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Saturday, December 10, 2011

it's a small world at Christmas

What is your favorite thing to see and enjoy at Disneyland during the Christmas season? It is the giant Christmas tree on Main St. with all the accompanying Main St. decorations? Is it the lighting of the winter castle and seeing it "snow"? Is it seeing A Christmas Fantasy Parade"? Perhaps it is taking your child to see Santa at Disneyland within the confines of the Reindeer Roundup. How about the charm and detail of the exquisitely decorated New Orleans Square? You need to see all of them during a holiday visit of course but for me, tops on the list, is standing in amazement before the dazzling light display of it's a small world in the cool of a December evening then making my way down to the boats for journey of wonderful holiday cheer.

They shut down iasw for 3 weeks to install the holiday overlay, usually the last week or so of October and the first part of November. The time the ride is down is a small price to pay for what can be seen and marveled at once it returns in all its festive Christmas glory. Disney Parks Blog posted a video of cast members working on the overlay installation and you can see their attention to detail

For most of the year, it's a small world, sits as a majestic iconic Disneyland attraction - important but just not enough there to make it into anyone's top 5 or maybe even top 10 favorite Disneyland attractions. Some people avoid the thing altogether because the insipid song that plays for all 13 minutes of the ride can be beat head against the wall time when the ride is through.  But it all changes during the holidays when it's a small world transform into wondrous holiday magic not to be missed or experienced.

A Vicarious DCA Moment Through Texting

Remember when (and I'm talking only about 10 or 15 years ago) you couldn't wait to get back home from a trip to Disneyland to share your fun, memories, and experiences with your friends and family members. You brought back pictures (once they were developed), maybe some home videos, and assorted park souvenirs to share your adventures in Disneyland with others.

I'm sitting here at home last Sunday night watching The Simpsons and my cell phone makes its little sound when it gets text message. It was from my niece and her daughter "We're just got in line for the Tower of Terror and were just thinking of you". It was my niece who first got me to go on the TOT several years ago when every instinct in me said "No way man....". We had a great fall down the elevator shaft, screaming and laughing all the way. Anyway, I checked MouseWaits on my phone told her the wait time was 38 minutes and to "have a nice scream". So here I am, 434 miles away, and living my normal life when I get to share vicariously a Disneyland moment with my niece and her daughter. Nice.

Heck, when my friend Mike went to Disneyland back in September, he would text me back pictures at work of him just standing in line. I told him to. I haven't figured out if asking to text you back pictures of you standing in line for a ride is some kind of sickness or not.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Are You Sure About This Cars Land Thing?

Disney has got several hundred million bucks invested in this Cars Land expansion and without a doubt the pictures that are still coming out of the soon to be opened land (June 2012) show a level of detail that is second to none. A reasonably close rendition of Radiator Springs will spring to life but is Disney sure about hitching something that is supposed to last generations to the Cars movie franchise?

I watched Cars 2 on blu-ray last night. Without a doubt, it is the worst thing from Pixar that I have seen (my previous Pixar low water mark was Finding Nemo). Now to be fair, the computer generated graphics and especially the use of color, light, and reflection are eye popping but there is a movie behind dazzling colors and that movie isn't very good. I could go on and on about why I didn't like it but it comes down to too much Larry the Cable Guy and taking the simple charm of the original Cars on a globe trotting spy chase almost seems like something that would come out of an old copy of Mad Magazine.

It was fun to see the Radiator Springs on the screen (what little of it there was) and compare it to what is being built in Southern California but building a land on the movie franchise where its last effort was horrid seems a bit of a head scratcher. The original concept of Cars land wasn't based on the movie at all but the original Route 66 that wound its way half way across this country once upon a time. But Disney in their never ending quest to tie their brands and franchises together in profitable packages moved into the Pixar Cars realm. Hopefully Cars Land comes together better than Cars 2 the movie.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Bug's Land Christmas

I've said it before in this blog and I'll say it again - it irks me to no end when a read in Disneyland discussion boards, forums, and blogs how they need to get rid of A Bug's Land and put in something better. When people post things like this what they usually mean is "I'm too old for anything in A Bug's Land to interest me - put in something that I might actually want to go on". Me, me, me.... it's the same old story. Stop it. A Bug's Land is fine for what it is and now that it's Christmas time the little land for small fries becomes even more charming as everyone gets reduced to "bug size" with all the oversized Christmas decorations. So forget about yourselves and for a few minutes to walk through A Bug's Land this Christmas season and look at the smiles and the joy of those who are just becoming familiar with the world around them. It's a land of sweetness and charm and occupies such a small space that it shouldn't cause anyone any grief and might actually bring some joy.

The Christmas Spirit - Disneyland Style

I think it was 2008 - Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I made the trip down to Disneyland the week before Thanksgiving. I think it may have been one of our best trips ever. We love November at Disneyland - after the decorations go up but before the holiday crowds arrive. And maybe we have been lucky, the November weather at Disneyland for our trips that time of year has been very cooperative with warm days and cool nights, just as it should be. Anyway, we usually made our November trips with other family members but in 2008, it was just me and Mrs. DLT. It was perfect, we arrived on a Sunday afternoon, checked into our hotel, and headed over to Disneyland just before 3:00pm. We walked in right before the start of A Christmas Fantasy Parade and we were able to grap a great spot on the upper level of the train station. Could there be a better way to kick off your holiday season than to see A Christmas Fantasy Parade right when entering the park?

The whole trip was great that way and even though it was before Thanksgiving, everything was filled with the holiday spirit and so were we. I don't even remember us having the usual knock-down-drag-out argument over something stupid like we do on most of our Disneyland trips. The Christmas spirit abounded in so many ways that week.

We had such a good time that when we returned home, settled back, and took a look around at the situation we decided we had the time, the opportunity, and the finances to go back in December as well. We had annual passes, a very great rate was available from one of our favorite places to stay, and everything just seemed to point to going back and continuing our Disney Christmas journey. And so we did - we went back around mid-December before the start of Christmas week.

But we made one fatal error in our Disneyland Christmas Spirit thinking. In November, we went down early, with no real expectations, and the magic of Disneyland at Christmas just overtook in wondrous ways. When we went down a few weeks later in December, we carried the ill-advised plan of "why don't we do our Christmas shopping while down at Disneyland?". Most everyone is our family is some kind of Disney nut so picking up some gifts should be no problem, right? Here is my cautionary tale.

Disneyland is a great way to enhance the Christmas experience and if you let its magical arms wrap around you and carry you way Christmas nirvana. If you walk in there with a list of names, and a Christmas budget, and trudge from store to store looking at everything from top to bottom and checking price tags on everything, a lot of that magic is taken away by the shear commercialism of it all. It became a little unsettling for me. Not that we didn't have a good time but the fact that one of the reasons I was there was to shop, took away a bit from my Christmas Spirit. 

Did I also mention that the weather from the November trip a few week earlier and December trip took a 180 degree turn and turned rainy, cold, and miserable? Well, we could put up with that to a certain extent but its holding up some item in a store and debating for 10 minutes as to whether this would be a good gift for so and so proved be the trips downing moments. 

As it turned out, everyone loved their gifts. Mrs DLT and I had got so frustrated that at the end of the trip we ended up getting all kid's toys on our list at the now defunct Engine-Ears-Toys in DCA in about 30 minutes after spending hours on previous days trying to pick out the elusive perfect gift but it all worked out in the end. One of my new rules for Disneyland at Christmas is if you see something someone may like on a trip through a store - get it but do not make the purpose of a trip to Disneyland to Christmas shop - you'll be sorry. I was.