|DCA Original Entrance - A Disney Photo|
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Well, Disney didn't have a use for them anymore. The semi iconic letters that stood in front of the Disney California Adventure entrance for 10 years have found a new home. News up here in Sacramento has Disney donating the letters that spelled out CALIFORNIA in the esplinade to a non-profit organization called Friends of the California State Fair, which in turn will install the letters on the California State Farirgrounds (Cal-Expo) sometime later this year. This years state fair has its run in July, so the installation will be done sometime after this years state fair.
The non-profit organization will have to pay for the shipping and installation of the letters donated by Disney so there will be some fund raising efforts surrounding this project. Although Disney park fans complained for years about the tacky entrance to the DCA park, people had no problem crawling all over the letters and having their pictures taken with the various pieces of the alphabet. In that respect, having the letters come to life in a new location should insprie some degree of nostalgia for northern California residents who attend the fair in future summers. A nice touch.
Monday, May 28, 2012
I really do like The Jungle Cruise. I should give it a little more respect though. Too often a trip on The Jungle Cruise becomes an afterthought, something to do when you are waiting for your Indiana Jones fast pass time to open up, something to do just because, well, except on very busy days, the line is generally short.
But The Jungle Cruise is much, much more. I've probably got more pictures of my Jungle Cruise excursions than almost any other attraction in the park (the Mark Twain and the Rivers of America is right up there as well with photos). The ride is an original going back to opening day 1955. It's actually a ride that is not based on a Disney movie but rather the Humphrey Bogart classic - The African Queen. Over the years, the jungle canopy is so developed that it is its own eco-system. There is very little landscaping maintenance required in the expanse of the jungle. And the ride itself is usually an employable trip even if you have seen the same sites and heard the same lame ol' jokes a hundred times over.
Notice I used the word 'usually'. Occasionally, you can get a clinker of a trip. Sometimes when its crowded I swear the skippers have a side bet going on about how fast they make the round trip through the jungle. The boats seem to fly with barely a second to take in some of sites. Then there is the skipper himself or herself. Some are better than others. The sound system on the boats generally isn't very good. If you have a skipper that doesn't have a clearly defined voice, then the muffled sound is sometimes difficult to hear as you try and catch the jokes. A few years ago I think I wrote in a forum that females tended to make the worst JC skippers because there voices just didn't seem to be as clear or forceful. I've dropped that sexist remark from my observations. I've had plenty of male skippers who have dropped a dud of a trip as well.
But if you get the right skipper, one that really does enjoy his or her role, then The Jungle Cruise is one of the most fun things you can do in the park.
A few more random thoughts about The Jungle Cruise. We will go on the ride at least once and probably twice on every trip we make. Someone said if I wanted to enhance my Jungle Cruise experience, go on the ride at night. I did. It was kind of the same only dark.
And as many times as I have been on that ride, I didn't know the bird in the cage above the entrance to the ride was real until the last year or so. Always something to learn. A Jungle Cruise movie starring Tom Hanks and Tim Allen has been in serious discussion for quite some time. That sounds like it would be a winner.
Anyway, I have The Jungle Cruise as a solid D-ticket attraction and an absolutely must do on every trip to Disneyland. Here are a few more Jungle Cruise pictures followed be an Asianjma123 YouTube video that takes you through the whole ride.
Happy Memorial Day everyone. Before you move on to your holiday activities, don't forget to stop a minute and remember those who serve in the armed forces and those who have served and sacrificed in the preservation of our freedom. It's easy to overlook. Don't.
This is the one year anniversary for the Disneyland Traveler Blog. The first post was made on May 28, 2011. Are Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I planning to go out and celebrate? Nah, I may go out and get a pizza for dinner. Half price night at the local Round Table.
To those who have read and spent some time with this blog over the last year, a sincere 'Thank You' is expressed to all. I don't know who all of you are but hopefully something in here gives you a few moments of enjoyment or provides something of interest. The good folks at Google (where this blogging tool comes from) provide some background statistics of how many people visit this site and its continued growth gives me some momentum for going forward. During the first month of its existence about 350 visitors stumbled on this blog, half of them I probably either knew or was related to. In this last month, there were about 3500 visitors to this blog and more than 14,000 views during the year. Wow! Again, I have no idea who reads this stuff but I am appreciative.
The whole purpose of the blog was to provide an outlet to share some thoughts about something that interested me - Disneyland and Disney as a whole. Not sure why as I do have other interests but Disney just seemed like a fun thing to write about. It also helps keep me young as the end of my life is much closer than the beginning now. Imagine, at my age, anytime I want I can write about a cartoon mouse or an ill tempered duck. My hope is to provide some information, some entertainment, some food for thought, if there is something in here you haven't agreed with what I may have said, I am perfectly OK with that. Sometimes I read something I wrote some time back and even I don't know where I was coming from. I have written a lot of things and I'm sure missed the mark many times but every once in awhile, I make a hit. I guess all of this is an exercise in writing skills and style and I'm not even getting graded for it.
I hope you continue to enjoy the adventures of The Disneyland Traveler. There's more to come.
Sunday, May 27, 2012
The excitement continues to build for the biggest summer season of all at the Disneyland Resort. Will this be the biggest since the 50th Anniversary celebration in 2005? I think so. Calculating and careful marketing on the part of Disney has fans of the resort building to a fever pitch for the relaunch of DCA and especially Cars Land featuring the biggest most highly anticipated attraction probably since Indiana Jones - Radiator Springs Racers. Yep, this summer is going to be a monster. And as I have previously stated, getting trampled under foot is not my idea of a good time. At my age, being the first to do anything isn't all that important anymore other than maybe being the first one in the bathroom here at the old homestead in the morning.
So pick a month, any month, when would be good time to plan a trip? Going over my past trips as I do in writing this blog I can see for the last several years we tend to have made our trips in the spring March - April - May time frame or mid-September. That seems to have been the pattern since 2008. Time to shake it up a bit.
Now, this summer is out for reasons stated though Mrs. DisneylandTravel and I have made several trips in June and July over the years. A word to the Disney wise out there. If you want to go in June, watch the annual pass blackout dates. One of the worst times to visit the park are those days in mid-June right before the SoCal pass holders with summer blackouts dates kick in. All of them, thousands of them, hit the parks before they are kicked out for the summer. A 50 minute wait to get on Pirates is no fun at all. Surprisingly, we have had pretty good trips in July including the 50th Anniversary celebration. With a large segment of local pass holders kept out, you are dealing with primarily vacationers and those with high end annual passes. Not bad at all providing the weather remains comfortable (and we have been fortunate with our summer time weather I must say).
In this blog, I may have mentioned once or twice (or 20) that I am not a Halloween person. Why we have made so many September trips is beyond me as we seen to hit the park in mid-September right when the now named Halloweentime starts up. Nice to see, but enough already.
When I think of all our trips over the years, maybe our most special trips have been during Christmas. The week right before Thanksgiving when everything is decorated and the holidays are just getting started is a great time to go. Been there during this week maybe two or three times. It's really quite enjoyable. Even better are the first two weeks of December. The holidays are in full swing but it is still considered a low season before the Christmas school break starts. A great time to go if the weather cooperates. Yes, it does rain in Southern California and the first major rain storm seems to target sometime in December.
So that's what I am hoping for - a trip right before Thanksgiving week or the first two weeks in December. There's a lot going in the life the life of the Disneyland Traveler outside of Disney that could prevent this from happening but it is always good to dream, and hope, and plan, and maybe even scheme a bit to make that next trip to Disneyland.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Just maybe the Disneyland Traveler was wrong. That's right, I said it, wrong. On a regular basis Disneyland's Winnie the Pooh ride in Critter Country gets punished in forums and discussion boards. And for years I have stuck up for the little ride and said I rather enjoyed it. After all, it's not Pooh's fault that it was misplaced, stuck across from one of the ultimate E-ticket attractions in Splash Mountain and replaced what many feel was a beloved classic Disney attraction in Country Bear Jamboree. If the Pooh ride were placed over in Fantasyland where it belongs, then it would fit right in with everything else they have going on over there in that part of the park.
Disneyland's Winnie the Pooh ride is bright, colorful, and cheerful, just fine for what it is, an enjoyable small dark ride. And then this morning happened. Looking through a MiceChat forum someone posted a video of Tokyo Disneyland's version of Winnie the Pooh. Whoa! That ride beat the Disneyland version from here to Tokyo and back again.
It's been said that since Disney doesn't actually own the Disney parks in Japan, the actual owners - OLC (Oriental Land Company) doesn't have any problem handing over Disney imagineers, in their licensing agreement with Disney, big dollars for state of the art attractions at a spare no expense cost. With Winnie the Pooh in Japan, it shows.
Check out the video below and enjoy a much superior Winnie the Pooh attraction.
|Carthay Circle Theater & Fountain|
A Disney Parks Blog Photo
The construction walls have finally come down on the Carthay Circle Theater (actually a restaurant and lounge) this past week along with the accompanying fountain. Disney Parks Blog posted these photos. Just lovely work by Disney here and a far cry from the garish entrance to the old Disney California Adventure. Night and day. And if truth be told, I look forward more to seeing the Carthay Circle Theater and other stops along Buena Vista Street more than I look forward to seeing the cartoonish scenery of Cars Land. I have a feeling that Buena Vista Street and the main drag of Hollywood Land will rival the atmosphere of Main St. Disneyland as time goes by.
I'm just really impressed by the work that Disney has done here in giving us a true feeling of atmosphere that would make Walt proud. Not sure that they do enough of that now days. Here are a few more photos to hopefully enjoy.
|Carthay Circle Theater and Fountain - A Disney Parks Blog Photo|
|Closer look at the Carthay Circle Theater in DCA|
A Disney Parks Blog Photo
|Entrance to Mad T Party - USA Today Travel|
Though Disney California Adventure's Mad T Party street party isn't officially scheduled to open until June 15th with the rest of the DCA relaunch, last night the audio visual assault on ones senses soft opened to an enthusiastic crowd of mostly a younger demographic than the ol' Disneyland Traveler here. Colorful? You bet. Upbeat? C'mon, it's a party after all. Weird? Well, there's that too.
Anyway, my favorite Disneyland (and all things Southern California) YouTube videographer - Asianjma123 - has already uploaded the Walk Thru of last night's premiere of Mad T Party. Enjoy the sights and sounds in his video.
I was pretty hard on ElecTRONica in some of my posting over the last year until it closed up for good. The street party concept in DCA, now in it's 3rd generation, is just something that seems foreign to my vision of a Disney experience. But they are very popular with a certain age group and Disney parks are supposed to be for people of all ages. I'm not going to be as hard on Mad T Party as I was with ElecTRONica. Mad T Party already has a big plus for me by confining the rigging, sets, and equipment to the plaza area outside Monsters Inc and Stage 17 rather than having it sprawl all over the Backlots (now Hollywoodland) area like the obtrusive ElecTRONica. (My other issue with ElecTRONica was that at just under 2 years, it just lasted far longer than it should have)
Anyway, if Mad T Pary is still playing when Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I make our next trip, we'll make it a point to stop by and take pictures and shoot video to check the box and prove that we were there. I'll stand around scratch my head and wear a look of bemused puzzlement. I'll need one of those $11.50 cocktails to reel in my sanity. And once we've spent about a half hour taking in the sights and sounds, we'll move on probably never to return to the Mad T Party, just like our ElecTRONica experience.
|House of Cards - Mad T Party - USA Today Travel|
Friday, May 25, 2012
I guess you could call this Part 3 at our look at Disneyland's latest price increase that was announced one week ago today. Forums and discussions boards lit up with shock then slowly but surely turned ugly. Rough stuff can be expected from MiceChat.com - there are some highly opinionated people in there and not afraid of expressing opinions. I think MiceChat is also the largest forum site for Disneyland so there are no shortage of opinions.
MousePlanet.com on the other hand is much smaller and tends to be a more kinder and gently discussion board. Not this week as one of the price increase threads had to be shut down for 24 hrs for a "cooling off period". I bailed out on the discussion about a day ahead of the cooling down period simply because the nastiness and condescending attitudes of some of the more prolific posters got the best of me. Now I'm not perfect when it comes to posting to discussion boards and forums because I don't take it all that seriously and I sometimes shoot from the hip. Sometimes I post something contrary to the grain just to get a discussion going. Sometimes I use discussion boards and forums to put up a piece of writing from this blog that I might like and want to place it in a different audience. Whatever - this is Disneyland and not a discussion of the fall of mankind and civilazation. But some out there are so into themselves, their opinions, their dogma that anyone who comes from a different perspective is well, an "idiot" or at lease made to feel that way. Sad.
Disney brought this upon themselves. Simple need to grab profits while they are hot (and reduce the number of passholders) fueled the fire and turned fan against fan. Not that they care as they crunch their numbers. Well, people have to crunch their numbers and are finding the numbers for their usual Disneyland experiences no longer make sense. People have been priced out. Some people have got fed up and just walked out giving Disney the middle finger salute has they turn their backs.
But many people will pay and continue pay as Disneyland mirrors the society we live in and "The Happiest Place on Earth" is something only a shrinking segment of the population as a whole can afford.
A man trips on falls on Main Street and is shaken up and slightly injured - someone yells out "Is there a doctor around?". The shaken man immediately adds "And a lawyer...." . Doctors and lawyers come from every direction.... the only people who may be able to afford to get in at some point in the future.
Monday, May 21, 2012
Here is my preface to a few thoughts about Walt Disney and is status within the company he founded. A few years ago Mrs. DisneylandTravel and I went to the Carnation Cafe for the very first time. The wait to get in was short and we were hungry on this particular day. We hadn't gone to the Carnation Cafe before because, well, not sure but it may be because it is the very first place to eat when you get into the park. Maybe it was a little to far up front. Anyway, we enjoyed our meal thoroughly to the point where we make it a point to go to the Carnation Cafe on every one of our trips since that first visit. So during our first Carnation Cafe meal we got a visit from the Chef. His name was Oscar. He asked how our meals were and if we were having a good day and enjoying our time at the park. We felt honored and privileged to be visited by the Chef and watched as he visited other tables.
In this particular year, we went back to the park about a month later for our next trip and visited the Carnation Cafe once again. I think it was December and a nice bowl of the baked potato soup would do nicely. Once again Chef Oscar came out to ask if everything was good and how we doing. ????? That Chef sure seems to spend a lot of time with the dining guests. On that trip when I would pass Carnation Cafe I would take a look, most of the time I would see Chef Oscar charming the guests. So I read up about the Carnation Cafe and Chef Oscar when I got home and found out that the nice man was Disneyland's longest tenured cast member (now at something like 55 years of service). He really wasn't a Chef at all. Of course he wasn't a chef, the Carnation Cafe with its limited menu selection is just like any other food place in Disneyland, its meant to serve food quickly without a lot of time and preparation. And the more I thought about it, Chef Oscar, with white coat and tall white chef's hat, could be considered a host or greeter but more than that, he was a character just like any of the many who roam the streets of Disneyland. He is part of the atmosphere, part of what make Disneyland special. But Chef? He may have been, but not anymore.
Has Walt Disney become a version of Chef Oscar? Walt Disney gave his heart and soul to the company he founded. He provided imagination, talent, and vision in the creation of his characters. He built an entertainment company for all to enjoy. He had money problems on and off for almost his entire career only because he continued to reach where no one in Hollywood had tried to reach before. He needed his brother Roy's help to run the company but together the succeeded in building the Walt Disney Company.
And he built Disneyland. He had to beg, barrow, and probably steal to get it done but he did it and charted new territory in the theme park business by providing a place that could be enjoyed by young and old equally. Walt opened Disneyland in 1955. He had a hand in every ride, every attraction, every show, every character, every restaurant that went into the park until his death in 1966 just before Christmas. He had help with a staff of "imagineers" that continued his work and vision in both Disneyland and the new Walt Disney World long after his death. Those parks will built on the ideas and imagination of Walt Disney. But are the now?
The imagineers left over from Walt's time have either retired or passed on. There are very few left in the company. Well, "company" may not be the right word. Disney is the largest media corporation in the world covering the spectrum from network and cable television, films, theme parks, gaming, cruise ships and resorts, and consumer merchandise. There's probably a few more enterprises Disney is in.
Disneyland is now run by a real corporation. It's not run on imagination or creativity or vision so much anymore. It is run as a business with the theme park just an extension of all the other Disney brands and franchises. Disneyland continues to change, grow, delight, and prosper just as it did in Walt's time and just as Walt wanted but somehow, when taking a step back you see the work of corporate executives and accountants. Disney is a very profitable company and the theme parks need to hold up their end of the company pie.
You see Walt Disney as you walk around the park. There's the firehouse that contains the apartment he and his wife Lillian lived in while the park was under construction. You see Walt's statue in the Main St hub. You can ride on the rides and see some of the attractions he personally saw brought to life. And Walt appears in company artwork, and advertising, in books, on DVDs. Come see Walt, the man who built the Walt Disney Company and Disneyland. But somehow I get the feeling that the corporate executives that run Walt's company never ask the question, "What would Walt do?" anymore.
Now dead for 45 years, and none of the Disney family involved with the running of the company anymore, it seems that Walt has been reduced to the status of a character, a historic icon that actually has some financial value to the current Disney company. Walt still sells even if Walt isn't doing the selling.
Some think that the way the current company operates would have Walt rolling over in his grave. I don't think so. Walt may have some argument with some of the direction the company is headed. He may have some issues with how a much of the imagination and quality once associated with Disney have been removed from various aspects of the company. He may have a little different vision for the future but overall, I think he would be happy with the outcome. Most of all, Walt wanted his company to be a successful innovator. And on that count, Disney has succeeded big time.
What about the executives and accountants that now run the company? Well, Disney first sold stock on the New York Stock Exchange 10 years before Walt died. Walt and Roy sold stock off market even years before that as means to stay out of debt and finance future projects. The fact is that Disney is the best at what they do would probably please Walt even if he is being portrayed as every bit the iconic founding character as his Mickey Mouse.
Chef Oscar and Walt Disney. The visible surface of things is one thing, the reality is another.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
With the latest price increase, Disney is banking on the success of Cars Land, the true cornerstone of the Disney California Adventure relaunch. Buena Vista Street is fine, beautiful in fact, but in the end it's mostly a series of wonderful facades covering shops and places to eat. It's Cars Land that is the place of purposeful destination in visiting DCA the rest of this year.
The place looks spectacular but here's the rub as they say. So does ToonTown over in Disneyland, but as soon as you strip down ToonTown's charming exterior, there's not much there. ToonTown has one great ride with Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin and so Cars Land has its big attraction with Radiator Springs Racers. Now I'm not about to compare the two attractions since RCR will most like be fantastic but for Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and myself, Roger Rabbit is the only reason we ever step foot into ToonTown these days. Some trips, we skip the place completely.
Will RCR be the only reason for us to set foot into Cars Land? That remains to be seen. Cars Land does have a large dining facility with Flo's V8 Cafe that ToonTown does not have (and probably could use). That may be something to draw us in as well as the ride but the rest of it? I'm thinking there's not a lot there to provide us interest. Mater's Junkyard Jamboree appears to be mostly a ride for children. The problems with Luigi's Flying Tires is well documented thanks to Al Lutz of MiceAge.com. Suffice is to say, there is no way I'm waiting an hour or more to get on a two minute ride that requires a learning curve to operate properly. There's a quick snack area and the rest of Cars Land is shops.
Here is my prediction for myself anyway. First time we go to Cars Land, we'll soak the place in both day and night since it does look amazing at night. Hopefully, we'll ride Radiator Springs Racers, eat at Flo's, sample of the snacks available from the Cozy Cones, and pass through the shops. We'll snap tons of pictures and have video up the ying-yang. But after that?
I can say that as older people like us, Cars Land may not be a very big draw unless RCR is one of those must-do, can't be missed attractions. And even then, I'm not a really big ride guy anymore. I don't do all the Disneyland Mountains on every trip, I don't need to. So in the end, there is a distinct possibility Cars Land isn't "the place to go" when we are in DCA. It may not be all that it is cracked up to be. It may be just another ToonTown.
Well the angst is over. Disneyland fans have spewed their piece over the "astounding", as Al Lutz called it, ticket price increase. Of course there are the Disney apologists who will maintain Disney always raises prices and that's perfectly fine because everything Disney does is good and because, well, it's Disney! It appears income has a lot to do with being a Disney apologist. On the other end of spectrum I have read about people saying they have officially been priced out, especially in the annual pass categories. One fan said she cried over how the price increase seriously impacted in a negative way a reunion trip she had scheduled in June. Some stories out there were down right sad. I feel bad for them. The apologists make me angry.
After thinking about it for a couple of days, I can honestly say that the latest price increase will most likely have altered my future plans with trips to Disneyland forever. Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I, over the last several years, would buy a park-hopper package, go on our trip, then convert the park-hoppers to annual passes before we left. And once you have that annual pass in hand, you immediately begin thinking about your next trip, and maybe the next trip after that to gain maximum value from the expense of the purchasing the annual pass. Three trips to Disneyland in a twelve month period? Disney would have loved us since we always ate at the park and Mrs. DLT loves to....shop Disney. The annual pass we normally buy is now $469.00, up over $200 from when we first got into the annual pass routine. I don't plan on spending $469.00 for an annual pass unless, as they say, my ship comes in or I win the lottery or something (hard to do when you don't play though).
I think from this point forward, Mrs. DLT and I will park-hopper our trips. We will not convert them to annual passes. We will plan a trip for a select number of days. I think we will also take the option where if you just visit one of the parks on given day instead of "hopping" you can save a bit more. Disneyland loses out on this. Instead of 2 or 3 trips in twelve month period, we may be good with just making one. The pressure is off to "need to go to Disneyland to use of our annual passes". We'll go when we are good and ready.
Does Disney care that our trips may have been cut back because of the latest price increase? All depends on how many others there are like me.
Friday, May 18, 2012
There are few moving vehicles on earth as cool looking as a Disneyland Mark VII monorail. There were rumors going around that they would "wrap" one of them to promote the opening of Cars Land similar to what was done with a Disney World monorail promoting the Avengers and TRON:Legacy movies. Since those monorails are an older generation and 3000 miles away, I didn't really care. But please leave the beautiful Mark VII's alone.
Well not quite. They didn't give the Disneyland monorails a complete wrap job but they did give all 3 of them a face. A face..... ugh! I don't like it but I'm also not around to really be bothered by it. But still, cool became silly. I would expect the smiling faces to be around through the summer as crowds pack Cars Land but hopefully by the time I make my next trip to Disneyland someone will have wiped that silly smile clean off and order has been restored to the universe.
I'm still trying to digest the news. I'm still in shock. I'm still running numbers trying to make sense of the math. As expected, Disney today announced a price increase ahead of their big summer season and the relaunch of the new and improved Disney California Adventure. I knew it would be big but somehow the actual news trumped the anticipation. Consumers of Disneyland just took one in the shorts, especially if you are an annual passholder.
Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I bought our first annual passes in November 2008. The price then was $269. Since we exchanged our parkhopper tickets, the annual pass price was pro-rated. Now here we are less than four years later and effective Sunday, May 20, the price of a deluxe annual pass is $469.00. Staggering. Even more staggering is the single day admission for a park hopper ticket - $125.00. For kids up to 10, it's $119.00. Kids! A three year old paying $119.00. This is madness. People will pay it.
What's really sad is Disneyland is no longer a park for Disney fans. Disneyland is a park for the upper middle class that still have a disposable income. Many of us don't. Every year, more and more children will never know what a visit to Disneyland is all about simply because mom and dad can no longer afford it.
MousePlanet posted this chart comparing last years price with the new price increase.
|Ages 10 and older||Ages 3 - 9|
|Ticket||Old Price||New Price||% increase||Old Price||New Price||% increase|
|5-Day Park Hopper||$266||$290||9%||$246||$270||10%|
|5-Day 1-Park Per Day||$251||$260||4%||$231||$240||4%|
|4-Day Park Hopper||$249||$275||10%||$231||$255||10%|
|4-Day 1-Park Per Day||$234||$245||5%||$216||$225||4%|
|3-Day Park Hopper||$224||$250||12%||$208||$235||13%|
|3-Day 1-Park Per Day||$209||$220||5%||$193||$205||6%|
|2-Day Park Hopper||$173||$200||16%||$161||$188||17%|
|2-Day 1-Park Per Day||$158||$170||8%||$146||$158||8%|
|1-Day Park Hopper||$105||$125||19%||$99||$119||20%|
|Annual Pass||Old Price||New Price||% increase|
|Southern California Select*||$199||$269||35%|
|Annual Parking Pass||$99||$129||30%|