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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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December 10, 2013

Disneyland Candlelight Processional 2013

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Disneyland's tradition of the Candlelight Processional, featuring a massed choir performing Christmas music, began in 1958. Unlike Epcot, it is only performed on two nights, typically the first weekend of December, making it more of a challenge to see. (Last year it was performed on 20 nights, but they did not repeat that this year.) Some people arrive at park opening to stake out their spots for the processional at 5:30 in the evening!

The risers for the choir are set up at the Main Street train station with a stage for the orchestra and narrator.

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Chairs are placed in Town Square and on Main Street.
Disneyland Candlelight Processional 2013

Lee and I had the opportunity to see the processional on Sunday as guests of Disneyland Public Relations. Most of the photos below are Jason's. He saw it on Saturday night and his photos are better than mine. :-)

It had been a long time since I'd seen the Candlelight Processional at Disneyland - like many of you I am much more familiar with the one at Epcot. The Disneyland version is quite different: there are some aspects I like about it and some where I prefer Epcot's version. But either way, it's still a beautiful and moving experience.

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The massed choir is composed of Disneyland cast members and a number of other vocal groups such as high school and church choirs, mostly from southern California. We did not receive a program, so I don't have any of the names, unfortunately.

The choir proceeds down Main Street, singing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing", "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem", "The First Noel", and "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" as they enter and fill in the risers.

Disneyland Candlelight Processional 2013

Unlike Epcot, there are no Voices of Liberty at Disneyland. A couple of the songs featured male and female soloists, but otherwise we heard the choir singing - and I really liked that. At Epcot I think the Voices of Liberty overshadow the beautiful sound of the massed choir.

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There were also performances by a hand bell choir and a guitar soloist. The guitar solo during "Silent Night" was quite poignant.

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Several of the songs are different than those performed at Epcot: "The Candlelight Carol", "Sing Noel", and "The First Noel". Even those that are the same generally have very different arrangements, like "Joy to the World", and "We Three Kings". I missed one of my favorite Epcot songs: "Rejoice with Exceeding Great Joy" and I also preferred the Epcot version of "Joy to the World". But I really liked "The Candlelight Carol".

The celebrity narrators were Blair Underwood on Saturday and Kurt Russell on Sunday. The passages they read from the Bible were somewhat different than I've heard at Epcot. I must say that I think the song selection at Epcot complements the scripture passages better than at Disneyland. For example, even though "The First Noel" describes events after the birth of Jesus, the song followed the reading of the angel Gabriel's annunciation to Mary. Unfortunately most of them were like that and it seemed a little disjointed to me.

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One of Lee's favorite parts of the Candlelight Processional is the herald trumpets - and they were featured often. Their placement on top of the train station was very effective.

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It was a wonderful show - it brings home "the reason for the season" in a way that you don't see very much these days. It's unfortunate that it's so difficult to see at Disneyland, though maybe that makes the experience all the more meaningful.

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Disclaimer: Laura Gilbreath was an invited media guest. Her opinions are her own.



November 3, 2013

A Window for Disney Legend Tony Baxter

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"I'm not subtle."
--Tony Baxter

On November 1st, Disneyland bestowed its highest honor on Disney Legend/Imagineer Tony Baxter--a window on Main St., USA.

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Baxter has enjoyed a long and illustrious career with Walt Disney Imagineering since the age of 17, and maintains active in mentoring the current crop of Imagineers despite stepping down his involvement with the Disney company earlier this year (Thanks for the Memories, Tony Baxter!)

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The dedication took place on Main St., in front of the Magic Shop, prior to park opening. Disneyland Resort President Michael Colglazier, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Tom Staggs, and Chief Creative Executive of Walt Disney Imagineering Bruce Vaughn took turns celebrating the many contributions Baxter has made to the company in general and Disneyland in specific.

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Finally the window was unveiled with the help of Mickey Mouse and a gust of confetti.

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After the unveiling, Baxter said a few words about his gratitude towards all the people who mentored him in the past, the satisfaction he's taken in mentoring others in turn, and his appreciation of the honor the window represents.

As is customary, Baxter was also given a replica of the window to keep.

Tony Baxter Window on Main Street Ceremony Disneyland

The large audience of well-wishers included not only regular park guests, but a cavalcade of fellow Imagineers and Disney Legends. Some of the notables in the photos below include: Tony Anselmo, Jeff Kurtii, Marty Sklar, Jack Lindquist, Leonard Maltin, Howard Green, Stacia Martin, Bob Gurr, Eddie Sotto, and Stacia Martin.

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Tony Baxter Window on Main Street Ceremony Disneyland

Tony Baxter Window on Main Street Ceremony Disneyland

Tony Baxter Window on Main Street Ceremony Disneyland

Tony Baxter Window on Main Street Ceremony Disneyland

Tony Baxter Window on Main Street Ceremony Disneyland

Afterwords, Baxter took some time for questions, and had this to say about the sort of projects he's currently developing:

While the ceremony was certainly respectful and the honors it came with well-deserved, the one striking thing about it was its somewhat matter-of-fact nature. The tributes were gracious, but compared to the rowdy pirates present at Alice Davis' window dedication or the Carousel of Progress couple at the Sherman Brother's, seemed similar to what you might hear at a corporate gathering, rather than the Main Street of the Happiest Place on Earth. I'm not sure whether this might have been Baxter's expressed preference, but one was left thinking it might have been a little lacking in showmanship--something certainly never said about the rest of Tony Baxter's career.

Tony Baxter Window on Main Street Ceremony Disneyland

Congratulations Tony Baxter!

May 11, 2012

A Window for Disney Legend Alice Davis

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On May 10, the Disneyland Resort honored Disney Legend Alice Davis with her own window on Main Street, USA--one of the most important acknowledgements the company gives to individuals who have made significant contributions to the park.

Davis worked in costuming and was originally brought into Disney to create a Briar Rose costume for the live-action reference model Helene Stanley, during the making of Sleeping Beauty. She later went on to research and design costumes for many of Disneyland's seminal attractions such as It's A Small World, and Pirates of the Caribbean, about which she occasionally quips "I went from dressing sweet children to dirty old men."

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Davis' window was placed next to that of the late Marc Davis, one of the original "nine old men" of Disney animation, and Alice's husband of 44 years.

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The ceremony started off with the Dapper Dans performing several numbers as the audience arrived.

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Beneath the concealed window were several displays of Davis' work.

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What is evident at a close-up view, is how detailed all the costumes are, and all the work that went into making them look perfect from every angle.

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Davis has related that she asked Walt what her budget was for all the Small World costumes--he responded that they didn't think about things like that--that she was just to dress the dolls so that every girl from 10 to 100 years old would want to play with them. Coming from a background where toys were sparse when she was young, she counted this as one of her favorite professional projects.

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As the program started, both Disneyland Resort president George Kalogridis and Disney Parks and Resorts chairman Tom Staggs said a few words honoring Davis and sharing some of her remarkable accomplishments.

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Staggs' talk was quickly derailed however, when a marauding band of pirates broke onto the scene looking for Davis. After having spent half a century in the same clothes, they were looking to see if she could whip them up something "a little more fashionable."

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Not getting a favorable response, they settled on serenading her with "Alice Davis, She Put the Pants on Me," sung to the tune of "Yo ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate's Life for Me."

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Staggs eventually wrested control back from the pirates, who took a last shot at him by remarking on his suit, to which he responded, "Alice didn't dress me!" "We can tell," they retorted.

Mickey Mouse then came out and they finally uncovered her window with a blast of streamers.

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...And Alice and Marc were once again reunited on Main Street.

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Finally, Davis herself took the podium and said a few words of thanks. She said she would always walk down Main Street, look up at Marc's window, see the blank one next to it, and hope that someday it would be hers. "I was wishing for it, and wishing for it, and today, the Day has Come."

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She further noted that she was most proud of all the many friends that she had made and which were present in the audience as they represented real wealth to her. "For years, both Marc and I have had the great pleasure of bringing great fun and joy to people, and that was the Jewelry of our Heart and it will always be."

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Kalogridis then presented her with a minature version of the window for her own, and the Dapper Dans returned to sing "When You Wish Upon A Star" to close out the ceremony.

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It was a lovely ceremony, and a well-deserved and long-awaited honor to a fabulously accomplished Imagineer. Congratulations Alice!

April 3, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean - On Stranger Tides Sneak Peek

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From now until May 30, Disneyland is offering a special "sneak peek" experience for the new Pirates of the Caribbean - On Stranger Tides movie on selected nights. Lee and I had the opportunity to see what this was all about last Saturday.

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The "experience" takes place at night at the Festival Arena behind Big Thunder Ranch - this was also were many of the Family Fun Weekends were held earlier this year.

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Things get started at about 7:00 p.m. along Big Thunder Trail, where they have placed several merchandise and beverage carts. Two of the carts offer a variety of pirate-themed merchandise, such as hats, t-shirts, "hooks", and swords. Various light-up glowy things are also available.

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The beverage cart serves hot chocolate and Pirate Grog - we tried the latter. It's a cold punch with a light-up ice cube. Lots of tropical flavors light passion fruit, mango and pineapple. It was pretty tasty, but rather expensive at $6.25 for what was probably about 12 ounces of beverage.

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The lines to get in were pretty long on the night we were there. To entertain us while waiting there was a strolling, singing, guitar-playing pirate who walked back and forth along the line. Once we got closer to the entrance, there was a small stage set up, where Poisonous Pat and the peg-legged parrot Captain Squawk were holding court. Not sure how it was done, but Captain Squawk was able to interact with the guests and see and hear them. As each group went by they would give pirate names to some of the guests, administer the pirate oath, and then answer some questions.

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After we went by Captain Squawk we were lined up in a holding area in Big Thunder Ranch, and then were admitted into the Festival Arena.

In some ways it's unfortunate that this event is held at night. The Festival Arena area was decorated to look like the deck of the Queen Anne's Revenge, but because it was dark, we really couldn't see it very well. There's a large screen in the front, and there were pirates in the rigging on both sides as we entered, with other pirates up on some of the other "masts", who were interacting with the guests.

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Once inside, there were lots of cast members directing us on where to go - once there, we had to sit down on the ground. There are some benches way in the back for those who can't sit on the ground and there are designated areas for those in wheelchairs or ECVs.

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So after we were settled, we learned more about this "secret meeting" of Captain Jack's crew that we'd been invited to. But first, as new crew members we had to take the Pirate Oath:

"I, (state your name)" (to which we all dutifully replied "I, state your name" :-) )

"Can always be trusted not to be trusted.
To run from any fight I cannot win.
To win any fight I cannot run from.
To plunder treasure with a hearty laugh.
And to drink free rum with a hearty heart."

(I think only Captain Squawk's version had that last line.)

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A young audience member was appointed First Mate and got to come up on stage and read some words of warning on a scroll, which were accompanied by some flaming torch effects.

After some additional silliness, and a chorus of "Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me", we were told to stow "all Canons[sic] or other devices that will steal our souls", and to put on our 3-D glasses, and then the preview began.

Rather than a series of clips from the movie, this was one extended scene, about 8-9 minutes long. I found it a little odd to be plunked down in the middle of the movie, without really knowing what was going on, but it wasn't that hard to figure out. There was a lot of action, and a lot of 3D effects - they looked pretty good, but I personally find them a little cheesy and distracting.

When the lights came on, we found our live pirates "hanging around", matching something we'd seen at the end of the movie clip. That was pretty cool, and unexpected.

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On the way out we had time to look a little bit more closely at some of the set pieces.

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The warnings Captain Squawk had issued about avoiding a ship with red sails made a lot more sense once there was a little more light!

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I had thought Jack Sparrow would be part of the "secret meeting". But instead, he was standing near the exit as we were about to get back onto Big Thunder Trail again. Since he was behind a fence and not posing for photos with individuals, it was actually a good way for most everyone to get a pretty good look at him.

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I'm not sure how many people are allowed into the Festival area at a time - a couple hundred maybe? They can do two shows an hour, by the time they load everyone in, do the show, and then empty the area again. We were in line before 7:00, and saw the second show, which started about 7:45.

We were seated in the center, about 2/3 of the way back, but still had a really good view of the screen and what was going on. Getting up afterwards after sitting on the concrete for about 20 minutes was a little bit of a challenge, though. :-)

It was a fun experience, though because they were trying to get people in and out of there I felt rushed and not able to take a closer look at what they had done back in the Festival Arena. Maybe that adds more mystery to it? I think we'll try to see it again if the line isn't too long.



March 24, 2011

Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate's Life for Me...

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In preparation for the upcoming premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean - On Stranger Tides, Disneyland is offering a new pirate experience in the Festival Arena at Disneyland. The area has been transformed to resemble Blackbeard's ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge. On Friday-Sunday nights from March 25 - May 29, plus Monday, May 30, and every night from April 15 - May 1, there will be a special 3-D sneak peek preview of the new movie, which opens in theaters May 20. Following a pirate training session, Jack Sparrow will introduce the extended preview. According to the Disneyland web site, the sneak peek is: "an interactive stage event featuring state-of-the-art projections, 3D film sequences and special effects that include bursts of flame, dramatic sound effects and theatrical lighting."

A selection of pirate merchandise, for both scurvy scoundrels and winsome wenches, will be available at merchandise carts in the arena area. A food cart will offer mugs of grog, a spiced concoction including orange, guava, pineapple and passion fruit juices. And it will also include a glowing cube.

We'll have more information and photos after we have a chance to experience it for ourselves.

Arrrr....



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.




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About Special Events

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

Paint the Night is the previous category.

Tomorrowland is the next category.

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