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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mater Steals Gomer's Act

I sometimes watch reruns of the old Andy Griffith show with my father-in-law. I'm not a fan of the bumpkin Tow Mater character created for the Cars movies by Pixar (more specifically the bumpkin character created by Larry the Cable Guy). I've never been able to put my foot down on why the character bothers me so much (granted, this is a pretty trivial thing to be bothered by). Then, while watching reruns of the old Andy Griffith Show, something occurred to me. Mater is pretty much the same character (in the form of a talking rusted out tow truck) as the Gomer and Goober characters I watched on Andy Griffith. Larry the Cable Guy stole their act (or I should say schtick) from 40 or 50 years ago. There is just something unappealing to me that in a day when we should be striving for wisdom, knowledge, and education, we somehow find time to celebrate being a buffoon. Again, I've probably put way too much thought into this. Kids love Mater and I guess that is all that matters.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Haunted Mansion Prepares For The Holidays

So here we are at August 25th and the stores on Disneyland's Main St. are already stocked to the rafters with Halloween merchandise. The offical Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort is set to begin September 12th.  With that in mind, today is the day The Haunted Mansion shuts down and begins it's holiday transformation.
But forget Halloween - to me anyway, the holiday transformation of The Haunted Mansion is the first sign of Christmas in Disneyland. When the Mansion returns to service in 3 weeks, we will get our first glimpse of "Sandy Claus" and the Christmas landscape of the park. Which only means I am one more step forward to that November trip.
The dog days of summer are coming to an end. Halloween is here for those that enjoy that time of year. For me, it all means we are one step closer to the real holidays and when Disneyland really comes to life.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Disneyland's Biggest Mistake (Of The Last Year)

Disneyland gets a lot of things right. Occasionally they do something wrong. (Sometimes they make a move that seems to go sideways.) The biggest mistake Disneyland made in the last year was the removal of the Billy Hill and the Hillbillies show from the Golden Horseshoe Saloon. Why remains a mystery but my own theory (and it is only speculation) is that a group of highly trained musicians and showmen, some who have played at Disneyland for two decades, probably was a pretty expensive act to produce. Disneyland retired the Hillbillies as part of a cost cutting measure. Nothing else makes sense since the Hillbillies performances were played before packed houses every day, rain or shine. Their popularity was extraordinary.

I bring all this up because we have extended our November trip by one day primarily to go over Knotts Berry Farm is see the Hillbillies perform. Knotts is the new home for the Hillbillies. For some reason, Mrs. DisneylandTraveler wouldn't feel a trip to Disneyland would be complete without seeing the Hillbillies only now a trip to Knotts is necessary to see them. She has a point.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Disney And The Business Of Spiderman

Amazing Spiderman Movie Poster - Sony Pictures

So the amazing Spiderman 2 came out on video this week. Since I didn't make it to the theaters to see the movie, the good folks at Wal-Mart were only too happy to provide me with a copy at nominal price. So now I get to rehash just what Spiderman has to do with Disney since Spiderman is made by Sony Pictures even though the web slinger is a Marvel character and probably Marvel's single most valuable property. Sounds complicated. It is and it isn't.

As far as movies go, Spiderman made by Sony Pictures by license agreement with Marvel Entertainment which Disney owns. Disney gets a cut off profits off every Spiderman movie even though Sony takes home most of the money. The same is true of X-Men, Wolverine, and Fantastic Four which are produced by Fox through a licensing agreement with Marvel. These license agreements were in place before Disney bought Marvel and as the story goes, as long as Sony and Fox continue to turn out Marvel quality superhero movies on a regular basis, the licensing stays in place and Sony and Fox continue to make movies. One slip up and Disney lawyers will only be too happy to take the properties back. Either that or Disney shells out the big buck to buy back the licenses which they are not inclined to do since by Disney CEO's own admission "we have more than enough Marvel characters to work with already".

Still the hope is out there that a true Marvel/Disney Spiderman movie will be made some day. That would be a movie that would set box office records on fire.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Disneyland Monorails: Still Cool After All These Years

What I remember from my first trip to Disneyland as a kid, other than that first drop on Pirates of the Caribbean (!), was my first ride on a monorail. As a kid, it was a pretty cool ride. Now here as an adult, and many (many) years later, I have to admit a ride on the monorail, even at my age, is still a pretty cool deal. It's one of those rides that make up the unique fabric of Disneyland. For many, it is the first ride in operation that is visible when you first see the park upon entering the Disneyland area.

The sleek, colorful Mark VII monorails make quite a first impression. Unlike their WDW counterparts, the Disneyland monorails still serve as an attraction as well as a mode of transportation. The two mile circle around Disneyland is still a must do attraction for Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and myself. Whizzing by the scenery, it's hard to believe the top speed isn't all that much. My only wish is their were a stop in DCA as well as its Downtown Disney stop.

For the kid in all of us, a ride on the monorail still represents what Disneyland is all about - imagination, innovation, uniqueness, and just plain fun. All aboard!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Single Best Thing To Eat In Disneyland

Baked Potato Soup - YUM!

At work I am forever asked for recommendations about what to eat or where to dine at Disneyland. There are some good choices available and unfortunately also some bad. After years of trial and error, I'm here to tell you that the single best food item you get put in your mouth at Disneyland is the Baked Potato Soup served by the Carnation Cafe.

This isn't a soup for the diet conscious. It is creamy, rich, and decadent. Artery clogging begins with the first bite and the sinful pleasure continues right to the bottom of the bowl.

Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I are in the process of covering what Disneyland dinning spots we'd like to visit when we make our next trip in November. There's a lot of maybe's and probably's in our deliberations. One thing we are in compete agreement is a stop at the Carnation Cafe for a bowl of soup (and some undetermined entree). It's one of our Disneyland traditions.

PS..... a couple of near misses for the top spot of best Disneyland food items - the fried chicken served by the Plaza Inn, the previously mentioned Lobster Roll from the Harbour Galley, and of course no trip to Disneyland would be complete without a Dole pineapple whip (or float).

Monday, August 11, 2014

RIP Robin Williams: A Genius Who Played A Genie

Sad. Very sad news today about Robin Williams passing.....but the Genie lives on and a legendary animated performance will never be forgotten. By all accounts, he was a very nice man.

Thinking Beyond The Dog Days Of August

A few weeks ago, frustrated beyond belief with Windows 8, Mrs. DisneylandTraveler bought me a Mac for my birthday. Now comes the part where I need to transfer all the photos on my PC to my new Mac. And here in August, in the midst of the dog days of summer, I came across these small world photos from our trip last December and think about seeing it again this upcoming November. Even now, in the sweltering heat of summer, this is a sight of welcome relief and represents a hope and a dream.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Glistening Haunted Mansion Turns 45

The Haunted Mansion - Disneyland - A Disney Parks Blog Photo

Disneyland's Haunted Mansion turned 45 years old yesterday I guess that is something of a milestone for the park. Of course Disneyland had special panels, exclusive merchandise, and signed artwork available to the public never missing on a chance to promote the bejeezus out of the smallest events.

Disney Parks Blog posted some beautiful pictures of the mansion for the event. Even though the place is supposed to be a "haunted" mansion, the building sure glistens with detail. How come their cobwebs and dust looks better than the cobwebs and dust at my house? HM was the last ride Walt Disney was personally involved in developing with his masterful use of imagination and creativity. The Haunted Mansion is one of Disneyland's crown jewels.

A Disney Parks Blog Photo

Yet strangely enough, the Haunted Mansion is not one of my favorite attractions in the park. Maybe I take it for granted because there is never too long of a wait and always seems to be available. Maybe I've been on it too many times. I find the non-holiiday version a little boring. How can you say that about a ride that is 13 minutes long and can load about 3000 people an hour? The truth is I admire a ride I find rather drab and colorless. I actually prefer the holiday version that seems a bit more on the fun side.

A Disney Parks Blog Photo

On our last trip to Disneyland I looked down from the Main St. train station platform and saw Bob Gurr talking to some cast members. Bob was one Walt's main imagineers on the Haunted Mansion project and actually developed the "Doom Buggy" omnimover ride system. He was on one of yesterday's panels and talked about the ideas for and construction of the great attraction. I'm sure he is proud.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Is Innoventions A Waste Of Time Again?

ASIMO - still Innoventions best attraction

A reader made the comment that on their recent trip to Disneyland the biggest disappointment was a visit to the Innoventions Building. I can understand. As we look forward our upcoming trip the question is out there - Innoventions - Yes or No? I think this trip we are going to take a pass on visiting the venerable old building.

When the Iron Man suits moved in, I had hopes. Either the suits represented the first footprint of a Marvel based attraction in Disneyland (rumored) or the beginnings of Marvel based universe within the old and underutilized building. Neither have materialized and for most people, the place is a waste of time after an initial visit.

Yes, Captain America and Thor meet and greets have moved in but regular readers of this blog know my opinion of the now overuse of meet and greets. While popular with young kids, they represent a cheap windfall for Disney. Instead of developing real imaginative attractions, people wait for incredible lengths of time to meet a character in a costume. It's an easy way out to put something new in the park and attract throngs of people with little effort or imagination on Disney's part.

The Iron Man suits a great but only need one visit - been there done that.

My rule of thumb regarding Innoventions is that a visit every 5 years or so is good enough or place to get out of the rain. The single best attraction in the building remains ASIMO - Honda's amazing little robot. The rest of the place is just a corporate shill for Yamaha, HP, Microsoft, along with Disney's feeble efforts to show off its Marvel franchise. 

I do have a feeling that better days are coming for Innoventions, I just I don't think its coming any time soon which is too bad.

Thor movie props - more of these types of displays would be a nice touch.

Friday, August 8, 2014

It Starts With The Harbour Galley Lobster Roll

Round up the usual suspects. That was the gist of the conversation I had with Mrs. DisneylandTraveler when we discussed where we might like to dine on on our upcoming trip to Disneyland. There's the Carnation Cafe, the Blue Bayou, Cafe Orleans, the Plaza Inn, Big Thunder BBQ all on the list of possible candidates for dining but these are the traditional choices.

For the untraditional, for me anyway, it starts with the lobster roll served up at the Harbour Galley along the shores of the Rivers of America. It's only  a little walkup place to eat with limited seating but their lobster roll is a one of a kind unique eat inside Disneyland. Now does it rank up there with the classic New England Lobster Rolls served on the east coast? No, it's not like that. It's more like a lobster salad on a roll but it still adds up to quite a tasty sandwich and a "must have" when I make my return trip in November.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

It Tastes Like Disneyland

A few weeks ago Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I were wandering around Old Sacramento when we stopped by a candy shop to pick up some salt water taffy of assorted flavors. Later that night I opened a piece, popped it in my mouth, and immediately a thought jumped into my head - "This tastes like Disneyland!".

At the time, I didn't know what the flavor of the candy was - I just knew it was familiar and reminded me of being in Disneyland. Later it occurred to me the flavor was caramel corn. It's funny, you think of Disneyland in terms of sights and sounds and in some cases smells, but this time - I could taste the park and what a sweet taste it is.

Disneyland is one of the few places I eat caramel corn so its not surprising that little piece of salt water taffy made my think of walking along Main St. nibbling on the sweet treat but what struck me was just how strong and delightful the taste sensation was. It took me quite by surprise.

Monday, August 4, 2014

I Could Be Wrong About Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy

I posted last week on Facebook that I thought Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy looked "incredibly stupid". I'll stick to that comment because a wise guy raccoon and a walking tree as superheroes don't exactly give me comic book thrills. But Disney doesn't exactly care what I think and Guardians of the Galaxy opened to the tune of $95 million dollars on its premiere weekend - the biggest August opening ever and once again giving proof that Disney CEO Bob Iger really knew that he had a gold mine on his hands when he purchased Marvel for $4 billion dollars.

My own opinion of Guardians has shifted a bit too. I don't won't spend money to see the film at the theaters but at least now I plan to give it a shot on video.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Christmastime Reservation At The Disneyland Resort

We did it. Yesterday,Mrs. DisneylandTraveler called the Candy Cane Inn and made a November reservation for a week's stay at Disneyland. We like the Candy Cane Inn. If you are staying outside of the Disney's Grand Californian or Disneyland Hotel, it is the best place to stay for a trip to Disneyland. The Candy Cane Inn runs a little more in terms of price than the rest of the Harbor Blvd. "Good Neighbor" hotels but it's overall cleanliness and impeccable customer service more than make up for the few extra dollars. 

So by the time we get to Disneyland in November, Christmastime at the Disneyland Resort will be hitting its starting point and what better way is there to begin the holiday season and get into the Christmas spirit. Even the thought of it makes me smile.

Now, some things have to fall into place for us pull off this trip but it looks promising enough that making a reservation seemed like the right thing to do. And now - three and a half months of anticipation.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Maleficent and the Seven Dwarfs

Those that have read this blog through the years kind of know that when it comes to the history of classic Disney movies, I'm not your expert. I know its sacrilege but I am not a really big fan of the movies Walt produced in his lifetime. Though technically excellent - the stories themselves I never really was able to get into. I'm a Disneyland guy..... not so much a Disney guy.

With that in mind, Mrs. DisneylandTraveler was able to get me out to see Maleficent a few weeks ago. Inside I was grumbling and complaining and wishing we were on our way to Amazing Spiderman 2 but I went anyway.

I figured I was on my way to see a story about a wicked witch who gave Snow White the poisoned apple. In there somewhere I expected to see Seven Dwarfs. Yep, I had the the wrong fairy tale. It took me about 20 minutes to figure out I was seeing a story about Sleeping Beauty and not Snow White. What a putz..... like I said, I'm not a classic Disney kind of guy.

About the movie? The first half was pretty boring but the movie gained momentum toward the end especially when the dragon appeared. Good ending to what is essentially a children's fairy tale. Maleficent was better than I expected but not on my list to see again when it hits the video market.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Return of The Disneyland Traveler

I've got to go back to work. I've been ignoring this blog too long again. Personal life is battling my Disney life and my personal life is winning. But I see the Disney life making a comeback and once again this blog will spring into action or at least I hope it will.

What triggers interest in this poor neglected blog again? Well, a trip to Disneyland is the place to start. And maybe not just one trip but possibly two. Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I are thinking that just maybe we can pull off a trip for the Christmas holidays. And the extended family is talking about a larger trip next year for Disneyland's Diamond Celebration (that's 60th anniversary for most of us).

So maybe there will be things to write about after all in my Disney blogging world. I hope so anyway.