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February 13, 2017

Disneyland Resort Updates - 2/10/17

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, February 10, 2017.

Laura wrote a blog featuring the Beauty and the Beast Preview as well as AP Days 2017, so I am going to focus on some of projects around the resort.

A video clip overview of the Star Wars Construction site (note the second half is really shaky since I was shooting freehand with a telephoto lens...)

The site from the Mickey and Friends parking structure on this cloudy afternoon.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017


Work continues along the top of the berm as they prepare it for the next step.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

The hill between the two entrance tunnels has been sprayed, assuming to help hold the dirt in place with all the rain we have been having.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

On the far north side of the project it appears they are working on footers and the foundation for another building. Even with the looming rain they were pouring concrete today.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

Construction has gone vertical for Star Wars. The very large show building nearest the parking structure has steel going up now.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

A rock formation taking shape along the Rivers of America.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

Trees have been planted on the new berm between where the train will run and Star Wars.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

First park today, Disneyland. Big Thunder has received a new entrance structure, that building we saw near the Rivers of America was moved here once completed. The Stand By Entrance is here and the FastPass on the left side of the building.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

Moving over to Critter Country, the rocks along the back of the Rivers of America

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

Down in the riverbed they have started to install the footers that will support the track the boats run on.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

The former Royal Reception location in Fantasyland is now a Beauty and the Beast shop.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

The Matterhorn is closed for annual renovation work and the installation of FastPass.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

"it's a small world" has a new entrance and wait time sign.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

A quick video clip of it in action.

Moving over to Disney California Adventure, the new color scheme and exterior for Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: Breakout! is being unveiled.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

A closer look.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

From the Monorail a look at the former House of Blues future Splitsville project.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017


The Grand Californain is undergoing a major renovation. In the lobby are some displays taking a look at the new rooms including sample material and pictures.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

The new room look.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

A closer look at the materials used.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

The hallway carpet and how it will be laid out.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

The Curl Surf Shop in Downtown Disney looks ready to open any day now.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

The rains showed up as the sun set, Main Street USA around 6pm

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

Passing by Sleeping Beauty Castle...
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017


A quick video clip of the Hatbox Ghost.

A final look at Main Street USA before leaving, it was 9:30pm.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

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.







January 25, 2016

Afternoon Tea at Steakhouse 55

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I recently read in the Disney Parks blog that Disney was going to start serving afternoon tea at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel. I love afternoon tea - and I fondly remember the "Practically Perfect Tea" they used to serve at the Paradise Pier Hotel, which included an appearance by Mary Poppins! (This photo is from 1997!)

Practically Perfect Tea

"Classic Afternoon Tea at the Disneyland Hotel" was scheduled to begin on Friday, January 22, so I made a reservation for that day and invited my friend Kristin to join me, so we could celebrate her upcoming birthday. Tea is served from 12:00-3:00 on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Though no ending date has been announced, "through spring" is what Disney has stated.

We checked in a little early at Steakhouse 55, but were seated after just a short wait. Only about 2/3 of the tables were occupied, and there were empty tables, almost like a buffer, between most of the tables. Of course those tables were nicely set with tea cups and china, also.

Disneyland Hotel Afternoon Tea

There are three different tea services on the menu: two for adults, and one for kids. I'll warn you that it is fairly pricey. The Classic Tea Party ($50) and Premium Tea Party ($65) offerings for adults both include scones, tea sandwiches, desserts and as many different teas and herbals as you wish to sample. The Premium also includes salad, a glass of Iron Horse Fairy Tale Cuvee, and a farewell gift of truffles. (If you're familiar with my blog, then one guess as to which one I chose. :-) )

Disneyland Hotel Afternoon Tea

The Kids Tea Party ($35) includes chocolate chip scones shaped like Mickey's head, tea sandwiches, and desserts. In addition to tea, kids can also choose juice, milk and hot chocolate.

A selection of aperitifs, wines, ports and sherrys is available by the glass (additional charge).

Classic Afternoon Tea at the Disneyland Hotel Menu

Our tea began with our glasses of the Fairy Tale Cuvee. Kristin hadn't tried it before, and really enjoyed it.

Disneyland Hotel Afternoon Tea

Our server asked us what teas we might be interested in, and offered some recommendations. She explained that we could try as many as we liked, and we could each have our own teapot, or share one. We initially chose the "house" tea: Perfect Afternoon, a blend of Assam, Darjeeling and Ceylon. The teapot was smaller than those you usually see in tea rooms - but that was fine, since we wanted to sample, and the smaller pot meant we wouldn't waste a lot.

The first course was the salad. Baby lettuce with mint leaves, orange segments, sliced grape tomatoes and radishes, with Green Goddess dressing. I found the mint leaves odd, and after the first bite I put them aside, but Kristin liked the taste.

Disneyland Hotel Afternoon Tea salad

To go along with our tea, we had a selection of sweeteners - including rock candy sticks - as well as lemon wedges and honey.

Disneyland Hotel Afternoon Tea

The tea was fine - not the best black tea I've ever had. It didn't have a very strong flavor.

Once we were done with our salads, our server brought the tiered plate server with all sorts of beautiful goodies on it.

Disneyland Hotel Afternoon Tea

There were two different kinds of scones: currant scones, and blueberry scones with an orange glaze on top.

Disneyland Hotel Afternoon Tea scones

We had Devonshire cream, lemon curd, and strawberry jam to go with them. Kristin preferred the currant scone, and I liked the blueberry, but they were both very good.

Disneyland Hotel Afternoon Tea

For tea sandwiches, we had cucumber and water cress, deviled egg salad, salmon gravlax, and mozzarella, basil, and tomato. Cucumber is not my favorite, but this was sliced very thinly. The water cress leaves were large! The mozzarella tomato was my favorite, but the egg salad and salmon were also very good. All were served on a different type of bread.

Disneyland Hotel Afternoon Tea sandwiches

We ordered a second pot of tea - we went back and forth between the Chakra Silver Tips (a white tea) and the Redbush Caramel Velvet, and decided on the latter. It was a rooibos tea (no caffeine) with a dulce de leche flavor. Very nice - just needed a bit of sweetener to bring out the caramel flavor.

We were starting to feel a little full, but we still had a plate of desserts to go! There were two chocolate-covered strawberries: one white chocolate, one milk chocolate. Also two mini fruit tarts and a selection of macarons. There were two chocolate, a strawberry, and a pineapple. The pineapple one tasted like caramel and not pineapple. The chocolate ones were my favorites.

Disneyland Hotel Afternoon Tea desserts

We asked about coconut macarons and our server said they had some, and brought us an extra plate. I didn't taste coconut in them - they had a passion fruit filling.

Disneyland Hotel Afternoon Tea macarons

Our server told us that we could request that any of the teas be iced - and that we could get some to go. So we tried a third tea iced to go: Mountain Berry a caffeine-free herbel tea. It was very refreshing.

Last but not least we received a little packet with two chocolate truffles in it, to eat later. Because we were certainly too full to eat them at that time! It was a reasonable amount of food, plus it was on the rich side, and very satisfying. We saw a number of people taking "to-go" boxes out with them who obviously had not eaten everything.

Disneyland Hotel Afternoon Tea truffles

The tea was nicely paced, and we never felt rushed at all. It took about an hour and 15 minutes. The restaurant was quiet and it was a very relaxing and pleasant atmosphere. As I mentioned before, they did not seat all of the tables, which helped keep it quieter. I asked if there were two seatings, and was told it's about a seating and a half. So they'll turn the tables seated within the first hour or so, but not all of them. If you wanted to make it a special event such as a birthday party or bridal shower, there were some larger tables available.

Disneyland Hotel Afternoon Tea

Some people dressed up for the occasion, but I'd say that the majority were in park attire as we were. We certainly did not feel at all uncomfortable.

The service was excellent. The servers were excited about this new offering, and eager to answer any questions we might have. A manager came around and asked us about our experience.

As I mentioned it's rather expensive. Annual passholder discounts are available, but even so it was over $140 with tax and tip. My opinion: it's worth paying the additional $15 for the Premium Tea Party since it offers several additional items. It also includes salad, truffles and the glass of sparkling wine (the wine alone would be $17 if you purchased it separately).

I think Classic Afternoon Tea is an excellent special occasion type of experience, though at this price it's not something I would do very often.







November 22, 2015

Disneyland Resort Hotels Christmas Decorations

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks.

This subset of pictures will focus on the three Disney Hotels and a couple Downtown Disney pictures, to view the full set visit disneygeek.com.

I started off my tour at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel. The lobby is decorated the same as the past several years.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015
The Gingerbread house is returning this year and is still under construction..
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015   
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015   
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015
Another look at the tree this year.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015
A closer look at the tree.   
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015   
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015
Out front the trees have lights as usual.   
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015   
Next stop the Paradise Pier Hotel across Disneyland Drive.   
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015   
Entering the lobby.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015   
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015   
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015

  
I continued on to the Disneyland Hotel stopping first at the Frontier Tower.

  
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015

  
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015

  

The Tangaroa Terrace tree

  
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015

  

Made my way to the main lobby in the Fantasy Tower. Christmas trees flank the gift shop

  
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015

  

Outside lights in the planters as usual behind Mickey and Minnie.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015

  
The gingerbread inspired Sleeping Beauty Castle is back at the entrance to the Disneyland Hotel lobby.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015

  
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015

  

There are two trees in the reception area, here is the one furthest from the main door (they looked identical).
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015

  
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015



In Downtown Disney the Winter Village and Olaf's Ice Rink have returned.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015

  
Skating session times and costs.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015

  

A Good Dinosaur photo op is set up adjacent to the Rainforest Cafe across from ESPN.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015



A Ghirardelli store has opened next door to the Disney Vacation Club offices (across from Rain Forest).
  
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015

  
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015


Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour from the Disneyland Resort. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.








November 30, 2014

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Wednesday, November 26, 2014.

I started off my long holiday weekend spending the afternoon/evening at the Disneyland Resort. First stop today, Disney California Adventure. On Buena Vista Street Oswald joined the Community Bell Ringers. I arrived as they were wrapping up the last song.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

After retrieving a FastPass for World of Color I headed for Disneyland.

Every Wednesday until July there is an Annual Passholder promotion called Wednesdays with Walt where they have a presentation and screening in the Opera House several times in the evening.

This week they are showing Classic Disney Holiday animated shorts. I picked up a wristband for the 5pm showing.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Main Street transportation rounding the hub.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

First stop for me the Jingle Cruise. A posted half hour wait and it took about that this week. A snowman in the queue.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

The Mark Twain has returned to service and looks like new again.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

A look around the Mark Twain. No substantial changes jumped out at me. Just a lot of new paint and touch up work. The boat looks great.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

New signage for the souvenir sippers...now Fantasmic! vs Halloween Time. Not sure why you would want a glow cube in a sipper :-)

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Haunted Mansion Holiday time.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Anna and Olaf passing by in A Christmas Fantasy Parade (I was on my way to Small World Holiday).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

The curtains appear to be gone for good so you can now get pictures of Baymax and Hiro without waiting in the long line, if you are quick or the groups slow.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

The Dapper Dans of Disneyland performing at the nightly Flag Retreat in Town Square.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Lights set up for the Candlelight Ceremony in a little over a week.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Next I headed to the Main Street Opera house for Wednesday with Walt. This was my first of the series since I usually cannot make it down to the park on a Wednesday.

Baymax floating up from the front row.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Stacia Martin introduced the four shorts which were Mickey's Good Deed, Winter Storage, Santa's Workshop and Donald's Snowball Fight.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

At the end she gave away a drawing that she had made to one lucky guest.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

As you exited everyone received an Annual Passholder ornament.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Fun to see the Elias and Co windows on Buena Vista Street after just seeing the short they were inspired by (Santa's Workshop).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

The hub cap tree has been removed from near the court house. I read it had some wind damage.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Viva Navidad! Street Party

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Time to visit the three hotels and see their Christmas decorations...first up the Grand Californian.

The tree in Whitewater Snacks

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

They now have Coke Freestyle machines in Whitewater.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Elf Mickey Stein available for the holidays.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

The tree in the lobby of the Grand Californian

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

This year there is a large gingerbread house in the lobby. It's 7-1/2 feet tall and 12 feet wide. Here are some other stats on it.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

The gingerbread house looks like the hotel.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

There are seven hidden Mickeys.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

The back side of the creation.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

A snack and drink location was set up near the gingerbread house.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

The menu.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

A quick video clip of the tree and lobby while I waited for a photo to upload.

The trees out front of the hotel have their Christmas lights.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Deer out front of the hotel.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

The tree in the lobby of the Paradise Pier Hotel

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Walked over to the Disneyland Hotel next. This is the Frontier Tower Lobby.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

As I was walking toward Trader Sam's a pair of live musicians there were wrapping up with a Hawaiian Christmas song. Here is a clip of it.

The E-Ticket pool was closed this evening.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

A tree outside Goofy's Kitchen

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Santa's meet-and-greet area near the convention center is all ready for Santa.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

The "gingerbread" Castle is back at the entrance to the Disneyland Hotel.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Olaf's Ice Rink was open for business at the Downtown Disney Winter Village.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

The Winter Village in Downtown Disney.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

This is the last weekend for the Mad T Party. So stopped by for one last performance from the band.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

The snow finale...

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Arrived on Main Street as the 8:30 Wintertime Enchantment moment was happening.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Goofy showed up to take some pictures in Town Square.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Found a spot for Believe in Holiday Magic....Disney warned then cancelled the show. The announcement said due to winds at upper elevations. I did not see anything moving. So had to settle for just snowfall.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Arrived in Paradise Pier about 20 minutes before World of Color was to begin and found spot in the blue section using my FastPass.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Since I was in a good spot again decided to re-record the Do You Want to Build a Snowman opening with the SLR camera. So here it is. Interesting that it featured images from some of the holiday animated shorts I had seen earlier.


Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Here is the Frozen Medley then finale of World of Color Winter Dreams.


Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the Disneyland Resort. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.



September 10, 2013

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013 - The Rest of the Weekend

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Believe it or not, we did things OTHER than run for the three+ days we were in Anaheim over Labor Day weekend. :-) Here's some highlights.

We stayed at the DVC Villas at the Grand Californian. At first I wasn't too thrilled with our room location...here's a view from outside the elevator lobby of the DVC wing. See the door that's just past the lobby? That was our door. I was concerned that it would be noisy, being so close to the elevator, but we never heard any noise from the hallway. It was on the ground floor, so we didn't have a view, but it was ok, and it was VERY convenient to not have to take the elevator to get to our room.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

The Grand Cal's entrance to DCA is very convenient - we entered that way even when going to Disneyland because it was shorter than going out through Downtown Disney. Be aware that before 11:00 or so this entrance is for the exclusive use of Disneyland Resort hotel guests, and you must present a valid room key from one of the three hotels in order to enter. We saw them turning people away on Saturday morning.

We spent some time enjoying attractions in the parks on Saturday after the 10K and on Monday morning.

It was very warm, so on Saturday morning we went on several rides that had mostly indoor queues! Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye underwent a refurb earlier this year - we hadn't been on it since it re-opened. There's some new lighting effects, especially in the first room with the face of Mara (which of course you aren't supposed to look at!). But we noticed different lighting in other places, too, like on the snake heads and the skeletons. We also went on Pirates of the Caribbean and Buzz Lightyear AstroBlasters. Over in DCA we saw the Aladdin show, which featured one of the funniest Genies I've ever seen - lots of zingers including a mention of Miley Cyrus and twerking.

That evening we went back to DCA for dinner and then walked onto Voyage of the Little Mermaid and had a very short wait for Luigi's Flying Tires. I wasn't very impressed with the flying tires the first time I tried it, but it takes a little practice to learn how to fly the tires, and after that it's a lot more fun. We try to find some clear space where we can get a pretty good run going and bounce off the walls. :-) We saw a beautiful sunset over Radiator Springs.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

We met a few of our fellow Team AllEars members back at the Mad T Party - that version of Wonderland looked a lot different from the one we had run through that morning! :-) In addition to the band we saw a dance group and the aerialists. But we didn't stay late since we had to get up and run the half marathon the next day!

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Sunday night after dinner we saw World of Color. We didn't have Fastpasses for it so we watched it from the area under Silly Symphony Swings. You can't see much of the projections from there, but it's a very interesting perspective of the fountains. You get a much better look at everything that they can do and how the lighting works. And it got REALLY hot when they turned on the flame fountains!

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Monday morning we went to DCA for Magic Morning and rode Radiator Springs Racers, Toy Story Midway Mania (which we WALKED onto), and California Screamin'. Then we went over to Disneyland with our teammate Eddie and his daughter, because I wanted to get a photo of us riding Dumbo wearing our Dumbo medals. We also went on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, the Carrousel, made a wish at Snow White's Wishing Well, had breakfast at River Belle Terrace, and sailed on the Jungle Cruise - all by 10:10 in the morning!

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

For Limited Time Magic the only thing we experienced was the special caramel apple that is being offered in September...and it really WAS special! An apple dipped in caramel and then covered with crushed English toffee and drizzled with chocolate. Oh. My. It was sooooo good! Even Lee really liked it, and he's not really into sweet things. They are available at Trolley Treats, the Candy Palace, and Marceline's. I wish I'd gotten another one - you can be assured that I will be getting one on my next trip! I hope they will keep this one around. Or maybe I hope that they don't so I won't be tempted!

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

And a mini food blog...

Friday evening we ate at Tangaroa Terrace at the Disneyland Hotel. I had the Crispy Tofu Salad, which I really like except for all of the red and green peppers, which I pulled out and gave to Lee. The tofu is coated with panko and fried - it actually had more of the consistency of fried mozzarella, and it was really, really good.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Lee had the Kahlua Pork Flatbread, and enjoyed that.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Saturday morning after we'd raced and showered we walked over to Disneyland and had breakfast at River Belle Terrace. It's a buffeteria and not table service, but I think they do a nice breakfast there. We sat outside, which is usually a nice setting close to the Rivers of America, but it was a little bit steamy that morning. Speaking of steamy...I had the Steamboat - three pancakes, scrambled eggs, and choice of sausage or bacon. It was more than I could eat - Lee ate most of my pancakes.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Lee had the Mark Twain - scrambled eggs, potatoes, biscuit, and choice of bacon or sausage. He said the potatoes were especially good. (We went back to River Belle on Monday morning and we both had the Mark Twain - I don't like the peppers in the potatoes, but I'd rather have the biscuit than the pancakes.)

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Our usual dinner spot the night before a Disneyland race is Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta, and we didn't see any reason to change that. It wasn't as busy as it often is before a race, though we still had to wait a short time for our food. We both had our favorite Four Cheese Ravioli with pesto sauce. I brought my own bread, since they don't serve it there.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

After the race on Sunday went to Storyteller's Cafe at the Grand Californian for the breakfast buffet, as we usually do. It's always very busy on race morning, but it was really slammed and way, way overbooked on Sunday. I had a reservation and we STILL waited over 40 minutes to be seated! The buffet line was also very long - you really didn't want to go through it more than once. It's a character meal - Kenai and Meeko came to see us, but Chip and Brer Fox completely bypassed us. It was not a very good experience, especially given the cost, so this is probably the last time we'll do that.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Sunday evening we had dinner with our friends Mike and Joelle at Napa Rose. As an appetizer we split the Signature Pizzetta, which was basically a Margherita pizza (really good).

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Lee and Joelle split the Truffled Mac and Cheese. I had a bite - it was very rich, and they enjoyed it.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Mike and Joelle are vegetarian, and they each received a Vegetable Stack, customized with the types of veggies that they liked. They said it was very good.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

I had the Dove Breast, which was good, though I think the accompanying vegetables were my favorite part.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Lee ordered the Short Ribs, which he said were tender and delicious.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

We were a little too full for dessert, but they brought us three scoops of the Honey Peach Sorbet to celebrate my upcoming birthday. I would have called this ice cream and not sorbet, but it was very good, especially the marinated chopped peaches that came with it. It was a very nice dinner with wonderful dining companions and an excellent server.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Looking back I'd have to say the highlight of my food experiences for the weekend was the English Toffee Caramel Apple. :-)

And that does it for our Disneyland Half Marathon weekend. We came, we ate, we ran - not necessarily in that order. Thanks for reading!

February 10, 2012

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

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

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations


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

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

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

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

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

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

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

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

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

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

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

There was a separate alcove with a vanity and mirror.

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

There was also a closet.

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

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

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

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

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

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

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

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

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

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

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

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

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

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

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

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

Disneyland Hotel Stay Thoughts & Observations

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

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

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



November 23, 2011

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

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The Disneyland Hotel has been undergoing a lengthy remodel, which is close to completion. Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos his visit to the hotel on Friday, November 18, 2011.


At the Disneyland Hotel they are still working on the front drive way.

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

The valet booth is being redone.

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

They rest of the driveway was being torn up so it can all be resurfaced.

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

The new fountain area in front of the hotel is receiving more plants.

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11


Inside Pluto and Chip were roaming around the lobby.

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

The Fantasy Tower sign was being installed.

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

The new E-Ticket pool was open for guests.. but due to the temps being in the low 60s there were no real takers.

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

New signs for Goofy's Kitchen.

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

All the walkways were open today. Remember this area? The old Dancing Waters. The wall has remained but nothing else.

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

Looking back.

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11


There is quite a bit of grass back here now. The building is where the fitness room and guest laundry used to be.

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

Looking down the walkway toward the Frontier Tower

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

One good thing with the bad weather and no guests is it was easier to get some pictures of the completed pool area.

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11


Goofy waving goodbye, also this helps to show where the Fantasy Tower sign is.

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11


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



November 14, 2011

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com visited Disneyland on 11/11/11, the first day of the 2011 holiday season. Here in Part 2 are photos from Disney California Adventure, including the holiday decorations, the new Prep and Landing intro to World of Color and a construction update, as well as a look at the progress at the Disneyland Hotel.

Some holiday cheer on the new DCA entrance.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

The framing is moving along slowly on Buena Vista Street

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2


A couple of trees outside of Guest Relations trailer.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2


The concrete for the new rock face is moving along. Looks like only one more section to go.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Santa as well as the tree are back in the same location as last year.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2


Duffy and his meet-and-greet area are ready for the holidays.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2


From the Fun Wheel, a look at the construction area for Cars Land.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Still no paint on this rock face, but it looks to be ready.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

The scaffolding is almost all gone.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2


The outdoor seating area for Flo's is really taking shape.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2
Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Looks like they are working on the signage for the store.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2


Wires up on Maters

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

A wide shot of the racers

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2


The court house has its first exterior coat on.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

A closer look at the new rock face

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2


The Carthay Circle Theater is looking more complete.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2


The Mermaid Building has some Christmas decorations.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Taking a look around the rest of Paradise Pier - Holiday decorations at the Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta and Paradise Garden Grill restaurants.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

A closer look at the Mermaid Building.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2


Holiday garland for the Pacific Wharf.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Christmas lights in the Wharf

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

A look towards Cars Land from the Blue Sky Cellar patio area.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2


You can see the tower of tires at Luigi's.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Looking down Route 66

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2


The shack for Mater's is looking great.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

On Buena Vista Street the steel just keeps growing.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2


The Pump House is out from behind construction walls, and for the moment there is a small information center there. It is supposed to eventually be a Red Trolley Car stop also.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2


The area in front of the pump house looks great. Weird to see curbs and trees...

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

A couple of guest relations CMs out to answer questions

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2
Looks like this facade is staying. Just will be re-branded.
Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Left DCA through the Grand Californian entrance. The Grand Californian is not decorated yet.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

The Muppets are watching over Downtown Disney.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2


At the Disneyland Hotel, Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto hanging out by the pool.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

All the construction walls are down, just barriers up now.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Goofy, Chip and Dale hanging out next to the pool.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

The new E-ticket pool is filled and ready to go.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2


The new front desk area is now done and looks much more open.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

No signage on the gift shop yet.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

The walls around the fountain area are down.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2


The new facade for Goofy's Kitchen and The Coffee House.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2


Wow what a difference!

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Heading toward the bridge which now is open. it crossed the pool area between Tangaroa Terrace and Goofy's Kitchen.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Looking over the new pool area.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

The tower signs were going up Friday.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

The crew was working on the Adventure Tower sign

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2


Working on the lighting for the sign.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2


Some holiday treats at Marceline's in Downtown Disney.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2


Back at DCA in the evening: the garland on the entrance was not lit up.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2


Lights on the Little Mermaid building.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

For the holiday season there is a new intro to World of Color, featuring the elves from Prep and Landing. These photos and video were taken from the Blue Section.

(Laura's note: I thought this was very cute and clever, but people who haven't seen the Prep and Landing show might not get it.)


Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2



Nighttime holiday lights around Paradise Pier.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 2



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



October 13, 2011

The Hotels of Disneyland - Paradise Pier

Guest blogger Becky Breiland of the Mousetalgia podcast (www.mousetalgia.com) relates some of her thoughts on staying in the Disney resorts at Disneyland.

I really enjoy staying on property when we go to Disneyland. It's not an all-the-time thing for our family, but if there is a good rate or a special occasion we will make the effort to immerse ourselves fully in the Disney magic. I've always loved the uniqueness and special touches that the hotels put into their rooms. Plus, I really enjoy a good waterslide.

At our recent stay at the Paradise Pier, I was surprised to learn that the rooms had been "refurbished." According to the cast member at the desk, the rooms were redone in May and June of 2011. Somehow I had missed this information and was pleased to see some love put into the Paradise Pier. I think that this was somewhat badly needed as I had noticed previously that many of the comforters were pilling and this gave a bit of a dingy feel to the room.

Paradise Pier décor has now fallen in line with the other Disneyland hotels, switching to white linens, with a themed sash across the bed. They've added their own cute touches, most noticeably a beach ball pillow to give it a little "beachy" feel. While you cannot tell from the picture below, there are white-on-white Mickey silhouettes on the top layer of the beds, which are also a fun touch.

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I think it is very interesting that the Disneyland Resort Hotels have started to go this route. Now all three of the Disneyland Resort hotel beds have a more uniform feel to them.


Disneyland Hotel room.

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Grand Californian Hotel room.

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At first, I was really bummed out by this move. I thought it made the rooms feel so much more generic and maybe took away a bit of the resorts' identities. The more I think about it though, I've decided that the hotels are now more "Disney" than ever before. It has become the small details that make each room so special. While it's not immediately obvious, it's things like the Mickeys on the comforter, or the different pillows and the various shower curtains that make it more than just an ordinary hotel room and give it that Disney touch. While I long for the old bedspreads at the Disneyland Hotel with all the attractions on it (I have 3 yards of this fabric from ebay), I also really appreciate the clean, crisp feel that the white linens give. To me, the white linens make each of the hotels seem more modern and also more clean. I love climbing into bed between the crisp white sheets after a long day at the parks. It seems so immediately relaxing.

While characters play a large and important role in the parks, they aren't what make New Orleans Square feel like New Orleans (just as an example). Instead it's the sails from the ships that you can see in the background, and the architecture of the buildings and the balconies. The same is now true for all three of the Disneyland Resort Hotels. The architecture of the bed frames, accent pillows and art in the rooms helps the visitor to be transported to an entirely different place. As with most things Disney, the devil is in the details.


About the author: Becky Breiland has been traveling to Walt Disney World and Disneyland since she was three. One of her fondest memories is getting Mickey Waffles for breakfast on those early Disney trips. Becky, her husband, and two friends comprise the Mousetalgia.com podcasting team. Mousetalgia is a show dedicated to the exploration of Disney's past, present and future, emphasizing the theme park culture and the people who have imagined Walt's happy place into existence. Go "Carpe Kingdom!"



September 20, 2011

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com was roaming the parks on Friday, September 16, 2011 - the first day of this year's Halloween Time celebration. Here is Part 2 of his update, with photos of the construction progress at Disney California Adventure and the Disneyland Hotel.

Here are the new seasonal park maps.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Moving over to Disney California Adventure...

A look toward the entrance of DCA from the monorail. Notice on the left the old ATM building is gone and the front of the restroom/locker building has been removed.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Circling back around for another pass. A look into the former Greetings from California store. It appears to be completely gutted now.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

On the other side, looking toward the Carthay Circle Theater.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

The Carthay Circle Theater received its topper since my last visit.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Now that the Greetings from California store is closed, the former Cars Meet-and-Greet location across from Soarin' is a temporary Photo Pass and merchandise location.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Some of the walls have been moved around a little. You can now walk right up to/by the Condor Flats sign.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

The planter area is out from behind walls and now sports low rails and more green.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

The demolition work on the stores has been progressing.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

They look to be fairly well gutted.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

The Greetings from California sign is slowly coming down.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Palm trees are now in place by the Pump House at the end of Buena Vista Street.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Moving to Cars Land, the Cadillac Range is more impressive with every visit. There is quite a bit of greenery in on the back left of this shot now.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

The framing of the courthouse is moving along.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

The scaffolding around the radiator cap is slowly being removed.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Several workers were gathered around the turntables at Mater's Junkyard Jamboree - they were testing the ride system.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

There's more visible progress every time.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

The telephone poles are making their way down the street.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Some of the nice wood railings along Paradise Bay have been replaced with these metal designs. So you can no longer rest/lean on them and take pictures (comfortably).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2


If you were curious how they were attached here is an unfinished area.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Duffy's photo area is decked out for Halloween.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

And Duffy has a Halloween costume, too.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

California Screamin' is closed for some scheduled work. They are replacing the loop and painting.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

These photos of Cars Land were taken from the Fun Wheel.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Notice all the trees being brought in on the right. Also the walls are being extended behind the Cozy Cones. No visible progress on the cone itself though.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Here you can get a better view of some of the trees that are being brought in.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Hmm.. Thought this was interesting. A group walking the Radiator Springs Racers track. I could not tell if they were inspecting it or if they were just walking.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Flo's V-8 Cafe, and in the background trees are going in to the Luigi's Flying Tires queue.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Lizzie's Curios.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

More scaffolding is down and you can now start to make out one of the bridges on Radiator Springs Racers.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Looking at the Carthay now. Here you get a good view of the elements that have been added around the top.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

The window of Tower of Terror's Gift shop.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

ElecTRONica is closed till the end of the month, and this area between Schmoozies and MuppetVision is walled off. You had to cut through the Muppets queue or go all the way around by Monsters, Inc.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Another look at the Carthay Circle Theater and the access path between Condor Flats and Hollywood Studios Backlot.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Construction walls are up around the front entrance of the Disneyland Hotel. But they were nice enough to put some windows in so I could take pictures of what was going on behind them.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2


The lobby work is progressing and some of the recently finished areas are open and accessible. The new clean look really brought to mind the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2


Work is still continuing in other areas.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

New pavement between the Fantasy Tower and the E-ticket pool area.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

I thought this area was interesting - you can see the new (left) and the old.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

A look at the E-Ticket pool area (this is the old Neverland Pool area). The exterior of the Fantasy Tower looks to be done.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2



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



May 31, 2011

Disneyland Hotel Updates - New Restaurants and Pool

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The Disneyland Hotel has been undergoing extensive renovation for a while now. Major facelifts to the three towers, as well as the construction of a new pool area and restaurant complex. The two new restaurants opened last week, and the pool area opened on Sunday, May 29, so I wanted to share some photos from my visit last Thursday.

There's still a lot of construction walls blocking the normal walkways, so there are signs like these directing guests to the new restaurants.

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Tangaroa Terrace is a counter service restaurant open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

-- Breakfast Menu

-- All Day Menu

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Those familiar with Captain Cook's at the Polynesian Resort at Walt Disney World will recognize the order kiosks.

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In addition to foods ordered off the menu there is a grab-and-go case with items like salads, sandwiches, and yogurt parfaits, and also a self-serve pastry case. I tried the pineapple/coconut/macadamia nut muffin and it was really good. Beverages are also self-serve. Unlike Captain Cooks, there is not a Dole Whip machine at Tangaroa Terrace.

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There is some seating indoors.

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There is more seating outdoors.

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Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar opens at 11:30 and is open until after midnight. In addition the bar offerings, food is also available, things like fish tacos, wings, and flatbreads. The menu is HERE. Some of the names of the specialty beverages and their descriptions are pretty amusing.

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Seating on the patio outside Trader Sam's.

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There's a great outdoor seating area below Trader Sam's, complete with huge fireplace (which was lit and burning, even during the day).

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The decor inside Trader Sam's is somewhat reminiscent of that at the former Adventurer's Club at Walt Disney World. It's much smaller, though.

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Here's what's printed inside the menu:

"Aloha, ahoy, aha! And welcome to the mystery, romance, and adventure of Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar. Here, at the edge of civilization, a poison dart's throw from the deepest, darkest, most dangerous region where the hand of man has never step foot, my fearless friend established this happy outpost for all to enjoy!

Who is Trader Sam? Why, he's the head salesman of the jungle, the one who's always ready to trade two of his heads for just one of yours! His expertise in head-shrinking potions grew into an interest in mixology. Bitten by the bartending bug (just one of thousands he's been bitten by), Sam searched the Amazon, Congo, Polynesia, and every tropical locale in-between for magical ingredients to mix into his delectable libations. Along the way he picked up many of the trinkets and artifacts you see around you.

In the tiki bar business, it's a jungle out there. But once Trader Sam began serving his exotic elixirs to tourists, the word really spread! So welcome aboard...ashore...or wherever you are! Cheers! Drink Up! Tulleeho! Kanpai! Prost! Kungaloosh! Ooogy Wawa! And above all, enjoy the time you spend with us at the world-famous Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar.

[signed] Skip

founder, Jungle Cruise Navigational Company

P.S. Just so you know - this place isn't called 'Enchanted' for nothing.

P.P.S. If you're wearing yellow, don't act like a banana."

I didn't see any "enchanted" shenanigans going on, but I was there in the afternoon and it was pretty quiet.

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I tried one of the non-alcoholic drinks - the Schweitzer Falls. It's described as "Tropical Juices and Sam's Gorilla Grog topped with Sprite". It was good, and refreshing, but it mostly tasted like pineapple juice.

Here's one of the gates into the pool area.

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Lots of chaise lounges ready for sun-worshipers!

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Like the Grand Californian, there will also be private cabanas available to rent.

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The big slide into the pool.

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The deeper swimming pool.

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There's a splash play area under the slide.

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March 6, 2011

March Disneyland Trip Report - Part 1

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I made a quick trip to the Disneyland Resort on Friday, March 4. This was one of the trips that I call a Menu Blitz, where I go all over the resort and collect/take pictures of menus, as well as photograph anything else that seems new or interesting.

It was also my first trip with my new point-and-shoot camera - I bought a new Canon PowerShot SD970 IS a few weeks ago. I had my Garmin ForeRunner GPS with me as well - according to that I covered 9.5 miles in 4 hours and 55 minutes of roaming around.

I thought I'd take you with me on my wanderings and show you some of the things I saw.

I parked in the Mickey & Friends parking structure and then walked over to the Disneyland Hotel. This is actually the first Disney picture I took with my new camera (the first of thousands, I'm sure!). The remodel is complete on the Dreams and Wonder Towers and has now moved to the Magic Tower:

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There's construction walls around the back, and access to Goofy's Kitchen and Steakhouse 55 is through the lobby. Notice the big mirror - those are at all the corners.

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Because of the construction of the new pool and restaurant area (you can read a bit about the two new restaurants, Tangaroa Terrace and Trader Sam's, in this Disney Parks Blog entry), access to the Wonder Tower is via the path between the Dreams Tower and Downtown Disney. But at the end of the Dreams Tower there is this set of peepholes where we can get a glimpse into what's going on. I liked how they were at varying heights. :-)

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There wasn't much to see - I'm guessing this is part of the structure for the new pool slide.

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I liked how the fence was actually built around this tree! You can also see an example of one of the old-time attraction posters that they have placed along the fence.

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I visited the Paradise Pier and the Grand Californian, collecting menus, and then did a turn through Downtown Disney, also in search of menus. But menu photos are not exactly interesting. I'd logged 2.25 miles by the time I arrived at the Esplanade. They have this Let the Memories Begin display there:

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The Family Fun Weekends sign just inside the entrance to Disneyland:

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The construction walls that were covering the trolley tracks on Main Street last month are gone, but there are walls up on either side of the entrance to the Opera House.

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In Tomorrowland, work is proceeding on Star Tours, which now has an announced opening date of June 3.

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The Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster Fastpass machines are behind walls.

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The Star Traders shop is temporarily closed, and merchandise has been moved into Starcade next door. So you can play video games and shop for your favorite Star Wars merchandise at the same time! :-)

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There's walls around the base of the Observatron also.

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The Tangled meet and greet area in Fantasyland.

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Something I'd never noticed before - the coat of arms for Dumbo! (Motto: Believe & Soar!):

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Construction walls at the Mark Twain dock.

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For the three Mardi Gras weekends, the restaurants in New Orleans Square were offering special food items. There was a Bananas Foster Crepe at Cafe Orleans, and Bouillabaisse and Apple Fritters a la Mode at the Blue Bayou.

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The French Market had two special sandwiches: a Muffaletta and a Shrimp Po Boy (pictured here). That looked good, but I didn't get a chance to try it.

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Royal Street Veranda, French Market, and Harbour Galley were all offering a Mickey Brioche. This was an egg bread with some purple, gold and green sugar sprinkled on it. It was about 6" around. It was a little dry, though.

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In the Court of Angels they were doing character greetings with characters in their Mardi Gras costumes.

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In the area between the French Market and the Haunted Mansion were a couple of merchandise carts - this one offered New Orleans-themed items, and the other one was doing Mardi Gras face painting.

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Jeanine already did a nice blog entry on the Mardi Gras weekends, including Princess Tiana's Mardi Gras Celebration, which I saw on Friday. Before the show, the Jambalaya Jazz band played on the stage.

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The cast in their Mardi Gras parade from Frontierland to New Orleans Square before the show - they even threw a few beads. I wish they'd been able to bring back Tiana's Showboat Jubilee on the Mark Twain - I really enjoyed that show.

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Critter Country is still undergoing "beautification" and those walls are still up.

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There was a beautiful display of spring flowers - daffodils and tulips - in the planters around the hub:

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The day started off cloudy and overcast, but once the marine layer burned off it was a beautiful day - the warmest we've had in a several weeks - it got to the upper 70s! I like the color on the tree in the middle of this photo - and you can see some of the foliage from Pixie Hollow in the corners.

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Saint Patrick's Day is coming, and there's some new merchandise out - several t-shirts, Mickey ears, baseball caps, an antenna ball and a lighted shamrock on a lanyard.

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There's also a special Duffy:

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And several St. Patrick's Day treats - Marshmallows on a stick:

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Krispie treats:

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And, my favorite, the Mickey Leprechaun shorts apples:

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In Part 2 I'll have photos from Disney California Adventure.




July 30, 2010

A Summer Day at Disneyland

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On Monday Lee and I went to Disneyland to spend the day with his brother's family, who are vacationing there this week. I think it's the first time he's ever been to Disneyland with kids, and the first time for me since 2001! It was a somewhat different experience, but we still had a great time.

I was surprised that the crowds really weren't that bad, though as usual, the best strategy is to arrive at Disneyland first thing in the morning, and enjoy the park for the first few hours while most people are still arriving. The weather was great - overcast in the morning, and only in the upper 70s in the afternoon - SO much cooler than it was on Disneyland's birthday weekend!!!

We made excellent use of Fastpasses - starting with Indy, and then getting new FPs just as our window opened, so we used those for Indy, Space Mountain, and the Autopia. In between using our FPs we had almost no wait for Pirates or the Disneyland Railroad, about 10 for Thunder Mountain and literally walked right into the ride vehicle for Pooh. The longest line we had was 25 minutes for Dumbo (and I have to say I was surprised it was that short at 11:00 in the morning!). The two younger kids, who are 9 and almost 6, rode Dumbo with their parents while I did Mr. Toad with the oldest, who is 12 and up for ANYTHING.

The younger two were not very happy about Indy, but The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh proved to be a good antidote to that. The 9-year-old niece bypassed Big Thunder and went to the petting zoo with her mom instead, but the almost-6-year-old came off saying "I want to do that again!!!" He was not too sure about Space Mountain, and almost bailed, but he did it, and was all smiles at the end. And of course the Autopia was a big hit - Auntie Laura bailed on that one and took pictures of the drivers, instead. :-)

Monday was the final day for Star Tours before its big refurbishment - and it was busier than I've seen it in YEARS. At 12:15 the line was 55 minutes, and of course it no longer has Fastpass machines, since it really hasn't needed them in recent years. Unfortunately we didn't take a last trip to Endor.

We left Disneyland about 1:15, and the crowds had started to pick up quite a bit - the standby line for Space Mountain was up to 55 minutes, Autopia was 50, Matterhorn was 45, and Indy was 50. There were still lots of people coming into the park as we left.

They are staying at the Villas at the Grand Californian, so we headed back there via DCA, stopping at Soarin' to pick up Fastpasses to use later. Good thing we did it then - the return time was 5:00! They have a dedicated two-bedroom villa, which I hadn't seen before. It's the same layout, except that the second bedroom has two queen beds instead of a queen and a sofa bed, and there's no kitchenette in there. Also no external door to the hallway, though it still has a sliding glass door out to the patio. (Upon seeing the Villa after they checked in, niece said: "I want to LIVE here!". Ah yes...that's what Auntie Laura says every time, too! :-) )

After lunch the two younger kids REALLY wanted to swim (what is it with kids and hotel pools?), so my sister-in-law stayed with them while we went to DCA with my brother-in-law and our oldest nephew. He REALLY wanted to ride California Screamin', so we did that. DCA was a little more crowded than usual, and the standby line was about 25 minutes. Afterwards we were able to get four more FPs that he and his mom or dad could use later. Toy Story Midway Mania had a 45-minute line (typical for that ride), and while I would've done it, I couldn't get anyone else interested. Nephew decided he wanted to do Maliboomer, but couldn't talk any of us into it, so did it by himself (15-minute wait). Silly Symphony Swings was less than 10 minutes. They dragged me onto Mulholland Madness, which I think is the scariest ride in the park - those cars TRY to throw you out of the ride!!! The sign said 20 minute standby, but it ended up being almost 40. (I survived the ride, but I still don't like it!!!)

We met the other three in front of Soarin', and took a wonderful flight over some of the beautiful places in California - that was a big hit with everyone. It was 5:30 by then, and since we had to work the next day, we said our goodbyes - the family headed off to Flik's Fun Faire and Tower of Terror.

It was a great day to be at the parks, and we had a lot of fun sharing a place we enjoy so much with Lee's family.


January 19, 2010

Disneyland Rovings and Ravings - Part Deux

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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On the construction walls are vintage Disney movie posters.

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 11, 2009

Villas at the Grand Californian

The new DVC Villas at the Grand Californian have been open less than three weeks, and this is our second stay here. :-)

On opening weekend we stayed one night in a studio. The room we were given was 1516, which is an accessible room on the first floor. I thought that all of the DVC Villas would have either a park or a pool view...but there are three rooms on each floor on the end of the building, and so the rooms on the first and second floors (and probably the third) have no view at all. And 1516 was one of those. Sigh. I was rather disappointed in that.

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Because of the accessible features the room layout is a little different than the standard studios. The bed is right next to the window (and there's very little room between the bed and the wall), as compared to a standard studio.

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The living area is in the center of the room, and the closet has no doors.

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The kitchenette area is also a little different, since the area under the sink is cut back to allow wheelchair access.

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The bathroom is all one room, instead of the toilet and bathtub being separate from the vanity.

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The sink is built to curve out a bit to accommodate a wheelchair - I think it's a very attractive look.

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The tub has a fold-down seat and a hand-held shower attachment in addition to the regular shower head.

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Since it was opening weekend there were a few glitches...our room keys did not operate the gates to the pool or the gates to the parking lot. There is wireless internet throughout the resort, but my reception from our room was rather spotty - though that might have been location, since it's fine as I type this from a different room. Our room keys also did not identify us as DVC members.

So now it's two weeks later, and I'm happy to say that a lot of those problems have apparently been addressed. Our room keys say "DVC Member", and when I mentioned the access problems we had, the Cast Member who checked us in assured me that those opening weekend glitches have been fixed. Though I haven't tried the key in anything other than the door yet. :-)

This time we are in a one-bedroom villa on the 5th floor - but guess what, it's one of the rooms on the end of the building!!! There are only 18 of those in the entire resort - what are the odds? But at least we're up high enough that we have a view of Grizzly Peak and the Tower of Terror in the distance - though the main view is of Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.

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Looking to the left we can also see the Redwood Pool area.

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It seems pretty decadent to have this huge villa (it has two full bathrooms!) to ourselves...but we'll deal with it. :-) It's really beautiful - I could *so* live here!!!

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White Water Snacks has been remodeled to put in a small (and I do mean small) grocery section. Unfortunately it's not a very large space to begin with, so there's even less of a selection than there was before for those who want to eat there.. The grocery supply is limited to things like eggs, cheese, lunch meat, and bread - there are a couple of frozen selections like pizza. But if you're staying at the Villas and planning to cook you'll really have to do your grocery shopping elsewhere.

Something new that they've added at the Mariposa Pool is four cabanas. These covered areas have a table, a couple of chairs, and a couple of chaise lounges that go with them. They also have a flat screen TV and an attendant who will assist with things like drink/food orders, providing towels, etc. They can either be rented for half a day (morning or afternoon) for $120, or all day for $180.

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I find parking to be a bit of an issue here. In the hotel expansion they added a parking garage underneath, but that's for valet parking only. Which is NOT free to DVC members like it is at the other DVC resorts - it's $17/day. And when they added all these rooms they didn't expand the self-parking lot at all - it was really tight the first weekend we were here, and people were getting a bit creative in parking. There is an overflow lot available, but it's back behind the Paradise Pier near the Wonder Tower of the Disneyland Hotel. As far as I've been able to tell your best chance of getting parking in the regular lot is to arrive after the 11:00 check-out time but before 2:00.

It's really a very nice resort - and it's terrific to finally have a DVC resort that's close to us! Though I have a feeling that once they sell out it will be difficult to stay here unless you own points here. But we'll enjoy it in the meantime - I already have a reservation for the first weekend of next year's California Food and Wine Festival (dates for that are April 16-May 31, 2010).

September 24, 2009

New Wing Opens at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

On Wednesday morning, September 23, the new wing of the Grand Californian Resort and Spa opened, just a little over two years after Disney announced the expansion of the resort.

Speaking at the Grand Opening ceremony were Disneyland Resort President Ed Grier, Disney Vacation Club President Jim Lewis and Anaheim City Manager Tom Wood. The ceremony was held at the new Mariposa Pool area.

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The ceremony ended with the ribbon-cutting. Mickey Mouse brought out the over-sized scissors and Ed Grier and company cut the ribbon.

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"Mariposa" means "butterfly" in Spanish, and as the ceremony concluded, Cast Members on the balconies of the new wing started waving colorful flags, many of them shaped like butterflies.

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After the ceremony, there were tours of the expansion.

Contained within the new wing are the Villas at the Grand Californian, the first Disney Vacation Club (DVC) offering in California. There are 50 Vacation Club Villas - 48 two-bedroom units and two three-bedroom Grand Villas. It is Disney's smallest Vacation Club resort to date.

Our tour began in one of the Grand Villas - the one that overlooks Disney's California Adventure (the other has a view of the Mariposa Pool). We'll have lots more photos of the Grand Villa on the web site soon, but here are a few for now.

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Dining room and part of entry way

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Kitchen

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Master Bedroom

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TV in the mirror of the Master Bath

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The Grand Villas are two-story - upstairs is a pool table and sitting area

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View from the two-story picture window

As you can see, this Grand Villa will have a stunning view of the new World of Color show - the music will be piped in to the Grand Villa.

Next we went upstairs to the Paradise View Terrace. I had been up here during my hard hat tour of the Villas last March - it looks a little more impressive now. :-) According to the sign the capacity of this area is 48 people. There are restrooms at the back of the terrace.

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We also toured a studio villa and a one-bedroom villa, but those really aren't any different from the models, and you can see pictures of them on our Villas at the Grand Californian Room Photos page.

In addition to the DVC units, there are also 203 additional hotel rooms. Though most of the emphasis has been on DVC, in fact most of the new wing contains standard hotel rooms. Here's one of the hotel rooms, which has two queen-size beds.

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Behind the building there is a new patio area, with two gas barbecues for guests who wish to cook and dine al fresco during their stay.

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On the bottom floor of the new wing is a new arcade room: Grizzly Game Arcade. Next door to that is Pinocchio's Workshop, the evening childcare facility. This will be its new and expanded location. Once it opens, it will accommodate about twice as many children as the current facility. There's also a laundry room on the bottom floor.

White Water Snacks has been slightly remodeled to add a few grocery items. VERY few - the selection is really quite limited, and in fact overall it appears to me that there are fewer items for sale than there used to be. I saw frozen pizzas, individual boxes of cereal, bread, peanut butter, some basic condiments, eggs, lunchmeat, cheese and butter, and not much else.

We'll be trying out the new Villas at the Grand Californian on Friday night, so I'll have more of a review after we really experience it for ourselves.

August 16, 2009

Disneyland First Time Visitor - Your Tips

Last month I asked for your tips to help AllEars® reader Nancy plan her first trip to Disneyland this fall. Thanks to everyone who responded. In the interests of length, I have edited and combined similar responses.

Before we start, though, I wanted to mention that AllEars® blogger Jack Spence wrote a couple of blogs sharing his thoughts on Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom, and I think those would be helpful:
Disneyland vs. Magic Kingdom Part 1
Disneyland vs. Magic Kingdom Part 2


Several of you commented on preparing yourself and setting your expectations.

From Craig:
I think the most important planning step for a frequent WDW visitor going to Disneyland for the first time is attitude. When you're a frequent visitor to one Disney property, half of the fun of visiting another Disney location for the first time is to see the many similarities and many differences between the two. Be prepared for smaller, but don't make the mistake of equating smaller with not-as-good. I'll allow for one disappointment: arriving at Main Street for the first time, be prepared to wonder what happened to the castle.

From Amanda:
The first thing I would suggest is to go into the trip realizing that DL is a lot different than WDW. Some WDW vets express disappointment when they see DL for the first time, because they expect it to be the same. It isn't, but it's wonderful and so much fun in its own right! :)

From Maureen:
For the first time DL visitor:
-read some history of DL so you can appreciate its past as well as its present
-be sure to do the rides and attractions that are unique to DL
-take time to notice the little things;the shops are filled with wonderful, charming detail
-start planning your next trip because you'll want to go back !

From Dan (a first time visitor last year!):
I would suggest taking two full days (at least) to see the Magic Kingdom. There's just so much packed into the space (yet it doesn't seem cramped).

A number of you mentioned concentrating on the attractions that are at Disneyland but not at Disney World, such as the Matterhorn, Indiana Jones, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin, Grizzly River Rapids, and Monsters, Inc.

From Dayle:
Ride the Storybook Land Canal boats - charming and amazing examples of bonsai. Matterhorn Bobsled since this is a Disneyland original. Indiana Jones - much better than Dinosaur. I also think Space Mountain and Autopia are better than the Magic Kingdom counterparts.

From Kameo:
[After arriving at park opening] I'd recommend heading straight to Matterhorn in Disneyland. It is fantastic (though a little rough) and does not have fastpasses. The line can be unmanageable if you wait to ride it later in the day. Also, you absolutely must hit Indiana Jones. It is a great ride (think of the ride vehicle for Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom) and you should hit it or Space Mountain immediately after Matterhorn.

From Dan:
I'd say make sure to take the Disneyland Railroad for a complete circuit of the park, as my suggestion to first timers.

From A.D.:
Others will have plenty to say about attractions - the only one I want to highlight is the Sailing Ship Columbia, a very under-appreciated attraction; don't miss the museum!

From Barb:
Couple of things they really gotta go for in Disneyland. Our Pirates of the Caribbean, just a much better start and finish than WDW, our Peter Pan, for the amazing fiber optic stars :)

From Shirley:
You absolutely, positively, must experience the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. I still do not understand why they don't have this fantastic ride at WDW. The waiting area is not to be missed as well.

The #1 recommendation was the Aladdin show at DCA, where I received several comments such as the following:

From Dayle:
Biggest recommendation for first time visitor to Disneyland Resort is to see the Aladdin show at the Hyperion Theater within California Adventure. This is a Broadway caliber production with fantastic sets and performers.

From Amanda:
At California Adventure, definitely make time to see the Aladdin musical! There is one character especially who makes the experience very entertaining! This is something I would go see multiple times on a vacation because it's that good!

And of course there were lots of recommendations on places to eat! :-) Quite a few of you suggested the Blue Bayou (I have to admit it's not one of my favorites, though).

From Gabriela:
While dining at DLR isn't as big of a deal as WDW, I would suggest at least one meal at the Blue Bayou. The best food may not always be guaranteed, but there's just something about eating right next to PotC.

From Suzie:
I think that the Pirates of the Caribbean and the Blue Bayou restaurant are must dos. The ride is awesome, of course but the eatery is wonderful and themed so well!

There were quite a few other less-well-known recommendations, though:

From Dayle:
In Disneyland, skip the ice cream carts and go to the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street. For maybe a $1 more, you get a large hand scooped ice cream sundae with the fixings.

From Kameo:
For food, be sure to try the corn dogs! They are in the little red cart just to the right of main street when walking toward the castle. They are the best value in food at Disneyland.

From Barb:
They gotta head to DCA for a swirl ice cream at Catch A Flave- absolutely the best ice cream in the park. We actually will make the drive up from San Diego just to get a taste of it ;)

From Gabriela:
And if you know someone who can get you into Club 33, then go for it!!! Other table service restaurants worth a stop include the Carnation Café on Main Street, and Wine Country Trattoria over at DCA. Great counter service places for me include the French Market at DL (good t.s. food at c.s. prices, mint juleps and live music! what's not to love?), and the choices over at Pacific Wharf at DCA.

From Connie:
If you enjoy character dining, do go to Disneyland Hotel's Goofy's Kitchen. It is one of the best character dining experiences-I have been to many. So many unique characters that you do not usually see or meet. The characters intermingle with the children so well. Another very nice dining experience is at Paradise Pier in California Adventure. It is Ariel's Grotto. Here it is a restaurant, in Disney World it is a meeting area. I would strongly suggest arranging a Fantasmic package with dessert so you can really enjoy the show.

And there were quite few miscellaneous, but very helpful, suggestions!

From Kameo:
As with Disneyworld, always arrive to the parks at open as this is the time you will get on the most rides in the least amount of time.

From Van:
Just returned from DL for the first time with my son. I would recommend going on the welcome to Disneyland Tour if for any other reason than the priority seating to Aladdin and the fastpasses which can be used for any ride, even those that don't normally take fastpasses, like the Matterhorn. It is relatively cheap by Disney standards and you can save money with your Disney Visa Card or AAA.

From A.D.:
For the convenience factor, many of the "Good Neighbor" hotels located near Disneyland are just as close as the Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier. (The monorail will save you some walking *if* it's open, but it won't save you much time, especially if you have to wait.) Disney's Grand Californian Resort is the only place that really will save you walking time over the other hotels in the area.

From Shirley:
The New Orleans square is beautiful as well (another "why don't they have this at WDW"). Be sure to stroll through it and grab lunch there as well.

From Brittany - a Jungle Cruise Skipper!:
Ride the Jungle Cruise at night, it's more exciting that way. It is not like the WDW one in many ways! The Celebrate parade is fun, IF you have small children, but please don't wait around for an hour for it, it's good, but not that good. You MUST watch the fireworks in Sept. if Magical is still the show going on then try to stake out a spot before 9pm. The very best spot in my humble opinion would be in the Plaza, which is that little area just after Main Street USA but just before the Hub.

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Disneyland AllEars® Meet and Greet!

AllEars® Team members Deb Wills, Laura Gilbreath, Lisa Berton and Cathy Bock invite you to come by and say "Hello!" at 11 a.m. on Sunday, October 11, 2009, at the Disneyland Plaza Garden Stage.

Directions: Walk down Main Street until you reach the statue of Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney. The entrance to the outdoor covered stage with tables and chairs will be up and to the left.

Let us know you plan to attend by emailing allearsnet at yahoo dot com


March 27, 2009

Grand Californian Villas Hard Hat Tour

On Thursday I had the opportunity to take a "Sneak Peek Hard Hat Tour" of the DVC Grand Californian Villas. These villas are still under construction - they are scheduled to open late this fall - November according to some of the literature we were given.

Our tour began with a continental breakfast and an overview of the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) program from DVC Sales Director Mike Brunson. Lee and I have been DVC members since 1996, so the program itself is quite familiar to me. (Since AllEars has a very comprehensive DVC page, I won't cover it here - see the AllEars Disney Vacation Club page for all of the details.)

Some things I learned about the Grand Californian Villas (GCV):

It is the smallest DVC resort to date - a total of only 50 units. There are 48 two-bedroom units (most of which can be split into a one bedroom and a studio) and two Grand Villas.

It will be the 10th Disney Vacation Club property to open.

The Grand Villas will sleep 12 and are two stories high.

Our next stop was the DVC Models, which are located near the Wonder Tower of the Disneyland Hotel. I had seen these last year, but at that point they were not quite ready for the public and we were not allowed to take photos.

What can I say - the rooms are gorgeous. They have models of a Studio and a One-Bedroom unit. The rooms are decorated in the Arts & Crafts style like the rest of the Grand Californian, so there's lots of wood, granite counter tops, stained-glass lamps, etc. We started our tour in the Studio, since it just gets better from there. Yeah, staying in a Studio is a pretty tough assignment. :-)

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We moved next door into the One-Bedroom unit. These units have a design that is a little different from most of the other DVC resorts - the major difference is that there is a second bathroom. Which would make it a lot easier if there's 4-5 people staying in it. These units also accommodate 5 people instead of 4 - there's a Murphy bed built into the bottom of the entertainment unit. Very tricksy! :-) The dining room table has a built-in bench seat, so it takes up a little less room that way.

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For the hard hat tour we moved into the construction site itself. We were not allowed to take any photographs, so that's why all you'll see are photos taken from outside.

First we had to put on hard hats - they were white and said "VISITOR" on them.

Our two guides were Leah Jason, the Walt Disney Imagineering Construction Supervisor, and Bruce Campbell, the Senior Superintendent, who works for CWD - the building contractor.

We started on the very bottom floor, which is actually the valet parking garage. Since space is at a premium, they put the parking garage below the new part of the hotel. There are two parking levels and about 300 spaces.

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From there we went up the freight elevator to the third floor. The rooms in that section are all standard guest rooms - the new wing of the Grand Californian adds about 200 new guest rooms in addition to the 50 DVC units. Most of these rooms had drywall on the walls, and the tile in the tub area was done. But no plumbing or any other fixtures yet.

There are going to be "bridges" to tie the new part of the building to the existing part on the second through sixth floors. On the first floor will be a covered walkway. To me that description sounded quite similar to the way that Wilderness Lodge and Villas at Wilderness Lodge are connected.

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There will be three passenger elevators.

From there we went up to the 5th floor and into one of the Grand Villas. We were on the second floor of it, where there is a balcony that overlooks the living area below, and also what will be a two-story window overlooking Paradise Bay in Disney's California Adventure. Wow. That is going to be a wonderful view - and it should be a prime view for the new World of Color show that starts next year.

We went across the building to the other Grand Villa - this one will overlook the new pool area. This new Mariposa pool and spa are located on what used to be the wedding lawn. There will be a walkway connecting it to the existing pool area.

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This floor was a lot less finished - the interior walls were still open and not yet covered with drywall. I found it It very confusing being in a building that really had no identifying features and all of those open walls. Good thing we had expert guidance! :-)

Bruce told us that there are 250 workers on-site per day. And he's worked for Disney before - he was part of the team that built the Tower of Terror attraction.

Our final stop was the Observation Deck on the sixth (top) floor. This area also overlooks Disney's California Adventure. The area will have a trellis type of cover and its own set of restrooms - apparently it will be available for booking special events.

We went back down the freight elevator and turned in our hard hats before leaving the site. Thank you to Leah and Bruce for taking us on the tour - it was very interesting to see the construction in progress.

I'm glad that there is finally going to be a DVC resort in California, but it's so small that I'm not sure I'll ever get the chance to stay there. Since we don't live that far away, we don't stay overnight very often - and when we do I don't make reservations 7 months in advance, which is probably what it's going to take to be able to book a stay. Up until now we've been able to use our points to book a hotel room at the Grand Californian, but once the DVC resort opens we will no longer be able to do that - though we will still be able to book stays at the Disneyland Hotel and the Paradise Pier.

May 5, 2008

Back from Disneyland - A Few Observations

I'm just back from a short overnight trip to Disneyland - we went up to attend Taste - the final signature event of this year's Food and Wine Festival. Taste was fun - I'll have more information and pictures up later.

We stayed at the Paradise Pier - the last time I stayed there was almost 11 years ago, when it was still called the Pan-Pacific. We had a room with a view of the Paradise Pier area of DCA - it was really pretty at night:

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And in the early morning:

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It also gave us quite an interesting perspective for viewing the Pixar Play Parade, which has changed (again) from what I saw a couple of weeks ago, as I reported in this blog entry. Lightning McQueen and Mater were back at the beginning and end of the parade. And the stilt-walking chefs of Ratatouille also returned - though there were only three of them.

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From the room we could see many of the floats on the parade route

The biggest change, though, is the return of the "bug's life" parade unit - Heimlich and his many parts plus the float. The float was modified significantly - only the front part with Flik and Atta on the swing is there now. It looks a little odd when you compare it with the size of the floats for all of the other units.

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Even with the "bug's life" float back, the weird Toy Story Tinker Toy creature is still part of the parade (but don't get me wrong, I think it looks pretty cool):

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The acrobats have not returned to the Toy Story float - it's still just the monkeys hanging on the bar.

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A while ago I talked about the Prince Caspian Pre-Parade that was coming to Disneyland at the end of April, and I had a chance to see that. I didn't notice any swooning females, but Caspian looked pretty good. And the horse was quite beautiful, and BIG.

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He had quite an entourage - the banner bearers in front, the standard bearers, plus the courtier leading the horse - but it was his final attendant who cracked me up - The Royal Pooper Scooper. :-)

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During Magic Morning I had a chance to get a close look at Jingles, the lead horse on the King Arthur Carrousel, which was dedicated to Julie Andrews last month. If you look closely you can see Mary Poppins' umbrella on the rump. Her initials, JA, the number 50, and Mary Poppins' boots and flying silhouette are on the saddle. It's really beautiful - so detailed!

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The sparkling/chasing lights that are on the floral Mickey at the entrance to Disneyland cooperated with me a lot better than they did when I was there with Lisa Berton back in March - this time the light show was running almost continuously. It's more impressive in person when you can watch the lights as they move and twinkle, but hopefully you get the idea.

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And now that I'm back from Disneyland I'm leaving for Disney World, where I'm planning to blog live this week. A little bonus trip for me - but I'll be writing more about that in my next blog entry.

August 28, 2007

Disneyland Bits and Bites

We made another trip to Disneyland on the afternoon/evening of Friday, August 17...thought I'd share a few observations...

With the "Year of a Million Dreams" extended through 2008 (doesn't that make it "Years of a Million Dreams?" the banners in the main entry plaza have changed...and the letters in front of DCA that spell out "CALIFORNIA" now have a blue-sky-and-clouds look, like the "Dream" mouse ears.

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The waits for most attractions were less than an hour (15 minutes for Indy, 5 for Pirates, 10 minutes for Buzz, etc.), but Finding Nemo was still two hours.

This was a first for us - the standby line for Big Thunder Mountain was shorter than the Fastpass Return line! Since the attraction loads on two sides they send Fastpassers to one side and standby riders to the other, so we got on faster than a lot of people who had Fastpasses!

We saw the Ratatouille "pre-parade" float with Remy and Emile - since it doesn't fit into the Parade of Dreams it gets to be its own mini-parade.

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On our raft ride over to Tom Sawyer Island at about 4:25 we saw one of the Pirate Stunt Show characters climbing up to the "crow's nest" waiting to make his grand entrance - which was still about 10 minutes away. I recognized this particular actor as one that had been playing Jedi Master Endo Valaris in Jedi Academy...from Jedi Master to Pirate...guess he went over to the Dark side!

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The Disney Gallery (above the Pirates of the Caribbean) is closed, which means no more Fantasmic! dessert buffet on the balcony...but Riverside Premium seating for Fantasmic! is still available.

Disney's new High School Musical 2 movie premiered Friday night, and a new street show at DCA, High School Musical 2: School's Out, opened on Saturday, replacing the High School Musical Pep Rally.

The three towers at the Disneyland Hotel now have signs over the entrances with their new names: Magic (formerly Marina), Dreams (formerly Sierra) and Wonder (formerly Bonita). The hotel map signs scattered around the property have not yet been changed to reflect the new names, though.

We had dinner at Hook's Pointe (review to come) - Lee noticed that there's a map of Never Land on the ceiling.

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The Fantasy Waters show at the Disneyland Hotel has been gone for a while, but the fountains and lights still put on a little bit of a show - we seem to have been there at just the right time to see it.

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Until next time...

Laura

July 21, 2007

Disneyland: Staying On-site vs Off-site

As many of you know, when considering a trip to Walt Disney World, the issue of whether to stay on-site or off-site can be rather hotly debated. At WDW staying on-site certainly has advantages with its access to Disney transportation, proximity to the parks, and the wide range of resorts (and room rates!) available.

At Disneyland it's really not so much of an issue, though.

Location, location, location.
Though Disneyland was originally built in the middle of an orange grove, the city of Anaheim grew up all around it, and it's surrounded by its own variety of hotels with a wide range of prices and amenities. In fact, all of the Disney-owned hotels (Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier, and Grand Californian) are all "high-end" hotels, so those traveling on a more modest budget have no choice but to choose an "off-site" hotel. Proximity of the Disney hotels is a non-issue, though, since several of the off-site hotels are actually closer to Disneyland's entrance than the Disney hotels! Just a short walk (~5 minutes) across Harbor Blvd are several moderately priced hotels that provide clean-but-no-frills accommodations at a much lower rate than any of the Disney hotels - and there's that shorter walk to the parks, too. Now, there's also no theming at those hotels, either, but some of them do offer a complimentary continental breakfast, free parking and high-speed internet, *without* the "resort fee" Disney charges.

So what about transportation?
The Disneyland Resort is a "walking" resort - other than the trams from the two parking areas, the only Disney transportation is the monorail, and it only has two stations: one inside Tomorrowland, and the other at the far end of Downtown Disney. It's closest to the Disneyland Hotel, but it's really not so convenient to any of the hotels that I'd consider it a factor in deciding to stay there.

That Disney theming
Of the three Disney hotels, only the Grand Californian was originally owned and built by Disney - the Disneyland Hotel and the Paradise Pier were originally built by third parties, and later acquired by Disney. So a lot of the "Disney" touches in terms of design and theming are missing from those two hotels. Both hotels were constructed as very ordinary rectangular high-rise towers (three at the Disneyland Hotel and one at the Paradise Pier) - pretty boring and quite a contrast from the beautifully designed Grand Californian across the street.

The Disneyland Hotel has done a lot of remodeling and renovation in recent years, and it does have a lot more of the "Disney resort feel" these days. The grounds and landscaping are quite nice, and the Neverland Pool area can compete with any of the WDW pools. The Paradise Pier suffers from a lack of space, though - the hotel itself takes up all of its lot, and there's not much room for niceties like landscaping. The pool area is actually built on top of the convention center.

You notice I haven't really mentioned the Grand Californian - it's really in a class by itself, at least in comparison to the other Disneyland hotels, and reflects Disney resort theming at its finest. And it has the price to go along with that, too...

So...on-site or off-site?
Well, in my opinion, at Disneyland it's really a matter of economics. If you can afford to stay at one of the Disney-owned hotels you're going to get more of a Disney experience in terms of theming, service, and room decor than you will at any of the off-site hotels. But as far as proximity to the parks goes, a number of the off-site hotels are better choices, as well as being much more inexpensive.

What about you? Where is your favorite place to stay at Disneyland, and what do you like about it?

Laura

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About Resorts

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in the Resorts category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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