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March 2015 Archives

March 2, 2015

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend - Part 1, Expo and 10K

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2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

February 19-22 was Princess Half Marathon weekend at Walt Disney World. Last year introduced a new 10K race to this event, in addition to the 5K and half marathon. And running both the 10K and half was a new "challenge": The Glass Slipper Challenge. I ran the challenge last year, and had so much fun that I wanted to do it this year, too. Lee decided not to go, so I invited my friend Deb to come so that we could spend some time together.

As usual, I kept my eye on the weather starting about a week out to see what I should expect. It was looking like 55-58 for lows, which is perfect running weather for me, until two days before I left home, when suddenly the forecast was for 41 for the 10K and 55 for the half - and 29 for the 5K, which I wasn't running.

Oh, did I mention that the theme for this year's 5K, and for the 10K medal, was "Frozen?" That's taking theming a little too seriously!!!

So at the last minute I had to pack extra throwaway clothes and gloves and hand warmers - and hope those would be sufficient for Saturday's 10K. And I also had to pack a heavy jacket and scarf and jeans because it was going to be cold just for wandering around the parks the first couple of days.

It was 45 when I arrived Thursday evening. And 34 on Friday morning for those running the 5K. I saw a lot of chilly-looking people getting back to the hotel as I left to go to the Expo - it was 40 by then. But the sun was out so it didn't feel quite so cold.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

There were the usual race banners in front of the Wide World of Sports, where the Expo was held. I met up with Jill and Hilary, two members from my running club in San Diego, and we had our picture taken.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

I was quickly able to do everything I needed to do at the Expo. Picked up my bib, took a few photos, shopped, and wandered in the show. It was early enough that it wasn't crowded yet. I think the worst time to be there is between 11:00 and 2:00 - before or after that there are fewer people.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

I was pleased to see that there still seemed to be plenty of merchandise, and cast members were constantly restocking. I was able to get my Glass Slipper Challenge magnet and the mini 10K medal.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

While in line to have my photo taken with Princess Minnie I chatted with AllEars reader Michelle and her daughter Molly, who were planning to run the half marathon. Thank you for introducing yourselves, and I hope you had a good race!

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

RunDisney finally unveiled the medals for the upcoming Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend races and had them in their booth at the Expo. The 10K and half marathon medals are the same with some added embellishment, but we've all been curious about the new "Pixie Dust Challenge" medal. I'd seen photos of it on-line and wasn't too impressed. And unfortunately it's no better in person. But it does have the "I" word on it. That's the only thing I like about it.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

I picked up my three new race shirts - one for the 10K, one for the half, and one for the Glass Slipper Challenge. I'm really glad that they are short-sleeve. I really love the purple color of the 10K shirt, but I don't like pink at all, and the gray of the Glass Slipper Challenge shirt is kind of drab. I was disappointed that, given the "Frozen" theme, they didn't go with shades of blue, or even white or silver.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

Deb and I enjoyed some park time later that day, and dinner at Trattoria al Forno (food blog to come). And then it was time to try to go to bed. The three-hour time difference between San Diego and Orlando always makes it hard for me to get a good night's sleep, but I dutifully tried to go to bed at 9:00 and sleep.

The wake-up call came much too early, and Baymax advised me that a fist bump was a form of expression. I dressed in my new Belle running costume - due to the cooler temps I had a long sleeve shirt rather than the short-sleeve v-neck, which would have looked better. Oh well.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

At least it was a little warmer than predicted: 45 and not 41. :-) I had rented a car so that I could drive myself to all of the race events rather than relying on Disney transportation. One very nice thing about that this year was I could sit in my nice warm car after I parked instead of going out in the cold!

The 10K is a much smaller race than the half marathon - 12,500 as opposed to 25,000. It's a lot more pleasant in the pre-race area - I could actually get close to the stage and see what was going on. Though one reason it may have seemed less crowded is that there were lots of heat lamps set up, and people were huddled around those for warmth!

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

The race started at 5:30, but they didn't send us to our corrals until 4:45. It's a much shorter walk to the corrals, which are in the Epcot parking lot rather than out on World Drive. I found Jill and Hilary in corral A and we all started together. It's so nice being in Corral A! Makes for a much less congested race.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

My plan was to run this race and try for a Personal Record - I was hoping to finish in an hour or less. So I wasn't planning to stop for photos this time - not even to show off my new Belle costume. :-) Most of it was covered for almost half the race anyway, until I shed my final outer layer.

I'm not really a fan of this 10K course. The first 3+ miles are in the parking lot and on roads, and then it goes backstage at Epcot, before entering World Showcase about mile 4. From then on I like it: it goes around about half of World Showcase, then out the International Gateway and around the Boardwalk area and past the Yacht and Beach Clubs before going back to Epcot again, through Future World and out to the finish line in the parking lot. But it is a fast course, mostly flat with just one overpass at the beginning and a few small hills where it goes over bridges in the park and around the Boardwalk.

Early in the race we went under an overpass. Elsa and Anna were on the overpass talking to the runners, "Let it Go" was playing, and it was "snowing." That was kind of fun. I managed to keep up with Jill for the first mile and a half, but then she sped up. But I was still on what was a fast pace for me, as I could see when I passed the mile markers. And I was feeling strong, and didn't need to stop for any walk breaks as I usually do. I didn't use any of the three water stops, either. It seemed to me like there were more characters out than last year, and most had short lines, but I had that PR in mind, and knew that I was on pace to achieve it!

Deb had gotten up early to come down to the boardwalk to cheer me on. I stopped for a quick hug, so she only got a photo as I ran away. :-)

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

At mile 5 I knew I was going to get my "under-an-hour" finish - the question was how much under an hour. I was still feeling good, and managed to run the last 1.2 miles a little faster, and crossed the finish line with a time of 57:19!!! I was SO happy! Jill and Hilary also PR'd. So it was a great day for the West Coast Roadrunners!

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

This is my new favorite race medal because of what it represents. :-) 10K seems to be "my" distance - long enough, but not too long. I don't have to carry a hydration belt with me like I do for a half marathon, and that's very nice. I've really enjoyed the five different Disney 10Ks that I've done (some of them multiple times). I prefer the 10K courses at Disneyland in California, but I think that this one, used for both the Walt Disney World 10K and the Enchanted 10K, is probably a faster course.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

Snow White and Tiana were available in the finish area for photos, and since Jill, Hilary, and I all finished early the lines weren't too bad. It was still only about 46 degrees, and all I had for warmth was the mylar blanket I'd gotten at the finish (at least they were handing them out this time, unlike in January!) so after getting our photo with Snow White we all headed back to the car where I had a jacket. It was quite easy getting out of the parking lot. I dropped them off at their resort and went back to the Boardwalk for some hot tea and a warm shower!

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

I'm still so happy about the PR - I don't remember ever being this excited about a race result! I've had a good training season, and it was great to see all of the hard work pay off.

But this is an example of "do as I say, not as I do". :-) When asked about running a race challenge series I always advise people not to run the first race hard, so that you have something left for the second race. But it's a matter of knowing yourself and what you can do - I knew that I could run the 10K fast and still be ok for the half marathon the next day. And one thing I did NOT do was sprint at the end of the 10K, because I knew that would really use up a lot of energy and cost me the next day. I did push my pace a bit over the last mile, but it was not an all-out sprint at the end.

I spent much of the rest of the day doing what you're NOT supposed to do before a half marathon: wandering around theme parks. :-). It's really hard to be at a Disney race and not do that. And it was a beautiful day for being outside - it warmed up to about 75. I felt really good, too - my legs weren't tired at all.

It was another night of trying to get to bed early and sleep. I was hoping that after not getting much sleep the night before I'd sleep better, but that didn't work. Race weekends are exercises in sleep deprivation.

Next up: The Princess Half Marathon

Learn more about my runDisney experiences on AllEarsNet TV Show #33:



March 3, 2015

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend - Part 2, Half Marathon

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2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

I think I got even less sleep on Saturday night than I did on Friday night. Frustrating, but not unusual for me. Maybe I perform better when I'm sleep deprived...

I was awake before the wakeup call, and I canceled it so that it wouldn't wake Deb up. Did the usual routine of having something to eat (yogurt, though I also had a bagel and almond butter available - and I should've had at least half of the bagel because I was hungry an hour later), and getting ready to go, with last-minute checks to make sure I had essentials like my bib, hydration belt, Magic Band, car keys, phone, driver's license, and throwaway clothes. I was wearing my favorite Cinderella running outfit again. But that's the third time for it this year...I may need to change it up a little bit. :-)

I went to pick up Jill and Hilary before going to Epcot. I arrived in the Epcot area a little later than the day before, and with twice as many runners as for the 10K there was more traffic headed to Epcot, but it still didn't take long to drive there. Once past the parking booths I Chose Wisely (stay left) and ended up parking closer to the Family Reunion area (aka the start/finish area) than I had the day before.

The temperature was 57 outside - balmy compared to Saturday. It really was significantly warmer. I had a trash bag and a throwaway t-shirt, but probably would've been fine with just the trash bag. It was one of the big ones and came down to my knees.

There's a security bag check outside the Reunion area and we all had to go through that, but it was pretty efficient - lots of lanes open.

With twice as many runners the Reunion area was much more crowded than it was on Saturday. And people also weren't huddled together for warmth near heat lamps, either. No heat lamps this time!

I said goodbye to Jill and Hilary, who were in an earlier start corral, and went to find the Mickey Milers - even made it in time for the pre-race photo! It was nice to see quite a few running friends from all over the country. Most of them were really enjoying the warmer weather in Florida.

The 1/2-mile walk to the start corral wasn't bad at all - it hasn't been bad the last several times I've done it, but the memories of the times when it was an agonizingly slow shuffle still linger. I have to say that Disney has done a much better job of supplying lots of porta-potties. In addition to those in the Reunion area there are more in the "runner's only" area, and then there are also several sets of them near the start corrals. That's really made the lines much shorter. (During the half marathon I also thought that there were more along the course as well.)

I was in Corral E. Close enough that I could actually see the stage and the start line, unlike marathon weekend when I was in Corral J and couldn't see it at all. I had the same proof of time for both, but there's so many more faster (male) runners at Marathon weekend that there were a lot more people ahead of me. In this race the ratio of men to women was about 1:11, which improved my corral position a lot. :-)

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

Before the race started a runDisney spokeswoman came on stage to play a video and make an announcement. I wasn't close enough to a video screen to see much, but as soon as I heard the music, which was recognizably French, I knew that they were going to (finally) be announcing the long-awaited Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend. And sure enough, the Inaugural Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend is scheduled for September 23-25, 2016. Disneyland Paris is the only Disney resort that I haven't yet visited...and of course this race will have that "I" word, too! :-)

There's not much real information available yet, but you can visit this web site to be added to a mailing list.

I think that because of the announcement the race started about 5 minutes late - a bit unusual for a Disney event. There was a nice burst of fireworks at the start, and again for each corral.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

The earlier corrals are smaller than the later ones, and they were sending us off about 2 minutes apart. I started just about 10 minutes after the official race start. That was nice - it made it much easier when I was at the mile markers - I just subtracted 10 minutes and that was pretty close to what my net time was.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

Over the last year or so Disney has gotten much stricter about proof of time submissions, and I think that has really improved the course congestion in the early part of the races. I know that my experience has been that when I start I'm with people that are going approximately my same pace. Yes, some are a little faster, some a little slower, but overall we've been able to have room to spread out enough that the single lane parts of the course that we encounter in the first two miles are much less crowded and frustrating than they have been in the past.

In the first mile I could tell that my legs were a little tired after the PR the day before. Not a surprise, and I was planning to take it easy for this one anyway. But this is why you don't PR two days in a row! :-)

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

This is the same half marathon course I've run a number of times, and which you may have read about a number of times. But just in case this is new to you: the 13.1-mile half marathon course leaves Epcot and heads to the Magic Kingdom, then back to Epcot.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

There are several character stops between miles 2-4, but they are always the most crowded, so I rarely stop. One of them is the villains - this had a huge line so I just stopped long enough to take a quick photo. There's also the pirates and the heroes, but those we also hit on the way back, and I wait until then when the lines are much shorter. People seem to be much less willing to stop for photos at mile 9 than they are at mile 2. :-)

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

We arrive at Magic Kingdom about mile 5 and run down Main Street towards the Castle. It doesn't matter how many times I've done it - it's always a thrill for me.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

The course takes us through quite a bit of Magic Kingdom: Main Street, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Liberty Square, and Frontierland. I was surprised not to see any characters in the new Fantasyland part - I've seen Gaston and Belle/Beast there in the past. But Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff were on the balcony behind the castle, cheering on the runners as we prepared to run through the castle.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

There weren't any characters in Liberty Square, either. Another surprise. Woody was in Frontierland. Just after we went backstage near Splash Mountain there were Snow White and her prince, but a very long line so I didn't stop. I was kind of glad it was Snow White, because if it had been Cinderella I would've had to think about stopping...

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

My least favorite part of the course is the section after leaving the Magic Kingdom: about mile 6.4 through mile 8. A lot of it is single lane and we call it "Cone Alley" because of the wall of cones in the center to keep the runners out of the traffic lane. It can get very congested for the runners. This time it wasn't bad for me, since I was still among the top 20% of runners, even though I'd stopped for quite a few character photos. Those later in the race probably had a different experience.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

In the mile 7-8 section Luna Bar had some fun inspirational signs posted - things like: "My other shoes are glass slippers" and "Run like a beast, sleep like a Beauty". It was nice to see the signs because there aren't too many spectators in that area, and I know that's often when I start to get tired and need a distraction.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

Just past mile 9 were the Heroes again. Aladdin, Prince Eric, Flynn Rider, Phoebus (that was a surprise) and Hercules. The line was a lot shorter than it was earlier - I only waited about two minutes before it was my turn. This is one of my favorite photo ops in the Princess Half Marathon.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

There was an even shorter line for the pirates. This is a terrible photo of me, but he was a really excellent Jack Sparrow.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

Mile 10 is always a milestone for me in a half marathon, since it means there's only 5K left in the race. And I know I can do a 5K. I was still feeling pretty good. Though I was getting pretty warm and sweaty - it was a lot warmer than the day before. The sun had come out and even though it was only about 60, that's warm when you're running.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

The next two miles went pretty quickly, and I was soon backstage at Epcot less than a mile from the finish. I stopped for a photo with Princess Sophia - no line!

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

I managed to pick up the pace in that last mile to make the final kick to the finish line. My time was 2:28:20, and that included lots of photo stops. I was very happy with that, especially on top of the PR the day before. I felt really good - my legs weren't sore at all. Tired, yes, but not sore.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

After I got my half marathon medal there was a Fairy Godmother to sprinkle pixie dust if I wanted it. :-) Oh, and they were handing out mylar sheets, too, but it was warm enough that I didn't need one.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

I went to the Glass Slipper Challenge tent where they quickly verified that yes, I had finished the 10K, and that yes, my photo matched the runDisney mug shot taken at the Expo, and I received my Glass Slipper Challenge medal. Ah...that familiar "clank clank" sound of multiple medals as I walk! :-)

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

I guess because of the Frozen theme the medals are silver this year instead of gold, and they all have snowflakes on the ribbons.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

There was the usual runDisney MRE box...though it seemed like it had a lot more items in it this time than in the January races. Almond Roca...yum. One of my boxes had a chocolate coconut Luna bar that was really good.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

I wanted to celebrate with a glass of champagne but the line was long...and I really needed to get back to the room since I still had to pack because I was checking out and headed home later in the day. (Fire the travel agent who set that up! Oh, yes, that would be me...)

There were 20215 finishers this year: 18498 women and 1717 men. Or "1717 of the smartest guys on the planet", as race announcer Rudy Novotny puts it. :-) It's really fun to see the guys get into the Princess theme - I saw quite a few running as princes alongside their princesses, as well as some dressed as princesses themselves. I saw a couple of men dressed in Belle's yellow ball gown, and others as Cinderella or Snow White.

It didn't seem as though I saw as many runners in costume this year as previous years. But there were lots of sparkle skirts and tutus. And while I expected LOTS of Elsas (and there were quite a few) the most popular princess by far was Cinderella! (Another reason to re-think my costume.) I think the most unique costumes I saw were a couple who finished just ahead of me in the 10K - he was dressed as Quasimodo, and she wore a really detailed Esmeralda costume.

As they did for the Marathon in January, Disney live-streamed the start and the finish. You can see the finish HERE It was fun to go back and see myself run across the finish line! (You can see me at 1:56:28.)

I want to say "Thank you!" to all of the wonderful volunteers and cast members who work so hard and get up so early to make it possible for us to run. And to all the bands and groups and individuals who come out on the course to cheer us on - we love your signs and your enthusiasm!

I really enjoy this race weekend. The Princess theme is a lot of fun, and I think it's great that it's an event that encourages friends to share it together. This year was extra special for me, not just because of my 10K PR, but because I was able to spend some quality time with some very dear friends. I'm hoping we can do it again next year - but next year I'm not leaving until Monday! :-)

Learn more about my runDisney experiences on AllEarsNet TV Show #33:


March 6, 2015

Cinderella and Frozen Fever: Press Conference with the Cast and Crew

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"Have courage and be kind."
--Ella's Mother

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The next big release from Walt Disney Studios and director Kenneth Branagh is a live-action retelling of the classic fairy tale "Cinderella," preceded by the new short "Frozen Fever," a sequel to the blockbuster animated film "Frozen."

As part of the press junket for the film's opening, a selection from "Cinderella's" prestigious cast and crew took a few moments for some roundtable interviews.

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(Audio selections from the Q&A follow. WARNING: SPOILERS THROUGHOUT ALL THE INTERVIEWS. PLAY AUDIO AT YOUR OWN RISK)

The first interviewees were Co-Director Chris Buck and Producer Peter Del Vecho for "Frozen Fever."

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Next up was Cinderella herself, Lily James.

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Just as Cinderella is always one step ahead of the Prince, so Lily James was followed by Richard Madden.

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We were then joined by "Cinderella's" Director, the wunderkind Kenneth Branagh.

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(Hopefully you cannot hear me hyperventilating because OMG, KENNETH BRANAGH.)

Afterwards, we were joined by Screenwriter Chris Weitz and Producers Allison Shearmur and David Barron.

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With a movie as dependent on wardrobe changes as "Cinderella," Costume Designer Sandy Powell had her work cut out for her. Our morning ended with her giving us a glimpse into the creation of the film's impressive gowns.

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"Cinderella," rated PG, will be released in theaters March 13, 2015.

March 8, 2015

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, March 6, 2015.

In this picture set I take a look around the resort at many of the ongoing and recently completed projects.

The posted closure list by the security tents.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

Since my last visit prices have gone up. Here are the current Disneyland Resort posted options/rates.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

First stop for me Disneyland. The Big Hero 6 poster as you enter has been removed.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

It was a great spring afternoon with many of the trees and flowers in bloom on Main Street (temperatures were in the upper 80s when I arrived and cooled down to the low 70s/upper 60 when I left).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

The scaffolding has been taken down and Sleeping Beauty Castle is now a lighter shade of pink and much of the gold added for the 50th has been removed or repainted to silver.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

The silver trim used to be gold

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

The light/projector housings around the Castle moat have been removed.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

Scaffolding still up in the grotto area.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

Moving around to the Fantasyland side.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

Another wall set up in the extended queue for Buzz near Pixie Hollow.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

Work continues on the Small World facade. Some of the tarps were down. Not sure if it was wind-related or because they are done.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

A closer look

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

This is where the small fire was last week. You can sort of see some of the facade looks a little charred but hard to tell from this angle.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

In Fantasyland Olaf is MIA... did he learn what happens in Summer?

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

Splash Mountain is still closed and has scaffolding over the drop this week.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15


The new roof for the Hungry Bear is being installed.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

A new wood fence has been installed along the Briar Patch.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

The Fortuosity Shop clock is back on Main Street.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

Over to Disney California Adventure...

Work continues on Grizzly Peak Airfield. A look from Carthay Circle. Some new trees have been planted.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15


The former Taste Pilots Grill has a new wood/worn look and a new wood overhang is visible.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

Water has returned to Paradise Bay since my last trip. World of Color returns next Friday, March 12.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

As of now they have not done anything to the roof or Downtown Disney side of Soarin'. Scaffolding is still covering the park side of the building.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

A look down at the submerged World of Color platform from the Fun Wheel.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

From this angle no visible progress on the Flying Tires replacement

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

Redwood Creek Challenge has reopened.

I took a very quick look around. No big changes jumped out to me. Just some new railings, paint, etc.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15


Grizzly River Run remains closed for annual refurbishment.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

Storytellers Cafe at the Grand Californian has reopened since my last trip. Looking through the windows no major changes jumped out to me.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

A look at the Grizzly Peak Airfield work. Taste Pilots is now brown and green and trees are being planted.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

More concrete has been removed. So all that is left is some right up next to the buildings. All the rest is being replaced. The restroom building is now brown and green to match Taste Pilots and blend in with the Grizzly Peak feel.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

In Downtown Disney, the Winter Village and ice rink are all gone.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

They are repainting the entrance sign near ESPN.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

Work continues on the Fantasy Tower of the Disneyland Hotel

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

The Monorail slide refurbishment at the Disneyland Hotel is complete. Monorail blue is gone, it is now yellow. So we have Red and Yellow (I commented in my tweet on this that there must be a USC fan at Imagineering!)

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15

To close out this picture set, Sleeping Beauty Castle after dark.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/06/15


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 Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.



March 11, 2015

Eating to Run: Marathon Dining at Walt Disney World

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OK, I'll admit it...one of the reasons that I run is so that I can eat. I don't think I'm alone in that...Still, it's important to at least try to make those calories count, especially when I'm coming up on a race day (or two or three).

This food blog covers my last two WDW race weekends: WDW Marathon Weekend in January, and Princess Half Marathon Weekend in February. My goal is always to keep myself sufficiently fueled, try to eat what I normally would when I can, not eat anything too exotic that might upset my system, and yet still indulge myself a little bit. So far I've always been pretty successful.

We almost always stay at the Boardwalk Villas for Disney race weekends, and so we frequent many of the restaurants in that area for our meals. One of our "go-to" restaurants is The Dolphin Fountain over in the Dolphin hotel. We ate there twice on our WDW Marathon Weekend trip in January: once for lunch and once for dinner.

For dinner I tried something new: a Falafel plate with chickpea croquettes, sesame tahini, and a side salad. Everything was good, but I thought the portion size was a little small.

Eating to Run

Lee's favorite here is Build Your Favorite Burger. There is choice of cheese and toppings like chili, bacon, sauteed onions or mushrooms.

Eating to Run

It's our tradition to have lunch at The Fountain after the half marathon - we get there around 11:30 when they open and get right in. Though lately it's been quite popular and is often full by the time we leave. My favorite is the Turkey Burger with lettuce, tomato, and onion. Nice lean protein and it really hits the spot after running a half marathon in the morning!

Eating to Run

Lee wasn't very hungry so instead of his usual burger he had some chili with a side of sweet potato fries. The sweet potato fries were pretty good.

Eating to Run


A lot of people talk about the burgers and ice cream at Beaches and Cream, but I think the Fountain is as good, and much less crowded. Also, there's a 20% discount if you show your DVC Membership card!

Dolphin Fountain Menu

Since we stay at the Boardwalk, breakfast is often from the Boardwalk Bakery. Thanks to a recent expansion, the Bakery has a few more food items (especially for breakfast) than they used to. The Breakfast Sandwich is bacon, egg, and cheese served on a croissant-type roll, with a small side of fruit. It's pretty good, though I would prefer more fruit and less bread.

Eating to Run

Lee had the Biscuit and Sausage Gravy. This looks pretty disgusting to me...he said it was just ok. I wish they offered oatmeal here rather than the biscuits and gravy.

Eating to Run


One of our favorite lunch spots is Katsura Grill in the Japan pavilion at Epcot. I usually order the Tempura Shrimp Udon Bowl along with a side of steamed vegetables. I've learned to eat the shrimp first, otherwise the tempura batter gets all soggy and falls off. And I dunk my veggies into the broth of the udon bowl to give them some flavor.

Eating to Run

Lee had one of the curry dishes with rice, and he also ordered a side of vegetables.

Eating to Run

Katsura Grill Menu


The night before the half marathon we had dinner at Sunshine Seasons in The Land pavilion at Epcot. I don't find that I need to carb-load before a half marathon, but it is important to eat a good dinner, and preferably an early dinner, too. 5:30-6:00. Sunshine Seasons has a lot of pretty good choices, though you won't find pasta there other than the kid's mac-n-cheese meal.

I had the Rotisserie Chicken, which comes with black beans and rice. It's a half chicken (a small half chicken), but that's still more than I can eat. The chicken can be a little dry sometimes. I wish it came with a green vegetable, but it's still a pretty good meal for me.

Eating to Run

Lee ordered the Slow-roasted Pork Chop with mashed potatoes.

Eating to Run

We shared the Butternut Squash Soup which was surprisingly good! The pepitas on top added a nice crunch.

Eating to Run

Sunshine Seasons Menu


We're almost always in a DVC unit for race weekends, so we at least have a refrigerator and toaster, if not a full kitchen. For race mornings we like to have yogurt and a bagel before we leave the room. So one of our challenges is always to find yogurt and bagels once we get to Disney so we can have them available in our room in the mornings. The Boardwalk Bakery is usually an option for both, but for whatever reason I've had a very difficult time getting yogurt at the bakery on recent trips - even in the mornings they have been out of it. They have had the yogurt parfaits, but those are too sweet and I don't like them. I've had better luck finding yogurt at the nearby Hess station, which has a mini-mart. The price is a lot lower, too. We bring packets of peanut butter and almond butter from home, and we can usually find bagels either at the bakery, or a package of them at the Hess station or in the grocery section of the Thimbles and Threads store at the Boardwalk. Lee usually has a banana, too, and fortunately those are pretty easy to find - though they aren't usually ripe enough for him. :-)

The night before the Marathon we had dinner at the new Trattoria al Forno, on the Boardwalk. It replaced the Kouzzina restaurant. We were a large party, and were at three different tables all across the restaurant, all with different servers.

One thing I noticed very quickly is that the new restaurant is much quieter than Kouzzina was - in Kouzzina you almost couldn't hear yourself think. Now there's some carpet on the floor, as well as wall hangings and other furnishings that help absorb the sound. It's still far from quiet, but we didn't have to yell to make ourselves heard.

Eating to Run

The menu is Italian, but I would call it more up-scale Italian, and not family-friendly spaghetti-and-meatballs Italian. They serve pizza, but it's Neapolitan style with a very thin crust, and odd toppings - you won't find pepperoni pizza here. There's a Margherita pizza, but two of the others are broccoli rabe with fennel sausage, and smoked prosciutto, potato, and rosemary.

It being the night before the Marathon, I asked our server if there was a "Runner's Special", and he had no idea what I was talking about. I've eaten at other Disney restaurants (including Kouzzina) the night before Disney races that have offered a pasta special, so I was very surprised. The Trattoria really doesn't have a simple spaghetti with marinara dish on the menu - he tried to direct me towards the "Polpetta Gigante - giant meatball with ricotta cannelloni and marinara", but that's not the same thing.

I had the Chicken Breast alla Parmigiana with tagliatelle. This was a HUGE serving of chicken, and it was very good. Not quite as good as the chicken parm in Palo on the Disney cruise ships, but I liked it. The pasta was just ok - it was heavy and it needed more sauce. But the whole thing was a pretty generous serving and I ended up taking half of it back to the room (we devoured it the next day after the marathon).

Eating to Run

Lee ordered the Baked Lasagna with shaved fennel arugula salad. He also thought this was excellent. He said it was very light, but still satisfying and filling.

Eating to Run

We had decent but not great service. There were 9 at our table, so that was a fair bit of work for our server. But I think only a couple of people ordered appetizers and no one ordered dessert.

Trattoria al Forno Dinner Menu


The night after the marathon it was time to celebrate, and any ideas of trying to eat light or healthy go out the window. :-) We had dinner at Flying Fish - yet another Boardwalk-area restaurant.

I tried the nightly fish special - I think it was barrelfish, but I'm not positive about that. Whatever it was, it was very good. Of course I don't think I've ever had anything at Flying Fish that wasn't - it's always been consistently good.

Eating to Run

Lee had the Potato-Wrapped Red Snapper - this is a signature dish at Flying Fish, and it's always excellent.

Eating to Run

Where we really indulged was on dessert: there were four of us, and we ordered four different desserts and shared. The first was a special seasonal sundae - I don't remember now what was in it - maybe cinnamon ice cream, raspberries, and spiced nuts? It was pretty good.

Eating to Run

This is the Signature Flying Fish Cafe Caramelized Banana Napoleon. I'm not a banana fan, so I didn't have any of this, but Lee really enjoyed it.

Eating to Run

The surprise, and my favorite dessert of the evening, was the Spiced Bing Cherry and Chocolate Bread Pudding. I interpreted it as cherries IN the bread pudding, but instead it was cherry sauce served with it. The chocolate bread pudding was VERY good - more "chocolate" than "bread". It also came with a scoop of "sinful chocolate sorbet", which was excellent. While everyone tried it, my tablemates generously allowed me to eat most of this one. :-) It was quite filling and very satisfying.

Eating to Run

We also sampled one of the "no sugar added" desserts: Chocolate Sable-crusted Peppermint Cheesecake. I'm not a big cheesecake fan, but this was pretty good. It had a light mint flavor rather than being overwhelmingly minty, and that was nice.

Eating to Run

Really a lovely meal, and a great way to celebrate completing a successful Marathon weekend.

Flying Fish Menu


Before heading home from Marathon Weekend we went back to Trattoria al Forno to try their breakfast menu. Lee and I both ordered Scrambled Eggs with Tomato, Basil, and fresh Mozzarella, though he requested no tomato on his. It comes with choice of bacon or chicken sausage, with breakfast potatoes. As they put peppers in their breakfast potatoes I requested fruit instead. It was a pretty small serving of fruit, but I was glad that it was mostly pineapple and blueberries rather than melon.

Eating to Run

People at the next table ordered the Poached Eggs with sausage and tomato gravy served over polenta. That looked pretty good, and they enjoyed it.

Eating to Run

Trattoria al Forno Breakfast Menu


Fast forward about 6 weeks to the end of February...

For Princess Half Marathon Weekend I was also staying at the Boardwalk with my friend Deb. Deb is a planner, and she planned almost everything from dining reservations to Fastpass+. That was quite a treat for me and I LOVED having someone else do it for me!

I arrived on an evening flight on Thursday, which meant I'd want dinner soon after I arrived at the Boardwalk. Deb suggested Spice Road Table in the Morocco pavilion at Epcot - and with a reservation time of 7:50, it meant we should be able to watch Illuminations from there, also! She's brilliant. :-)

It was a very chilly evening, and we were bundled up in coats and scarves and gloves. Initially they sat us outside...it was a table right on the water, and on most occasions it would have been a prime location, but after a few minutes we knew we'd be too cold there, and asked to move inside. They had no problem doing that. We didn't have a window table inside, but we could see through one of the windows. And it was SO much warmer and more comfortable!

I'd never dined at Spice Road Table before, but Deb had. Apparently the menu has gone through a number of iterations in the time the restaurant has been open. It started off as small plates for sharing, but now in addition to those there are full dinner entrees as well. We ordered some of both.

We started with the Hummus Fries. Deb had had these before, and said they were served differently - these were large sticks instead of the squares she's had in the past. And they were also MUCH spicier than she'd had before. Not only was the sauce spicy, but the fries themselves were, too. A little too spicy for my taste, unfortunately. They were also very filling.

Eating to Run

We also ordered Spicy Garlic Shrimp. As promised these were a bit spicy, but fortunately not as spicy as the fries. :-) Deb enjoyed them, I thought they were just ok.

Eating to Run

On the entree side we tried the Lamb Sliders. These came with another order of hummus fries - though the menu didn't say anything about an accompaniment, nor did our server mention it to us when we ordered the hummus fries separately. I really enjoyed the sliders - maybe a bit more sauce would have been nice. I'd order those again.

Eating to Run

For dessert we ordered the Chocolate Pyramid. That was a wonderful surprise! It was really excellent. The outer layer was not really cake, but was sort of spongy, with more of a chocolate mousse underneath, and in the center was a white custard. It was served with almond ice cream, though I didn't taste much almond in it. It was an excellent dessert.

Eating to Run

We also shared the Spice Road Digestive Flight, which seems like a very odd name for a flight that included Grand Marnier, Godiva Liqueur, and Frangelico. Each was a 1-3/4 ounce pour.

Eating to Run

Just after our dessert was served Illuminations started. While we didn't have the best view from that location, it was certainly a good view, and a very interesting place to watch the show from. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The restaurant is not very busy, so it would be great if they would offer some kind of dessert/Illuminations experience here. I'd definitely do it - as it is I'd certainly return to do dessert and wine/liqueur before Illuminations again.

Eating to Run

The meal itself...I wasn't too impressed. Which disappointed me, because I'd really wanted to like this place. The sliders were good, but the others were just too spicy for me. And I'd steered away from a couple of the other appetizers because Deb had tried them before and thought the spice level was a little too high. But I really did enjoy the dessert and the liqueur flight.

Spice Road Table


Deb and I went to Magic Kingdom on Friday and had lunch at Columbia Harbour House. I ordered the Broccoli Peppercorn Salad - mixed greens, corn, peas, chicken, broccoli, and parmesan cheese. It is normally tossed with peppercorn dressing, but I requested it on the side. I was expecting the broccoli to be warm, but it was cold. The chicken was warm, so that made for a somewhat strange combination. But it was a pretty good salad.

Eating to Run


That night we went to Trattoria al Forno - Deb hadn't been there, and I didn't mind returning. DebW and Linda joined us, also. We started with the Margherita Pizza. I thought it was ok - it needed more basil. And I'm not a big fan of the thin crust Neapolitan style of pizza.

Eating to Run

DebW and Linda had dined at the Trattoria before, and they recommended we share the Grilled Treviso. Treviso is a type of radicchio, which is an Italian lettuce (I had no idea what it was). This was served with Gorgonzola and pistachios. Not something that I would ever think about ordering, but it was delicious!

Eating to Run

Since I was running the next day I stuck with my Chicken Parmigiana as my appetizer. It wasn't quite as large a piece of chicken as I had in January, but it was still good, and I still had leftovers. The pasta seemed kind of glued together, though - and it still needs more sauce.

Eating to Run

We tried several different desserts. The chocolate gelato was excellent, and I really enjoyed it.

Eating to Run

The Piedmont Hazelnut-Chocolate Cake was just ok. It was a very small serving, and I thought the cake was dry. It had a lot of hazelnut flavor, though.

Eating to Run

We also had the Tiramisu, but we ate this one so quickly that no one took a photo of it! It was very good, and very light. Deb and Linda said it was served much differently than when they had it before, but said it was just as good.

After eating dinner at the Trattoria twice, I'd give it a B-. They do some things very well, and other things not so well. I'm not sure how wide an appeal the menu has to the average WDW visitor looking for Italian food...I'll be surprised if the menu is not significantly changed later this year.


One afternoon we had lunch at Tangierine Cafe in the Morocco pavilion at Epcot. This has always been one of my favorite counter service locations. I had one of my usual choices: Falafel Wrap served with lentil salad and couscous. The wrap was pretty good, but I don't remember the lentil salad having red peppers in it before. And I don't like peppers. Sigh.

Eating to Run

For dessert I had a piece of Pistachio Baklava. It was pretty good - not as good as my mom's - but good. Nutty and crisp and not cloyingly sweet or sticky.

Eating to Run


The night before the Princess Half Marathon we had dinner at Il Mulino in the Walt Disney World Swan Resort. I'd never eaten there before. Because it was an Italian restaurant, and it was the night before a big race, it was crazy busy - I'm told it's not usually like that. So we had slower service than usual, unfortunately.

I ordered the house salad to start. It was a nice salad with mixed greens, sliced red onions, carrot strips, and pine nuts.

Eating to Run

For my entree I requested a half order of Pappardelle and Tomato Basil Sauce Even a half order was plenty of food!

Eating to Run

The menu had lots of interesting things on it, and I'd like to go back again on an evening that's not quite so busy.

Il Mulino Dinner Menu


My last meal at WDW on this trip was Fish and Chips from the shop in the UK pavilion at Epcot. The two pieces of fish were pretty large, and nice and hot and crispy. It's not something I eat very often, but I'd run a half marathon - I could indulge myself. :-)

Eating to Run

So there you have it...two long weekends of running and eating.


March 13, 2015

Review: Cinderella

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"Cinderella," a new live-action retelling of the classic fairy tale from Walt Disney Studios and Director Kenneth Branagh, regally depicts the well-known story of a girl, a fairy godmother, and a glass slipper.

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Loosely based on the 1950 animated film, this version is gently updated for the modern times, with more backstory given to Ella's happy early days with her parents, and a longer look at the Prince who inevitably wins her heart.

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It is her mother (Hayley Atwell) who encourages Ella's imagination and perception of good in everyone, and who leaves her with the strong commendation to "have courage and be kind!" Unfortunately, her father's second choice for a wife, Lady (Cate Blanchett) Tremaine, only holds truck with the first part.

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Ultimately, as in the 1950's edition, Cinderella does make it to the ball, with a little help from her friends, and loses a shoe but gains a Prince in the end.

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As the unwaveringly gracious Cinderella, Lily James gives a charming performance of a young woman determined to adhere to her dying Mother's advice (who wouldn't listen to Agent Peggy Carter?) and see the best in everyone. Helena Bonham Carter does her usual quirky best as the Fairy Godmother, and if her sequence alone seems to have dropped out of a Tim Burton film, that may just be by power of association.

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The star of the film however, is Cate Blanchett. As the mostly-fearsome Lady Tremaine, she strikes a powerful image clad in sharply angled outfits reminiscent of Joan Crawford at her most hard-boiled. Treading a thin line, she manages to make the archetypal Evil Stepmother understandable, if not sympathetic: A product of love lost, thwarted ambition, and seething resentment. Her portrayal is so vivid that although you might wish she was given more screen time, to do so would likely overshadow the film's less-defined protagonists.

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As a work of art, the movie looks gorgeous: Branagh is no stranger to sumptuously designed productions, and it shows here. Between the elaborate, striking costumes by Sandy Powell and the colossal baroque sets by Dante Ferretti, the world of "Cinderella" is as magical as any Fairy Godmother could wish.

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While most of the film is a direct callback from the 1950 film, the new scenes meant to make the story a little more accessible to contemporary audiences work very well, with the most successful being the initial meeting of Ella and Prince/Apprentice Kit. The brief hint of "mansplaining" that goes on as Kit tries to help Ella control her horse, and her subsequent indignation at his tradition-based conservative viewpoints helps to establish them as equals and makes their exhaustive efforts to be together more believable.

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Probably both the best and the worst thing about "Cinderella" is that it is an unabashedly unironic retelling of a very familiar story. There are no dramatic reversals at the end--the Stepmother is not revealed to be the heroine and Cinderella does not learn kung fu and slay any dragons. It is an elegant, straightforward tale that dares to recommend kindness and courage over anger and vindictiveness in a world that, like ours, seldom distinguishes between them...and perhaps, sometimes, that's all that's required.

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Also playing with "Cinderella" is "Frozen Fever," the animated short sequel to "Frozen." It has Elsa planning a grand celebration for Anna's birthday, when she abruptly finds that a cold maybe bothers her anyway. With the same cute characters everyone loved from the original movie, and another catchy tune from Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, there's little chance that this one's not going to go over like gangbusters. All they have to worry about at this point, is whether the Disney Stores will subsequently be able to keep the Snowgies on the shelves.

"Cinderella" is presented by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. Rated PG, it stars Cate Blanchett, Lily James, Richard Madden, Stellan SkarsgÄrd, Holliday Grainger, Sophie McShera, Derek Jacobi, and Helena Bonham Carter.

Directed by Kenneth Branagh and produced by Simon Kinberg, Allison Shearmur, and David Barron. Screenplay by Chris Weitz.

The film enters general release on March 13, 2015.

March 22, 2015

A 1st look at Smokejumpers Grill in Disney California Adventure

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos taking a quick look at the he Smokejumpers Grill which opened on Friday March 20, 2015.

I have an extended look plus my full pictures set on my site. This dining location replaced the Taste Pilot's Grill. The full project Grizzly Peak Airfield conversion from Condor Flats is not scheduled to be completed until summer. They will be opening pieces as they are finished.

Approaching the new grill from Carthay Circle.

A 1st look at Smokejumpers Grill in Disney California Adventure

Heading toward the front door.

A 1st look at Smokejumpers Grill in Disney California Adventure

A menu preview posted outside.

A 1st look at Smokejumpers Grill in Disney California Adventure

The board on the opposite side of the entrance (this would be the left side as you enter)

A 1st look at Smokejumpers Grill in Disney California Adventure

A closer look at what is posted.

A 1st look at Smokejumpers Grill in Disney California Adventure

Heading inside. Looking toward the ordering area. The configuration is the same as before, just new props, paint, etc... so seating is to the left and right. Cash registers and food pickup straight ahead.

A 1st look at Smokejumpers Grill in Disney California Adventure

Looking to the left some of the props above the seating area and on the wall.

A 1st look at Smokejumpers Grill in Disney California Adventure

The menu is more or less the same. Some new names and a couple tweaks but your standard burgers and chicken remain.

A 1st look at Smokejumpers Grill in Disney California Adventure

A 1st look at Smokejumpers Grill in Disney California Adventure

A 1st look at Smokejumpers Grill in Disney California Adventure

Thought the True Life Adventure movie posters were great.

A 1st look at Smokejumpers Grill in Disney California Adventure

The seating area to the right of the registers

A 1st look at Smokejumpers Grill in Disney California Adventure

The Bearpaw Basin patches and logos are throughout

A 1st look at Smokejumpers Grill in Disney California Adventure

The outdoor dining on the Soarin' side is still being worked on. So the door and windows are covered.

A 1st look at Smokejumpers Grill in Disney California Adventure

Walking outside. This is where the engine used to be.

A 1st look at Smokejumpers Grill in Disney California Adventure

A 1st look at Smokejumpers Grill in Disney California Adventure

A 1st look at Smokejumpers Grill in Disney California Adventure

I walked by again after dark to see the lights and get some more detailed shots of the interior.

A 1st look at Smokejumpers Grill in Disney California Adventure

A 1st look at Smokejumpers Grill in Disney California Adventure


A closer look at some of the props around the dining spaces.

A 1st look at Smokejumpers Grill in Disney California Adventure

I thought the model planes were a great touch.

A 1st look at Smokejumpers Grill in Disney California Adventure

A closer look at the boards in the back of the seating area.

A 1st look at Smokejumpers Grill in Disney California Adventure

Hope you enjoyed this first look at the new Smokejumpers Grill in Disney California Adventure. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.



March 23, 2015

Disneyland Springtime Roundup @ Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, March 20, 2015 featuring a look at the Springtime Roundup at the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree.

Disneyland Springtime Roundup @ Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree

In the center is a food stand as is the norm now.

Disneyland Springtime Roundup @ Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree

Checking out the Chuck Wagon Delights for spring.

Disneyland Springtime Roundup @ Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree

Disneyland Springtime Roundup @ Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree

Disneyland Springtime Roundup @ Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree


I missed their name, but a trio provides the music for the Roundup.

Disneyland Springtime Roundup @ Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree


Disneyland Springtime Roundup @ Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree

Mr Easter Bunny arriving for the Bunny Hop

Disneyland Springtime Roundup @ Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree

Disneyland Springtime Roundup @ Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree


The highlight of the event for me is the egg artwork. Here is a look at some of the early creations this year.

Disneyland Springtime Roundup @ Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree

Disneyland Springtime Roundup @ Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree

R2D2

Disneyland Springtime Roundup @ Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree

Hard at work creating the next egg.

Disneyland Springtime Roundup @ Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree

Disneyland Springtime Roundup @ Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree


A choir from South Dakota performed.

Disneyland Springtime Roundup @ Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree

Pluto was dressed as a rabbit for the roundup.

Disneyland Springtime Roundup @ Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree

Mickey and Minnie

Disneyland Springtime Roundup @ Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree


The White Rabbit from Alice

Disneyland Springtime Roundup @ Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree

Disneyland Springtime Roundup @ Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree


There is also an arts and crafts area to create your own bunny ears.

Disneyland Springtime Roundup @ Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree


Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the Springtime Roundup at 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 Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.



March 24, 2015

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, March 20, 2015.

Starting off on Buena Vista Street this trip. Trolley Treats has some Cinderella inspired offerings.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

Grizzly River Run has returned to operation after its annual refurbishment.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

Part of the Bay Area is under refurbishment.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

The entrance arch to Paradise Pier is being refurbished.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

Over at Disneyland, work continues on Sleeping Beauty Castle. The turrets are in various stages of decorations. They are overlaying the blink/diamonds on top of the existing structure. Much like they do with the snow each holiday season.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

Here you can see some of the shinier 60th and some areas that have yet to be covered.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

Over on the east side the new tower

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

A closer look at the new tower

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

A closer look at the overlay.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15
Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

The tower on the west side

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

The rest of the Frozen snow has been removed from Fantasyland.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

Passing over Grizzly Peak Airfield onboard the Monorail.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

Most of the scaffolding is down from Small World.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

Back to Disney California Adventure. In Paradise Pier where the Maliboomer used to be they have closed the smoking area.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

A sign directing smokers to Grizzly Peak.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

Now that Smokejumpers Grill has opened the menu at Paradise Garden Grill menu has returned to Mediterranean specialties.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

Fountains warming up for their performance this evening.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

Freeze the Night had started for the evening and due to the time change kicks off in the daylight now.

Marshmallow out for pictures.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

Some Cinderella merchandise in Elias & Co

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

A few items based on the new live action film

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

Back to Disneyland. The Primeval World has returned to the Disneyland Railroad.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

World of Color returned last week. The show is the regular one and will be until May when the new 60th Anniversary Celebrate! show starts.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15

A video clip of the Pocahontas segment from this viewpoint.


The back screens looked sharper. Not sure if it was my position, wind, or new equipment. My guess is a combination of all three.
Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/20/15


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 Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.



March 30, 2015

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza, 2015

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Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

It's almost Easter - that means it's time for the annual Egg-stravaganza Easter Egg Hunt at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. (It is also being held at Epcot at Walt Disney World.) This year the event runs from Friday, March 27-Sunday, April 5, or while supplies last.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

The Easter Bunny has placed large Easter eggs, decorated like Disney characters, around the parks, and guests get to find them. Luckily the Easter Bunny has also provided a map. :-) There are different maps for Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. The maps are available are various locations in both parks, at a cost of $5.35, including tax.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

There's a sheet of stickers included, with pictures of the various character eggs. Once you find the egg, you apply the appropriate sticker onto the designated space on the map.

In each park there is a redemption location, and the maps can be redeemed there for a character Easter egg - there are six different characters available. You don't have to complete the map to get your egg - you can redeem it at any time. You get to keep the map no matter what: a cast member will stamp it on the back to show that you have received your prize. I saw a number of people purchase their maps and then immediately get their prizes.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

We started at Disneyland, figuring (correctly) that it would be the busier of the two parks as the day went on. We purchased our map at Disney Showcase on Main Street.

The maps give you approximate locations of the eggs, but not an "x marks the spot" kind of thing. For example: "Emporium (Outside)", "Emporium (Inside)", "Frontierland (Entrance)". There were quite a few other people also hunting for them, so sometimes it was easier to just watch for a small crowd of people. :-) Cast members were also happy to provide clues - we had a couple who told us one of the eggs (which was harder to spot than many of them) was at an "Eggs-it". (Groan.)

I'll have spoiler photos at the bottom of this blog - with plenty of warning in case you don't want to know where the eggs are located.

We had fun hunting the eggs - we did it while wandering the park doing other things, so we weren't just going from egg location to location all of the time. Once we'd finished we went to the redemption center, next to Disney Showcase on Main Street. There were several tables set up, each with six eggs of different sizes and colors set up. You point to the egg you want, and the cast member picks it up to reveal the egg you have won - though you receive a new packaged egg from one of the bins behind them.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

The different eggs are: Goofy, Pluto,Tinker Bell, Thumper, White Rabbit, and Mr. Toad.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

If you want a specific egg, you can just watch for a while and see what other people choose, and determine which egg to pick. It's not a shell game - the cast members don't rearrange the eggs in between guests. :-)

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

After we'd finished in Disneyland we went over to Disney California Adventure. There weren't quite as many people hunting eggs over there - in general the park was a lot less busy than Disneyland. We bought our maps in Elias & Co, which is also where the redemption center was located. This time we went ahead and redeemed the map for the prize before actually hunting the eggs.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Most of the character eggs were the same in the two parks, but there were a couple of differences: Disneyland had Mr. Toad and Tinker Bell, and instead of those two DCA had Mater and Lightning McQueen. The prize eggs were identical, though.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

It seemed to me that the hunt at DCA was a little easier, but neither of them was difficult. Though it would be a lot harder at night, since there's no lights on any of the eggs and they would be hard to see.

We really enjoyed this - it was a fun way to spend a few hours in the parks. We saw a lot of other adults on the hunt also - I think there were more adults than kids! I thought the price was reasonable, too. I ended up with the Mr. Toad egg, and Lee got Pluto.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

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Mickey at the Emporium.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Minnie in the toy section of the Emporium - this was hard to find.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Goofy near the Astro Orbitor.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Tink near Pixie Hollow.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Chip in Snow White's Grotto.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Mr. Toad at Dumbo.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Dale behind Stromboli's Wagon.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

White Rabbit at Fantasy Faire gifts.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Donald Duck, near the Frontierland entrance.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Daisy at the Adventureland Bazaar.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Thumper near the fountain in New Orleans Square.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Pluto at the "Eggs-it" of Haunted Mansion

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza
Disneyland Egg-stravaganza


Mickey above the entrance to Trolley Treats.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Minnie at Disney Jr.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Dale in the window of Tower Gifts.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Chip on the wall outside Tower of Terror.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Thumper at It's Tough to be a Bug.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Mater on the roof of the jukebox.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Lightning McQueen watching the cars at Radiator Springs Racers - I thought this one was very creatively placed.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

White Rabbit at Ghirardelli.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Daisy at Treasures in Paradise.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Pluto at Boardwalk Games.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Donald at Silly Symphony Swings.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Goofy at the Embarcadero.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza


March 31, 2015

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, March 27, 2015.

The side of the Soarin' building facing Downtown Disney is being repainted.

Here you can see the second coat is being applied and what the final color will be.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

The annual Egg-stravaganza kicked off today at both parks (plus Epcot in WDW).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

The way it works is you purchase your map and then set off to find the various eggs and match the character sticker to the location you find.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

Here is the kit you get.. a map, sticker, and then a prize egg. In this example it is Tinkerbell.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

You can redeem your map at any point and pick your prize.

Under each egg is a character. The one you pick is the one you get. To keep this post spoiler free I will not include any pictures of the eggs or locations here (I do have a separate picture set on my site with them if you wanted to see).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

Dale came running by while I was walking through Town Square.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

Work continues on decorating Sleeping Beauty Castle for the 60th Anniversary.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

I think this confirms the new items will be lit at night. Notice the light bars under the jeweled roof section.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

Two turrets have what appears to be a plastic diamond on them.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

The Big Hero 6 signage is all gone as the theater prepares for the sneak peek of the Tomorrowland movie.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

A check of the Grizzly Peak Airfield from the Monorail. A large crane is in place to install trees.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

Time to check out the latest egg creations at the Springtime Roundup in the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

A closer look at a couple of the eggs. Bunny Olaf and snow babies.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

The Merlin egg we saw in progress last week.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

The Hatbox Ghost

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

An in progress egg of Sleeping Beauty

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

The Hungry Bear is just about ready to reopen along with the rest of Critter Country.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

Passing through the Candy Palace

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

DCA maps for the Egg-stravaganza are available in Elias & Co and that is also the redemption point.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

The redemption area.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

At Clarabelles.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

The Spring Buena Vista Bugle is now on newsstands.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

The rock work at the entrance to Grizzly Peak Airfield is taking shape.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

The Cinderella preview has ended and the regular "It's Tough to Be a Bug" film has returned. The cast members were enticing guests to enter by saying plenty of ice cold air conditioning inside.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

The show building mural is showing some wear.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

Spotted a butterfly in the garden area.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

The pool closest to Storytellers is walled off at the Grand Californian for some work.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

Work continues on this store at Downtown Disney

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

Looks like they split the space. No indication of what is going in on the left side. But the right has a Disney Vacation Club sign.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

Work continues very slowly on the fall protection at the Disneyland Hotel.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

Work on the Downtown Disney entrance arch is still going on.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

An ice chair at Freeze the Night

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

The Spring Break shirts

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

A look at Sleeping Beauty Castle this evening

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 3/27/15

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 Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.



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About March 2015

This page contains all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in March 2015. They are listed from oldest to newest.

February 2015 is the previous archive.

April 2015 is the next archive.

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