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November 2, 2016

Disneyland Paris Dining

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Since several of you have asked about a blog on dining at Disneyland Paris...here it is.

Overall we were disappointed in the food at Disneyland Paris. Most of the restaurants offered the same theme park food that you would find here! There wasn't a lot of variety, and in fact ALL of the quick service places in the Studios were burger places.

One issue at Disneyland Paris was that a lot of restaurants (particularly quick service restaurants) were closed because it was the off-season. I don't know that the Mexican place in Frontierland or the pizza place in Fantasyland would have been any good, but at least they would have offered a little more variety - something other than burgers.

Of the restaurants that were open, the majority of them seemed to be expensive buffets, and that was a lot more food than we wanted. Table service restaurants didn't have much availability (plus the meals were 40 Euros and up).

Even kiosks offering a quick snack like popcorn were hard to find. Or hard to find one that was open.

Our first meal at Disneyland Paris was a late lunch at the Market House Deli on Main Street. It features sandwiches, salads, flatbread, and pastries. Cafeteria style - you grab a tray, go through the line and take what you want, order your beverage, and pay. I hadn't had a salad in days and really wanted a salad, so I got a three-cheese salad. Not exciting, but it was good, and what I wanted. (Sorry, no photo.) Lee ordered the Croque Monsieur - a toasted ham and cheese sandwich. Ahh...but not all toasted ham and cheese sandwiches are created equal! This was the best one we'd ever had. It had ham, cheese, and bechamel inside, and then the outside was covered in yummy crispy toasted cheese. It was SO good - the best thing we had at Disneyland Paris. We liked it so much we came back and had it two more times during our trip - once for lunch and once for an early dinner.

Disneyland Paris Croque Monsieur sandwich

That evening, by the time we started looking for a dinner spot we couldn't find anything that was open (that wasn't a buffet), so we went to Downtown Disney and went to Annette's Diner. At that point we kind of wanted a nice sincere burger and fries.

Disneyland Paris Annette's Diner

Lee had the Classic Cheeseburger. He said it was good, but not exceptional. 17 euros. He ordered a chocolate milkshake also. Tasted good, but there was not 10 euros worth of milkshake in that glass!

Disneyland Paris Annette's Diner Cheeseburger

I had the Fish Burger, which had pieces of nice crisp panko-crusted cod, and came with French fries and cole slaw. The fish was quite good. At 20 euros it was quite pricey - and that didn't include a beverage! Still, I enjoyed it.

Disneyland Paris Annette's Diner Fish Burger

For breakfasts...Our race package included continental breakfast (served in one of the hotel restaurants) every morning. Croissants, pastries, fruit, yogurt, deli meat and cheese, and cereal. It think there were hard-boiled eggs, also. It's a good thing that we had that, otherwise it would have been difficult to find something for breakfast. There was no quick-service dining at our hotel and there weren't many breakfast options available in Downtown Disney or the parks. The choice seemed to be full character breakfast or pastries from Starbucks - and it always had a long line.

There was an Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney, and we ate lunch there on our second day. It was quite close to the race expo and very popular - lots of Americans in there as well as people working the Expo. I didn't take any photos, but the menu was pretty much the same as at the U.S. restaurants. Just higher prices. :-)

That evening we had dinner at King Ludwig's Castle in Downtown Disney. I wasn't expecting much, but it turned out to be one of the better meals that we had. I don't remember now how much we spent, but it was cheaper than Annette's Diner the night before!

King Ludwig's Castle

The decor inside was interesting - certainly fit the theme.

Disneyland Paris King Ludwig's Castle

Disneyland Paris King Ludwig's Castle

Lee was happy because he could get a nice dark German beer. I had a glass of Riesling.

Disneyland Paris King Ludwig's Castle

We both ordered a two course meal. Both of us had the Caprese Salad as a starter. It was served in a very different way, but it tasted good. Strange to have small tomatoes rather than slices of tomato, though. And rather than pieces of basil it came with pesto.

Disneyland Paris King Ludwig's Castle

My entree was a Roasted Pork Shank served on a bed of sauerkraut. The pork was very good - tender and almost fell off the bone. The sauerkraut was fine - there was just an awful lot of it!

Disneyland Paris King Ludwig's Castle

Lee ordered the Spaetzle, which was a vegetarian dish, and had cheese in it. It was tasty, but VERY filling.

Disneyland Paris King Ludwig's Castle

For lunch the next day we went to Bistrot Chez Remy in the Walt Disney Studios park. We really wanted to try it and had made a reservation the day before.

Disneyland Paris Bistrot Chez Remy

The waiting area.

Bistrot Chez Remy

Bistrot Chez Remy

It's a large restaurant, with lots of interesting decor. Even though they weren't accepting walk-ups, there were a number of empty tables and it did not seem to be overly busy. Which made it a much more pleasant dining experience for us.

Disneyland Paris Bistrot Chez Remy

Disneyland Paris Bistrot Chez Remy

Disneyland Paris Bistrot Chez Remy

Disneyland Paris Bistrot Chez Remy

Disneyland Paris Bistrot Chez Remy

Disneyland Paris Bistrot Chez Remy

The menu offered two different set menus. With each you could order either a two or three course meal. Each menu had it own appetizer, with choices for entree and dessert. The Linguini (two course) and Gusteau (three course) menu was more gourmet (and more expensive) than theRemy (two course) and Emile (three course) menu. The Linguini and Remy options included starter and main course only, while the Gusteau and Emile options included starter, main course, dessert, and beverage. With Menu Gusteau there was an optional wine pairing for an additional 15 euros.

Disneyland Paris Bistrot Chez Remy

I went with the Emile menu option, for 40 euros. My starter was a mixed green salad with grated beetroot and chives, and a sesame and soy dressing. Which for some reason I didn't photograph.

Lee went all in and opted for Menu Gusteau with the wine pairing. That was 60 euros plus the additional 15 for the wine. His first course was duck foie gras with violet fig jam, toasted walnut bread, and salad. I didn't photograph that, either.

My entree was Roasted Cod, ratatouille, crushed potatoes and a beurre blanc sauce. The fish, sauce, and potatoes were very good. The ratatouille was ok.

Disneyland Paris Bistrot Chez Remy

Lee had the Fillet of Beef with Premium ratatouille, confit potatoes and mustard jus.

Disneyland Paris Bistrot Chez Remy

And this was the Premium ratatouille. Very nice to look at, but he also thought it was just ok.

Disneyland Paris Bistrot Chez Remy

For dessert I had the (big surprise here) Chocolate Mousse. It was very good.

Disneyland Paris Bistrot Chez Remy

Lee ordered the Apple Tart which he quite enjoyed. It came with a glass of Cuvee Disneyland Paris champagne.

Disneyland Paris Bistrot Chez Remy

It was expensive, but it was a very nice meal.

That night we looked for dining locations around Disneyland Paris, but a lot of places were closed. We finally ended up at The Cowboy Cookout in Frontierland. I was surprised this place was open, because it was at the back of Frontierland, and there was nothing else open back there except the train station. All the other attractions were closed as part of the big Thunder Mountain/Frontierland refurbishment.

Cowboy Cookout

This is a BBQ place - they had BBQ chicken, ribs, sausage, and burgers. It was quite large inside, though we ate outside, since it was a very pleasant evening. Not very many people in there.

I had the half BBQ chicken. I did the meal option for 13 euros, which came with choice of salad or potatoes, choice of brownie or yogurt for dessert, and choice of beverage. It was a lot of food. The chicken was very tasty, and the salad, even though it was pre-packaged, was nice and fresh.

Cowboy Cookout chicken

Lee had the Premium Angus Burger meal for 15 euros. The burger came with cheese, tomato, lettuce, and onion rings. There was choice of salad or potatoes, choice of fruit cup or ice cream bar for dessert, and choice of beverage. Lee said the burger was excellent - better than the one we'd had at Annette's the first night.

Cowboy Cookout burger

On Saturday morning we finished the 5K early enough that we had time to shower and still go make the continental breakfast at Sequoia Lodge - yogurt, fruit, pastries.

We met friends in Disneyland afterwards and stopped for a quick snack at the bakery on Main Street. They had some chocolate doughnuts that looked good, so I tried one of those. And it was pretty good.

Disneyland Paris Bakery doughnut

For lunch we went to the Deli again, where most of us enjoyed the Croque Monsieur. That was really a good ham and cheese sandwich! For later I picked up a Nutella muffin. It wasn't terrible sweet except for the Nutella filling. I liked it.

Disneyland Paris Chocolate Nutella muffin

With a half marathon the next morning we wanted to find something pasta-like for dinner that night, but there really weren't very many options. Colonel Hathi's Pizza Outpost in Adventureland was the only place we could find that had pasta.

Colonel Hathi's Pizza Outpost

Lee and I ordered the Rigatoni meal, which came with either marinara or bolognese, choice of salad or garlic bread, and choice of beverage for 12 euros. It was ok - not great, but not bad. I thought it was a reasonable-sized serving of pasta. I had the marinara. The sauce was fine but didn't have a lot of flavor.

Colonel Hathi's Outpost rigatoni

On Sunday by the time we finished the half marathon and showered it was too late for breakfast at the hotel. Though before we left the room I finished the rest of my Nutella muffin from the day before. We looked a the line at Starbuck's in Downtown Disney but it was too long. We went into the Studios and pretty quickly determined that the only options were the Restaurant des Stars buffet (expensive) or the Restaurant en Coulisse burger place just inside the entrance. We were pretty hungry by then so just went to the burger place.

I ordered the Fish Burger with choice of fries or salad, and beverage for 12 euros. It wasn't as good as the fish sandwich I'd had at Annette's Diner, but it was decent, and I was hungry.

Disneyland Paris Fish Burger

Lee ordered the Angus Cheeseburger. For 15 euros it came with choice of fries or salad, choice of fruit or ice cream bar, and beverage. It wasn't nearly as good as the burger he'd had at the BBQ place. But again, it was decent, and he was hungry.

Walt Disney Studios angus cheeseburger

We were back in Disneyland that evening (our final night in France) and had a couple of Croque Monsieur sandwiches at the Deli again. It was easily the best thing we had at the parks.

As I mentioned at the beginning, overall we weren't very impressed with the food offerings at Disneyland Paris. Some of that impression is due to the limited options we had with so many dining places being closed. But a lot of the places we did try were just ok. It was France, and we really expected the food to be a cut above what is available in the United States.







November 4, 2016

"Doctor Strange" at the El Capitan Theatre

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The Doctor Is In, at Disney's El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, opening weekend for Marvel Studio's "Doctor Strange."

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Presented in brilliant Dolby® 3D laser projection and Dolby Atmos® sound, the film looks and sounds amazing, in all its reality/mind-bending glory.

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As a special treat for opening weekend only, guests can enjoy a theater-exclusive Meet and Greet downstairs with Doctor Strange himself before and after each show (November 4, 5 and 6) with special photo ops.

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In the lobby, an actual costume from the film is on display, including the famed "Cloak of Levitation."

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Over in the adjoining Disney Studio Store and Ghirardelli Soda Fountain, a small amount of "Doctor Strange" merchandise can be found, along with a limited edition comic exclusive to the location.

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Those looking for a dining package can look no further than the Hard Rock Café, where they can enjoy a $30.00 Movie & Meal combo. Advance reservations are required by calling 1-818-845-3110. Tiny Tot Tuesdays will be held on November 8 and 15 at 12 p.m showings, during which lights will be dimmed and volume levels reduced.

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Just announced, guests lucky enough to be attending the 7pm showing on 11/4/16 will be treated to a special guest--Executive Producer, Comic Book Legend, and Cameo Star, Stan Lee!

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So By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth, come on down opening weekend to watch Stephen Strange battle the Dread Dormammu and practice bad sterile OR technique at the El Capitan Theatre.

"Doctor Strange" is currently playing at the El Capitan Theatre from November 4 to 20. Tickets are available now at the El Capitan Theatre (6838 Hollywood Blvd.), online at www.elcapitantickets.com or by calling 1-800-DISNEY6. Special group rates for parties of 20 or more are available by calling 1-818-845-3110. Daily showtimes are 12 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 7:00 p.m., and 10:30 p.m. Showtimes and dates are subject to change.

November 8, 2016

Disneyland Resort Updates - 11/4/16

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos and video clips from his latest trip to the parks on Friday, November 4, 2016.

A video overview of the Star Wars construction site from the Mickey and Friends parking structure.

An overview of the site.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016
Footers are in for the wall to the left of the Fantasyland entrance tunnel.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

The Fantasmic! marina looks to be enclosed now.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

The new path from Critter Country to Star Wars is slowly taking shape. Dirt has been removed from behind the large retaining wall behind Critter Country.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Footers for the foundation of the show building are also taking shape.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Moving on to the Tram stop work: The closest section of the Pinocchio lot is now fenced off and equipment looks ready to start. Also, the crosswalk has been moved closer to the structure right now.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

A closer look at the removed hedges and security barriers:

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

World of Color Season of Light billboards are at the tram stop now.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Halloween was still present on the tram route.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Over the entrance gates, though, Halloween is gone, but Christmas has yet to arrive.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Christmas has arrived at the Train Station, note that there's no train out front this week. The traditional Christmas decorations are up on the Train Station.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Town Square is looking festive.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

The tree has yet to be installed.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Snow has fallen on Sleeping Beauty Castle. Nice to see it back this year.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

A look around the hub:

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

The Partners Statue with Sleeping Beauty Castle

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Frontierland has been decorated, too.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Approaching the end of the Big Thunder Trail... The rockwork is taking shape along the trail.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

New Orleans Square has been decorated.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Critter Country decorations are up, too.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Taking a look at the Star Wars work from Critter Country, it looks like the first trestle is taking shape as well as "toothpicks" for the rockwork support structure.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Winnie the Pooh was out near what will be Santa's meet-and-greet in a week.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

The trestle over Critter Country is under wraps and looks like it is being rebuilt/renovated.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Scaffolding in Toontown has moved to the Five and Dime.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

The Toons have decorated already. The fire truck is back and looks good as new.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Mickey's House:

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016


"it's a small world" is closed while the holiday show is being installed. It reopens November 10.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Hyperspace Mountain has returned.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

The Dapper Dans performing on Main Street USA:

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Next stop, Disney California Adventure! Buena Vista Street is partially decorated. No tree yet and the window displays are not done.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Disney Festival of Holidays is taking over DCA starting Thursday, November 10.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

The marketplaces that were used in the Food and Wine Festival have returned.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Menus are not posted yet, just names for the locations (I have pictures of all of them in my full set if you wanted to see them)

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Work continues in the Hollywood Studios area:

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Scaffolding continues to go up on the Tower of Terror. There was a posted wait time of 90 minutes this afternoon.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

A side view of the Tower of Terror. Looks like scaffolding is up on three of the four sides so far. Just this side to go:

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Cars Land holiday decorations are almost all up, too.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Paradise Park is ready for the new World of Color show, Season of Light, which starts this Thursday. The fountains were warming up for the regular show this evening.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

There are actually more marketplaces for the holiday than the Food and Wine event had. Here is one in front of the Little Mermaid.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

A couple more marketplaces near the Zephyr.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

New boxes/barges with equipment are out in Paradise Bay for the new World of Color show.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

There's been a tweak to the Toy Story queue -- a new entrance point. Rumor is that FastPass is coming to this attraction. If that's true, this change to the queue to accommodate it makes sense.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

A small stage set up in the Wharf area:

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

And another marketplace near Grizzly Rapids Run.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Santa will be in Redwood Creek this year.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Back in Disneyland park, Frontierland lights were on this evening.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

I found a spot under the lights on Main Street for Soundsational.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Noted a few things on my way out of the parks.

Tupua performing in Downtown Disney tonight.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Route 66 after dark.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

A lot of activity going on in the Pinocchio lot this evening. They were removing the asphalt and other debris from near the parking structure.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

They are enlarging an opening into the Mickey and Friends parking structure on the first floor.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

And finally, the Fantasy in the Sky finale from the structure.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 4, 2016

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, https://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.


November 9, 2016

"Moana" Press Day: Filmmaker Presentations

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As the release date for "Moana" rapidly approaches, we continue our look at the film's development with presentations by the filmmakers. Jared Bush (Screenwriter), Dave Pimentel (Head of Story), David Derrick (Story Artist), and Sunmee Joh (Story Artist) came together to talk about developing the story of "Moana," in "Building a Legend."

[All unattributed photos courtesy of Disney.]

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Jared Bush on writing a scene vs. storyboarding a scene: "'This is in a cavern of the ancestors, water rushing down to the boats. Walking amongst the huge canoes in awe, she spots a smaller canoe near the pool of water leading through a waterfall. Water jumps out of the hull from the nearest lagoon, and as the sails swell, it reveals a massive double-hulled canoe.' So something like that took me about three minutes to write, but then I hand it over to Dave...and it becomes a lifetime."

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David Derrick, who has Samoan ancestry, noted that he was able to reconnect with it on various research trips, and put the pattern of his own family's tapa print throughout the film.

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Sunmee Joh on Saving Heihei: "He was a character we had from the very beginning and he was in many versions of the story, but as the story progressed, we suddenly found Heihei on the chopping block. The directors really wanted to keep him, but we were having a hard time fitting him in...Then, I thought...what if we added him to the Kakamora scene?"

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"Tell them what happened in this panel, when John Lasseter saw it."
"He got up with a big clap and said 'YES, HEIHEI IS SAVED!'"

Hank Driskill (Technical Supervisor), Kyle Odermatt (Visual Effects Supervisor), Marlon West (Head of Effects), and Dale Mayeda (Head of Effects) then presented some of the amazing special effects in "Moana."

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--Water is an important and central figure both in the movie and in Polynesian culture.
--Conversations with colleagues at Pixar and Industrial Light and Magic helped to define what "state of the art" water rendering was, so that they could then determine how to then push the boundaries.
--80% of the shots in this movie have effects in them.
--In addition to making the water look believable, they also had to make the water a believable and interactable character.
--The general process was that the character animators would come up with a silhouette they wanted, the directors would make decisions on timing and performance, and then Effects would add fluid simulations along the surface, interior bubbles, and surrounding splashes.

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Finally, animators Bill Schwab (Art Director, Characters), Amy Smeed (Head of Animation), Malcon Pierce (Animation Supervisor, Moana), and Neysa Bové (Vis Dev Artist) came together to introduce us to the film's heroine.

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Neysa Bové on costume design: "Costume design is such an important part of filmmaking--you're not only trying to tell the story of the character, but you're trying to also put the personality, what they're about in it...For Moana, one challenge that I had was to come up with something that was...relevant to 2000 years ago in the Pacific Islands. We were lucky enough to have the Oceanic Trust and they were able to share with us that at that time they were working with two different fabrics--tapa and pandanus--and tapa is what she's wearing in her bodice, that's actually made from the mulberry tree, and the skirt is pandanus, (which is) sort of woven."

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--Her Taualuga costume is for Moana's coming-of-age ceremony.
--Moana's costumes figure in red primarily, because it is a sign of royalty in the Pacific Islands.
--The red feather is a sign of currency.
--Construction of the costumes is taken into account during the design. Without sewing machines, the clasp on her back is a boar's tusk.

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--A concerted effort was made from all departments to push the anatomy and clarify details like the interaction between eyelids and brows, folds in the hand while making a fist, and patterns of teeth and gums.
--180 different controls exist to pose just Moana's face.
--Even the eyelashes are posed separately to sell the eye motions.

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"Moana" will be opening November 23, 2016.

November 14, 2016

2016 Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend, Part 1, Expo and 10K

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Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

The Walt Disney World Wine and Dine Half Marathon is a race we have enjoyed participating in for several years. It was very different from other race weekends because it was a night race, starting at 10:00. It included a big finish line party at Epcot's Food and Wine Festival. All of the food booths and some attractions were open, and the party went until 4:00 a.m.

It also was quite different because the 5K and half marathon both took place on Saturday - the 5K in the morning and the half at night. There were only those two events for adults. The Kids Races were usually split between Friday and Saturday.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

The last couple of years the nighttime race aspect has brought weather challenges. 2014 was what we called "Splash and Dash", because it rained for the entire race and much of the after party. In 2015 was the "Quarter Marathon". The start was delayed an hour because of lightning in the area. Disney was rightly concerned for the safety of volunteers, spectators and runners and evacuated all of us to the shelter of buildings at the start line at ESPN Wide World of Sports. As a result of the delay the course was shortened, and we ran not quite 7 miles rather than 13.1. Everyone still received their medals, though!

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

This year when the race was announced runDisney added a new 10K race, and with that came a new 10K/half marathon challenge as well. It also meant that it turned into a more traditional runDisney race weekend, with all races held in the morning: 5K on Friday, 10K on Saturday and half marathon on Sunday. The after party at Epcot was still scheduled, but it was held Sunday night instead of Saturday night.

As you might imagine, the changes were met with some consternation in the runDisney community. I'll admit that I wasn't very happy about it. While I understand the weather being a problem in recent years, there was something very special about Wine and Dine being
a nighttime event. It was unique in that it was at night - and getting to go straight from the race to the party was a terrific way to finish the event. These changes made it just about like any
other runDisney race weekend. Runners who make more of a long weekend of the event were dismayed because if they wanted to experience the party they could no longer return home on Sunday afternoon.

Even before the changes were announced we'd already planned to run the race again this year, so this didn't really affect our plans. And with two pieces of Inaugural bling (the Wine and Dine 10K and Lumiere's Two Course Challenge), of course I had to be there. :-)

Of late, many of the runDisney half marathons have not been selling out quickly, but this one did. Just hours after registration opened all events were sold out. And then we had to wait months for additional information on the events - like what the race courses were going to be like, and how the after party would work.

Eventually we learned that the 10K course was going to be the same old boring 10K course that most of the other races use. Starting and ending at Epcot, with over half the race on roads outside the park. Whoopee.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

But the half marathon course was new. It still started at ESPN Wide World of Sports and ended at Epcot, but the Studios portion was completely eliminated. Instead of going to Animal Kingdom and back to the Studios, the half marathon course went to Animal Kingdom and then took back roads to World Drive near the Car Care Center. This is essentially a reversal of part of the marathon course. From there it went to Epcot - that last 4+ miles is the same course most of the other Walt Disney World half marathons take. I was not very excited about this course, either - I knew there was going to be lots of miles on boring roads. And instead of visiting three theme parks as we did before, it was only two.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

For admission to the party we were mailed an actual ticket, along with a letter telling us the ticket was required, and that our bibs would not get us into the party. We know some runners that didn't receive their tickets before they left home, though.

Race entry also includes a $15 gift card that can be used for food and beverage, or really anything else you can purchase with a Disney gift card. Our gift cards were sent to us via email - the bar code could be scanned and used that way.

Thursday, November 3 - Expo

We arrived at the Expo on Thursday afternoon around 4:00 - it had opened at 10:00 that morning. We were surprised to see the construction of a new arena at Wide World of Sports was well underway.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

The banners for the different races were out - those are always really nice photo ops.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

The Expo wasn't crowded, and we didn't wait long to pick up our packets.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

There was a meet and greet location with Lumiere, and the line was pretty short so we did that. We were running his challenge, after all!

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

There was a merchandise area in the packet pick-up building, and we checked that out. There still seemed to be quite a bit left.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

Lots of shirts, and some nice artwork.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend
There was quite a bit of Lumiere's Challenge merchandise, though as Lee pointed out, most of it was for women and not men. There were a number of shirts as well as a jacket.
Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

I thought the 5K shirts were really cute - I was sorry that I wasn't running the 5K! (But getting up early three mornings in a row just wasn't appealing.)

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

Shirt pick-up for the Challenge was in the Milk House - the rest was over in the Josten's Center. The shirt designs are really cute, but I don't understand why they still insist on giving us long-sleeve shirts for Wine and Dine, when it's still pretty warm at that time of year in Florida.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

And what is it with Disney and gray shirts? Way too many of those lately.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

The other issue we've noticed with the shirts is that the graphic on the front has become much larger and more elaborate over the years. But since it's a rubbery-iron on, that part of the shirt doesn't breathe at all. So it makes the shirts a lot warmer and they are not very comfortable to actually run in. I wish they'd go back to a simpler and smaller graphic.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

As usual the main expo was over in Josten's Center.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

There was even more official merchandise over there. I was able to get the mini medal pins that I wanted.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

They had all of the "I Did It" shirts, too, though we didn't buy any of them.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

But other than the I Did It shirt and the mini medal pin there was NO 10K merchandise - we were told that it wasn't until they put it out that someone finally realized that "Inaugural" was spelled incorrectly. So at the last minute they pulled it all. Wow. I'm not sure how they can go through as many approval levels as this stuff must have to go through without anyone noticing the mis-spelling. Disney needs to hire some proofreaders. I'd be happy to volunteer my services. Believe me, I know how to spell "Inaugural." :-)

The rest of the Expo seemed to be the typical merchandise and vendors. We weren't around for any of the presentations.

There was no printed event guide this time at all. And the on-line event guide was a weird interactive magazine format, so it wasn't anything that you could download easily for yourself! I really didn't like it. There was a one-page event guide available, which a volunteer found for us. I was surprised that wasn't included in our packet pickup. Another thing that wasn't included in our pickup was the sticker with our bib number on it to be used if we checked
a bag before the race. Instead, volunteers had to handwrite one for anyone who checked a bag.

Here's what I came back with from the Expo. I need another race shirt like I need a hole in the head, but I liked the purple Remy shirt and bought it - got lots of compliments on it, too!

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

Friday, November 4 - Mickey's Holiday 5K

This 5K is held at Animal Kingdom, and has a holiday theme. We didn't run it but we have a number of friends who did. It always looks like a lot of fun, and I'm sorry we missed it this year. But as I mentioned earlier, the idea of yet another early morning convinced us otherwise.

The race medal is one of the new metal medals, rather than the rubber version that's been distributed in the past. Really cute.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

Saturday, November 5 - Inaugural Wine and Dine 10K

Another 5:30 race start. Since the half marathon starts at ESPN Wide World of Sports and ends at Epcot I was hoping that the 10K might do that, too, but no. It was the same 10K course that's used for the Marathon and Princess weekend 10Ks. After the disaster that was the Star Wars Dark Side 10K in April, which went from Epcot to Wide World of Sports, I can perhaps understand their reluctance to simply reverse that route, but I still hoped for something
different. They could have done a variation of the "quarter marathon" course that we did last year, which would have let us experience the Studios.

Since the start was at Epcot we opted to drive our rental car rather than take the bus. We left about 3:45 and had pretty minimal traffic.

We were very happy to see that there were four character photo stations set up in the pre-race area. The lines were very long, though, so we hoped to get some photos after the race instead.

Before the race we met up with some former members of Team AllEars - it was great to see them again! Many of us have kept in touch via Facebook, but it's always nice to get together in person.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

One nice thing about the 10K race is that the start line is right next to the pre-race area and we didn't have a long walk to the start line like we do for the half marathon and marathon. I was in
corral A, but not very close to the front, so my photos aren't very good.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

It was great to see Rudy Novotny back as a race announcer. For some reason he's no longer doing the runDisney events in California, but he's still working the Florida events.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

I was hoping to get another personal best on this course, so I was running for time, and didn't take any photos. My friend Stan, who is faster than I am, ran with me. He did his best to keep me on track for a PR, but I just didn't quite have it in me. It was about 68 degrees and humid for the race, and that was a little too warm for me to do my best. I finished in 58:12, which is still a good time, but almost a minute slower than my best 10K time.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

This 10K course is BORING. The first three miles took us through the Epcot parking lot and out onto World Drive. We went backstage at Epcot and finally into Epcot's World Showcase at Norway at about mile 4. Then we ran counterclockwise all the way past France and out the International Gateway, and ran around Crescent Lake and past the Boardwalk, Yacht Club, and Beach Club resorts. We went back towards the International Gateway again but turned left and ran backtage behind the UK and Canada and out into Future World. We ran around Spaceship Earth and then out to the finish line.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

I hoped that runDisney would learn some character lessons from their counterparts in Paris, but no. There were just five character stops, plus one stop with stiltwalkers and another with a large
Sebastian puppet. The penguins from Mary Poppins were just past mile 1 (that seemed like a very odd choice) and Flik and Atta were around mile 2. Geppetto was at the Italy pavilion and Genie was at the Morocco pavilion. Chip and Dale were outside the ESPN Club on the Boardwalk.

But as I mentioned, there were characters in the pre-race area. And since we'd finished early, the lines weren't too bad. I was finally able to get my photo taken with Remy and Emile - which I hadn't been able to get at Disneyland Paris.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

We also saw Mickey and Minnie.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

Goofy and Donald were dancing to the DJ's music ("Happy") when we went up to see them.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

Lumiere was also there, but since we'd gotten our photo with him at the Expo we didn't wait in line.

It was still dark when we'd finished with the characters. Even though it was relatively warm, we were sweaty and soaked and getting a little chilled just standing around, so we headed back to our resort.

Later I checked the results. There were 9,260 finishers, which is pretty good for a 10K with about 10,000 entries. I finished 7th in my division, and I was very happy about that.

Next up: The Wine and Dine Half Marathon







November 15, 2016

2016 Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend, Part 2, Half Marathon and Post Race Party

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Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

Sunday, November 6 - Half Marathon

Saturday night was the time change - and we got to "fall back" an hour. That was very nice, since it meant that we got to sleep for an extra hour on what was already a short night! But it didn't make it a whole lot easier to get up at 2:30. That's one of the other things I liked about the half marathon being at night - the three hour time difference between the east coast and west coast actually worked FOR us for the nighttime race.

The half marathon started at ESPN Wide World of Sports, which meant that we needed to take a bus to the start line. No cars are allowed to park there. If you want to drive your own car you can drive to Epcot and park, then take a bus to the start line from there.

The buses started running at 3:00, and we caught one at 3:15. It wasn't all the way full, and there were more buses waiting behind it at our resort. I had a friend who was at Pop Century who said the bus lines were longer there, and she had more of a wait than we did.

The area that used to be the race staging area is now the construction zone for the new arena so we were in a different place this year. I thought it was closer to the actual corrals, though.

There were the same four character photo locations that we'd seen for the 10K, and we didn't wait in any of the lines. We had an even larger Team AllEars reunion than we did for the 10K!

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

It seemed like there were plenty of porta-potties. One set near bag check, and one set closer to the corral entrances. Still, I thought the lines seemed longer than usual. There were less than 15,000 runners in the half marathon. This particular half still has the smallest field of any of the Disney World half marathons.

Lee, Stan, and I were all planning to run together, so we headed out to corral E. There were fireworks for the start of each corral. We started about 12 minutes after the official start of the race. We'd all run the 10K hard the day before so were planning to take it easy for the half marathon. (If you've never done back-to-back races before then I do not recommend running the first race hard. Yes, this would be a case of "Do as I say, not as I do." I have enough experience to know how my body will respond to doing that. And while I would run a 10K hard with a half the next day, I would not run a half hard with a marathon the next day!)

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

I mentioned previously that there was a new course for the race this year. The Studios portion was cut out completely - my theory is that it's due to a combination of construction and no Osborne Lights. The first part of the race was the same as in previous years - we headed out on Osceola Parkway to Animal Kingdom. Most of this route is nice and wide so there's lots of room. We didn't feel too crowded after the first half mile or so.

The temperature was a little cooler than the day before - 65 at the start - but it was still very humid. Over 90% at the start of the race. Still, since the temperature was under 70 it wasn't too bad. The Country Bears were near the mile 1 sign, but we didn't stop. At several places along the course there were huge video screens showing scenes from various Disney movies - one of those was on the overpass near mile 2.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

We arrived in Animal Kingdom when it was just about sunrise. The Tree of Life looked nice.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

We ran through a lot of Animal Kingdom - Harambe Village, Dino Land, and Asia. There was some beautiful light over Expedition Everest. I saw a few character stops: Baloo, Timon, Chip and Dale, but the lines were a little long.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

Eventually we went backstage at Animal Kingdom. I had to take a photo of Stan and Lee by the mile 5 sign. :-) Only 8.1 miles to go until they could get a beer!

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

There was a short line for Meeko, so we stopped...but as we came to the head of the line he had to go for a biscuit break. It was only a couple of minutes, though. He was pretty cute when he came back.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

I tried to interest him in my shiny running watch but he was much more intrigued by my tiara! :-)

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

It was a fun stop - worth the extra few minutes.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

And then it was on to the the really boring miles. This part of the course was the reverse of part of the marathon course from Animal Kingdom back to World Drive. Several miles of trees, recycling plant, and more trees. There was a Mike and Sulley character stop (long line) and a pair of Streetmosphere characters dressed as tacky tourists.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

Somewhere after mile 8 there was another big screen that was showing a video of the Food and Wine Festival - including some of the food booths with cast members cheering us on. I haven't decided yet if that was encouraging or just cruel.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

By mile 9 we had turned onto World Drive and were headed for Epcot. This part of the course was quite familiar to us since it's the same as most of the other WDW half marathons.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

There were a couple of character stops - Darkwing Duck and Launchpad McQuack were at the turn onto World Drive, and later we saw Lilo and Stitch. The line for them wasn't too long, but they pulled both of them for a break just after we got in line. I was surprised - normally they stagger them so that one is always out. We didn't want to wait this time, so went on.

We found our cheer squad just past the mile 12 sign near the entrance to Epcot. So wonderful to see these smiling faces!

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow were backstage at Epcot, and there was no line.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

Homes for our Troops was the charity for this race, and most of the volunteers were wearing those shirts.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

We saw Phineas and Ferb at the Future World bridge but didn't stop, though we did stop for a photo with Spaceship Earth in the background. This one was taken by one of Disney's PhotoPass photographers, who were the official race photographers again. They took some pretty good photos of us, and since we are annual passholders the downloads are free. That's a nice benefit.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

Yay! The gospel choir was in their usual .2 miles to the finish location! It's always so wonderful to see them.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

And...we finished! 2:37:03. Not bad. Though it was still under 70 degrees it felt warmer because the sun was out. There was a slight breeze, though. Volunteers handed us wet Dr. Kool towels after we finished.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

We received our new challenge medals. The volunteers handing out the challenge medals (Hi, Michele!) had a lot to keep track of - in addition to the Lumiere's Challenge medal they were giving out Coast-to-Coast medals and Castle-to-Chateau medals! I saw a couple of people who had received the Castle-to-Chateau medals. (Which reminds me that I saw NO Castle-to-Chateau merchandise at the Expo.)

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

After exiting the finish area our first stop was the beverage trucks. The guys wanted beer and I wanted champagne! I was pleasantly surprised that the lines weren't long.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

We waited for the rest of our group to finish...while we did we ate some of the contents of our runDisney snack boxes. It was the usual selection - tortilla chips, cheese dip, Craisins, applesauce, Oreo cookie, and icky energy bar. At least the contents have improved somewhat over what was originally in these boxes when they first started distributing them. The applesauce and chips tasted good after the race.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

After everyone had finished we took our respective buses back to our resorts. The bus lines weren't too bad, and our timing was excellent and we walked right onto our bus.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

One thing I discovered about the Lumiere medal is that the flames on the candlesticks glow in the dark!

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

That night we went to the post-race party. It started at 10:00 and went until 1:00 a.m. We didn't arrive until about 11:00. As we walked into the park from the International Gateway we saw quite a few people already leaving. I was interested in how well attended it might be, since from among my sample set of 10 runners, Lee and I were the only ones who were going.

We used our ticket to get in, and then received a wristband, though no one ever checked it.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

We stopped for a selfie with the Eiffel Tower, since we'd seen the real thing about six weeks ago.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

There were a lot of character photo ops during the party, and those lines were huge. This one was Abu, Aladdin, and Jasmine.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

There were short/no lines at the food booths. We had just come from a delicious dinner at Flying Fish so we weren't very hungry, and just wandered around.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

A performance of American Music Machine was just starting in the America Gardens Theater and we stopped to see that. I felt badly for the performers since there were maybe 50 people in the audience. That seemed to me to be an odd choice of entertainment for the party - it's such a large venue.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

We walked by some more character stops - Tiana, Naveen, and Louis, Pinocchio and Geppetto, Snow White and Dopey, Mulan and Mushu. All with long lines. Frozen Ever After was open, but had a 60 minute standby line. No thanks. Donald Duck was out in Mexico, and the Mariachi Trio was also performing there.

There was a DJ on the stage at the Fountain of Nations. Playing lots of pop music that was broadcast all over Epcot. There were a few people dancing at the stage. The food booths were really not busy by this time, and the cast members were dancing and having a good time, too. That was fun to watch.

Wine and Dine half marathon weekend

Soarin', Test Track, and Spaceship Earth were all open in Future World but we didn't check them out.

As I mentioned, we weren't really hungry, but we stopped at the Refreshment Outpost to get their Dole Whip with Coconut Rum Festival offering. Yummy.

The Alberta Bound group was also performing during the party, though we didn't see them. It was after midnight and the park was pretty quiet. It had been a very long day for us and we were tired so we headed out the International Gateway. I was surprised to see that there were still a few people entering the park at that time!

Final Thoughts

I still think that the Wine and Dine Half Marathon is the best value of any of the Disney races. It doesn't cost any more than the other half marathons but it includes the post-race party and the $15 gift card.

Still, I preferred the "old" Wine and Dine format with the half marathon at night and the party right afterwards. I don't think the race in the morning and the party that night worked very well. Attending the party just after finishing the race meant that we were hyped up and hungry and ready to party - but this time we were just tired. And so many runners didn't end up going to the party at all. Maybe if we hadn't had a big dinner I would have felt differently, and would have been able to enjoy the short lines a the booths. Certainly there were people there who were obviously having a very good time. And I have several other friends who attended and had a lot of fun. They are much younger than I am, though. :-)

I am hoping that this new half marathon course is only temporary, and that the Studios will be included again eventually.

I'd like to thank those of you I met over the weekend who took the time to come over and tell me that you enjoy my blogs - that means a lot to me!

Thanks for reading!








New Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Disney California Adventure gets a holiday makeover this year with the presentation of the first Festival of Holidays at the park. The Festival celebrates holiday traditions around the world with food, beverages, and entertainment. Princess Elena of Avalor makes her Disneyland debut in Princess Elena's Musical Grand Arrival. The popular ¡Viva Navidad! street party also returns to Paradise Pier along with special food offerings and a character meet and greet.

Also new for the holiday season is World of Color - Season of Light. The show combines water, animations, projections and laser effects choreographed to both classic and contemporary holiday music. Selections range from Nat King Cole performing "The Christmas Song" to "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" by Pentatonix.

World of Color - Season of Light

Santa Claus has moved to the Redwood Creek area this year - his greeting spot is tucked away in the Ahwahnee Circle. The elves have been busy setting up Elf Games for guests, such as the "Jingle Bridge" and the "Pack the Presents" slide.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Our weekend visit to DCA was much too short for us to experience everything that the park has to offer now. We concentrated on the Festival of Holidays - more specifically some of the fourteen Festive Food Marketplaces.

This aspect of the Festival is a food and wine festival - and there are even more marketplace booths (14) than there were for the return of the Food and Wine Festival to DCA earlier this year. The holiday booths also have much more of an international flair, with offerings inspired by Asian, Mexican, Jewish, Indian, Middle Eastern, German, and Swedish traditions as well as American favorites like sliders, Southern specialties and the classic turkey dinner. There's even a "Treats for Santa" booth with cookies and cookie decorating, peppermint bark, fudge, and panettone.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

All of the booths have special beverage offerings, also. There are booths dedicated to both beer (Brews and Bites) and wines (Making Spirits Bright) which offer flights or selections by the glass. Other choices include holiday eggnog cocktail, pomegranate margarita, iced mint tea, cranberry sweet tea, and chocolate beverages such as pumpkin spice hot chocolate, white hot chocolate, and frozen chocolate milk.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Our first taste of the Festival was Friday night - it opened on Thursday. We were surprised that the food lines were short/non-existent. Very different than the opening weekend of the Food and Wine Festival back in April. The only real lines were at the beer and wine booths.

First Lee tried the Brisket Potato Croquette with horseradish cream from Nosh and Nibbles for $7.50. He said it was very good.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Next we went to Good Fortune's Feast and tried two items. First the Adobo Pork Bao, $8.00. It was excellent, though I thought it a little heavy on the pickled onions. I didn't taste much "adobo" in it, though.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

The Smoked Duck and Vegetable Spring Roll with cabbage and sweet plum sauce was really good! But at $8.75 it was very expensive for the serving size.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

We were at Epcot's Food and Wine Festival the week before, and I think we understand why the lines at the booths were so short. The prices for food booth items in California are significantly higher than those in Florida - where most Florida items are in the $5-$7 range, most of the California items are $7-$9.

At Spice Salutations we sampled the Carrot and Chickpea Fritters for $6.25. They were served with a coriander almond sauce, but they really didn't have very much flavor.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

We also tried the Chicken and Potato Curry, with kefir cream and grilled naan for $6.50. This was a more generous serving than anything else we'd tried, and it was very tasty. The curry was not too spicy. And the naan was good.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Lee sampled the Holiday Bright Seasonal Beer Flight from Brews & Bites. Spaten Brewery Oktoberfest from Germany, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Celebration, 21st Amendment Brewing Fireside Chat, and Karl Strauss Seven Sharks A-Circling. He wasn't wild about any of them.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

From Winter Sliderland we tried a Roasted Turkey Slider. It was expensive - $8.00. The turkey was nice carved slices, and it also had dressing, gravy, and cranberry sauce. It was very good, but it's not that much different than Earl of Sandwich's Holiday Turkey, which is twice the size for less money.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

We also tried the Kalua Pork Slider. $7.50 for this one. Pieces of nice roasted pork topped with pineapple jam and cider slaw. I liked this one better than the one that they have at Epcot.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

By then we were ready for some dessert at the appropriately named Yuletide Yummies. We chose the Gingerbread Bundt Cake, but requested that they leave the orange-vanilla sauce off of it. It was a dense gingerbread but very flavorful and we both liked it a lot. It was served cold but I think it would have been better served warm. For $4.25 I thought it was a decent-sized serving.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

We also tried the Mocha Yule Log for $4.75. This one definitely gets the award for the prettiest dessert! It was really nicely decorated. And it was also a generous serving. Lee didn't care for the cream, but the cake was good. I mostly liked it, but it was a little too sweet. We couldn't finish it, and ended up taking half of it back to the room with us.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

One word of advice - you'll need to get a knife to cut both of these - they are too dense for a fork by itself.

For the Food and Wine Festival the booths were set up on the parade route between Carthay Circle and the Pacific Wharf. But with the additional six booths they extend all the way to the Golden Zephyr, with one booth location next to Grizzly River Run near the restrooms.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

The Yuletide Yummies booth was in front of Ariel's attraction, and there were some metal tables - some of them with chairs - set up next to it. It was a very nice spot to sit and enjoy some of the entertainment that takes place in Paradise Park. We heard parts of performances from the Mariachi Divas and the Blue13 Dance Company.

The Food and Wine Festival had covered "arbors" with bar-type counters so people could stand and eat. Those aren't out - instead there are the typical round black metal standing tables like we see at Epcot's Food and Wine Festival, along with a few lower tables and chairs. There seemed to be more low tables than there were chairs to go with them. It didn't seem to me as though the tables offered as much space for people to eat as the arbors did.

Saturday evening we went back to try more of the food offerings. The park was pretty busy, so I was expecting longer lines at the food booths, but that was not the case. We asked cast members if it had been busy that day and they said not really. I definitely think the prices are an issue. Just across the parade route from a couple of the food booths is a hot dog cart where you can get a hot dog and chips for $7.00 - more food than you'll get at the neighboring booths.

From Abuelita's Kitchen we sampled the Chicken and Cilantro Tamale with roasted tomatillo salsa. That was quite good. $7.50 for it.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Lee also tried the Chorizo Bean Sope with Cotija cheese and crema for $7.00. He enjoyed that, too.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Back at Yuletide Yummies again I had the Mini Turkey Pot Pie with cranberry drizzle for $8.00. I was disappointed that it was mostly crust. It was a nice flaky crust, but there was way more of that than there was the turkey and vegetable filling. Not worth $8.00.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Lee wanted to try their Joyful Flavors Beer Flight, but they were out of one of the beers (and of course the one they were out of, Rogue Ales Hazelnut Brown Nectar, was the one that he really wanted to try). And rather than substitute the cast member said they weren't allowed to sell the flight at all. We though that was odd - they substitute at Epcot all the time.

From Fiesta en Familia we tried the two pozole dishes. The Green Chile Pozole was a vegetarian dish, and was $6.25. It was very good and we both enjoyed it.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

The Red Chile Pozole contained tender chunks of pork and was $6.75. It was also very good. Both pozoles had quite different flavors - it was interesting to taste what a difference red versus green made. I wish they had been more generous servings or that the price had been $2 less.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Lee tried the Southern Mac and Cheese from Southern Home Holidays for $7.50. It was topped with jalapeno cornbread crumbles - he said it needed more of that. He liked it. I had a taste but thought it was just ok - I'm not much of a mac and cheese fan, though.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

From Winter Sliderland we got another Kalua Pork Slider, which was much more generous with the pork than the first one.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

This time we also tried the Praline & Bourbon Whoopie Pie for $4.25. The whoopie pie was bigger than I expected and had a pretty good flavor - lots of cream inside.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

We made pretty good progress in sampling the food offerings, though there were still five of the booths we never got to. Still, I think we sampled almost everything that really sounded good to us. In addition to the food booths, there are full-size seasonal offerings at Paradise Garden Grill: Torta al Pastor, Street-Style Tacos, and Chicken Mole. I like chicken mole, so maybe next time.

There is entertainment going on at multiple locations during the Festival of Holidays. In addition to Paradise Park, there's also groups performing at Paradise Gardens, Pacific Wharf, and Sonoma Terrace. The latter was a surprise to me, but we heard part of a performance by Raise, an R&B a cappella group, and they were very good.

There's several entertainment offerings that we did not get a chance to experience - like Princess Elena's Musical Grand Arrival. There's also the Stilt Circus, and the Holiday Toy Drummers. The latter sounded like they might be a lot of fun to watch.

There's also some craft tables - the one we stopped by had Diwali paper lanterns that you could make. Diwali is the Eastern Festival of Lights.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

In the Festival areas there was really interesting music playing - it was modern and upbeat arrangements of songs for celebrations like Hanukkah. The loop was too short, though - we heard the same songs multiple times.

We found a cart that had some Festival of Holidays merchandise. Not much of a selection - there were t-shirts, including one specifically for Annual Passholders, and hats.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

I was disappointed in the designs. All of the food booths and parade route banners had the Mickey-head logo below, which I really liked! I would've bought something with that logo on it.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

I'm sure the main idea behind the Festival of Holidays is to pull guests from Disneyland to Disney California Adventure - and especially to convince guests to buy a one day ticket to DCA rather than Disneyland. We were in Disneyland on Saturday and it was very busy. DCA was less busy, but to me it still felt busier than it would on a typical Saturday. The standby line for Soarin' was longer than I've seen it for a long time. While the marketplaces were not particularly busy (except those that specialized in alcohol), there still seemed to be a lot of people enjoying the other holiday offerings in the park.

We enjoyed the parts of Festival of Holidays that we experienced - I would like to see more of the entertainment. My only real complaint is the prices at the Festival Marketplaces - I think they are just too high.








November 16, 2016

"Moana" Press Junket

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On November 23rd, Walt Disney Animation will debut its next Disney princess in "Moana"--a story of a young girl who must cross the ocean on a quest to save her island from a withering death. To accomplish this task, she must surmount any number of impediments, including a reluctant, egotistical demigod, coconut-wearing pirates, a shiny crab, a demon of earth and fire, and an intellectually challenged rooster.

[All non-attributed photos and video courtesy of Disney.]

At a recent press junket, a collection of the impressive talent behind "Moana" gathered to talk about the film's creative process. In attendance was Dwayne (Maui) Johnson, Auli'i (Moana) Cravalho, Lin-Manuel (Original Songs by) Miranda, Ron (Director) Clements, John (Director) Musker, Opetaia (Original Songs by) Foa'i, and Osnat (Producer) Shurer.

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Select moments from the video above:

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Miranda on getting The Rock to sing: "I get a lot of questions from reporters this week being all 'how did you get The Rock to sing?' That's not what happened here. When Dwayne accepted the role, he said, 'so what are you giving me to sing?' He was really excited for this, and for me--I went to YouTube, where the answers always lie, and...I'm a big fan of his wrestling days and there was a time...where he would pull out a guitar and taunt whatever town he was in. And so I got a really good sense of his vocal range from that ten minute supercut, and then the rest of it was just writing lyrics that embody the spirit of Maui, who is this amazing demigod/trickster god...and once I had the title 'You're Welcome," which only Dwayne can pull off and still have you love him and root for him, we were off to the races."
Johnson: "...One of the best times I've ever had in my career was working on this project and certainly working on that song, because also like--we all love challenges, and this was a challenge that the bar's set so incredibly high in a Disney film to sing!"
Musker: "Dwayne's the new Angela Lansbury."

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Cravalho on what it means to be Moana: "This is my first job. It's been an incredible journey for me. I'm fifteen going on sixteen, and I'm working with the best people in the entire world of whom are making a film inspired by my culture--a culture I have lived every day of my life. That is something so incredibly special for the rest of the world to see...for me, as someone who is hoping to continue in show business (now that I'm in 'show biz,' which is really exciting)...I was wondering how would I continue in this and still be Polynesian? And that might be an interesting concept...As I might potentially leave my home, what does that make me? Does that still keep me Polynesian? Am I still grounded and rooted in the way that I want to be? And I can honestly say 'yes." Because being surrounded by my family and by the Hawaiian culture every day, it seems as though I would never lose it. But to have a film like this that will inspire me, and to have a character that will inspire others as well to become rooted in who they truly are...that's something that inspires me and that I hope will inspire others as well."

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Foa'i, Johnson, and Cravalho on what they hope Polynesians get out of "Moana:"
Foa'i: "My journey has been from the village to the city...There are many other cultures that will see this movie and be interested in it, but there are also, there will be Polynesians who were born in the cities who will then start the journey back to the village. That's what I'm thrilled about."
Cravalho: "I'm really excited for everyone to see this film. I know my friends are thrilled, my family is thrilled and I think we're all very proud of this film. I will admit, and I will admit this truthfully, that before I was working on this film, I was a bit wary of it. Because I think when anyone thinks of someone making a film inspired by their culture, they want it to be done right. And Disney has done a wonderful job--the Oceanic Trust that has been put together, as well as the research trips that Ron and John and Osmat were on as well. All of that has created such a wonderful well-rounded film that I'm excited for my people to see and for everyone else to see as well as they'll hopefully be inspired to research on our culture. Because our culture is, like, awesome!"
Johnson: "What Opetaia said, I think, is very resonant in the pride that they will have in the film. And there were a lot (and understandably so)...there was some hesitance from a lot of people in our culture about 'well, what's going to happen if our culture's going to be showcased for the very first time on this level, this capacity from Disney? What's going to happen?'

"I feel like the Polynesian people are going to be incredibly proud of this movie. Overall, all cultures by the way...I think what's going to touch upon all of us, regardless of where we're at in the world, where we're from, cultures, class, religion, is the voice. So, our world today, so relevant in this moment, so full of noise, there's so much noise that's happening in our world, but
the little voice that you've always gotta listen to, your gut, your intuition...you can do things. You can go beyond boundaries. And you have to trust that gut and instinct. So those are the things I think our people are going to take away and the rest of the world will take away."

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After the "Moana" presentation, Director Leo Matsuda and Producer Sean Lurie gave a short presentation on "Inner Workings," the terminally adorable short that will play in theaters before "Moana." Taking a stylistic reference from the acetate anatomy diagrams that used to figure heavily in encyclopedias back in the day, the short demonstrates the perpetual battle between the responsible anxieties of the brain, and the careless hedonism of the heart.

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"Moana" will open in theaters November 23, 2016.

November 19, 2016

2016 Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend

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Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

After a 10K/half marathon race challenge weekend at Walt Disney World followed by a four night Disney cruise, what would you do? How about running a 10K at Disneyland? At least this year we did only the 10K and not the half marathon, too!

We had initially not planned to run any of the events of the Super Heroes Half Marathon weekend at Disneyland. But when runDisney announced the theme of the 10K was Dr. Strange, then Lee really wanted to do that. And I love 10Ks - it's my favorite distance.

Friday, November 11

We got off the Disney Dream on Friday morning, took a bus to the airport and caught a flight to John Wayne Airport. As we did last year, we'd flown out of that airport instead of San Diego, and left our car there. (By the way, I recommend snagaspace.com to find good prices on airport parking. The last two years we have parked at the Marriott near John Wayne Airport and had an excellent experience - the parking and shuttle staff at the Marriott is so nice!)

We had an earlier flight this year and arrived at the airport earlier than we did last year. So we did not have the horrible Friday afternoon traffic that we experienced last year. We arrived at Disneyland a little after 4:00 and went straight to the Expo.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

It felt strange to only be picking up a 10K bib and not a Challenge bib. We didn't need to get our photo taken this time. As usual, the bib pickup area was not too busy and we were in and out quickly. As in Florida the week before there wasn't a big printed race program, but this time they gave us a brochure at bib pickup that had all of the really useful information like course maps and time schedules.

The main part of the Expo was upstairs in the Disneyland convention center. There were some new super heroes added to the banners this year.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We picked up our shirts...yet another maroon long sleeve shirt. With a large rubber graphic on the front. Come on, runDisney - most of your race participants live in California and Florida! PLEASE give us some short sleeve shirts!

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Nesquik was one of the sponsors this year (Nesquik chocolate milk was available to runners at the end of the half marathon on Sunday), and the Nesquik bunny was in the booth when he wasn't posing for photos with guests.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

The Expo seemed to have most of the usual vendors, though there were a few new sponsors this year, like Nesquik and Misfit.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We heard an announcement about a special offer for Annual Passholders at the runDisney booth, so we went to check that out. They looked at our passes and then put a sticker on our bibs and told us there would be a special AP tent in the finish area of the 10K and half where they would have a special gift for us. Interesting!

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

The runDisney booth also had the medals for the upcoming Star Wars - the Light Side weekend in January. Everyone seems to be very excited about the BB-8 10K medal! He spins!

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

There was no line to get into the Official Merchandise area. And it seemed as though they still had everything left - I didn't see a lot of space that had been filled by generic merchandise as I often do. All of the items that I usually look for were still there.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

There were lots of different shirts - even more than in the photos below.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

All of the "I Did It" shirts were available, though a cast member told me that in the 10K shirts they were out of small-sized shirts and only had a few mediums left.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

There were a number of Infinity Gauntlet items available, though most of the shirts were (as usual) for women.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

There wasn't as much 10K merchandise - the mini medal pin, a hat, and a couple of shirts.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Lee really liked this shirt so he bought it and wore it the next day for the 10K.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Nice to see Black Widow get some attention. Now, when does SHE get her own race?

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We were surprised to see a few items from the previous weekend's Wine and Dine Expo.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

For dinner that night we went to Disney California Adventure and checked out the food booths at the Festival of Holidays (as I wrote about in this blog). Maybe not the best pre-race dinner, but it was only a 10K the next day. :-)

For once jet lag worked in our favor - we'd come from the east coast and were tired from a long day of travel. So we went to bed at 8:30 and actually fell asleep quickly.

Saturday, November 12 - Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We'd set the alarm for 4:15, but we were both awake before that. This might be the first time I've ever gotten a full night's sleep before a race!

I know I say this every time, but if you're new to my blog you won't have seen it before: I love race weekends at Disneyland. The race logistics are SO much easier! Everything is within walking distance of the hotels (even many of the neighboring hotels), so there's no need to catch a bus at an insanely early hour. We pushed it more this year than we usually do - the race started at 5:30 but we didn't get up until 4:15, and left the hotel at 4:45. And we still had plenty of time to get to the start corrals. Short/no lines for the porta-potties, too.

I wore my Agent Carter costume again, and Lee wore his new Dr. Strange tech shirt.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Dr. Strange is one of Lee's favorite super heroes, but to be honest I'd never heard of him, and didn't know anything about him until we saw the movie on the Disney Dream a few days before the race.

I was hoping that there would be some photo ops in the pre-race area before the race but there wasn't anything other than some race banners.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We were in Corral A, but I thought this collection of balloons for the other corrals was pretty.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Dr. Strange actually came out on stage before the race. We hoped that meant that we would later see him on the race course. After that they showed us the preview for the movie - and reminded us that it was showing at the AMC Theaters in Downtown Disney. :-)

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

While the talented Disneyland cast member was singing the national anthem I noticed that there was a special pattern on some of the lights!

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

The race started about a minute late. No fireworks at Disneyland - just some colored puffs of smoke.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

The course was different this year, thanks to Disneyland construction, though the first part of it was the same with the first two miles off Disney property. We ran down to the Convention Center on West Street, then cut across and over to Harbor Blvd, and back north to Disney Way, then went backstage at DCA. That was about mile 2. Having the first two miles outside the parks really helps spread the runners out. We didn't find that the course felt crowded at all.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

While we were winding around backstage there were some interesting projections on some of the buildings.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

The first character we saw was Thor, near the Wine Country Trattoria. The line was a little long, so we didn't stop. We were hoping for shorter lines further on, since we had started so far forward.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We ran around Paradise Bay, and past the mile 3 sign. Almost halfway done! There's that symbol again on California Screamin'.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Captain America was just outside Soarin'. The line was maybe 20 deep, but it was Captain America! I got my hug again, but I didn't get swept off my feet like I did last year. :-)

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

As we ran down Hollywood Blvd near the Animation Building a cast member was telling us that Spider-Man was ahead to the left. The race course turned right, and since he was on the other side and kind of hidden behind a building I think a lot of runners didn't see him. The line was pretty short.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We ran backstage next to the Tower of Terror. The sun was coming up and there was a beautiful sunrise!

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

A high school band was performing back there. The majorette was doing some pretty good baton tricks, but I didn't manage to get a photo of that. There were just a couple of bands along the course - since so much of the course was on property there wasn't really any place for them to set up.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

For most of the next mile we were backstage - we ran through the tunnel that goes under the bus area and connects DCA and Disneyland, and then wound around backstage at Disneyland, finally entering the park in Toon Town.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Mile 5 - only 1.2 to go. We were still feeling really good. A 10K is so much easier than a half marathon!

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

It was getting light out, but we could still see the lights on "it's a small world" Holiday.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Black Widow was in front of "small world", and there was almost no line!

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Not too much further away was Hawkeye. That's been Lee's costume in previous years. There was one person in front of us. I think we were in the sweet spot where the serious runners who don't stop for characters were ahead of us, but we were running fast enough that we were ahead of most of the other people who do stop for photos. However it worked out, it was a great place to be.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

As we ran around the Matterhorn, we saw Dr. Strange!!! There was a line there, but only about 10 people in it. We were really happy to get our photo with him. He was very much in character, and SO serious.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We really didn't spend much time in Disneyland at all - didn't run through the castle, Frontierland, or Adventureland. After seeing Dr. Strange we ran to the hub and down Main Street and out of the park. As we ran under the train station the villain from the Dr. Strange movie, Kaecilius, was standing on the bridge above us. He had a microphone and was making in-character comments to the runners, though I don't remember what he said.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

The course finished through Downtown Disney and ended at the usual finish line near the Disneyland Hotel. I got lots of cheers for my Peggy Carter costume throughout the race, and especially towards the end where there were more spectators, and that's always fun.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We finished in 1:09:38, which I thought was really a good time considering we stopped for five character photos plus a few other shots. This was a smaller race than the Wine and Dine 10K. Less than 10,000 entered, with 8245 finishers. I thought it was interesting that the male-female ratio was not quite so skewed as it is in many Disney races. There were still more females, but it was 4861 women to 3384 men.

Since as Annual Passholders we get free downloads of our race photos, we stopped to get our post-race photo taken.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We went to the Annual Passholder tent to get our gift - it was small cans of Coke with several of the Avengers on them. We were told they would have Iron Man the next day after the half marathon.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

One not-so-good thing about the Disneyland 10Ks: trying to get back to your hotel afterward. Since the courses finish through Downtown Disney you have to cross the race course. Even though they have cast members controlling the crossing points it can take some time. One thing we learned is that when staying at the Grand Californian, you do not want to try to go through Downtown Disney to the usual hotel entrance. If you do you'll have to cross the course three times! So we cross the course once and go right towards the Paradise Pier, then cross Disneyland Drive and go into the hotel via the main entrance. If you're staying at one of the hotels on Harbor Drive then you don't have much of an option, though.

I really enjoyed this race! It was nice to see six character stops on the course instead of just the four they've had for this race weekend in the first two years. And we really lucked out with the character lines not being too long.

I think my biggest issue with the race was the limited time in Disneyland, and that so much of what we did have was backstage. Still, for the most part I liked this course. I'd much rather have the miles outside the park be at the beginning of the race rather than at the end. I think having that two miles for the runners to spread out really helps with the congestion and the overall enjoyment of the course.

The rest of the day felt a little strange (so to speak) because we weren't preparing to run a half marathon the next day. So we didn't have to worry about what we ate or drank, or about trying to go to bed early - which was why I'd scheduled the World of Color Dessert Party for that evening. :-)

That night for a change we actually had to pay attention to the road closures map that was left on our door, and the phone message about the race that had been left on our phone. We were planning to leave around 8:00 on Sunday morning - the half marathon wasn't going to be over until about 10:30. Everything we read indicated that we should be able to get out of the parking lot by 8:00, though. And that proved to be the case. The only issue we had was getting our room key to work to open the automated parking gate. :-)

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

As we drove down Disneyland Drive we went under the start line...that was as close as we got to it. I thought I might be more bothered that we hadn't done the half marathon, but I really wasn't.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We had no problems getting out of the resort, but the same was not true for those trying to get to the resort. Traffic was backed up on I5 both north and south - it was quite a mess. But some of the freeway exits were closed because of the race course, so I think there was only one way in, and everyone was trying to use it.

It was nice to do only one race - and a shorter one at that - and we really enjoyed the race weekend. If you haven't done a race weekend at Disneyland, then I highly recommend that you try it. I find that it's just a lot easier. There are fewer runners than in most of the Walt Disney World races and everything is closer together - walking distance, really. No buses required unless you are staying way off property. Think about it!








November 20, 2016

Disney California Adventure Celebrates the Holidays with New World of Color - Season of Light and More

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World of Color - Season of Light

There's a new version of World of Color for this holiday season: World of Color - Season of Light. It combines favorite holiday musical numbers with heartwarming scenes from Disney and Disney-Pixar movies, choreographed with fountains, lasers, lights and even flames.

World of Color - Season of Light

We saw it Saturday night, and I have to say that it's my favorite version of the show. The fountains are not so much the main focus of the show now, and all of the different effects are much more integrated and complement each other. I thought the lasers were used especially well.

And I loved the music. I'm old enough to remember my parents playing Christmas albums by Nat King Cole ("The Christmas Song"), Bing Crosby ("Mele Kalikimaka"), and Dean Martin ("Let it Snow"), and I enjoy hearing them again. But it's also great to hear contemporary artists such as Michael Buble and Idina Menzel ("Baby It's Cold Outside"), and Amy Grant ("Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"). And Pentatonix's version of "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies", followed by Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Wizard in Winter", had everyone cheering.

World of Color - Season of Light

The animation clips were very well chosen. Who can forget the heartwarming moment from "Lady and the Tramp" when, on Christmas morning, "Darling" opens the box and Lady's head pops out?

World of Color - Season of Light

And I had to laugh when Sadness from "Inside Out" appeared - to the music of Elvis Presley's "Blue Christmas." :-)

During the song "Let There Be Peace on Earth", giant soap bubbles, shaped like hearts, rise into the air and float away.

World of Color - Season of Light

My camera battery died partway through, but here's the first 16 minutes of the show, including the Pentatonix and TSO numbers.

As I mentioned, we thought it was a terrific show. In reading Disney's "Fact Sheet" about it, I found a few items that explain some of the new aspects.

  • Five newly installed barges in the lagoon erupt in a brilliant lighting effect to punctuate the grand finale.
  • More than 800 individual light fixtures are needed to illuminate the show.
  • Six laser projectors are deployed to create a variety of entertaining effects.
  • Nearly 20 high-definition projectors convey imagery to the screens of water.

You'll need a Fastpass to access the viewing areas for the show. These are available at the entrance to Grizzly River Run beginning at park opening. Fastpasses for the areas that are more centered are distributed first, so go early. There is some standby viewing, but it's further back and tends to fill up early.

World of Color - Season of Light

In addition to the regular Fastpass option for the show, there are options for Premium viewing experiences. Lunch and Dinner packages are available at Carthay Circle Restaurant and Wine Country Trattoria, and a Dinner Package at Ariel's Grotto. The newest option, introduced earlier this year, is the Sparkling Dessert Package. Lee and I did that one on Saturday. It's unique because you actually get to sit for the show - everyone is seated at small tables. A plate of cheese, fruits and desserts is served to you, along with beverages. At $79 plus tax it's the most expensive of the viewing options, but it's my favorite way to see the show.

World of Color Dessert Package

We have more information on Dining packages on our World of Color page.

We took a quick look around the park at some of the other holidays options. This year Santa Claus has moved from his Elias and Co. department store Santa setting to a more rustic area along in the newly named "Redwood Creek - Santa's Holiday Visit".

Redwood Creek Santa's Holiday Visit

Santa is tucked away in the Ahwahnee Circle (the small amphitheater). I was wondering if guests would be less interested in visiting him there, but the line was long, so that's apparently not an issue. Without standing in line there was no way to get a good view of Santa Claus, so this is not a very good photo.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

I thought it very amusing that this is the roof of Santa's greeting area. :-) A place for the reindeer - but only eight of them - to hang out.

Redwood Creek Reindeer Landing  Zone

The Redwood Creek area itself has decorations, which I don't recall seeing in the past. The Jingle Bridge is hung with bells that ring when people bounce on it.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

The "challenge" aspect of the Redwood Creek area is now "Elf Games". Some additional elements have been added at some of the apparatus, like a sack of gifts at the slides for the "Pack the Presents" game.

Redwood Creek Elf Games

There's also a meet and greet spot with Chip and/or Dale.

Disney California Adventure Chip

Guests seemed to be enjoying the area - as I mentioned the line for Santa was fairly long and there were a number of kids enjoying the various challenges.

This isn't a holiday thing, but right now DCA is showing an extended preview of Moana in the Bugs Land Theater. Using all of the available effects. Including lots of water. We really enjoyed the preview - the movie looks very good.

Disney California Adventure Moana preview

The rest of the park seems to be decked out in its usual holiday style. The Christmas tree is in Carthay Circle, and there's a tree lighting show every night. The residents of Cars Land have also decorated the town of Radiator Springs - Seasons Speedings to all! :-) (I'm certainly enjoying the Passholder benefit of free downloads of PhotoPass photos!)

Cars Land Seasons Speedings

Here's the new popcorn buckets being sold in both parks. The Santa Mickey was VERY popular and we saw lots of people carrying them around. Getting them before they sell out.

Disneyland 2016 Santa Mickey Popcorn Bucket

I believe the Elf Mickey Stein is only available at Disneyland. That was also popular.

Elf Mickey Stein

There's also a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs refillable mug that seems to be available resort wide.

Snow White Holiday mug

To close, even though this isn't DCA, either, the construction of the enormous gingerbread house in the Grand Californian was underway. This year it's a gingerbread version of the hotel itself. There's even a fire in the fireplace.

Grand Californian Gingerbread House

Grand Californian Gingerbread House

A smaller version of the gingerbread house is available for purchase - $85.

Grand Californian Gingerbread House







November 21, 2016

Disneyland Resort Updates - 11/19/16

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Saturday, November 19, 2016.

A quick check of the Star Wars Construction from the Mickey and Friends parking structure, for a more in depth look check out my full picture set.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


The backstage marina is moving along. Notice the white trestle structure on the right, that marks where the Disneyland Railroad will cross over the walkway that leads in from Frontierland.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


You can see the rock work wire mesh now sticking up above the dirt. Assuming the smoke is from welders working on it this morning.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Work is moving along in the former section of the Pinocchio Parking lot. They are re-configuring the Mickey and Friends Tram Stop to move security out here.The current cross walk to reach the Pinocchio lot and walk to the parks.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Under wraps is the new tram way, it was poured recently.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


The planters and barriers have been removed from the load/unload stop closest to the elevator.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Work underway in the Downtown Disney valet area. Assuming preparations for the new security check point.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Fencing up between Earl of Sandwich and ESPN. Assuming for the security checkpoint in this area. No ice rink or winter village this year.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


The Christmas tree is in front of the DVC area. AMC has Moana banners up.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Sprinkles has arrived at Downtown Disney. It opened last week.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


A sign up for Pandora on the construction wall now.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


One for the new Curl shop too.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Tickets for the rest of my group as we prepare to start our day.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


First stop this morning Disney California Adventure. The bear by GRR is in the holiday spirit.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Christmas decorations on Paradise Pier.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Holiday Treats at Trolley Treats.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Cards advertising the candy canes.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


The back side has the dates for this season.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Next stop Disneyland, marking my 4th park on 2 continents since Thursday, I returned home from Tokyo on Friday. Main Street USA Christmas tree.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Jingle Cruise, our first stop here.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


The boats have been renamed for the season.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


From Critter Country, a check of the Star Wars work. The steel supports are taking shape. The rock work should be going in soon.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Pin trading on the Mark Twain dock.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Approaching the end of the Big Thunder Trail. Through the trees you can just barely make out the new trestle.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016

Scaffolding is down from the rock formation.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the holiday version. There are a half dozen hidden 20s throughout. We found a handful on our trip through.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Can you spot the 20?


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


In the gift shop there is a portable charging dispenser now.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Time for a Christmas Fantasy Parade.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Snow Person
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Gingerbread men


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Goofy baking


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Made my way back to DCA. The Country Bears were wrapping up a photo op as I walked up the parade route.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Almost all of the Tower of Terror is now surrounded by scaffolding.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Holiday Toy Drummers performing near the Boudin Bakery as part of the Festival of Holidays. Laura has a blog on the festival.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


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, https://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.







November 29, 2016

Disneyland Resort Updates - 11/23/16

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg
Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his pre-Thanksgiving trip to the parks on Wednesday, November 23, 2016.

There is now a preferred parking option at Disneyland. They had the first 20 spots of the 4 or 5 rows closest the escalators blocked off on each floor.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016
The preferred parking area on the roof. Only one car in it when I arrived.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Looks like they are prepared for a busy weekend, a sign up, guessing to inform guests of the parks at capacity. It just said welcome on Wednesday.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Holiday popcorn bucket.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A photo spot for Moana is set up in the courtyard between the Oasis and Jingle Cruise Exit.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Toy Soldiers were in A Christmas Fantasy Parade today. They were just about to wrap up their march when I arrived in Town Square.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Santa has moved into Redwood Creek

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

And his elves have decorated the area.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A map showing the holiday activities.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Santa is in the small theater, so getting a clear picture of him without waiting in line was a challenge.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A photo op along the trail.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thought this was a nice detail -- carrots and a landing strip on the roof for the reindeer.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Jingle Bridge

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Decorations on the Fly With the Reindeer.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Camp Notices board features pictures of the elves.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

I spent a couple hours of my visit walking around the Festival of Holidays and taking in the entertainment. I found the Stilt Circus performers near a Bugs Land.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Country Bears are part of the Festival with a Meet and Greet. Wendell out greeting guests when I walked by.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Liverlips coming out to join him. It is great seeing the bears out. Too bad they do not perform anymore in Anaheim. I had to go to Tokyo to see their Christmas show! (Which, by the way, is great -- the Country Bears sing Christmas songs in Japanese!)

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Mostly Kosher is one of seven groups performing as part of Festival of Holidays on Friday. They were at the Sonoma Terrace

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

RAISE is performing at the Pacific Wharf Stage during Festival of Holidays.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Blue13 Dance Company is performing in Paradise Park.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Here's Princess Elena arriving.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016


A couple video clips of Princess Elena's Musical Grand Arrival.



Near the finale, kids are invited up to be part of the show.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

After eating, I found a spot for Viva Navidad!

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The show is the same as last year... which is great!

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

One change is the updated Mickey and Minnie characters this year.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Minnie Mouse

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Blue13 Dance Company was out again as I walked by.

I made it to Buena Vista Street in time for the Tree Lighting. Do not blink or you miss the lighting this year. It clocked in well under a minute and was disappointing compared to the production number of the past few years.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A video of the Buena Vista Street Holiday Tree Lighting (which happens at 4:55pm nightly).

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Stopped by for a second Viva Navidad! -- this time under the lights with a better view.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Video clip from the finale of Viva Navidad!

Paint the Night has returned for a holiday run.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Here's a video clip of the Toy Story section of Paint the Night.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Looking back toward Town Square.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Partners Statue and Sleeping Beauty Castle

>Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Ready for the Winter Castle Transformation. After the transformation the snow is lit.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Sleeping Beauty Winter Castle Transformation happens twice nightly. At 7:30 and 8:30. Here is a video of the 7:30pm transformation.

Small World Holiday lit up for the holidays.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

On most quarter hours after the clock sequence a short projection show occurs. Here is a video of this year's (seems the same as last year).

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Back to Main Street USA

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016


A video of the second transformation of Sleeping Beauty's Winter Castle.

Believe in Holiday Magic has returned this year.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

This year, projections on the castle were used throughout the show.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

I closed out my evening with World of Color - Season Of Light. Laura Gilbreath did a post on the new show, but thought I would include some video clips:

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Feliz Navidad segment.



Video of the finale number for World of Color Season of Light.

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, https://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.




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About November 2016

This page contains all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in November 2016. They are listed from oldest to newest.

October 2016 is the previous archive.

December 2016 is the next archive.

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