Disneyland Traveler Blog Sites

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A New Muppet Movie, Ricky Gervais, and a Home - Disney Dose

Great News! Final negotiations are on for the a new Muppet movie co-starring comedian Ricky Gervais with filming to begin in early 2013. Read all about it in my latest post to the Disney Dose website, home of articles, news, and features on all things Disney.

Direct link -
A New Muppet Movie, Ricky Gervais, and a Stolen Home - Disney Dose

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Disneyland 2012 Review - A Crown Jewel & Some Stubbed Toes

Cars Land at Night - Photo By Disney

It's been quite a year for the Disneyland Resort, a record breaking year in fact. And it all began with the Disneyland California Adventure relaunch back in June. The new and improved park now featured Cars Land, a place where Disney really did get it right. Cars Land isn't perfect but it is pretty darn close. Cars Land gave Disney imagineers the opportunity to build their best attraction probably in decades with Radiator Springs Racers and they came through in big way. So maybe it wasn't the best decision to try and build a fast pass distribution area next to the ride that already experiences wait times in the hours instead of minutes. That idea was eventually scrapped with the fast pass distribution now sitting just outside of the people packed "land". And maybe the slow moving and awkward Luigi's Flying Tires wasn't the best choice as a secondary ride but everything else in Cars Land seems to hit on all cylinders so to speak. Great job Disney.

Cars Land's Radiator Springs Racers - Photo by Disney

Remember the tacky Sunshine Plaza entrance for DCA? It's now just a bad memory as the absolutely lovely Buena Vista Street takes its rightful spot as a grand way to enter a premier Disney Park. Streetcars, entertainers, very nice retail establishments (including a Starbucks), a new Partners statue, and the iconic signature Carthay Circle restaurant all welcome guests into a full days worth of entertainment in Disney California Adventure park. Half day park? Not any more. Again, great job Disney with Buena Vista Street.

With the relaunch of Disney California Adventure, the people came, and came to the Disneyland Resort in 2012. The hotels filled the and problems with the economy, that still exist to a great extent, fell by the wayside. The new and improved Disneyland Resort left Disney executives smiling ear to ear as both parks seem to fairly equally split the large crowds coming to the resort, an occurrence that never happened in DCA's previous years of existence.

But as great a year as the Disneyland Resort had, let's not forget about a few missteps along the way.

People are still talking about One More Disney Day, an event that Disney promoted that turned Leap Day (February 29) into what was hoped to be an all night festive party. As One More Disney Day progressed from morning to nighttime seas of people swarmed Disneyland causing long lines, gridlocked areas, and increasingly unruly behavior by some of the guests. The understaffed cast members did their best to control the mobs but by many accounts OMDD was a decent into chaos. Now you will find people out there who say they had a great time at the event but Disney forums and discussion boards filled with comments of guests who had a completely different take on what transpired.

Disney California Adventure was a huge success and was hugely expensive at a price tag of over a billion dollars for the improvements. Disney needed to pay for the improvements and to capitalize on their new and improved park. So back in May, Disney announced its largest price increase ever in daily admission, park hopper multi-day tickets, and annual passes. Oh boy! Reaction and outcries  came swiftly causing a huge rift in the Disney community with those who could or would continue to pay the high prices versus those who felt they were being priced out of the park they loved so dearly. It's another gap between the haves and the have-nots, whether that gap is real or just a statement of principle. Nobody wants to pay higher prices of course and even with the high price tag to get in, there is no shortage of people who will pay for their Disney experience. It's just the way it is.

While the bulk of the attention was turned toward DCA in 2012 and its spectacular success, we can't forget about that 6 month refurbishment of the venerable Matterhorn in Disneyland. While the majestic mountain was getting a fresh coat of paint, fans were wondering about the changes going on inside. Turns out, there were none which many found disappointing. On top that, the beloved "cuddle seat" ride vehicles were replaced by a cramped space sled few find comfortable in any way. The mountain looks great, the ride took a turn for the worse.

Indiana Jones Adventure had 17 week refurbishment in the fall of 2012. Again, fans of the ride were wondering about changes when all that really happened was to fix existing scenes that weren't working as they should and the addition of some enhanced lighting features. Again, no big surprises from a lengthy closure of a popular attraction.

And I couldn't close off 2012 at Disneyland without some thoughts about the expanded Christmas Candlelight Processional. By all accounts, it was a fantastic event when all went well. But bad weather cancelling a few of the performances and the unsightliness of the staging area during the day in its prominent location of the Main St. train station kind of presented some issues for Disney. They want the expanded event to continue but need to have it set up in a location that that is more supporting of those who want to attend. The new (covered) Fantasyland Theater or the Hyperion Theater (indoors) at DCA have been rumored to be possible spots for a popular event. In either case, while it bucks with the tradition of the current event staging) both would solve a number of problems with the event as Disney tries to build on it.

2013 won't bring nearly the change that historic 2012 brought about. There's a 9 month refurbishment of Thunder Mountain Railroad coming very shortly. It is rumored that Innoventions will be demolished in the next few months to prepare space for the new Iron Man attraction. The D23 event in August 2013 should bring news of the next major building projects that will occur in Disneyland. But the one thing you can count on, like death and taxes, is sometime before summer, Disney will raise admission prices once again. They won't be raised to the jaw dropping levels of 2012, just enough to take a few more dollars out of your wallet and put it in Disney's bank account.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Disneyland Memories Begin On Main St. USA - Disney Dose

Please check out the Disney Dose website for my latest contribution to their efforts to bring all sorts of Disney information and features to the fan community. As usual, I'm back out on Main Street. The link is below. Hope you enjoy it.

 Disneyland Memories Begin On Main Street USA

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monsters Inc. and the 3D Experience

Disney Pixar's Monsters Inc.

During this holiday season Disney / Pixar is returning Monsters Inc. to the big screen in a theater near you - now remastered in 3D. Disney has had good success re-releasing the classic Pixar films to theaters a few weeks ahead of their 3D home video release on Blu-Ray discs. 

Most Pixar fans already have Monsters Inc. in their home video collections so the decision is if they think they want the 3D experience in their homes with the new video release and have the equipment that supports 3D viewing at home. Given the choice, I'll see a 3D version of a film in a theater. At home? That's a different story. I just don't think I want 3D in my house. In a darkened theater with your attention focused on the screen, 3D enhances the movie experience in most cases. At home, where assorted distractions abound, 3D just doesn't seem to be something that's necessary.

As for Monsters Inc. the movie. I've mentioned this before in this blog but its always been a hit or miss movie for me. It's really strange. I can sit down and watch Monsters Inc. and enjoy it thoroughly. Other times I've put it on and can't remember why I liked it so much. 

Monsters University, which comes out next June, is a movie I am really looking forward to seeing though.

Raiders of the Lost Christmas Spirit

The Raiders of the Lost Ark Movie Truck
At the Indiana Jones Adventure - Disneyland

I think I did my due diligence. Yesterday on Christmas Eve I watched a good chunk of A Christmas Story that TBS shows for 24 hours straight. Last night the family and I watched Will Ferrell as Elf and I followed that up with a A Charlie Brown Christmas (mandatory Christmas season viewing). 

This morning I got up, turned on the Christmas tree lights, lit a fire in the fireplace, and flipped on the Yule Log on the TV as we got our Christmas Day off to its start. The Yule Log didn't last long as USA was showing Raiders of the Lost Ark (along with all the other Indiana Jones movies to follow). And now the Disney Christmas Parade has started with a bunch of people I really don't know since I don't watch the Disney Channel.

Christmas isn't what it used to be as the years go by. Youthful joy is replaced by adult burdens in the Christmas Spirit department but we do what we can to carry on. Hopefully next year, there is an actual trip to Disneyland during the Christmas season to step up the spirit.  

What happened to my Christmas spirit?   "We've got our top men on it.....top....men". 

Anyway Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Disneyland's Christmas Candy Cane Tradition

Candy Cane Making at Disneyland
A Disney Photo

The making of hand made candy canes at Disneyland's Main St. candy store is a time honored tradition at Christmas time. It is only done on select days and people stand in long lines to get one. They are also probably the most expensive candy canes you will ever buy. The candy canes generally sell out on the days that they are made. The crafting of hand made candy canes is so popular that DCA is making candy canes over in their new Buena Vista St. candy store. Christmas traditions at Disneyland are wonderful.

Here's my deal. I don't like candy canes  :-(

Animal Kingdom Envy

I hear a lot of lamenting from the fans of Walt Disney World that goes something like this - "yeah, we got this impressive and badly needed expansion to Fantasyland and all it adds to the Magic Kingdom but man, we sure could of used something as spectacular as Cars Land." Call it Cars Land envy.

But as a west coast Disney fan, there is a bit of envy as well from my side of things toward WDW, and specifically in my case, towards Disney's Animal Kingdom. You see, the Disneyland Traveler is an animal guy. Within 15 feet of where I write this at home a dog and 3 cats are taking their morning naps. So what could be better than the marriage of Disney and a live animal theme park for an animal guy like me?

When Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I were planning our trip to WDW a few years ago (see:  My Aborted Trip to WDW) I kind of wanted to push Mrs. DLT on staying at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. I knew I wouldn't get too far with my plea since the DAK Lodge is pretty remote for a first time visitor to WDW so we looked at resorts with closer proximity to the other 3 parks. But the idea of a room overlooking the savanna with beautiful animals wandering near by - wow - what a scene that would be first thing in the morning.

The complaint of even supporters of Disney's Animal Kingdom is that it isn't a full day park (a similar complaint expressed of Disney California Adventure until this past summer). Maybe true but DAK has probably the two Disney attractions I would like to get the chance to experience - Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest (not to mention all the animal life scattered around the park). I don't know when or if I ever will ever get the chance to get there.

The rest of DAK I'm kind of so-so about.  Kali River Rapids? DCA has one of those - a very good one. DINOSAUR? Kind of the same ride aisneyland's Indiana Jones Adventure only different stuff to look at. Primeval Whirl? It's just a wild mouse coaster and DCA has one of those too. It's Tough To Be A Bug? Oh.... DAK for me is all about the animals and one very impressive roller coaster.

Something like DAK can never be duplicated in or around The Disneyland Resort. Just plain no room for it. Besides, a there are two world renowned zoos within close proximity to Disneyland. So Disney Animal Kingdom is a unique and original Disney park. I hope WDW fans really appreciate what they have. Yes, DAK needs more to become a top flight Disney park and Avatar Land is probably not going to be the answer, but it still has a lot to offer for animal lovers like me.

Envy for Disney Animal Kingdom? You bet. We'll save my jealousy for the World Showcase for another time.

Future of Disneyland's ToonTown - Disney Dose

The Disneyland Traveler (that's me) has been asked to contribute some writing to the Disneyland side of  The Disney Dose fan sight. Sure. Happy to do it. Read my first contribution at the link below (well, actually it was my third piece of writing but the other two had some software comparability issues and will be posted in a few days). Hope you enjoy it and all the Disney information the Disney Dose has to offer.

Disney Dose - Future of Disneyland's ToonTown

Monday, December 17, 2012

Reversing The Tide Between Disneyland And DCA

It just dawned on me - I'm a little slow sometimes admittedly - but for the first time in maybe years, there is absolutely no construction projects going on in Disney California Adventure park. The new and improved version of the park sucks up guests like there's no tomorrow and treats them to a theme park experience unencumbered by unsightly walls, scaffolding, heavy equipment, and workers in hard hats. Not that improvements couldn't be made but for now, Disney is quite pleased with the park that they have sunk over a billion dollars into over the last couple of years.

But Disney, at least for now, is not resting on its laurels. The attention has turned to the grand old lady herself - Disneyland. Let's look what's going on now and what is about to transpire:

  • Construction of the new Princessess Fantasy Faire Village
  • Rebuilding of the old Fantasyland Theater for new live shows
  • Large Scale Refurbishment of Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Final refurbishment of the Alice in Wonderland exterior.
  • Transformation of the Market House into a Starbucks
  • And coming soon (hopefully), the announcement of Disneyland's Iron Man attraction

Walt said Disneyland would never be finished and he was right on. Disney charges a premium price for their theme park experience. To sit back and collect high priced admission receipts while doing nothing would be the height of corporate laziness (which sometimes could be seen in past Disney corporate regimes). Disney wants as much of their fans discretionary spending dollars as they can get and to get it, they need to continue to deliver the goods and flat out be better than everyone else in doing it.

It's Official - BTMRR Closes For Refurbishement Jan. 7

The rumor has been out there since last summer but Disney finally officially announced the closing of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad January 7 for an extended refurbishment. The iconic ride is not scheduled to reopen until next fall with the reported re-opening being around October 30. What does a 10 month closure of the gigantic ride get you? Officially from Disney (according to Disney Parks Blog) you get a new track (though the ride itself doesn't change). You get new ride vehicles (though it will still be a railroad train - let's hope the same people who designed and built the new Matterhorn vehicles stay as far away as possible). And you get a new paint job on the mountain (though after all these years, I still thought it looked pretty good).

Not quite official, we hear that the passenger loading platform will be rebuilt, the so-called NextGen queue elements will be added for some measure of entertainment for those waiting in line. And most controversial of all is the possibility of the removal of the town of Rainbow Ridge which overlooks the ride and is a remnant of the former mine train attraction that occupied the area decades back.

I don't think I've been on Thunder Mountain Railroad in 3 or 4 years. I tried a couple of times but it seems like every time I was by there and tried, the ride had somehow broken down and not taking on riders. So another 10 months isn't going to kill me. Look forward to the new and (hopefully) improved Thunder Mountain Railroad sometime late next year though....

Disney's Lone Ranger Extended Preview

Disney recently put out a new extended trailer of it's upcoming 2013 release The Lone Ranger starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer. Along with Depp, the movie is made by the Pirates of the Caribbean gang for better or worse. Let's just say after seeing the trailer a couple of times the jury is still out. Haven't made up my mind if the movie looks fun or a bit too over the top. See for yourself.

Friday, December 14, 2012


December 14, 2012

Our hearts and prayers go out to the children, parents, teachers, and staff of Sandy Hook Elementary School and the people of Newtown, CT on a horribly sad day.

The most valuable thing I ever learned in college was in some elective drama class where the teacher said the most important thing in life is to be kind to one another. There just isn't enough of that going on.

Avatarland Pushes Forward In DAK...Still?...Why?

Avatar - Original Concept Art

In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel a few weeks back, Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman (and rumored to be on the short list of names for the upcoming Disney CEO vacancy) Tom Staggs reaffirmed Disney's commitment to build a land based on James Cameron's Avatar in Disney's Animal Kingdom park in Walt Disney World. The completion would be sometime later in this decade with a 2017 date being thrown out there. Disney's scheme to build an Avatarland is now over a year old and Disney fans have complained mightily about the idea for perfectly valid reasons.

True, Cameron's Avatar movie is the all time box office champ on not by a small margin. The film pulled in over two billion dollars at the box office. Two more Avatar sequels are in the works. But it's not a movie in any way associated with Disney and to build anything around Avatar Disney would have to license the property from Cameron and Fox.

I'm not a Disney insider or corporate genius but the question remains - Why? - when Disney's loyal fans are so dead set against the concept. And the outcries have become even louder following Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm and the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. Why not develop WDW expansion based on those popular and highly profitable franchises. Disney now owns them so they wouldn't have to split profits with anyone. Disney could make Indiana Jones work in DAK especially with a backdrop of Expedition Everest. Anything Disney could do to expand the Star Wars presence in Disney Hollywood Studios would have fans buzzing for years in anticipation.

Avatar was an impressive visual movie but I find it rather souless and, for me anyway, just hasn't held up to the test of time. I could care less about Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 being released. I bought the Avatar Blu-Ray when it came out, watched it once, then sold it knowing full well that I really have no desire to see it again (unlike Indy and Star Wars which most movie fans have seen countless times). As Al Lutz mentioned in his recent rant against Avatarland, where is the merchandising leg for Avatar? It just doesn't translate into cash registers ringing in merchandise sales.

There have been rumors of clashes between James Cameron (known for impressive ego) and Disney imagineers. To this point, it appears that everything related to Avatarland is in the conceptualization phase. Let's hope it stays that way.

In the meantime, Disney, if you want to ramp up fans for future changes to Walt Disney World... start talking Star Wars and Indiana Jones. You won't be sorry. PS... Thanks for keeping Avatar talk 3000 miles away from Disneyland. Marvel Universe would be much more inviting.

A Thought About Walt Disney

Walt Disney's Last Official Disneyland Photo
A Disney Parks Blog Photo

Disney Parks Blog re-posted the above photograph of Walt Disney and Mickey at Disneyland. They originally posted it last December commemorating the 45th anniversary of Walt's passing. It is the last official photograph of Walt taken at Disneyland and dates to the fall of 1966. Walt Disney died December 15th of that year after being diagnosed with lung cancer about 6 weeks prior to his death.

Do you know what I think when I see that picture of Walt? I see a man who loved his park and loved his life. You can see the pride bursting through him. He loved imagining, creating, and bringing childhood memories to life and was pleased to share his creations with others.

A MiceChat reader posed a simple poll question on its forum a week or so ago. Paraphrasing, the question simply asked "Is Disneyland better now that it ever has been?" Sure it is. There's more to see, more to do, all the while keeping Walt's commitment to detail and making sure his park was fun for people of all ages. No, the park isn't perfect. There have been plenty of missteps along the way even when Walt was alive but the park continually refines itself to where it is a place that never gets old, even after almost 60 years of existence. 

But there is a BUT...... Walt Disney loved his park. It was a personal achievement of the grandest kind. I doubt that you could apply the word "love" to corporate Disney and the people that run it. Disneyland (and the Disneyland Resort as a whole) is a revenue stream, a small piece of a very large media corporation, a place designed to reach out a grab as much money as it can from the people who visit. 

Not that Walt Disney did not want his park to make money. It had to or fail. But making a profit kind went hand in hand with dreaming, imagining, creating, developing, and building. Today, Disney accountants set a dollar figure and the people that run the park are primarily in charge of seeing what they can do to reach it. Blue Sky Disney has been replaced with the color of money.

Do yourself of favor on your next visit to Disneyland. Try and look for the Disneyland that Walt Disney loved and try not to reach for your wallet so much.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Candlelight Processional, Kurt Russell, and the Future

Candlelight Processional - December 5, 2012
Photo from MiceChat Member mre200200

You can certainly quibble of Disney's continual effort to profit from the Christmas Holidays. You can't quibble with the fact that they know how to put on a first rate live production and so we have the video below of a portion of Disneyland's expanded Candlelight Processional which is running twice nightly from December 1 - 20 (except when it rains) with assorted celebrity narrators. The video (and photos) come from MiceChat member mre200200 who attended the processional on December 5, the last of 3 nights when actor Kurt Russell was the narrator.

If you are not in the Christmas spirit, I assure you that watching the video should help. It's only 11 minutes long but certainly memorable. The Candlelight Processional in its entirety, I believe, is only about 25 minutes in length. Please note that the choir and orchestra are Disney cast members who volunteer their services. Enjoy!

Kurt Russell is a Disney Legend, an official honor that Disney gives to people that have made significant contributions to the various creative enterprises that make up the Walt Disney Company. Russell worked for Walt Disney for many years and new him personally even though he was just a boy at the time. There is an urban legend that the last words that Walt wrote in his office before his death was the name Kurt Russell. Its been taken a bit out of context in that at the time of his death, when Walt's office was sealed, there was a tablet with the name Kurt Russell written on it by Walt (though he misspelled the name as Kirt) along with some notation for another child actor and a potential TV project but just when exactly he made the notation is not known in relation to the time he left his office for the last time.

In any event, I'm sure seeing someone like Kurt Russell, knowing he actually knew and spoke with Walt Disney on numerous occasions, presented quite a thrill for those fortunate enough to see his turn as narrator. Mre200200 even got a quick glimpse of Russell shopping in Disneyland though security kept people well at bay.

David Koenig in his MousePlanet article last week put out the inside rumor that Disney would be taking the Candlelight Processional out of its traditional location of the Main Street Train Station and move it to the larger capacity Hyperion Theater in Disney California Adventure. Whether Disney frames the Candlelight Processional around high-priced dining packages or even a separate admission event is another story for another time. For now, I just have to see that attending the Candlelight Processional, wherever it might be held, is something that needs to be on the old Disneyland Bucket List.

PS: Those attending the Candlelight Processional tonight and tomorrow get to see Lou Diamond Phillips as narrator. If you a fortunate enough to attend the event Wednesday or Thursday of this week, its the turn of Bert the Chimney Sweep himself, Dick Van Dyke. 

Disneyland and the Camera Conundrum

My cell phone contract was up so I decided to pick up a new phone a week or so ago. My old HTC smartphone worked fine but these cell phone manufacturers make you feel like if you don't have the latest and greatest then you are just out of step with the modern world. So I did some research and came up with the Samsung Galaxy S III as my target. After a couple of days to adjust from my old phone I have come to the conclusion that the Samsung is an outstanding product in countless ways and much better than my old HTC (which was fine).

While researching the phone I read reviews that people were so enamored of the S III's picture quality that they have flat out given up on their regular digital cameras as strictly use the phone as their primary picture taking device. The S III is also capable of shooting full 1080p HD video. So the question becomes that on my next trip to Disneyland, can I walk in the place with only my cell phone and no other photo or video equipment and still get the desired result of countless great shots to share and post? That answer remains to be seen as I haven't had a chance to check out the photo quality of the camera myself just yet.

I'm always tinkering with the perplexing problem of picture taking at Disneyland. On my last visit which was in the spring of the year and the weather decent I used a high quality Sony point and shoot that was very small in size - perfect pocket size in fact. I also picked up a Kodak quickie HD video camera that also was pocket size (though a bit larger than the Sony camera). So I mainly wore cargo shorts with the Sony in one pocket, the Kodak in the other pocket, my wallet safely in the back pocket where is it should be and a couple free pockets for other odds and ends. And with all the photo stuff firmly pocketed, it left my hands free. I thought it was the perfect system. Nothing is perfect.

The free hands is kind of important. Nothing like getting on a ride that requires you to strap yourself in while fiddling with camera bags. I always feel like I'm holding the ride up while I get situated with seat belts and the camera in - camera out situation. Of course, there is always the possibility of doing what I once did long ago and leave a camera (the ancient film type) on the Skyway ride.

These days its tough to know what's more important to me - the freedom to just get on a ride and go or getting really good camera shots which requires fiddling around with equipment and bags. The enjoyment of a Disnyeland ride is fleeting. The pictures of a ride hold up for years as evidence by this blog where I still post photos that I took with my first digital camera in 2002. And if pictures are that important why not go all out and just use one of the high quality digital SLR cameras from Canon or Nikon. Yeah they are really big but just think of the picture quality that will hold up for years.

Or just take pictures and videos with my new cell phone.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Disneyland Resort A To Z - The Haunted Mansion

The Haunted Mansion is the second of two premiere attractions in Disneyland's New Orleans Square, with the first premiere attraction being Pirates of the Caribbean which predates the Mansion by about 3 years. Now there are Disneyland fans who will fight me out in the street that the Haunted Mansion is by far the better of the two quintessential Disneyland rides but I'll stick to my guns. Pirates is the best ride in the park with the Mansion a few notches down.

To further irk Haunted Mansion fans my opinion of the attraction goes something like this: Pirates is the better of the two because of the color of the scenes and the intimacy it draws you into the Pirate world. Haunted Mansion, by design, is rather colorless, dark, and dreary, (I can hear it now "it's suppose to be you idiot") and just has me moving along in a world that I just can't get very excited about. Sometimes the ride feels rather...well.... boring (which is never the case for Pirates). And to further travel down the path of sacrilege, I much prefer the Haunted Mansions holiday overlay which injections the place with... yes... much appreciated color.

Despite my prejudices, the Haunted Mansion is a great attraction, the last attraction Walt Disney personally had a hand in bringing to life (but opened several years after his death). The omnimover ride system sucks in people by the score which also leads to rather short wait times (usually) on a lavish and lengthy ride.

There are 999 ghosts in the Mansion as Disney tells it but about a thousand ghost stories and urban legends about the place, like the legend of the Hatbox Ghost. The video below tells the story of the Mystery of the Hatbox Ghost from the Disneyland History Institute

At least one visit to the Haunted Mansion is on the must do list for all of our trips to Disneyland no matter what time of year it is or if the holiday overlay is installed or not (typically the HM holiday overlay is place from mid-September until early January). Usually Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I make to two or three visits to the Mansion on our journeys to Disneyland. Sometimes we get bored with the place, sometimes we don't, but we always make it a point to stop by.

Starbucks In Disneyland - Another Opportunity To Get In Line

Interior view of the Market House
Main Street Disneyland

Many of our Disneyland mornings begin with a great cup of coffee from Main Street's Market House. Save your receipt and they'll gladly refill your cup all day long free of charge. So this past week Disneyland insider David Koenig, in a MousePlanet article, reported that it was the Market House that was going to be the new home for the serving of Starbucks beverages in Disneyland. It makes sense though the early rumor had Starbucks moving their kiosk into a section of the Carnation Cafe across the street from the Market House. 

The Market House primarily serves coffee. Starbucks serves coffee related beverages. Why not put Starbucks in the Market House? There isn't a good reason other than this (and it is purely a selfish reason on my part) - getting a cup of coffee at the Market House was quick and easy, usually in and out. What Starbucks brings to the process is - and you can probably guess - a line, a long line, another line. My simple Disney morning just met another opportunity for getting frustrated.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Disneyland Says Good-Bye and Good Luck To Kodak

The Eastman Kodak Company has been a partner to Disneyland from the get-go. Kodak was one the big name corporate sponsors of the park that Walt Disney personally courted to invest in his grand plan so Kodak has been sponsoring something or other in Disneyland for years and years. Currently the Kodak logo is most commonly seen on the park brouchere that you can pick up when you enter the park. You can also see the name Kodak on various "Picture Spots" around the park and it still sponsors a retail kiosk over by it's a small world (even though I doubt if anyone has bought a roll of film in years).

When film went to Yesterland, Kodak, as a complany, was in trouble. The corporation has been in bankruptcy for quite awhile now mostly trying to figure out what parts of the company may be still capable of making money from the parts that don't. And finally, after the first of the year, Disneyland bids good-bye to Kodak as an official park sponsor after close to 60 years. Times change, things change, will anyone miss a Kodak presence in Disneyland? Probably not unless you really stop and think about it. And then it's a little sad.

Trivia: Linda McCartney, the wife of Beatle Paul McCartney, who set him on the straight and narrow and died at a very early age from cancer was an heir to the Kodak financial fortune in its heyday. Her maiden name was Linda Eastman.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The One Thing Disney Can't Control - The Weather

Candle Processional Stage with Dark Clouds Looming
A MiceChat Dateline Disneyland Photo

Much has been written about Disneyland's annual Candlelight Processional extending from 2 nights to 20 nights and much of it has not been good with Disney publicly flip-flopping all over themselves on just how they were going to administer the seating. And while this past weekend the Candlelight Processional performances were for invited guests and VIPs, Disney learned once again about the best layed plans....

It rained in Disneyland over the weekend, not really hard, but enough that most of the Candlelight Processional performances had to be cancelled. This comes on heels of last year's Candlelight Processional performances which also had to be cancelled because of rain. And more rain is predicted this week.

It's Southern California. No, it doesn't rain a whole lot at Disneyland in the course of year but it does rain and when it does it can be quite disruptive throughout the park because the place just isn't built to handle rain very well. Disney rushed this expanded Candlelight Processional for whatever their reasons were. A lot of people are going to go to these performances and end up leaving unhappy and frustrated for various reasons.

What Disney should have done was wait. Wait until next year when the covered Fantasyland Theater will have completed its remodeling and the performances could have gone on even in inclement weather. Sure, the Main St. location is probably better equipped to handle the large standing room crowd for the event but it sure plugs up the park entrance.

My suggestion would be to use the Fantasyland Theater for the reserve seating and limited standing room then put one of the massive HDTV monitors over in ToonTown for additional viewing. PS: Even if your Candlelight Processional event gets cancelled, be sure to pick up one or more of the many Candlelight Disneyland 2012 merchandise items that are available for sale on your way out of the park. 

Christmas Spirit For Sale
A MiceChat Dateline Disneyland Photo

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Epcot's Test Track 2.0 Reboot - Wow!

Test Track Entrance - A Kevin Yee Photo

Although the new reboot of the Test Track attraction at WDW's Epcot is only in the cast members preview / invited guests phase of operation ahead of its official opening next weekend, and video is supposedly forbidden by Disney, it didn't take long for the first POV ride through to hit YouTube thanks to Theme Park Review.

All I can say is Cars Land's Radiator Springs Racers - detailed, ornate, cute, special, fun..... The new Test Track - well, it's Radiator Springs Racers for grown-ups. Wow - Chevy meets Tron.

Walt Disney and Toys For Tots - A Christmas Story

In  Los Angeles, CA back in 1947, a woman named Diane Hendricks hand crafted a Raggedy Ann type doll and asked her husband Bill to it donate to a charity where it could be given as a gift to a needy child at Christmas. As the story goes, Bill told Diane that he was unable to find a charitable organization that was set up to do that sort of distribution. Diane told Bill that maybe he should start one and so Bill Hendricks set up Toys for Tots but he needed help. Bill was a Major in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves. He had a ready made work force of hard working (but big hearted) volunteers - namely the U.S. Marines who were in the reserves. 

Being a reservist in the Marine Corps was Bill's weekend job. Monday through Friday, Bill Hendricks was Director of Public Relations at Warner Bros. Studios. Bill knew some well known celebrities and entertainers who he could enlist as supporters for his Toys For Tots project and one of those he sought some support from was Walt Disney. Walt designed the original Toys for Tots logo that is still used to this day and ever since Walt's initial support for the Toys for Tots charity, the Walt Disney Company has continued to be a major proponent of this most worthy charitable foundation.

What began locally in Los Angeles in 1947 grew nationally in 1948, distributing toys to thousands of needy children in every community where the Marine Reservist were based. Toys for Tots has continued to distribute toys to children every Christmas since 1948 at to date has distributed more than 450 million toys to children.

Toys for Tots sits extremely high as a worthy and reputable charitable organization by those who watch where charities distribute their donations. It has never wavered from its original purpose for distributing toys to those in need at Christmas just as Bill and Diane Hendricks wished. So like Walt did many years ago, support the U.S. Marine Corps and their Toys for Tots Christmas drive. You will be glad you did. Giving to others, especially those less fortunate than ourselves, is kind of what Christmas is all about.

Disneyland Christmas - Is It Celebrate or Sell-abrate?

I've said it many times before and it still holds true, Christmas is my favorite time of the year to visit the Disneyland Resort - the decorations, the Christmas Fantasy Parade, the holiday fireworks, the snowing on Main Street, the lights on the winter castle and it's a small world. Disney does a first rate job of capturing the magic of the holiday season with all the decorations and lights. Kind of puts the boxes of Christmas decorations that you have in your garage to shame.

My contention has always been that a trip to Disneyland during the holidays should be an effort to enhance your celebration of the Christmas Season. A trip to Disneyland during the holidays can really send your Christmas spirit to the moon. The caveat is - just don't look too closely or you will see Disney is really into Christmas for the money - a glittering display over the sometimes great expense a Disneyland trip can be. Disney doesn't want to show you a Christmas display as much as they want to sell you the magic of Christmas. Like I have said before, if you want to go to Disneyland to get into the holiday spirit you could come away just the opposite because a Disneyland Christmas is a Christmas built on commerce - a never ending barrage of you paying them money.

And if you believe the internet rumors out there - going into Christmases of the future - the magic of a Disney Christmas is only going to cost you more by way of separate admission Christmas events or  "parties" where you may pay to see things like the popular Christmas Fantasy Parade and the holiday fireworks display. It's also a strong assumption that Disney begin to sell expensive dining packages that allow you to see their newly expanded Candlelight Processional.

This isn't new ground here. Walt Disney World has done these things of years and people pay and pay dearly for a WDW Christmas. To do it right in Walt Disney World during Christmas would cost a family thousands of dollars to take advantage of all that Disney offers. 

So it comes down to where a families ability to really enjoy a Disney Christmas comes down to their financial resources and budget. In a way, that's a little bit sad but it's just the way it is. 

Having missed out on a Disneyland Christmas trip the last 2 or 3 years, my hope is for a return holiday visit in 2013. How much into the Disneyland Christmas celebration I get will ultimately depend on how much money there is in the bank.