Monday, November 5, 2007

Mickey Mouse Monday!Retirees, Basketball & Anne Geddes

Alrighty folks! I woke up early today, partly to have some time with Thor before he went off to spend the day in a basement, and partly because we got an early entry into Disneyland.

Upon arrival, the registry desk told us we got a few days that we could go into the park an hour early...whoot! Today was the big day. I walked around for a bit then went to stand in line. when I saw just how many other people got in early I was amazed. It seems that if you stay in any one of the hotels you get in early. That's a lot of people. But hey.

Another surprise, the last time (years ago!) I got in early we only got as far as Main Street. This time we got to go into Fantasy Land and Tomorrow Land. The other lands were closed until regular opening, but some folks were a bit upset about that.

I learned that the last employee to be hired by Walt still works in New Orleans Square, Ernie the guitarist. I actually took his photo last week or so, scroll down and you can see Ernie. The folks at Guest services weren't sure if Ernie was the longest current employee, but they all were betting on it.

I was also told that former employees/retirees meet once a month, wear their badges and hang out to reminisce about Walt, the old days and working with the guests.

In the waiting time I talked with one of the guys who works in Adventure Land. He told me a few secrets about Indiana Jones, and also that, "No", there are no secret tunnels or a town under Disneyland, only a few access tunnels for maintenance. However, there is a basketball half court in the upper section of the Matterhorn. It was built as a favour to building and maintenance crews, who still, occasionally, use it after hours.

Later I was out in Down Town Disney in the Anne Geddes store. This is the only Anne Geddes store in the world, so far... Soon Anne Geddes will have stores within a store at Dillard's across America. Also if you are in SoCAL during the weekend of December 8-9, Anne will be in the store to sign books (limit 5). (8th: 4-6 p.m., 9th: 2-4 p.m.)

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Disney Halloween!

So just a few more days left to go and hang out with all the spookies and ghosties at Disneyland before Halloween has come and gone. All kinds of weird happenings!

Click on the following links to enter sweepstakes and contest from Disney:

Your Halloween Costume could win a trip to Walt Disney World! But hurry, this one ends soon!

$5,000.00 for Holiday spending can be yours just by clicking on their website! click each day...ends November 28

Evidently even Disney wishes lurkers would comment. Their Comment Mania is Disney's way of getting you to interact with other readers and get a chance for a "Disney Page Prize" whatever that is.

Disney Princess
is another "just click" contest to win a Princess type vacation complete with all the princess-y prizes you can think of. There were 20+ prizes to win, one entry per day until Jan.31

All of these prizes are via Disney Insider -a Disney e-mail letter anyone can sign up for, free, and about once a week. Lots of promotions, and fluff, but hey, if you win $5,000.00 for Christmas shopping who cares?

Thor and I will be heading out Thursday for a conference; and because the location is in Anaheim I will be spending quite a bit of my time there (D-land) gathering as many photos, videos, and information as I can. If you have any Disney questions, now is the time to ask!

That's out Mickey Mouse Monday for today!

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Mickey Mouse Monday!- Dia De Los Muertos!

Zocalo Park in Frontierland is celebrating Dia de los Muertos, or The Day of the Dead. Celebrated traditionally in Latin America, dia de los muertos is a way for the living to remember their kindred dead through a festival of colour filled decorations, food and events that honour the memory of their ancestors. The main festivals and celebrations are held on All Saints Day, November 1, and families party en route to graveyards to picnic, dance, and exchange small gifts and offerings to their families.

Disneyland has decorated a small courtyard between Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the Golden Horseshoe Review with vivid floral sculptures and banners that draw you in. It' a great photo op as you make your way past the shooting galleries and out to the Rivers of America.

Tucked behind the shooting gallery and next to Big Thunder Mountain is the Zocalo Restaraunt featuring Mexican cuisine. Beautifully decorated with terracotta floors, tiled side bars and lanterned ceilings the restaurant is spacious and a good place to rest. They have a gorgeous plant covered patio for out door eating as well. I have eaten there twice, both times I was underwhelmed. Average or below average Mexican dishes that are less than what you would expect for the price range. For me, I the best things about the restaurant are the photo ops, which abound! Beautiful fountains and other features lend themselves to great shots day or night.

That said, the bathrooms next to the restaurant are above average as far as cleanliness and availability.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Finding Nemo Subs!

(The video of this post has been removed to avoid copyright infringement)

Thor and I decided to make a pilgrimage to check out Finding Nemo Submarine Adventure, or whatever it is called....Finding Nemo.

Replacing (finally) the pond and subs that have been there stagnate for years. With a new bright yellow paint job (in honour of the Beatles?) and plenty of hype, we wondered...

Is the Finding Nemo ride worth the wait?

The day we were there it was a fairly slow day for Disneyland, meaning most of the other popular rides (Haunted Mansion, Pirates, yada yada yada) were walk ons. Nemo had a 45 minute wait. Granted, the day wasn't hot, and we did not have small children with us, however, 45 minutes is still a very long time. I can't imagine doing this with children. Especially when we finally got to the ride itself only to see a completely empty side, and rows of subs waiting for boarding.

Why does Disney insist on making their guests wait in line when it is not necessary? By the time these little ones finally boarded, they were exhausted, cranky, and the few minutes sitting in a dark sub waiting for it to actually start, was torture.

Climbing down the stairs was fine, roomy. The interior was comfortable enough. (If Thor and I were, say, laundry detergent...we would be sold in bulk at Costco. So trust me when I say you'd fit juuuust fine.) Each seat has its own porthole view. The first few minutes are very blue or green, and the cement "coral" reef, the artificial plants, and the near motionless figures are less than inspiring.

Then you get to the middle of the ride. That's when the magic finally happens. I took about 40 still photos and over ten minutes of video film. Unfortunately I was unable to get the video to you tube or anywhere else, so you get a video of all the blue green shots. And commentary.

The back ground was very dark, with vivid 3-D imagery, and a movie like storyline with Dory, Marlin, Bruce, Nemo, and others. A scary scene delightfully spooked the little ones and impressed all the parents. There was so much magic in fact, that the whole sub was relatively quiet until that particular scene. Everyone rapt and in awe of the show.

Long story short, Thor and I both thought that the middle scenes are worth that first time 45 minute wait. Thor, however, refused to wait in a line that long again. I would have, but not with kids.

Hint: Take your cameras, digital and video. Set the aperture open and low (3.5?), Speed up your ISO (800-1600?) or you can try to shoot in RAW. Perhaps experiment with someplace extremely low lit at home. Use a telescoping single pole type tripod (not much floor space between you and your porthole or seat neighbors). Understand that the noise vs. sound will be tricky; as will capturing the action that pops up here and there, dodging behind reefs and rocks, and then directly in front of your porthole. Go with a fully loaded battery and plenty of memory left on your flash drive chip. This is a long ride.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Mickey Mouse Monday!

Halloween is upon us, even over at Disneyland. According to their flyer:

"Mickey's Halloween Treat is the perfect way to celebrate Halloween Disney Style!" A private costume party for little kids where they can play with the characters, ride the attractions, participate in interactive games, listen to "spirited" music, and trick or treat as they roam through California Adventure.

They are advertising a "new nightly character cavalcade", although I haven't been there to experience or give a review, yet.

Dates for this event are:
October 4, 11, 18, 25, 30, and 31 6:30 - 10:30 p.m.
October 5, 12, 19, and 26 7:30 - 11:30 p.m.

You can pre purchase tickets for a reduced price at DISNEYLAND.COM/MHT or by calling (714) 781-4400. Doing so will save you $10.00 per person!

Prices are $29.00 per person advance order or $39.00 at the door the night of the event. There is limits on how many guests may attend the event, so they suggest pre-sale tickets.

ALSO: Be it noted that although they are in full swing with the holiday, YOU MAY NOT WEAR YOUR COSTUME INTO DISNEYLAND PARK. wah! That said, we saw plenty of little princesses and Peter Pans, pirates, and such, the day we were there, so who knows how they decide what exactly is a "costume".

New Orleans Square is all dolled up for the holiday. The Haunted Mansion is open for spooky fun with "The Nightmare Before Christmas" decor all about. This is one of my favorite times of the year. The story line and design is awesome, I love Tim Burton and Disney does it right. Jack Skelington is fabulous. The decorations should run through early January.

Out in Adventure Land, Woody's Halloween Roundup is celebrating with "tricks, treats, live stage adventures, sing-alongs, crafts, cookie decorating, and more!"

Woody's Halloween Adventures: Daily 10:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Woody's (regular?) Adventures: Daily 11:00 a.m., 12:00, 1:00, 2:45, 3:45, 4:45 p.m.

The Parade of Dreams begins nightly at 7:00 on Main Street.

Jedi Training Academy in Tomorrow Land: Daily 10:30, 11:35 a.m., 12:40, 2:25, 3:30, 4:35 p.m.

Disney Princesses will enjoy:

Princess Royal Walk: 10:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Royal Coronation: 11:30 a.m., 12:30, 2:15, 4:00, 5:00 p.m.
Royal Crafts: 10:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Story Telling by a Princess: 10:55 a.m., 12:05, 1:45, 4:30 p.m.
All in Fantasy Land

On Tom Sawyer's Island: Become a Pirate! Search for treasure, take the pirate oath, and live like a pirate all day long! The Pirate's Lair runs daily: 11:00 a.m. -6:00 p.m., last raft leaves for the island at 5:30 p.m. Get there early.


Mickey at his house in Toon Town. Minnie strolling Toon Town 'till 6:00 p.m.
Whinnie the Poop (to most toddlers, Pooh to the rest of us) and all his friends hang out near his ride in Critter Country, just beyond Splash Mountain. 11:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Princesses in Fantasy Land 10:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Buzz Lightyear in Tamale (tomorrow) Land 10:00, 11:00 a.m., 12:00. 2:45, 3:45, 4:45 p.m.

Fast Passes are only available for the following rides:
Autopia, Big Thunder Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Indiana Jones, Roger Rabbit, Splash Mountain.

Also, the River Belle Terrace restaurant is completely boarded up and closed for renovations currently. It is supposed to reopen late October/November with an all new menu???

Coming next week: Finding Nemo Subs! review.

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