Sunday, January 26, 2014
The Haunted Mansion returned last week stripped of its debatable holiday overlay and ready to entertain fans in various shades of gray for the next nine months or so. Disneyland needs the Haunted Mansion because its omnimover ride vehicles (doom buggies) suck up park guests like nobody's business. At 3,000 guests an hour, you can often get on the ride with very little wait.
Certainly Disneyland needs the Haunted Mansion. The Disneyland Traveler? Not so much. Don't get me wrong I like the ride a lot - it's a classic after all. But when all is said and done, even dripping with back stories, myth, and urban legends, I find the HM kind of boring. Life in shades of gray doesn't so much haunt me as much as it tends to put me to sleep. There have been more than a few times where I caught some Zzz's during a ride on the Haunted Mansion thanks to its length (pushing 15 minutes).
No, the Haunted Mansion isn't a bad ride. It's a great one in fact and was the last ride conceived by Walt Disney before his death. In the scope of things, it just isn't my ride.
Saturday, January 25, 2014
On most Saturdays I can wake up and write something about Disney or Disneyland at the drop of a hat, as they say. It isn't hard at all to think Disney. But once in awhile it is - like this morning. Usually I know what I'm going to write about in this blog before my feet hit the floor from the mattress. But not this morning. I got nothing.
It's kind of hard to think Disney 24x7 when life's other happenings get in the way. I guess that's why we have something like Disneyland to begin with - to get away from life's happenings. So today I'm taking a break from Mickey and friends, from Pirates of the Caribbean, and whatever Disney movie is on the screen. Other things are happening and Walt's world needs a break today,
Thursday, January 23, 2014
After a long hard debate with myself, and with the approval from the ultimate authority - namely Mrs. DisneylandTraveler, I finally took the plunge and purchased my first DSLR camera. Most of the pictures on this website have come from a variety of point and shoots from Kodak, Nikon, Fuji and a couple of Sony's. Often times I get home and am a little disappointed with my photographic output. Sure, there are some pretty good shots but I always thought I could get better ones if I just had that one really good camera. That's what I tell myself anyway.
Well, enter the Canon EOS Rebel T3i (600D elsewhere in the world) Digital SLR Camera. Could this be the ticket to getting those great Disneyland shots? Well, time will tell. All I know is that I've got a lot of reading to do and practicing to work on in order to get up to speed with the camera's capabilities. With a little luck and some fair winds behind us, we could have another Disneyland adventure in late March. Then we'll finally see - is it the camera or is it the photographer?
Sunday, January 19, 2014
I gotta say that when I first saw the Mickey and the Magical Map show at Disneyland's cavernous Fantasyland Theater I was pleasantly surprised. The 25 minute lively show was quite enjoyable and not a waste of time in the slightest. When I go back to Disneyland, I'll be sure to make it a point to see it again for an entertaining diversion. Best of all, the show has real seats which for Disneyland, is rare. And any show that uses the voice of Leonard Nimoy (sounding just like Spock) can't be all bad.
Now comes the "but....." part. The theater is a huge piece of valuable real estate in Fantasyland. It holds close to 2000 people and on a busy day, Mickey and the Magical Lamp was less than half full. It seems to me, and I've said it before, Disneyland could get far more bang out of the space if it was used for a full-blown ride attraction. Take the space from the neighboring ToonTown (except for Roger Rabbit) and you would really have some area to work with and go development crazy.
That's on my Disneyland imagination wish list, after all, it isn't my money to build expensive rides and attractions. Until then, I can be content with going in and enjoying Mickey and his map. It's a fun thing to do.
Monday, January 13, 2014
Remember the classic comedy National Lampoon's Vacation when Chevy Chase takes his Griswold family across country to vacation at "Wally World" only to find that the entire place is "closed for refurbishment" when they finally get there? Well, Disneyland isn't quite like Wally World as far as closing for refurbishment goes but sometimes it seems like they can get darn pretty close.
Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and myself have begun informal talks to see if we can make a trip to Disneyland toward the end of March, hopefully before the spring break season. Disneyland will be open but the list of attractions closed for refurbishment during our planned visit is a bit daunting. The following are scheduled to be closed according to some websites: Space Mountain, Indiana Jones Adventure, Soarin' Over California, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage (already closed), and Alice in Wonderland. That's quite a list considering the first 3 are considered prime E-Ticket attractions.
But as hard as this may be to swallow with families with kids, none of these attraction closures would be considered deal breakers for Mrs. DLT and myself planning a trip. We would question a Disneyland visit if Pirates of the Caribbean were closed and especially the closure of the Disneyland Railroad which we use a lot simply as convenient transportation.
If nothing else, big attraction closures may hold back the crowds a little bit and that just makes it better for us. The more space and shorter lines present, the better off we like. We like our Disneyland on the quieter side.
Sunday, January 12, 2014
When you think about Disneyland dining, the Harbour Galley comes well down the list if it makes the list at all. The former server of McDonald's french fries in the park is tiny by walk-up dining facility standards with only about a half dozen or so tables surrounding it but the little place sits on a lovely spot overlooking the Rivers of America and possesses a certain amount of charm in its setting.
Disneyland has been tinkering with the menu at the Harbour Galley ever since they gave McDonalds the boot from their parks and last year, the little Harbour Galley introduced a lobster roll to the small menu. Now when many think of a lobster roll, they are thinking of what they serve up in New England with a toasted bun filled with chunks of freshly caught lobster and lightly tossed with a little mayonnaise and seasoning. These lobster rolls also run around $20 - $30 in many places.
Disneyland's offering isn't quite up to an authentic New England lobster roll, but at $13.99, it is quite good. Disneyland's version is essentially a couple of pieces of claw meat served over a lobster salad which is on a toasted bun. I had to eat mine with a knife and fork but that didn't matter because I enjoyed every bite of it. It's something I would definitely order again and the sandwich is far better than the overpriced offerings served at the Riverbelle Terrace which is just around the bend. The roll is served with home made potato chips which are also quite tasty.
Mrs.DisneylandTraveler wouldn't touch lobster if her life depended on it so to accomodate her, the Harbour Galley menu offered a barbequeued chicken baked potato (see picture below) which she enjoyed thoroughly. We both left the place quite happy and quite full. The Harbour Galley is now on our Disneyland dining must do list for our visits.
Saturday, January 11, 2014
So by now, the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage attraction is closed down and boarded up. "Closed for refurbishment" as the saying goes. Here we are in January and the ride is not scheduled to re-open until late September. But the speculation is that the Finding Nemo Submarine may never re-open even though there is Pixar Finding Nemo (Finding Dory) sequel movie somewhere in pre-production.
Now I have no doubts that the sub attraction is in need of some repair. It is by all accounts the most expensive attraction to operate and maintain in the park. So maybe it is just a "refurbishment". But everyday the ride doesn't operate, Disneyland is saving a boatload of money so to speak.
But it strikes be funny (and I'm just thinking out loud here) that Disney closes the expensive subs, eliminates an expensive act with Billy Hill and the Hillbillies, cuts down on the length of firework displays, well, all this seems to add up some belt tightening by Disney accountants and bean counters. Much cheaper to load up character meet and greets than having actual entertaining attractions for wider appeal of guest demographics. (Disney announced a new Captain America meet and greet coming soon earlier this week to go along with the more recent Thor and Frozen meet and greets).
But I'm willing to cut Disney a bit of slack here. If these cutbacks lead to a fully realized development of the Star Wars franchise (which is rumored but would be costly), then I'm all for Disney cutting back on some things temporally to put some park development money away to be used for a DCA type of makeover (except the Billy elimination, that was an outright mistake).
While I enjoyed taking pictures of the various vistas for the submarines and the surrounding lagoon, I was not a fan of ride itself. It the space utilized for Innoventions, the subs, and Autopia were allocated for Star Wars and a true Tomorrowland development, then I'm on board.
Friday, January 10, 2014
So the re-opening of Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is imminent after more than a year of being closed for refurbishment and 3 months past its original scheduled re-opening. It's got a new track, new trains, almost new everything. Trains are being tested daily (without passengers).
So I'm thinking to myself - given the fact that this is essentially a brand new ride, and as much as I love BTMRR, would I want to be on that first train that leaves the platform on its initial run? My answer would be "No!'. I'll leave that to some other brave souls and I'll give it a chance to run through its paces a bit. Just call me chicken.
Sunday, January 5, 2014
Disneyland's Billy Hill and the Hillbillies show comes to an end tomorrow. It began in 1993 with the bulk of the shows taking place in Frontierland's Golden Horseshoe venue. The end comes through retirement. Oh, the Hillbillies didn't retire, as they loved to perform to adoring fans young and old. Disney retired the act somehow thinking it was time. As I have said before, I believe the reason was economic as the skilled musicians and performers of the Hillbillies were probably paid well - especially the original members. Yes, they could pack the Golden Horseshoe with fans, but there is only so much greasy food and ice cream that could be sold in such a small place to support the cost of the act. (I'm ignoring the outdoor festival arena performances of the Hillbillies - those don't count - the act belonged in the Golden Horseshoe - always).
But here's a stop to the rant against Disney to say Thank You to Kirk, Dennis, and the rest of the boys. Thank you for the countless hours of entertainment, the laughs, the music, and all the fun that went with it. The teeth, the fiddle bow up the nose, and the "Train Song" never got old or stale. Billy Hilly and the Hillbillies was a first-rate act by guys who loved to perform.
Disneyland will not be the same without Billy Hill and the Hillbillies. Mrs. DisnelylandTraveler and myself have made an informal pledge to not set foot inside of the Golden Horseshoe as our form of protest and disapproval of Disney's decision to remove the act. Ultimately, the hope is that Disney will see the error of their ways and bring the act back.
Thursday, January 2, 2014
|Official Disney Photography by Gene Duncan - Disney's Animal Kingdom Park|
Gene Duncan, official photographer of Walt Disney World, is retiring after nearly 40 years of service. He gave his farewell in a post on Disney Parks Blog (link). He also left a single photograph, a stunning photograph as a parting gift.
When you think of a photograph of a Disney Park you think about the rides, attractions, and carefree fun you share with family and friends. Gene left posting a very different kind of photograph taken at a Disney Park, a photograph of an African silverback gorilla taken at Disney's Animal Kingdom Park. This is a very different Disney Park photograph - dark, deep, mysterious, and contemplative. I've never seen anything like it. It is magnificent. Thanks Gene.
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Did you ever stub your toe? Sometimes it hurts a little. Sometimes it hurts a lot. These were Disney toe stubs for 2013.
Disney just didn't stub a toe with The Lone Ranger. They dropped an anvil on their proverbial foot with a movie bomb that is right up there with the infamous John Carter debacle. The monetary loss on the film was close to $200 million and proof that throwing Johnny Depp in any half baked idea of a movie on the screen doesn't always guarantee money in the bank.
Thor might have been a fine movie from the Disney/Marvel gang - but it couldn't hold my interest for more than 15 minutes and I slept through most of the rest of it. I'll give it another chance when it comes to video, but sleeping through what's supposed to be an action superhero movie is never a good thing.
Planes was an enormous success for Disney's bank account. The only problem is that it was made on the cheap and was supposed to go directly to home video. After the Cars Land success, Disney quickly redid the film for a theatrical release complete with all the marketing hype which pointed to Disney Consumer Products. None of this is bad I suppose, but for a company that has always prided itself on quality, Planes smacked of cheap opportunism.
Over at Disneyland, Limited Time Magic was the year's ongoing promotion of itself and quite a silly idea. It came off as far-reaching and half-baked rather than a fully thought-out marketing concept. The Dapper Dans singing Boy Band music? The person who came up with that Limited Time Magic idea should be fired. And they did that one a couple of times during the year. P.S. Valentines Day and similar calendar events are not Limited Time Magic. They happen every year and Disney makes the most of them without wrapping them up with something called Limited Time Magic.
Billy Hill & the Hillbillies got the boot from Disney Productions after 21 years of performing (and delighting) people at the park. Why? People want to know. My guess is after this amount of time, the groups founding members are pretty well paid as highly trained performers and musicians with all their years of service. If Disney is looking to cut corners and increase their profit margins a bit, a cheaper Golden Horseshoe act would seem logical, except the knuckleheads that run the park are cutting out a piece of Disneyland's heart and soul. As Billy said in one of his final performances - maybe after 3000 - 4000 performances, if a Disney exec actually took the time to see the Hillbillies perform, maybe they would have a different way of thinking.
|Billy Hill (Kirk Wall) with a former friend|
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has been down since last January. Originally scheduled to return on Halloween, BTMRR stayed boarded up as Disney worked on Cal/OSHA safety improvements around the park. Worker safety is never a bad thing but with BTMRR, Disney never really got around to saying why the ride stayed closed and what was causing the delay. With Disney, the less you know about the inner workings of the park, the better off you are.
|A year later and still waiting for re-opening of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad|