Looking Forward Through the Year

I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of the things I am looking forward to this year as it is almost time to spring forward.

This year I am hoping to participate in at least one race per month, and doing more local races too. This weekend I will be walking the 5K for the Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World. Next weekend I will probably also walk the Best Damn Race 5K in downtown Orlando near Lake Eola. April I think will be the 5K that goes through Legoland and the rest of the year is up in the air.

Cinderella Royal Family 5K medal

Spring Training is about to shift into high gear. Teams are practicing and I’ve got tickets to see my Braves play the Cardinals at home next month. I hope to catch at least one other spring training game and to make it to Atlanta once this year.

The Epcot Flower and Garden Festival is starting in a couple of weeks and this is always a fun special event. Last year I got to meet one of my HGTV personalities, David Bromstad. I look forward to trying to see him again this year and to try out some of the new food offerings.

I would love to get to Busch Gardens as it has been almost a year since I last visited, despite this being the closer theme park to where I live. I need my coaster fix and to feed some kangaroos too.

A first for me this year will be to visit Universal Studios Mardi Gras. I haven’t been to Universal since 1992 other than a few trips to City Walk over the past decade. I am long overdue and hope to finally get to taste butterbeer and maybe one of those giant donuts from the Simpsons.

Summer will bring the return of Summer Nightastic at Busch Gardens and SeaWorld, both of which are a lot of fun. I would like to get back to SeaWorld to see their Viva La Musica celebration.

Coming soon, hopefully, will be the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at the Magic Kingdom. This new coaster will be something between the thrill level of the Barnstormer and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but with some dark ride elements I’m hoping similar to Radiator Springs Racers in Cars Land at Disney California Adventure.

Late spring into summer brings the return of the beloved Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Last year I missed out on Hyperspace Hoopla in its entirety and I won’t let that happen again this year.

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom I am looking forward to the new nighttime spectacular that should be arriving sometime this summer. I also really want Festival of the Lion King to come back soon, but I know it is still a few months off.

July will bring the WWE Raw live in Orlando from the Amway Center. I hope to see this and compare it to my recent experience for WWE Live.

Also in July will be the Destination D event at Walt Disney World for D23. I hope this is as fun if not more so than the event in 2011.

Of course the fall will bring back the International Food and Wine Festival at Epcot that this year is extended to even more of September. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party starts up again in September into October. November and December will see Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in the Magic Kingdom as well.

One of the things that is on the back burner, but I’m still trying to work into my schedule is a trip back to Disneyland sometime in the next few months or so. Also, a cruise, or two, will be happening this year!

 

What events are you looking forward to this year? Did I miss any of your favorites?

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A Visit to Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar- Part II

And now, for the exciting conclusion, let’s head back to another sunny and comparatively warm part of the United States during early February: Anaheim, CA…

All Iimages provided by Pearson Images
All photos in this article are provided by Pearson Images unless otherwise noted.

Welcome back readers!  In last week’s post, we covered some exterior and interior details, the backstory, and the Disney magic and drinks you can find inside Trader Sam’s. This week we’ll focus exclusively on some of the hidden gems the Imagineers have placed throughout and explore some of Trader Sam’s connections to Walt Disney World (as well as other Disney Parks) and what may be in store for Orlando when the jungle’s “Head Salesman” expands his operations to the East Coast.

When you enter Sam’s the skippers behind the bar yell “Aloha!” to all who enter that happy place. Find a seat, grab an illustrated menu , then sit back and soak up the sights and sounds of Trader Sam’s.

Skipper Ramiro makes another Uh-Oa.
Skipper Ramiro makes another Uh-Oa.

It’s in the Details

Alternating tropical tunes and antique diddies like you might hear waiting in line for the Jungle Cruise comprise the soundtrack of Trader Sam’s. Patrons inside are constantly ordering one of the handful of drinks which “awaken” the tiki gods and stir up a little chaos. But, amidst all the sights and sounds, be sure to wander around and inspect the ephemera Sam has “collected”, which decorate the walls and ceiling. Including the walls behind the bar!

As we mentioned last week, there’s notes, postcards, photos, artifacts , and more that give a nod –or flat out refer- to different Disney characters, rides, and places, including Disneyland Tokyo and a photo of a familiar sight from Typhoon Lagoon!

I was originally going to list my top ten favorite Trader Sam’s artifacts, but there’s just too many to pick from. Plus, a great deal of fun is exploring the place on your own.  So, instead, I’ll let some photos do the “talking.”

Trader Sam's-58

If you're looking for a hidden Mickey here, you're cruising down the right river... And if you aren't, then you're in "de Nile".
If you’re looking for a hidden Mickey here, you’re cruising down the right river… And if you aren’t, then you’re in “de Nile”.
The glass bottle that actually camer from the Adventurer's Club. Be sure to watch this when someone orders a "Shipwreck on the Rocks!"
The glass bottle that actually came from the Adventurer’s Club. Be sure to watch when someone orders a “Shipwreck on the Rocks!”
Even the beer handles are themed and enjoy a little Disney "magic."
Even the beer handles are themed and enjoy a little Disney “magic.”
This Glass case warrants taking a gander at. Anybody know what movie that SF newspaper is from? (Hint: there's a hardback clue on the far right side of the shelf in the picture with the White Hat mentioned further below.)  Take a close look with the flash on your camera at the inside bottom right corner to look for another hidden Mickey.
This Glass case warrants taking a gander at. Anybody know what movie that SF newspaper is from? (Hint: there’s a hardback clue on the far right side of the shelf in the picture with the White Hat mentioned further below.)
Take a close look with the flash on your camera at the inside bottom right corner to look for another hidden Mickey.
Can you find the letter from an Indiana Jones character? Or the Indy voodoo doll from Temple of Doom?
Can you find the letter from an Indiana Jones character? Or the Indy voodoo doll from Temple of Doom?

 

I showed the photo of Colonel Critchlow Suchbench last week, but patrons looking up at a crate hanging from the ceiling on the left side of the bar will note some other familiar Adventurer’s Club artifacts.

Slappy the puppets dangles from the top of the crate.
Slappy the puppet dangles from the top of the crate.

There’s a letter attached to the crate via wooden arrow. I took a close-up photo with flash so it was legible. Those familiar with the old Adventurer’s Club will find it amusing.

Take a read. This is the only way you'll be able to.
Take a read. This is the only way you’ll be able to.

See how many other Adventure’s Club connections you can find throughout Sam’s. I’ve never tried to count them all, but just from the ones I’ve observed, there’s at least 12 or 13 (counting the identifiable objects in the crate separately)

Last week I mentioned TWO hidden Mickey’s inside Trader Sam’s. Well, here’s a photographic hint to one of them, also related to the Adventurer’s Club. Can you identify where this Col. Suchbench Vinylmation is “floating” around?

HIdden Mickey "floating" around inside Sam's. You will NEED FLASH on a camera in order to see this, as it's otherwise obsucred by darkness.
HIdden Mickey “floating” around inside Sam’s. You will NEED FLASH on a camera in order to see this, as it’s otherwise obscured by darkness.

 

Orange Bird Alert! He showed up here a year before his "official" return to Walt Disney World.
Orange Bird Alert! He showed up here a year before his “official” return to Walt Disney World.

 

Tiki mugs, a pirhana, and some familiar tiki gods inside Trader Sam's.
Tiki mugs, a pirhana, and some familiar tiki gods inside Trader Sam’s.

Trader Sam's-39

A lot to see stashed here. That white hat on top of the container of “Gorilla Grog” is probably just meant to be a “period” hat from the early decades of the 1900’s, but given the penchant for Indiana Jones here, I like to think that’s the hat worn by the Man in the Panama Hat  in the prologue of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, whose hat we see floating with a hole in it at the end of the prologue.

panama hat This screen capture was taken from the Indiana Jones Wiki page.

After visiting more times than I can keep track of, I still notice new things. So, whether you’ve been before or haven’t been yet, there’s always going to be more eye candy for you to enjoy. Let’s hope the same imaginative and thorough approach is taken when Trader Sam’s comes to Orlando.

Trader Sam’s in Orlando

Not long after rumors first circulated about WDW engaging in a notable renovation of the Polynesian Hotel, rumors started to abound in late-2012 & early-2013 that Disney was actively planning to bring Trader Sam’s to Orlando. Not a huge surprise given its success in Anaheim. The joint is regularly packed, sits well with locals AND resort guests, and sells an average of 200 souvenir tiki mugs each weekend (according to one skipper, and that’s JUST the weekend).  It was all too natural to pair the impending renovation of the Polynesian with plans to bring Trader Sam’s to Orlando. But, no official announcement was made regarding Sam’s.

However, shortly after Disney “officially” announced  the renovation of the Downtown Disney area (soon to be “Disney Springs”) in March 2013, there was some initial confusion about the location of Orlando’s Sam’s. A logo banner with properties designed by one of the Creative contractors working with Disney leaked out with the Trader Sam’s logo. Quickly, rumor spread that WDW’s Trader Sam’s must be going into Disney Springs.  But, to date, that does not appear to be the plan. (Apparently, the logo banner only contained projects the Creative firm had worked on previously, one of which was Trader Sam’s.)

Although Disney still has not officially announced any plans for a Trader Sam’s in Orlando, there is strong sentiment among the Disney community on-line that Sam’s will eventually show up at the Polynesian. It could end up in the Great Ceremonial House building, but it’s still anyone’s guess. For more detailed coverage of the Polynesian renovations and “Disney Springs” project, I’ve been following the Atomic Grog here, and Tikiman, who maintains the Unofficial Polynesian Resort pages here.

Given the amount of space to work with at the Polynesian and the general trend to fit the needs for WDW’s larger crowd capacity, it seems likely that any port of Trader Sam’s built in Orlando will reflect a significant increase of patron capacity beyond Trader Sam’s mere “47 occupants” inside the bar itself. And, perhaps, there could be a whole portion of Trader Sam’s with dedicated wait-staff service in addition to the bar we have already come to love. Those who have experienced Sam’s firsthand know that the tight capacity is both a blessing and a curse. It can be hard as heck to find ANYWHERE to sit (or stand) inside the bar on a Friday or Saturday night, or when there’s a big conference in Anaheim. And, the noise amplifies pretty quickly in those close quarters. But, it’s the coziness of the bar and proximity to other celebratory patrons that gives Sam’s part of its character. It creates the sense being in a place where everyone is nobody, but everyone belongs. It’s something that is hard to create in a bigger, open space where groups can keep to themselves.

Over at The Atomic Grog, there’s some pondering over whether the Orlando version of Trader Sam’s might also include some sort of a dinner show, akin to the old Adventurer’s Club or even closer to Walt Disney’s original concept for the Enchanted Tiki Room in Disneyland (which would have been a restaurant with animatronic bird show.) There’s been no indication of any such plan so far, but it sure does excite the mind to imagine the possibilities of what THAT experience could be like!

While planning his Orlando theme park, Walt Disney engaged in a lot of research, including sourcing inspiration for the Polynesian.  It’s not inconceivable that Walt might have visited the historic Mai-Kai in Ft. Lauderdale, giving further influence to some of the initial design of the Polynesian (perhaps?) I’ve been to the Mai-Kai and it’s an amazing mid-century style South Seas dinner and show experience not to be missed for anyone visiting Ft. Lauderdale. An Orlando Trader Sam’s that looked and felt like this could be incredible! Here’s a couple of pictures to get your mind spinning.

One of the bars inside The Mai-Kai (photo courtesy of the Sun-Sentinel).
One of the bars inside The Mai-Kai (photo courtesy of the Sun-Sentinel).

maikai2  Mai Kai photo above courtesy of The Tiki Chick blog (http://thetikichick.com/)

I’d also like to imagine a dining area or bar that took some inspiration from Don the Beachcomber. There’s only two Don’s left now (Southern California and Kona, HI), but in its mid-century hey-day, Don’s was one of the biggest inspirations for the kind of “wall of artifacts” style of décor employed at Sam’s.

DTB

 Don the Beachcomber image from the Don the Beachcomber Facebook page.

Hopefully the installation of former Disneyland Resort President George Kalogridis, who oversaw the transformation of Disney California Adventure, will encourage Orlando to create their new Trader Sam’s with the same sensibilities, fun, and tongue-in-cheek references that make Disneyland’s Trader Sam’s such an amazing experience.

What do you all want to see in the Trader Sam’s that’ll hopefully come to Walt Disney World? Tell me in the comments below.

Well, that’ll round out the second half of our visit with Trader Sam’s. Hope you all enjoyed it. Please do leave comments below and let us know what YOU HOPE TRADER SAM’S IN ORLANDO will be like.

As they used to say at another Orlando Disney location that was imbued with fun and “magic”, “If you come in here a stranger, you will exit as a friend.” That, friends, is the Trader Sam’s spirit of “aloha” we hope will find its way to Orlando.

Cheers until the next time!

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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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It’s A Small World Characters at Disneyland

It's A Small World
It’s A Small World

As I may have mentioned, I’m getting ready to head back to Disneyland in a few weeks. One of the things I really enjoy about going to the California parks is the fact there are slight differences between some of the attractions. One such attraction is It’s A Small World. Not only is their loading zone outside with a really cool clock show on the quarter hour, but this year they are even getting a new projection show for the holidays that I hope to catch in addition to the holiday overlay.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like the It’s A Small World we have here in Florida, but I have to admit I was more than a bit excited when I learned that the California version of the ride features some of my favorite characters. It’s A Small World takes vignettes from different countries and regions around the world to show children and their similiarities. This boat ride showcases some classic animated characters from Disney films as well as some newer beloved Pixar pals too.

It’s A Small World is a classic attraction from the 1960s that many did not want to see changed at Disneyland to include the characters. I have seen the version without characters here at Walt Disney World literally hundreds of times in my lifetime, and I like the addition of the characters to the Disneyland ride. I know it isn’t for everyone, but I think it adds a bit more fun and that the characters, for the most part, fit in seamlessly with the other It’s A Small World dolls in that Mary Blair style.

Clock
Clock
Alice & White Rabbit
Alice & White Rabbit
Cinderella
Cinderella
Pinocchio
Pinocchio
Jiminy Cricket
Jiminy Cricket
Jasmine & Aladdin
Jasmine & Aladdin
Mushu kite
Mushu kite
Mulan & Mushu
Mulan & Mushu
Three Caballeros
Three Caballeros
Ariel
Ariel
Flounder
Flounder
Dory & Marlin
Dory & Marlin
Lilo & Stitch
Lilo & Stitch
Woody, Bullseye & Jessie
Woody, Bullseye & Jessie

What do you think of the characters? Are they a fun addition in your opinion, or would you prefer the original version?

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Roastie Toasties of Disneyland

Frontierland Roastie Toastie
Frontierland Roastie Toastie

Each day as I get closer to my Disneyland trip, I look more and more forward to the things I am going to get to see again. One of the more fun things that I enjoyed in Disneyland were the popcorn machines with hand turning little characters, affectionately nicknamed Roastie Totasties. You can check out a video here from the Disney Parks Blog about them.

There are about a dozen of these throughout the park in different lands. I thought I had gotten pictures and saw all the them, but it appears I may have missed a few or they added or changed some after my trip last August.

The first Roastie Toastie I encountered was in Frontierland. This one is made to look like Davy Crockett and fits right in with the theming of the land. I love the detail that was put in to this little guy and his coonskin cap.

Next up was New Orleans Square. This was one of my favorite of the Roastie Toasties I encountered. Outside the Haunted Mansion is a popcorn cart featuring an undertaker.

In Fantasyland I discovered two more Roastie Toasties. One was near the Matterhorn and the other was on the path towards Toon Town by It’s A Small World. Both featured clowns with different colored outfits, but similar looks.

My favorite Roastie Toastie is found in Tomorrowland. This one is themed after the Rocketeer from the movie of the same name from the early 1990s. The helmet and leather jacket look fantastic!

New Orleans Square Roastie Toastie
New Orleans Square Roastie Toastie
Matterhorn Roastie Toastie
Matterhorn Roastie Toastie
Fantasyland Roastie Toastie
Fantasyland Roastie Toastie
Tomorrowland Roastie Toastie
Tomorrowland Roastie Toastie

Have you seen the Roastie Toasties at Disneyland? I thought I had seen them all, but now I know I have a mission for my upcoming trip next month. I kind of wish they had these cool popcorn carts at Walt Disney World too. Do you have a favorite?

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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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Wordless Wednesday: Where It All Began

Wordless Wednesday: September 25, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

This week’s Wordless Wednesday takes us to the coolest thing at Disneyland! It looks like an old, green park bench, but it is where the idea of Disneyland began, This is the park bench where Walt sat and watched his daughters ride the carousel in Griffith Park and thought about creating a place where they could spend time and have fun together.

Well it came about when my daughters were very young and Saturday was always Daddy’s Day with his two daughters. So we’d start out and I’d take them to the merry-go-round and take them to different places. And as I sit there while they rode the merry-go-round, did all these kind of things, sit on a bench and eating peanuts. I felt that there should be something big, some kind of amusement enterprise where the parents and children could have fun together.

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Wordless Wednesday – I Know You

Wordless Wednesday – September 4, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

This week’s Wordless Wednesday takes us to Disneyland! Nestled among water fountains just outside of the entrance to the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough, you will find this statue of Aurora dancing with Prince Phillip as Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather all surround her. It’s such a pretty statuette in person, and it really captures the charm of the movie and the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough!

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Haunted Mansion Disney Dooney and Bourke Purse

Haunted Mansion Disney Dooney and Bourke Purse Coming to the Parks September 13, 2013!

Disney Dooney and Bourke Purse
Back of the Haunted Mansion Disney Dooney and Bourke Purse
Disney Dooney and Bourke
Back of the Haunted Mansion Disney Dooney and Bourke Purse

This Haunted Mansion Disney Dooney and Bourke Purse is to DIE for!

Earlier today the Disney Parks Blog absolutely made my day!!!

Disney Design Group artist Mark Seppala created this Haunted Mansion Disney Dooney and Bourke bag with such attention to detail it is amazing! The creepy color palate, the pop of red in the interior of the bag, the subtle wallpaper patter, and especially the hang tag with the attraction logo!

Disney Dooney and Bourke
The hang tag is my favorite touch on this purse!

I am in love to say the least!!!

Disney Dooney and Bourke
I love it when purses have a pop of color in the lining, because it adds to the fun and practicality of the purse!

The bag will have a retail of $330.00 (plus tax), and will be released at the following merchandise locations starting September 13, 2013.

Walt Disney World Resort:

Disneyland Resort:

The Disney Parks online store will also carry this bag in the fall, but if you are anything like me you are going to want to be a Happy Haunt with this bag as soon as possible!

 

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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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D23 Members Can Go “Off The Map” At Disneyland!

D23 Expo Off the Map

D23 Members Can Go “Off The Map” At Disneyland! 

New Sweepstakes Offers D23 Members the Chance to Unlock the Magic of The Happiest Place on Earth With a Once-In-a-Lifetime Tour

In celebration of Disneyland’s 58th anniversary today, D23: The Official Disney Fan Club has launched the “Off the Map Sweepstakes.” Twenty-five lucky D23 Members and their guests will be invited to Disneyland Park to visit four of the park’s little-seen but widely heard of locations: Walt Disney’s private apartment, the Lilly Belle VIP parlor car on the Disneyland Railroad, Circle D Ranch, and the Disneyland Dream Suite.

“Our friends at Disneyland will give the winning D23 Members a special glimpse at some of the park’s most amazing hidden gems, special places that most guests never get to see,” said Steven Clark, Head of D23. “Our first ‘Off the Map’ member event in 2012 was such a huge hit that we wanted to reprise it with this special sweepstakes so even more of our members have a chance to visit these truly magical and historical Disneyland locations.”

Winners will be able to explore:

  • Walt Disney’s private apartment: Built during the initial construction of Disneyland, Walt Disney’s private apartment is a quaint studio dwelling, filled with Victorian decor, family photos, and antiques selected by the Disney family.
  • Lilly Belle VIP parlor car: Disneyland guests have long taken grand circle tours on the Disneyland Railroad, but few ever enjoy the ride from the elegant Lilly Belle VIP car parlor. Named after Walt’s wife, Lillian, the Lilly Belle is truly a piece of history, built in 1955, and refurbished to its modern state of luxury for America’s bicentennial celebration in 1976.
  • Circle D Ranch:  From the friendly goats at Big Thunder Ranch to the horses who carry guests down Main Street, U.S.A., Circle D Ranch is home to Disneyland’s beloved “four-legged cast members.”
  • Disneyland Dream Suite: This private space above Pirates of the Caribbean was originally planned to be another apartment for Walt Disney, but he passed away before its completion. In 2008, Imagineers used some of Walt’s original ideas and some truly magical surprises of their own to transform it into a fantasy villa like no other.

 

D23 Members may enter the sweepstakes beginning today through August 23 at D23.com. The tour will take place on Wednesday, October 2. Winners will be able to attend with one (1) guest. For complete rules, details, and eligibility please visit D23.com. No purchase required; guests may join D23 for free at D23.com.

D23 disney twenty-three

About D23

The name “D23” pays homage to the exciting journey that began in 1923 when Walt Disney opened his fledgling studio in Hollywood. D23 is the first official club for fans in Disney’s nearly 90-year history. D23 gives its members a greater connection to the entire world of Disney by placing them in the middle of the magic through its quarterly publication Disney twenty-three; a rich website at D23.com with members-only content; member-exclusive discounts and special events for D23 Members throughout the year, highlighted by the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, August 9–11, 2013.

Fans can join D23 for free at D23.com and at www.DisneyStore.com/D23. To keep up with all the latest D23 news and events, follow us @DisneyD23 on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.

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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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Patriotism in the Parks – Hall of Presidents

Presidential Seal at the Hall of Presidents
Presidential Seal

In honor of Election Day this week, I thought it all together fitting and proper to continue the Patriotism in the Parks series with a look at the Hall of Presidents in the Magic Kingdom. This attraction focuses on the Presidents of the United States of America and the path to freedom through the American Revolutionary War. There is a ongoing joke that each election year the Imagineers at Walt Disney World secretly hope the incumbent wins so they don’t have to change the attraction to add a new president. I’d like to take a closer look at this classic Magic Kingdom attraction to highlight some features. If you are interested in my previous posts in the Patriotism in the Parks series you can read about Memorial Day and Flag Day.

Here is a video from the Disney Parks YouTube channel that talks about some of the technology and additions in the latest incarnation of the Hall of Presidents:

httpv://youtu.be/T1J4Wachgcw

This Magic Kingdom opening day attraction has been a favorite of mine for years. I love being able to sit and watch the story of our founding fathers in air conditioned comfort for a nice break of just over twenty minutes or so. My friends even tease me occasionally (every time) about reciting the Gettysburg Address along with Abraham Lincoln during the show. I blame my 9th grade English teacher Mr. Mullen for making us memorize and recite it in front of the class that year. Amongst our friends we also have a tradition of thanking President Millard Fillmore. Recently, I was engaged in an interesting conversation with the dead president via twitter. It was quite amusing! Apparently there is a bot that scans twitter for the name “Millard Fillmore” and tweets at people who mention him.

The show was inspired by the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln attraction that debuted at the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York City. The attraction then was installed at Disneyland in 1965. Later, changes were made and Lincoln was removed, but he has been back on Main Street U.S.A. since 2009. I was able to see this show for the first time a few months ago on my Disneyland trip, which you can read about here, and it was very interesting seeing elements lifted from both the Magic Kingdom’s Hall of Presidents and the American Adventure at Epcot.

Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln

Hall of Presidents features audio-animatronics of each of our 43 presidents as well as a film narrated by Academy Award winning actor Morgan Freeman. The film begins shortly after the American Revolution around the time of the Constitution in 1789 and goes up through present day. In between, much ground is covered from the two plus centuries of American history. Most prominently featured are segments about George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama.

Colonists
Colonists
Declaration of Independence
Declaration of Independence
Washington Crossing the Delaware in the Hall of Presidents
Washington Crossing the Delaware
George Washington in the Hall of Presidents
George Washington
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson at the Red Eagle Tavern in the Hall of Presidents
Andrew Jackson at the Red Eagle Tavern
Westward Expansion
Westward Expansion
Lincoln - Douglas Debates in the Hall of Presidents
Lincoln – Douglas Debates
Abraham Lincoln in the Hall of Presidents
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln on the brink of Civil War in the Hall of Presidents
Abraham Lincoln on the brink of Civil War
Bombing of Fort Sumter
Bombing of Fort Sumter
Mr. Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address in the Hall of Presidents
Mr. Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address
Moving into the Industrial Era in the Hall of Presidents
Moving into the Industrial Era
Teddy Roosevelt in the Hall of Presidents
Teddy Roosevelt
Social Progress with Teddy Roosevelt
Social Progress with Teddy Roosevelt
FDR faces the Great Depression in the Hall of Presidents
FDR faces the Great Depression
JFK our youngest elected President
JFK our youngest elected President
JFK and the Washington Monument in the Hall of Presidents
JFK and the Washington Monument
Ronald Reagan addresses the Challenger Disaster in the Hall of Presidents
Ronald Reagan addresses the Challenger Disaster
George W. Bush post 9-11 in the Hall of Presidents
George W. Bush post 9-11
The American spirit will prevail
The American spirit will prevail
New frontiers lie ahead
New frontiers lie ahead
The Presidents of the United States of America in the Hall of Presidents
The Presidents of the United States of America
George Washington center stage in the Hall of Presidents
George Washington center stage
George Washington speaks in the Hall of Presidents
George Washington speaks
Barack Obama speaks in the Hall of Presidents
Barack Obama speaks
The Presidents in the Hall of Presidents
The Presidents

I love how this attraction highlights some of our greatest moments in history through montage in the video, but also doesn’t gloss over darker times in our past like the Civil War and Great Depression. This is a great snapshot of American history and always imbues me with a sense of pride and appreciation for what we have achieved in this great nation of ours. Do you have a favorite part of the Hall of Presidents? Do you have a favorite President? Have you cheered for Millard Fillmore? If not, what are you waiting for?

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Weekly Review – Our Week On The Go September 3-7

Weekly Review – Our Week On The Go September 3-7

Weekly Review time!!! This past week here at On the Go has been full of great stuff, and now it’s time to look back at all that happened September 3-7!!!

Let’s get this party started!!!

We started the week with a look at SeaWorld Orlando’s Animal Rescue Team’s efforts to save stranded pilot whales. SeaWorld Orlando Animal Rescue Team, along with several local agencies, responded on September 1, 2012, to 22 short-finned pilot whales that stranded at Florida’s Avalon State Park Beach in St. Lucie County.

SeaWorld Orlando Animal Rescue Team Weekly Review
SeaWorld Orlando’s Animal Rescue Team, along with several agencies, responded to 22 short-finned pilot whales that stranded at Florida’s Avalon State Park Beach in St. Lucie County.

Tuesday, Aurora looked back on our time with the Orlando City Soccer Club this season.

Orlando City Soccer Weekly Review
Orlando City Soccer shoots and SCORES during their last game of the 2011-2012 Season!

Wordless Wednesday took us to one of my favorite moments in Wishes!

Wordless Wednesday Weekly Review
Wordless Wednesday – Wishes!

Scared Shrekless Family Fun is coming to the Gaylord Palms Resort this Halloween offering guests the opportunity to scare up some fun with their favorite characters from Shrek, Madagascar, and Kung Fu Panda!

Scared Shrekless at Gaylord Palms Resort Weekly Review
Scared Shrekless at Gaylord Palms Resort – October 13th and 27th

Betsy took us along on the final leg of her Disneyland in this amazing Trip Report!

httpv://youtu.be/O11z4CWTpqc

We also took a look at the adorable The Tigger Movie that is out now on Blu-Ray.

The Tigger Movie Weekly Review
The Tigger Movie is available now on Blu Ray!

And we ended the week with a giveaway that would make any woman happy…A chance to win a pair of Custom Christian Louboutin shoes! In honor of Disney’s global release of the classic animated masterpiece “Cinderella”, which will be available in Blu-ray™ Diamond Edition on October 2, 2012, Walt Disney Studios, in collaboration with Christian Louboutin and Glam Media, today reveal details of their national quest to find a modern-day Cinderella. One lucky woman whose style and fashion sense best embodies the Cinderella fairytale will ultimately be awarded with a pair of original Cinderella slippers re-imagined by world-renowned shoe designer Christian Louboutin during a private event at Disneyland, CA taking place on September 27th.

Cinderella Christian Louboutin Giveaway
Enter the Cinderella Christian Louboutin Giveaway Today!

Thanks for joining us our Weekly Review at On the Go, and we can’t wait to bring you even more posts next week!!! We’ll be covering Nights of Joy at the Magic Kingdom, Disney on Ice: Rockin’ Ever After, LEGOLAND going to galaxies far away, and a ghostly Titanic Experience!

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Disneyland Trip Report – Betsy’s California Adventure – Part 3

We have arrived at the last installment of my Disneyland trip report. After I go through all the glorious details of my last two days in California, I will focus more on observations and reflections of the trip overall. If you missed parts 1 and 2, you can go back and revisit the first few days of my trip to DLR here and here respectively. Now, let’s keep moving forward!

Tuesday 8/7

I began my day at Disney California Adventure with a trip to the Hollywood Tower Hotel in the Twilight Zone Tower of Tower. The queue outside wasn’t quite as extensive or detailed as the version at DHS, but the lobby and pre-show were practically identical. One of the differences that I enjoyed was the lighting effect in the boiler room. The ride sequence is also slightly different and it seemed like your ascent and descent covered a greater overall distance since it even made my ears pop. I liked this version okay, but think I prefer the one in Florida a little better since you have the added fifth dimension sequence.

Tower of Terror Lobby
Tower of Terror boiler room
View from Tower of Terror
Tower of Terror ride picture

From here I cut through A Bug’s Land to Paradise Pier, getting my feet wet on the way in Princess Dot’s Puddle Park. I caught a part of the Phineas and Ferb’s Rockin’ Rollin’ dance party, which was great fun as a fan of the animated Disney Channel show. Prior to this day, I hadn’t really spent any time in Paradise Pier other than to ride California Screamin’ and to watch World of Color. I was looking forward to some of the classic looking boardwalk attractions more than others.

One of the rides that I wasn’t really familiar with prior to riding was Jumpin’ Jellyfish. This fun ride sits two guests in each section facing outward and you gently float up and down almost as if you were bouncing on top of jellyfish like Marlin and Dorie in Finding Nemo. I selected a seat facing Paradise Bay and had a great view, even catching glimpses of Cars Land while I was at the top. Next up were the Silly Symphony Swings, which I must admit looked a little sketchy to me at first, but I loved this ride! It was themed after the classic Mickey Mouse short the Band Concert and was a ton of fun.

Phineas and Ferb doing the robot
View of Cars Land from Jumpin Jellyfish
View of the Fun Wheel of Death from Jumpin Jellyfish
Riding Silly Symphony Swings

At this time I went over to check the wait time on Goofy’s Sky School and it was posted at 30 minutes so I opted to get a Fast Pass to return later. Little did I realize, there was a single rider line that would have gotten me on within minutes. Oh well, lesson learned. That is one thing I noticed about DCA and DL is that they seem to have a lot more single rider lines than we have here in FL with just Test Track and Expedition Everest coming to mind.

Riding King Triton’s Carousel
Goofy’s Instant Concert

I wandered along the water to check the wait time for Mickey’s Fun Wheel, and it was almost an hour so I opted to skip it and come back when more guests may be eating lunch. On the way to King Triton’s Carousel of the Sea, I was fortunate enough to stumble on to Goofy’s Instant Concert. This was a fun show that takes place in Paradise Bay with Goofy conducting the fountains to classical music. I really enjoyed this quick break and all the guests around me seemed to like it as well.

After I rode King Triton’s Carousel and enough time had passed to get a FP from Toy Story Midway Mania, I doubled back to ride the fun wheel. For those who are not familiar with this particular ride, let me explain. It is basically a gigantic Ferris wheel with two options: stationary cages that you can sit in and ride like a traditional Ferris wheel ride, and then there are the death cages (my name, not Disney’s). This is why it gets the nickname the Fun Wheel of Death: the cages are on loops that sway and almost flip up 90 degrees on either side, so you slide along the loop and as you go around on the Ferris Wheel you swing accordingly. Not for me. Anything that provides you with motion sickness bags is not high on the priority list for me, so I rode the stationary cage. There were some absolutely gorgeous views of both parks as well as the surrounding mountains which were visible on this surprisingly clear day in Southern California.

When my FP time came up, I returned to ride Toy Story Midway Mania, not knowing if it would be a bust like my score the previous day on Buzz Lightyear, or if it would better correlate to my scores back home. I usually score between 175 – 225,000 and this time I broke that record with a score over 228,000. I was so excited I hardly noticed the nuances that differentiate the ride from the FL counterpart. The queue is mostly outside and there seems to be more travel between the game scenes on the ride itself. As I was getting on the ride I saw Scarlett and Jeff with the kids getting off. I yelled out to Scarlett and met up with them when I exited the ride as they were meeting Buzz and Woody.

Riding Mickey’s Fun Wheel
View of Grizzly Peak from Fun Wheel
View of Disneyland and DCA from Fun Wheel
New high score on Toy Story Midway Mania
Malcolm and Zinn with Buzz and Woody
Lemon oregano chicken from Paradise Garden Grill

I returned to Goofy’s Sky School, which is a small rollercoaster of the wild mouse variety (similar to Primeval Whirl at Disney’s Animal Kingdom). This ride was fun, but quick, and it does whip you around corners a little more than I care for. By this time, I was ready for a late lunch and went right next door to the Paradise Garden Grill for a great skewer of lemon oregano chicken with rice and vegetables. This was a great meal and relatively affordable at less than $15 with a drink. If you enjoy the Tangierine Cafe in Epcot’s Morocco, you should like this with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influenced dishes.

Right after lunch the Pixar Play Parade started right in front of me so I stayed and watched. I liked this much better than the version we have at DHS. There are more characters, interaction with the floats, and cast members doing acrobatics. To me this was much closer to the Block Party Bash we used to have than the current incarnation of a parade at the Studios. Finishing up Paradise Pier, I rode the Golden Zephyr, which is somewhat similar to the Silly Symphony Swings in that you rotate around a central pole in swings made of zeppelins that seat about a dozen guests and are suspended from above by chains.

Pixar Play Parade Incredibles float
Acrobats on Toy Story float of Pixar Play Parade
Slinky Dog in Pixar Play Parade
Riding Golden Zephyr

About this time the heat started getting to me. Yes, I live in Florida and I’m used to the heat and humidity here, but on this day the temperature was in the high 90s with a heat index of 105. I need a break from the sun and some good old fashioned air conditioning. I went back to one of my favorite places, the Animation Building, to cool off for a bit while waiting for Turtle Talk with Crush. One thing I loved about Turtle Talk in DCA is that you have a small theater with seats instead of just a few benches and mostly floor seating. As always, this show was entertaining for both the kids and adults, and poor Crush tried his best to understand the concept of Schrödinger’s Cat, after he was asked if he knew the idea by a no more than 8 year old child.

Muppetvision 3D is one of my favorite attractions at DHS and I was happy to see a show I knew inside and out in DCA. When I exited the show, I came upon the Hollywood Backlot Stage where a performance by the Disneyland All-American College Band was taking place. Again with the heat of the day I was drinking lots of water to try to stay hydrated, but was ready for an adult beverage, so before I went in to see the Disney Junior show, I got a Red Trolley Ale, which only seemed appropriate while watching the Red Car Trolley go up and down Buena Vista Street.

Turtle Talk with Crush
Muppetvision 3D queue
Disneyland All-American College Band
Disney Junior Live on Stage

Continuing on the theme of completing the attractions that are almost identical to the versions we have in Florida, I watched It’s Tough to Be a Bug. I grabbed a FP for Soarin’ since the wait was 45 minutes, which we never see here at Epcot, then went to do the Boudin Bakery Tour. In case I haven’t mentioned this before, I adore sourdough bread, so I was probably more excited about this than the average guest. I liked watching the cheesy video about how they make the bread from the mother dough that goes back over 100 years. I loved visiting Boudin while I was in San Francisco a few years ago and similarly enjoyed this brief tour with a free sample in the Pacific Wharf area of the park.

My friend Kevin arrived that morning from Boston and was hanging out with his friend Paul around DCA. We coordinated to meet up for Shboom around 7:45pm, so I still had a couple hours of me time to explore. I rode Soarin’, which was exactly the same, except with a shorter queue and a cleaner screen than in Epcot.

It’s Tough to Be a Bug
Boudin Bakery Tour
Sourdough bread shaped like Mickey, Lightning and Mater

When I had set out on this trip, I originally had a few things that were must dos and some that were dreams if I had the time and money. Dinner at Napa Rose in the Grand Californian was one of those dreams. I had heard great things about it from friends and I knew Samantha Brown wouldn’t have steered me wrong in her recommendation of it, so I walked over to the resort. I figured if I got there shortly after they opened I would have a pretty decent chance of getting a walk in reservation, at least in the lounge. Friends recommended the truffle mac and cheese and oh my goodness, this may have been the best thing I tasted on this entire trip. I needed a moment, and to my slight embarrassment, my waiter came over and noticed that moment. Oh well. C’est si bon! I also had a fabulous summer salad and a glass of meritage from John Lasseter’s winery.

Disney’s Grand Californian pool
Grand Californian lobby
Light fixture in Grand Californian lobby
Grand Californian chandeliers
Napa Rose menu
Napa Rose lounge
Napa Rose bar
Napa Rose view of wine cellar
Summer salad from Napa Rose
Truffle mac and cheese from Napa Rose
Truffle mac and cheese close up
Lasseter Winery meritage from Napa Rose

Taking my time walking back through the Grand Californian’s private entrance to DCA, I was completely satiated and was looking forward to meeting up with Kevin and Paul. One of the many things I love about Kevin is how excited, no, more like how giddy he gets about the things he loves. This can be anything from riding Space Mountain for the hundredth time to seeing something new and magical for the very first time. The latter was definitely the case when it came to the neon lighting in Cars Land. After the hugs from reuniting with each other after five months, we stood waiting. The music started and I watched Kevin and the excitement he tried to contain, but it was clearly written all over his face. It made me so happy seeing a friend so enraptured with a little piece of magic.

httpv://youtu.be/O11z4CWTpqc

We made the requisite stop for chai from Starbucks at the Fiddler, Fife and Practical Cafe, and then Kevin, Paul and I were off to Disneyland to see Magical for their first time. This was the second time I had seen the show (third technically if you count the fireworks I saw from Carthay Circle’s terrace the night before), and it was just as magical this time around. Next we went to go see the Magic, the Memories and You projection on It’s a Small World. I had never seen it here, and even though it is the same show as Florida, it felt different since some of the elements worked better on the wider surface, whereas others work better at home on the taller surface of the castle. Either way, it was still incredible, and yes, I cried. Again, I’m a big sap.

Kevin hadn’t yet been on a ride in Disneyland and requested that we ride the Matterhorn, which I hadn’t yet done at night. The three of us opted for the single rider line (again brilliant) since the regular standby line was at 45 minutes. We were each on within five minutes and Kevin asked if he could ride again on the other side (there are two different paths for the left and the right). Paul and I passed and told Kevin we would meet him by the Alice in Wonderland restrooms (my favorite in either park).

While we were waiting for Kevin, Paul and I devised a plan to take Kevin on a surprise trip to Trader Sam’s since it was nearing park closing of midnight at Disneyland and Trader Sam’s is open until 2am.  We asked Kevin if he was up for a surprise and he trusted and followed us (insert evil laugh here). The monorail from Tomorrowland was the quickest and easiest way to get there since you exit in Downtown Disney and just walk across the street to the Disneyland Hotel. He thought we were just going to DTD, but then realized where we were taking him.

The excitement and wonderment was apparent in Kevin’s eyes as we approached. It was a magical place and inside held treasures yet to be revealed. Knowing Kevin’s affinity for Disney history and things bygone, I took a chance figuring he’d appreciate the existence of the secret menu at Trader Sam’s. The menu, which not all bartenders will make drinks from or even acknowledge, contains recipes for drinks like the Kungaloosh from the sadly closed Adventurer’s Club at Pleasure Island in DTD at WDW. My hunch was correct and Kevin seemed very anxious to try to classic drink. The evening was awesome with laughs all around and we finally made it back to our hotels close to 2am. Another great day was in the books.

Waiting for The Magic, The Memories and You to start
Trader Sam’s sign
Kevin enjoying his Kungaloosh at Trader Sam’s courtesy of Kevin Quigley
Enjoying Trader Sam’s picture courtesy of Kevin Quigley

 

Wednesday 8/8

My last day started with a bit of sadness realizing my trip was coming to an end and I didn’t want it to. For some of you, this may be something that you are accustomed to, the saying goodbye. I don’t often experience this emotion tied to Disney since I live just an hour and a half from WDW and go to the parks usually at least twice each month. The unique experience of riding the sad bus (aka Disney’s Magical Express) escapes me, but that morning I began to feel a bit of what I suppose you all feel.

I began my slow walk to Disney California Adventure while replaying the great memories that I’d made with friends over the past few days. I knew the trip wasn’t over yet, so the time for reflection was yet to come. Focusing on what lied ahead, I kept my eyes on the prize: experiencing all the attractions between the two Disneyland Resort parks. So far I had done everything in DCA except ride the Red Car Trolley, which I figured was a fitting way to end that journey. Starting the ride at Buena Vista Street by the entrance to the park, I took it as far as I could to Hollywood Land by the Tower of Terror.

Riding the Red Car Trolley
Red Car Trolley sign
Red Car Trolley
Mickey riding the Red Car Trolley with the News Boys

Meandering back through the park to get a Fast Pass for World of Color, since I had a feeling that was how I wanted to end my trip, I passed by the News Boys and Mickey again performing in front of Carthay Circle. This time I was lucky to catch video of them singing one of my favorite songs from Newsies, Seize the Day. On my way out, I ran into Molly the Messenger parked on her bike looking at what appeared to be a map. I took a moment and stopped to ask if I could look at her map and she was more than happy to oblige. It was her personal map and I inquired if it was sold anywhere. She said it wasn’t, but she allowed me to take pictures of it. She is one of the Citizens of Buena Vista Street, which are very much like the Citizens of Hollywood (aka Streetmosphere) at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida.

httpv://youtu.be/Ims_8JpqbUI

Molly the Messenger with her map of Buena Vista Street
Molly the Messenger’s map
Molly’s map of DCA
Disneyland sign at entrance

After a quick hour in DCA, I made my way over to Disneyland to nail down some of the time sensitive attractions that I hadn’t yet been able to do. Unlike at Walt Disney World, the Main Street Vehicles (of which there are four) run later in the day into the early afternoon around 2pm. I wanted to get these out of the way early so I wouldn’t have to backtrack to the front of the park knowing what I still had ahead of me. I was able to ride the Omnibus, Horse-Drawn Streetcar, Fire Engine and Horseless Carriage in less than an hour. It was great! Some of the rides I even had a private tour. My favorite was the Fire Engine, which Walt Disney himself drove on Main Street USA in the early years of the Disneyland.

Having not eaten breakfast, at this point I was borderline starving and swung in to the Carnation Cafe on Main Street to see how long the wait was for lunch. I figured it would go pretty quickly since I was by myself, but wasn’t too surprised when they told me it would be a 20-30 minute wait. I was willing to take my chances with waiting and was very pleasantly surprised when my pager went off in less than five minutes. In that five minute time period though I did get to meet a legend. Chef Oscar Martinez is a Disneyland institution, and although I knew very little about Disneyland, he was instantly recognizable with his warm smile, greeting guests in the dining room. You can read more about Oscar here and here. He was a very nice gentleman who treated you like he was welcoming you into his own home. He even obliged when I asked to have my picture taken with him, and even seemed honored. The food was great! I ordered one of the menu items listed as Walt’s Favorites in the Chicken-Fried Chicken, and what sounded interesting and definitely was in the chocolate cherry coke (again with real syrup).

Disneyland Fire Engine
Front row seat on the Horse-Drawn Streetcar
Mickey strolling through Town Square like he owns the place 😉
Disneyland Train Station
Chef Oscar Martinez in the Carnation Cafe
Chef Oscar and me
Chicken-Fried Chicken from Carnation Cafe
Chocolate Cherry Coke from Carnation Cafe

Since I now regained some strength with the nourishment of lunch, I went to Pixie Hollow to meet Tinkerbell. This was a pretty area of the park, especially at night, but I probably would not have waited if I knew the wait was going to be 30 minutes instead of the posted 15. Next up were my last two time sensitive attractions that closed at 5pm: the Sailing Ship Columbia and the Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer Island. I enjoyed the Columbia and exploring the crew’s quarters below decks as it sailed around the Rivers of America. Then after a two minute raft ride, I was on Tom Sawyer Island exploring the caves and fort. I really liked how they added elements from Pirates of the Caribbean, but think it might make more sense if they rename it instead of still calling it TSI.

I hadn’t really been in the shops of New Orleans Square yet, so I took about an hour looking around at the details in and outside the buildings. This by far is one of my favorite areas of any Disney park. I could get lost in here forever with the attractions, food and shops, but especially the entertainment. After my feet were tired from meandering, I sat for a bit and listened to the Royal Street Bachelors perform outside Cafe Orleans. Since my feet were still sore and I wasn’t actually eating there, I decided to move on and take the train around the park again.

Tinkerbell and me in Pixie Hollow
Columbia informational sign
Sailing Ship Columbia
Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
Royal Street Bachelors in New Orleans Square
Walt and Roy’s initials in the wrought iron in New Orleans Square
Le Bat en Rouge in New Orleans Square
Musicians strolling through New Orleans Square

On my last evening, I sat waiting for Kevin, Paul and our friends Doug and Robbie to meet me at the Tiki Room. I still hadn’t had a dole whip on this trip, and in case you forgot, I do have a love for dole whips which you can read about here. After the guys arrived, we went in to watch the show and all sang along to the show in its full glory (I did as best I could not knowing the part of the show we don’t have here). Kevin requested that we ride It’s A Small World, which I was happy to do again to see the characters on the ride I may have missed the first time around.

I knew I absolutely had to ride Pirates of the Caribbean again, and according to the Cast Member with whom I had spoken earlier, it was best to return after 7pm, which was what we did to successfully practically walk on the attraction with no wait. I warned Kevin since he was sitting next to me that I tend to get wet on this ride at home and that I’d been splashed the first time I rode. This warning served as no preparation for the amount of wetness I or Kevin would encounter. I was drenched! Thank goodness I had my camera protected otherwise it would have been really bad.

Dole Whip at the Tiki Room
Paul, Kevin, Doug, Robbie and me in front of the castle
Pirates!
Bayou in Pirates

About this time we were heading to the Main Street Cinema to cross off one of the last two attractions I had left on my list when we heard from our friends Dan and Becca Braunstein that they were almost to the park. Dan and Becca had driven in with their son Nathan from Arizona a day early to come hang out with us before they attended the D23 convention over the weekend.  After the Cinema we met up with the Braunsteins to have dinner at the Plaza Inn. The specialty there is fried chicken, but since I had had chicken for lunch I tried the pot roast, which was okay, but probably not something I need to order again. The last attraction I had left to do in Disneyland was the Disney Gallery. They had a great exhibit featuring artwork of different castles from around the world.

Main Street Cinema
Pot Roast from the Plaza Inn
Disney Gallery
Crowning Achievements at the Disney Gallery

Being that it was my last night and that my friends are awesome, they all let me choose what we did. I told them that I had a FP for World of Color and I’d love to watch it with them if they were up to it. We all went over to get them Fast Passes then to see the Mad T Party since Kevin, Doug and I hadn’t yet seen it. It was interesting! This is not your parents’ Alice in Wonderland, that is for sure. These characters definitely seem to be more inspired by the Tim Burton film than the Disney animated classic. Lee met up with us all and we went to the Cozy Cone in Cars Land to get a snack before World of Color.

Grizzly Peak at Night
Entrance to Mad T Party
Mad Hatter’s hat
Drink Me bar
Nathan seemed to be enjoying the Mad T Party
Dan, Becca, Nathan, Doug, Robbie, Kevin and me
Alice and the Mad Hatter
Characters from the Mad T Party
Cars Land sign
Cozy Cone Motel sign
Cozy Cone with Tower of Terror in the background
Pomegranate Limeade from Cozy Cone

As I’m sure you can guess, I cried … again. It is probably a good thing Kevin and I weren’t sitting together because we probably would have been bawling. Lee was a good person to sit with and he was very kind in not making fun of me for crying. We decided we were going to go back to Disneyland to do another ride or two before they closed at midnight, but I told the group I’d catch up since I still hadn’t been shopping in DCA at all and had my eye on a Red Car Trolley shirt on Buena Vista Street. Since the store wasn’t technically on BVS, when I arrived there the doors were locked since the park was technically closed at 11pm and only shops on Buena Vista stayed open another hour. I almost started crying right then and there since the shirt I wanted was only sold there, but I noticed there were still guests inside. After trying all the doors and finding them locked, I posted myself outside the main entrance and waited until a guest exited to slip inside. Fortunately, I was able to purchase my shirt and all was right with the world.

Paradise Pier before World of Color
World of Color rainbow fountains
Ariel in World of Color
Wall-E and Eve in World of Color
Flame spurts during Pirates sequence of World of Color
Fountains at the end of World of Color
Lee and Nathan watching Grizzly River Run
Lee was going to cool Nathan with the jet spray
Lee and Nathan still had fun even with the spray off

Dan texted me to let me know that everyone was at Space Mountain and to meet them there. I headed back into Disneyland for the last time, exiting Disney California Adventure until who knows when. I found Becca and Lee waiting at the exit with Nathan for the rest of the gang to do rider swap. The clock was almost at midnight and although I enjoyed the California version of Space Mountain much more than the Florida one, I knew I didn’t want to make that my last ride. I mulled over my options and decided I couldn’t make it back to Pirates before the park closed, so I went to the much closer Alice in Wonderland. I stood in line for my last ride and thought how amazing the trip had been. I looked back at the many friends I had seen and the memories we’d shared. Even the day I spent alone was completely magical. As I neared the end of the queue and was about to get on the ride, I looked up at the Matterhorn and thought of Walt. I remembered seeing a video of him riding Alice in Wonderland in the early years of the park and thought it altogether fitting and proper that I end my journey here. It took me about 30 seconds into the ride before I burst out sobbing. I was so overcome with emotion I just couldn’t hold it in any more.

Kevin and Dan texted me after I got off of the ride to see if I was still in the park. I told them I would meet them in the Hub and sat on a bench facing Main Street, still crying. Graciously, my friends did not tease me and seemed to understand what I was feeling. I loved Disneyland and my friends so much I didn’t want to leave or let this vacation come to an end.  As midnight rolled around we said our goodbyes and I took my time perusing the stores along Main Street before selecting my souvenirs. I found a t-shirt, hat, magnet and toothpick holder (aka shot glass) from Disneyland. Once I finished my shopping, I went back to the Refreshment Corner one last time to get a vanilla coke (that syrup is addictive).

As it got closer and closer to 1am, when the shops close on Main Street, the number of guests in the park dwindled. I happened to have my DSLR with me and thought I’d try to do one of my favorite things and be the last guest out of the park to take empty park pictures. This was so magical and amazing to be the absolute last one in Disneyland over and hour after closing. I couldn’t think of a more beautiful sight at night than Main Street.

Partners at night
Tomorrowland neon
Reflections of Tomorrowland
Pixie Hollow fountain at night
Tea Cups
Empty Town Square
Empty Main Street
Empty Main Street minus strollers and security
Last one to leave Disneyland
Empty entrance plaza
Goodbye Mickey … See You Real Soon

This trip was something that I’ve wanted to do for years, but have never pulled the trigger on until now. It helped tremendously that I was able to use airline miles for my flight and didn’t have to purchase tickets to the parks. What I expected was far exceeded by every stretch of the imagination. I thought I was going in to this trip alone and might be able to see a friend here or there. My amazing friends made this trip for me. Even keeping in touch with friends on Twitter and Facebook back home made it more special. I cannot wait to go back to Disneyland, hopefully next year. I would like to do it at a more relaxed pace. Now that I’ve done it all, I can go back and pick and choose what I do and don’t want to do again.

Some of the things that I really appreciated about Disneyland were the live entertainment offerings that were so prevalent throughout the park each day. Keep in mind that I did go during peak season so nothing was closed for refurbishment. I did all of the attractions listed on the park maps (aside from the arcades that cost money and the princess meet and greet), plus some multiple times and extras like shows and parades that aren’t on the maps. I don’t know that I would have done anything differently for my first trip. I look forward to going back with more friends and family and sharing what I know to help them enjoy their visit.

I hope you have enjoyed these trip reports and that they weren’t too verbose or boring in parts. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask and I’ll be happy to answer what I can. Thanks for following along!

If you’d like to see more of my pictures from my trip, you can access them via my facebook page here and here.

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