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Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Disney California Adventure in Cheese

Cheddar Cheese Stick
Corn Dog Castle - DCA
The Disney California Adventure Twitter account just tweeted out this photo - the Cheddar Cheese Stick from the Corn Dog Castle in Disney California Adventure. The tweet asked if I tried one of these yet? Answer - No. Love the corn dogs, haven't tried the cheese (or the hot link corn dog for that matter). Let's see - a battered and deep fried stick of cheese, cardiologists could probably post this photo on their office walls with a big red X through it and a caption reading "Heart Attack on a Stick". The Corn Dog Castle offers their corn dogs and cheese sticks with a choice of potato chips or apple slices. For the health conscious out there, go for apple slices. You will help with easing your guilty conscious and the apple slices help cut the grease in your stomach before riding the neighboring Goofy's Sky School.

Looks good though.... 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Hard Sell of Frankenweenie

We're a little less than a week away from the opening of Disney's Frankenweenie, a film made by Tim Burton, whose body of work tends to fall off the mainstream. For me, Tim Burton's work falls in two categories - odd but enjoyable (Beetlejuice, Batman) or odd but a little too strange for me (Nightmare Before Christmas, Alice in Wonderland).

Disney is heavily promoting Frankenweenie as commercial trailers show up regularly during assorted network and cable programming. There is an exhibit of Frankweenie art featuring actual movie sets and pieces on display at the Art of Animation building in Disney California Adventure (Frankenweenie was made with stop motion animation as opposed to the computer graphic rendering of typical Pixar films). And Disney has also moved my beloved Muppets out of their theater in DCA so continuous showings of the Frankenweenie trailer can be shown to park guests. Of course, DCA is also loaded with Frankenweenie merchandise for sale during this Halloween season.

So Disney is really banking with a hit on its hands with Burton and his beloved Frankenweenie project. But I have to get back to my two Tim Burton categories. For me, just from trailers on TV and what I have seen in theaters, Frankenweenie just appears to be a little too weird for my tastes. First of all, the movie is in black and white - a curious thing to do in 2012 but it probably does add to the visuals of the film. But the story of a boy bringing his beloved deceased pet dog back to life through scientific experimentation just feels like, well, kind of creepy. The film is in 3D which costs a few buck more than regular movie prices to see but checks in with a running time of less than an hour and a half so you are paying a premium price for essentially a short movie (though admittedly, a short good movie is better than a long bad one - and we are back to Alice in Wonderland again).

Anyway, I don't have any plans to see Frankenweenie at the theater. Maybe I'll rent it some day but I picture myself having a hard time of doing even doing that. Instead, I'm going to hold off on my Disney film watching at the theaters for another couple of months. Wreck-It Ralph is just around the corner.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Disneyland Traveler Becomes Mr. Positive

So the question comment was made "if you like Disneyland so much, why do you nit-pick and have so many negative things to say? Even when you write good things there always seems to be tinge of negativity"

Fair point. Maybe I'm just a glass half empty kind of person but I will change that with this post - I will say nothing negative at all (hopefully) and explain with all the positive thoughts I can muster why I like Disneyland.

There simply isn't a better theme park experience out there than what Disneyland provides. The theming, the exquisite detail, the rich textured layers that exist within the confines of the park cannot be topped anywhere.

Age has no boundaries. Whether your 3 or 83, Disneyland offers fun for all ages and much of it is can be shared by young and old together.

Once through the gates, everyday problems seem to magically go away. It's all Disney, all the time.

Special moments that will last a lifetime.

Great rides. Everyone has their favorites. Mine is Pirates of the Caribbean but you could line up Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain Railroad, the Jungle Cruise and several others right behind it.

You want entertainment and big time attractions? Try Fantasmic, the Enchanted Tiki Room, Billy Hill & the Hillbillies, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, along with parades and fireworks.

You couldn't give your family a better Christmas gift than a trip to Disneyland during the holiday season.

I like Disneyland Park food - there I said it. Now its taken years to sort it all out and Disney has definitely made great strides in recent years to improve their food offerings, but I can always get a good meal in Disneyland.

Hotels are minutes away. Whether I stay at a Disney hotel or a neighboring establishment, I know I am never more than a half hour away from walking through the park gates

Walt Disney was here and almost 60 years after he first welcomed guests into his park, you can still feel his presence.

I made trips to Disneyland with my mom and dad, sister and brother over the years - they have all passed away now. Inside Disneyland, I still see the places where we were once together. It touches the heart.

I can still get goosebumps (and sometimes misty eyed).

So there you go. All positive things to say about Disneyland. I'll go back and nit-picking sometime very soon.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Disneyland Traveler Starts to Worry About Christmas

By nature, I am a worrier. Now I certainly have far bigger worries than Christmas at Disneyland, many in fact, but still... I have a fear that they are taking my favorite time of the year at the park in a direction that I'm not very happy about.

Of course Al Lutz chronicled in great detail last week in his MiceAge column (link) how Disney finally made the move and did away with cast member after hour Christmas parties at the park, instead passing out cast members some extra passes for themselves and their families to enjoy Disneyland at Christmas - with the regular park guests. Disney's excuse was the parks are now so popular that they can't afford to take extra hours away from paying guests by closing down early for cast member parties. There are all kinds of holes with this reasoning but you can start with they closed the place down early a week or so ago for a private event. Anyway, instead of cast members filled with holiday spirit Disney is taking one more step into turning cast member's overall outlook towards "it's just another job".

And then there is this half baked idea of 20 nights of the Candlelight Processional instead of the traditional weekend event. Stripping the away festive aspect, it comes down to this (as always) - $$$$$. Disney is hoping that pairing Candlelight Processional event seating with expensive dining options (as they do at WDW) then a new holiday revenue stream gets created. But those in the know kind of feel that this may be first step towards having separate admission Christmas events similar to the very nice but very expensive Mickey's Merry Christmas Parties at WDW. Disneyland has done it for Halloween, Christmas is right around the corner and the thought of paying guests coming up with an additional $60 - $70 each to enjoy special Christmas events is an idea ripe with potential profits. Sleazy.

The last concern has to do with something I previously mentioned - turning the experience of wondering around Main St. at Christmas and making an eyesore with visible Processional seating areas and making foot traffic at the park entrance during the 20 nights of the Candlelight Processional virtual gridlock. Not something I'm looking forward to.

Where's Charlie Brown when you need him to call it for what it is - a commercial sham.

A Disney Salute to Space Shuttle Endeavor

Space Shuttle Endeavor Flies Over Disney Studios - Burbank

Last Friday we here in California were given a treat as the now retired space shuttle Endeavor flew over some of our most scenic cities and landmarks on its way to its final home of the California Science Museum in Los Angeles. Disney wasn't forgotten as the massive jumbo jet carrying its historic passenger made its way over both Disneyland and the Disney Studios in Burbank.

Endeavor was the last of the 5 space shuttles constructed (as a replacement for the Challenger which tragically exploded during lift-off) and made its first flight in 1992 and the last of its 5 flights in May 2011. In all, the orbiting space craft spent 299 days in space and traveled over 122,000,000 miles.

Below is a Disney video of the Endeavor and its flight over Disneyland that was posted to YouTube. What a treat for the park visitors that day.

Here are a couple of more photos from last Friday's flight taken over the Golden Gate Bridge in my hometown of San Francisco and flying over the State Capitol at where I currently live near Sacramento.

A Movie About Making Mary Poppins the Movie

I'm old enough to remember sitting in a movie theater as a small child and seeing Mary Poppins. I remember the movie kind of gave me the creeps - a lady with a funny accent flying around on an umbrella. As a kid, I put Mary Poppins in the same category as the Wizard of Oz with the flying monkeys that also gave me the creeps - not to mention more than a few nightmares. So I wasn't a big fan of Mary Poppins. PS. I read somewhere fairly recently that there was some kind of poll that said Dick Van Dyke gave the worst performance of any actor or actress presenting a fake British accent. I have seen clips of his role as Bert over the years and you know what.... the findings in that poll are right. It really was bad.

Anyway, flash forward to 2012 and Walt Disney Studios is just starting to film another Mary Poppins movie according to The Disney Post Blog (not Disney Parks Blog) but this time its a movie about the making of Mary Poppins which took more than 20 years to bring to the big screen as Walt Disney and Mary Poppin's author P.L. Travers wrestled over who would get control of the characters. Tom Hanks plays Walt Disney and Emma Thompson plays Travers. Why do I get the feeling I'm going to enjoy a movie about the making of more than the movie itself? Oh yeah, Hanks and Thompson are great actors in a movie that sounds more my speed than people flying around on umbrellas.

Walt Disney's Mary Poppins (starring Julie Andrews)

Monday, September 17, 2012

More On Handling Disneyland Heat

It was one of my earliest posts in this blog, back in June 2011, and titled The Heat Is On. It talked about ways of beating the heat around Disneyland when temperatures start hitting the 90's or so. Sound, common sense advice in there alright but what if the temperatures begin to crack the century mark like they did for 3 days last week. I've never been to Disneyland on a 100 degree day but I can only imagine that it would be a miserable experience. How miserable? Well, all the scheduled parades were cancelled.

Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I have never been ones for leaving the park, going back to the hotel, then returning later in the day - just seems like too much work and wasted time unless you are staying at the Grand Californian. But it is a popular thing to do for many families, especially those with young children. No, Mrs. DLT and I are Disney gamers and once we are in the turnstiles, we tend to be there until it is time to leave for the day. Even I would have to admit that this practice may come up short when the temperature is sitting at 105. Yes, getting to the park right when it opens, doing as much as you can do until the heat says you can do more more, then getting out of there before heat stroke sets in seems like a wiser choice of action. In my previous post, I concentrated on going to the places where air-conditioning is present during the heat of the day. Of course, these places do not sit right next to each other (for the most part) so you have to endure the sun to get from one air-conditioned spot to the next. Trekking around Disneyland in the heat looking for something/anything that can bring relief from the heat does not seem like much fun at all.

The Tiki Room may have the best air conditioning in the park but they do kick you out after about 15 minutes. At least back at the hotel, with cool air blowing, the show isn't over and the ride doesn't end.

The one advantage for cruelly hot weather? Just like a good soaking rain, it keeps the locals out so crowd levels are kept down. It's small piece of solace when the sweat is is just rolling off you the the best of attraction of the day is going to be a nice shower.

Resurrecting Nemo - In 3D Of Course

If I'm not mistaken, Finding Nemo is Pixar's second most profitable movie release behind Toy Story 3 (and allowing for inflation, the two are pretty much equal). When I did my ranking of Pixar films (link here) from least favorite to favorite, I had Finding Nemo near the bottom with only Cars 2 being more insufferable along with A Bug's Life simply because I can't remember that movie even though I know that I have seen it. The reasons for my disliking Nemo are simple. Pixar, through many of the films, uses the some premise - a lovable misfit in peril. None of their movies embodies that formula more than Finding Nemo. It seems more formula and less creative originality than many of their other films. That and Ellen Degeneres's incessant chattering voice just plain annoys me.

But I am in the minority and plenty of people will be out in droves to see Finding Nemo in 3D for the next couple of weeks out ahead of its 3D home video release. Good for them. Considering most of the garbage movies that are out right now, a revisit with Nemo may be an improvement, maybe even for a curmudgeon like me.

I follow Albert Brooks, who voiced Nemo's dad in the movie, on Twitter. He is a bright and funny guy along with being a fine actor (like Steve Martin, Brooks was an inventive comedian long before he to took acting). Albert Brooks tweeted last week that the Nemo 3D looked so good at its premiere that he thought that he needed a wet suit. High praise indeed. Enjoy Finding Nemo 3D but I think I'll pass.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Now You Can Have A Beer In WDW's Magic Kingdom

The Dining Room at Be Our Guest in WDW

The soon-to-be opened lavish Be Our Guest restaurant within the confines of Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom Fantasyland expansion is set to open pretty soon. The restaurant will be a counter service operation by day but at night for dinner it transforms into a lovely sit-down table service dinner setting. Don't bother to try and get a reservation for the rest of this year, the place is booked up.

But with the dinner table service menu a door has been ever so slightly cracked open. For the first time ever, a domestic Disney signature park (which is Disneyland in CA and Magic Kingdom in FLA) will offer the sale of beer or wine to the general public. Disneyland does serve alcohol in its exclusive Club 33 but that restaurant is restricted to members and invited guests. No alcoholic beverages have been sold in either Disneyland or Magic Kingdom up until now.

Now this little announcement is not earth shattering. Be Our Guest (kind of a dumb name for a restaurant if you ask me) will only offer beer and wine during its dinner service and alcoholic beverages will still not be available in other MK park locations and Disneyland still remains alcohol free to the public but you have to admit, the door has been opened even if it is just a tiny bit.

It would be one of my predictions that alcohol sales will be commonplace with Disneyland and Magic Kingdom within 10 years or so. Disney tends to look less on past traditions these days and more towards the future in ways to generate the revenue shareholders demand. The profits made on alcoholic beverages, espcecially at Disney prices, is enormous. One of the primary purposes of the ElecTRONica and Mad T street parities in DCA is to serve high priced adult beverages. It's a revenue stream that I believe Disney will not turn its back. Instead, though it might be slow and subtle, the presences of alcohol in Disney parks will continue to grow. Just too much money to be made,

Riding The Rails On The Disneyland Railroad

The Disneyland Railroad isn't my most favorite ride in the park but it is the most indispensable. In fact, if Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I were planning a trip to Disneyland and knew the railroad would be closed, we'd probably be looking for a different set of dates to make the trip. It's that important. For us the Disneyland Railroad serves multiple purposes. When we first arrive in Disneyland, we often jump on the railroad first thing to kind of get the lay of the land and our Disney juices flowing. Toward the end of the day the railroad provides some much needed assistance getting around for people with tired and sore feet. Perhaps during the day and we need a break to plan what to do next, a ride around the park may be just the ticket to relax and work on our plan for the rest of the day. In a full day at Disneyland, we are probably on the thing at least twice and maybe 3 or 4 times.

Walt Disney & Mickey on the E.L. Ripley
A Disney Photo

The Disneyland Railroad is cool, it's historic, a special gift from Walt Disney himself. And I remember as a kid thinking how cool it would be to be a conductor on the Disneyland Railroad (if I couldn't be an engineer). The conductors got to ride around all day hanging off the side of the train on one of those little platforms waving to the guests as the train passed by. Although today I think the conductors spend half their time telling people to sit down, keep your kids away from the exit space, and stop taking flash pictures.

But you know what, another little piece of vintage Disneyland legacy is in the process of being tossed aside in the name of safety once again. You see, those little platforms the conductors stand on while the train is making its Grand Circle Tour just quite aren't up to snuff when it comes to cast member safety or so "they" say. Has a conductor ever fallen off a moving train in almost 60 years of operation? Not that I'm aware of. But the little platforms have got to go and Disney is in the process of building little safety compartments for the conductors to ride in while train is in motion. I haven't seen a picture yet of these compartments but they are being installed, one train at a time, over the next few months. A cool job just got a little lamer.

What's next? Seat belts for the horse drawn carriage on Main St.?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Disneyland and a Most Disturbing Trend

It may be small but there is a disturbing trend that is beginning to surface around Disneyland and DCA (and other Disney parks) - a trend so disturbing that this week's park updates in both MiceAge/MiceChat (Andy Castro) and MousePlanet (Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix) felt compelled to write about it. When Buena Vista Street opened in June, it was hailed a masterpiece in imagineering and design projecting the bygone era of Hollywood in the 1920's and 30's. Great detail went in to making the architecture and the storefronts really look like something Walt Disney may have seen when he first stepped off the train in southern California. Great care was used installing the window displays for each of the shops on Buena Vista Street. Disney went so far as to post YouTube videos on just how much effort went into finding just the right period pieces for the windows that came from that era. The windows on BVS were works of art.

That is until now.

For Disney, there was a problem. The storefronts and windows on Buena Vista Street have so much detail that they really don't look like Disney retail stores whose primary goal is to sell you things. The window displays looked so good that it possibly couldn't reduced to something like "shopping" for casual park visitors. It doesn't help that Disney wants the doors to the stores closed for a green initiative aimed at energy conservation and costly air conditioning doesn't collide with summertime heat. For casual park visitors, the storefronts look like the fake facades that have existed over in the neighboring Hollywood Backlots area for the last decade. Of course, most people only give a cursory look at Buena Vista Street as the race by on their way to Cars Land. You see, the stores on Buena Vista Street just haven't been raking in the dough that Disney had hoped. So what does Disney do?

They have now taken the artistic windows and began stuffing them with Disney merchandise and not necessarily the good unique collectible type of Disney merchandise but stuff they peddle around a dozen other places in the parks. Beautiful period props have been removed and replaced by displays or shirts, hats, kitchen utensils, and other dreck. 

The windows still look nice because care is taken to display the merchandise creatively but again, the object here is to get you to walk into the store and buy something rather than present the detail that Disney parks are noted for. The same type of thing is going on over in Disneyland where the fun Holloween decorations in the Main St Store windows is being deluded with an ever growing display of retail items.

But it gets worse as being reported by MiceAge/MiceChat's Dateline Disneyland.

You see those soft drink cups at the top of this page - they are cups from Disneyland's 50th Anniversary celebration. What currently is happening is "Disney" logo cups used for soft drinks are in the process of being replaced by the generic red and white Coca-Cola cups that are served up at thousands of other places that don't serve their drinks in Pepsi cups. The new cups don't say Disneyland or Disney Parks or have any references to Disney whatsoever. Things like Disney vended turkey legs and hot dogs are now served in something labeled as a "Hot Food Bag" And to take it a step further, after that $12 Disneyland lunch you may have just enjoyed you now get to wipe off your  face with a plain brown napkin - yep, napkins with Disney Parks printed on them also appears to be a thing of the past. 

So why is the question. Generic cups and napkins are just plain cheaper in the quantities that Disney deals with. Cheaper dispensing items leads to higher profit margins and that seems to be what it is all about these days. Admission and pass holder prices have gone up enormously over the last few years and Disney seems compelled to give less even if the less that is being given is just minor details. Details are what separate a Disney park from the rest of what's out there. The gap may be closing.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Simple Life of Casey Jr. and Storybookland

Life can get pretty complicated on occasion. There are ups. There are downs. Sometimes it seems like a thrill a minute as the saying goes. When things seem on the verge of going out of control, sometimes quiet is a gentle place of respite. Such is my story about two Disneyland classic rides that date back to 1955 - the Casey Jr. Circus Train and the Storybookland Canal Boats.

The two rides basically occupy the same area toward the back of Disneyland's Fantasyland. This past week they both closed down for refurbishment until sometime towards the middle of November. Apparently someone thought it was a wise idea to add some pathways around the Casey Jr. train track for maintenance workers and guest evacuation. Safety is big in Disneyland these days or so the state of California keeps telling them. So the two rides quietly close down with barely a whimper in Disney fandom. Oh, but Indiana Jones Adventure closed down at the same time and there's plenty of fist shaking out there even though the huge ride badly needs attention and repair. The IJA thrill is gone while the quiet of two legacy attractions falls by the wayside.

Last year I wrote about how members of my own family thought the Storybookland Canal Boats was the most boring ride in the park. I'll remove the word boring and insert quiet. There are no thrills in the gentle boat ride through the world of storybook miniatures and well manicured topiary. Both these rides came from Walt Disney himself and for that reason alone they are keepers. But there is something to be said for simple rides in a lovely setting that many people just find nice and relaxing. No, everything doesn't have to provide a thrill. Quiet is its own reward.

Nobody is counting down the days until these rides re-open again. Their closure is not causing anyone to second guess their trip plans. Not being able to take a ride on either of these attraction is a "deal breaker".

But with their closure, a little piece of Disneyland's heart is missing. Even if you never went on the rides they certainly were pleasant to look at - a lush oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of a busy Fantasyland. No, these are not major attractions by any stretch of the imagination but Disneyland certainly is a nice place for having them.

Before Casey Jr. closed last week, MiceChat's Andy Castro took a final video look at the train ride from the back end of the caboose. Nice. (fun fact: Walt Disney wanted only horses for his carousel ride. Most older carousels have fixed stationary pieces where people could just sit while going round and round instead of going up and down on some kind of animal. So King Arthur's carousel is made of up from a few different carousels purchased by Walt Disney. Walt used the horses and constructed the Casey Jr. train cars from unneeded odds and ends from the carousel collection)

Here is Andy's video

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Things We Pack For A Disneyland Trip

We may take the 1 hour flight to Disneyland again some day but as for now, Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I drive the 434 miles from our home outside of Sacramento to the Disneyland front gates. While the plane flight is short and convenient, driving has spoiled us. Sound backwards? Maybe, but the one thing we have found out through the years is driving allows us to bring "stuff" all kinds of "stuff" we could never take on a plane.

Of course there are the essentials when packing for a Disneyland trip...you know....layers of clothes, comfortable shoes, a camera, toothpaste, deodorant, the usual suspects. Here are some of the more items we take that are a bit out of ordinary.

Those little 4 cup coffee makers they put in hotel rooms are pretty much a joke. 4 cups? Maybe in the world of the seven dwarfs you could get 4 cups out of one of those things - 2 cups max. Forget that, we bring a coffee pot - good ol' 12 cup Mr. Coffee. Of course we now have to pack sugar, splenda, and creamer. "Wait a minute" you interject "Don't you need to keep creamer refrigerated?" Unless its the powdered kind - yes you do. So into the back of the Disneyland Traveler Disney-mobile (a Ford Explorer currently) goes the ice chest - 48 quarts worth. "That's a little large for creamer" - well, add soda, water, beer, and anything else that needs to be kept cold and a large cooler comes in handy.

We live in a digital age, an age of cell phones, laptops, iPods, digital cameras,and video recorders. Everything has a battery that needs to be charged (kind of like people, that's what the beer is for). Well, most hotel rooms have like 2 visible outlets that aren't being used by something. Nothing that a large multi-outlet power strip couldn't fix and which we now always pack.

Speaking of plugging in.... most Disneyland area hotel rooms have working air conditioning that sufficiently keep rooms cool. But no, that's not quite good enough. Mrs. DLT needs a fan, an oscillating fan to blow a breeze on her when she sleeps. It also helps drown out noises from outside the room. Of course, every hotel room has a slightly different layout so just in case, we also pack an extension cord for the fan - about 20 ft. should do it.

Now this is the one that drives me crazy. Mrs. DLT can't seem to pack for a 5 day to Disneyland even though she appears to have enough clothes that will get her through any natural disaster. She has to make one trip to the hotel laundry room to wash clothes. She makes me go with her. So here we are at the Happiest Place On Earth separating lights from darks. Of course whatever detergent the hotel sells out of a vending machine isn't going to work so now we''re packing containers of liquid laundry detergent and fabric softener. Don't forget to pack some extra quarters for the machine.

Speaking of liquids. I'm pretty much good with hotel soap, shampoo, and conditioner. It works for me. Not for Mrs. DLT on the other hand as she brings bottles and bottles of stuff - not just shampoo and conditioner but assorted lotions and cremes. There isn't a square inch of flat space in that bathroom that doesn't have a bottle of something on it (and I'm not talking small bottles).

Some people are napkin people, Mrs. DLT and I tend to be more paper towel people. We go through a lot of paper towels. Better pack a roll or two along with plastic knives, forks, and spoons just in case. Then throw in some plastic garbage bags for dirty clothes and such. 

I mentioned a laptop computer earlier. Now, traveling with a laptop is commonplace these days. Maybe a trip to Disneyland is the one place you should be able to get away from computers for awhile. For us, a laptop is pretty much mandatory as I use it download huge amounts of pictures and videos on a daily basis so everyday we start with a clean memory card. The laptop also becomes essential to watch Disney suck the life out of our bank account on a daily basis. It's quite entertaining really in a perverted kind of way.

So that's pretty much our out of the ordinary packing items. I'm sure there are more. Pictures in this blog entry are of the Candy Cane Inn, our favorite place to stay outside of the Disneyland Hotel or Grand Californian. It's very nice and a third of the price of a Disney hotel which leaves us more money to spend inside the park where we take a look each night and review how Disney has just sucked the life again out of our bank account.

The Selling Of Frankenweenie

Frankenweenie Plush Merchandis
A Disney Parks Blog Photo

Disney is making a big park push to promote Tim Burton's Frankenweenie film scheduled for release on October 5. An exhibition of Tim Burton's Frankenweenie art will be displayed at Disney California Adventure beginning this month along with movie previews shown in the Muppet's 3D Theater in the evenings. And of course, Frankenweenie merchandise is hitting the store shelves. Am I the only one who finds this to be a little too weird and unsettling to actually be enjoyable? I've seen a couple of previews for the movie including what is being shown in theaters in 3D and I have to admit there is a bit of sad sweetness to what I saw on the screen but overall - unsettling seems to be the word, at least for me.

Labor Day and Cast Member Appreciation

Disney Artwork from Disney Post Blog

Today is Labor Day, a holiday for us in America where we celebrate the workers - kind of sounds like communism there for a minute. Anyway, Hello - I'm Labor and I have the day off - also no school, no banking, no mail, but if you want to buy something, everything is open.

Since this is a Disney blog, the Disneyland Traveler wants to give his tip of the hat to all the Disneyland cast members who work hard to give everyone a special time in The Happiest Place On Earth. True, not all cast members work as hard as others in making sure smiles stay on guest faces as evidence in my story from last year - Story Of A Mean Ol' Cast Member but by and large, Disney has some great people working in their parks.

I have a lot of respect for cast members. Every once in awhile Mrs. DisneylandTraveler will blurt out about how wonderful it would be to work at Disneyland. I shake my head and just think about, other than a small handful of great jobs, most of these cast members have to put up with an awful lot from rude people often with a large sense of entitlement. I think especially about the cast members who have to work something like crowd control who spend a lot of time telling people something they don't want hear then get an earful in return. 

Cast members aren't in the park to give people a hard time. They are there to maintain order and safety for all guests and try to give all a magical day (and of course, sell you stuff). I'm just hear to express my appreciation to the Disneyland cast members, most of them anyway, working hard to keep a smile on my face.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Walt Disney World vs. The Home Office

Walt Disney World in Florida is near the top of the list of most sought after tourist destinations in the world and with good reason - deluxe accommodations, fine dining experiences, 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, a sports complex, golf, and many other activities. Grand and spacious, you could spend weeks there and still not take it all in. Fans of Walt Disney World sometimes have an air of smugness about them simply because in their world - size matters. One thing that WDW has in spades is size.

And fans of WDW have a tendency to get defensive when you bring up the Disneyland Resort compared their park. After all, compared to WDW, Disneyland is down right puny. But the last few years, WDW fans have had to take it on the chin a bit and they don't like it.

I think it started with the lush World of Color and the plans for Disney California Adventure expansion. WDW was expanding too - expanding Fantasyland - but DCA got Cars Land (and Buena Vista Street). How come DCA gets the good stuff, never mind the fact it flat out needed something to bring it to life after years on life support? And the hot topic (or hot button topic depending on who you ask) is the bringing in of the Marvel brand into the theme park realm - something that can be done in Disneyland but cannot be done in WDW due to contractual agreements with Universal that are in place.

But there's other things too. D23 - Disney's exclusive "fan club" primarily caters to the Southern California contingent. Expo number 3 is slated for next year in Anaheim and grand plans to bring the show to Orlando seem more like wishful thinking.

There's a reason why Disney pays so much attention to its little park in Anaheim. Despite it size, WDW is not "the home office". Disney corporate offices are in Burbank along with its film and TV enterprises (excluding Northern California's Pixar and Connecticut's ESPN). Disneyland sits in their backyard (or about 30 miles away or so). When Disneyland has a major project, company execs like Bob Iger, Tom Staggs, and John Lasseter tend to be around front and center. True, Meg Crofton runs both U.S. Disney Resorts along with Disneyland Paris and she is headquartered in Orlando but compared to Bob and Tom and John, Meg is a minion. Disney has the bulk of its resources in Southern California both people and things so its easy for them to trot out celebrities and movie memorabilia without much logistical effort.

And then there is one thing that fans of Disneyland can always hang their hat on - Disneyland is the only Disney park Walt Disney himself ever stepped foot in. You can see Walt's presence every time you walk by the Main St. firehouse and see the light on in his upstairs apartment. You can go on the rides that Walt personally oversaw the construction. There are pictures of Walt in the Tiki Room, in the Golden Horseshoe, walking through Sleeping Beauty's Castle, having coffee in the Cafe Orleans, riding the Mark Twain or his beloved steam trains. Walt Disney also conceived Disney World and EPCOT but the most visibility you see with his involvement with those endeavors is pictures or TV clips of him standing around maps.

Yes, Disneyland is Walt's park. The corporate types that run the place now basically use Walt as a marketing tool but the fans of Disneyland know better. 

The fans of WDW in Florida have the crown jewel of resort destinations. The fans of Disneyland have a man of very large dreams and imagination. Its been that way for almost 60 years now.

Another "Glowing" Look At Fantasmic!

My favorite Disneyland videographer Asianjma123 took his camera out to Fantasmic's Glow With The Show performance and captured this cool looking video. No - haven't changed my mind - not going to wear the ears - but it does look pretty impressive. Check out the 2 guys at the end. I don't think they wore ears either. I respect that.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

...But I Don't Want To Wear Mouse Ears

Glow With The Show Mouse Ears
About $25

Does not wanting to wear Mickey Mouse Ears make me a bad person? My refusal to wear mouse ears came up this morning over coffee with Mrs. DisneylandTraveler. She used the word "fuddy-duddy". This came up right after I told her I didn't think too much about the 10 minute version of Sweet Caroline that Neil Diamond sang when we saw him in concert this past Monday. A fuddy-duddy.

The mouse ears topic came up when I told her that Disney held a special annual passholder "Glow with the Show" Fantasmic performance a week or so ago. You can take a look at a little bit of video Disney shot for the event and posted on Disney Parks Blog.

Now I have to admit, it looks pretty cool. Those that were there for the event said that the "glow with the show" ears showed off better for Fantasmic than they did with World of Color (mostly because Fantasmic is a better show). But mouse ears? Mouse ears that cost around $25? (Disney didn't supply the lighted mouse ears for Fantasmic like they did for the special World Color Glow with the Show performances - you had to bring your own.) 

I have written about My Disney Bucket List in this blog. One thing that will never appear on the bucket list is "Wear a Pair of Mouse Ears (of any kind)". I can't do it. I'm a grown-up. When Mrs. DLT used the word "fuddy-duddy" this morning to describe me and my disdain for the ears,  I came back with "at last I'm not a sheep". Disney tells several thousand people to come to a special show where you have to wear $25 blinking lights on your noggin. Sounds like sheep being led by a shepherd to me (a shepherd that is pocketing a lot of profit on these things). Or lemmings. No, I am not going to do it. 

The guy below has a pair of mouse ears in his hand. Notice they are not actually on his head. Nor do I imagine they were ever on his head. For those of us, males in particular, who have a few decades under our belts, mouse ears on the head - just not cool. Sorry. Just a fuddy-duddy.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of (Darkness)

Forgive me for continuing to explore the Indiana Jones character in a Disney blog but I can connect the dots. Even though Indiana Jones is NOT a Disney character (I believe our friend George Lucas is the rightful owner and maybe Paramount Pictures a little bit), the Indiana Jones Adventure - Temple of the Forbidden Eye ride continues to rank near the top of the favorite attractions when talking about Disneyland. When it runs, it is a great, great ride. It breaks down a lot and as mentioned earlier, several features inside the ride are not operational - hence it goes down for refurbishment on Tuesday and will not open until it is almost time for Santa Claus to come to town.

In the meantime, Raiders of the Lost Ark is set to hit a one week run on IMAX screens beginning next weekend and this is right ahead of the release of the Indiana Jones movies in high definition blu-ray on September 18. Of course, they make you buy all 4 Indiana Jones movies not giving the consumer the opportunity to pick and choose. So yes, in order to be able to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark in blu-ray at home, you will have had to also buy Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom along with it - two movies in that series that are not looked upon very fondly by many. (We'll give the third movie - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade a pass since Indy goes back to his Raiders roots and fights the Nazis and it has Sean Connery in it)

Yesterday, Sports Guy Bill Simmon's Grantland magazine (somehow connected to the Disney owned ESPN) published an article written by Bryan Curtis that explored the darkness of the second Indiana Jones movie - The Temple of Doom. It is a very interesting read on what was going on in the lives of George Lucas and director Steven Spielberg at that time. You can read the article from the link below.

I'm not sure I am buying into all the doom and gloom aspects of the article. Granted, Temple of Doom did have a few disturbing scenes and a long period of the movie is spent in underground caves but I thought the movie was entertaining enough (though certainly not up to the standards set in Raiders of the Lost Ark). Anyway, it is an interesting article written about an interesting movie made by some interesting men. Memo to self: Go watch Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom again.