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November 15, 2017

Disney California Adventure Festival of Holidays

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Festival of Holidays 2017

The Festival of Holidays has returned to Disney California Adventure for its second year. Like last year, the Festival celebrates holiday traditions from around the world: Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Navidad, and Diwali. There's entertainment, character greetings, crafts, and of course FOOD!

This year there are twelve different Festive Food Marketplaces as well as special menus at the Paradise Garden Grill and the Sonoma Terrace. The Marketplaces are located along the parade route from Carthay Circle to the Golden Zephyr in Paradise Pier.

Festive Food Marketplace Menus

There are a few returning marketplaces (Making Spirits Bright, Brews & Bites, Winter Sliderland) and some returning food and beverage items, but most of the 60+ selections are new. Food prices range from $3.75-$5.00 for dessert items to $5.00-$7.75 for savory items. I was pleasantly surprised that some of the prices were lower this year, as much as a dollar, though most were $0.25-$.50 decreases. Wine and beer flights also had a modest price decrease. While prices for individual glasses of wine were generally unchanged or slightly up, the price for individual servings of beers was down $0.75 (though I think $9.00 is still high for a less-than-full-size serving of beer).

Annual Passholders can purchase a Sip and Savor Pass for $45. The pass has 8 tabs that can be redeemed for food and most non-alcoholic beverages at the Marketplaces. If used for items priced at $6.00 and higher it can provide a significant savings. Passholders must present their AP to purchase the passport, and most cast members at the order kiosks require you to show your AP when using one of the tabs.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Sip and Savor Pass

When using a tab at the Marketplaces, AP holders receive a small AP button. There are 11 different colors available (no button for Making Spirits Bright, since there are no eligible items there).

Festival of Holidays 2017 small AP marketplace buttons

All guests can pick up a Festival of Holidays Tasting Passport. They should be available at the ordering station of any of the Marketplaces. The passport lists the menus of each Marketplace along with some photos, and there's also a spot for a different sticker that is available at each Marketplace. No purchase necessary for the sticker, and it's helpful if you open it to the correct page before giving it to the cast member at the ordering station. After getting all of the stickers a Stamp of Completion is available at several locations.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Tasting Passport

I tried several food and beverage items on my visit earlier this week. When I first read the list of menu items, the one that most intrigued me was the Frosty Frosé - frozen rosé, blue Curacao & white cranberry juice from the A Twist on Tradition kiosk. $At $13.00 it's expensive, but it was very refreshing.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Frosty Frose

From the same place I also tried the Butternut Squash & Almond Pakora Fritters. $6.00 for these, and the best bite that I had all day. The fritters were soft and warm inside with a good flavor.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Butternut Squash and Almond Fritters

At Blissfully Braised I tried the Braised Pork Belly Adobo with garlic fried rice and sliced green onions. Wow...so tender! The pork belly was a bit too fatty, though. I think the crunchy bits on top were fried pork rinds, but I'm not sure. I thought it was a reasonable portion size for $7.50 - especially since I used one of my tabs and it cost me less than $6. :-)

Festival of Holidays 2017 Pork Belly Adobo

Grilled Chicken Sausage with Red Beans and Rice was my selection from Grandma's Recipes. Whew, that's one spicy grandma, and this dish was too hot for me, especially the beans. I couldn't eat them. Too much chili powder for me. $7.25 for this one.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Chicken Sausage with Red Beans and Rice

From Winter Sliderland I had one of the returning items from last year: Roasted Turkey Slider with Cranberry Sauce ($7.50). It's like Thanksgiving dinner on a bun: dressing on the bottom, then lots of sliced turkey, covered in gravy with a drizzle of cranberry sauce. Yummy, though it's very similar to the Holiday Turkey at Earl of Sandwich, and that one is bigger and cheaper.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Turkey Slider

Last was the Baked Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes from Festive Holiday Extras. $6.50. Good-sized serving, and very cheesy and filling.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
There are special holiday drinks available at the Hollywood Backlot area. I tried the Fireside Cider for $12.00. It's hot apple cider with a shot of cinnamon whiskey. It tasted good on a cool evening.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Fireside Cider

There's also a special menu at Paradise Garden Grill. It's basically the same as last year: burritos, street tacos, chicken mole. I haven't tried any of it yet. The Sonoma Terrace has a new menu for the Festival, offering chicken caesar and portobello mushroom and zucchini grilled "piadina" wraps.

In addition to all of the food and beverage offerings there's a variety of entertainment available during the Festival. I spent much of my time at the Festival just wandering between the entertainment venues - and I still didn't see everything.

The Sound is new to the Festival this year, performing on a stage next to the Pacific Wharf Cafe. They are an a capella group, performing holiday favorites as well as a song about Kwanzaa. I really enjoyed their performance.

Festival of Holidays 2017 The Sound

The Mariachi Divas also perform at the Pacific Wharf stage, but I didn't see them that day.

Mostly Kosher and Blue13 Dance Co. are returning groups, both appearing on the stage at Paradise Pier Park. Mostly Kosher is a klezmer band, though they also perform in several musical styles such as Latin, R&B, jazz, and rock. "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone" was one of their numbers - quite unexpected, but very well done.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Mostly Kosher

Blue13 Dance Co. celebrates Diwali with traditional folk dances, in addition to a Bollywood-inspired disco party.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Blue13 Dance Co

This video contains short clips from performances by The Sound, Mostly Kosher, and Blue13 Dance Co.

The Holiday Toy Drummers, my favorite from last year, have also returned, but to a new location. They are performing at the Paradise Pier Obelisk (I'd never seen that term before - it's the entrance to Paradise Pier next to Ariel's Undersea Adventure). I don't like the new location because the sun is behind them which makes them hard to see/photograph unless you're off to the side. The drummers always look like they are having as much fun as the audience. I've seen them a number of times now, and they still make me smile every time.

New this year is the Holiday Sunset Concert. Each evening at either 6:00 or 6:30 there's a 40+minute show. Phat Cat Swinger performs Friday-Monday, and the Mariachi Divas perform Tuesday-Thursday. I saw Phat Cat Swinger, and they really put on a great show. They are a "Little Big Band" and performed a lot of swinging music in the style of the "Brat Pack" - Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and Dean Martin. Mostly holiday music, but there were a few other songs like "Bella Notte" and "Imagination" from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which was my favorite of the evening. I thoroughly enjoyed the concert, and hope to see them again this holiday season.

Also returning this year to the Paradise Gardens area are !Viva Navidad! street party and Princess Elena's Musical Grand Arrival. Holiday foods and character meet and greets with Princess Elena and other Disney characters are also available there.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Viva Navidad

Other Festival offerings...there's several tables set up in front of Ariel's Undersea Adventure where guests can do some holiday-themed crafts like coloring a Diwali lantern.

Festival of Holidays 2017

Festival merchandise is available at several kiosks along the parade route. A Festival of Holidays souvenir hot/cold mug is available at many of the Marketplaces.

Festival of Holidays 2017 beverage cup

For Annual Passholders, the AP Corner is located in the Sonoma Terrace this year. Passholders can get a Festival button (only one design this year, rather than a new one every couple of weeks) and purchase AP-exclusive merchandise. There's also a special AP photo op.

Festival of Holidays 2017 AP Corner

Festival of Holidays 2017 AP button

Festival of Holidays 2017 AP merchandise

OK. I think that covers all of the Festival of Holidays activities! There's a lot more holiday fun going on at Disney California Adventure - but that'll be for another blog post.







November 13, 2017

First Look: Holidays at Disneyland Resort

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, November 10, 2017, for a first look at the holiday offerings around the resort.

I arrived to find a very busy parking structure at the Disneyland Resort. The line of cars to enter the parking structure stretched beyond the Disneyland Drive overpass.

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

A couple of video clips giving an overview of the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Construction site this afternoon.



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

The exterior siding is almost all installed along Disneyland Drive now.

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

A closer look at the rock work.

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

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

Buena Vista Street Christmas decorations.

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

A long line for Smokejumpers Grill.

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

The FastPass return for Soarin was backed up and curved toward Smokejumpers

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

The hot item today appeared to be the Pluto Holiday Popcorn bucket.

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

The Country Bears are back this year. They are meeting between Grizzly River Run and the Bay Area.

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

Some new Toy Soldier decorations in the planter near Paradise Pier.

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

Mostly Kosher performing in Paradise Park

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

A video clip of Mostly Kosher performing.

Festival of Holidays Marketplace Kiosks are all open. Laura will be doing a full posting on the food...so here is just one menu picture to show what the format is.

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

Princess Elena's Musical Grand Arrival has returned to Paradise Gardens this year.

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

The Sound was performing in the Pacific Wharf area when I walked by. They are a new group this year.

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

More Toy Soldiers

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

A Festival of Holidays photo location - Pluto was there as I walked by. Clarabelle Cow also appears there.

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

Next stop Disneyland. The hub has its Holiday plantings

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

Partners Statue and Sleeping Beauty Castle.

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

Ornament Steins were for sale at various locations in both parks. Here is the offering at the coffee cart in the hub.

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

Found a spot on Main Street in the hub for A Christmas Fantasy Parade. Before the Parade Taffany's Dance Academy Twinkle Holiday Parade

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

A video clip of the Twinkle Holiday Parade.

A Christmas Fantasy Parade making its way up Main Street USA.

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

The Mailroom scene features Mickey, Minnie, Chip, Dale and Donald again this year.

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

The Winter Wonderland Group is next.

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

Gingerbread Treats, Clarabelle Cow has been updated this year.

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

Santa and his reindeer finale to the parade

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

Made my way through the crowd after the parade to Town Square for the nightly Flag Retreat. A good size crowd gathering for the kick off to Veteran's Day weekend.

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

it's a small world holiday

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

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

it's a small world finale room video

Sleeping Beauty Castle.

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

Moving back to Disney California Adventure...Disney Viva Navidad! is back in Paradise Pier again this year.

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

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

Disney Viva Navidad! Finale Video Clip

Phat Cat Swinger performing at the Holiday Sunset Concert at Paradise Pier

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

Phat Cat Swingers - Sleigh Ride Video Clips

Phat Cat Swingers - Belle Notte Video Clip

Phat Cat Swingers - It's Beginning to Look a Like Christmas

Phat Cat Swingers - Run Run Rudolph Video Clip

Stormtrooper sourdough bread being made at the Boudin Bakery.

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

Luigi is celebrating the holidays with the new "Joy to the Whirl" holiday overlay.

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

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

Hollywood Land has minimal decorations again this year. Santa and his reindeer are back.

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

Buena Vista Street Christmas Tree

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

Disneyland Town Square Christmas Tree

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

Believe in Holiday Magic Fireworks.

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

Believe in Holiday Magic final and snow fall clip



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

Back to California Adventure

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

Mater's Jingle Jamboree Video Clip of one the songs

Mater's Jingle Jamboree Video Clip of one the songs plus some jokes he told between cycles.

World of Color - Season of Light

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

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

World of Color - Season of Light - Goofy Decorating video clip



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

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









November 15, 2016

New Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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

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

World of Color - Season of Light

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

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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

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

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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

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

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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

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

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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

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

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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

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

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

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

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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

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

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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

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

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

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

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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

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

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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

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








April 12, 2016

2016 Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival - Update and Additional Experiences

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On Sunday I returned for my second taste of this year's Food and Wine Festival.

DCA Food and Wine Festival

There was a new Festival guide map at the turnstiles for the weekend.

DCA Food and Wine Festival

We went to the Blue Sky Cellar to get our AP button and recipe cards - but the button was the same as last weekend. The cast member said they will change on Mondays. So the next day the new button and recipe cards would be released. The Festival is mostly on weekends...but the buttons are released on Mondays??? Doesn't make much sense to me.

Last week I mentioned the AP Passport - which was $45 for 6 tastings (food only), which made it not a good value at all unless you stuck to the three items that were $7.50, $7.75, and $8.00. I'm happy to say that they fixed that - the passport is $39 now. So if you buy food items that cost $6.50 or more, and there are six of those, then you will at least break even, if not come out a little bit ahead.

DCA Food and Wine Festival

AND, for those of us who purchased it last week when it was $45, there is a $10 gift card by way of apology. I went to the Blue Sky Cellar where they scanned my AP and punched a hole in the lanyard, then gave me the gift card. It didn't matter that I'd already used several tabs off the lanyard. So I thought they handled that well.

DCA Food and Wine Festival

At 11:00 on Sunday morning, the lines were already long at the Festival Marketplaces. Last Friday the wait was mostly to order, but this week there were lengthy waits both to order and to pickup the food. In some cases the booths were waiting to be re-supplied with one of the food items - most are prepared in a remote kitchen somewhere. In other cases, there's some plating that happens in the booths, and that seemed to be going very slowly.

DCA Food and Wine Festival

Cast members were building masking tape queues - it had rained earlier and they had to wait until the ground was dry.

DCA Food and Wine Festival

The good news is that there still seemed to be plenty of interest in the Festival Marketplace booths, and lots of people were trying and enjoying the various food and beverage offerings. But by the end of the second full weekend I would've thought the supply and service issues would have been worked out a little better. (The long line in the photo below is for pick-up - it's especially slow at the beer and wine booths.)

DCA Food and Wine Festival

From the Viva Fresca! Marketplace I was finally able to try the Anaheim Chile and Roasted Cauliflower Burrito with Jack cheese and avocado-lime crema. Last weekend they ran out of them, and it was going to be a 15-20 minute wait. This time they were also out of them, but were expecting more within 5 minutes. There were probably 8 people in front of me also waiting for the burritos. Once they arrived they were served up pretty quickly. This was really good - it's now my favorite Festival item. For $5.50 it's a generous serving. The flour tortilla is stuffed full of mild green chiles, cauliflower and lots of melted cheese. It's a little spicy, and the avocado crema helps to cool it off.

DCA Food and Wine Festival Chile and Cauliflower Burrito

From the same Marketplace I also ordered the Fried Shrimp Soft Taco with pickled red onion and jalapeno, queso fresco, and avocado-lime crema. This was actually two soft tacos - one on a white corn tortilla and one on blue corn. These were also very good, though the pickled vegetables were a little strong and made me cough. I liked them, though. $6.50 for this one.

DCA Food and Wine Festival Fried Shrimp Soft Taco

At LA Style I tried the Pork Belly Bao Taco - also with pickled vegetables, for $6.50. These pickled vegetables weren't nearly as strong, though. This dish was also a winner - the steamed "taco shell" was soft and chewy and the pork belly and veggies inside had a very good flavor. It wasn't nearly as fatty as I expected.

DCA Food and Wine Festival Pork Belly Bao Taco

Both last weekend and this weekend I went to one of the Beverage Seminars. I booked these at the beginning of March when the schedule first went up. They are $15/person (plus tax and gratuity), paid in advance, though the reservation can be cancelled up to 24 hours in advance. There's very little availability for the remaining sessions. Most of them are wine tastings (and you'll find wines from some of the wineries for sale in the Festival Marketplaces), but there are also beer and liquor tastings as well.

The beverage seminars are held outside at the Sonoma Terrace. The area is open-air and only partially covered. Plenty of shade, but not windproof. The trees around it sometimes shed leaves, blossoms, etc. that can end up in the wine glasses.

DCA Food and Wine Festival

About 30 minutes before the seminar starts, cast members start going down the line and checking off names. Showing a photo id is also required at this time, as only those aged 21 and over are allowed into the tasting area. You don't need to be there 30 minutes early - they will continue to check off names as people arrive at the end of the line. Anywhere from 10 minutes before to 5 minutes after they will let people in. It's open seating, and first come,first serve, so if you want to sit in the front, you'll want to be one of the first 8-10 people in line. The presenters have microphones, so you don't need to be in the front to be able to hear them.

The first tasting I attended was Hill Family Estates. They grow a lot of grapes that they supply to well-known wineries, but they started making their own wines, also. The presenter was Ryan Hill, who was a very engaging speaker. We sampled three wines, a chardonnay and two red blends. They weren't really to my taste, but a lot of people in the audience enjoyed them. Ryan had lots of interesting things to tell us and there were a number of questions, so this seminar lasted about 45 minutes.

DCA Food and Wine Festival

This past weekend I went to Sparkling Wines: Cava, Champagne, and Prosecco. This one started late - it was supposed to start at noon but we weren't even admitted into the area until after that. I was expecting to taste Cava (Spanish sparkling wine) Champagne and Prosecco, but we didn't get to try any Cava. And unfortunately all three wines we sampled had been sitting around too long and there were no bubbles! Very disappointing. We tried a real Champagne from the Champagne region of France (Landon), as well as the Iron Horse Fairy Tale Cuvee, which is a sparkling wine from California made in the Champagne method. The third wine was Rosa Regale, which is a red sparkling wine made in the Italian style. I'd had the Iron Horse and the Rosa Regale before, and enjoy them very much. The Landon was also very good.

DCA Food and Wine Festival

This seminar was presented by two Disneyland Resort Sommeliers. They seemed a little nervous, and the seminar was only about 30 minutes.

DCA Food and Wine Festival

Last weekend I also went to one of the Culinary Demonstrations. These are held on the stage in the Hollywood Backlot. There's a demonstration kitchen set up, but NO samples are served. There are benches available for those who arrive early enough, with standing room at the back. Since there's no samples, there doesn't seem to be nearly the demand for these that there was in the past. While all of the benches were full, there was still plenty of standing room.

We saw Chef Jamie Gwen - we remember seeing her at previous Festivals. This was her first demonstration this year and she was very excited to be back!

DCA Food and Wine Festival

She made buffalo meatball sliders - with two meatballs piled on top of each other. They looked very good. She was an entertaining and informative speaker - I learned how chefs dice an onion. :-)

DCA Food and Wine Festival

Also in the Backlot area, but on the opposite stage (where the Mad T Party band used to perform) are the Lifestyle Seminars. There is quite the variety of topics for these - in addition to gardening and wellness tips, there's also topics like home brewing, "Improving Social Media Photos", and "The Recipes of Star Wars." A number of the sessions also feature artists creating pieces of art right in front of you. Jason saw this session by Stephen Fishwick.

And this past weekend I saw Craig Fraser.

DCA Food and Wine Festival Craig Fraser

It looks like these are pretty lightly attended - there's only one row of bench seating and not much standing room behind it.

DCA Food and Wine Festival

As part of the Festival, several of the artists also have art featured in "Off the Page" and have signing sessions scheduled there.

DCA Food and Wine Festival


DCA Food and Wine Festival








April 4, 2016

It's Back! The 2016 Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival

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A long time ago, in a theme park not so far away....there was a Food and Wine Festival. It wasn't the biggest one around, but it experienced steady growth over the years, and every year there were even more interesting events and unique experiences. Its faithful fans loved it, and looked forward to it each spring.

And then came construction. And the Festival went on hiatus.

Construction ended, and the theme park was re-dedicated. And guests started asking: "When will the Food and Wine Festival return?" But the question went unanswered.

Several years passed. Guests asked: "WILL the Food and Wine Festival return?" But the question still went unanswered.

Until February 15, 2016. When there was an entry on the Disney Parks blog announcing that the Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival would be held on weekends from April 1 to May 1. The announcement was very brief, with few details: there would be Festival Marketplaces serving food and beverages, there would be "culinary demonstrations, appearances by celebrity chefs and informative seminars", and there would be some "premium experiences" which could be reserved.

DCA Food and Wine Festival

Much excitement and celebration ensued - ok, maybe that was just me. :-) No, really, there were a lot of other people equally as enthused, though I think we were all a little puzzled that there was so little information available when the opening date wasn't very far away!

Some additional details emerged over the next month. Reservations opened for the Beverage Seminars ($15/person) and the Celebrity Kitchen featuring a star lineup of chefs ($99/person, with an Annual Passholder VIP experience offered for $149). And my mouth watered when I read about some of the menu items that would be available at the Festival Marketplaces.

Then we waited for April 1 to arrive...

Upon arriving at DCA that morning, I was a little surprised to see that there was no banner across the park entrance, nor on Buena Vista Street, advertising the Festival. However, there was a nice fold-out Festival brochure available at the turnstiles as we entered. I thought it interesting that the brochure contained a schedule only for the first weekend, and not for the entire Festival. (Click on the map image below to see the full-sized version.)

DCA Food and Wine Festival Map



DCA Food and Wine Festival Map

The first sight of the Festival is the Festival Marketplaces. There are eight of them, and they are placed along the parade route between the Carthay Circle Theater and the entrance to Paradise Pier. This is a big change from previous Food and Wine Festivals, where all of the food items had to be sold out of existing restaurant spaces. These new Marketplaces made it feel much more like what we're used to at Epcot. I thought it also made the Festival experience much more central to the park - we didn't have to seek food items out (and previously they were sometimes in very out-of-the-way areas) like we did in the past.

DCA Food and Wine Festival

The booths were not highly decorated (we found out later that they were built on pretty short notice), but I thought they made a good attempt to fit in with the Golden Vine Winery area.

DCA Food and Wine Festival

One very nice thing: they all had eating areas attached to them. There were counters with lattice-type roofs over them to provide some shade. In addition there were tables as well as wine barrels that could be used as places to set your food down.

DCA Food and Wine Festival

The Pixar Play Parade is on hiatus during the Festival - the food booths take up too much space along the parade route. It makes the area feel more crowded than it really is.

DCA Food and Wine Festival

We had a short conversation with Jim Ames, Show Producer for the Festival. As you might imagine, he was quite busy on Friday. :-) The reason that there wasn't much advance notice on the Festival is that the decision to hold the Festival was made on December 31, 2015! The decision was also made to focus on the Festival Marketplaces this year. Those individual food kiosks are something quite new to us, since California food handling laws are quite different than those in Florida. This time Disney was able to work with the people who regulate such things to get permission to build and run them. One of the considerations which is not an issue in Florida is earthquake safety - Jim told us that they are all have bolts that go 1-1/2 feet into the ground! So if they come back next year they will be in exactly the same places.

DCA Food and Wine Festival Marketplaces

Considering the very short timetable I'm pretty surprised they were able to put as much together as they did. A lot of hard work by a lot of dedicated people.

DCA Food and Wine Festival

But back to the Festival overview...

The rest of the Festival events take place in Hollywood Land and in the Golden Vine Winery area. The Sonoma Terrace at the Golden Vine Winery hosts the Beverage Seminars. There are three each day on Fridays and four each day on Saturdays and Sundays. Most of the sessions are wine tasting with a featured winery, but at least one each day involves beer tasting or spirits such as vodka, whiskey, or tequila. These sessions are $15/person, plus tax and gratuity, and must be booked in advance. There is still limited availability. Reservations can be canceled up to 24 hours in advance, so it's possible there could be some last-minute openings.

DCA Food and Wine Festival

The Blue Sky Cellar is hosting an Annual Passholder Lounge during the Festival. Each weekend a different button and recipe card will be available to Passholders. This week the recipe was for fried artichokes.

DCA Food and Wine Festival

There are tables inside where passholders can charge phones, etc. Passholders can also sit in the viewing area and watch the Seasons of the Vine movie, which played in the cellar when DCA originally opened in 2001.

DCA Food and Wine Festival

The remaining Festival events are held in Hollywood Land.

Stage 17 in Hollywood Land is where the Celebrity Kitchen events take place. There are two sessions on most Saturdays. Participants receive food tastings, and there's featured wine pairings for those 21 and older. Following the presentation is an autograph session. The scheduled chefs are:

-- Robert Irvine (Restaurant Impossible)
-- Andrew Sutton (Disneyland Resort Executive Chef)
-- Guy Fieri (Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives)
-- Keegan Gerhard (Food Network Challenge) and Hayden Wood (“Flair” Bartender)
-- G. Garvin (Road Trip with G. Garvin)
-- Graham Elliot (MasterChef)

As I mentioned earlier, the price is $99, or $149 for the Annual Passholder VIP experience. Plus tax and gratuity. Cancellations must take place at least 72 hours in advance to be refunded.

A new event was just announced on the Festival's opening day: A Conversation with Kurt Russell. During this 90-minute Q&A session Kurt Russell will talk about his experiences as a wine maker. Wine tasting will be included. This event will be held in Stage 17 on April 16. Reservations can only be made by calling 714-781-DINE. The price is $199/person plus tax and gratuity.

Also in Hollywood Land, the Culinary Demonstrations and Lifestyle Seminars take place in the backlot area. The Culinary Demonstrations are held on the Backlot Stage, where a demonstration kitchen has been set up. This is a free event but it is a demonstration only - no tastings will be served. There is some seating available on benches, and there is standing room at the back. (The web site and the Festival Guide both say that the Culinary and Lifestyle demos are standing room only, but that was not the case on opening day.)

DCA Food and Wine Festival Culinary Demos

The Lifestyle Seminars take place on the stage most recently occupied by the Mad T Party band. These are more of a mixed bag: presentations on topics like gardening, wellness, and entertaining, but also live demonstrations by featured artists. This area also has some bench seating available, but most of the viewing area is standing room only.

DCA Food and Wine Festival Lifestyle Seminars

Festival merchandise is available at The Studio Store in Hollywood Land, just outside Stage 17.

DCA Food and Wine Festival

There were several different t-shirts, including an AP-exclusive shirt, as well as hats, wine glasses, and other event merchandise.

DCA Food and Wine Festival merchandise

DCA Food and Wine Festival shirt

DCA Food and Wine Festival



DCA Food and Wine Festival

These combination plate and glass holders were popular items.

DCA Food and Wine Festival merchandise

It was opening day, and there were some opening day hiccups. The biggest issue seemed to be with point-of-sale terminals that weren't working, resulting in long lines at most of the food booths in the beginning. Most of the booths had only one working register - and sometimes it wasn't working. That situation improved as the day went on - by late afternoon the lines were short/non-existent. There were also some supply issues - they either ran out of a couple of Marketplace items before the day was over, or had to tell guests that it would be a 15-20 minute wait until they had more. That was frustrating.

DCA Food and Wine Festival

Still, people were excited - lots of people there who were fans of the previous Festivals. But we saw lots of young people, too, who would have been too young to drink five years ago when the last Festival took place. :-)

And now I'm sure you're asking: "So what about the food???"

There were only two of us, but we attempted to sample a variety of items. We were hampered in the beginning because of the long lines, but eventually we just couldn't eat any more. Overall I thought the food was good. Nothing that I'm going to rave that "you've got to try this!", though there were several items I'd recommend because I thought they were interesting. I'm looking forward to trying additional items on future visits. I felt the portion sizes and prices were in-line with what you see at the Epcot F&W Festival.

Festival Marketplace Menus

We started at the Gold Rush booth, where we tried all three food items plus a glass of wine. First up was Triple Cheese Mac with smoked chicken, Fontina, cheddar, and Gouda cheeses. This may have been our favorite item of the day. It was a good-sized portion for $6.00, and the mix of cheeses and smoked chicken was very tasty. The crunchy bits on top added some nice texture.

DCA Food and Wine Festival Triple Cheese Mac

Next was the Artichoke Chips with Spicy Aioli for $5.00. This was not what I was expecting, but it was good. I was expecting the artichokes to be crisp like a chip, but they weren't. I think they had a bit of a Parmesan crust, which was crunchy.

DCA Food and Wine Festival Artichoke Chips

The dessert was Apple Bacon Whoopie Pie with maple cream cheese icing and bacon brittle for $3.75. I was really not sure what this was going to be - but it was really very good! This would be one of those "I recommend you try it" things. It did not taste bacony to me - I wouldn't have known the bits on top were bacon. The apple-cream cheese filling was really good. Maybe too sweet for some people, though.

DCA Food and Wine Festival Apple Bacon Whoopie Pie

I also tried the glass of Zaca Mesa Viognier for $5.00. I like white wines, and this was nice and refreshing. Not as dry as a Sauvignon Blanc, but not as sweet as a Riesling. In between.

DCA Food and Wine Festival Zaca Mesa Viognier

Lee wanted to try the MacMurray Ranch Pinot Noir, but that was one of the things that was unavailable.

By the way, those eating areas attached to the booths that I mentioned earlier? Brilliant. Even though the booths were busy, we never had a problem finding a place to set our food down so that we could eat.

DCA Food and Wine Festival

Next we visited The Farm. Lee tried the Tenderloin Slider with chimichurri. At $7.75 this was one of the most expensive Marketplace items. He said that it was very good.

DCA Food and Wine Festival Tenderloin Slider

I tried the Golden Thai Vegetable Curry with jasmine rice for $5.75. This was a pretty generous serving but the vegetables were mostly red peppers and mushrooms, two things that I don't like. The curry sauce was good - a little bit of heat, but not too bad. Tasted good on the rice.

DCA Food and Wine Festival Thai Curry

Lee tried the Southern California Beer Flight from The Brewhouse for $12.25. It was supposed to include Hanger 24's Orange Wheat, Karl Strauss Columbia Street Amber, Bootlegger's Brewery Palomino Pale Ale, and Barley Forge's "The Patsy" Coconut Rye Stout. But no Columbia Street Amber, so they substituted something else. The Coconut Rye Stout was really good - definitely could taste the coconut.

DCA Food and Wine Festival Beer Flight

By the Bay is appropriately named, as it's the last Marketplace and closest to Paradise Pier. We tried all of the food items here, also, though it took us two visits, because they were out of the Chilled Shrimp and Snow Crab Cocktail the first time. (And on the second visit I got the next to last one!) It was good, but again not what I expected - instead of cocktail sauce, it was more like gazpacho. And a gazpacho that was very heavy on the cucumber, which I don't like. This one was $8.00. For the amount of shrimp in it, that's probably a reasonable price, as long as you like the cucumber in the sauce.

DCA Food and Wine Festival Shrimp and Crab Cocktail

The winner here was the White Cheddar Ale and Bacon Soup served in a Boudin sourdough mini-boule for $5.50. The soup was really good, though it was a very small serving. But the mini-boule was crunchy and chewy and filling and all of those things that good sourdough bread should be.

DCA Food and Wine Festival White Cheddar Ale and Bacon Soup

We also tried the dessert: Coconut Tapioca layered with fresh mango and lychee boba, topped with green tea micro sponge and mango-couli sesame tuile. What, you might ask, is green tea micro sponge? I wondered that too. It really was an airy spongey thing. Edible, but weird texture and flavor. The tapioca and fruit and boba were interesting, but not really my thing, and $4.25 seemed too pricey. Though given all the layers, there was a fair bit of work assembling this.

DCA Food and Wine Festival Coconut Tapioca

At the Wine Country Marketplace Lee tried the other $8.00 Festival item: Zinfandel-Braised Wagyu Beef with creamy polenta and spring pea puree. He said the Tenderloin Slider was a lot better.

DCA Food and Wine Festival Wagyu Beef

To pay for our more expensive Festival items we used our Festival Marketplace Tasting Passport. These are available for purchase by Annual Passholders. Each passport comes on a lanyard and has 6 detachable tabs. Each can be exchanged for one food item at any of the Marketplaces. Food items only, no beer or wine. The Marketplace menus are listed on the back of the passport, which is handy. The passport costs $45. So if you use it for food items that cost $7.50 or above (and there's only three of those) you'll come out ahead. Otherwise, there's no savings at all.

DCA Food and Wine Festival passport



DCA Food and Wine Festival Passport

One thing I didn't mention before: in addition to the Festival Marketplaces, there were also special Festival-Inspired Menus available at some of the restaurants. We tried the Shredded Pork Tostadas from Cocina Cucamonga. This was the standout item of the day. Plenty of shredded pork, topped with grilled pineapple slaw and chipotle crema, and served with Mexican rice, gucamole, sour cream, and salsa fresca. This is a full-sized entree, and was $13.49. It was served on two tortillas, which looked like they were made of a mix of blue corn and yellow corn - very interesting color. We could've shared this, and then gotten something else later.

DCA Food and Wine Festival Pork Tostadas

Here is the list of the other participating restaurants, and their menu items:

Festival-Inspired Menus

I haven't yet talked about the Beverage Seminar and Culinary Demonstrations that we attended, but this is enough for now. Overall it was a good first day. I'm looking forward to going back again next weekend.







March 10, 2016

Disneyland Resort - 2016 Egg-Stravaganza

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, March 4, 2016.

This post will focus on the annual Egg-Stravaganza. For a first look at Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters check out my other post here on AllEars.net or check out my full picture set on disneygeek.com for a more complete look at my visit.

*** Note there are spoilers in this post so if you do not want to know the location of some of the eggs do not read or scroll any further... on the other hand if you want to see the location of all 36 eggs visit my full picture set ***

The 2016 Egg-Stravaganza at the Disneyland Resort started on March 2 and runs through March 27 (or supplies run out).  This year they have expanded to three hunts, one at Disneyland, Disney California Adventure and Downtown Disney.  So you can search for up to 36 eggs hidden around the resort. You purchase your map & stickers, for $5.95 plus tax (no discounts apply). Then you set off to find the eggs hidden around the park and identify which character egg is in which location. At any point, even before you've done any hunting, you can redeem your map for one of six prize eggs to take home.

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

The six prizes you can choose from.

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

The Disneyland map.

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

I will include a sample of the eggs from each hunt below. The 20th Century Music Company (Inside)

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

China Closet (Inside)

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

Bonanza Outfitters (Inside)

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

King Arthur Carrousel

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

Pinocchio's Daring Journey

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

The Disney California Adventure map. The redemption location for Disney California Adventure is in Elias & Company.

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

Hollywood Land (Water Tower)

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

Hollywood Land (Truck)

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

A Bugs Land (Entrance)

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

Grizzly River Run (Artist Camp) -- I would call it near the DVC kiosk.

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

Chamber of Commerce

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

Downtown Disney is new this year. The redemption location is just inside the center door of World of Disney opposite the Mickey and Friends Tram drop off.

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

The prizes are the same.

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

The Downtown Disney Map

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

Information Booth (Near Disneyland Park Gates)

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

World of Disney (Inside)

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

Marcelines Confectionery (Inside)

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

From here you can see two...

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, March 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.







January 18, 2016

Disneyland Resort - 1/15/16

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, January 15, 2016.

What appears to be utility work going on along the tram load/unload area for the Mickey and Friends garage.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016

Out in the Pinocchio lot work continues on the support facility.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


The billboards at the tram stop feature the cars characters. no slogans.. really surprised no Cars Land logo on it.. just characters.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


At the Disneyland Hotel the swimming pools are closed and being renovated. They were jack hammering this afternoon.

The Monorail slide and pool area is open but the other two are closed.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016



The closure list is substantial.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016
With the railroad closed for the next year+ they have trains pulled into Main Street and New Orleans Stations. The EP Ripley with the Lilly Belle were on Main Street.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016
You could get up close to the train for pictures. There were cast members around to answer questions about the trains.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


One car available for pictures.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


The Lilly Belle. It was closed but cast members were opening the door to get a look in from time to time.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


The area in front of the castle was roped off as they were preparing for a taping this evening for the upcoming Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60 special on ABC.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


The Royal Theatre has reopened. Frozen is now performed only in the morning then Tangled in the afternoon.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016

Crossed paths with the Evil Queen in Fantasyland
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016
The Big Thunder Trail is open through the weekend then slated to close for Star Wars work.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


The park maps show it closed now. Also note they photo spot is moved down the trail.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016
No signs of work on the Ranch Area yet.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


Some repainting of the Fantasmic light tower housing covers.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


The Columbia was in port and open to walk through and take pictures. No visible progress on the River this week.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


The Mark Twain is in the dry dock at Fowler's Harbor

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016
Continuing up river.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016

No visible changes here yet either.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


Walls and mesh are up at the Hungry Bear. It is open for business.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


The lower level has a brand new custom made wall.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


Upstairs the mesh has a forest print on it. Not too bad.. but I would have rather watched the construction :)

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


The side facing away from the River features bears.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016

The rail and ties have been removed from the visible area after the trestle assuming they removed them all the way around toward Toontown.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


The Haunted Mansion is closed for removal of the holiday overlay.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


The New Orleans Square station is open with the Ernest S Marsh parked there.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


The Jungle Cruise is closed for removal of the Holiday overlay as well as some dock work for the next several months.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


Thought this was really cool. An attraction poster saying it is closed.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


The wall features concept art.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


Next door they now sell Paint the Night meals since Fantasmic is dark for the next year+.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


Approaching the hub they were rehearsing for this evening.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


This taped off and roped off area was for dinner package guests. I believe the grab and go guests were in the Small World Mall.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016

A couple of clips from Paint the Night.


Several of the units were short performers today. For example, only four yo-yo cowgirls with Jessie tonight instead of six.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016

Around 8pm Elton John took the stage and performed Circle of Life a couple of times and his new song Wonderful Crazy Night.



I had to shoot through a sea of cameras, arms, and people... so the pics are not the best..

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


Here are a couple video clips from the performances of Circle of Life (he sang it several times).


Next up his new song which was accompanied by Fireworks and will be the finale for the TV show.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


Some clips of Elton John performing his new song with fireworks.


Over at Disney California Adventure Aladdin is gone and the Hyperion is advertising the upcoming Frozen show.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 2016


In Cars Land a new sign for Luigis.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 15, 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, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.







March 30, 2015

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza, 2015

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Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

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

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

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

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

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

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

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

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

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

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

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

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

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

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

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

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

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

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

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

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

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

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

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

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Mickey at the Emporium.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

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

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Goofy near the Astro Orbitor.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Tink near Pixie Hollow.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Chip in Snow White's Grotto.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Mr. Toad at Dumbo.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Dale behind Stromboli's Wagon.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

White Rabbit at Fantasy Faire gifts.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Donald Duck, near the Frontierland entrance.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Daisy at the Adventureland Bazaar.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Thumper near the fountain in New Orleans Square.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Pluto at the "Eggs-it" of Haunted Mansion

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza
Disneyland Egg-stravaganza


Mickey above the entrance to Trolley Treats.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Minnie at Disney Jr.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Dale in the window of Tower Gifts.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Chip on the wall outside Tower of Terror.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Thumper at It's Tough to be a Bug.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Mater on the roof of the jukebox.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

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

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

White Rabbit at Ghirardelli.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Daisy at Treasures in Paradise.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Pluto at Boardwalk Games.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Donald at Silly Symphony Swings.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza

Goofy at the Embarcadero.

Disneyland Egg-stravaganza


January 3, 2015

Three Kings Day at the Disneyland Resort

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This weekend, January 2-6, 2015, Disney California Adventure will once again finish off its popular "Disney ¡Viva Navidad!" event with its annual Three Kings Day Finale. Here to tell us more about it, is performer and Cast Member, Carlos Martinez, with musicians Josh Dishan and Johnny Gomez:

A new addition to this year's festivities is "The Spirit of Navidad," a musical storytelling performance with bilingual performers who tell the story of Dia de Los Reyes while singing traditional holiday songs.

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Along with the aforementioned Rosca de Reyes, there are a number of Mexican specialty foods available at the Paradise Gardens, such as pozole, torta al pastor, and champurrado. Toby Hollis, Area Chef for Pacific Wharf and the Boardwalk restaurants, demonstrated the making of buñuelos for us:

Of course all the spectacle and activity of ¡Viva Navidad! will still be ongoing, with character appearances by Fiesta Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy, and the Three Caballeros.

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The ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party will also continue to enthrall people six times a day throughout the weekend.

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Kids may also participate in arts and crafts, along with face painting and the making of paper crowns for Three Kings Day.

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All this is only available at the Disneyland Resort until January 6th, so hurry out and enjoy the Three Kings Day offerings--rich in culture, food, music, and dance.

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May 25, 2014

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, May 23, 2014. To kick off the holiday weekend and the summerseason Disneyland Resort (as well as Walt Disney World) were hosting Rock Your Disney Side. Disneyland, Disney California Adventure and the Magic Kingdom in WDW were open 24 hours, from 6am Friday until 6am Saturday. I attended the middle third of the day more or less. I arrived at the parks around 1pm and left around 10pm. Laura was at Disneyland in the morning and left around the time I arrived. Jeanine arrived right before I left and stayed overnight.

Due to the parking and traffic problems the Disneyland Resort suffers from during these types of events Disney was taking an aggressive approach to parking. When I exited the freeway just after noon the Ball Road bypass was closed as was the Mickey and Friends garage. They were directing traffic to the Simba lot. I decided this was a bad idea since I knew I was leaving early and did not want to get stuck in possible gridlock. So I opted to go around to the Toy Story lot. Getting into the lot easy but then they kept directing me further. I ended up in the far corner of the Katella Cast Member lot, beyond the Bambi section against the far fence. Below is a picture looking from my car back toward the convention center. It took approximately 30 minutes from the time I exited the freeway until I was walking to the bus. The bus transportation to the park was quick and efficient and within a couple of minutes I was at the security checkpoint. Leaving was a different story. It took me over 30 minutes from Main Street USA until I reached my car. All in all it was not a pleasant parking experience today. I understand the need to prevent grid lock in the evening when the crowds arrive but to penalize those guests who show up earlier in the day does not seem like the right thing to do.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Since my last visit ticket prices have gone up. Here are the current rates.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

A large sand Olaf was created near the center of the Esplanade. Josh Gad was on hand in the morning to open the parks.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

First stop Disneyland.As you entered the park you were given a button and card promoting Maleficent.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

The time guides for the day.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

The lockers are closed as they start to work on a new walkway backstage to help with the crowds on Main Street.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Main Street has its traditional summer overlay of red, white and blue.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

For the 24hr event there were quite a few food offerings. The Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor featured this Black and White Ice Cream Sandwich.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Walked through the Candy Palace.

Hero and Villain Cupcakes

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Plenty of Maleficent treats.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

The other big promotion today was this large 32oz mug. A majority of the dining locations and carts featured it.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Two large screens flanked the castle today. They were showing guest Twitter and Instagram pictures.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Darth Vader popcorn buckets were available from the cart in Tomorrowland.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

No Captain EO showings today. Instead Marvel has taken over with movie screenings with showings of Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, etc.

The show times for the day. They were showing standard versions of the films, no 3D.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

A Star Tours photo op near Innoventions. Assuming at some point characters will be out. For now just a static backdrop.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

More mugs...this time Storm Trooper.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

A look down at the sub lagoon from the Monorail. These looked slightly brighter to me, maybe some painting going on? Or just the light/my memory..

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Work on Alice in Wonderland is progressing. The extended walkways are taking shape.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

A check on Alice from ground level, you can see the old and then new extension.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Small World had to use its extended queue.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

In Toontown, the fountains are out from behind walls. This one is missing Roger though.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Mickey's fountain.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

The Go Coaster is back in operation too.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Goofy in front of his house.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Stopped by the Springtime Roundup. It was quiet as usual.

Roger Rabbit showed up while I was there (also Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Brer Bear, Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh, and Baloo were available for pictures while I was there)

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

The Stage Door Cafe offerings.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Pirates has reopened and had a 25 minute wait and a lot of guests moving around.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

The Harbor Galley had a special soup today.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Hungry Bear had a hot dog for the day.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

The Mint Julep Bar had punch.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

The walkway through New Orleans Square was blocked off again.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

This time it was also blocked off near the perfume shop.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

With Pirates open and the other two access points blocked this there was a traffic jam. You could access the two stores through this tunnel but everything else was walled off.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

In Frontierland the Trading Co has reopened.

Took a quick look inside and it looked more or less the same.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

A turtle near the Frontierland entrance just hanging out watching the crowd.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

This was a common sight throughout the park. Guests laying around or sitting anywhere they could find an electrical outlet.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Due to there being no early Soundsational today the Main Street vehicles were running still. I counted 7 (2 buses, 2 trolleys, 2 horseless carriages, 1 fire truck) circling around.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

A photo op for the 24hr event in Town Square (same as last year, just a different banner)

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Time to head over to Disney California Adventure.

With the media equipment cleaned up you can now get closer to Olaf.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Buena Vista Street was decked out in red, white and blue too.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

A special edition of the Buena Vista Bugle was on news stands today. It was only a single page (front and back).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Clarabelle's featured a special hand dipped bar today.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Award Wieners featured Maleficent items

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

The Muppets film was not being shown today, instead a Frozen sing-along had taken over.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Buena Vista Street also had a photo op with clocks.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Taste Pilots Grill special offering.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

The person next to me ordered one.. so here is a picture of what it actually looked like.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Noticed the fries at Taste Pilots were skinnier than they have been. More on par with say McDonalds size. They tasted better to me too. Still not as good as the old shoe string fries at Award Wieners or even the waffle fries at Taste Pilots but a step up from what they had been serving.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

A large clock to stand in front of and have your picture taken. You supplied the hands.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

The Wharf renovations have moved on to the part of the building that spans the walkway.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Pacific Wharf Cafe featured a chowder for the day.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Captain America shield shaped bread.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

A stage set up on the Wharf for a dance party later tonight.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Flo's offering was a sandwich

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Time for the nightly Flag Retreat. Tonight it just featured the Dapper Dans, no live band.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

There were commemorative mouse ears available today. This is the back.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

More merchandise for the day.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

There was also a pin (on the right)

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

On the castle stage throughout the day an MC would come out to promote the DisneySide hashtag and events.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Here is a video clip to give a sample of what was going on.

Caught a showing of Mickey and the Magical Map.

The show seemed more or less the same to me, no changes jumped out to me.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Went for a cruise on "it's a small world" which just re-opened. No substantial changes visible, most of the work was done backstage.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Looks like the prairie dogs are not returning.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Back to Disney California AdventureGRR is still closed for renovation.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Another photo backdrop, this time in Paradise Gardens.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

The Paradise Garden Grill offering.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

And Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Here is the Mac & Cheese Flatbread.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Through a Twitter promotion Disney announced tickets to meet Maleficent to promote the film. They were distributing them at the Blue Sky Cellar.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Times were from 8pm till 2am. When I was there they were giving out ones for the block after midnight.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Hollywood Blvd.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

In case you do not want a turkey leg but really like the shape they offered a crisped rice treat version today.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Maleficent merchandise in Elias & Co.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Maleficent treats being created at Trolley Treats

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

In Clarabelle's they were setting up ice water

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Back to Disneyland. The park was much more crowded but still not holiday crowded...more like summer.

Passing by the Castle.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Food lines were getting bad. Here is the Pizza Port line.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

Caught Magical to wrap up my evening.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14

As I left the lines to enter Disneyland were really long. Well beyond the Monorail beam, almost to the center of the Esplanade.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/23/14


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



February 2, 2014

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, January 31, 2014.

This weekend the Disneyland Resort is celebrating the Lunar New Year, year of the horse. Festivities take place at Paradise Gardens in Disney California Adventure from 11am to 5pm Fri-Sun. Downtown Disney also has events going on from 5pm-9pm.

Approaching Pardise Gardens.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

The decorations lined the parade route, the entire length of the gardens area.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

Mulan's Chinese New Year Procession featured a horse

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

And of course Mulan and Mushu

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

After the procession guest performing groups took to the street. First up was one from the Korean Dance Institute.


Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

The horse was out for photos for a while after each procession.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

Bayside Brews had a couple special items for the event.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

There was also an outdoor vending cart decked out for the occasion.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

The cart's offerings.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

The Pork Bao

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

Year of the Horse Shaped Sourdough Bread

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

Some of the performers from the procession were out interacting with guests.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

Mulan and Mushu were in a meet and greet location.

Mickey and Minnie rotated with them at the location (also I read Chip and Dale did too, but I did not see them).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year


Signs to help you find what year you were born in.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year


The Bandstand stage featured guest performing groups throughout the day.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

A video clip of a drum solo.

There seemed to be a fair amount of custom signage and decorations for the event this year.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

One small area of the merchandise stand near the Corn Dog Castle featured some items for Lunar New Year.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

Some boards describing how some of the cultures celebrate the event.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

An area set up for New Year Wishes.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

In the back of the area were tables with Chinese Brush Painting & Calligraphy

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

There was an arts and crafts area too. The line for the meet and greet wrapped around it (it starts on the left, goes up to the area, then off to the right near Goofy's Sky School and doubles back).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

A guest performing group doing a traditional Lion Dance.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

A video clip of the Lion Dance.

A video clip of the Mulan Procession.

Downtown Disney was also celebrating Lunar New Year. There were special menu offerings at some of the restaurants.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

The main stage was to feature guest performing groups for Lunar New Year this evening.

First up is Dance Impressions Productions.

A video clip of the introduction and Dragon Dance.


Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

A ribbon dance.


Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year


Video clips of a couple of groups of young kids dancing at the Lunar New Year Celebration in Downtown Disney.


Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year


Another group.


Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year

A lion dance


Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 1/31/14 - Lunar New Year


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



January 5, 2014

Three Kings Day Celebration at Disney California Adventure

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This weekend, January 3-6, 2014, Disney California Adventure will finish off its popular "Disney ¡Viva Navidad!" event with a festive Three kings Day Finale. Here to tell us more about it, is Mirna Bran-Hughes, Disneyland Guest Relations Cast Member and Training Specialist.

Although most of the festivities, including the fabulous, high-energy "Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party" have been ongoing throughout the holidays, guests may also enjoy taking photos with sculptures of the Three Kings over at Paradise Garden...

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See a display of various cultural icons, including some shoes left out for the Wise Men to fill with presents...

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Or enjoy some of the holiday Mexican food options such as pozole, champurrado, and buñuelos. Special for this weekend is the traditional Rosca de Reyes bread. Typically eaten on January 6th to celebrate the Epiphany, there is often a small baby figurine (or an almond, to minimize choking hazards) baked into it to symbolize the Baby Jesus hiding from King Herod. The person who finds the baby is blessed and also has to throw the next Three Kings Day party.

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Of course the highlight of the event throughout the season has been the Street Party, with the Three Caballeros, Mexican folklorico dancers, samba dancers, and giant "Mojiganga" puppets.

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January 6th will be the last day to enjoy all these special holiday features, so come out and enjoy them and the spirit of the season while you can!

[Three Kings Day was also celebrated last year as part of the 2013 Limited Time Magic Campaign, as we detailed here: http://land.allears.net/blogs/lauragilbreath/2013/01/dia_de_los_reyes_magos_at_the.html ]

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.



January 4, 2013

Dia de los Reyes Magos at the Disneyland Resort

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From January 4-6, 2013, Disneyland Resort will be celebrating the Latin American holiday "Dia de los Reyes Magos", or Three Kings day.

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In case you lack familiarity with the holiday, Disney describes it thusly:
"Dia de Reyes, also known as Three Kings Day, is a festive holiday celebrated on January 6. From generation to generation, the people of Spain, Mexico, Central America, and Puerto Rico have enjoyed a rich cultural tradition of celebrating this popular holiday. Iconic symbols, time-honored traditions, scenic displays and children's activities play an important part in this festive occasion within the Hispanic cultures."

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"According to tradition, the Three Kings or los Reyes Magos (Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar) traveled by camel to follow the star of Bethlehem, bringing precious gifts with them. In many Latin American countries, children leave their shoes outside and fill them with hay for the animals, hoping to find surprises and gifts the next day from the Three Kings. Rosca de Reyes (Kings Cake) is a crown-shaped, lightly sweetened bread decorated with jewel-like candied fruit and is a traditional Three Kings Day holiday treat."

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Children's activities will be ongoing, with bilingual hosts participating in face-painting, coloring, and crown decorating, all taking place in the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree.

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Live entertainment will be presented, including the Mariachi Divas and a variety of local folklorico ballet troupes and musicians.

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Opportunities will be presented for guests to meet and greet Mickey and Minnie in "Fiesta" costumes, as well as The Three Caballeros, Donald Duck, Jose Carioca, and Panchito.

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AllEars' own Laura Gilbreath was on hand to chat with Claudia Erdogan and Andrae Gill from Global Marketing about a variety of topics, including the Three Kings celebration and the year-long Limited Time Magic campaign.

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She also spoke with Chef Martha who made one of the Buñuelo desserts that will be served at Rancho del Zocalo, and spoke about the other special holiday food offerings. (Laura tried it afterward and said it was delicious.)

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So if you're interested in celebrating this holiday with the Three Kings and the Three Caballeros, come on down to the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree in Frontierland this weekend--Limited Time Magic only!

Related Links:

-- Disneyland Announces Three Kings Weekend Celebration

-- Why Walt Disney World Should Adapt Disneyland's Three Kings Celebration

-- Los Tres Reyes Mexican Storytellers in Epcot at Walt Disney World

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September 15, 2012

The Art of Frankenweenie

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On September 14, a special exhibit in the Disney Animation building of DCA opened to the Public: The Art of Frankenweenie. This collection of puppets, sets, drawings and armatures from the making of the upcoming movie "Frankenweenie," offers insight into the entire process of making a stop-motion animated film.

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In a special preview event, Frankenweenie Producer Allison Abbate and Executive Producer Don Hahn were on hand to show people around the exhibit.

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The roots of the film actually begin back in 1984 with Tim Burton's short animated film of of the same name. A personal story to Burton, drawing on his background of Southern California suburban living, his relationship with his dog, and his fascination with horror movie iconography, he has remade it into a feature-length film--the first he has written, directed, and produced since Edward Scissorhands.

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The first display, entitled "Tim Burton's Desk," shows a number of his early sketches for the 1984 film, and shows how some of them ultimately got translated into a three-dimensional puppet.

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Details such as the fabric used on the figures' clothing and the minute variations on mouth position are all on display.

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There are also three complete sets used during filming, along with various miniature props and pieces that are phenomenally detailed. As far as I could tell, every tiny piece of paper, whether it was a newspaper or a note tacked to the refrigerator had actual legible writing on it.

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In the set depicting Victor's attic laboratory where he reanimates his late lamented canine, switches run across the front of the case that can be toggled to turn on and off various lights around the room.

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Finally, in the classroom of New Holland, Victor's science teacher (suspiciously resembling Vincent Price,) Mr. Rzykruski gives Victor the idea for bringing the dead back to life with the fantastic properties of electricity.

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One disappointing part of this exhibit (which has been shown at Comic-Con) is that each case has a small video display showing what appears to be documentary footage, but which has no sound coming from the speakers. I was told by a cast member that they couldn't turn the sound on loud enough to be heard over the ambient music in the main Animation Lobby, which apparently has no volume control. It would be great to be able to tell what they were saying, even if it was just in the form of video captions.

After looking around the exhibit, the producers held a small Q&A in the Animation Academy room.

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Points discussed:
Frankenweenie is a true family film, with relatable characters for children, and an abundance of old horror/film references to pique the adults.
The stop-motion process used was particularly appropriate for this story, as both involved bringing the inanimate to life.
The amount of time involved with stop-motion filming is prodigious--Abbate told us an average week might see them accomplish around eight seconds of footage.
Virtually all of the film is hand-manipulated puppetry, however some transitions and outdoor environments are computer generated.
Despite the melancholy aspects to the story, it is ultimately about the relationship of a boy and his dog, and what it means to love something that much.

After the Q&A, guests who purchased a special event package were invited to dine at a location just adjacent to Tower of Terror, and were treated to an elaborately decorated area where all the food was presented as parts of science experiments.

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By far, the cutest food item was the Sparky-shaped eclairs.

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While they were eating, the guests were told that, as a special surprise, they would be able to screen the entire movie later in the evening. The rest of the APs were able to watch the trailer, showing in 4D at the theater generally hosting Muppets 3D (warning: You will get wet.)

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There are also seasonal foods offered with appropriate theming...

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And the usual abundance of merchandise for those so inclined.

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Certainly with all this work and artistry evident on display, expectations could reasonably be high for Frankenweenie--opening October 5, 2012.

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The Art of Frankenweenie will be open to the public and on view in the Animation Building of DCA from September 14th to November 5th. For the first week, AP holders will have expedited entry during the first two hours after park opening.

July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!

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This is my country! Land of my birth!
This is my country! Grandest on earth!

It is amazing to think that over half of the year has passed by, and we've already seen the launching of a new cruise ship, the opening of a new resort, the 20th anniversary of one Disney park, and the rebirth of another.

What difference if I hail from North or South
Or from the East or West?

With so much more to come for the rest of the year, it's fitting, perhaps, to take a day to reflect on exactly how fortunate so many of us are, to be able to be at this place, in this time; in a country that, although it certainly has its plethora of problems, was founded on principles of freedom and equality--principles I feel sure were intended to be extended to all, regardless of wealth, or color, or location, or inclination.

Tomorrow, we can continue to fight and argue about all the socioeconomic tragedies that are as much a part of America as its victories. For today? Happy Independence Day.

This is my country! Land of my choice!
This is my country! Hear my proud voice!
I pledge thee my allegiance, America, the bold,
For this is my country! To have and to hold.

[This, and many more great Disneyland videos by Fantasmiceddie24 can be found on YouTube.]

November 14, 2011

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

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

Some holiday cheer on the new DCA entrance.

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

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

The framing is moving along slowly on Buena Vista Street

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


A couple of trees outside of Guest Relations trailer.

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

The scaffolding is almost all gone.

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


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

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

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

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


Wires up on Maters

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

A wide shot of the racers

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


The court house has its first exterior coat on.

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

A closer look at the new rock face

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


The Carthay Circle Theater is looking more complete.

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


The Mermaid Building has some Christmas decorations.

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

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

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

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

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

A closer look at the Mermaid Building.

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

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


Holiday garland for the Pacific Wharf.

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

Christmas lights in the Wharf

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

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

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

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


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

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

Looking down Route 66

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

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


The shack for Mater's is looking great.

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

On Buena Vista Street the steel just keeps growing.

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


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

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

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


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

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

A couple of guest relations CMs out to answer questions

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

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

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

The Muppets are watching over Downtown Disney.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No signage on the gift shop yet.

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

The walls around the fountain area are down.

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

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

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


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

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

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


Wow what a difference!

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

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

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

Looking over the new pool area.

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

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

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

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

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

The tower signs were going up Friday.

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

The crew was working on the Adventure Tower sign

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

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


Working on the lighting for the sign.

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


Some holiday treats at Marceline's in Downtown Disney.

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


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

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


Lights on the Little Mermaid building.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Nighttime holiday lights around Paradise Pier.

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

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



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



October 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!"



July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

Fourth of July came a trifle early to the Disneyland Resort this year, as both the holiday firework show at Disneyland and the patriotic pre-show at World of Color played from July first through the fourth.

I stopped by and battled the crowds to take a look at them. Unfortunately, my video of the World of Color add-on was a little obscured from my vantage point. A little googling, however, yields some better quality recordings, such as this one from Asianjima123:


Fortunately I had a slightly better view of the fireworks:

If fireworks and watershows hold no interest for you, there's always seasonal edibles to divert you...

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Overheard during the celebrations: "Americans do like their flag." Well we do, and occasionally, even if it sometimes seems like it's only once a year, we remember why.

Happy Fourth!

March 3, 2011

Mardi Gras, Disneyland Style

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For the last couple months, Disneyland has made a bid to enliven the traditionally low-traffic winter months by putting on Family Fun Weekends. Having gone through weekends with themes as diverse as "Kickin' Country" and "Lunar New Year," we find ourselves at the tail end of the event with three weekends devoted to Mardi Gras.

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Each weekend was notable for offering themed food and merchandise, and Mardi Gras is no exception. Located appropriately enough in New Orleans Square, there are several carts full of seasonal items for purchase, such as beads, beignet mix, and even cajun-seasoned popcorn.

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Special food selections, such as shrimp po'boys and bouillabaisse, were also present at various restaurants in the area, notably the French Market and the Blue Bayou.

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For entertainment, Tiana and her entourage perform a small show every hour or so during the day. It's basically something of a stripped-down version of the Showboat Jubilee they did right after Princess and the Frog opened up, but it's still a fun show.

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The Family Fun Weekends in general aren't anything so dramatic as to knock your socks off, but they do make a nice change by offering some different experiences that are not typically available. The purpose, I believe, is to give you some new reasons to visit the park during times you might not usually go...and they fulfill it nicely.

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Mardi Gras weekends continue only through this next weekend (March 4-6,) so anyone longing for Mickey brioche would be well-advised to make their plans soon.

November 14, 2010

The Holidays at Disneyland - 2010

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"It's the most wonderful time of the year..." Or so the song goes - and I have to say that it really is a wonderful time of the year at Disneyland!

The 2010 holiday season started at Disneyland on Friday, November 12 and runs through January 2, 2011. The weather wasn't very "holiday" like, being sunny and 80 degrees, but unfortunately the crowds were - the parks were very busy like you'd expect during the holidays instead of what you expect on a normal Friday afternoon. (A lot of school kids had the day off.) But if the decorations inside Disneyland aren't enough to get you into the spirit of the season, then "Bah, Humbug!" to you. :-) From Main Street to Toontown to Critter Country and New Orleans Square, just about every land had decked its halls for the holidays.

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"it's a small world" Holiday opened for the season, but I did not get a chance to ride it, since the line was always at least 60 minutes every time I went by. Did I mention the parks were crazy busy? Yesterday the queue for "small world" was starting at the end of the terraced area closest to the Matterhorn, rather than up near the attraction itself - they had it fairly well marked, and cast members were asking guests as they went by if they were looking for the "small world" queue. I don't know if that is a change for the season or just the day, but something to be aware of if you go.

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There were many cast members and characters out in their holiday best:

The Disneyland Band, in their red/green/gold-braided uniforms, were performing just inside the park when I arrived.

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And the Dapper Dans looked a bit like singing candy canes.

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This Dickens'-themed band was performing holiday music outside the Refreshment Corner.

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Many of the characters (like Dale) were out in the morning greeting guests in Town Square.

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Over in Frontierland, Santa and Mrs. Claus and the reindeer have taken up temporary residence at Santa's Reindeer Roundup. Though the reindeer really weren't enjoying our beautiful southern California weather - they're used to ice and snow!

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Mrs. Claus was out mingling with guests - she looked like she was having much more fun than Santa, who was stuck greeting people inside the cabin.

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The snow and icicle-covered Sleeping Beauty Castle continued to defy the elements.

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Over at Disney California Adventure...well, it really wasn't very Christmasy over there. The candy cane-striped CALIFORNIA letters are back (and this will be the last year for those, since they are not part of the park's new look - I will miss them).

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The wreath and garland is on the Golden Gate Bridge (also going away).

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The tree and Santa Claus greeting area are near Ariel's Grotto - but that was the only part of Paradise Pier that was decorated.

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And there's the usual over-sized decorations in Flik's Fun Fair.

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I've enjoyed the "city sidewalks" decorations in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot in the past - but those are gone, probably because they don't fit in with the ElecTRONica look.

And speaking of TRON...the lightcycle that we saw at last year's D23 Expo is on exhibit outside the TRON 3D preview theater. Looks pretty cool.

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What used to be Sunshine Plaza is behind construction walls, so the characters, in their California-themed holiday attire, are doing meet and greets in the old Fastpass area next to "It's Tough to Be a Bug". It's a little out of the way, though there are a lot of people going by there since that's the only way to get to the Hyperion Theater and Tower of Terror now.

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I liked Pluto's holiday "star".

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Anyway...as far as the holidays go DCA was pretty disappointing - hopefully it'll get a little more of a holiday makeover in the future when there isn't so much construction going on. (I think the Imagineers will have a lot of fun coming up with holiday decorations for Cars Land!)

Back over at Disneyland for some of the holiday events...

Starting with the lighting of "it's a small world" Holiday. There was a special lighting ceremony for this first night of the holiday season. Adela Jauregui and Mickey Mouse flipped the switch to light up "it's small world". Adela, an 8-year-old who is a patient at CHOC Children's, was joined by her parents Jesus and Norma, and her sister Olivia. They were the Grand Marshals of the "A Christmas Fantasy" Parade earlier in the day.

(The "it's a small world" projection sequence at the end is one of my holiday favorites - I think it looks crisper and better than ever.)

I also saw the A Christmas Fantasy Parade. The last few years there have been some new parade elements each year - no new floats this year, but the music/choreography was a bit different: for example the gingerbread men and Clarabelle Cow do a "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy" number - I thought it was really fun.

For some reason they don't put the time of the castle lighting sequences on the Times Guide that is available at the park, but it's on the on-line schedule - though it was running late yesterday (but just about everything was running late yesterday). It's only a few minutes long, but I enjoy seeing the castle transform so that it appears to be covered in shimmering ice.

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The Believe...in Holiday Magic fireworks are back for the season, though they were at a new time: 8:40 p.m. instead of the traditional 9:25. Check the time on-line before you visit the park - most nights they will be at 8:40, but at 7:30 on some week nights, and they are at 9:30 on December 3 and 4 (probably because of the Candlelight Processional on those evenings).

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Whew! Busy day, and I still have lots more photos - I'll probably put them into a photo gallery on AllEars as I have time.



November 10, 2010

Disneyland New and Upcoming Events

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First the bad news...as announced November 3 on the Disney Parks Blog, there will be no Disney's California Food and Wine Festival in 2011 or 2012. The wording was such that some speculated that it just wouldn't be at DCA, but AllEars has verified with a Disney representative that there will be NO Festival.

I'm very disappointed, since this is one of my favorite events, but I can understand that the construction at DCA would make it difficult - some of the areas they have used in the past for the Festival will not be available. I'm still bummed, though.

Some things that are relatively new at the parks...

The Duffy the Disney Bear Meet and Greet location in Paradise Pier, next to Treasures in Paradise. Jeanine wrote about that in this blog entry. Those who visit the area get an "I Just Hugged Duffy" sticker.

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The Tangled Meet and Greet area is located in Fantasyland next to Pinocchio's Daring Journey. Guests can meet Rapunzel and Flynn Rider.

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The new Disney Dance Crew show debuted on October 22 at DCA's Hollywood Pictures Backlot theater, replacing the Drawn to the Magic show. The show features the new talking Mickey Mouse character, who can move his mouth and blink his eyes. This Mickey also has all the moves, as he brings together two rival dance crews. They perform to modern versions of classic Disney tunes - some of them rather surprising - like "A Pirate's Life for Me". After the show Mickey comes out to meet and greet guests - but this character is not the talking Mickey. Same costume, different head (and I'm guessing a different person inside, too!).

One fun thing I noticed - take a look at the glowing logo on the cover of the DJ's laptop. :-)

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The Disney Channel Rocks! show, which premiered in Florida on October 22 (see the AllEars page HERE, has been postponed until November 26. The new show, featuring music from the Disney Channel's "High School Musical" series, "Camp Rock" and "StarStruck" will be performed on the Palisades Stage in Paradise Park next to Paradise Bay in the morning and early afternoon.

In anticipation of the upcoming TRON: Legacy movie, opening in theaters December 17, there are several tie-ins at Disney California Adventure. ElecTRONica brings the world of TRON to the Hollywood Pictures Backlot Friday-Sunday nights (it will run nightly from December 17-January 2). In addition to the techno dance party in the streets, guests can view a 9-minute 3D preview of the movie in the MuppetVision theater, experience the LASERMAN show, or enjoy a "Glowjito" or "Digitini" at theEnd of Line Club. (For the true TRON geeks: I still have a computer system that displays "END OF LINE" on my screen when I log off.) And for a real blast from the past there's Flynn's Arcade, which has quite a selection of 1980s video games - everything from Air Hockey to Pac-man to, yes, the TRON game. One cool thing: the game tokens (25 cents each) actually are custom "Flynn's Arcade" tokens!

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According to a recent Disneyland press release, ElecTRONica will continue into spring, 2011.

There's also a new TRON: Legacy encore to World of Color - the very first one. We were told that adding encores was something they planned to do with World of Color, so it's great to see that we got one this soon after the show opened! The encore runs at the end of each World of Color show as that pesky Master Control Program manages to take control of the show for a while. Disney has stated that the encore will run for several months, so while there is no official end date, it will definitely be with us through the holidays and for some time beyond.

And speaking of the holidays...the Disneyland Resort's holiday celebration begins on Friday, November 12. At Disneyland this includes favorites like the "A Christmas Fantasy" parade, Sleeping Beauty Winter Castle, Santa's Reindeer Round-up, "it's a small world" Holiday, and the "Believe...in Holiday Magic" fireworks. Over at DCA the familiar candy cane-striped letters of "CALIFORNIA" will be back, as well as the over-sized ornaments and decorations at Flik's Fun Fair. Santa Claus will greet guests at Paradise Pier.

See the Holidays at Disneyland page for more information and photos.




October 8, 2010

Mickey's Halloween Party 2010

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This year the Disneyland Resort's Halloween party has moved from Disney California Adventure over to Disneyland Park. And it has a new name: Mickey's Halloween Party. While the name location and different, most aspects of the party remain the same as what we've experienced in previous years, with some exceptions that I will talk about later. The party is being held on 10 nights in October - every Tuesday and Friday, plus Sunday, October 31. There's more detailed information on the ticket prices, dates, times and events on the Mickey's Halloween Party page.

Lee and I went to the very first party of the year, which was on Friday, October 1. One thing that is new this year: party guests may use their party ticket to enter Disneyland up to three hours in advance of the start of the party. (At DCA the park was closed and cleared of day guests before party guests were allowed in.) There is a separate set of turnstiles that party guests must use - these were all the way over on the right side (furthest from the Mickey & Friends tram stop, of course!). Once inside we obtained our wrist bands - and these were checked multiple times during the evening, especially during the first hour or two. This year's treat bags, featuring an ad for Toy Story 3 on one side and Beauty and the Beast on the other, were also available just inside the turnstiles.

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Halloween party maps were available at the turnstiles as we came in - I assume they were available at the usual map stations elsewhere in the park, but I didn't specifically notice them. These gave the locations of the treat stations, character greeting areas, and dance parties, as well as giving the times of the "parade" and fireworks show. They also listed all of the attractions and restaurants that were open. (Toontown and Tom Sawyer Island were closed, and part of Fantasyland was closed until after the fireworks.)

One of the big (perhaps the biggest) draw of the Halloween Party is that it's the only way to see the Halloween Screams fireworks show this year. The show is only showing on party nights. I know that disappointed a lot of people - it's really a great show, and for those of us who are Annual Passholders, it's kind of tough to have to pay an additional $44-$59 for a party ticket to see something that was "free" last year. But I have to say that it was a LOT easier to see it this year since there were a lot fewer guests in the park for the party than there are on a typical October night, so we weren't crammed into Main Street like we were last year.

We arrived just before 6:00. The park was open to day guests until 7:00, so we were surprised at how many of the restaurants were already closed (other than the ones that would be open during the party) - we wanted to eat at Cafe Orleans, but they had stopped seating before 6:00. :-(

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They were still setting up for the party at that time - putting up decorations and treat stations and that sort of thing. By the time we finished dinner at the Plaza Inn it was about 7:00, which is when the party started. It was interesting listening to the background music change over to Halloween-themed music.

We both thought that there were more people in the park than there ever were for the parties at DCA. Which makes sense, since Disneyland is a lot bigger and can handle more people. Attraction lines weren't too bad once the day guests had cleared out, and got shorter as the night went on. But the treat lines were VERY long in most places - generally a lot longer than we were willing to deal with. Several locations had a "treat trail", where there were 5-6 treat stations within 20' or so of each other. We found the ones along Big Thunder Trail and back in Critter Country had fairly short lines but the ones around the Matterhorn had long lines every time we went by them. One tip: the treat trails are two way, so if the line is long on one end, try going to the other end. There are two cast members at each station, each one serving guests coming from one direction. (One thing I noticed: this was the first party of the year, and at the beginning of the evening cast members all said "Happy Halloween!" as they gave us our candy - by the end of the evening they were generally silently dropping it in the bag. Can't say I blame them - I think I'd be hoarse if I said "Happy Halloween" to thousands of guests in an evening!)

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This year's treats were pretty similar to last year (which was quite an improvement over the first few years): LOTS of chocolate candies, including Snickers, Milky Way, Three Musketeers, Reese's, Nestle Crunch Bars, M&Ms, and Tootsie Rolls. Also Skittles (I got a lot of those), Tootsie Pops, and non-chocolate-flavored Tootsie Rolls. For healthier options there were packets of baby carrots, raisins, and apple crisps. As an extra treat there were one or two treat stations (I only found one) that had Ghirardelli Chocolate squares. Yum. (No, I did not get in line over and over again...)

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We didn't do a lot of attractions, but did get to the two Halloween-themed ones: Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy (25 minute line at 8:45), and Haunted Mansion Holiday (5-10 minutes at 7:30, though it was longer later in the evening). Ghost Galaxy was unchanged from last year as far as I can tell, but they were still doing the "show" on the outside of it (you can read more about that and see some video in this blog entry from last year. Lots of smiles and happy people coming off the ride. One of the other attractions we did was the Jungle Cruise, hoping that it would have some party-themed jokes, but we were disappointed.

Haunted Mansion Holiday is also basically unchanged, though as usual the gingerbread creation in the ballroom is different - this year it's a "Haunted Tombstone". There's an interesting piece on how it was created on the DisneyParks Blog.

There's a new Mickey's Costume Party character cavalcade this year. Not quite enough there to classify as a "parade" yet, apparently, but it's more than we've had in the past. It features new music this year and three new floats, and several "push-along" themed jack'o'lanterns. Along with lots of dancers and costumed characters. It was short, but I thought it was a lot of fun. The parade leads off with the Vampire Mickey float - he opens and closes his cape.

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Then there's the Costume Shop float:

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And the final float is the Haunted Castle:

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In between are the pumpkins - I thought these were really cute - my favorite was the Monster pumpkin!

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The cavalcade runs twice a night.

The decorations were about what we've seen in the past - lots of the pumpkin and ghost Mickey lights (though they had done away with the blowy air-filled thingies - that's a good thing):

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There's of course a fair bit of decorating that's there in the park anyways because it's Halloween Time, like the jack'o'lanterns on Main Street and the carved pumpkins in Big Thunder Ranch.

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Most of the party decorations are done with light projectors. They really need to get their pest control people working, though - there were giant spider webs all over the buildings, including the castle, which also had giant spiders crawling on it! :-)

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The party logo was on the Matterhorn:

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And on the "small world" facade:

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And a variety of projections were on the walkways and on buildings on Main Street.

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The Rivers of America was filled with mist, with eerie lighting:

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There were two dance parties - Buzz Lightyear's Integalactic Space Jam at Tomorrowland Terrace, and Club Skellington at the French Market. both parties had DJs playing various dance music. Buzz and some of the Green Army men were dancing with guests at that area - I didn't see any characters at Club Skellington, but it had quite an interesting entrance!

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There were a lot of character greeting areas, but most of them had very long lines - especially the Princesses back at Princess Fantasy Faire and Mickey and Minnie at Big Thunder Ranch. There were short lines for Pirate's Wharf and the Pooh characters in Critter Country, though. I really liked what they did with Pirate's Wharf - it was at the Frontierland dock, and they pulled in the Columbia behind it. It would have been really cool if they'd done the greeting area on board the ship itself, but I suppose the logistics of that are too difficult.

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Halloween Screams is still one of my favorite fireworks shows ever, and I like it more every time I see it. The fireworks, the music, the effects, are all just terrific. (How can you not like a fireworks show that includes a scream-a-long?) Disney blocked off the area between the hub and the castle until after the first parade (about 8:30), and at that point there were people who started staking out spots for the 9:30 fireworks show. There really was no need to do that to have a decent viewing spot, though - we went off to ride Ghost Galaxy, and didn't get back until about 9:20, but were still able to get a really good spot at the entrance to Tomorrowland, and we weren't packed in like sardines. So that's definitely a benefit to showing the fireworks only on party nights.

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Have I mentioned how much I love this show? :-)

There was some exclusive party merchandise, like t-shirts, Mickey Mouse ears and so on, but I didn't photograph any of it. It was available in multiple locations so it didn't seem too hard to find.

This is the first year that the party has been held at Disneyland and Lee and I both thought that it actually fit a little better at Disneyland than at DCA. For one thing, there are several attractions there that go with the Halloween/villain/ghost theme, like Pirates of the Caribbean, Snow White's Scary Adventures, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and of course Haunted Mansion Holiday and Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy. And since so much of the "decorating" is done with lighting, Disneyland actually already has the existing infrastructure to do something more interesting than simple projections, such as the colorful lighting on the castle and "it's a small world". And of course the Halloween-themed fireworks show is a HUGE point in Disneyland's favor...though I think we all hope that in the coming years there will be a Halloween-themed version of World of Color (please????).

We really had a good time - and it was very nice to have the extra time in the park before the party - gave us a chance to have dinner and not waste valuable "party time" to do it. I think the extra hours and the fireworks and expanded parade make up for the hefty price increase (about $18 more than last year, but still cheaper than the party at the Magic Kingdom).

We saw a fair number of adults in costume this year - Jack and Sally were very popular, and pirate costumes are a perennial favorite. Lots of kids dressed as the Mario brothers this year. And of course lots of little girls dressed as princesses.

The party lasted for five hours, but we didn't actually stay all the way to the end since we'd done what we wanted to do by 11:30 and we still had to drive home that night. We really didn't make an effort to get a lot of treats, but my haul was still pretty good anyway!

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Additional photos of the event are available in our photo galleries:

General Party Photos

Parade and Fireworks Photos



October 2, 2008

An Autumn Day at Disneyland

Warning: This is going to be a rambling collection of various observations.

On Friday, September 26, the first official day of Disney's HalloweenTime, I made a day trip to DL with my friend Kristin(e). (Spelled Kristin, but pronounced Kristine - got that?)

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Weather was beautiful and the crowds were minimal - the longest line we waited in all day was 20 minutes for Toy Story Mania. We practically walked onto Space Mountain at 11:30 that morning. And even Soarin' and Grizzly Rapids had less than 15 minute standby lines - we really didn't need Fastpasses, though we used them a few times. (Since it was Friday, I'm sure crowds at Disneyland picked up in the afternoon/evening, but we left at 6:00, so we missed that.)

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Disneyland continues to have big problems with the Indiana Jones attraction - it was down when I was there last month, and it was down when we walked by it just after park opening. We went back later and it was up, and we got as far as getting into our jeep and belted in - and then it stopped. And after a few minutes the lights came on. And then they started sending Cast Members into the attraction to walk people out of it (which would have been really cool, but we weren't in the attraction at all!) They gave us a Fastpass to return later, which didn't end up happening, but Kristin gave it to a group of very nice young teenage boys who rode Grizzly Rapids with us. Anyway...seems like Indy is in major need of an extended rehab.

Haunted Mansion Holiday is back, and still a lot of fun, though I didn't notice any new additions to it this year. But I took a few movies inside (movie mode on my camera handles low light a lot better than still photography!) and noticed something I'd never noticed before: the gingerbread coffin on the table in the ballroom scene has a lid that opens and closes, with a gingerbread man corpse that sits up then lays back down! The scent of gingerbread in the air is a nice touch.

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Other things that have returned in Disney's HalloweenTime:

The Halloween displays along the tram route.

The huge pumpkins over the Disneyland park entrance, and the large Mickey pumpkin in Town Square.

The Dapper Dans on Main Street in their orange and black striped vests

Woody's Halloween Roundup in the Big Thunder Ranch area, with live shows featuring Woody, Jessie, and Bullseye - and your host, Tex Tumbleweed (and sponsored by Cowboy Crunchies!)

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Free coloring crafts for kids at Woody's Roundup, or there are bat and pumpkin-shaped Halloween cookies available to purchase and decorate.

The pumpkin carver at the Roundup

Special menu and food items - especially sweets like Halloween-decorated apples and cookies.

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Lots of Halloween merchandise - both quite a collection of Nightmare Before Christmas stuff and Disney Halloween plush, pins, Mickey ears, etc.

Goofy's Candy Corn Acres at DCA, which features character greetings and "corny" shows.

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Over at DCA, one thing that is NOT back this year is the Halloween decorations around the Tower of Terror - the last couple of years there has been a glowing-eyed bat banner outside, and decayed Halloween party decorations inside, but those were missing this year. Golden Screams has also not returned.

I collected menus from some of the Disneyland and DCA restaurants, and there have been some significant changes in the Blue Bayou lunch, dinner, and kid menus. Price is up, of course. Cafe Orleans also has a few changes, though mostly in their dessert items and the kid's menu. I think the kid's menus were changed just about everywhere that I looked. More "healthy" options - like a turkey dog, or string cheese, fruit, and yogurt, or a turkey wrap. All kid's meals come with fruit (e.g. grapes or apples) though parents can request chips or fries. Prices have gone up slightly - most kid's meals start at $6.99 now - and the price of the Arroz con Pollo Toddler Meal has gone up from $2.99 to $3.99.

Ariel's Grotto had the most significant changes, though - they have completely redone their menu with more of an Italian theme. It actually looks a whole lot more interesting to me - I might actually consider eating there now. They've also changed their pricing - $29.99 if you eat outside, and $31.99 if you eat inside. (Sorry, I didn't get a kid's menu for Ariel's, but maybe someone has one they can photograph and send to me???)

Some of the updated menus:

Blue Bayou Lunch

Blue Bayou Dinner

Blue Bayou Kids

Cafe Orleans

Cafe Orleans Kids

Tomorrowland Terrace (updated kid's menu)

Ariel's Grotto

Wine Country Trattoria Kids

(You can always find all the menus on our Disneyland Menus page.)

We had a very nice lunch at the Wine Country Trattoria at DCA - that's one menu that had NOT changed at all. With the demise of the Vineyard Room, that's my favorite park table service restaurant now. Kristin had the Tuscan Salad and I had the Chicken Bruschetta Salad. They were both really good.

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An unexpected surprise - I ran into my IRC friend JD in line at Soarin'. I knew he had an upcoming trip to Disneyland, but thought it was in October. After Soarin' we all went to Grizzly River Run - JD and I got drenched, but Kristin escaped most of the water. It was nice to see JD!

Toy Story Mania continues to be way fun - Kristin had never been on it before but she had a good time, and she scored very well - better than I did my first time!

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(If anyone would like to help with All Ears menu updates for Disneyland, please let me know - it can be as simple as taking a picture of a menu and emailing it to me. You can contact me at laurag at allears dot net)


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

August 24, 2008

Disneyland Upcoming Events

Disneyland's Half Marathon Weekend is coming up on August 29-31. The Disneyland Health & Fitness Expo is August 29-30, the 5K and Kids' Races are Saturday, August 30, and the third annual Half Marathon is on Sunday, August 31.

Disney's HalloweenTime starts on September 26 and runs through November 2 and this year Disney has put up a pretty nifty interactive website for it. There's information on the attractions that are decorated for Halloween (Haunted Mansion Holiday, Woody's Halloween Roundup, and the Tower of Terror), on the decorations, the characters, and special merchandise. And a list of locations at Disneyland that will be featuring special foods and beverages. There's also a page with crafts (including pumpkin carving patterns) and some interactive games. The web site is here: http://disneyland.disney.go.com/disneyland/en_US/calendar/specialEvents/detail?name=HalloweenTimeSpecialEventPage

Miley Cyrus will be celebrating her "Sweet 16" birthday at Disneyland with a special event on Sunday, October 5. Much more information is available on Disneyland's web site HERE, and in this Disneyland Press Release. A limited number of tickets (5,000) will be available to the public, and go on sale on August 30, for $250 each.

The 2008 CHOC/Disneyland Walk in the Park, benefiting Children's Hospital of Orange County, will be held on October 19. More information is on their web site: http://www.chocwalk.org. You can read about Photo Blogger Lisa Berton's CHOC Walk experiences from last year in her blog entries:
CHOC Walk Part 1
CHOC Walk Part 2
CHOC Walk Part 3

There's finally a date for "it's a small world" to come out of its lengthy rehab - according to the Disneyland calendar it opens on November 29. I wonder if it will come up in the holiday configuration or not this time...

Fantasmic!, which goes into rehab on September 2, will begin running again on November 7.

The three McDonald's restaurants in the parks, Conestoga Fries and Harbour Galley in Disneyland, and Burger Invasion in California Adventure, will be closing on September 2. No information yet on what will be replacing them, but it appears they will all reopen on September 27.

From January 6 - April 30, 2009, Disneyland is bringing back its Everyone Get in for the Kid's Price promotion. 3, 4, and 5-day park hoppers are available to adults and kids alike for the kids' price. More information is on the Disneyland web site.

March 29, 2008

DCA Food and Wine Festival Update

I was checking out Disney's California Food and Wine Festival website (http://www.disneyland.com/foodandwine) last night and noticed that some new things have been added recently.

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Most weekends are going to feature a celebrity chef who will be conducting cooking demonstrations as well as book signings. In addition to Chef Jamie Gwen, who will be there every weekend, Cat Cora is scheduled on April 12-13, Bret Thompson on April 19-20, and both Nancy Silverton and Guy Fieri on April 26.

Hmm...with all those chefs around, I hope there aren't too many cooks in the kitchen...

A new "Signature" event has been added: A Special Evening with the Gallo Family Winery is scheduled for Sunday, April 20. This dinner will be held from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the Vineyard Room restaurant inside Disney's California Adventure. The cost is $85/person.

I hadn't planned to be at the parks that weekend but that sounds intriguing...I love Chef Tae's food!

The Daily Schedule for the Food and Wine Festival complimentary events is now up on the web site also, so I've been checking out things I want to attend on the weekend of the 11th-13th and the weekend of the 2nd-3rd.

Ghirardelli Sweet Sundays...oooooooooooh! (Every Sunday at 11:00)

Wine and Chocolate...oh my. (Every weekend at 5:30)

They're starting the Festival off right as far as I'm concerned - Delicious Desserts on April 11 is the very first demonstration. Also that weekend are demos for Gilroy Garlic and Melissa's Produce, and a What's for Brunch session on Saturday.

With the Festival going to a daily schedule this year, there's many more wineries represented - 24 if I counted correctly. Beer tasting sessions will feature either the returning Karl Straus Brewing Company or (new this year) Widmer Beers. Don Julio Tequila sponsors tequila tasting sessions every weekend, and there's a new Mixology 101: Drinks 1-2-3 session offered every Monday afternoon.

If you haven't made plans yet to attend any of the Signature events...The Napa Rose Cooking School is sold out, but there are still tickets left for all of the other events, though some are getting close to capacity.

I plan to try to blog live from the Festival the first weekend, so there will be lots of photos and reports coming both here and on the AllEars.net Disney's California Food and Wine Festival web page, which is HERE.

Please send me any reports or comments that you have, too!

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 3, 2008

DCA - Fun at the Snow White 70th Anniversary Exhibit

Back in November (yeah, I know, not a very up-to-date blog entry, is it?) Disney opened a Snow White 70th Anniversary exhibit in the Animation Building at DCA. The exhibit is in the main room of the building - sort of a maze-like set-up of walls with some photos and artwork and copies of cels from the movie. Interesting to see some of the sketches and concept art, and read snippets on how they come up with various ideas, etc.

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For those of you familiar with that part of the Animation Building, you know that there are a bunch of projection screens overhead, which usually are showing scenes, artwork, etc. from lots of Disney animated features - but for now it's only Snow White.

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Which brings me (finally) to the point of this blog entry...how to have some fun at the exhibit. On the outside of the exhibit's "walls" are life-size sketches of various characters from the movie. Life-size enough that with a little imagination and placement you can insert yourselves. :-) So Lee and I had a little fun with that when we were there a couple of weeks ago.

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Hmmm...I'm not quite sure I like the way Snow is looking at him!!! Though I can't blame her for wanting to upgrade to someone much more manly than the "girly prince" that Disney stuck her with...

Happy New Year, everyone!

October 9, 2007

Mickey's Halloween Treat

For the third year in a row, Disney is presenting the Mickey's Halloween Treat party at Disney's California Adventure on selected evenings during the month of October. It's a fun event for both kids and adults where everyone can dress in costume (normally no one over the age of 9 can enter the park in costume) and trick or treat around the park. Lee and I went to the party on Friday night, and here are a few observations.

Mickey's Halloween Treat

In addition to the formal Meet and Greet spots, there are LOTS of characters just walking around, I think even more than last year. The lines are pretty long at the Meet and Greets - I think it's more fun to just run into the characters where generally there is no line! Characters are also dancing with guests at the various party/music spots. We saw Stitch and Flik getting down at Candy Corn Acres, some piratical partying from Chip and Dale at Pirate's Wharf, and Frozone, Merlin, and Sulley had the boogie fever at the Bat Lot Bash.

Mickey's Halloween Treat

There are even more treat stops this year - there is a new "Treat Trail" in the Animation Building. There are more alternatives to candy available - every treat stop has a "healthy" option in addition to the candy. Last year there were only sliced apples, but this year there were boxes of raisins, packets of fruit leather and small bags of baby carrots as well.

I was disappointed in the candy selection - there was not much chocolate, and it was mostly things like Now and Laters, Laffy Taffy, Smarties and Lemon Heads. I got a couple of Butterfingers, Nestle Crunch bars and one Snickers and one Clark bar - not much chocolate as far as this chocoholic is concerned! There were several treat stations that were giving out 2 oz bags of Kissables, though, so that was a nice treat!

Mickey's Halloween Treat

There are many more activities in the wharf area this year, which has been set up with (what else?) a pirate theme. The characters in the area are all wearing pirate attire and the craft area is decorated with lots of pirate figures. There's even pirate-themed games - Lee got to fire a cannon at a target and won a pirate bookmark and some (temporary) tattoos).

Mickey's Halloween Treat

The decorations are much the same as last year - Halloween projections on the sidewalks, Mickey pumpkin and Mickey ghost lights, and spider webs projected on Grizzly Peak, the Orange Stinger, and the Hyperion Theater.

Mickey's Halloween Treat

Mickey's Halloween Treat

Mickey's Halloween Treat

New this year is the Mickey's Trick or Treat on the Street character cavalcade. I don't know that I'd call it a parade - there's one central float that's accompanied by some sign floats and a couple of large moving jack-o-lanterns. Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto and Donald are are the central float, and a bunch of characters and cast members in costume follow it on its route. It follows the normal parade route, with stops in front of Golden Screams and Candy Corn Acres (Sunshine Plaza). There the characters perform a couple of songs and invite audience members (kids, generally!) to come out and dance with them - the kids get a Mickey's Halloween Treat button for participating. It was kind of fun and the new Trick or Treat on the Street song is catchy.

Mickey's Halloween Treat Mickey's Halloween Treat

A fair number of people dressed in costume (like last year there were lots and lots of pirates!), but a lot of people didn't dress up. Lee and I were from very different worlds - he was a Jedi Knight (Luke Skywalker from Return of the Jedi) and I was Belle. Lee's costume was popular with the ladies. :-)

Mickey's Halloween Treat Mickey's Halloween Treat

October 5, 2007

More Disney's HalloweenTime

Disney's HalloweenTime is becoming one of my favorite times of year at the Disneyland Resort - it's just so festive and fun! The Halloween decorations are really clever - I like the huge character pumpkins sitting atop Disneyland's entrance. Not to mention the candy corn appearance of the "CALIFORNIA" letters in front of Disney's California Adventure. I think the imagineers must have had a lot of fun with it. But one drawback is that Disneyland is significantly more crowded, especially in the evening.

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I didn't get the chance last year, but this year I sat in on one of the Woody's Halloween Round-up shows back in the Big Thunder Ranch area. Pretty corny - just like you'd expect - but cute. It's hosted by Tex Tumbleweed, but of course stars Woody, Jessie and Bullseye. From what I could tell each day's shows follow a continuing story arc - I saw the second show of the day, which featured a character (Lucky the Cat) who had apparently been introduced in the first show. And Woody impersonating a ghost. And the show ended with a cliffhanger - was the witch hat that blew on stage good or bad??? Should Jessie use it as part of her Halloween costume? Unfortunately I missed the later shows so I never found out!

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But my favorite part was the "commercial" - where Tex does an ad for the show's sponsor, Cowboy Crunchies. He even brags about how they are loaded with sugar - and all a kid needs to do is take one whiff of the cereal to make them strong! He got an audience volunteer to demonstrate that. Ah yes...all the elements of bad 50s-era live TV shows. :-)

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What's next for our Dynamic Duo? Will Laura and Lee make it through the treacherous Friday Freeway Free-for-all with time enough to change into their costumes before the Mickey's Halloween Treat party? Will their macabre masquerade survive Mulholland Madness? Find out next time...same Blog time, same Blog channel!

May 15, 2007

Mmm..I'd like a "Taste" of that!

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On Saturday night, Lee and I attended the "Taste" event, which is a new addition to Disney's California Food and Wine Weekends this year. It's very similar to Epcot's Party for the Senses - except that Taste was better.

cajun_shrimp_sm.jpg If you're not familiar with Party for the Senses or Taste - both are food and wine tasting events. Guests pay one price for admission ($100 in this case), and then can partake as much as they wish from a series of food and wine tasting "stations". At Taste, each of the fourteen food stations featured a different dish and chef from one of the Disney parks, resorts, or Downtown Disney restaurants. (You can find the menu HERE.) The portions were sample-sized, but very nicely plated and presented. For example, my favorite was Cafe Orleans' Cajun Spiced Shrimp, served on a corn cake with ratatouille and a drizzle of Mornay sauce. As you can see from the photo, it looked really good, and tasted even better. The wine tasting stations featured one of nine different wineries, each pouring at least three different wines. There was also beer from the Karl Strauss Brewing Company available.

And as if that weren't enough...there were several cheese and fruit stations, which later in the evening were turned into the dessert stations, featuring an assortment of delectable desserts. (My one complaint is that there wasn't enough chocolate. But then there's never enough chocolate...)

So why did I like Taste so much more than Party for the Senses? It was Party for the Senses (PftS) on a smaller scale, that's why. PftS is in a huge building (the former Millenium Village at Epcot) which accommodates a large number of people. I found it quite crowded and overwhelming - there were too many people and too many food and wine choices. At Taste you could realistically try one of everything without completely stuffing yourself, and you could move around the room without feeling like a salmon swimming upstream. In addition to "standing tables" inside, Taste had quite a few tables *and* chairs set up outside, which gave people the option both to sit and to get away from the noise a little bit.

barrage_sm.jpg And I must also admit that I was somewhat predisposed to enjoy Taste when I found out who the entertainment for the evening was going to be - a group called "Barrage". We saw them several years ago at Epcot and really liked them...and they put on a good show at Taste, too. They are kind of hard to describe, but here's a blurb from their web site: "Barrage - A high-octane fiddle-fest that features an international, multi-talented cast performing an eclectic mix of music, song and dance." Picture a group of young and very energetic violinists accompanied by drums, electric guitar, and bass. They played everything from Irish reels to Duke Ellington to Bolero. All while jumping around the stage, step dancing, and even singing. Whew.

Taste started at 6:30 and ended at 9:30 - I hadn't expected that we would be there for the entire time but we were. Promptly at 9:30 the lights inside the building were turned up and we got the polite Disney announcement: "Thank you for coming. We hope you will visit again soon." Translation: "It's over, so get out of here already!" On the way out they handed out nice bags for us to carry our souvenir wine glasses in - that was a very thoughtful touch.

We had a really good time. I'm not sure this is something that we would want to do *every* year, but we certainly enjoyed it. We will be going to Epcot's Food and Wine Festival this fall, and had planned to attend Party for the Senses...but now I'm wondering if I really want to do that - it might be quite a disappointment after Taste. (And the only night we have for PftS also happens to be the night of the Tower of Terror 13K, which Mike Scopa has written about in his blog. We thought it sounded like a lot of fun - but it conflicts with PftS. Of course a lot of people would say that given the choice between running and eating we'd be crazy to choose running...but that's just the kind of people we are.)

"Taste"fully yours...

Laura

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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.

Frozen - Live at the Hyperion is the previous category.

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