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Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Disneyland Traveler Wakes Up Early

Pyramid Lake - L.A. County
Who gets up out of bed on a cold Saturday morning at 6:10 am with nothing to do? Someone who is heading to Disneyland exactly one week from today, that's who. There's not a lot of planning involved. We make these trips so often that it's almost second nature but still, there are a few things that need to be done. Can't find my camera battery charger, a trip to Fry's Electronics will fix that (and a new camera card to go with it couldn't hurt). We've got plenty of power strips and extension cords but with Christmas coming, we'll probably take new ones on the trip. So there will be things to do throughout the week.

I wish I would have dropped 25 lbs before the trip and got my running mileage up to about 5 miles from its customary 0 but, oh well. With Advil and Aleve, I will survive somehow. And now looking forward to it.

My room awaits

One of these will be much needed and much appreciated

Friday, November 29, 2013

My Last December Day in Disneyland - !!@$# It's Cold Here!

I remember it like it was yesterday, the last day I walked out of Disneyland on a December night. It was December 15. 2008. By the time we left it was pouring down rain, the wind was howling, and cast members outnumbered guests by about 2 to 1. All night time festivities were cancelled and the park was shut down 2 hours ahead of the scheduled closing time. And it was freezing cold. We left for our Northern California home the next morning by an altnernate route because the "grapevine" was closed due to snow.
This is a cautionary tale for those who say Disneyland is great place to go in the rain. Well friends, there is rain, and then there is RAIN. And if it is raining hard enough in Disneyland, it is not much fun at all. Many rides systematically shut down. Breakdowns become common. The small world boats had about 4 inches of standing water in the bottom.
Yep, Disneyland in the rain can keep the crowds down. It can also keep the fun out if it rains hard enough.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Disneyland Traveler Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from The Disneyland Traveler and Mrs. DisneylandTraveler. Sorry, but the ultimate animation for Thanksgiving belongs to Charles M. Schultz and his Peanuts gang. 

The countdown is now officially on - 10 days until we leave for Disneyland.

Going to be tough, we are leaving this little guy behind.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Disneyland Candy Cane Curmudgeon

Here's an entry from The Disneyland Traveler's "I Don't Get It" catalog. I don't get the endless fascination with the hand made Disneyland candy canes. People line up for hours to spend 15 bucks on one of these things and even at that, you are only allowed a certain number. It's a Candy Cane for goodness sake - sugar, oil, maybe some stabilizer, and essence of peppermint. I think that's about it for ingredients. Now I understand that these are made by old world professional candy makers and their craft approaches an art form but we are still talking about a Candy Cane here. Disney raises the stakes by making the candy canes available only about 20 days during the Christmas season split between the DL and DCA candy shops so the demand is heightened even more.

Still it's a Candy Cane. We used to put candy canes on our home Christmas trees as a kid. When the tree got tossed out on New Years Day, so did the candy canes. Back at work,when the company I work for actually cared about Christmas spirit, the company vice president would dress as Santa Claus on one day during the Christmas season and walk around handing out candy canes to all the workers. Silly, but still a nice Christmas tradition. That was back in the day when it was thought celebrating Christmas wasn't counter-productive (I guess). One year, V.P. Santa gave out pure white candy canes. That was the beginning of the end as the running joke became the company got so cheap with Christmas, they didn't even want to pay for stripes on their free passed out candy canes. As for company Christmas parties, forget it. Haven't seen one of those in years.

Anyway, I'll be in Disneyland two weeks from today and nowhere near a Candy Cane. Now peppermint flavored Ghirardelli chocolate? That's a different delicious story altogether.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Disney Christmas Puppy - What's In A Name?

Cute as all get out but needs a name

We lost our lab mix dog (lab shar-pei of all things) about 4 years ago now. She was around 13 years old when she passed away, about average for a dog who was in the 80 lbs range. About 6 months after Sasha died, Mrs DisneylandTraveler was ready for a new dog and Jasmine came into our lives, a purebred American Eskimo. The Disney portion of our lives was already into full effect when we got Jasmine, hence the Disney name.

I've got a trip to Disneyland staring me in the face in about 2 weeks. I've got no business thinking about anything else except that upcoming trip (and well maybe, a little bit about work). But life trips us up sometimes. There's always a banana peel somewhere, One of my co-workers lost her Golden Retriever to complications relating to cancer about 2 months ago. Her dog was about 11 when she died. The death of anyone's pet is heartbreaking, especially when pets become such a big part of our lives. Indeed, pets should always be thought of as family members. That's what they think after all.

So my co-worker began researching and found a family of newborn Golden Retrievers.  She began sharing her excitement as she attempted to temper the profound sadness of losing her beloved pet. And she showed pictures of the litter of newborn puppies, and having a Golden Retriever at one time in my life, my heart began to melt as well when I stared into the adorable sweetness of baby Golden Retriever face.

As I stated above, with a trip to Disneyland coming up, I've got no business thinking about dogs but, I also began thinking that as Disney trips come and Disney trips go, a family pet lasts for a considerably longer period of time and  becomes a family member that you interact with on a daily basis. For all I know, my next trip to Disneyland could be my last but a new dog? He'll be greeting me in the morning and welcoming me home at night for years to come. 

I said "he". The Golden we picked out is a male. Since we already have Jasmine who is a princess in every sense of the word (diva is more like it), we had heard that life tends to be less competitive in a dog's world if the dogs in the house are of the opposite sex. I'll buy that. We haven't gotten our dog yet since he just hit 7 weeks old and has some more shots to go through next week. But by the Friday after Thanksgiving, we'll have our new family addition.

So now we are working on a name - a Disney name, of course. Far easier to come up with a female Disney name for sure. There are just so darn many princesses. There was one female left in the litter and if we would have gone with the female, we would have named it Belle (a no-brainer to go along with Jasmine). But a male Disney name? Everyone keeps throwing out Max but it's such a common name for a dog that we may be forced to go with a non-Disney name (Toby is the current leader). Darn it. We got a week to work on it.

I forgot to mention. We already have a cat named Herbie. So that name is already taken.

Suggestions? Add a comment or send an email to disneylandtraveler@gmail.com.


Herbie the Cat

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Wishing for Disneyland's Own Festival of Lights

Several months ago, I was a contributing writer to a very nice Disney website called Disney Dose which covers activities in both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts. That was back when I had more time (B.F. - before father-in-law came to live with us). I barely have time for this site now, but I keep it going to keep me sometimes smiling in a world that is sometimes lacking in heart. 

Anyway, one of the things I was writing about in Disney Dose was comparing the attractions in WDW and Disneyland. They are becoming more similar all the time but because there is so much more space in WDW, the scale of the place is incomparable. Two of the things I mentioned that I wish Disneyland had that WDW does have, is the ride Expedition Everest - a themed coaster of epic proportions. I also wish Disneyland had something approaching EPCOT's World Showcase where other cultures could be grandly displayed and celebrated.

Well, as the Christmas season is upon us, I sure wish Disneyland had something approaching Disney Hollywood's Studios Osborne Festival of Lights where the sheer power of small electrical light bulbs is put on display in powerful, miraculous ways. It is a spectacle and the Disneyland Castle Lighting and the it's a small world facade can't even remotely compare with what WDW does.

Someday I hope that changes. A lot that goes on in the Disney California Adventure Hollywood Backlot / Hollywoodland area is a waste. Think of that massive time waster ElecTRONica they put back there a few years ago. Think about taking nonsense like that, with its massive lighting structures and projection screens out, then covering the backlots with Christmas lights. That would pack people in of all ages, not just the Glowfest, ElecTRONica, Mad T Party kids which only seems to serve a a flimsy facade to serve elaborate overpriced alcoholic beverages.

Jennings Osborne passed away a year or two ago. Get on the internet or Wikipedia and read about this remarkable man who left a lasting Disneyland legacy mostly as a gift.

Monday, November 18, 2013

And Just Like That The Dec Disneyland Trip Takes a 180

So the plans were put in place, the reservations were made, and Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I had our December Disneyland trip ready to head into high gear. EXCEPT. My sister and her husband kind of wanted to go and down deep, I think we really wanted them to go with us. So now our quiet trip for two has turned into a Christmas Festivus for the four of us. Looking forward to it actually as we discussed plans today.. As I said before, two people make Disney memories. Four people create Disney stories that will last for years and years,

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Disneyland On The Other Hand

I got the dreaded call from the back bedroom the other night. "Can you come here???" Never mind the fact that I was right in the middle of ESPN's Pardon The Interruption - the call was made and off I went to answer Mrs. DisneylandTraveler's summoning.  This wouldn't have happened back in my dad's day. My mom would have never bothered him during his Bonanza or Gunsmoke viewing.  One little invention changed everything - the Pause Button.  Just about everything in life can now be set to pause.

Anyway, with my show on pause, it was now time for third degree questioning.  For our upcoming Disneyland trip, what did I want to do?  Where did I want to eat, and where should we make reservations? Disneyland is now like it's WDW counterpart, insisting on a credit card to secure the reservation rather than the honor system.  Apparently, credit cards work better than the simple "I promise to show up (unless I have better things to do)" approach.

I'm not really a detail guy.  Mrs. DLT is free to pick out every meal if she wanted to.  I'll show up.  The choices just better be good.  That's the unfair part of it.  If a meal sucks, the blame is best shared.  Luckily, after years of trial and error, we do pretty well picking out places to eat.

So while my life was still on pause - it became Monday, lunch at the Carnation Cafe and a chance to once again have a cordial exchange with Chef Oscar, Disneyland's longest tenured cast member somehow surviving around 58 years. I'm not really sure what Chef Oscar's job is anymore other than making sure everyone around him feels valued and welcomed - an admirable quality in any job.

Tuesday is the Carthay Circle (bucket list item), Wednesday - Steakhouse 55, Thursday - Cafe Orleans (we tend to alternate between Blue Bayou and Cafe Orleans) and finally Friday, (don't laugh) - Big Thunder BBQ.  Really it's not that bad and there's plenty of food.

So food plans are made. Christmas celebration plans are made, joy is everywhere and I am back to the TV in about 45 minutes.

And then the changes begin. My sister and her husband want to join us for a few days.  Of course that alters the plans already in the books but not necessarily in a bad way.  Mrs. DLT and I love taking trips to Disneyland by ourselves.  Eliminated is the constant battle of competing agendas and hurt feelings. But here is the real deal...

When Mrs. DLT and I go on our trips by ourselves, we come back with pocketful of Disneyland memories. When you come back from going with others, you come back with stories. Sure sometimes the stories get embellished a bit, but they tend to have a way to make it into personal Disneyland legend and lore. 

If my sister wants to come, God bless her. We'll have a great time even if four people do end up fighting for the same shower time.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Disneyland Day In A Life

Family gathering 2002

There's a small outcropping of rocks in Frontierland that circle a tree and a flagpole and separates Frontierland from Adventureland. Savvy Disneyland veterans are quite familiar with the spot especially since it is conveniently located in the midst of some prime shopping areas and some of the most heavily utilized restrooms in the park. The two pictures here are separated by about 7 years. Sometimes 7 years seems like a lifetime and in the case if these two pictures, it was.

Family remembrance 2009

My sister Joyce (seated in the middle of the family shot at the top of this post) with the jeans and short hair never lived long enough to make it to Disneyland with her family again, dying from a massive stroke in 2006. She was kept alive on life support but the she not only lost her Disneyland memories, she lost all memory of those she loved and cared for so deeply. "To everything there is a season...and a time for every purpose under heaven."

But even though my sister passed away at a far too early age, her life was never without purpose. This isn't a story about sadness, being maudlin, or an attempt at some redemption of pity. For this is a story of joy. My sister loved her family; both immediate and extended as her mother did before her. They meant everything to her and on this trip to Disneyland, there were no exceptions (except for the time she got lost from the group and began to cry).

On this trip to Disneyland, she did everything possible to keep a group of about 14 people together - no easy task when there are probably at least a dozen different agendas. She picked up the tab for lunches or dinners at the Blue Bayou and Rainforest Cafe but most of all, she was there when people needed her, which is what she did best.

I walked in with her to see The Enchanted Tiki Room, Billy Hill and the Hillbillies, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, and Aladdin. And that is why it pisses me off to no end that Disney has decided to remove a show like Billy Hill. "I saw that show with my sister Jack! I will never get to do that again and you want to take that memory away and make some kind of change that I am sure is designed to turn a another Disney revenue stream?."

Whatever Disney does in the future, please respect the past. The personal investment in people's lives that matter is just too great for monetary profit.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Running Behind...a Grumpy Man, a Grumpy Cat, and Just Plain Grumpy

I have to report that I'm running behind on my Disney postings. A lot going on these days. Probably a good thing for readers because there's a lot to catch up on in November, and until we leave on our trip in December (fingers continue to be crossed). Running behind makes me grumpy. Mrs. DisneylandTraveler thinks I'm grumpy anyway. 

So, here is a YouTube video from a couple of weeks ago of an internet celebrity (?), Grumpy Cat in Disneyland meeting up with the original Grumpy. Counting me, that makes three of us out of sorts.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Billy Hill Petition

There is a petition drive to save Billy Hill and the Hillbillies. I wouldn't be surprised at all if there were several petitions going around and would sign them all to keep this fine act going. Here is the one posted by Mrs. DisneylandTraveler that she found on Facebook. Keep signing.

Don't forget the first rule of Chicago elections - vote early and vote often.

Pardon My Language - WTH??? Billy Hill Act To Retire Jan. 6

A Disneyland institution from the early 90's - the performance of Billy Hill and the Hillbillies at the Golden Horseshoe is set to retire January 6, 2014 following this holiday season (and the Billy Hill Holiday Spectacular). If this popular act gets replaced by something meant to generate a revenue stream, I'll be pissed.... My hope this is a Billy idea for graceful retirement and not Disney giving them the boot. Right now there are about 80 negative comments on Disney Parks Blog against this idea. 

Over the years, Mrs. DisneylandTraveler have seen Billy Hill and the Hillbillies perform more than two dozen times. We haven't haven't seen a performance that wasn't completely enjoyable yet.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Accidental Christmas Fantasy Parade

I'm sure I have written about this topic before in this blog but now with 653 published posts, even I don't remember what I have written and too lazy to actually go and find out. My blog, my choices on what to write, for better or worse. Which brings us to one of Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and mine biggest little surprises in all our years going to Disneyland. Make no mistake, Disneyland surprises can be real gems and last for years to come.

Typically, we will leave for Disneyland early on a Sunday morning from our suburban Sacramento based location.  Once on the road, we are not people who tend to doddle when it comes to going to Disneyland. A quick stop at a McDonalds (preferably one with a gas station attached) along with one other gas stop before going over the grapevine and we dead stopped in L.A. traffic before you know it. I try to maintain a safe driving speed but even I glance down at the dashboard once in awhile and see that 95 mph number. "Oh S***, I gotta slow down". 

So we usually end up in Disneyland at our hotel between 1 and 2 o'clock, usually after about a 6 and a half hour trip. So someone out there is asking "why don't you guys just fly like normal people?" Well it goes like this. We usually stay a week at a time. We bring a lot of stuff and not just clothes. We bring oscillating fans, coffee makers, snacks, laundry detergent,fabric softener,assorted electronic devices, an extension cord and power strip, our own soaps and shampoos, paper towels....the list is endless. We have an SUV. We just load up the back and hope that our hotel parking spot is right in front of the front door of our room. Goodness knows I don't want to drag this crap up a flight of stairs. The other thing is rather packing her clothes, Mrs DLT rather lay them flat in the back of the SUV on hangers. No wrinkles I guess. Kind of like Seifeld episode.

If we can get into our room before check in time (usually about 50 -50) we can unpack in about an hour and head over to the park and be in the front gates by 3:00. And it just so happened in that in December 2008, quite by accident, we walked right into the start of the Christmas Fantasy Parade. Now admittedly, Mrs. DLT and I are not really Disneyland Parade people. Mrs. DLT is a Disneyland Shopper and I'm pretty much a Disneyland bench sitter. But on this particular day in December (probably around the 10th), we hit the timing of this parade exactly perfect. The found ample unobstructed views from the train station as the parade joyfully marched right on by us. It couldn't have been a more delightful surprise.

And did I mention the temperature was abut 75 degrees? So the parade went by and we were enraptured by the Christmas Fantasy Parade to the point that the sometimes questionable brain trust at Disney ever tried to remove this parade (and there has been that rumor for years, I'd be the first to sign the protest petition. (Apparently, they replaced the cute teddy bear with commercially disastrous Duffy the bear - that's bad enough).

So this was about 20 minutes of a joyful surprise and we just entered the main gates. There are other tales to tell of this December trip including REAL snow but I'll hold on to that for awhile. If you get a chance to see a Christmas Fantasy Parade which officially starts next weekend - DO IT!. It's a Christmas joy.

After the parade, we made it over to the Carnation Cafe and had a bowl of loaded baked potato soup. Is there a better way to begin a trip to Disneyland. When we leave for Disneyland in a couple of weeks, we are aiming for the exact same experience. Fingers crossed.....

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Some Disneyland Questions To Ponder Over Lunch

So I just went down to the cafeteria and brought back some lunch to eat at my desk. While I was on my way down I had some Disneyland questions to ponder. I don't really have any answers. The one thing I do know is if I would spend less time spending money eating lunch in the cafeteria and squirrel that money way for my next trip to Disneyland, well, I'd have a lot more money in my pocket to enjoy the trip.

Those Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes. Is it just me or does it strike you odd that the attraction is listed for Critter Country? The only thing that connects the canoes to Critter Country is that is where the loading dock is located. BTW: Walt had a fascinating with Davy Crockett who was such an iconoclast the he pretty much left the United States out of political disagreements and moved to the Mexican territory of Texas where he met his untimely death. The Battle of the Alamo took less time than any movie or TV show made about it. The Alamo was lost in a little over an hour. Crockett and everyone else was massacred.

While were at it. The Harbor Galley is also in Critter Country. True, that's the place where they park the Rivers of America sailing vessels when they are not in use but the name Harbor Galley seems to fit better where the ships sail from not where they are sitting dormant. It could be just me.

The Winnie the Pooh ride does fit in Critter Country. Too bad the ride itself is better suited to a Fantasyland ride.

Over in Tomorrowland, what's so "tomorrow" about Finding Nemo's Submarine Voyage. The old subs were cool. Nemo is a cartoon.  In fact what's so tomorrow about Buzz Lightyear? Sure he's a space guy, but ultimately, he's a child's toy.

And while we are at it, props to Disneyland for prominently displaying Blackbeard the Pirate - a throat slashing head lopping pirate if there ever was one.

There's still my issues with ToonTown, a children's play area about a movie that prominently contains, drinking, smoking, womanizing, and murder. Fun stuff.

Oh well.  It's still Disneyland and still a whole lot of fun.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Time To Throw Out The Pumpkins

Now This is More Like It
I have to admit that trips to Disneyland in September and October have soured me on pumpkins a bit. I'm definitely at odds with the color orange which oddly enough was my favorite color when I was a kid. But during Disneyland's Halloween season there are pumpkins of all sorts everywhere you turn. I'm sick of 'em. Pumpkins is one of those things where a little bit goes a long way.

But this is the transitional week in Disneyland, the week that the pumpkins are either put away or thrown out. And up come the Christmas decorations. By the end of this week a 60 ft decorated Christmas tree will replace the clever but garish Mickey Mouse pumpkin head in the Main Street plaza. At last, a holiday that can warm my heart and make me feel good.

Which brings me to the announcement of a couple of weeks ago that Disneyland (and even Disney World) will be adding Christmas theming to the venerable Jungle Cruise ride and giving it the holiday name of the "Jingle Cruise". In both Disneyland and Disney World the changes made the ride will not constitute a ride closure (like Disneyland's Haunted Mansion and small world overlays). Basically, lights and decorations are added to the queue area and the skippers are given a Christmas shtick to recite rather than the same tired old Jungle Cruse jokes. Simple enough and from what I hear, there are still people out there complaining about the changes.

There's a select few that believe that no Disneyland ride or attraction should be altered from the way it was conceived and since the Jungle Cruise was conceived by Walt Disney himself (based on his fondness for the classic film The African Queen), to alter the ride in any way is something akin to sacrilege. Well, it's time to get off your high horse.

Here's the deal. I've been looking at pumpkins in a sea of orange for two months for a made up holiday which isn't a holiday at all. Anything that Disneyland can do to bring Christmas spirit to the "happiest place on earth" then count me in - no matter how early it is. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Starting The Day With A Couple Of Scoops Of Mickey

As most people who read this blog regularly, I'm kind of a Disney shopping curmudgeon. I figure by the time I've paid to get into the Disneyland, foot the bill for a hotel, and bought all kinds of meals and food in the place, I've invested enough of my hard earned money on Disney (Mrs. DisneylandTraveler on the other hand...that's s different story). So personally, I just don't have a of Mickey stuff. I have a couple of baseball hats. There's a few prints hanging on the walls around the house, and Mrs. DLT has her Mickey curio cabinet. 

So here at home, far removed from Disneyland, my life doesn't exactly sing the praises of Mickey Mouse except for maybe the wisest Disneyland investment I have ever made. A few years ago, Mrs. DLT and I bought a Mickey coffee scoop, a simple metal scoop that retails at a whopping ten bucks. But you know, I use the Mickey coffee scoop every day. Oh sure we've got other coffee scoops, better coffee scoops, cheaper coffee scoops, but I go out of my way to use the Mickey Coffee scoop. There's probably something psychological there stuck way down in my brain. The scoop only holds about two tablespoons of coffee but add three scoops to a 12 cup coffee maker and you have just made yourself a fine cup of coffee - Mickey coffee. Is there a better way to start a day? I'm not just having a cup of coffee. I'm having a cup of coffee assisted by the hand of Mickey. It makes me smile.

Once in awhile I forgo the making my Mickey Mouse pot of coffee and head over the Starbucks. But now, even standing in line at Starbucks - the line at one of the new Disneyland Starbucks locations isn't far from my mind. As Disney weaves itself into the simplest facets of societies' conventions, it probably makes the corporate accountants quite pleased with themselves. And you know, I even think the old Walt would be please with his beloved cartoon character helping you start your day with a simple cup of coffee.