Disneyland Traveler Blog Sites

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Disney Blasts Into a Galaxy Far, Far, Away...

Disney CEO Bob Iger with George Lucas
A Disney Photo

Staggering....stunning....well yes, and maybe no. There have been rumors in Disney forums and blogs (including this one) for a year or so that George Lucas, the sole owner of his Lucasfilm empire, was looking for a way to extend the life of his most prized creations for generations to come. Disney, who already had a good relationship with George (it is currently but its also had some rocky periods), through its licensing of Star Wars and Indiana Jones attractions in its theme parks, seemed the most like media spaceship to carry Lucas's vision into the future.

Today it happened. Even Darth Vader has a price tag. The purchase price came out to be 4.05 billion dollars in cash and stock. George can go off and do whatever....Disney now owns the Star Wars franchise, the Indiana Jones franchise, Skywalker Sound, Industrial Light & Magic, along with other Lucas enterprises.

Bob & George Signing On The Dotted Line
A Disney Photo
But really its all about Stars Wars. And that is the direction the acquisition is immediately heading, promising a new Star Wars movie in 2015 with others coming out every two or three years the release of what is now known as Star Wars Episode 7. And if you don't think Disney isn't going to leap at giving Darth Vader and company a prime role in Disney theme parks..... stop it. Disney will be all over this with the most likely target being a presence in Florida designed to give that snot nosed Potter kid the whooping of his life.

This is huge. And now, and now....., the Disneyland Traveler has got a whole range of topics to blog about. A great day.

Bob and George talk about the Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm LTD.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Disney Parks "Limited Time Magic" 2013 Promotional Theme

Limited Time Magic Promotion - New York City
A Disney Photo

Every year or two, Disney presents us with a new promotional theme for getting people to start planning a visit to their local Disney theme park. This year in Times Square - New York City, with great fanfare and a giant ice sculpture castle, Disney gave us their new theme park promotion for 2013 - Limited Time Magic. 

"Wait a minute?" you might be saying to yourself as many bloggers and discussion board posters have - "Limited Time Magic? What the heck does that mean? Sounds more like a going the local mattress store having a going out of business sale.  Get her quick for the best deals for a limited time."

Well, this has nothing to do with discount sales. Quite the opposite. It has everything with Disney Parks staging 52 one week events (though some events may last only a day or two while others may be in place for a month) to bring guests in over and over to their local Disney park to see what's new this week. This is a promotion that seems directly directed at annual passholders with short attention spans and always looking for the latest thing going on at their Disney park and willing to pay for it in many cases. It also gives Disney opportunities to try several new things in the course of a year to see what may be a (financial) hit and what is a miss.

I tend to be cynical mostly. While there may be promotions over the course of the year in 2013 that I may really want to see, what Disney mostly wants is to get me through the turnstiles as many times as possible.

Limited Time Magic mostly seems like a lot of full time gimmicks aimed at keeping the money flowing Disney's way.

Iron Man 3 (And Thor Too)

Yeah, I know, summer has barely left us and fall/winter is just on the fringe of going full force but it's never too late to start thinking about next year (well, maybe it's a bit premature but who am I?). Anyway, Disney / Marvel is promising us not one, but two superhero movie spectacles next year. Each one hopefully destined to make the company about a bazillion dollars.

First on tap is the return of Tony Stark and his suit in Iron Man 3 hitting the theaters May 3, 2013. Hope it's a good movie if Disneyland plans on building a big time ride in based on Iron Man. It wouldn't be the best of circumstances to put up am expensive E-Ticket attraction based on a character whose best movie installment was about 6 or 7 years ago in the original Iron Man movie. Below is the first official Iron Man 3 movie trailer. Early - but seems a little dark.

Lest we forget, Thor will also return for his second go around on the big screen with Thor The Dark World set to hit theaters on November 8, 2013. The original Thor film wasn't one of my favorites leading up to The Avengers (but it wasn't quite as bad as Iron Man 2). The jumping of universes is kind of hard on my feeble brain. Thor worked best when it stayed on earth with Natalie Portman as the Norseman's object of affection. Portman returns in Thor The Dark World which is a good thing. Let's hope the universe jumping is kept at a minimum this time.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Nighttime Over Disney California Adventure

Over Disney California Adventure
A Disney Parks Blog / Paul Hiffmeyer Photo

You know, I've got a pretty good job - Information Technology stuff, web publishing stuff,.... I wear a lot hats in my cubicle. And I make a pretty good living doing what I do all things considered. It's a good job - I didn't say its a cool job. The coolest job that I know of (if you are not Bruce Springsteen) is the one Paul Hiffmeyer has. He is the Chief Photographer for Disneyland Public Relations. I actually saw him one day, camera in hand, standing by the ToonTown railroad station..... getting ready to take some pictures I guess.

Anyway, from time to time, Paul puts some of his photos up on Disney Parks Blog and shares them with those of us who do not have cool jobs. These photos were posted last week and shows Disney California Adventure at night while Paul was snapping pictures from an airplane. Gorgeous shots.

Over Disney California Adventure
A Disney Parks Blog / Paul Hiffmeyer Photo

Over Disney California Adventure
A Disney Parks Blog / Paul Hiffmeyer Photo

Halloween's Most Lasting Impression

Disneyland can dress itself up and decorate from now until doomsday and never replace my most lasting and favorite Halloween image.

This one.....

"I got a rock...."
Yes, Charlie Brown..... sometimes it just seems that way.

I wonder if Mickey ever got a rock?

Mickey Mouse Meet Iron Man

"Hey Mickey, gather your Disneyland friends together and come over here. I want you to meet someone. Yes, get Donald, Goofy, Snow White, Grumpy, Belle, and anyone else you can think of - this is important."

"Disney friends, this is Tony Stark. He is coming to join you here in the Happiest Place on Earth. He's a bit of an egomaniac, a wise guy, maybe even a bit of alcoholic but he's incredibly smart and incredibly rich. He built this metal suit in which he can actually fly. Occasionally, he is called upon to save the world. He is Iron Man."


Well, if you believe in the rumors of MiceAge's Al Lutz, Tony Stark and Iron Man are coming to Disneyland with a big time E-Ticket attraction to be primarily built on the site of the poorly utilized but massive Innoventions attraction in Tomorrowland. And the forums and chat rooms have been buzzing ever since Al made his proclamation  Marvel superhero characters in Disneyland? Get used to it. Disney CEO Bob Iger spent 4 billion dollars buying Marvel characters. He's already pocketed a substantial amount of cash from The Avengers movie and now he gets a chance to move the popular characters, sometimes with dubious backgrounds, into his California theme park (and other Disney properties around the world) . Sorry WDW, you will be spared a visit from Marvel since Universal has the character licenses locked up in Florida for years.

So on what side does The Disneyland Traveler fall on the great Marvel character in Disneyland debate? If done smartly and the Iron Man attraction delivers the goods, well then, I'm all for it. It is time to shake things up a bit. Disney fans threw fits when George Lucas brought in his Star Wars and Indiana Jones characters into Walt's park, but those attractions are hugely popular and keep guests delighted, entertained, and best of all - returning again and again. You don't see Darth Vader or Indiana Jones in parades or places where they would appear out of place. So I would think the same for Marvel characters. Give them their piece of real estate in the park without trying to overrun the place and all will be fine.

What about the further convolution of Walt's Tomorrowland theme since, while Iron Man is high tech for sure, he is a character of the present? Well, Walt's Tomorroland is basically shot. It may be a thematic mess but couple of the rides in there are some of the most popular in the park as I'm sure Iron Man the ride will be. Iron Man replacing Innoventions isn't going to make the place any worse than it already is if you are one of the those who believes that everything must fit to a Walt Disney theme.

"Welcome Tony Stark. Now put on the suit and let's fly....."

Monday, October 15, 2012

Disneyland Resort - A to Z - Disneyland Monorail

So there I was, laying in bed last night, thinking about what Disneyland Resort attraction or restaurant actually started with the letter 'D'. The only thing I could come up with was the Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes - a boat ride around the Rivers of America that I have never been on (I think) or have any plans to ever go on. No interest in it whatsoever. Sorry, it looks like work. I don't go to Disneyland to work (though some days it feels like hard work).

And then while looking into it a bit more this morning it came to me. You knucklehead - it's not called "the train" or "the monorail". It's officially called the Disneyland Railroad and the Disneyland Monorail. Now, if you are a regular reader of this blog, you know my unending affection for the Disneyland Railroad. As a ride, as a transportation system, as a vehicle to just sit back and take in the grandeur of the park, the Disneyland Railroad is fantastic. So rather than posting about the Disneyland Railroad again I'll move over the other way and talk about the Disneyland Monorail for  a paragraph or two.

On every one of our Disneyland trips, Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I will make a round trip on the Disneyland Monorail leaving from the Tomorrowland station. Occasionaly we will use it as transportation to Downtown Disney or for the times we have stayed at the Disneyland Hotel. But mostly we just sit back and make the round trip on the sleek looking trains. The latest versions of the monorail, the Mark VII's, are indeed impressive to look at from many vistas around the resort.

Mrs. DLT and I usually try and get the very back car (the tail). Why? Well, the front compartment with the driver (the nose) is very high in demand for families and you have a better luck getting on in the rear of the train. The other reason is that the front and rear compartments are the only train cars that actually have air conditioning since they do not have windows that open like the cars in the middle sections of the train. Air conditioning is important to Mrs. DLT. Air conditioning is important in January to Mrs. DLT.

The ride itself is kind of, well, ..... meh .... It's smooth, it's quiet but you get to see a lot of the backstage areas of Disneyland and DCA that are not all that impressive to see. Perhaps the ride highlights come when the monorail shoots through the Grand Californian Hotel property and the minute or two when it actually wraps around Fantasyland and Tomorrowand in Disneyland. It's certainly not anything to get excited about, just something nice to do. If the monorail wasn't running on one of our trips (which has been known to happen since it seems to frequently have issues of some sort or other) it would not be missed.

But lest we forget, if you are a boy (and maybe even a girl) of age 5 or 6, the Disneyland Monorail may simply be the greatest thing ever, a true highlight of a Disneyland trip for most young children. And for adults, the Disneyland Monorail is just a beautiful thing to marvel at often allowing you to recapture that moment of youth when you made that first trip. You know, for adults, a ride on the monorail may not be the greatest thing in the world but at one time, it probably was.

Here is a YouTube video that quietly gives a you round trip ride on the Disneyland Monorail.....

My DIsneyland Bucket List - Item #6

My personal Disneyland Bucket List has been stuck on 5 items now for a few months. You can see all my bucket list posts from this link. Most of them have to do with eating or food. Just when I was beginning to think there was nothing more to add to the list a question in the MiceChat Disneyland forum got me to think about something else kind fun that could be added. The question simply asked "How many rides have you ridden in a day?"

So I remember back to my younger days, days when there was enough energy in me to get to the park when it first opened then literally ran from ride to ride to ride hitting all the major attractions (mostly the so called mountain rides) first before the lines got ridiculous. By the end of the day, the total was quite impressive though I don't think I ever bothered to keep count.

Well some people do keep count. In fact, MiceChat does a whole game based on the number of rides teams of people can do in a day. It's called the Gumball Rally and I think they do it a couple of times a year (not sure). While I have no interest in participating in a competition, it may be something of a personal challenge to go back and see just how many rides (and I'll include shows and attractions) I can still do in the course of a Disney day. It is something that is Bucket List worthy mostly because I am not young anymore and mad dashes to rides and attractions is something that is no longer part of my Disneyland experience.

Now in later years, I am more of a Disneyland wanderer, picking and choosing my favorite rides and attractions. I spend a lot of time sitting on park benches thinking about where to go next (usually while Mrs. DisneylandTraveler is spending money in a store). And we spend a lot of time eating, table service restaurants, counter service restaurants, doesn't matter, dining is definitely a large chunk of time for our Disney day.

But eliminate the bench sitting, the sitting down for formal meals, the time contemplating what to do next next. Just go and and as Nike says - just do it. My friend Mike and his wife are a couple of years younger than I am. He goes to Disneyland about once a year but only goes for day, perhaps two at the most (usually on a Club 33 reservation because he has a connection). By the time he recounts everything he did on one of his trips, I'm exhausted just listening. But I could do it, I know I can, if it was just one day. (Mrs. DLT and I usually make 5 day trips to which would definitely be needed in this effort if for nothing else, recovery time)

I have to relegate myself to the fact that this may be a solitary pursuit as, like me, Mrs. DLT's energy and endurance has pretty much got up and went. And she may not be the type to say, "Yeah, running around the park like I was 16 again might actually be fun". She may think this all to be just plain silly. Haven't mentioned it to her yet. In fact, some of my most productive mornings in Disneyland have been when she's back at the hotel making the slow climb out of bed.

Yes..... this does seem Buck List worthy - when a man who is far closer to the end of life than to the beginning gives it one last try. I have heard there is something of an unwritten Disneyland goal that they want every guest to be able to enjoy about 10 ride or attractions in the course of a day. That seems about right. Maybe on a good day, Mrs. DLT and I can get up to about 12 or so. But what if I could do 20, 25. The pursuit alone may kill me but for one day, I can repeat feats of a time when I was much younger.

Look out Heimlich and Pinocchio, I may be coming for you again some day.... 

PS.... the two rides I would not go on - Bucket List of no Bucket List - Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes and Silly Symphony Swings.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Disneyland Resort - A to Z - California Screamin'

"Get ready screamers.....launch in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ......" and you are off on DCA's California Screamin' roller coaster located in the Paradise Pier section of the park. It's hard to miss - the thing is huge. As a coaster ride, it's one of the best for someone like me who doesn't mind a good coaster ride but doesn't want to stare death in face that you are now getting on some theme park coasters. California Screamin' is just right - long, fast, smooth as glass, and just enough thrills that when all is said and done, it's hard not to walk off the ride with a smile on your face.

Yes. I'm a big fan of the California Screamin' roller coaster. But there is a big BUT.... California Screamin' could just as easily be sitting a few blocks away in Knott's Berry Farm or several miles away in Six Flags Magic Mountain. There is absolutely nothing DISNEY about the ride. It's a generic off the shelf roller coaster that's manufactured in Europe. Disney imagineers could have bought it from a catalog. What's worse is not only did they put an unthemed generic coaster in a Disney park, they didn't even put in the effort to construct a queue line that shows the the slightest bit of Disney imagination. Just line 'em up and herd them in.

So while California remains a great coaster ride, serious Disney points have to be deducted for the total lack of imagination that has been applied in making it a Disney kind of experience. And in the end that is kind of disappointing. Maybe they'll get around to adding some Disney touches some day but I wouldn't expect it to be anytime soon. The massive coaster would just need too much work at this point. It is what it is.... Maybe if we could just get a decent queue line - that would be a start.

There are a number of videos available on YouTube for Screamin'. Here's a nice one from Theme Park Review. PS.....  You couldn't get Mrs. DisneylandTraveler on California Screamin' for all the tea in China as the saying goes. I've tried to sell her on giving it a try because it really is as smooth as glass but so far no luck.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Second Thought About the DCA Disney Animation Building

I have to admit that I don't give a whole lot of thought about what goes on inside the Disney Animation Building In DCA. Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I go in there because (in no particular order)  1) it's cool inside and on a hot day it's a nice way to get out of the heat  2) we enjoy Turtle Talk With Crush which is often amusing and  3) the Toy Story Zoetrope is amazing.

There are a few other things going on inside the building like the Beast's Library but I have to admit, I haven't gone in there in about 8 years. Disney posted this video a week or so about updates to the Library section of the Animation Building. It's not a Bucket List type thing to get back in there but looks like an interesting thing to do.

Looking Ahead To Attending Monsters Univiersity

A look the Monsters University Campus
Disney / Pixar's Monsters University website
The release date for the Monsters Inc. prequel - Monsters University isn't until June of next year but this past week, Disney / Pixar launched a Monsters University Campus website that somehow looks like a cross between Cambridge in England and certain Northeast Ivy League schools her in the U.S. Generally, the information is presented pretty straightforward like most college and university websites but beneath it all seems to be the university "store" where assorted Monsters University merchandise is now for sale.

I have had an interesting relationship with the original Pixar Monsters Inc. film. I think I have seen it four times. Twice I enjoyed the movie and twice - not so much. Guess it depended on my mood at the time. Anyway, here is a Disney / Pixar peek at the Monsters University movie...

Monster's University Campus
Disney / Pixar's Monsters University website

Disneyland Resort - A to Z - Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters

In my look at the Disneyland Resort by alphabet, for the B's, I really wanted to write about the Blue Bayou. But other than being a bit overpriced, you are not going to have a lot of negative things to say about the Blue Bayou. Maybe I'll write about it in my second pass through the alphabet :-)

For today, I'm contemplating Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters, an interactive ride in Disneyland's Tomorrowland, and a favorite of myself and Mrs. DisneylandTraveler. But the Buzz ride gets its share of flack from Disneyland hardliners. Why, you might ask? You see Buzz Lightyear has nothing to do with Walt Disney's original vision for Tomorrowland. Yes, Buzz might be something of a spaceman but he has absolutely nothing to do with the tomorrow of the future. When it comes down to it, Buzz is a child's toy. You can buy one in the gift shop as you exit the ride. Why is he in Tomorrowland?

Well, for Mrs. DLT and I, phooey on all that. We love the ride. It brings out the competitive juices in us and my personal never ending quest to beat her in the interactive shoot-em-up game part of the ride. As mentioned before, the good Lord pulled a trick on me and gave me a bit of a tremor in my hands. Yes, I am Don Knotts playing Barney Fife with any sort of a weapon in my hand. But I try (and try, and try) and to this day, I have never beaten my wife in Buzz Lightyear scoring. Some day.

The ride itself is fun, colorful, and makes for a great experience as an attraction. Since it is an omni-mover type ride vehicle system (cars run on a constantly moving conveyor belt) it is a fast loader and seldom has a lengthy wait. For Disney, Buzz is a people eater taking in huge numbers of guests each day.

Some people have complained that the ride can use a refurbishment pointing to peeling paint and some fading in the colors. Maybe so but I tend to be so focused on my scoring that I can overlook something that might need some touch up work.

For Mrs. DLT and I (and our friends and co-workers) Buzz Lightyear is a must-do, can't miss ride. In the top 10? Heck, it may be in the top 5 of our favorite attractions in the park.

Don't forget to email your photo and scores back home. Serves as motivation to return and finally beat her.

WDW Fantasyland Expansion - Beauty's Only Skin Deep?

WDW Fantasyland Expansion
A WDWNT - Adam Roth Photo
Well, Walt Disney World is in various stages of soft opening their grand Fantasyland Expansion. What does an old Disneyland die-hard like me think about the photos and videos that are now being posted? Quite simply - drop dead gorgeous - with a level of detail that is equal to or maybe even surpassing what Disney Imagineering did with Cars Land in California. WDW New Today has been all over the opening over the last week and yesterday posted more than 400 stunning photos of the place. Here is the (link) - enjoy! - marvel!

WDW Fantasyand Expansion
A WDWNT - Adam Roth Photo
But you say to yourself "Self, isn't the Fantasyland expansion in Disney World just an elaborate meet and great area, a fancy restaurant, some souvenirs places, and the duplicating of a ride that already runs in DCA?" All true and the real highlight of the place for most, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train doesn't open until 2014, but even without a true E-Ticket attraction, the visuals of what has been given are just dazzling - a Disney fan's and picture taker's dream come true.

WDW Fantasyland Expansion
A WDWNT - Adam Roth Photo
There is a problem or maybe a couple problems though that have been brought up. The new Fantasyland is so beautiful and stunning, that it almost makes the rest of the Magic Kingdom look old and decrepit in comparison. That may be a nice problem to have if you are Disney. The other thing that has been brought up and bears watching is the extensive use of high tech Disney NextGen elements used for the meet and greets and various queues. As has been demonstrated over and over again in both WDW and Disneyland, interactive elements break down. Sometimes they break down for long periods of time. Not to saying this is what will occur with the elaborate technical elements in Fantasyland but its something to think about.

WDW Fantasyland Expansion
A WDWNT - Adam Roth Photo

So where does this leave the Disneyland Traveler and his plans for the future? Well, dammit, Disney has created a new mecca it seems - something that just has to be seen. Of course, at this distance away, it will probably be better off seen when everything is open and running as normal including the Sever Dwarfs Mine Train. Yes, there could be a trip on the horizon again to WDW just to see something so beautiful.

And yes, a trip that needs to be made just to check out a pork shank....

WDW Fantasyland Expansion
A WDWNT - Adam Roth Photo

Monday, October 8, 2012

Frankenweenie Shows Up In Theaters DOA

Image from Disney / Tim Burton's Frankenweenie

Since Disney first announced that it would be producing Tim Burton's remake of his short film made in the early 1980's Frankenweenie, my question has always been, would the finished full length Frankenweenie be a little too far out there for mainstream audiences to accept? Judging from the opening weekend box office showing the answer is Yes - it is a difficult film for an audience to generate any enthusiasm for seeing. Weekend box office receipts came in at a weak $11.5 million.

I'm an animal lover. As I write this now, I can count 3 sleeping cats and a sleeping dog near by me (what a life). It's not a spoiler, the premise of Frankenweenie is well known. A young boy's dog is tragically run over by a car > dog is buried > dog is exhumed > dog is brought back to life through Frankenstein science > madcap adventures ensue. I, for one, have absolutely no desire to see death and resurrection of a family pet even if it does turn out alright in the end (and I have no idea of how Frankenweenie ends). I have seen beloved family pets pass on. Not 5 feet from where I am sitting right now, we had a vet come out an euthanize our dog when old age reduced her quality of life into something it should never be. It's quite sad. I do not want to remember / relive the experience through a movie. Ever.

Sasha (dog) 1996 - 2010
Thumper (rabbit) 2001 - 2009

What was Disney thinking? My only thought is that Tim Burton somehow / someway lucked into making Disney a bundle of money through his Alice in Wonderland movie, which I did not care for at all. Perhaps Disney's backing of Frankenweenie was some kind of payback. Burton movies are an acquired taste - some work - many do not. In the end, Frankenweenie is just not a movie people seem to be willing to pay for. Bizarre vision in black and white 3D would not be considered the safe route in film making. Disney tried like heck to generate some enthusiasm for this movie but it seems to have fallen on uncaring ears.

The Disney Studios film management that gave the green light to Frankenweenie (and John Carter earlier this year) has been ousted. Let's hope the future of Disney movies makes a more positive turn soon. It should. Wreck-It Ralph opens next month and its almost sure to be a hit.

Disneyland Resort - A to Z - Ariel's Grotto

I'm always looking for a new series of things to write about. Sometimes I think I have a good idea of a series of things to write about with my Disneyland adventures but it often dies out of boredom. I guess my most recent series are the posts on my Disneyland Bucket List. Since I pretty have much done everything there is to do in and around Disneyland, the Bucket List stopped at #5. I'm sure there will be more but it might be awhile before I think of something else to put in there.

I chanced upon a food blog yesterday where someone took recipes and restaurant reviews and blogged about them A - Z. Nice idea (Jaymee Sire). I could easily apply that to the rides, attractions, and dining places around the Disneyland Resort.

But it needs to be interesting and something of a challenge. Take the letter A for instance (which seems like an appropriate place to start). I could write about Autopia but I think the last time I rode around in one of those cars was 2004 and if I went to Disneyland tomorrow, Autopia would be the furthest thing from my mind. I know how to drive. I could take the Alice in Wonderland ride, and a fine ride it is, but that nice little attraction has its own thread life running through this blog with its seemingly endless quest to get rid of what were supposed to be temporary plastic tarps and hideous guard rails.

For A I'm going with what has proved to be a challenge over the years - dining at Ariel's Grotto. Mrs DisneylandTraveler and I first went to Ariel's Grotto back in 2004 when it was general Disney character dining. We had out of town visitors with small children in our dining party so the interaction with the characters was great. Unfortunately, the food was bad, not just bad, real bad. I recall having something harmless like meat loaf with mash potatoes. Instead of a nice brown gravy, this concoction was slathered with some kind of tomato based gravy that was just horrible. Probably my single worst dining experience at the Disneyland Resort. I wasn't in any hurry to get back.

But we did go back - 2007 - for my great niece's 4th birthday. By this time, the character dining had morphed into a Disney Princess dining experience which it is today. There was a large group of us, both adults and children. Again, the kids meeting princesses as they came to our table one by one was very sweet even if the official Disney photographer tried to annoyingly get in on the act (and sell you some "professional" photos). 

Rylie meets Mulan - Ariel's Grotto 2007
But the food. Recalling my horrible meal back in 2004, I took the safest route I could think of on the menu - a chicken Caesar salad - and it was fine if nondescript. But the others who dined at our table offered up some other choice words about their entrees. The one remark I will always remember is my niece calling her meal "jack nasty", and expression I had never heard before but really did fit. What Ariel's Grotto tried to pass off as "chicken pot pie" seemed to be particularly offensive to a few.

When World of Color launched, Disney removed the Princesses for the dinner hours to create a World of Color dining package (which is no longer offered). For our very first viewing of WoC, Mrs. DLT and I decided to take this route. The deciding factor was that the old menu had changed and what was now being offered with the price fixed menu seemed to have some interesting choices. Finally, in our third try at Ariel's Grotto, there some measure of success as the food was really pretty good. I had cioppino and Mrs. DLT had the tri-tip. Neither of us had any complaints (nor should we at a price approaching almost $40 a meal). Plus the passes we received for WoC viewing were dead center with only the long standing wait for the show to begin putting damper on the evening.

Like I said, WoC dining is no longer offered at Ariel's Grotto for some reason. It's back to all Princesses, all day. In this current set up as strictly a character dining I would not expect Mrs. DLT and I to go back to Ariel's Grotto which is kind of too bad. We enjoyed our meal the last time we ate there and the views from the outside tables are simply lovely.

A view from our outside dining table at Ariel's Grotto 2010

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Coffee At The House on Pooh Corner

Take 1: I'm not a huge Kenny Loggins fan but I saw him in concert several years ago. He played one of the sweetest pop songs I have ever heard - House on Pooh Corner. Yes, it is an homage to the Winnie the Pooh stories. The song is in no way associated with Disney. If you are not familiar with the song, I would encourage any Pooh fan to go out and find it somewhere. I would embed it here but apparently Google makes embedding mp3 files difficult in their blogging tool.

Take 2: We had the inside of our house painted last year including the interior of kitchen cabinets. Everything had to be boxed and taken out to the garage including a collection of Disney coffee mugs that we had picked up on a few of our trips. A lot of the stuff that was crammed into the cabinets never made it back into the house. It's still in boxes out in the garage. Of the Disney coffee mugs, the only drinking vessels that made it back into the house are 3 mugs featuring Pooh characters (mostly Eeyore). I know there are other Disney mugs out in the garage but its been so long now that I have forgotten what they are.

Take 3: I write most of these blog posts on weekend mornings over a cup of coffee that I am drinking from a Pooh mug. It came to me. "Wait a minute, Pooh is sweet, but I'm not really a Pooh kind of guy. Where's my Pirates mug, my Haunted Mansion mug, my Star Tours mug......". As mentioned many times before, I'm not really a Disney shopper but on my next trip I need to make it a point to get a few "guy" type Disney mugs. I should probably save the Pooh mugs for when I'm listening to Kenny Loggins.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Carthay CIrcle Restaurant - Maybe a Slight Misjudgment?

Here it is, noon on a Saturday and the DCA Today Twitter account sends out this tweet....

Want some "premiere" cuisine but don't have a reservation? Carthay Circle Restaurant is accepting walk-ins for lunch

Do you think the price for the lunch might have something to do with it? It's already costing an arm and a leg to get into the park whether you have a daily admission, a park hopper, or paying for an annual pass. Now you are asked to shell out big bucks for Disney's version of a premium dining experience inside the park.

Apparently, openings for dining at the Carthay Circle Restaurant are not that hard to come by most of the time (compared to the Blue Bayou over in Disneyland where reservations are almost mandatory most of the time). CCR has had issues besides a very bill since it has opened. Many have complained that the service has been less than satisfactory for the prices you are being asked to pay. Most of the food offerings are very good but there have been a few misses as well in various dining reports. But mostly, it is the high cost of dining there that is keeping people away. A high end restaurant inside a very expensive theme park in an economy that has been less than generous is not a good match. Maybe the place succeeds but there does seem to be a miscalculation on the demand for an in-park premium dining experience on Disney's part. The Blue Bayou succeeds with similarly priced menu options (but no alcohol) for one reason - it is inside perhaps the most iconic ride in the park. Carthay Circle Restaurant is just an extravagant place to eat.

Mickey's Halloween Party - Is It Worth $65?

Mickey's Halloween Party at Disneyland
A Disney Parks Blog Phoo

I have an oil well. Three of them actually. Thanks to some good fortune and a good deal of foresight by my mom's family 100 years ago or so to retain mineral rights on the family farm in North Dakota, the Disneyland Traveler is an oil tycoon (or oil baron, I'm trying to decide which label sounds better). Yep.... I get 0.00042206% of every barrel this baby below pulls out of the ground.

Continental Resources Akron 1-27H Oil Well
McKenzie County, North Dakota
Satellite Image Google Maps
On the other two wells (no pictures, but I think they kind of all look alike) I receive a whopping 0.00009722% of the production. Woo-Hoo. I'm rolling in it. How much is this worth? Depending on the price per barrel when the oil is sold, about $350 - $450 a month. Sweet. 

My story about being an oil tycoon does have a purpose as it is getting to the point at Disneyland where you almost need to be an oil magnate, or a doctor, or a lawyer to really be able to afford the place. The price of annual passes and park hopper tickets skyrocketed before the opening of Cars Land last summer. Food and drink prices are continuing to get bumped up. Disney is really following an economic principal which says to raise prices as far as you can take them before your business begins suffering negatively. We are probably at that point right about now.

So in addition park admission, Disney is now featuring some separate admission events and right now is the Mickey Halloween parties which take place on Tuesdays and Fridays along with Halloween weekend. While there are some small opportunities for discounts, the general price is about $65 for adults and a bit less for kids who get the opportunity to trick or treat in Disneyland in costume. For a family of four let's say, that is one expensive Halloween experience. Come on oil well.

it's a small world gets the Halloween treatment
A Disney Parks Blog Photo

So what does that $65 buy you? Well, first of all, they chase all the regular paying park guests out of the park around 6 pm as the special admission Halloween event guests are required to wear a special wrist band to remain. The special admission event allows you to enter the park at 4 pm. With a lot of people chased out, lines for attractions (the ones that remain open) shrink to almost walk-on status. You also get the special Halloween Screams firework display which is only featured to during the nights of the Halloween events.

The Halloween Castle - A Disney Parks Blog Photo

And then there are the special Disney touches which all add up to a very special (but expensive) night including trick or treating for the kids. Is it worth it? It all comes down to "can you afford it?" Disney admission pricing is a hot button issue as a hard economy has forced many people away from Disneyland while some hard-liners insist that Disneyland is a luxury, not a necessity, and its always been that way. 

Mark Twain sails away on the mist covered Rivers of America.
A Disney Parks Blog Photo

So does Disneyland Traveler oil tycoon with his millions stashed away (HA!) want to lay down the extra cash to attend Mickey's Halloween Party? Well, as of now, it is an event I still cannot afford, at least not without a year of planning ahead maybe. And even if I was flushed with cash, I'm still not so sure. Disney has temporarily priced me out of its park but that will probably all change by next year when I know I will be going back. But you know, I'm kind of angry about Disney jacking up prices when many people are financially hurting and by creating special paid "events" that relatively few can afford.  I'm going back to Disneyland alright, and I may go back with pockets full of cash (six more oil wells are currently in the drilling process on the family property) but my plan is to look for every conceivable way to cut corners and not give Disney my money. They didn't seem to cut cash strapped fans a break when things looked bleak so now the shoe is going to be on the other foot. I don't need special events. I don't need souvenirs. I don't need to stay in a hotel on Disney property. I don't need to eat all my meals inside the parks when there are perfectly good places to eat in Downtown Disney. Petty? Spiteful? Yeah - a little bit.

A performance by the Cadavor Dans
A Disney Parks Blog Photo