Disneyland Traveler Blog Sites

Monday, July 29, 2013

Next Star Wars Celebration Heads to Anaheim

Welp...... chuck up another one for the home office. Uncovered in my internet reading today was the announcement (again last week) that the next Star Wars Celebration (which recently closed in Germany) will be held in Anaheim at the Convention Center in April 2015 after the previous two U.S. based Star Wars Celebrations were held in Orlando. Star Wars Celebration is the largest official coming together of all things Star Wars related and from what I have heard - quite a geekfest.

Again, Walt Disney World fans may stomp up and down a bit at losing a featured convention in their neck of the woods but since Disney's recent purchase of Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise, it only makes sense that the next Star Wars Celebration extravaganza takes place in the Burbank based Disney's backyard. Less travel time for executives. 2015 is also the year Star Wars VII is set premiere under Disney.

World of Color's Winter Dreams

Official Disney artwork for World of Color Winter Dreams
I guess the official announcement was made last week on one of the days my surgically repaired face was hurting so much that the pain medication made Disneyland the furthest thing from my mind. It had been a rumor for a few months but now it's a reality. World of Color will have a brand new holiday themed show featuring the blending of some new characters from Disney Animation's November film release - Frozen - and the classic characters from Disney and Pixar we all know and love. And the promise is the new show will be more narrator driven which will lead the audience into yes..... singing. 

This is welcomed news (I think). Certainly Disney California Adventure needs its holiday theming to be picked up a notch because it does lag behind Disneyland's efforts. There is also the unsubstantiated rumor that DCA is upgrading their holiday theming because Disneyland is about to put their special holiday features behind a separate admission event similar to Walt Disney World's Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.

Again, whether I make it back to Disneyland this year or not, what WOC's Winter Dreams means is the return of the herd and the show packing people in like when WOC first opened a few years ago. And it will make someone in my demographic age group almost certainly buy some sort of dining package to avoid at least a little bit of the intolerable lines and waiting (and waiting, and waiting) I would expect.

The show is set to debut November 15 - first day of the official Disneyland Resort Christmas season but I would expect a few days of perhaps soft openings and preview shows. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Next Trip To Disneyland

My sister and her husband stopped by the other evening. I haven't seen her in person since our trip to Disneyland last April (but through text messaging, we sometimes are very much joined at the hip). Her husband brought up the subject with dinner conversation - "when do you (meaning me) think you will be up for another trip to Disneyland?" - paraphrasing to some extent. My response was something like "not sure - we'll just have to see". Inside, there may be another answer.

When I get asked the same question at work about when is my next trip Disneyland, I usually give a slightly different answer. "I hope we are able to make another trip in November." I don't know why I say that but maybe because talking about Disneyland at work is just that - talk. When you talk about going to Disneyland with people you might actually go with - then the talk is taken up a notch to a more serious level. It's best to be non-committal. I love going to Disneyland in November just before Thanksgiving. With Disneyland decked out in holiday trim without holiday crowds, it just starts the season off in a very a special way. A November trip? It's just talk - but somewhere inside of me it may also be a Hope and a Dream, recalling the title  of a Jackson Pollack painting.

As I've mentioned earlier in this blog, we are now taking care of Mrs. DisneylandTraveler's elderly father who suffers from Alzheimer's Disease. He requires almost constant attention because he has virtually no short term memory. He's generally a kindly fellow - he always ask how I'm feeling out of concern - of course in the span of a single day I will be asked how I'm feeling at least 20 times because he does not remember asking the question or me answering it. He will also ask at least 3 or 4 times tonight when dinner will be ready even after he has eaten dinner and he will say he is going to bed and say "see you manana" at least 4 or 5 times - then go to bed only to be back up looking for when dinner is gong to be ready. Constant attention. When are we going to Disneyland? The answer could be that we may have already made our last trip.

There is nothing admirable in all this - the giving up of one's personal life to provide for the care of another. Life dictates circumstances as Mrs. DLT and I realize that these are the cards we've been dealt with for the time being. And if truth be told, I haven't always dealt with it very well. At least I have a job as my outlet and sometimes my excuse. For Mrs. DLT, taking care of her father is all there is - day after day - with only moments to have time for herself. 

Sometime in the not too distant future, the talk within my family will come up about the next trip to Disneyland. And Mrs. DLT will say that I should go. We've done this before. I went to Disneyland without Mrs. DLT just after my older sister passed away with just my younger sister and my nieces and another time I went with just my younger sister after she went through a bout of personal and health issues. But trips to Disneyland just aren't the same without Mrs. DLT so the thought of going without her, I try to push away. There are just to many memories that we have shared there. Without her, while Disneyland is still nice, everything becomes much more shallow. We've had our share of arguments at Disneyland when the shear exhaustion of the place turns happiness into crankiness but we have also had the best times of our lives there and if there is something to shoot for in life it's to have a great time the person you chose to spend your life with.

The next trip to Disneyland? Who knows? It's the past trips that have been so special and I'm thankful for all the wonderful memories.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

More Excellence From The Disneyland History Institue

A Proud Walt Disney Shows Off His Park
A Disney Photo
I've been a little sidetracked this month. As readers know, in the course of this July, I was diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer (officially - superficial spreading melanoma) and had the cancer surgically removed. Since it was caught early, the cancer was completely taken out after a couple of hours of surgery. Some melanoma patients are not so fortunate if the disease spreads into internal organs. Remember that scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indy takes a beating from that hulking bare chested Nazi in front of the plane? With the stitches just taken out of my chin and neck this past Thursday, I wish my face looked as good as Indy's after he got his beat down. But scars will mostly heal. Again, I'm fortunate.

But I also haven't spent as much time working on this blog as I normally do for the last several weeks. Hard to think about Disneyland when you feel like you've been worked over with a baseball bat and mentally you exist in a zone where you just try and figure out what cancer is all about. So I missed re-posting another lovely Disneyland historical video from the great Disneyland History Institute website when it came out in early July. The accompanying soundtrack may not be everyone's cup of tea but film clips of Disneyland from 1955, lovingly assembled, are wonderful to look at.

Please enjoy The Disneyland History Institute's - Disneyland Voce 1955

The Way Cool Saving Mr. Banks Movie Poster

Disney's Saving Mr. Banks starring Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers isn't scheduled to hit the theaters until December 13 of this year. But this past week Disney rolled out the official poster used to promote the movie - and it is one of Disney's best, and for Disney geeks, it may be worth seeking out to to put on some wall in your home. Certainly the simple figures of Hanks and Thompson may not seem like much but glancing down, you can see the rather large and magical shadows the two cast with Mary Poppins, a Disney classic (although admittedly, a movie I did not care for).

The movie centers around Disney, the forever creative pitch man, trying to obtain the rights from the somewhat difficult author of Mary Poppins and the author in turn seeing the creation of her classic book through the eyes of Walt Disney and the reflections of the relationship she had with her own father....or something like that.

In light of the massive failure of Disney's The Lone Ranger, one would hope there is great success with Saving Mr. Banks, a movie made for about a quarter of the cost of the disastrous western. Saving Mr. Banks just may be the kind of movie Disney needs to make more of and give up on these out of this world, shoot for the moon attempts at blockbusters which now have fallen like scuds from the sky on multiple occasions over the last few years.

Think Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, TRON: Legacy, John Carter, and now The Lone Ranger - boom, boom, a small boom, boom, boom.... Disney really needs to rethink their movies and move away from the high risk for potential high reward model because failure leads to ridicule of a company founded on great movies. Let's hope greatness returns with Saving Mr. Banks.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Disney California Adventure Sinks Into Starbuckification

On our most recent trip to the Disneyland Resort, Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I twice began our Disney day by having a Starbucks beverage now served up at the Fiddler, Fifer, and Practical Cafe on Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure. It's a fine way to start a day. Starbucks serves up a delicious product and you are IN a Disney Park. What could be better? The F,F, & P Cafe also prepares Starbucks breakfast sandwiches, which again is a very tasty little sandwich - a notch up from the McDonalds breakfast variety, but they are the same sandwiches that are available at Starbucks locations around the country. I was also impressed with the  F, F, & P Cafe as a dining facility with its huge interior and large seating capacity that was well staffed with people trying to keep the tables cleaned off and the guests comfortably moving through. All in all, my impressions of Starbucks efforts to find a presence in a Disney Park was quite positive.

I also heard wonderful things about the regular lunch time food offerings the Fiddler, Fifer, & Practical Cafe served specializing in custom prepared sandwiches, soups, and salads. We never made it back to F, F, & P Cafe for lunch. I thought I'd catch a lunch meal on my next trip. Well, Disney shot that idea down the drain. Instead of going with the customed served sandwiches, soups, and salads, the good folks at Disney have taken another step backward and are now offering the pre-made, pre-packaged grab and go type sandwiches and salads that are available from from display cases in Starbucks locations anywhere. It's not a Cafe at all anymore. It's just one big Starbucks with nothing original or special whatsoever.

There are plenty of other places to eat around the Disneyland Resort so this is no big deal, right? Wrong - as once again Disney taken what should have been a pretty good idea and pasted it with laziness. That's the part that is hard to swallow.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Walt Disney World Envy #2 - Maelstrom and the World Showcase

Before Disney World fans break down with laughter, Maelstrom, the dark water ride inside the Norwegian Pavilion in EPCOT's World Showcase section is not an E-Ticket attraction. Not even close. Many find it to be rather silly in fact (check out videos on YouTube). So why does Maelstrom make it to #2 on my list of WDW attractions I'm most envious of being a Disneyland guy 3000 miles away? Well, my ancestry is 100% Norwegian so just think of it as us Norwegians sticking together with some sort of national pride.

Heck, the Norwegian Pavilion is not even the best Pavilion found in EPCOT's World Showcase. There are probably at least a half a dozen better ones according to many visitors. But at least Disney World has a World Showcase where someone like me can at least get a small glimpse of the land my ancestors came from. The World Showcase is a decidedly adult segment of a Disney Park. Where else can you get a beer from 11 different countries (and many visitors do)? Most kids find the World Showcase pretty boring but for us adults - man.... what a great Disney experience with multi-cultural displays, fine dining, and a couple of rides thrown in. The Disneyland Resort has nothing like the World Showcase and that's too bad because they had one on the drawing board to build here in California until they went cheap and gave us the first iteration of Disney California Adventure instead.

So I have no embarrassment whatsoever to say the second attraction I am most envious of in Walt Disney World is Maelstrom simply because that little attraction is part of something much larger, unique, and very special - the Norwegian Pavilion and The World Showcase.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Walt Disney World Envy #1 - Expedition Everest

One of my more popular posts in this blog is "My Aborted Trip To Walt Disney World" from 2012. Yep, the reservations were made, the plane flights booked, the itinerary all mapped out - 10 days of glorious Disney World Magic over the Christmas holidays. Then came illness, followed by a surgery, followed by recovery and finally, the whole trip got permanently scrubbed.

And in the meantime, since writing this blog, I've come to realize, for good or bad, that there are more similarities in the East Coast and West Coast Disney Parks than differences. Yes, Disney World is much larger, much grander, much more resort-like, and as one blogger put it "has more filler entertainment", but underneath it all, there are a lot of similarities.

Not completely though. I thought that over the next few weeks, as Disney Parks are in full summer swing, I would take a look at some of the Walt Disney World attractions I am most envious of being a west coast Disneyland kind of guy. And as I've written before - it starts with Expedition Everest which sits in Disney World's least popular park - Animal Kingdom.

Mrs. DisneylandTraveler's old boss made a trip to Disney World a year or so ago and he said he went on Expedition Everest 5 times. I could absolutely see myself doing that. Expedition Everest is by all accounts, a great ride on all levels. Theming is great, the ride drips with grandeur and imagination, and yes, there are thrills even if the giant Yeti has almost never worked as advertised. 

Well, Disneyland people counter the Expedition Everest attraction by saying "we have the classic Matterhorn - it's kind of the same thing". Yeah...they're both mountain roller coasters and the Matterhorn has some history behind (Walt Disney oversaw the construction, first steel tubed coaster built, has a basketball court inside the mountain) but for a pure big time moutain coaster ride in a classic setting, it's hard to beat Expedition Everest and the Matterhorn shrinks in its presence. The Matterhorn has even lost ground to the Florida snowy peak when Disney park management boobs went with the bone crunching, space confining ride sleds, replacing the immensely charming tandem sleds. 

Yep. If I had to make a checklist for ride attractions planning a trip to Walt Disney World - Expedition Everest will be at the top of the list. Envy? You bet.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

When Disneyland Animatronics Don't Work

In his MiceAge In The Parks weekly feature yesterday (link), the author Fishbulb spent a large segment talking about how some key animatronic characters in Disneyland's Splash Mountain were not working - remaining stationary rather than having their customary hydraulic movements. He went on to say that the animatronic characters in SM have not been working for over three weeks. Keeping the hundreds (maybe in the thousands) of animatronics at work in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure is a huge task for park maintenance but in the end, it is Fishbulb's take that at the prices Disney charges to get into their parks, making sure everything runs as it should is an expectation that should be a high priority. With a Disney Park, we are paying for all the detail and paying through the nose.

You can't dispute that logic and I certainly won't but I do have a couple of points. First of all, from everything I have read, the Disneyland animatronic community is far better kept up than their counterparts in Walt Disney World. The Yeti in Animal Kingdom's Expedition Everest attraction has not worked as designed almost since the day the ride opened. The WDW Splash Mountain animatronics have been known to be non-functional for a year or more in some cases. Now Disneyland isn't perfect. Elements of Indiana Jones Adventure were allowed to fall into a non-functional state for years as well and only recently brought back to life in its recent refurbishments. Issues have cropped up with the new Radiator Springs Racers with tipping tractors not tipping and the Doc Hudson and Luigi animtronics failing to perform as they should. Disney seems to be working hard trying to keep these attraction elements running on their brand new premiere attraction but there have been repeated failures since the ride opened last summer.

But in the end, here is my take. Most of the time if an animatronic inside of an attraction is not working, I won't even notice. It's still there, just the movement is missing. Maybe for the people who frequent Disneyland on a weekly basis (and there are a lot of them) having things not working at 100% when it comes to attraction details is a big deal. But for the occasional park visitor or vacationer, it's not that big of a deal usually. When the people begin lining up for Splash Mountain today, most of them will be thinking about the drop, the splash, the getting wet. A mental checklist of making sure each character is moving the way it should will probably be the furthest thing from their mind. Same goes for Radiator Springs Racers. The interior show building scenes are nothing short of incredible but most people getting strapped in their cars already have the minds out on that race track.

And my final point is that it is far better to have a ride attraction running than taking it down unexpectedly for a day or two to fix the non-essential attraction elements. If Radiator Springs Racers were to be shut down for a day to fix tipping tractors during one of my trips. I'd be kind of ticked off about it. Shows like the Enchanted Tiki Room or Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln need to have the animtronics operating at a 100%. With the rides, maybe the high standard can slide just a little bit because the best thing of all is the ride experience itself.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Sunny Day At Disneyland

I think I've mentioned before in this blog that I grew up in San Francisco - not the Peninsula, not the East Bay, not the North Bay (till later) but I grew up in The City. One thing you don't think about much when you live in SF is the sun. It's always a bit chilly if you're not shrouded in fog. Warm sun shiny days sometimes seem few and far between and much of it is depended on where your neighborhood is located.
When I was a kid, we used to take summer vacations to Southern California to visit my aunt and uncle who lived in Lakewood. These trips were my first exposure to Disneyland at a time when coupon books where used to get on rides and entrance admission didn't cost an arm and a leg. It was also my first exposure to just how good warm weather felt. You mean I don't need to have a jacket in July or August?
So you would have to say that my family were not really sun people. Lotion is what you put on after you get a nasty sunburn. It's still that way today. My sun protection when I go to Disneyland is a baseball hat, right up until the point in blows off my head going down Grizzly River Run. Sunscreen? What is it? Who needs it?
Well, me apparently. Enter a diagnosis of malignant superficial melanoma skin cancer for a spot that developed on my chin. It was caught early, and should be able to be totally removed in a surgical procedure scheduled in a little less than two weeks.
But there's a lesson to be learned here. Next time I walk through the Disneyland front gates, my face is going to be slathered in sunscreen. I think the doctor is going to insist on it. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?
A skin cancer fact. You are at risk to get skin cancer if you have had a peeling sunburn as few as once or twice in your youth. Uh-Oh!!!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sometimes The Limited Time Magic Idea Actually Works.

A Patriotic Celebration At Disneyland
A Disney Parks Blog Photo

I'm not the first writer who has been confused by Disney Park's Limited Time Magic promotional theme this year. Many bloggers have written that they are just not sure what Limited Magic really is. I don't even think Disney knows for sure as they seem to make up "limited time magic" events as the year goes along, some of which are nothing short of head-scratchers.

The Fourth of July has always been BIG at Disneyland. When the Fourth of July falls on a weekend, it becomes a really big weekend. But the Fourth fell on a Thursday this year....enter Limited Time Magic and this time the idea really works. Instead of a one Day celebration or a weekend celebration, the Fourth of July this year became a full seven day patriotic event that gave a large group of park visitors access to all the festivities throughout the week rather than have them crowd in on a single day or weekend. The fireworks display that will go off tonight on July 7th is the same show that went off on the Fourth, or July 1st for that matter.. World of Color's grand July 4th pre-show has gone off all week. The bands have played with both parks trimmed out in their best red, white, and blue.

What Limited Time Magic really is, is a chance for Disney to tie up special days and seasons into neat little packages then promote them to consumers looking for something extra in their visit a Disney Park. Sometimes the idea has been nothing short of silly, but putting a nice package around a 7 day event celebrating the Fourth of July seems like a really nice idea.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Lone Ranger Vs. The Minions - It Just Wasn't A Fair Fight

Well that epic battle between Universal Studios Depicable Me 2 and Disney's The Lone Ranger didn't turn out to be much of a battle after all. The Minions will win the battle of the movie box office and the hearts of movie viewers hands down. It won't even be close.

Disney might have had a fighting chance if had actually made a good movie with the Lone Ranger but the reviews that have come out have been some of the most scathing movie reviews I have ever read (and quite entertaining as film critics try to one up each other in explaining just how bad this movie is). Check out the reviews on rottentomatoes.com

And as I posted of on MiceChat this morning, Bob Iger must have nightmares about hundreds goggle wearing yellow minions with pockets full of cash running a muck and destroying his 4th of July weekend.

Here is a sample of a Lone Ranger review from Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle.

"The Lone Ranger," produced by Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer, is an action-movie bloodbath for a children's audience. It has horse manure jokes for the kiddies, as well as scenes of an Indian tribe getting wiped out, a posse of rangers getting shot to death and an intimate interlude in which a man has his heart cut out. In the latter case, you don't actually see the heart being ripped from the body, just the sound of the cutting and hacking.

But put aside the notion that children shouldn't see this film. No one should. "The Lone Ranger" is a movie for the whole family ... to avoid. It represents 2 1/2 of the longest hours on record, a jumbled botch that is so confused in its purpose and so charmless in its effect that it must be seen to be believed, but better yet, no. Don't see it, don't believe it, not unless a case of restless leg syndrome sounds like a fun time at the movies.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Welcome To The C A L I F O R N I A State Fair

When Disneyland fans attend the California State Fair in Sacramento beginning July 12, they will be greeted by some old friends standing out front. The recycled letters from the entrance of Disney's California Adventure for its first 10 years of existence have found their new home.
Hopefully it will be less than 100 degrees by then.

(Corrected State Fair start date)

Getting Ready For The Fourth At Disneyland

As expected, fireworks are big thing at Disneyland on the 4th of July
A Disney Parks Blog Photo

Let's see.....  Looking at the photo above from Disney Parks Blog....orderly crowd standing in straight lines; no kids straddling on top parents shoulders; no hats, mouse ears, or glow in the show distractions.....Yep, that's the Disneyland I remember watching fireworks on the 4th of July. 
Looks like they photoshopped a chuch service into that picture.