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November 8, 2016

Disneyland Resort Updates - 11/4/16

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

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

An overview of the site.

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

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

The Fantasmic! marina looks to be enclosed now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A closer look at the removed hedges and security barriers:

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

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

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

Halloween was still present on the tram route.

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

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

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

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

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

Town Square is looking festive.

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

The tree has yet to be installed.

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

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

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

A look around the hub:

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

The Partners Statue with Sleeping Beauty Castle

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

Frontierland has been decorated, too.

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

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

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

New Orleans Square has been decorated.

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

Critter Country decorations are up, too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scaffolding in Toontown has moved to the Five and Dime.

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

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

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

Mickey's House:

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


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

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

Hyperspace Mountain has returned.

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

The Dapper Dans performing on Main Street USA:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Work continues in the Hollywood Studios area:

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

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

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

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

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

Cars Land holiday decorations are almost all up, too.

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

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

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

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

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

A couple more marketplaces near the Zephyr.

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

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

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

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

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

A small stage set up in the Wharf area:

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

And another marketplace near Grizzly Rapids Run.

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

Santa will be in Redwood Creek this year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tupua performing in Downtown Disney tonight.

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

Route 66 after dark.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


August 3, 2015

Photo Update from Disneyland Resort 7/31 - Entertainment!

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, July 31, 2015.

I spent a "lazy summer" afternoon/evening at the Disneyland Resort. As I wandered around the parks I stopped to enjoy a variety of live entertainment. Here is a look at the various groups I saw on Friday. I have the full picture set from the trip on my site, disneygeek.com

First up the Straw Hatters were performing in the hub near the line board.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, July 31, 2015

The Boot Strappers performing in New Orleans Square.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, July 31, 2015

The Disneyland Band marching through the hub playing the theme from Indiana Jones

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, July 31, 2015

The Disneyland Band performing their Western set in Frontierland (guess Western plus Princess and the Frog)

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, July 31, 2015

Lightning rolling through Radiator Springs (while not a performing group decided to include him and Olaf below).
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, July 31, 2015

The All-American College Band has a few weeks left in its run. I stopped by to watch the 3:00pm set.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, July 31, 2015

No signs of guests by Olaf so I wandered over. Olaf no longer requires a FastPass. They stopped distribution recently. There was no one around so I stopped by to say hi and grab a couple pictures.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, July 31, 2015

The Dapper Dans of Disneyland wrapping up a performance.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, July 31, 2015

The Pearly Band posing for a picture during their performance in Fantasyland.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, July 31, 2015

At the French Market in New Orleans Square

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, July 31, 2015

Stopped by Town Square for the nightly Flag Retreat featuring the All-American College Band and the Dapper Dans this evening.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, July 31, 2015

A Mariachi Band performing in Frontierland.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, July 31, 2015

A video clip of the Mariachi band.

Because of the filming the College Band audible and performed on Main Street instead of in front of the Castle

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, July 31, 2015

This weekend is the 45th anniversary reunion weekend for the band. There were some alums enjoying the performances.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, July 31, 2015

Tomasina performing at the Tomorrowland Terrace

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, July 31, 2015

The All American College Band performing in Town Square.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, July 31, 2015

Ron enlisted several alums for the Stevie Wonder medley.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, July 31, 2015

The Alums were treated to a seat in the middle of the parade route to watch the pre-parade at 8:15pm.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, July 31, 2015


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.






January 17, 2015

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, January 9, 2015.

In this posting I will take a look at another element of the "Frozen Fun" that runs through April 30. Pieces of this event have been open since December, with Arendelle being added to Storybook Land back on December 19, and then soft openings of the other components over the days that followed. Below you will find my first look at Frozen being performed in the Royal Theatre at the Fantasy Faire in Disneyland. So far, after having see all the various "Frozen"-related attractions being performed in both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, I'd say that the best Frozen thing I have seen is the show at the Royal Theatre in Fantasy Faire. It was really well done and funny.

A visit to the Royal Theatre and to see a performance of Frozen.

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Mr. Smythe and Mr. Jones introduce the show. There are a few live characters in the show, but these two use many puppets to reenact the story.

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Here is a video of the opening.

The troll scene.

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun


Anna and Elsa join the cast.


Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Kristoff and Sven

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

The sleigh ride scene.

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

A video clip of the sleigh scene and wolf battle.

Olaf's arrival and "In Summer" performance.


Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

The finale to the Frozen show at the Royal Theatre


Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the Disneyland Resort. Be sure to check out my other postings looking at the rest of the Frozen Fun activities, and as always you can see the full picture set on my site disneygeek.com.

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.



January 12, 2015

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, January 9. 2015.

In this posting I will take a look at the Frozen Fun that runs through April 30. Pieces of this event have been open since December -- Arendelle was added to Storybook Land back on December 19 and there were soft openings of the other components over the days that followed. I covered Storybook Land in my December 19 postings. Below you will find pictures/video of the Hollywood Land changes for the event and the Sing-Along. I will have separate postings on the Freeze the Night event and Royal Theatre Show in the Fantasy Faire, plus my regular park updates. As always you can see the full picture set on my site disneygeek.com.

Frozen has arrived in a big way at the Disneyland Resort! As I reached the Disneyland Resort I spotted this banner featuring the Frozen characters on the Mickey and Friends exit ramp.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun billboards at the Tram Stop

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun banners in Downtown Disney

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun ads on the ticket booths replacing the traditional annual pass holder ads.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun banners at the DCA entrance.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun has taken over the DCA Guidemap and times guide too.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The Christmas tree is gone and in its place is a Frozen Fun photo op.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Most of the Christmas decorations are down on Hollywood Blvd and Frozen Fun banners have taken their place on the lamp posts.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun has taken over the Backlot area, too.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

And Frozen has moved into the Animation Building.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Further down the street you can get FastPass tickets to meet Anna and Elsa.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The House of Ice bar (used for Freeze the Night in the evenings)

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The dance stage from the House of Cards is gone and in its place is this open dance floor. The food truck has a Frozen wrap on it.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The menu for the food truck.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The face painting is still there but now there are Frozen choices.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The main stage for Freeze the Night. No band, just a DJ platform.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The Ice Box bar

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The menu for the Ice Box

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The Muppets have been removed and now the venue is called the Crown Jewel Theatre, featuring a Frozen Sing-Along.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Evergreens were brought into the area.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

You can also get a FastPass for the Sing-Along at these unmarked machines.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

What the FastPass looks like

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Next door in Stage 17 is the Snow Fest, but it was closed this afternoon for some reason. The Cast Members did not know why or would not share, and there was no ETA on reopening when I asked.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The Muppet store is now the Wandering Oaken's Trading Post. They have removed the large counter so you can now walk into/through the store.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

And a lot of merchandise is outside the store.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Inside above the merchandise are some props.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

A cart selling leather goods with engraving.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The signage at the Animation Building has had a Frozen update

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The building received some sort of wrap along the walkways.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Inside you are greeted with signage for the meet and greet.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

A queue for the Animation Academy.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Anna & Elsa have moved into the Character Close-Up area.

As seems the new norm you cannot see the characters unless you go through. Walls are up forming some rooms in the area now. There were FastPasses available, but unfortunately the one I received was for a time I could not visit. So no pictures from me this trip of the inside.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Off the Page (last trip I looked at the Frozen merchandise there if you are interested check out my 12/19 pictures set)

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Another view of the Trading Post

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Banners are hung over the props as you enter the theater. (Note I used standby and was one of the last people in so I could not really stop to take pictures. The Cast Members kept pushing me along because they wanted to close the doors and start the show.)

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Inside all traces of the Muppets appeared to be gone (but I was walking fairly quickly and trying to snap a few pictures so I may have missed something).

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The waiting area looks quite different now. This is all I saw of it before being hurried into the first door.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Inside I ended up with a seat in the back but toward the middle. It was a full house. Maybe a dozen empty seats scattered around that I could see.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The theater has new projections and some new decorations.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Show time -- the penguin pit is covered and there is a stage in front of the projection screen now.

One of two historians that narrate the show and fill in the plot details and some comic relief between the songs.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland


Anna made a quick appearance

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The second historian is introduced.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

A couple clips to get an idea of the flow of the show.


Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The side projections/lighting change from time to time

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

A wider shot of the theatre

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

For the finale Kristoff and Anna return, and Elsa joins them.

And of course an encore of Let it Go for the finale. No words needed for this Sing-Along.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Here is a video clip of the finale.

The Snow Fest was still closed. Olaf was greeting guests just inside the exit doors. This was the best shot I could get of him. The wait was 45 minutes. (Later in the evening it was 90.)

Frozen Fun at Disneyland


This wraps up my first look at the Frozen Fun activities. Hope you enjoyed it. 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 14, 2014

Holidaytime at Disneyland

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November 13th marked this year's arrival of the holiday season to the Disneyland Resort!

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To kick it off, the ceremonial lighting of "it's a small world" took place, presided over by the Gallardo Family. Their daughter Maya had battled acute myelogenous leukemia when she was 16 months old, but was ultimately cured by a stem cell transplant from her older brother Aaron.

Afterwards, the family was joined by their Pediatric Hematologist, Dr. Rosenthal.

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Later, the "A Christmas Fantasy" parade ran for its 20th year, celebrating its anniversary with the addition of "Frozen" princesses Anna and Elsa.

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Finally, over at Disney California Adventure, a newly-reworked version of last year's "World of Color - Winter Dreams" opened with an increased "Frozen" presence, as the songs "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" and "Love is an Open Door" were added into the spectacle.

In addition to these holiday offerings, there is a plethora of returning entertainment around the two parks:

Disneyland
--Jingle Jangle Jamboree in Big Thunder Ranch
--Sleeping Beauty's Winter Castle
--"Believe...in Holiday Magic" fireworks
--Haunted Mansion Holiday
--Jingle Cruise
--"Holiday Time at the Disneyland Resort" guided tour

Disney California Adventure

--"Disney ¡Viva Navidad!"
--Classic department store Santa at Elias & Co.
--Holiday version of "Mad T Party"
--Seasonal makeovers to Cars Land, "a bug's land," and Buena Vista Street

Downtown Disney
--"Olaf's Frozen Ice Rink"
--Downtown Disney Winter Village
--Gingerbread House in the Grand Californian

Happy Holidays!

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November 21, 2013

World of Color, "Winter Dreams" Debuts!

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The big event of the Disneyland Resort's holiday season is the all-new holiday version of World of Color, "Winter Dreams."

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Hosted by Olaf, the Snowman from the upcoming film "Frozen," it's an extravaganza of light, and music and water. Starting off with a virtual choir made up of hundreds of guests who recorded themselves singing "Glow" with their webcams, it includes scenes from "Bambi," "Secret of the Wings," and a production of "Nutcracker," starring the Toy Story gang.

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The production also spotlights two numbers from "Frozen," including Elsa's song "Let it Go," and Olaf's song "In Summer."

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Not only programmed with new content, the technical side of the show has been updated as well, with ultra high-definition projectors expected to be four times sharper than the original World of Color projectors, and the addition of over 700 high-power LED lights lining California Screamin'.

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Here's a video of just some of the highlights featured in the new show:

At the premiere, Josh Gad, the voice of Olaf, was there to introduce the new show and answer a few questions afterwards.

November 13, 2013

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, November 8, 2013.

This posting takes a look at Disney California Adventure.

Time to visit DCA.

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

Buena Vista Street is all decorated and alive with Holiday cheer.

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

Too bad they did not switch out the Big Top Toys window.

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

The Buena Vista Street tree.

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

Santa is back in Elias and Co. Of course he was taking a break when I walked by.

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure


The Animation Building lobby is still closed.

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

Noticed Olaf made the schedule of characters you can learn to draw at the Animation Academy.

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

Is this Santa and reindeer new? I did not remember them.

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure


The Flyers are still being worked on.

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

The entrance to Fliks

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

Some holiday merchandise in Cars Land.

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure


Waiting for the lights to come on.

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

Time for the lights to come on.

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

This year I just enjoyed the show, but here is a video from last year to give you a sampling of the event.

Then I walked quickly to Buena Vista Street for the tree lighting. Since I was late I was not in a good spot.

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

Here is a video from last year, this year is the same more or less.


11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

Was curious if the Mad T Party added any Christmas songs to the set, they had not yet.

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

Passed through Cars Land again.

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

The blue cones are back again this season.

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

Santa Mater making his way to the Cozy Cone

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

The Wharf lights

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

Paradise Park was nice and quiet.. only one World of Color at 9:45pm tonight and it was approaching 7.

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

Several large boxes are in the planters around the park for the upcoming World of Color Winter Dreams show that premieres Thursday.

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

Paradise Garden will be celebrating Viva Navidad this holiday season.

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

The Paradise Grill has a new menu for the season, Greek is out, Mexican is in.

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta also has special offerings.

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure


Screamin has received new lights for World of Color Winter Dreams, bringing back memories of Luminaria. This time around the lights look more substantial though.

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

And they took the time to make them blend in.

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure


Some Holiday shirts at Sideshow Shirts

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

Back from its renovation.

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

Stopped by Sarges

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

And Flos

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

Missed Santa again.

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

Walked through Elias and Company.

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure

11/08/13 - Disney California Adventure


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.



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



November 13, 2011

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com visited the parks on Friday, November 11, 2011, the first day of the 2011 holiday season. Part 1 features photos from Disneyland, including special Veterans Day events, holiday decorations, and "it's a small world" Holiday.

The tram stop signs have been switched to Christmas.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

New holiday banners and signs in Downtown Disney.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

An interesting comparison.. here is the entrance to DCA...

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

And the entrance to Disneyland.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Holiday decor at the Main Street train station.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1


Cast members at the turnstiles have new costumes.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1


The tunnel poster has been updated for the holidays.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Mickey's Soundsational Parade is running through Sunday then "A Christmas Fantasy" starts on Monday.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

"Snow" on Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

New Orleans Square is very festive.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1


The Blue Bayou and Pirates of the Caribbean are still closed.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1


Moving over to The Golden Horseshoe in Frontierland.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

The Golden Horseshoe tree.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Even with the garland the new railings still look off to me.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Some of the other Frontierland decorations.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1


The Christmas tree in Town Square.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

In celebration of Veterans Day there was an expanded Flag Retreat. An honor guard with members representing all the services led the procession.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Cast Member Veterans followed.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1


The Third Marine Aircraft Wing Band was a special participant.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

The Cast Members lined up on either side of the Train Station

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

The Dapper Dans in their patriotic outfits.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

As the anthem for each service was played the Cast Members paraded in.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1


The flag is lowered.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1


Folding the flags

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

The band did a great drill to turn around.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1


(Laura's note: If you'd like to see the ceremony, Jason has posted a video to youtube: http://youtu.be/mOo9WfG7Ssg)

Some lights on Sleeping Beauty Castle, but the full "Winter Castle" show doesn't start until November 14.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

"it's a small world" Holiday is open for the season.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1


Elvis is back.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Looks like the floor in the toy store next to "it's a small world" was redone

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1


New trees in Toontown (I read they came from Florida). I was not impressed by them - I thought the old ones were better.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1


Oops.. one of the Os is missing.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1


The Marine band was also doing a pre-parade set.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1


Nighttime holiday lights on Main Street.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

The gallery was closed preparing for a new exhibit - Trains of Disney - that opened on Saturday.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/11/11, Part 1


Part 2 will include photos from Disney California Adventure and 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



October 28, 2011

Mickey's Halloween Party - Disneyland 2011

Kristen Nowicki of the Mousetalgia podcast (www.mousetalgia.com) attended one of this year's Mickey's Halloween Parties at Disneyland and shares her experience in this guest blog.

It's been over 20 years since I last went trick or treating. This all changed last Friday night as my boyfriend and I attended Mickey's Halloween Party in Disneyland. It was my first time at what has recently become an annual event in Anaheim and was the perfect way to kick off the Halloween season.

A $59 ticket purchased five hours of Halloween themed entertainment and decor, lots of treats and luckily no tricks - this is Disneyland after all! The party ran from 7pm to midnight, and while I had anticipated a two-hour tour (how much could a 34-year-old, childless adult have to do at Halloween party, right?) we practically shut down the park, arriving shortly before 7:00 and leaving a few minutes before midnight.

While Disneyland is always beautiful, especially after dark, the extra Halloween plussing really made the evening magical. From the moment we stepped through the front gates, we were immersed in Disney Halloween goodness. Versions of Grim Grinning Ghosts, covers from the Nightmare Before Christmas and other original Disney Halloween tunes played throughout the evening and were accompanied by corresponding projections on the buildings down Main Street.

Throughout the park, Disney brought out special spooky décor just for the party. Our favorite was the Golden Horseshoe, which just earlier that day had been its usual charming frontier self, but transformed into a Halloween fan's delight for the evening. There were pumpkins throughout the main floor and even a special spooky guest musician at the player piano.

The Halloween décor wasn't limited to just the interiors, but outside as well including the sparkling Bradbury Halloween tree, a bevy of carved pumpkins at the Big Thunder Ranch with Mickey and Minnie nearby at a special Halloween photo-op. (Other characters including Jack Skellington, Winnie the Pooh, Phineas and Ferb and Storm Troopers were stationed at elaborate backgrounds throughout the park for photos.)

In addition to the special Halloween décor, there were a number of other events exclusive to the party including the Halloween Screams fireworks display, Mickey's Costume Party Cavalcade and two dance parties - Piratepalooza and Buzz Lightyear's Intergalactic Space Jam. The dance parties seemed targeted at a younger audience, with Goofy, Donald, Buzz and the Green Army Men actually getting down on the dance floor with costumed kids of all ages. While we chose to sit this one out, the kids who were there seemed thrilled to dance the night away with some of their favorite characters. These events were also less crowded than other areas of the park, though it did seem to be a little odd having a mix of the Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls and other 90's pop artists blaring throughout Walt's park.

The biggest crowd pleaser of the night was the Halloween Screams fireworks show. The hub was filled with costumed attendees of all ages, screaming with delight at the spectacular of orange and yellow fireworks. We had seen this show in previous years when it was available to regular park goers and this year's show was the same as years prior. The inclusion of villains and a heavy emphasis on Nightmare Before Christmas characters was nice, but the cheesy soundtrack puts this show at the bottom of my list. Just 30 minutes prior to the show, it was easy to get a coveted spot in front of the Castle, which did help ease the pain of the canned, calypso beat soundtrack. Not quite as flashy as some of the other firework shows, there were a number of interesting projections on the front of the Castle, and the inclusion of a flying Zero made for an extra Halloween treat.

Mickey's Costume Party Cavalcade was a bit short, but overall very entertaining. The Country Bears made a rare appearance, and on the back of the last float sat a somewhat jerky, audio-animatronic Miss Piggy. We caught the first and second showings of the parade (the second by accident as we were trapped, trying to get to the Pixie Hollow Candy Trail) and both viewings, one from Main Street and the other from the entrance to Tomorrowland, were equally enjoyable.

Amid the decked out décor and special entertainment were a number of Candy Trails, each consisting of anywhere from two to five trick or treat stations. We were given a medium sized bag upon entering the park, and an hour into the party, both of our bags were overflowing with a variety of chocolate candies, suckers and healthier treats like raisins, Craisins and apple slices. Our favorite Candy Trails were near the Matterhorn and the Innoventions Queue - both had five candy stations and short lines.

Speaking of lines, if you hate queuing up, Mickey's Halloween Party is not for you. While the numbers of attendees versus a regular day was significantly lower, the lines for the photo-ops and Candy Trails were quite long. Every photo queue had an average of 45 people and the Candy Trail starting next to Pirates of the Caribbean, wrapped all the way back to the Big Thunder Railroad. Halloween themed attractions like the Haunted Mansion and Ghost Galaxy (Space Mountain) also had really long lines. Most of the park attractions were open, and the average wait for non-Halloween themed rides was reasonable, but those attractions weren't the reason we came. We came for candy, characters and photo-ops and paid the price dearly by standing in a number of lengthy queues.

One of our favorite parts of the evening was being dressed up as Alice and the Mad Hatter. While this did prove to be somewhat awkward as we walked through the parking garage with the masses of un-costumed teens headed to DCA, as soon as we entered the gates of Disneyland, we were right at home. Themeing our costumes in a Disney way proved to be especially fun as we took photo after photo in the wonderful Wonderland setting of Fantasyland.

Mickey's Halloween Party not only gave us an excuse to dress up as our favorite characters, but to go back in time and celebrate a child's holiday as adults in the Happiest Place on Earth. Our first trip definitely won't be our last and if you're looking for a Halloween event for the whole family, childless-couple or even single adult, Mickey's Halloween Party is a place for anyone and everyone who loves Disney and Halloween.


About the author: Kristen Nowicki first visited Disneyland at the age of six and has been a regular park attendee and annual pass holder ever since. Drawn to the history and nostalgia of Disneyland, Kristen and her three friends, Jeff, Dave and Becky, host a Disneyland podcast, Mousetalgia. 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. Check out their weekly podcast at www.mousetalgia.com. Let's go "Carpe Kingdom!"



October 11, 2011

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us this photos from his trip to the parks on Saturday, 10/8/11.

The Annual CHOC Walk in the Park fundraiser for Children's Hospital of Orange County is next weekend and there are banners up around Downtown Disney for the event

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The ticket booth posters/ads have been swapped out. Annual Passes have returned and Aulani retired

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The Emporium project is complete.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

A look around the newly-finished Emporium interior

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

No visible process on the camera shop work

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

In Frontierland the re-planking and other projects are done

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Pirates is moving along, now the exterior around the front and Dream Suite are covered up

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The character Meet and Greet area in Critter Country has been redone and recently reopened

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The Adventureland restrooms are still closed as work continues there.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

From the hub you can just barely make out the top of the Carthay in the distance. Also noticed that the Cadillac Range does not block out the Hilton from this point of view (loop to the left of the train station).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Over at DCA most of the merchandise carts are now this new type throughout the park

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

A check in at the Cars Land work from the Fun Wheel

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Flo's is moving along slowly. Notice the worker inside.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The entrance arch from the Wharf looks to have the majority of the concrete work done, painting should start soon. On the right you can see the mesh for the rock face that faces the Pier.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update
More trees have been moved in around Maters so getting good shots of the area is a real challenge now. You can barely make out a couple of workers in behind the trees
Disneyland Resort Photo Update

No visible progress on the Cozy Cones

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The building behind the cones is really taking shape and behind that you can see the frame for what looks to be a backstage gate

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The Carthay Circle Theater is looking great

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The exterior of the courthouse is ready for its covering

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The repainting of California Screamin' looks to be done - it is scheduled to re-open on Friday, October 15.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

This is taken from the Wharf and shows how the rock will turn the corner, curious how the transition will look

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

From the Blue Sky Cellar area there are so many trees now pictures are tough to come by from this height

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The steel is up for the shops on the West side of Buena Vista street, hard to get a good picture

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Here you can see the new footprint is larger than the original

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Lamp posts, parade light stands, signage, a wigwag and more have been installed around the pump house

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The walls are down on the Backlot (and ElecTRONica has returned in the evenings)

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Another of the new merchandise kiosks, the Turkey Leg stand did not return to this corner

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Back to the pump house. Notice the canopy, it says Information, so wonder if a line board will be there or just CMs like the old DCA info booth

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The Halloween cups

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Some pumpkins from the Halloween Round-up

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Disneyland Resort Photo Update


Calling All Drummers is performed four times a day starting at noon

Random Toontown shot

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

A long wait for Minnie

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Captain Hook reporting for his shift at the Villains Meet and Greet along the small world mall.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The Oktoberfest area in Downtown Disney.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Time to check out the Disneyland Hotel progress. The walls out front have been shifted around. Only the columns and fountain area area are behind them now.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

When you walk in the front door there is a water station and Disneyland Painting now

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The portion of the lobby against the front window is walled off

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

So the check in area is really narrow right now (notice the character out interacting with guests)

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

An interesting shot of the new and old, they have just the center elevator area to finish, both sides are done

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

A not-so-hidden Mickey

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Wonder if the old photos will return, I really enjoyed seeing the old celebrity and Walt shots.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Looking through a window in the wall you can see the pool deck has been poured

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Work is slowly moving along here

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

A wider view of the area as the work enters its final stages

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Mickey and Minnie out performing on Main Street with the Straw Hatters

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

And Chip and Dale were with the Hook and Ladder Company

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Main Street was alive with activity

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Jack Skellington was out in New Orleans Square

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

A real cat along the Rivers of America

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The Cadillac Range at dusk

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Here you can just barely make out the foundation work for Sarge's going on

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The new trees get in the way of the panoramic shot I usually take from near the
Blue Sky Cellar

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

A band at Oktoberfest

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

On the stage near ESPN was a group called Paint in Motion. Here are some shots of the artwork, can you name the two rock celebrities

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Disneyland Resort Photo Update


A random shot of the pumpkin on Main Street

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

To close with a couple of random World of Color shots. I had a Fastpass for Blue but showed up 5 minutes before show time so was in the back of the section, which was not bad except for all the kids on shoulders in the way.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Disneyland Resort Photo Update


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


September 19, 2011

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

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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 1 of his photo update, focusing on the Halloween decorations and special events in Disneyland.

The Halloween Time billboards at the Mickey and Friends tram stop look to be the same as last year.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

And the ghostly characters alongside the tram route are in their familiar places.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Main Street is decked out for Halloween.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

They are working on the photo store at the end of Main Street, including repainting the entrance.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

One of the new braille maps.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

A new popcorn bucket option this year - this one seemed to be available only at the popcorn cart near the Haunted Mansion.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Haunted Mansion Holiday just opened for the season and was very busy - standby line of about 50 minutes at about 1:40 in the afternoon.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

The Pooh characters' Meet-and-Greet spot in Critter Country is behind construction walls.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

The Pooh Corner shop is still open, and has some Halloween merchandise.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Sally was doing meet-and-greet at the Angel Courtyard in New Orleans Square.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Walls are up at the Blue Bayou while the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction is undergoing refurbishment.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Ghost Mickey popcorn buckets are available at most of the other popcorn carts around Disneyland.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

The Dia de Los Muertos display returns to Zocalo Park.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1


Big Thunder Ranch celebrates Halloween.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

And that means elaborately carved pumpkins!

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Even the goats are getting into the "spirit".

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

In Fantasyland, the Tangled overlay has been removed (Rapunzel's hair and some signs), though the area is still a Rapunzel meet-and-greet.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

The Villains have taken over the Small World Mall again for photos. This year only two stations. I seem to remember three the last couple of years.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1


In Tomorrowland the R2D2 popcorn buckets are still available. So if you collect popcorn buckets you have a handful of choices in the parks right now.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

The Flag Retreat ceremony with the Dapper Dans and the Disneyland Band in their Halloween costumes.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

In the Disneyland Railroad's Primeval World diorama, the last dino scene is back in operation.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

The 80z All Stars performed at Tomorrowland Terrace.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy opened for the season, also.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1


I spent some time watching the Ghost Galaxy projections. This year the sound seemed much quieter and not as much activity with the projections, must have been there 10-15 minutes and nothing really happened.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

It dawned on me that I do not think I have walked this way at night and taken any shots of the Star Tours lighting. It cycles through some different light patterns.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1


The sign has some animated lights, also.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Headed over to the Haunted Mansion craziness next. It took us several minutes to get to the Fastpass Return queue. (Standby was posted at 75 minutes)

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

A look at this year's gingerbread house in the ballroom.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

The French Market has a seasonal dessert - this Chocolate Coffin Cake, for $4.99.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

The Remember, Dreams Come True fireworks show is back (Magical was featured over the summer). Fire has returned to the Indy segment which was great to see!

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1


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



May 19, 2011

A Dozen Helpful Hints for the Disneyland Resort

by Guest Blogger Art Gallego

I have been visiting Disneyland for nearly 40 years. For the first time in my life, I became a Disneyland Annual Pass holder in March of 2010. By no means do I consider myself a Disney or Disneyland expert. I'll admit that I know more than a lot of people do when it comes to Disneyland; but there is certainly a lot that I don't know.

With that being said, I would like to share 12 little hints that might help you the next time you visit the Disneyland Resort. Some may be obvious. Some may be trivial. I just thought I would pass on some things I've discovered over the years.

Hint #1 - Free Lockers at Grizzly River Run

So you want to go on Grizzly River Run (Disney California Adventure), but you don't want your camera, cell phone, wallet, or purse to get soaking wet. Just to the North of the ride's fast pass distribution area is a little area with lockers to store your stuff. They're just like the other lockers you'll find all over the resort, but with two exceptions: 1) They don't take money, and 2) they will automatically unlock after two hours.

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Another thing you may want to leave in the locker are your socks. Nothing is worse than doing a lot of walking in wet socks. After the ride, just carry them in your pockets until your shoes and feet dry. This happens pretty fast on hot days.

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Hint #2 - Free Coffee Refills

Coffee around the resort will run you about $3.00. If you save your receipt from the coffee you buy at the Blue Ribbon Bakery (in Disneyland on Main Street U.S.A.) you can get free refills for that day. I think there are a couple of other places that do that as well, but you can only get the free refills at the original place where the coffee was purchased.

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Hint #3 - Cool Place For Pictures

You can get some really cool pictures of the west side of Disneyland from the high vantage of Tarzan's Tree House. The landing just above the bridge you initially cross is a particularly good spot.

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Hint #4 - White Water Snacks

White Water Snacks is the snack bar by the pool at the Grand Californian Hotel. You can get breakfast, lunch or dinner there. It's rarely crowded and not too expensive compared to the rest of the resort. They have a great chili cheese dog that I usually get. My 16-year-old daughter Maggie likes the chicken tenders and my wife Tracy says their grilled cheese sandwich is the best she's ever had. The best way to get there is to exit California Adventure by Grizzly River Run into the hotel. At the end of the corridor, turn left. You'll find the snack bar at the end of the walkway. The seating indoors is cool on hot days. You can also sit outside with a view of part of the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.

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Hint #5 - Disneyland Rope-drop Shortcut

Before I tell you about the shortcut, I better tell those of you who may not know what a "rope-drop" is. At certain times, Disney will let guests partially into their parks before the official opening time. I think it happens more at some parks than at others. For instance, because they open later, I think they always let guests in early at California Adventure. Disneyland seems more hit and miss, but here's how it works there.

Let's say the park is supposed to open at 9am. At around 8:30 they start letting guests through the turnstiles. Most of the shops on Main Street are open. Guests make their way down to the North end of Main Street. Stretching from Refreshment Corner on the West to the camera shop on the East is a rope. There are also a couple of CMs there, just in case the rope itself isn't enough to deter some guests from heading to the rest of the park.

Every ten minutes there is an announcement made over the PA letting you know the park will be opening soon. By about 5 minutes to 9, Main Street is pretty packed with guests, sometimes as far back as the Emporium. At nine, the music starts and the voice on the PA welcomes everyone to the happiest place on Earth and reminds them to "walk" to wherever they're going. The Cast Members also ask the guests to "walk" as they remove the rope. At this point everyone "runs" to the left (Space Mountain) or to the right (Indiana Jones/Splash Mountain.) It can be quite chaotic.

So now, the shortcut. I like getting to Disneyland before it opens, but I don't like standing around for a half an hour. I'll look through the shops and maybe get some coffee while waiting for the park to open. At about 5 minutes before opening I'll make my way to the North end of Main Street, but not through the crowds of people. Instead, I just walk through the Blue Ribbon Bakery, ice cream parlor, and candy shop to the inside seating area of Refreshment Corner. There is a Cast Member there, making sure no one sneaks in early, and maybe one or two other guests. At 9 o'clock I just head on into Adventureland and Indiana Jones with hardly anyone in front of me.

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Hint #6 - Disney California Adventure Rope-Drop Tips

Unlike Disneyland, California Adventure has three separate areas where they set up a rope drop. The first is at the entrance to the Hollywood Pictures Backlot for those who want to ride Tower of Terror.

The second is on the path near the entrance of "a bug's land" for those trying to get to California Screamin' and Toy Story Midway Mania. The third is on the path you follow around the Grizzly Peak trail, past Grizzly River Run, between the restrooms and the soon to be open Little Mermaid ride. This is the one you want to get to if you want to ride Toy Story Midway Mania without that long of a wait.

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If you go to the "a bug's land" area the wait will already be a half hour by the time you get there. To get to the Little Mermaid/Restroom rope-drop, head to the right as you enter the park towards Soarin' Over California. A lot of the people heading this way are going to the Grizzly River Run Fastpass distribution area to get tickets for World of Color. By the way, if Toy Story Midway Mania is not today's priority, just head to Soarin' Over California. Even though the park isn't open yet, you can usually ride it anyway. Or, have the best of both worlds and get Fastpasses for Soarin' and then head to the rope-drop.

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Hint #7 - Dole Whip Shortcut

For those of you who don't know, Dole Whips are one of the most popular snacks in all of Disneyland. They are frozen soft-serve pineapple whips found at The Tiki Juice Bar near the entrance to Adventureland. They're great any time, but perfect on a hot day. On those hot days you'll often see the line going half-way into Adventureland. I often wonder if the people at the end of the queue even know what they're in line for.

Well, here is my tip: The stand that sells them is at the entrance for the Enchanted Tiki Room and they serve guests from the pre-show area of that attraction. Even when the line on the outside stretches back a mile, there are seldom more than one or two guests in line on the pre-show side. If you don't want to see the Tiki Room show once you've purchased your whip, just exit via the gate they use for guests in wheelchairs.

But hey, since you're already there, you might as well escape the heat and eat your whip while the birdies sing to you. You're allowed to bring your whip into the show. The Cast Members just ask that you take your trash with you. They sell a few other pineapple related items at the juice bar as well.

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Hint #8 - Stretch Room Short Cut

Here is a somewhat obvious tip. The Haunted Mansion has two stretch rooms as you enter the attraction. If you enter the room that's on the left, stand by the wall on the right side as you walk in. If you enter the room on the right, head to the left wall. When the room is stretched and the doors open, you will be right there at the opening, ahead of the crowd, ready to walk down the hall to your "Doom Buggy."

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Hint #9 - Critter Country Shortcut

This one isn't that much of a time-saver, but it is a nice alternative for entering and exiting Critter Country. Why take the main walkway into Critter Country when there's a much more serene way? Instead of jostling with the crowds headed for Splash Mountain on those hot summer days, head toward the seating area of the Harbour Galley where the Columbia is normally berthed.

The area resembles a little seaport and winds you around towards Critter Country along the river. There's a place where you can look over the logs that have just plummeted down Splash Mountain as well. The path deposits you near a snack stand by the stairs leading down to the canoes. Like I said, it really won't save you a lot of time, but it is a nice quiet area away from the crowds.

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Hint #10 - Buzz Lightyear Free Photo

As you exit most of the thrill rides at the Disneyland Resort you probably notice the monitors with pictures of people splashing down a mountain, soaring through space, or falling down an elevator shaft. Everyone stops to find themselves and laugh at the terrified look on Dad's face. The idea, of course, is to sell you something. A little keepsake of your visit.

Well, at the exit to Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters you will also find monitors, but these are a little different. Once you find your picture you are able to e-mail it anywhere you like. Send it to yourself, or to a loved one back home. It's not the greatest quality picture, but hey, it's free.

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Hint #11 - First Aid

Take advantage of the First Aid stations at either park. Besides band aids and other first aid-type stuff, they can also assist you if you have a headache, offering several options (Tylenol, ibuprofen, etc.,) all free of charge. Just check your park guide. There is also a first aid station in Downtown Disney located between Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen and Island Charters.

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Hint #12 - Mickey's Halloween Party

As all of you know, going to Disneyland can be quite expensive. If your family makes an annual visit to Disneyland, I suggest that you do it in October. More specifically, during one of the nights they host Mickey's Halloween Party. Why? The admission is cheaper. I'm sure the prices will change this year, but in 2010, the party tickets were $49-$59, depending on when you bought them. One day's admission to Disneyland was $76 for anyone over the age of 10, and $68 for kids ages 3-9. So even if you bought a Halloween ticket at the highest price, you still would've saved $9 - $17 per ticket.

Let's say Mom, Dad, Sally (9), and Jake (11) went to the Halloween party last year instead of on a day a month earlier. They would save at least $60. The parties don't start until the evening, so you may feel that you are not getting your dollars' worth. Fortunately, they let you in 3 hours before the party starts. On Tuesdays the parties are from 6pm to 11pm and on Fridays and Halloween night they go from 7pm until midnight. That's a full eight hours. And though it may seem crowded, the lines for the rides are pretty short.

We went on a Tuesday, so I can't say how crowded the park was on a Friday or Halloween. If you do go on a Tuesday though, you will probably be able to go on more attractions than if you spent an entire day at the park in July. A small downside is that not all of the park's eateries are open once the party starts. If that's a concern, just eat when you get there while the park is still open to the day guests. As far as snacks, don't bother. You will be collecting plenty of goodies to munch on at the candy stations. They do offer healthy snacks as well.

Incidentally, 2010 was the first time I went to a Disney Halloween party and it was a lot of fun. I had read that the candy given out in 2009 when the party was at California Adventure wasn't great. Well, that wasn't the case in 2010. They gave out lots of chocolate. Kit Kats, Almond Joys, M & M's, etc. Other reasons to go are the special Halloween fireworks, Nightmare Before Christmas Haunted Mansion, and Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy. Knowing what I know now, if I didn't have an annual pass, that would be the time I'd take my family for our yearly visit.

Well, those are the only hints I can come up with for now. If I think of any more, I will certainly pass them along. Please let me know of any hints you have.

March 9, 2011

March Disneyland Trip Report - Part 2

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In Part 1 I showed you some of the things I saw on Friday at the hotels and Disneyland, and here I'll talk about DCA.

Work is continuing on the new entrance - some of the structure is visible now above the walls.

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The ElecTRONica stage stands in front of the construction walls at the former Sunshine Plaza.

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The walls on the other side of Sunshine Plaza are decorated with 1920's style advertising.

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This sounds like my kind of place: "Mountains of Candy", "Valleys of Taffy", and "Rivers of Fudge!"

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The Cadillac Mountains are still mostly steel framework, but you can see that some of the mountains on the right have been covered.

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From Paradise Pier you can see that the mountains closest to California Screamin' even have some finished rockwork and vegetation.

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I had a late breakfast at Pacific Wharf Cafe - love those sourdough bread bowls! Though the secret to this dish is to get the La Victoria salsa from Cocina Cucamonga to put on top.

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Things seem to be moving along quickly on the exterior of Ariel's Undersea Adventure - good thing, since it's supposed to open in less than three months!

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There's already lots of detail visible!

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This King Triton bronze used to be at Ariel's Grotto at Disneyland, and now has a new home at DCA. This Disney Parks blog entry shows a video of the statue as it's moved into place.

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The track for Goofy's Sky School has been painted.

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The future home of Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta.

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Seems like they have a long way to go if this is going to be open by summertime (or earlier).

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More fun artwork on the construction walls.

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I liked this sign outside Taste Pilot's Grill.

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The "Pixar Pals, Monsters Inc. Mayhem" show was just leaving Hollywood as I went through.

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The Disney Junior Live on Stage show opens March 25.

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I had a good day, even if it was a little bit short, but I enjoy just wandering around the parks.

Look for menu updates over the next week or so.



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.




January 3, 2011

Disneyland: Rainy Day Tips

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As a lot of you know, we have been having an unusually wet fall and winter here in southern California. (In fact, it is raining AGAIN as I write this.) So that means lots of rainy days at Disneyland (it even rained on Christmas night!!!).

The bad thing about rainy days is that some outdoor attractions are closed, like the Tea Cups and Alice in Wonderland, and unfortunately the parades and Fantasmic! (and even the fireworks) are usually canceled for safety reasons.

But the good thing about rainy days is that they can be terrific days to be at Disneyland because the rain keeps a lot of the locals away (it's No Fun driving on the freeways, and besides, we might melt if we get wet!), so the lines are usually quite short.

For those of you who have been to Disneyland or Disney California Adventure on a rainy day, what are your favorite tips on how to beat the rain, or your favorite things to do on a rainy day?

My #1 piece of advice: keep your feet dry - or as dry as you can. I can deal with the rest of me being wet, but if my feet are soaked I'm miserable. So bring an extra pair of socks if it's going to be a rainy day.

My #2 piece of advice: Umbrellas work better than ponchos. Or at least they do for me. I find them much easier to handle and use than ponchos.

That's my $0.02 - what's yours?


June 2, 2010

World of Color - Disney California Adventure

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Last night I was very fortunate to attend a dress rehearsal of the new World of Color spectacular that debuts June 11th! While I am sure many of you are anxiously awaiting a review, you'll have to wait a bit longer. I won't be posting my review until after the media preview on June 10th.

Information is now available on various Dining Options that include a reserved viewing and information on obtaining a FASTPASS for the show.

I am able to share with you 3 photographs provided by Disney:

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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


October 20, 2008

Getting a Disneyland Annual Pass

When my friend Kristin(e) and I went to Disneyland last month, Kristin got her first Disneyland Annual Pass, so I thought I would share that experience with you. (Those of you who have WDW APs will find it's quite a different process!)

Here's she's smiling with anticipation as we take the tram from the parking structure to the park entrance. :-)

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First thing, Kristin had to decide which kind of Annual Pass she wanted. If you live in Southern California you have a choice of 4 different ones. The main difference is the price and the number of blockout days.

Premium Annual Pass: No blockout days, $389 (also includes parking)
Deluxe Annual Pass: 60 blockout days, $269
outhern California Annual Pass: 150 blockout days, $174
Southern California Select Annual Pass: 195 blockout days, $134
(Parking can be added to any non-premium AP for $59 - since parking is $12/day now, if you're going to go to the park more than 5 times a year you'll want the parking feature.)

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Kristin chose the So Cal Select - yes, it's quite restrictive, but the days she is likely to go are on Fridays with me, and most Fridays when we would go are open.

She purchased her ticket at the Disneyland Main Entrance Ticket Booth - but she could have gone to the Disneyland.com website and purchased it on-line and printed it out at home. Since it was one of the Southern California-type passes she was required to show proof of residence (Driver's license in her case, though they also accept utility bills, etc.) Another thing to be aware of: if the day we had purchased her AP had been a blockout day for her pass (it wasn't), she still would have been able to get in and activate/use her AP on that very first day.

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Once we entered the park we went straight to the Annual Pass Center at the Bank of Main Street so that she could actually get her REAL Annual Pass (unlike WDW, where the ticket they give you at the ticket booth before you enter the park IS your Annual Pass, at Disneyland you must go to the Annual Pass Center to get your permanent AP).

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After a brief wait she went up to one of the "teller" windows where they asked various information of her (at this point she would have been able to upgrade her pass if she'd changed her mind and/or add the parking feature):

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And then took her photo:

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And then handed her her bright, shiny, new AP, customized with her picture on it! They also gave her a nice color blockout day calendar and a copy of the October issue of Backstage Pass, the Disneyland Annual Passholder news magazine that we receive ~quarterly.

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After we were finished at the bank we went into the park to Haunted Mansion Holiday where she used her AP for the very first time to get a Fastpass.

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And then, as I wrote in this blog entry, we went on to have a wonderful day at Disneyland and DCA - and since she's now got an AP, I look forward to at least one, and hopefully more, fun days at the park with Kristin in the next year!

Other miscellany:

If you're adding parking to an AP, bring your parking receipt with you to the AP Center - they will credit the money you already paid that day to the cost of the parking feature. Note: the parking feature is not valid on your AP's blockout days.

If you want to go to the park on a blockout day you can do that by purchasing a blockout day ticket for $40 at any of the ticket windows. (If you're staying at any of the Disney hotels they are also available for purchase at the Front Desk.) Disney advertises blockout day tickets as "subject to availability", so it's possible that on very busy days you could still be denied entry.

Once you have your AP, you can register it on the AP section of Disneyland's web site: http://www.disneyland.com/ap. This area of the web site lists offers available only to AP holders, such as sneak previews of attractions, hotel and restaurant discounts, etc. You can sign up there to receive special AP-only email from Disney.

Disneyland APs can be renewed either by mail or via the Disneyland.com/ap web site. There is a small discount for doing so, and it also means no standing in line at the AP Center again! In addition you usually receive a 20% off merchandise coupon, plus choice of AP design - the standard one available at the park or a special design available only to renewing passholders.

If you must vist the AP Center, go first thing in the morning right after park opening - the line can get pretty long as the day goes on. Though I have occasionally seen a short line in the afternoon on a not-so-busy day.


Have you visited the Disneyland Resort recently? Share your experiences in our Disneyland Rate and Review Area!

June 12, 2008

Toy Store Mania Preview at Disneyland - Guest Blog

AllEars Reader Chelsi Murphy attended the Annual Passholder Preview of Toy Story Midway Mania! at Disney's California Adventure on Tuesday, and has kindly shared her experience in this guest blog.

My husband and I received an email a few weeks ago announcing the Toy Story Mania sneak preview for annual passholders. You had to pick times you were available to go and enter your pass number. Lo and behold an email arrived instructing winners to bring a copy of the confirmation, along with a valid Disneyland annual pass for each member of the party, to the West information booth "at least 30 minutes before your time slot." Our time was between 10 am and 3 pm on June 10th. We, being very excited to see this new ride, arrived at 9 am at the designated booth and exchanged our email for our passes

Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney's California Adventure

This gave us plenty of time to get through security and wander over to California Adventure and wait for the park to open. Once inside and allowed past the main holding area, we walked over to the Paradise Pier Boardwalk where the new ride is located, along with an estimated 100 or so other lucky pass holders. Mr. Potato Head was not out and working this morning to greet us. He was having a few mechanical issues but there was plenty of signage to help us along the way.

Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney's California Adventure

Once in line we had both passes and our annual passes checked three times before finally getting the go ahead to pass through to the main line to get our 3-D Glasses.

Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney's California Adventure

Along the walls of the waiting area are what resemble circus posters explaining how to play games once on the ride.

Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney's California Adventure

Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney's California Adventure

At this point you are divided up by groups to get on your cars. They resemble a cross between the Buzz Lightyear car and your cab from Roger Rabbit. You sit in pairs, each with their own shooting device and you share a score and information screen.

Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney's California Adventure

When you take off, you should have your glasses on ready to go. You pass by great big scenes of all your favorite games as a kid.

Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney's California Adventure

Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney's California Adventure

Once you come to a stop, a giant 3-D video screen comes on and you are in an interactive video game. Depending on what you hit you will have different experiences: Some symbols are worth more points than others and some shoot air or water at you when you hit them. You make your way through different areas and each time you stop you play a shooting gallery style new game. I know if you hit certain things, a new game may come up on your screen but you are going so fast and having such a good time, its hard to concentrate on hitting exactly the right pattern!

Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney's California Adventure

At the end, your screen comes on to tell you your score, accuracy and give you a prize! We both got Rabbits! They also have a giant screen at the end that gives high scores of the day and month.

Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney's California Adventure

Some pictures while you're waiting to exit the ride.

Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney's California Adventure

This was at the end of the ride and I thought - "how does this help me now?"

Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney's California Adventure

When we first exchanged our email for our pass they told us depending on the crowd size we would be able to ride it again. We asked and sure enough they let us back in line. The unfortunate part was that by the time we were about to receive our 3-D glasses they made an announcement that the ride was down and that everyone should go enjoy other areas of the park and check back in later. This is Disney code for "this is going to take a while." My husband and I and most who had already ridden left the line happy we got to do it once.

The ride is amazing to look at and a heck of a lot of fun - and should not be missed. I can't wait for my next opportunity to enjoy it, I just hope the others waiting for their 1st opportunity yesterday eventually got on.

June 2, 2008

Disneyland - Random Acts of Indy

Lee and I went up to Disneyland on Memorial Day to meet up with AllEars' Deb Wills and Linda Mac, and also to see some of the new Indiana Jones Summer of Hidden Mysteries stuff that started over the weekend. You can read more about it in this Disneyland Press Release.

We arrived in time to see the first Indiana Jones and the Secret of the Stone Tiger show at 10:30. This is held in The Oasis, where the Aladdin and Jasmine StoryTale Adventures show used to be. We arrived about 10:05 and there was already a huge line (something I never saw for the Aladdin show!), but we got into the theater - a Cast Member said it holds about 250 people.

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As you can see from the picture below, the sign outside The Oasis makes it look like more of a lecture by Dr. Jones. But of course how interesting would *that* be? :-)

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As with the Aladdin show, there's a large area right in front of the stage where kids are encouraged to sit on the floor. The stage is filled with a variety of interesting-looking archaeological artifacts.

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Dr. Rachel Flannery comes out and informs the audience that Dr. Jones isn't available - he's disappeared while searching for a powerful artifact associated with the stone tiger, and she's trying to interpret the clues he has left in his notes to find him. Which requires a lot of help from the junior members of the audience. (At least 6-8 different kids get to participate in a variety of tasks.)

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With everyone's help, the Stone Tiger portal opens, and Indiana Jones himself appears in a cloud of smoke, bearing the artifact. Which he then has to fight Dr. Flannery for. Kind of a fun fight scene - Indy gets to use his whip. After vanquishing Dr. Flannery and thanking the audience, Indy takes off for his next adventure - no photo ops after this show.

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Not long after the show ends (10 minutes maybe) the Random Acts of Indy (I love that term!) begin in Adventureland. Indy and a "bad guy" show up at various places throughout Adventureland and they are fighting over possession of a treasure map. They engage in several fight scenes up high - on top of Tropical Imports, on the balcony above South Seas Traders, and, my favorite, on the rope bridge of Tarzan's Treehouse. Both of them are miked so you can hear their dialog, and there's accompanying Indiana Jones background music, too. The "bad guy" definitely gets the worst end of it. :-) Indy also is out among the crowds in Adventureland at several points during this time, as well. I thought it was a lot of fun.

Here's a link to a short movie I shot of the fight scene at Tropical Imports.

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Another aspect of the Summer of Hidden Mysteries is the Indiana Jones Adventure Map. These are free (CMs were handing them out as we waited in the Stone Tiger show queue). There are symbols scattered around Adventureland, and the map has a list of symbols and their translations (though more symbols are identified than actually exist, otherwise it would be way too easy!). Find the symbols and use the map to decipher them and reveal the message. I was a little disappointed in this - once you knew what to look for the symbols (as you can see in the photo below) were really obvious and very easy to find. And the "message" is hardly news to anyone who has ridden the Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye attraction! :-)

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There's also some Indiana Jones relics that have been left along the way in the Jungle Cruise attraction, but we didn't get a chance to do that.

I think it'll be a fun addition for the summer months - I think the kids especially will enjoy the show, and probably the map hunt, also. We got a kick out of the "random acts", though I am concerned that when the park is crowded the traffic in Adventureland will come to a standstill, and that place is enough of a bottleneck as it is (I avoid going through there most of the time).

February 24, 2008

February Day Trip to Disneyland

Lee and I took advantage of a Friday off work to spend the afternoon/evening at Disneyland. It was a gorgeous day, though chilly by southern Californian standards - only in the upper 50s. You may have heard about the freak winter storm that hit southern California on Thursday, bringing cold air that dropped the snow level to about 1000'. There were still some signs of that at Disneyland. :-)

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The floral Mickey just inside the entrance was re-done earlier this year - though you can't see it in the photo, there are also sparkling lights, which of course look more impressive at night. And the Tinker Bell figure was added, too.

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During the month of February Disneyland is celebrating the Lunar New Year, and there's a special display set up in Town Square. Mickey and Minnie, wearing Chinese attire in honor of the Chinese Year of the Mouse (really the year of the rat, but "rat, schmat" to quote our Muppet friend Rizzo) greet guests, and there's a large sign which describes the new year celebrations of Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese families. My favorite part is that at the top of the sign there's a "What Year Are You?" timeline from 1919 to the present, where they represent the twelve different "year of the <whatever> animals with a different Disney character. Mickey of course represents the Year of the Mouse, there's Thumper for Rabbit, Mushu for Dragon, Abu for Monkey, Tramp for Dog, etc. I don't recognize the choices for Ox and Sheep...I think Horse is Prince Philip's horse from Sleeping Beauty, though. (I'm a Mouse/Rat, myself.)

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It was the Friday before a long weekend and the park was fairly crowded - lines for the major attractions were an hour (or more) - way too long for us. The food lines were insane - 15-20 people deep for things like Dole Whips, the Corn Dog Wagon, the ice cream, shop, and even McDonald's French Fries. So we wandered around enjoying other aspects of the park instead. Like these colorful tulips planted around the Partners Statue:

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Since lines were long we decided to enjoy some of the live entertainment...and we weren't the only ones listening to the ragtime pianist outside the Refreshment Corner!

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The Disneyland Band was performing in Town Square - in addition to marches and patriotic music, they also performed medleys of songs from Lady and the Tramp and the musical Oklahoma.

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We had an interesting surprise on our way out of the park - Cinderella, the Fairy Godmother, Aurora, and Belle were sitting around one of the planters just inside the park entrance and Cinderella was telling her story to the kids crowded around them. It was really very cute. After a few minutes Cinderella finished her story and told the audience that she and the others had to go and get ready for the parade. A nice way for them to pass the time while waiting for the parade to start!

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We had lunch at La Brea Bakery Cafe (yum!) and dinner at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen - I'll have reviews of those later.

February 21, 2008

Blog Follow-ups

I thought I'd post some follow-ups to a couple of previous blog entries.

Last week I wrote about the new House of the Future, coming to Disneyland in May. (That blog entry can be found HERE.) One thing the article didn't mention is that it was going in on the ground floor of Innoventions. We asked a Cast Member when we were there last week who confirmed that. There have been quite a few changes to the upper floor of Innoventions since we were last there - the Disney Interactive gaming area has received several different kinds of "virtual gaming kiosks", and the Virtual Resort area has been replaced (at least temporarily) by a Segway demonstration. The ASIMO demonstration and Stitch's Picture Phone areas are still there, though.

My second follow-up has to do with DCA's upcoming Food and Wine Festival (original blog entry is HERE). The Signature events for the Food and Wine Festival went on sale Friday morning. Though the web site with pricing information was supposed to be up earlier in the week, it didn't go on-line until they opened it for reservations, so no one knew how much the events were going to be until it was time to sign up for them. That made it a little bit difficult to know what the budget would stand, though fortunately DCA's events don't sell out immediately...at least not yet.

As I expected, there were price increases almost across the board - the most notable being that Taste went from $100 last year to $125 this year - though it's still $10 cheaper than Party for the Senses at Epcot. (Though it still requires separate admission to DCA, and since May 3 is a blockout day for all but Premium Passholders, a lot of people attending will have to pay an additional $40 for a blockout day ticket, or otherwise pay for park admission to DCA.) The Festival Wine Receptions also went up $10, to $55 (though this year they include a premium viewing location for Disney's Electrical Parade, which wasn't running during the Food and Wine Festival last year), and the Taste Wine Like an Expert class is up $25, to $45, though its format will be different this year. The Napa Rose Cooking School went up a whopping $75, to $400/person, and the Celebrity Chef dinner went from $145 to $185. Interestingly enough, the price of the Winemaker dinners stayed the same - $125.

As of this writing, nothing has sold out yet, and there still seems to be plenty of availability for all of the events. Check out http://www.disneyland.com/foodandwine to make reservations.

January 29, 2008

Healthier Snack Options

Last year Disneyland started offering a greater selection of healthier snack options in the parks, and there have been more fruit stands popping up around the parks. Toon Up Treats in Toontown now serves only fruit, drinks, and snacks, and there's a fairly new fruit/snack stand in Tomorrowland at the base of the Observatron. Traditional fruit stands like the Main Street Fruit Cart and the fruit cart in Critter Country have expanded their offerings.

In addition to the old standbys like fresh whole fruit ($1.75) and large dill pickles ($2.50) there's also boxes of grapes ($2.50), sliced apples with caramel sauce ($3.75), mixed fruit ($4.00) and even mango slices ($3.75). There's also pineapple spears ($2.50), organic fruit leather ($1.25) and slices of watermelon ($2.50).

Non-fruit choices include carrots with ranch dip ($2.75), veggie box with ranch dip ($4.00), trail mix ($4.00), and a bag of apple chips ($2.75). Bottles of Simply Orange and Simply Limeade ($4.50) are available, as well as Dasani water ($2.75) and PowerAde Option ($2.75).

Not all of those items are available at each location, but the Main Street Fruit Cart has an especially nice selection, as does Tropical Imports in Adventureland (where in addition to fruit they also carry a fine inventory of rubber snakes). Over in DCA the Fruit Stand at the edge of "a bug's land" has the best selection of healthy snacks, and also offers several types of Boudin sourdough bread - baguette, round loaf (both $5.50), and one in the shape of Mickey's head ($7.50).

Toon Up Treats Menu
Main Street Fruit Cart Menu

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January 26, 2008

Disneyland Resort - This and That

Disneyland has renamed "Early Entry" to "Magic Morning", and changed the days - it's now Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. It's still available to DL Resort guests every day it's offered during their stay, otherwise it is offered one day of most 3- 4- or 5-day park hoppers. There's more detailed information on the AllEars.net page HERE.

I was surprised that Disney's Electrical Parade (which will always be the Main Street Electrical Parade to me, even though it's at DCA) is still running - usually it ends after the holidays. But according to the schedule, DEP continues on weekends/holidays through March 9, then nightly through March 31 (and perhaps beyond, but that's as far out as Disneyland's calendar goes at the moment).

The new Pixar Play Parade starts at DCA on March 14.

In honor of the Snow White "Fairest of them All" 70th anniversary exhibit in the Animation Building, Snow White has a meet and greet spot outside, with the Seven Dwarfs' cottage as a backdrop. She seems to be very popular.

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Rancho del Zocalo in Frontierland has some good-looking desserts! They have coconut flan and tres leches cake, and a special chocolate praline "Year of a Million Dreams" cake (all $4.99 each). The tropical fruit plate ($4.59) also looks really good...if it's nice ripe fruit that would be delicious!

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There's a big crane on the south side of the Grand Californian where they are working on the new wing that will be part DVC and part regular hotel rooms.

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January 21, 2008

Quick Trip to Disneyland

I made a quick commando-type trip to Disneyland/DCA on Friday - my objective was to take photos of as many menus as I could since I haven't updated them for AllEars in a while. (And if anyone out there is interested in helping with that in the future, please let me know!) I'm used to sticker shock when it comes to food prices at Disneyland, but I'd just like to say that I find the breakfast menu at Storyteller's Cafe to be ridiculously overpriced. $17.59 for a Mickey waffle????

But back to my day...I took my GPS runner's watch with me, since I was interested in seeing how far I walked - I hit all three hotels, Downtown Disney, and both parks, and covered 6.95 miles in 3 hours and 24 minutes. It was all the pictures that slowed me down! :-)

It was a beautiful, beautiful day - sunny and clear and in the mid-60s. Which isn't warm by southern California standards, but I'm sure most of the rest of the country would be really happy with those kind of temperatures in mid-January! (And no, this picture is not upside-down!)

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Despite the awesome weather the parks were quite uncrowded - the only attraction that had much of a line was (what else?) Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage - 55 minutes at 11:00 in the morning.

This is the final weekend for "it's a small world holiday" before the attraction goes into a lengthy rehab - it'snot scheduled to re-open until November. So I guess there's no reason to remove the holiday decorations inside - it'll be holiday time again when it reopens. :-)

Construction on Toy Story Mania at DCA continues - they are working on the walkways in front of the attraction now so you can't walk all the way around Paradise Bay - if you're at California Screamin' and want to ride the Sun Wheel you have to walk all the way around the Bay. No official opening date for the attraction has been announced - still listed as "Coming in 2008".

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September 20, 2007

Quick weekend trip to Disneyland

I made a quick weekend trip to Disneyland and actually spent the night up there for a change - mainly because I was doing the Segway tour which started at 7:15 a.m., and would have meant getting up *really* early if I left from San Diego!

I met my friend Patty at my hotel on Saturday (Best Western Park Place Inn - more on that in a later blog), and she surprised me with a Disneyland birthday button! My birthday was the day before - I've never had a birthday button before. And it was fun - CMs at the turnstiles and in the park said "Happy Birthday, Laura!", and so did several guests, and I got singled out for some special attention by the Laughing Stock Company, and the Mariachi Divas over at DCA sang "Las Mañanitas" (the Mexican birthday song) to me and two other birthday people who were watching.

There were banners up at the parks (mostly where you saw them on your way out) advertising this year's Disney's HalloweenTime, which starts on September 21 - a week earlier this year. It was very festive last year, with great decorations! I hope to visit this weekend.

Now that summer is over the park is a lot quieter (even on Saturday it wasn't horribly busy, and it was a beautiful day - sunny and shorts weather, but a lot cooler than it had been in the last month!), and the Nemo line is down to something semi-reasonable - 45-60 minutes most of the time.


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I don't think I've mentioned this before - the "yellow submarine" monorail that they premiered at the Finding Nemo grand opening is still decorated and has been in use ever since the opening (though they removed the conning tower!) - it's really cute - we saw it zooming around a number of times.

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The construction of Toy Story Mania at DCA is beginning to take a more visible shape - as Patty pointed out to me the facade is taking on more of a Victorian look than the seaside amusement park look of the rest of the area. There's rumors that there are lots of changes coming to DCA (especially Paradise Pier) in the next few years, so maybe this is the start of it?

I saw the Remember fireworks at Disneyland that night from a spot near the castle where I could actually see the projections on the castle for a change. There's some really cool stuff - stars during the Main Street portion, flying spooks and hitchhiking ghosts during the Haunted Mansion section, skull and crossbones for Pirates, a moving duck target during the Frontierland Shooting Gallery bit (that's my favorite - it just quacks me up), crazy swirls for Toontown, "water ripples" for the Submarine Voyage, and a "light speed" pattern for Star Tours. I like that show more each time I see it.

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The next morning Patty and I did the Segway tour - but you can read all about that HERE. It was a lot of fun - I liked it even more than the Epcot Segway tour, I think.

While waiting for the tour to start I *finally* got a decent picture of the new cloud-patterned "CALIFORNIA" letters in front of the park - just in time for them to change to the Halloween candy corn, I'm sure!

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After the tour I wandered around the Disneyland Hotel taking pictures - and eventually found the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) sales office and models that are way on the far side of the Dreams (aka Bonita) Tower. I asked about the Grand Californian DVC, and they said they had no news on that...but it was finally announced earlier today. The press release is HERE.

Other news bits...

Ariel's Grotto at DCA will be starting a daily character breakfast on September 21, which runs through January 6. Breakfast will be served from 8:30 to 11:30 - $25.99 for adults and $13.99 for kids. Since the park doesn't open until 10:00, Cast Members will direct guests to the restaurant either from the main entrance or the Grand Californian entrance. Priority seating arrangements can be made up to 60 days in advance by calling Disneyland Dining: 714-781-DINE (3463).

And there's a new tour for the Halloween season - Disney's Happiest Haunts tour runs daily September 21-October 31. It starts at 6:00 at night and visits three attractions - Tower of Terror, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Haunted Mansion Holiday. From what one of the guides told us, each tour guide gets to assume the persona of a character of their choice - like a pirate, or a miner or a psychotic actress. The tour includes creepy stories, and it's not for young children or those who might be easily frightened. Lee and I are signed up for the tour on September 28, so we'll know more after that. In the meantime, what we know about the tour is HERE.

It was a short trip but a lot of fun!

September 1, 2007

The Main Street Electrical Parade!

Well, ok...make that Disney's Electrical Parade, now that it's at Disney's California Adventure and not Disneyland.

But it's still a "spectacular festival pageant of nighttime magic and imagination in thousands of sparkling lights and electrosynthomagnetic musical sounds!"

These days it runs at DCA during peak seasons, which generally means the two weeks around Easter, mid-June through Labor Day, and about three weeks during the Christmas holiday season.

We saw it on a recent Friday night visit - there were a fair number of people waiting in the area around Sunshine Plaza, but about 10 minutes before it started we walked up the parade route to a spot near the Golden Dreams Theater and had a front-row seat right on the edge of the parade route. We also saw the parade a lot earlier than all those people who were at Sunshine Plaza, since it starts at Paradise Pier and ends in Sunshine Plaza.

The Main Street Electrical Parade

Soon enough the lights dimmed and we heard the first strains of that very bouncy Baroque Hoedown. Makes me smile just thinking about it. The Electrical Parade is by far my favorite - SO much better than SpectroMagic! (And I know there's at least two people out there who agree with me!) Lee leaned over partway through the parade and asked me what happened to the scary clowns, but nope, there's nothing creepy about the Electrical Parade - it's all whimsical and fun.

The Main Street Electrical Parade

One thing we'd never noticed before is the music coming from the spin-around turtle, bees, and snail. They actually have their own "electrosynthomagnetic musical sounds", sort of a slower, deeper, more plodding-paced one for the snail, and a higher-pitched, faster snippet for the bee. I thought I recognized a bit of the melody for "Golden Afternoon" from Alice in Wonderland in there. For some reason I'd never really noticed the Cheshire Cat on the front of Alice's float - he fades in and out, so maybe he's just usually faded out when I see him!

The Main Street Electrical Parade

When I told someone at work that we'd seen the Electrical Parade he asked me if they'd switched it to using LED lights yet. Gasp! I was horrified! It wouldn't be the Electrical Parade if they didn't use light bulbs, would it???

Laura

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.

dca_cloud_a.jpg

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.

rata1.jpg

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!

pirate_wait.jpg   fightall.jpg


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.

hook_ceiling.jpg

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.

dlh_fountain.jpg


Until next time...

Laura

August 12, 2007

Attraction Comparison: Splash Mountain

Continuing my series of attraction comparisons...I decided to stick with the mountains, and compare the Splash Mountain attractions at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom (MK) and Disneyland (DL).

Both are located in about the same area of the park - though at MK this area is in Frontierland, and at DL it's in Critter Country. Since it's inspired by characters from Song of the South, placing it in Frontierland seems a bit odd - I think DL's Critter Country is a better fit....though since MK doesn't have that, I guess Frontierland works better than Adventureland or Liberty Square!

DL's Splash Mountain opened first, in July 1989, while MK's attraction opened in October 1992. The distinctive outline of Chickapin Hill is quite visible in both parks. One other thing both attractions have in common is a VERY long queue that winds around and around and back and forth and inside and around some more. Before Fastpass (which both attractions have) I've stood in those lines and wound around and around...

(Below: MK's Splash Mountain, DL's Splash Mountain)

Splash Mountain Walt Disney World Splash Mountain Disneyland

Upon reaching the loading area you'll notice differences in the "log" vehicles. In DL's there are six "seats" (riders actually straddle a bench) per log - the last seat is larger and can accommodate a parent and child). At MK there are four rows of two seats so people can sit side-by-side - it's a lot more comfortable. Though the MK logs always seem to have a musty/mildewy smell - yuck.

(Below: MK's logs, DL's logs)

Splash Mountain Walt Disney World

Splash Mountain Disneyland


The layouts of the ride are similar - each culminating in the drop down Chickapin Hill at the end - but the scenes inside the ride are pretty different. I really prefer MK's Splash Mountain - it actually has a much more coherent storyline about Brer Rabbit leaving home in search of adventure, and outwitting Brer Fox and Brer Bear before deciding that home isn't so bad after all. I've never quite figured out what the storyline is at DL - or if there even *is* one...mostly it just seems to move from scene to scene, each featuring many audio-animatronic characters recycled from the America Sings attraction (which I loved - pop goes the weasel!).

Anyway...I think the MK version is a lot bigger and brighter, and I love the jumping fountains in the cavern. You see a lot more of Brer Rabbit, too - I think he makes two or three more appearances at the MK than he does at DL. Though one thing I prefer about DL's version - as you begin the final ascent to the "Laughing Place", the tone changes, and the mood becomes ominous as Mama Mole sings: "What can poor Brer Rabbit do, to keep from becoming rabbit stew", and then Mama Rabbit joins in with: "Stay away from the Laughin' Place, you must beware, the fox is there". And then there's the two vultures perched overhead who also have less than encouraging things to say. It sure enhances the whole "I have a bad feeling about this" atmosphere.

While both attractions have the potential to get you pretty wet, in general I find I stay drier at DL - especially if I ask to sit in the back of the log (which I always do). And I make sure never to sit on the right side of the log at MK, because that's the wetter side. :-)

Everybody has a Laughin' Place - what's yours?

Laura

August 5, 2007

Disney's California Adventure Attractions

Don't ask me why this occurred to me in the shower the other day, but I started wondering about which Walt Disney World park Disney's California Adventure most resembles, at least in terms of the attractions.

With Animal Kingdom, it shares "It's Tough to Be a Bug".
Walt Disney World Attraction
Disney's California Adventure Attraction

With Epcot, it shares Soarin' Over California and Turtle Talk with Crush.
Soarin at Walt Disney World
Soarin at Disney's California Adventure


With Magic Kingdom it shares...hmmm...nothing at all! (Though they both have a carousel...)

With Disney-MGM Studios, it shares MuppetVision 3D, Playhouse Disney, and Tower of Terror. Also the High School Musical Pep Rally. The Animation Buildings at both parks offer similar activities, too, such as the Animation Academy and the interactive Ursula's Grotto/The Sound Stage and Beast's Library/You're a Character stations.
Tower of Terror at Walt Disney World
Tower of Terror at Disney's California Adventure

Well...I guess that answers that question. :-)

Laura

July 8, 2007

Attraction Comparison: Space Mountain vs. Space Mountain

As a blog topic, Deb Wills suggested that readers might be interested in a comparison of attractions at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. It sounded like an intriguing idea to me...see what you think!

I thought I'd start with one of my favorites: Space Mountain. Which is at Disneyland in California, and at Magic Kingdom in Florida. Both are Fastpass attractions, and from the outside they look pretty similar - both housed in a circular futuristic-looking white building. (Below is Space Mountain at Disneyland, below that is Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom.

Space Mountain Disneyland

Space Mountain Walt Disney World.jpg

But once inside, I find they are markedly different. Magic Kingdom's (MK's) version has two loading areas, and two tracks, whereas there's only one loading area and track at Disneyland (DL). The ride vehicles at DL feature three rows of two side-by-side seats, while those at MK feature a car that looks more like a rocket, with three single passenger seats. (Each ride has two cars per "train".) DL's vehicles have a lap bar (every rider has their own bar), whereas MK's vehicles have a T-shaped bar that goes between the legs and across the lap. Personally I find MK's vehicles to be very uncomfortable - you sit so far down in them that with your legs stretched out in front of you that it's very awkward to get up out of them! Though they look a lot swoopier than DL's cars. (Below: DL rocket left, MK rocket right.)

Space Mountain Walt Disney World.jpgDisneyland Rocket

Space Mountain Walt Disney World.jpgDisney World rocket.jpg

Once the ride begins, I think you might as well consider them to be two completely different experiences - about all they have in common is that both are a roller coaster ride in the dark (or in the case of MK, in the semi-dark).

As you leave the loading area at DL you start hearing futuristic space music in your ears...while at MK all you hear are the screams of fellow riders. The music really adds a lot to the experience at DL - the crescendoes of the music seem to be synchronized with the drops and twists of the ride. The DL ride is also DARK - quite unlike the MK ride, where it's light enough to see the track in front of you, and you can see what's coming. That's my biggest complaint about the MK version of the ride.

Space Mountain at DL re-opened in 2005 after an almost two-year rehab - and the improvements really show. Though it was smoother than MK's attraction even before the rehab, now it's even better, and I think it's a little faster, too. I find MK's Space Mountain to be rough and jerky - more like the Matterhorn at DL. I feel pretty beat up after getting off of Space Mountain at MK, but I feel exhilarated after a ride on Space Mountain at DL.

Near the end of DL's ride the cameras capture your photo, and you have the opportunity to see (and purchase) it after the ride. I do have to say that the exit to the attraction is a lot more interesting at MK - at DL you simply climb a set of stairs and go through some space station-y looking hallways, while at MK the escalator passes by various scenes - that whole "lab retriever" thing always cracks me up.

I think it's probably very obvious that I much prefer DL's Space Mountain to MK's...The music makes a huge difference, but even without the music I find it to be a smoother, faster, darker, and better-themed attraction.

To Infinity...and Beyond! (Oops, sorry, wrong attraction...)

Laura

July 4, 2007

Disneyland Tips

I've been asked about "Tips" for visiting Disneyland...so here's a few
things that I hope will be helpful.

Main Street 1. Be at the park when it opens. You can do a LOT of rides in the first couple of hours after the park opens when most of us lazy southern California people (who have to drive in from somewhere else) are still arriving. If you're not staying within walking distance make sure you allow enough travel time to be at the front gate when the park opens - if you're driving and parking at the Mickey and Friends parking structure, make sure you allow time for the tram ride, too. The parking structure usually opens an hour before the park does - though it opens at 7:30 on mornings when the park opens at 8:00.

2. Use Fastpasses, especially for popular rides like Indiana Jones, Space Mountain, and Soarin' Over California. Here's a tip...the Fastpass machines for Roger Rabbit's CarToon Spin at Disneyland and Grizzly River Rapids at DCA are not linked in with the rest of the Fastpass network, so you can get a Fastpass for either of those, and then right after that get a Fastpass for some other ride.

Toontown City Hall 3. If you want to eat at the Blue Bayou, Ariel's Grotto, the Plaza Inn Breakfast with Minnie, or Goofy's Kitchen, make Priority Seating arrangements in advance by calling Disneyland Dining at 714-781-DINE (3463). And if there's *any* table service that you really, really want to try, make a PS in advance so you won't be disappointed. Sometimes you can walk up to table service restaurants and be seated without much of a wait, and sometimes you can't.

4. Toontown opens an hour after the rest of Disneyland does - and right after it opens is a great time to be there and interact with the characters before it starts to get crowded.


Pooh and Tigger 5. Saturdays and Sundays are going to be busy days at any time of year - unless it's raining. If you must be there on a weekend, be prepared for crowds and long waits. Attractions that are usually uncrowded even on busy days are: Disneyland, The First 50 Magical Years in the Opera House on Main Street, Innoventions in Tomorrowland, The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh in Critter Country, the Enchanted Tiki Room in Adventureland, and Honey, I Shrunk the Audience in Tomorrowland. The first two shows of Aladdin and Jasmine's StoryTale Adventures are usually walk-ins, though later shows fill up.

6. If you have a ticket that allows you to parkhop, then do that. Disney's California Adventure (DCA) doesn't open until an hour or two after Disneyland does, so start your day at Disneyland, and when people start pouring into the park around 10-11:00, head over to DCA and get a Fastpass for Soarin', see Aladdin, ride Monsters, Inc., etc, and enjoy DCA while it's least crowded. If you want to head back to Disneyland later in the afternoon for the parade you can easily do that.

Animation Building 7. By all means spend time in the Animation Building at DCA. There's two different shows (Turtle Talk and Animation Academy) in there, plus interactive activities in the Sorcerer's Workshop. We like just sitting in the main gallery and watching all of the animation on the video screens - there are clips from almost all of the Disney animated movies. It's a nice place to relax and take a break, especially on a hot day.

8. See the Aladdin show at DCA. It's a wonderful live show with great musical numbers, comedy, elaborate staging and special effects. My favorite place to sit for overall viewing is the front row of the Mezzanine level, but I think if you're in the first couple of rows of the Orchestra section you feel like you're part of the show yourself!

Until next time,

Laura

June 27, 2007

Disneyland: What's New, What's Next?

In a recent blog entry on the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage press event I mentioned that I attended a "What's New, What's Next" presentation, and that I might talk about that in a future blog entry. So here it is.

The session was held in the "Honey I Shrunk the Audience" theater, and made good use of the huge projection screen. But I'm happy to say there were no mice running through the theater during the presentation...pirates and sea turtles, yes, but no mice. :-)

Disneyland President Ed Grier spoke about Disney's "high-touch, high-tech" philosophy in seeking to provide personal and memorable experiences to Disney guests, creating technology that is innovative, interactive and immersive. An example of this is the new Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End Nintendo game, which has special components that work within the Disney parks to take guests on a treasure hunt. Not being a video games person I won't pretend to understand it, but apparently your character in the game gets rewarded by additional "savvy" and costumes and other things that might be useful within the game.

And speaking of interactive experiences...there were some special "guests" during his presentation when the gang from Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island, including the Bootstrappers and Jack Sparrow, showed up. General mayhem (including sword fights and stunts) ensued for several minutes until "Commodore" Grier ended up with the treasure map.

Ed Grier also spoke about Disney's Year of a Million Dreams celebration (691,494 dreams granted up to that point...no, make that 691,495...) and the return of the Disney Cruise Line to California in 2008 - but none of that is news to AllEars.net readers (who have plenty of savvy already - who needs video games?)

Muppets Mobile LabNext on stage were Disney's recently hired foremost experts in robotics - Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and his assistant Beaker, who were "test driving" Muppets Mobile Lab. This is an amazing device - I don't even know how to describe it. Ummm...it's an interactive, free-wheeling audio-animatronic? It looks like a spaceship piloted by Honeydew mounted on a Segway - with Beaker pedaling. Like Crush, Honeydew is able to respond in real-time to questions, but unlike Crush, Honeydew isn't a CGI creation on a video screen! He's real, and sitting right there in front of you, and can obviously see and hear and react to what's going on. The "Mobile Lab" have some interesting special effects - like lots of blinking lights, a confetti shooter, smoke, and Beaker's "air bag" - his nose inflates into a huge orange balloon! I loved this and would have been happy to see a whole lot more (and hear about the technology behind it), but they didn't stay out very long.

Tom Fitzgerald of Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) spoke about the new Toy Story Mania attraction, due to open next year at both Disney's California Adventure and Disney-MGM Studios. He called it the "next generation interactive ride game." Based on what he said and the concept art we saw, I'd describe it as a 3-D version of Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters - but with more variety. Mr. Potato Head appears as a carnival barker, and like Roz in the Monsters, Inc. at DCA, is able to joke with guests and make specific comments directed at them. (Roz makes pithy observations about what people are wearing or who they are with.)

Once in the ride vehicles you shrink to the size of a toy and enter a series of carnival games where you rack up points by shooting your "gun" at the virtual targets. Various Toy Story characters are running the games - like Hamm at the Hamm n'Eggs game, Bo Peep at a balloon-popping game, Woody and Jessie at a target-shooting game. The look of your ammunition changes depending on what game it is (like eggs, darts or rings.) Unlike Buzz Lightyear, you will supposedly be able to tell what you're shooting at, since you'll see your shots (which will be in a different color than your neighbor's) on the screens in front of you. There are bonus targets available, and hitting those will change the game, such as making other targets appear. Oh, and everyone wears 3-D glasses to add an additional dimension (groan) to the game. It'll be interesting to see how well that works - I have an awful time seeing the 3D effects in movies - so having an attraction where the 3-D effect is a crucial element? I wonder about that.

There was also an appearance by Crush the Sea Turtle (our own Turtle Talk with Crush experience) who answered a few questions from audience members.

Then Tom Fitzgerald spoke of some of the challenges the Imagineers faced in developing the new Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, and how they resolved them. WDI developed new digital projection techniques to insert Nemo and friends into their underwater environment. 4D sound systems were installed into the subs with speakers positioned above each guest to custom synchronize the sound with what each guest is seeing outside, since on a 52' sub, the person in the front is seeing something different than the person at the back! The subs themselves were converted from diesel to electric. To keep the vibrant colors of the coral reef environment in the lagoon the imagineers developed a new type of paint that is made from recycled glass and won't fade in the chlorinated water and California sun.

That was about it - to be honest I was rather disappointed that there wasn't anything that was really "news" to me, though the additional details on Toy Story Mania and Nemo were interesting, and my favorite part (in case you couldn't tell) was Muppet Mobile Lab.

Until next time.

Laura

June 13, 2007

The Subs are Back!

Whew...the Finding Nemo event was a whirlwind - it's hard to believe I was only away from home for a total of 30 hours - it sure seemed a lot longer than that!

Opening Day yesterday (Monday) was quite an experience and I was excited to be part of it. Even first thing in the morning (Early Entry was at 7:00) the park was buzzing - the new park maps featured "The Subs Are Back!" tagline and artwork on the cover. Cast Members were wearing special "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage" buttons. Thanks to that Disney magic, all signs of the big party in Tomorrowland the previous evening had disappeared, but there was a big stage and risers set up between the Matterhorn and the submarine lagoon that had appeared overnight, and lots of booths from which radio stations were doing live broadcasts.

The first "event" on our schedule was the "What's New, What's Next" presentation in the Honey I Shrunk the Audience Theater. I'm not going to go into great detail here (maybe a later blog entry), but speakers included Disneyland President Ed Grier, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker with a demonstration of Muppet Mobile Labs (amazing!), Tom Fitzgerald, Executive Vice President of Walt Disney Imagineering, and Crush the sea turtle. With a brief interruption by a band of pirates...

After that it was time (well time to go and wait, at least) for the Grand Opening Ceremony, though it only started about 10 minutes late. Once again Ed Grier spoke, as well as Disney CEO Bob Iger and Jay Rasulo, President of Disney Theme Parks and Resorts. They acknowledged the Imagineering team sitting in the audience who oversaw the re-creation of the Submarine Voyage. Monday was "Dream Job Day" for the people who were selected for the "Dream Job" positions, and those cast-members-for-a-day walked by the stage in costume ready to go to work - Princesses-in-Waiting, Jungle Cruise Skippers, Haunted Mansion Butlers and Maids, High School Musical Pep Rally performers and of course, Pirates.

A little musical number was next, featuring flipper-footed snorkeling "dancers". Everything was going along just, well, *swimmingly* until a big whale popped up from the lagoon behind the stage. Oh no, how can the submarines possibly be launched with a *whale* in the lagoon??? Does anyone speak whale??? Luckily Dory was nearby - who was another of those wonderful "human" puppets. This whale must have been a bit hard of hearing, though (maybe because he *didn't* have water in his ears?), because it took the combined efforts of Dory AND the audience to get the whale to "pleeeeeeeeease goooooooooo aaaaa-waa-aaay."

Monorail and sub lagoon As the musical number concluded the monorail glided silently into view over the lagoon - completely decked out like one of the yellow Finding Nemo subs, up to and including the conning tower! It was so cool! There was a burst of fireworks and it was official: Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage was *open*. (Though it didn't open to the public for another 90 minutes or so.)

I was curious about what the line might already be like so I went in search of the queue. Which wasn't hard to find, since it already stretched from the Matterhorn (where the outermost barricades had been placed) ALLLL the way back to it's a small world (with multiple switchbacks, of course), but it took me a while to get to the front of the line. There I spoke to Mike from Las Vegas (an AllEars.net reader!) who with his wife and a friend were the very first people in line - they had arrived at the park entrance at 5:30 that morning and got into line as soon as the park opened.

I spoke to Mike again just after he'd gotten off the ride - big smiles all around, and he told me it was "awesome". I asked him if it was worth the wait, and he said: "totally." And he wasn't just talking Turtle to me! :-)

At that point it was about 12:40 and all of the barricades had come down...the Nemo queue stretched alllll the way around the submarine lagoon, past the Matterhorn, down into Fantasia Gardens and up onto the small world terraces. And there were switchbacks along most of that which almost doubled the length. The estimate is that it was a four-hour wait at that point.

Disney has done a few things to make the wait a little more endurable - snack and beverage carts have been placed in strategic places all along the queue, and they've done a great job of shading the queue as much as possible. The queue is positioned under the monorail track wherever possible, and the Fantasia Gardens and small world terrace areas have some shade. There were many Cast Members stationed along the queue, especially where the line crossed walkways, and they were doing a great job at keeping those clear. Cast Members were also walking the line and handing out a "Submarine Voyage Quest" to parties with young children (and some not-so-young! :-) ). This colorful brochure includes games like finding hidden objects in the Tank Gang's fish tank, multiple choice questions about the subs and the Finding Nemo movie (What kind of fish is Marlin?), Fun Facts, and a maze game. Cast Members told me that the brochures were in rather short supply and only expected to last for several days before they are gone.

One other interesting thing Disney will be doing: extending park hours for the Submarine Voyage attraction up to an additional 2-1/2 hours after regular park closing - the idea is that anyone who gets in line for the Submarine Voyage before the park closes (even if it's one minute before!) will still get to ride. Though if the line is already over 2-1/2 hours I'm not sure how that works!

There are more pictures of the Nemo attraction and Opening Ceremony posted on this week's Wandering the Land page.

A new Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage attraction page is HERE.

Dream pirates and Bootstrappers Before I left the park I went over to Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island to see if I could find any of the Pirates-for-a-day at work. And I did. :-) They were appearing with The Bootstrappers - a musical band of pirates. (Or is "musical band" redundant?) There were two women and three men who were lounging around Lafitte's Tavern with the Bootstrappers and joining in the songs themselves at times. One of the guys was doing a pretty good Jack Sparrow, at least as far as mannerisms went. (My favorite part of the Bootstrappers' act is when they talk about the "cursed dinghy ride" and warn everyone to stay away...especially the kids. Because it's filled with thousands of cursed little children that have been nailed to the floor and forced to sing that song "over and over and over..." Then they sing the song in a minor key as they slowly rotate or imitate the stiff movements of characters in the ride. Ok, *I* find it amusing...)

One thing I've noticed about Pirate's Lair, though - there's always a longer line to get OFF the island than to get ON...I'm not quite sure how that works!

Until next time,

Laura

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