Disneyland Resort First Impressions

Disneyland
Disneyland

Instead of another comprehensive trip report from me on my recent Disneyland visit, I thought I’d do something different and interview my mom, Pam, on her first visit.

 

What was your overall first impression of Disneyland Resort?

It is a more detailed version of Walt Disney World. It is more compact. I liked it and think their Downtown Disney has a more homey feel. Disneyland has better places to eat than the Magic Kingdom.

What was your favorite show?

World of Color was reminiscent of a show called Dancing Waters from back in the 1950s that I enjoyed as a child. Aladdin in Disney California Adventure was great. My favorite characters were the Genie and the carpet. How a character without any lines can portray so much emotion in playing a carpet was amazing. I also really liked Mickey and the Magical Map in Disneyland. I loved the swing dancers on Saturday night at Disneyland too!

World of Color
World of Color

What was your favorite ride in each park?

In Disneyland, I liked Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. I thought it was a nice themed ride with attention to detail. It was a long, relaxing ride. At California Adventure I liked Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, Golden Zephyr and the non-swinging cars on Mickey’s Fun Wheel.

Which did you like better, Haunted Mansion Holiday or It’s A Small World Holiday?

Haunted Mansion Holiday
Haunted Mansion Holiday

That’s a tough one. I liked them both. The Haunted Mansion Holiday was really nice with the theming, but this brought such a change to the ride from the regular Haunted Mansion. The queues are also both so different from Walt Disney World. I enjoy the exteriors both, but really like the southern mansion style of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. I think the theming at Haunted Mansion more immersive and complete than It’s A Small World.

What were some of your favorite food items or meals?

At California Adventure, definitely Carthay Circle. The Cozy Cone breakfast cone was good and a little different for a breakfast item. Churros were excellent. Those were always our go to snack. Bengal BBQ in Disneyland and Jolly Holiday Bakery were both places we visited twice. Flavored cokes from Coke Corner were great and brought back memories of working at a soda fountain in high school.

What were your favorite holiday decorations at Disneyland Resort?

World of Color Winter Dreams, It’s A Small World Holiday and the lights in Cars Land

What did you think about the Grand Californian?

It reminded me a lot of one of our favorite resorts at Walt Disney World, the Wilderness Lodge. It was bigger than I expected. We had a great meal at Napa Rose. It was a great location and nice that we could walk directly into the park from our resort.

What do you takeaway from the trip?

I was delightfully surprised. I thought it was just going to be a smaller version of Walt Disney World and thought I was going to be disappointed. The Cast Members really went out of their way to say Happy Birthday and your name. The theming was wonderful. I liked the more friendly village feeling to Downtown Disney. Also enjoyed Trader Sam’s theming and the holiday drinks at Disneyland Hotel.

Churro
Churro
Cars Land decorations
Cars Land decorations
Grand Californian lobby
Grand Californian lobby
Trader Sams
Trader Sams
Mickey, Minnie, Mom & me
Mickey, Minnie, Mom & me
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Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Returns Friday

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party returns this week to the Magic Kingdom on Friday. I am so looking forward to this special event as it is the kickoff for the holiday season in the parks for me. Separate tickets are required for admission to the party. The event takes place select nights in November and December and runs from 7pm to midnight. Advance tickets are available at a discount for most nights with a savings of $5 per ticket, and select dates also offer military, DVC and AP discounts.

I can’t wait to attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party this Friday night for several reasons. One, the new Jingle Cruise is debuting. We rarely (if ever) get holiday overlays here at Walt Disney World and this is one I am excited about. I really enjoy the Jungle Cruise and its background music from the 1930s/40s is great. I hope they match that era of Christmas music in the queue as it is some of my favorite music. I think it will be especially cool to compare the Jingle Cruise here to the overlay in Disneyland in a few weeks.

My favorite part of the party by far is the Once Upon A Christmastime Parade. It takes place twice during the evening at 8:15 and 10:30pm and starts in Frontierland and ends on Main Street. If you get a chance, I highly recommend watching from Main Street with a view of Cinderella Castle. This makes for awesome pictures with the castle dream lights and the “snow” on Main Street. Seeing the characters all dressed up in their Christmas costumes is fantastic! It really makes it feel like Christmas to me during this parade ending with a certain jolly fellow.

Once Upon A Christmastime Parade
Once Upon A Christmastime Parade
Donald and Daisy
Donald and Daisy
Chip and Dale
Chip and Dale
Soldiers
Soldiers
Mickey, Minnie and Duffy
Mickey, Minnie and Duffy
Santa
Santa

Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season is a special fireworks show at 9:30pm on Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party nights. A new enhancement this year will feature the new to Walt Disney World Glow With The Show Ears that will change colors along with the fireworks. I have yet to see the ears here, but saw a small sampling last summer at Disney California Adventure during of World of Color, so I think it should be cool.

Holiday Wishes
Holiday Wishes
Holiday Wishes tree
Holiday Wishes tree
Holiday Wishes fan
Holiday Wishes fan
Lights
Lights
Castle Dream Lights
Castle Dream Lights
Main Street
Main Street

Also new this year will be a Sorcerer’s of the Magic Kingdom card exclusive to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party featuring Huey, Dewey and Louie. As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve only played Sorcerer’s once, but I love collecting the cards, so I am looking forward to this special edition card. Of course another favorite aspect of the party is the included hot chocolate and cookies. There are also dance parties, stage shows and most attractions are open during the party.

What is your favorite part of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party? Will you be attending this year? Some of us will be there for the first party of the year on Friday, which is already sold out. If you’ll be there, come say hi!

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Best Bathrooms in Disney

I thought I would take this time to share some of my favorite bathrooms around Walt Disney World and Disneyland. I know this may not be the most glamorous subject, but I thought it would be fun. Hey, maybe you’ll find a new favorite spot. This is certainly subjective, but I am basing my list on a few things. Theming is one parameter, location is another, and size/stall to guest ratio. They don’t all have to meet all criteria and they are not listed in any particular order.

Magic Kingdom Bathrooms

I have to say the Tangled bathrooms in the Magic Kingdom are probably the most themed I’ve ever seen. Rapunzel’s tower is illuminated at night and the surrounding area is beautifully decorated around the village near Rapunzel’s parents’ castle and the Snuggly Duckling. Lanterns are lit up at night and hang above the area to provide a gentle light at night. Outside there are seating clusters even with charging stations. Inside the theming is carried on even further (at least in the ladies room) to reflect many of Rapunzel’s hobbies featured in the opening song of Tangled. Plus, there are tons of stalls and I’ve never had to wait.

Tangled bathroomTangled 2Tangled 3Tangled 4Tangled 5Tangled 6

As a runner up, I’d choose the bathrooms in the Fantasyland train station. They aren’t quite as spacious as the Tangled toilets, but they are very pretty. Honorable mention in the Magic Kingdom goes to the New Fantasyland bathrooms behind Gaston’s Tavern.

Disneyland Bathrooms

Hands down my favorite bathrooms in Disneyland are the Alice in Wonderland bathrooms adjacent to the Alice attraction and the Matterhorn. Friends of mine steered me to these bathrooms to check them out on my first trip and I wasn’t disappointed. While Alice in Wonderland isn’t one of my favorite Disney films, the attraction is my favorite dark ride in Fantasyland. I loved these bathrooms with the cards for the stall doors and the hearts on the light fixtures.

Alice bathroomAlice 2Alice 3Alice 4Alice 5Alice 6

I haven’t seen them in person, but a shoutout to the Club 33 bathrooms must be made. Also, have to give props to the Tiki Room bathrooms as the only bathrooms to my knowledge inside of an attraction.

Epcot Bathrooms

Just recently the new bathrooms opened in the American Adventure pavilion, which might now usurp the position of my favorite bathrooms from the old Millennium Village/now World Showplace bathrooms as my favorite in World Showcase. I have to give the edge to America because the World Showplace bathrooms are often only open for special events or during super crowded times of the year like New Year’s Eve. The new bathrooms are also much prettier with a colonial theme (or as colonial as you can get with Dyson airblade hand dryers).

American Adventure bathroomAmerican Adventure 2American Adventure 3American Adventure 4 American Adventure 5

In Future World, I adore the bathrooms tucked away to the right of the entrance to the Imagination Pavilion. So few people seem to know these exist I have rarely seen more than one or two other people here. Bonus points are definitely awarded for the bright rainbow colors carrying over the theming from the pavilion and the fact I’ve never had to wait in line for these bathrooms.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Bathrooms

My pick here for best bathrooms comes down to a matter of convenience and accessibility. The restrooms outside of the American Idol Experience to the right of the attraction entrance aren’t themed at all. They are purely functional, however they are, from what I’ve found, consistently the least crowded bathrooms anywhere in the park. These bathrooms are also pretty centrally located just off of Hollywood Boulevard to the left of the Sorcerer’s Hat.

Disney California Adventure Bathrooms

On first thinking of this post, my immediate answer was the beautifully themed new bathrooms on Buena Vista Street on the right a little after the park entrance. I loved the colors and how they fit right in with the style of Hollywood in the late 20s and early 30s. When I mentioned this post to Shelley, she added the bathrooms in Carthay Circle as a suggestion. I forgot how great these were as well with pictures of Walt and other celebs from the time of the premiere of Snow White at the Carthay Circle Theatre in the 1930s.

Buena Vista Street bathroomBuena Vista Street 2Buena Vista Street 3Buena Vista Street 4Buena Vista Street 5Carthay 1Carthay 2Carthay 3Carthay 4Carthay 5Carthay 6

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Bathrooms

The best themed bathrooms are tucked away in a corner of Camp Minnie-Mickey just outside the exit to the Festival of the Lion King. These are rarely busy, except right after a show of FotLK lets out. They are representative of the decor with a camp style reminiscent of the woods that currently surround them. I say currently because these bathrooms are probably not long for this world with the relocation of Lion King to Africa. The proposed Avartarland expansion of this section of the park will surely be the end of these bathrooms, at least in their current state. I can’t imagine they’d fit in with the landscape of Pandora.

 

What are some of your favorite bathrooms at Walt Disney World or Disneyland? Did I miss any?

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Disneyland: California Dreaming

Disneyland trip report
Disneyland

With so many of us and our friends traveling out to Disneyland this week, it’s got me thinking about my upcoming trip. I had my first trip to Disneyland last summer, and wow was it amazing! You can read my detailed trip reports from last year here, here and here. This fall I’m heading back to California the week after Thanksgiving. I’m so stoked that I will get to see the Disneyland Resort in a whole new light at the holidays!

Last trip was solo with several groups of friends traveling on overlapping dates, which turned into only one day where I was truly on my own. This year, my mom is coming with me for her first trip to Disneyland. We are also celebrating both of our birthdays since it is the week after mine and the week before hers. I’m excited to see it through her eyes for the first time as she has been coming to Walt Disney World since the early 1970s and has been a passholder on and off over the past 15 years. We are staying on property at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and splurged for a theme park view room since I was able to book at a discount through work.

Disneyland trip report
Musicians strolling through New Orleans Square

I am looking forward to going back to experience some of my favorites from last time like Pirates of the Caribbean, Radiator Springs Racers, Alice in Wonderland and many more attractions. Even just the thought of exploring New Orleans Square, which is one of my favorite places on the entire planet, gets me excited for this trip! I cannot wait to see and do the special things just for Christmas time. They haven’t released any info yet, but I’m hoping I’ll be there while Disneyland is doing the Candlelight Processional. I love this show at Epcot and would like to see the differences and often they have great celebrity narrators since they’re so close to L.A.

Haunted Mansion is going to be transformed for the Nightmare Before Christmas layover called Haunted Mansion Holiday. I’ve seen the ride through on my NBC special edition dvd, but experiencing it in person has been on my list for a while. I also cannot wait to see Sleeping Beauty Castle draped in icicle lights and the special Believe fireworks show in Disneyland.

Over in Disney California Adventure I am probably most looking forward to seeing my favorite section of the park, Buena Vista Street, decked out in decorations reminiscent of the heyday of Hollywood. I saw pictures from friends last year and videos of bell ringers and I see myself with a peppermint mocha from Fiddler, Fife and Practical Cafe’s Starbucks spending a good amount of time just soaking in the atmosphere. Also, I’m interested to see the all new World of Color show for the holidays. I have to admit I’m going to miss the regular show, but I’m sure they’ll produce something just as awesome for Christmas.

And then there is the food. I will definitely be returning to Jolly Holiday Bakery for my beloved Matterhorn macaroon, Mickey beignets and a mint julep will be happening, and skewers from Bengal Barbecue again will make another great snack. I am debating making a reservation for either a character meal, which I didn’t do last time, or maybe Steakhouse 55 since I’m still unable to find a way into Club 33. I really loved Napa Rose and may do just appetizers and drinks there again and same thing at Carthay Circle since I enjoyed them both so much. Oh yes, and churros must happen too. Team churro forever!

Matterhorn Macaroon
Matterhorn Macaroon
Mickey beignets and mint julep
Mickey beignets and mint julep
Club 33
Club 33
Carthay Circle Manhattan
Carthay Circle Manhattan

I think I hit all of the attractions last summer, but there have been some additions since then like Mickey and the Magical Map in Disneyland and the new location for the princess meet and greet. I am also hoping that Big Thunder Mountain Railroad will be open then after its lengthy refurbishment. It’s A Small World Holiday is another thing I’m really looking forward to seeing for the first time.

Most of all, I just cannot wait to be back in Disneyland. For someone who has been coming to Walt Disney World for thirty plus years, it is like traveling home, but to a different home than what you know, and you are instantly welcomed and at ease. I’m also toying with doing either a special holiday tour or the Walk in Walt’s Footsteps tour. The ambiance and feel and coziness of Disneyland is something that I think we are missing here in Florida. I love the parks here at Christmas and can’t wait to experience the magic of Disneyland when I head back in a few months. The thought of returning to Trader Sam’s doesn’t hurt either. 😉

Have you been to Disneyland at the holidays? What are some of your favorite things to do? Leave me a comment if there’s anything I’ve missed that special for that time of year or if you have any restaurant or tour recommendations for me.

 

Best of luck to everyone traveling to Disneyland this weekend for the runDisney Dumbo Double Dare races!!!

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Disney T-shirt Collection

T-shirt from runDisney I’d love image copyright Disney

People often ask what Disney items I collect. I don’t really do pins, other than for the races I’ve done or special occasions like Epcot’s 30th. Vinylmations aren’t really my thing because I know there are ones I like, but I can’t deal with the blind boxes and not knowing what I’m going to get. My weakness, when it comes to Disney, and other things, is my affinity for t-shirts. I’ve collected them since I moved to Florida in the late 1990s and thought I had a few added to the collection over the years. It wasn’t until I went to take pictures for this post that I realized that the number of Disney t-shirts I now own is pushing fifty.

Most of my Disney t-shirts have stories behind them as to when and where I purchased them. Others, I have no recollection of how I acquired them, but I am fairly certain that I purchased them all, if not all but one or two. At an average price of probably $20-25 each after discounts, I am a little embarrassed at the amount of money I’ve probably spent (well over $1,000.), but I do love them and the memories they bring. So I thought I’d take this time to share my t-shirt collection and what a few of them mean to me.

I wish I had a picture, or could find the shirt, but the first Disney t-shirt I actually remember getting (or having my mom possibly buy it for me) was in middle school on my first trip to Epcot in 1993. I loved the France pavilion so much and was a scholar of French at the time, so it was a perfect fit (or so I thought at the time) when I found a shirt that featured helpful phrases and words in French with their translation into English. The brilliant thing about this shirt was that the words were printed upside down, so I as the shirt wearer could read it a little easier. Dorky, I know, but I loved it and really wish I could lay my hands on it. I’ve spent over an hour looking and I’m temporarily calling off the search.

When I was in middle school and high school, my favorite Disney character was Winnie the Pooh. I had a stuffed Winnie the Pooh that even sang when you pushed a button on the hunny pot he was holding. I’m sure I still have him around here, but not sure where. These three shirts have survived a good two decades almost now.

Winnie the Pooh So Squeezable
Winnie the Pooh So Squeezable
Winnie the Pooh Midnight Smackeral
Winnie the Pooh Midnight Smackeral
Luvable, huggable Pooh
Luvable, huggable Pooh

The older I got, the more I realized that Mickey Mouse was actually my favorite character. I would say he probably makes up the character on the highest percentage of my shirts.

Mickey Live Laugh Relax tank
Mickey Live Laugh Relax tank
Mickey Swirl Design
Mickey Swirl Design
Mickey with bats
Mickey with bats
Mickey Woody
Mickey Woody
Mickey You Gots to Chill
Mickey You Gots to Chill
Peace, Love & Mickey Mouse
Peace, Love & Mickey Mouse
Surfing Mickey
Surfing Mickey

Over the years I have acquired a love for Disney t-shirts from the parks, whether to celebrate anniversaries or just favorite attractions.

EPCOT Center from WDW 40th Anniversary
EPCOT Center from WDW 40th Anniversary
Epcot 30th Anniversary
Epcot 30th Anniversary
The American Adventure Epcot 30
The American Adventure Epcot 30
The Magic Kingdom Shag
The Magic Kingdom Shag
Peoplemover
Peoplemover
Pirates of the Caribbean
Pirates of the Caribbean
S is for Sparrow POTC
S is for Sparrow POTC
Disney MGM Studios Where Animation Comes to Life front
Disney MGM Studios Where Animation Comes to Life front
Disney MGM Studios Where Animation Comes to Life back
Disney MGM Studios Where Animation Comes to Life back
Star Tours Judge Me By My Size, Do You front
Star Tours Judge Me By My Size, Do You front
Star Tours Judge Me By My Size, Do You back
Star Tours Judge Me By My Size, Do You back
Star Tours I Am the Rebel Spy
Star Tours I Am the Rebel Spy
Plaid Mickey WDW 71
Plaid Mickey WDW 71
WDW Surfboards
WDW Surfboards
WDW Tour Quadruple Decker Bus
WDW Tour Quadruple Decker Bus
Disney Tradition Built by Characterss front
Disney Tradition Built by Characterss front
Disney Tradition Built by Characterss back
Disney Tradition Built by Characterss back
Disneyland
Disneyland
Red Car Trolley at Disney California Adventure
Red Car Trolley at Disney California Adventure

My favorite sports team trains at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports, so they even have Disney Atlanta Braves shirts.

ESPN WWOS Atlanta Braves Spring Training
ESPN WWOS Atlanta Braves Spring Training

Miscellaneous shirts

Don't Worry Be Happy
Don’t Worry Be Happy
Dopey I'm Smarter Than U Look
Dopey I’m Smarter Than U Look
Captain America
Captain America
The Avengers
The Avengers
Darth Vader Who's Your Daddy
Darth Vader Who’s Your Daddy
Will Turner POTC tank
Will Turner POTC tank
Tropical Minnie
Tropical Minnie
Muppets I Love Nerds
Muppets I Love Nerds
Kermit Geek
Kermit Geek
Goofy Simplicity
Goofy Simplicity

Even my favorite actor, Sean Connery, was featured on a t-shirt I got at MGM about fifteen years ago.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Then there are the holiday shirts. The one that was the hardest to get and to wear after earning it was the 24 hours Leap Day in 2012.

Mickey Leap Day
Mickey Leap Day
Mickey Boo
Mickey Boo
Mickey May Your Holidays Be Bright
Mickey May Your Holidays Be Bright

I only have one Disney resort t-shirt and that is for my favorite resort, Disney’s Polynesian Resort.

Disney's Polynesian Resort front
Disney’s Polynesian Resort front
Disney's Polynesian Resort back
Disney’s Polynesian Resort back

The shirts I am most proud of, and have paid the most for individually, are those from my RunDisney races.

Mickey's Halloween 5K 2010
Mickey’s Halloween 5K 2010
Buzz and Woody's Best Friends 5K 2011
Buzz and Woody’s Best Friends 5K 2011
Beauty and the Beast Royal Family 5K 2011
Beauty and the Beast Royal Family 5K 2011
ESPN The Weekend 5K 2011
ESPN The Weekend 5K 2011
Expedition Everest Challenge 2011
Expedition Everest Challenge 2011
Disney Halloween 5K 2011
Disney Halloween 5K 2011
Expedition Everest Challenge 2012
Expedition Everest Challenge 2012

My latest addition to my collection came last weekend in The Adventures of the Gummi Bears t-shirt.

The Adventures of the Gummi Bears front
The Adventures of the Gummi Bears front
The Adventures of the Gummi Bears back
The Adventures of the Gummi Bears back

In doing this, I noticed that I don’t have any Animal Kingdom shirts. I saw one the other day that I really liked, so this may be the next one to join the others.

Disney's Animal Kingdom t-shirt
Disney’s Animal Kingdom t-shirt

Do you collect anything? Do you have more Disney t-shirts than me? Do you have a favorite?

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