in the Court of Angels.

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12

Inside the courtyard Prince Naveen and Princess Tiana....

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12

As well as Chip and Dale (I am assuming they rotate and Minnie/Mickey/Goofy take a turn in here too).

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12

There was a small stage set up along the river's edge for the shows, like last year.

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12

Princess Tiana's Mardi Gras Celebration. Thanks to the awful lighting (the picture perfect blue sky and sun really made it tough for pictures but great to walk around!) these came out a bit dark.

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12

Video of the show.


New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12


An attempt to get the proper exposure on the characters... which of course over-exposed the background.

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12


The outdoor vendng carts in the area received signage too.

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12


A face painting area set up near the fountain.

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12

Like last year, a merchandise cart from Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen again.

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12

The featured Bacon Cheddar Popcorn did not sound that good to me... anyone try it? What did you think?

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12

The French Market has a number of offering: Creole Mustard French Style Sausage Sandwich, Mardi Gras Southern Meatloaf, Banana Foster Cheesecake and a Mardi Gras Cupcake.

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12

Here comes the Jazz Band procession.

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12

Video of their performance and procession.


New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12

The Blue Bayou is featuring Bouillabaisse for $32.99 and Fresh Fried Apple Fritters a la mode for $8.99.

New Orleans Bayou Bash - 2/10/12


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



February 20, 2012

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, February 17, 2011. Included are photos and video from the new Minnie's Fly Girls Charter Airline show, which started on Friday.

A new direction in marketing? Encouraging the purchase of Park Hoppers instead of Annual Passes?

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

Starting in Disney California Adventure...Some of the scaffolding and mesh is down on the first section of Buena Vista Street. This is the facade over/around the restroom building.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

The Elias and Company Store

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

Moving on to Cars Land. A new sign for Radiator Springs is up

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

The tidal basin next to the Pacific Wharf has been drained. Guessing because they are working on Grizzly River Run and needed all the water gone (this is the reservoir for the attraction).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

Here you can see the tunnel/pipe the water flows through.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12


No real visible progress here, but a couple signs with the concept art (same photo that was released with the announcement).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

Minnie's Fly Girls Charter Airline debuted earlier today. As you can see the show currently runs Thursday-Monday.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

Here is a video of the entire show. (Note: The edges are a little out of focus thanks to the wide angle adapter I was using because of the short distance to the stage).

A few stills from the show:

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12


The facade transformation in Paradise Pier looks almost complete. Just awaiting the new sign.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12


The Cadillac Range is looking great!

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

A closer view of the now nearly finished face.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

Interesting. In the background looks like they stopped the backside wall? Or just finished a portion of it. Hard to tell from this angle but guessing that may be where the show building starts?

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

What is that I spy through the trees? Looks like a new sign. Guessing this is the entrance walkway for the Racers. It says Gateway to Ornament Valley.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

A look at the Cozy Cones.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

A closer look at the new fence facade going up on the backside of Fliks wall.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

A closer view of the Cozy Cones.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

Construction walls are still up around the parade route in front of Ariel's.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

The side entrance to the shops in Paradise Pier is open again. They still have the ATM in its temporary housing but looks like it will be back in the wall soon.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

Over in Disneyland - time for the Mardi Gras Celebration that is part of the Bayou Bash.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

More scaffolding up at the Tomorrowland Train Station (note the train is not stopping here but is running normally for all other stops).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

A check in on Buena Vista Street from the Monorail. Looks like the main portion of the street has been poured and they are ready to start the brickwork around the rail line.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

Work continues on the Matterhorn stations. Some concrete has been poured.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

Since it is Presidents' Day weekend I stopped by to take in Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12


A look at some of the nighttime sights at DCA...The lights were on at Mater's Junkyard Jamboree (they were blinking/flickering too).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

The new Cozy Cone sign was lit up this week.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

In Downtown Disney, Compass Books will be closing soon to make way for Earl of Sandwich.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

Out at the Disneyland Hotel the character topiaries across from the Fantasy Tower entrance were gone and the area being worked on.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

I walked over because I wanted to see the new map at the entrance and it was behind curtains still.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12

To close with a picture of Minnie and Mickey (noticed the fountains were off this week in the background).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/17/12


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



February 27, 2012

Napa Rose Chef's Counter - A Dining Experience!

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For those not familiar with it, Napa Rose is the signature restaurant at the Grand Californian, with dishes featuring seasonal ingredients inspired by the wine country. The restaurant is beautifully decorated, with lots of wood and interesting light fixtures. I find it elegant but comfortable. There is an open show kitchen, and guests can book dining at what they call the Chef's Counter, which overlooks the kitchen. There are eight seats available, with two seatings per night.

Lee and I have dined at Napa Rose a couple of times before, but this time I was able to book seats for us at the Chef's Counter for the 5:30 seating. We arrived a few minutes before 5:30 and took a seat in the lounge until someone came to take us. We were seated at the right end, which gave us a great view of the pastry chef's work area as well as one of the stoves where the sous chefs were hard at work on entrees.

Napa Rose Chef's Counter - A Dining Experience!

It was really fascinating to watch them work - and the flames were always exciting. :-)

Napa Rose Chef's Counter - A Dining Experience!

Executive Chef Andrew Sutton was off for the evening, and Chef Alex was in charge of the kitchen. Soon after we were seated he came over and asked us if we wanted to order off the regular menu, or if we wanted to do the "tasting menu" where he would come up with dishes for us. We definitely wanted to try the tasting menu, and he took note of our dislikes. (I have to admit that my list was longer than Lee's. :-) )

Napa Rose Chef's Counter - A Dining Experience!

We also opted to add the Wine Pairings with each course. Our server quickly came around with our first wine - a flute of Scharffenberger Brut sparkling wine, which he said cleanses the palate. (I wish all cleansers were so tasty!) I had no idea Scharffenberger made wines - I was only familiar with their chocolate. (Interestingly, the chocolate brand is Scharffen Berger, and the wine label is Scharffenberger Cellars.)

Served with the wine was the amuse bouche - this was mascarpone cheese, herbs and ham in a little sesame cone. Very tasty.

Napa Rose Chef's Counter - A Dining Experience!

Our first course came fairly quickly after that. I had a variation of the Smiling Tiger Salad: no beef, and it came with tempura shrimp instead of tempura lobster. The tempura was so light, and the greens and vinaigrette very fresh. It disappeared quickly. (Lee and I did share our dishes - but maybe only a bite or two. ;-) )

Napa Rose Chef's Counter - A Dining Experience!

Lee was presented with the Artichoke Pesto Crusted Pacific Yellowtail - Potato Gnocchi, Artichokes and Laughing Bird Shrimp in a Lemon Broth. This was one of the items on the Vintner's Menu (which changes weekly), that looked really interesting, and I was very glad we were able to try it. It was really good - other than dessert this was my favorite course of the evening. OK, so maybe I had more than two bites of this one...

Napa Rose Chef's Counter - A Dining Experience!

I'm afraid I didn't take any notes on the wines other than the first one. Other than this first wine and the dessert wine we each had something different each time - two whites and two reds. (Yes, I managed to drink most of six glasses of wine and could still walk straight at the end of the evening!)

We had quite a long wait for our second course - the kitchen was very busy, and they had an incident with a broken plate where they had to redo everything that was nearby. We think our second course got caught up in that. I was trying very hard not to fill up on the yummy bread and cracker bread that we had been served. But in the meantime we were really enjoying the "show" in the kitchen. At one point we watched them plate a whole bunch of the same Black Angus New York Steak dish.

Napa Rose Chef's Counter - A Dining Experience!

Second course for me was another salad (that's ok - I love salad). This was the Honey Roasted Pear and Brie Salad with Frisee, Endive, Upland Cress and Cranberry Honey Vinaigrette and a polenta-crusted piece of brie. The pears were just wonderful - sweet but not overwhelming, and the roasting gave them a very nice texture. The brie was a little crunchy on the outside but soft and creamy in the middle - yum. I enjoyed the greens, and loved the cranberry honey vinaigrette, which had real fresh cranberries in it.

Napa Rose Chef's Counter - A Dining Experience!

Lee had the Pan Roasted Diver Scallops with a lemon and lobster sauce. He really enjoyed this, since he really likes scallops. I tried a bite, but scallops always taste fishy to me for some reason. As you can see it was a really beautifully presented dish.

Napa Rose Chef's Counter - A Dining Experience!

My third course was something I never would have ordered myself, but it was good - the Rabbit Meatloaf with mushroom ragu and carrot puree. It was different, though I couldn't tell you how - but it definitely did NOT taste like chicken. :-) Probably not something I would go out of my way to order, but I wouldn't refuse to eat it, either.

Napa Rose Chef's Counter - A Dining Experience!

Lee's dish was also a "game" dish: Smoked Pheasant Dumpling with Cranberry Lemongrass Glaze. I would have called this an empanada or turnover rather than a dumpling. It was very good - the smoky flavor of the pheasant was very nice. Having tried it, this is definitely something that I would order for myself in the future.

Napa Rose Chef's Counter - A Dining Experience!

The fourth course was our main course. Mine was the Roasted Venison Loin with Sage & Bacon Whipped Sweet Potatoes and Black Trumpet Mushroom Essence. (If you've been paying attention, yes, I did in fact eat Bambi and Thumper. ;-) ) I've had venison before and this was good, very tender and not gamey at all. It was a little too rare in the middle for me, so I didn't finish that part. Though to be honest, the part I enjoyed the most of this dish was the whipped sweet potatoes. Mm, mm, good!

Napa Rose Chef's Counter - A Dining Experience!

Lee's entree was the Pan Roasted Petit Filet Mignon with roasted parsnips, served on a white cheddar fritter. I didn't get to try the parsnips, but the fritter was very good. And he enjoyed the filet.

Napa Rose Chef's Counter - A Dining Experience!

Dessert was the only course where we were asked what we wanted. We'd been watching Jasmine, the pastry chef, make various desserts all night, and the one that really intrigued Lee was something that had some freshly made fritters. It was called Best Ever Hot Chocolate, and came with a cup of very rich hot chocolate in addition to the hot and fresh fritters. He loves fried dough, so really enjoyed the fritters. Each had different fillings - fruit fillings in two and custard in the other. The hot chocolate was flavored with orange, which ruined it for me, but he liked it, though I think it was richer than he prefers. (As you can see, we were celebrating our anniversary - #25!)

Napa Rose Chef's Counter - A Dining Experience!

For me there was one obvious dessert choice: Scharffen Berger Chocolate Pate. And I was not disappointed. This was rich but not heavy, creamy and smooth and melted in the mouth. Makes my mouth water just remembering it! My plate was pretty clean - I even scraped off and ate some of the anniversary chocolate. :-)

Napa Rose Chef's Counter - A Dining Experience!

We were served a small glass of what I think was ice wine with dessert. I know some of you find that much too sweet but I enjoyed it.

It was really a wonderful dinner and very entertaining to watch the kitchen at work in front of us. It was definitely a leisurely dinner - just about 2:45 from the time we sat down until the time we left. Although we had five courses (plus the amuse bouche) they were of a size that I wasn't just stuffed when I left - I was pleasantly full but not uncomfortable. While I wouldn't want to eat like that all of the time it was a wonderful treat and a great way to celebrate our anniversary.

The price for the "tasting menu" is $90/person - the same as the four-course Vintner's Menu. The wine pairings are $45/person.

To book the Chef's Counter you must call the Napa Rose restaurant directly. Though in my case I called Disneyland Dining to book another reservation and they transferred me to Napa Rose. I believe you can book at least 60 days in advance, though I booked less than 30 days prior.

Napa Rose Menu


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About February 2012

This page contains all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in February 2012. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2012 is the previous archive.

March 2012 is the next archive.

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