Disneyland Traveler Blog Sites

Friday, December 27, 2013

Disney Released Films - 2014

If you look over to the right hand column you will see some new posters and theater release dates for three of the Disney (and Marvel) films in 2014.
First up is the Muppets Most Wanted as British comedian Ricky Gervais joins our life long pals for a European set adventure. Gervais can be a vile, profane, and contemptible character in real life. He can also be hysterically funny. Hopefully Kermit and the gang can keep Gervais tongue in check and the comic brings some much needed zing to the franchise. And hopefully Disney will do a better job of marketing the movie than the last lackluster effort back in 2011.
The first big release is Captain America: A Winter Soldier. I really look forward to this one as the first Marvel Captain America film is one of the best Marvel film releases. And even veteran war horse actor Robert Redford joins the cast in this one.
A big deal is made about Maleficent film with Angelina Jolie in the starring role as the evil whatever. I'm not much into classic Disney characters so the subject matter is kind of foreign to me. For the longest time I was thinking this was an animated film but no, this is live action with real actors performing. Refreshing. This movie is supposed to be a huge blockbuster. So was the Lone Ranger.
I didn't put up the posters for the Disney Nature film on Bears or another release due in the spring called Million Dollar Arm (which has a title that says flop written all over it - I could be wrong). Also coming up on August 1 is Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy as new characters are introduced to public for the first time including a well chiseled Chris Pratt who was last seen as a dufus in the TV series Parks and Recreation. Some of these "Guardians" are completely CGI animated and just use actors voices (Vin Diesel for one). It will be interesting to see if this Marvel effort catches fire like the rest.
Not sure about Disney releases next fall and winter yet so more movie information is coming. I do know Tomorrowland starring George Clooney and directed by Brad Bird is in production for a May 2015 release. The movie is not about the land in Disney Parks. Hopefully the movie has a little more cohesiveness than that piece of real estate.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Disneyland Christmas Fireworks Show Kind Of Fizzled

(Internet Photo Source)

We had our fried chicken dinner at the Plaza Inn Restaurant on Main Street on Saturday night, the night we arrived. We finished our dinner a little before 9:00 pm. Hey.....the fireworks start at 9:30 and the crowd was just beginning to gather around at the hub in front of the castle. So even though we were tired after a long day of traveling, and an appointment with a mattress and pillow was in my future, Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I decided to wait for the fireworks. And so the wait began.

Thirty minutes isn't a long wait by Disneyland standards but when you are dog tired, it's long enough. And promptly at 9:30, the Believe.....In Holiday Magic fireworks display began. I know of two who were glad the fireworks only lasted 10 minutes - my left foot and my right foot. Other than that, I thought the holiday fireworks display was a bit of a disappointment. I remember back in 2005, the Disneyland fireworks shows came in at a whopping 20 minutes. Ever since then, they seemed to have scaled it back to about a 10 minute show. Granted, fireworks are hugely expensive and the one way Disney can add to their bottom line is to cut back on displays such as fireworks.

As for the snow on Main Street - well I'm not too sure about Main Street itself, but for those of us gathered at the hub, we looked up and saw the "snow" blowing out of the machines. The substance then dissipated for the most part before it came anywhere close to the ground or the people for that matter. Again, less of a magical moment than previous years.

In the end, instead of triumph, the fireworks kind of fizzled for me. I was glad to be heading back to the hotel room warmly greeted by a mattress and a pillow.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Very Merry Disney Christmas

Merry Christmas 2013 from us at the Disneyland Traveler Blog. Sorry - haven't posted much lately but this Christmas stuff has you on the run for sure. More postings coming soon.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Fried Chicken At The Plaza Inn Restaurant

Beautiful Christmas Tree Inside The Plaza Inn Restaurant

I got to cross 3 things off my Disneyland Bucket List on this trip, 3 things I've always wanted to do but just hadn't gotten around to it yet. I got one bucket list item crossed off the night we got there. After a 4 hour detour because of the closing of the grapevine due to snow, we arrived at our hotel at 6:40 pm and hungry as all get out. By the time we got settled in and headed to the park it was closer to 8:00. We needed dinner and I pointed us straight to the Plaza Inn Restaurant dodging Candlelight Processionalers along the way.

I'd always heard how great the fried chicken dinner was at the Plaza Inn for years now but for various reasons, I never made it a priority to go in and try it. This time it was a priority and the chicken did not disappoint in the least. For Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and myself, this may have been the best fried chicken we have ever tasted including what they serve over at Knotts Berry Farm. It definitely beats KFC by a country mile. Tender and moist, crispy skinned and wonderfully seasoned, this chicken is simply the best. It was so good we made it back a second time to the Plaza Inn and contemplated a third visit during our stay. High praise indeed.

Just for comparison we also ordered the pot roast and this was quite good as well, extremely tender and richly flavored. You can't go wrong with either the pot roast or chicken but in the end, the chicken gets the winning vote. The Plaza Inn will be on our must do list from this point going forward in future trips and a great thing to cross off the Disneyland Bucket List. 

Jingle Cruise Didn't Exactly Jingle All The Way

Jingle Cruise False Advertising
For the 6 days we were at the Disneyland Resort, the lines never wavered a bit for the renamed and re-themed Jungle Cruise now known for the holiday season as the Jingle Cruise. The lines were always long, often longer than the neighboring epic Indiana Jones Adventure attraction. The lines were typically in the 30 - 60 minute range for a ride when outside of the Christmas season is usually no more than a 15 minute wait.

But to say the ride was re-themed on the scale of the Haunted Mansion or it's a small world would be a very large stretch. A few Christmas decorations were added to the queue line (with the lines so long I saw parts of the queue line I hadn't seen in years, especially on the upper level), some Santa hats were added to the ride characters that are encountered, and the legendary Jungle Cruise skippers added some holiday shtick to their comical narration. In the end it adds up to very little and certainly didn't equal that wait time it took to get on the ride.

The whole idea of the Jingle Cruise, while a good idea, seemed rush and half hatched. It could have been thought out better and delivered more. I must confess I went on the ride during the day when maybe the after dark cruise would have been preferable but I'm sure the lines would have been even longer. In the end, it was still the same Jungle Cruise ride everyone knows with a couple of Christmas twists along the way. The Jingle Cruise just wasn't a very big deal unfortunately.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

My Disneyland Souvenir - Coming Back With A Cold

Mickey Mouse with a cold - A Disney character

What do you get when you are at Disneyland sharing the fun, happiness, and good times with 50,000 other people? Well if you are me, more often than not, you come home with a cold - especially if you are visiting the resort in the cooler times of the year. I can't tell you how many times I have come home from a trip to Disneyland with a cold. Seems to happen almost every time. But even down with a cold this week, it sure beats the time I came back and needed prostate surgery.

That being said, I am getting better and with time off for the holidays looming, get ready for a barrage of new posts about our latest Disneyland trip.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Ups and Downs of the Jolly Holiday Bakery

When the lines at the new Disneyland Market House Starbucks are just ridiculously long, it's just a short walk away to the Jolly Holiday Bakery. The coffee beverages are not as good as what Starbucks serves up but these days, the wait is much shorter. And it's a bakery! Now, the bakery items are admittedly hit or miss in their taste and quality. Some are good (the brownie and Christmas sugar cookie for instance) but some have been a major disappointment.

Which brings us to the sad tale of one of Mrs. DisneylandTraveler's favorite seasonal treats - the pumpkin muffin and how it has gone from a favorite to a 30 minute rant on the pumpkin muffins loss of quality from when it was served in the old Main St. Bakery during the fall and winter months. Mrs. DLT hated the new version and new recipe for the what is now called a pumpkin - golden raisin muffin and hate may not be a strong enough word for what she thought was an abomination. The rich pumpkin spice flavor had been replaced with some kind of bland spiced cake mix flavor that had no character whatsoever. I took a couple of bites and agreed. It tasted like a cheap cake mix rather than a richly spiced muffin. Since I am not a pumpkin fan, the loss of quality didn't affect me like it affected her but rather, I had to listen to what started as a great Disney day and quickly turned into a rant because what was a hopeful treat turned into a major disappointment.

The pumpkin muffin

I had the quiche. You can't go wrong with a quiche from the Jolly Holiday Bakery. It is consistently good and really a can't miss food item in my Disneyland menu rotation. Besides the quiche, the JHB also serves up one of the best roast beef sandwiches around complete with caramelized onions and sinus opening horseradish sauce. Good stuff here.

The Jolly Holiday Bakery is a frequent stop on our trips to Disneyland. You just need to be prepared that among the jewels that are served up also comes some disappointments.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Look Back at Disneyland's 2013 Candlelight Processional

I guess it was always Walt Disney's intention that the Candlelight Processional was for Disneyland sponsors, VIP's, and regular park supporters, but now that the number of Annual Passholders is somewhere around 900,000 (and almost all of them think they are special), the Processional (which ran about 50 minutes or so) has taken on a different aspect. Yes, the VIPs still get ushered to their seats. Those seats that aren't filled are given to standby's who put their name in when the park opens. There is some bench seating but again, those benches were claimed at 8:00 am for a 5:30 performance on a first come, first served basis. For everyone else, the Candlelight Processional becomes another Disneyland waiting game like Fantasmic or World of Color on a busy night. It's an ordeal.

We waited out in front of the Disneyland Opera House for about 4 hours to listen to grand music of the holiday season and for actor Kurt Russell to narrate the same story of the birth of Christ that Linus recites in about 2 minutes of A Charlie Brown Christmas. The processional as a spectacle is nothing short of moving as orchestra and choir put everything they have into the beautifully arranged music. The Candlelight Processional was a wonderful highlight to my holiday season but was it worth the 4 hour wait?

Yes, but as Mrs. DisneylandTraveler said, we probably wouldn't do it again. We are at an age where we are beyond the point where we follow the Disneyland custom of sitting on the ground to wait for something. I did that a few years ago for Fantasmic and swear it was the starting point of some of the arthritis areas I now have. So if you don't sit on the ground, you stand, and stand, and stand some more. Sometimes you can find something lean against and I will be forever grateful to a garbage can in front of the Lincoln theater which helped prop me up.

And after 4 hours, I did get to within about 50 yards of Kurt Russell who just happened to be the star of one my all time guilty pleasure movies, Captain Ron. In his early 60's now, he still looks in great shape and gave a good (but not great) reading of the Christmas story. Glad I saw it. Won't do it again if the opportunity comes up in the future. The waiting is a killer.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Disneyland Traveler Runs Out of Gas

When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. After wandering the grounds of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Parks for 4 straight days, often without a plan, rhyme, or reason, Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I were literally beginning to feel the pain. We ain't as young as we used to be and there are limits to everything - including having fun. Admitting we were just too flat out beat down to endure the countless lines, we did another necessary Disney task - we shopped. Or rather I should say Mrs. DLT shopped as I followed. The one label I never want to have put on me is that of being a shopper.

But the family back home needed their souvenirs and Mrs. DLT insisted that I needed something though what she picked out and what I would have picked out are completely different. She thought I needed a new set of Mickey Mouse lounge wear and a hat. I had my eye on that wooden Tiki Room statue with its $95 priced tag (about the cost of my pajamas and hat).

Anyway, we returned back to the hotel room last night quite early with bags and bags of stuff, the same as everyone else who visits here. Hopefully a good nights sleep will refuel our gas tanks and we will be ready for a full day of activity. This is our last day here after all. It can't go to waste.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Best Bad Way To Begin My Disney Day

A typical hotel coffee pot set up

"So...Mr. Disneyland Traveler sir - how do you begin your day at Disneyland?"

Oh let's not be formal here. You don't have to call me sir. I'm just some guy writing stuff about mostly Disney. Some of it makes sense, but on other matters people have differing opinions - like this...

I love to begin my Disney day with that horrid coffee they have set up in hotel rooms. Why you ask? Because nothing says you're on vacation like starting the day with coffee put together from a dozen different packets (coffee, sugar, creamer, stirrer, etc.). Does it taste bad? Well not that bad and it all says I am here and hopefully great things are going to happen. Hotel room coffee is fuel for wishing for the best day possible.

Being good coffee is irrelevant. Being here is..

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

More things the Disneyland Traveler will ponder when he returns from this Disneyland trip.

  • Saw Billy Hill and the Hillbillies yesterday. Will see them again before we leave as the clock is ticking before Disneyland executive chowder heads send them to.... (probably Knotts Berry Farm).
  • Long wait for the "Jingle Cruise". Was it worth it? (no)
  • Finally saw the "running of the goats" - real cute. Cross off bucket list.
  • World of Color Christmas show - it helps to know Olaf and see Frozen first.
  • The Disneyland Traveler's experience with lunch at the Carthay Circle Restaurant.
  • It took 3+ days of being here before setting foot in DCA. For me, that's about right.
  • Still looking for that perfect souvenir or two.
  • And still continuing to lose at both Buzz and Toy Story Mania to Mrs. DLT.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Disneyland Traveler, Kurt Russell, and the Throngs of Others

Actor Kurt Russell prepares for the Candlelight Processional
(Yes.....he put on a tux for the performance)
So the Disneyland Traveler and Mrs.DisneylandTraveler are actually in Disneyland this week and where this is being written. Here are some story lines that will be covered in upcoming posts.

  • Was the Candlelight Processional with official Disney Legend actor Kurt Russell worth the 4 hour wait?
  • Dang it's cold here!
  • New food items on the menus and one very old one that I never tried - the Plaza Inn chicken - maybe the best fried chicken ever.
  • The ruination of one of Mrs. DLT's favorite Disneyland seasonal treats - a horrid pumpkin muffin.
  • A 10 minute Christmas fireworks show?
  • So far, heavy crowds, even on Monday.
  • Very little buzz in the resort about the World of Color Christmas show though we haven't seen it yet.

Still so much to do. Stay tuned. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A "Wouldn't It Be Great?" Candlelight Processional

Wouldn't it be great if Kurt Russell did his narration of the Candlelight Processional on Sunday night as his Captain Ron character?

Slowly Working Our Way Towards Six Flags Over Anaheim

So I've been pretty cheesed off that Disneyland has decided to bring an end to the Billy Hill and the Hillbillies Show. The Billy Hill shows inside the Golden Horseshoe were performed before packed houses with a great time to be had by young and old alike. Let's get rid of it. Knuckleheaded decision if there ever was one that I'm sure was driven by financial reasons.

Now comes the story that the abandoned Skyway Station in Fantasyland is due to be demolished after the first of the year. Granted, the place hasn't been used for 20 years, but it's just such a rich piece of Disneyland history. A show of hands, how many people took a ride on the Fantasyland / Tomorrowland Skyway with their parents?  And how many took that ride with parents who may have passed on? Bam! Another memory blown away, just like the Market House, or the Court of Angels. Mrs. DisnsyelandTraveler and I have all but decided not to renew our annual passes when they expire next spring. Disneyland is making the decision quite easy.

P.S. I shared this link in a previous post when I first found out that Disney had decided to "retire" the Billy Hill and the Hillbillies show. It is a petition to Disney requesting they reconsider that decision. To date, it has already collected over 2,400 signatures. If you haven't done so already, please sign the petition (and be sure to ask everyone you know to do the same).



Monday, December 2, 2013

The Return Of The Tomorrowland Money Pit

Tomorrowland - Where the Future Is Now
So wherever MiceChat gets their information from (and its usually pretty good sources), their current report (rumor) now is that the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage attraction is closing for extended refurbishment after the first of the year.  And that refurbishment could possibly be indefinite.

The closure is not unexpected, as Al Lutz reported on its closure several months ago (even though the ride is still extremely popular).  The problem with the Nemo Subs is that it is also the most expensive attraction in the park to keep in running operation.  The decision a few years ago to convert the classic diesel propelled subs to environmentally friendly battery operated subs was met by green types with rousing appreciation. The only problem is that those expensive batteries have a notoriously short lifespan, and the batteries get very hot which causes them to occasionally, eh, - catch fire.  Yep, the photogenic subs are fraught with technical issues.

Al's bigger point is that the subs (most of which are in an underground show building) and Autopia running on top of it while residing next to the adjoining Innoventions building, occupies a massive amount of Disneyland Tomorrowland real estate.  The real estate was once thought to be the launching place of Marvel attractions, then Star Wars attractions, and finally, the no one really knows attractions.

The one thing that is known is whatever is done with Tomorrowland, (whether it be Marvel based, Star Wars based, or a combination of both franchises), the price tag will be very, very expensive. Expensive to the point that Disney seems content to continue to bring in Cars Land profits which is already paid for and turning a handsome profit.

The other thing that can cause Disney to wait things out is the construction of Shanghai Disneyland. This is one of those partnerships (similar to the Tokyo Disney Parks) where the Disney Company is only part owner. They license the rides, characters, and attractions (which they also build) but, the company is not on the hook for picking up the whole tab. Great arrangement here which is why people speak glowingly of Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney SEA.  Most of the development costs are funded by the Japanese owners.

Tomorrowland is a Disney money pit waiting to happen, but I'm not sure during whose lifetime it will take place. It's also Disneyland's right armpit if you count the poorly conceived Frontierland as the left armpit. There's work to be done here people!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The First Stubbed Toe In Planning for Disneyland

Well a week from now, we'll be in Disneyland. Yesterday, our first trip toe stubbing took place when I couldn't find the the charger for the camera batteries. I thought a quick trip over to Wal Mart would bring and easy solution - and it did - to the tune of about 30 bucks for the charger by itself. The one (actually I had two) used to have looked like it was about a 10 buck item. Mrs. DisneylandTraveler was not too pleased when she got the final bill (I added in a 16 mb card but that was half price). I'll check into finding my old charger(s) today with more time but there is a lesson in here.

When it comes to planning a trip to Disneyland, or even being in Disneyland, everything costs twice as much as you think it should in the end.