Saturday, June 30, 2012

Is It The Beginning Of The End For Nemo's Subs?

I remember the original Tomorrowland Submarine Voyage or whatever they called it. As a kid, it was one of the coolest things ever. The TV series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was one of my favorite shows on television growing up. My brother and I watched it religiously on Sunday nights. A trip to Disneyland and a chance to go on a real sub? Wow! How great is that. We'll ignore the facts that the subs, while looking like the real deal on a miniature scale decked out in official Navy gray, never actually went underwater, ran on a track, and well, there just wasn't a lot very interesting to look at down there through those port holes. The ride was still cool. A kid can pretend.

The old subs grew tiresome and the underwater scenes grew faded and in disrepair. Even the kid in me knew the subs were going down as the ride and me both grew older. By the end of their existence, the slow loading ride was pretty much a walk on and its only real interest was generated from the nostalgia aspect of the subs. Time killed the old submarine ride.

Finding Nemo still is Pixar's second highest grossing movie. I wasn't a particular fan of the movie but many were and Disney saw this as an opportunity to resurrect the old subs into a fancy new attraction based on the Finding Nemo movie. Kind of a win / win for Disney since the basic infrastructure of the ride still existed - subs, track, lagoon, and show building. Never mind that the ride was physically still in Tomorrowland and Finding Nemo has absolutely nothing to do with the world of Tomorrow. An opportunity to cash in is an opportunity to cash in for Disney. Up came Finding Nemo's Submarine Voyage back in 2007 and cool got replaced by cartoon. Gray Navy subs were now painted bright yellow, and digital animation projections told the Nemo story. People came, lines formed, Nemo was a hit and continues to be a very popular attraction with typical wait times into the 30 - 60 minute range. No way I'm waiting that long for it but people do (I much prefer the 7 minute wait I had in a driving rain storm a few years back).

So MiceAge's great Disneyland prophet, fortune teller, and rumor monger Al Lutz reports this week that with the success with the DCA expansion, Disney people are now turning their attention back to Disneyland itself and specifically Tomorrowland with its now patch work quilt of rides and attractions, popular for sure, but far from being anything remotely resembling a cohesively themed area. Everyone knows that Innoventions has got to go. A cavernous building that is sparsely attended tends to be a waste in a park that is real estate challenged. Forum posters have always had a bulls-eye on the adjoining Autopia ride as well since most forum posters know how to drive and have little interest in the ride ignoring the huge line of kids (and their parents) who can't wait to get behind the wheel of their first car. Knock out Innoventions and Autopia and all of a sudden, Disney imagineers now have a huge chunk of land to play with. But why stop there? 

According to Al, and he is right about a lot things, why not throw in the Nemo subs as a potential target of renovation, after all a large portion of Autopia runs over the top of the Nemo show building. It came as news to me that Nemo's Submarine Voyage is Disneyland's costliest ride to operate according to Al and expensive slow loading rides that occupy large chunks of land would seem to be a prime target to me as well. So with Innoventions, Autopia, and Nemo all the target of bulldozing, Disney park developers can get almost 20% of the real estate back into their creative hands and a real chance to set Tomorrowland straight once and for all.

This isn't going to happen anytime soon. Disney needs to see if the remarkable attendance for Disney California Adventure that has been occuring the past two weeks is sustainable before they get into any new billion dollar projects but all pointers seem to lead that something big is going to happen.

I'm good with the removal of Innoventions. It doesn't have a lot of supporters though ASIMO is a first rate minor attraction. I'm good with the submarine removal. I just don't care for the ride and real submarines haven't looked like the miniature Disneyland replicas in decades. And I'm good with removing Autopia because I know how to drive though an updated Autopia attraction in Cars Land would be a sensational idea. 

This is an rumor that has legs as they say and it may take several years to get it done but it seems like it would be time and money well spend, at least to me.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Disney California Adventure Finds Elegance

Carthay Circle Theater and Fountain - Disney California Adventure Park
A Disney Parks Blog Photo

Look at that stunning picture above. Disney Parks Blog posted the photo with a piece about what to enjoy in Disney California Adventure Park. Forget about that - Disney Parks Blog is pretty much an effort in self-promotion and merchandising. Look at the picture. When was the last time you could use the word 'elegant' when talking (or writing) about DCA? Probably not ever. I never went into Wolfgang Puck or Robert Mondavi's restaurants when were around when DCA first threw open its doors open. Maybe they were elegant. DCA was so badly ridiculed back then that nobody ever thought of elegance no matter how nice the high end restaurants were. Those restaurants were gone within a year after it became clear that DCA was something of a joke and a far cry from grand park that Walt built across the way.

It's all changed now. Cars Land is fun and charming and Buena Vista Street oozes with nostalgic elegance. Good job Disney not that they need a pat on the back from me. It's been noted that this past week (not by Disney of course) that attendence for DCA has exceeded Disneyland on certain days - something that has never happened before which must have executives dancing in their offices and sleeping well at night.. I can see why. I could just stare at that picture all day (but I'm at work and it would probably not go over very well unless I worked for Disney).

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Confessions Of A Wannabe Disneyland Photographer

That's a really nice picture of Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle. It's from my extensive collection of Disneyland photographs that have been taken over the years. I didn't take that picture. Mrs. DisneylandTraveler did. She takes nice pictures. I carry the camera.

Of course I take pictures too but I stink at it. I don't completely suck when it comes to taking pictures, just mostly suck. Of all the pictures I have taken over the years (well, since the advent of digital photography) I probably like less than 5% of my total picture taking output. But I try. And try. I really, really want to take good pictures but my efforts often fall short. I admire people who can take a good picture. Mrs. DLT can take a good picture most of the time. Me? Well... I'm handicapped. Literally to a certain extent.

I had a great Mom. She passed many great things on to me I would like to think. And she passed  one not so great thing on to me as well. My mom had a tremor in her hands. It's called benign familial tremor. Her hands trembled. She passed that gene on to me so my hands tremble. Oh, it's not bad. I'm fully functional with my hands but they do shake a bit including when I hold a camera. You also may not want to get too close to me in a buffet food line. So there ultimately is the struggle with my picture taking at Disneyland. Pictures are not always razor sharp. In fact, rarely are. I probably have to take twice as many pictures as the next guy simply because so many will be deleted because of poor quality. Darn it. Oh, by the way, my mom was a waitress, shaking hands and all.

I try and blame the camera for a lot of this. Maybe if I have that perfect camera, then I can take magical pictures. In the years we have been married, I think Mrs. DLT and I have gone through 4 or 5 digital cameras. Sometimes they eventually break. Sometimes there are "accidents" as Mrs. DLT learned that it is not such a good idea to have a camera tethered around your neck when you walk into a swimming pool. But sometimes, I'm just looking for that camera that will say to me "just leave it to me Mr. picture taker, let me do the work, your hands are not a problem".

I really think I would enjoy photography as a hobby. Goodness know I need something to get me out of the house. Why not go take some pictures? The local Fry's Electronics is selling a Canon T3 DSLR camera this week for $379 (it was almost $800 when it first came out). The good people at Fry's send me an email every week suggesting things I might like to buy. This week they put the camera on sale that I could drool over. The Canon T3 is an outstanding piece of photographic equipment by almost all accounts. Could this be the camera that allows me to take that perfect Disneyland picture or pushes me out my chair on a Sunday morning to go take some pictures of, well, anything? I don't know. It's nice to dream about it.

Stupid hands....  Oh, by the way, whatever I wrote a photographs above, it also applies to videos. Probably more so.

Here are a couple of videos of Ol' Mr. Shakey in action. The first one is kind of short. Nice shot if the camera was still...

The next one is a longer video from a few years ago. I didn't take all of the snippets but the ones I did aren't hard to find.

Main St. Ponderings

I'm a morning person in general unlike Mrs. DisneylandTraveler who is still sawing logs in bed. I especially love Disneyland mornings. It doesn't have to be about a mad dash to get to your favorite ride as soon as you make it through the turnstile. Sometimes you go and grab a cup of coffee, find a nice bench and soak in the atmosphere as people file in. The picture above is the Disneyland Railroad station. At the top the stairs before entering the station there are some nice benches that overlook Main St. It's a good place to sit, enjoy your coffee and ponder all things Disneyland. I'm not there but I can pretend. Here are a few ponderings.

Man did I get tired of the Cars Land beat down. Yes, the opening of a new "land" is a special event but the hype got tiresome after awhile. Can't wait to see it and ride Radiator Springs Racers but I also know that it is probably a place Mrs. DLT and I aren't going to spend a lot of time. We're grown-ups and maybe not the best candidates for a land themed for kids.

I'm still struggling with dill flavored popcorn, especially if you have to wait a half hour to get it from one of the cozy cones.

A lot of the exclusive merchandise sold at Cars Land is sold out until later on this summer. Stuff was gone in a week. Not sure if they guys that run Disney Consumer Products are happy about this or kicking themselves in the pants.

Disney shopping. I don't get it. Not everything is a collectible. Some of it is junk. But I guess it keeps a lot of people in China employed.

Over at Disneyland, the Matterhorn looks great and the list complaints about the new sleds grows every day. Why did they change to a new seating design? Oh yeah, mandated safety. Apparently wedging people in theirs seats so tightly that it would be nearly impossible to fall out is a good safety measure.

Next time you go to Disneyland with a group, start a pool as to what attraction breaks down first. Indiana Jones is a smart bet. It's due to have a major refurbishment. If it happens during a time for one of our trips, it may be a deal breaker for Mrs. DLT. She loves that ride.

How can Disneyland enforce fast pass return times when its a 50 - 50 chance that the attraction will be temporarily closed when you return for your window?

I sure miss not seeing Billy Hill and the Hillbillies for awhile now. Of all the crap we have bought at Disneyland, why didn't we ever buy one of their CDs? 

What's a great day? A corn dog from the Little Red Wagon, a safari skewer from the Bengal BBQ, and a Pineapple float from the Tiki Room stand - that's a great place to start.

There are so many new places to eat and menu items to try that it would probably take a two week stay to get to them all. Exactly what Disney wants.

Will I ever beat Mrs. DLT at Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters? Short answer - No.

Well my coffee cup empty. That's enough pondering for now. Time to move on to other things.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Closer Look At - Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin

Well, yesterday marked the twenty fourth anniversary of the release of the Robert Zemeckis Touchstone / Disney film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I remember seeing it at the theaters with my nephew and and still remember it as being one of my favorite experiences seeing a movie in a theater. It would have to be if I remember seeing something 24 years ago. Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a great movie. It hasn't carried itself well over time with now dated technology but for the period it was made, it was really something to see blending live action characters and story with classic animated characters.

The movie was a huge success, so much of a success that Disney decided to build a whole land based on ToonTown, the alternate universe town where cartoon characters actually live - all of them. And on the surface of it, ToonTown at Disneyland looks amazing and for the most part is a delight for children with its never ending stream of interactive gags and props along with an always present supply of classic walk around Disney characters. We can excuse the fact that Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a movie that small children should probably not see with it being a murder mystery with a gumshoe detective with a drinking problem, a cigar smoking cantankerous baby, and a voluptuous animated female lead with an "I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way" sultry attitude. But ToonTown, the home of Mickey Mouse in Disneyland, continues to delight its many visitors. Adults without kids may be bored because beyond the colorful building facades, there just isn't much there. Except. The cornerstone of ToonTown is the great dark ride Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin which comes right out of the movie. It may be Disneyland's best traditional dark ride filled with colorful scenes you pass by in your interactive taxi cab ride vehicle which you can actually spin. Over the years, I've dropped the spinning part. Sometimes you spend so much time, effort, and concentration spinning the darn thing that you miss some of the story going on around you. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin also has one of Disneyland's best queue lines filled with jokes and puns. You need the entertainment value as the line for the ride can get pretty long. It also has a fast pass option. The one drawback of a great ride like RRCS being in ToonTown is the place opens later and closes earlier than the rest of Disneyland so the ride's operating hours are shorter. The ride itself is contained in a huge show building that is outside of the Disneyland park limits. This isn't a Fantasyland dark ride which ends in a minute or two. RRCS has a bit more length to it - not mention that on hot days, it is nice and cool in there.

Roger Rabbits Cartoon Spin is one of my favorite rides at Disneyland because it drips with creativity, imagination, and color. You could take ToonTown out tomorrow (like they did in WDW) and I wouldn't care but leave the Cartoon Spin behind (and Mickey's House too, that's pretty cool).

For me, it's a great D-Ticket attraction. Here is a Roger Rabbit Cartoon Spin ride through from the Disneyland HD videographer Asianjma123. Enjoy your spin....


Taking A Pass On Pixar's Brave

I wrote a few weeks back (link here) that after seeing previews in 3D of Pixar's newest film Brave at the theaters, I was all in about getting to the local multiplex to see it when it was released, which was yesterday. Now no one should ever let professional critics be the barometer as to whether or not you should make a decision to see a movie. Critics are writers stating opinion, it's the film's viewers that matter. So with that, critics are pretty much on board with Brave as being a quality movie, beautifully animated and with wonderful music. And then we get to the story. Ooops.

Here is where things get a little complicated and opinions vary greatly. I think the bottom line for most, both critics and regular people who have seen the movie, the story is good but not great and the film as a whole is nowhere near the best of Pixar and that for me is kind of disappointing. After the horrid Cars 2 story (though once again, an impressive visual spectacle) I was hoping for Pixar to return to glory, return to the storytelling of what was probably Pixar's best run of films  - Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up, and Toy Story 3, all Oscar winning films. Almost universally, most will tell you that Brave doesn't run in that category of Pixar films. It's more middle of the pack or below. 

I have mentioned before, the older I get, the less I am inclined to go to the theaters to see a movie. I have a nice set up here at home - large screen TV, blu-ray player, 5.1 surround sound, and a pause button. I really got to want to see a movie to go to a theater and it's not about the ridiculous price it costs to see a movie in the theaters these days, espcecially in 3D or IMAX 3D. For me, unless the audience is small, quiet, and well behaved, I can get terribly distracted about what's going on around me. Not to mention in a filled theater, I get claustrophobic. Case in point is The Avengers which I had to see (along with millions of others). I saw The Avengers twice. The first time Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I saw the movie it was in a 3D theater on a Monday afternoon with about a dozen other people. Perfect, great, outstanding. The second time we took The Boy with us. Also in 3D, the theater was probably close to three quarter full right at the tipping point where claustrophobia begins to set in. And a couple of seats down from 4 teenagers took up residence. They talked through the entire movie, not loud enough to where I could here what they were saying, but loud enough to where I just heard a steady stream of distracting background noise in my ear from their constant whispers. Oh, and every 15 minutes or so, one of them would get a text message, the number one reason why going to theaters has become a whole lot less fun in recent years.

So with the reviews of Brave being good but not great, with another common complaint about the movie is it seemed more like a good Disney Princess story than a Pixar original, I think I've decided to wait for it to come to video. Of course, I can always change my mind or Mrs. DLT can change it for me.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hidden Mickeys In Outer Space

Mrs. DisneylandTraveler dropped this video on me. As all fans know, Disney will stop at nothing to insert "hidden Mickeys" everywhere they can possibly think of. Books have been written about the world of hidden Mickeys. So now it turns out that NASA photographs of the planet Mercury have found the latest hidden Mickey. A product of the creative minds at Disney? Well, I'm sure they would like to take credit for the interplanetary anomaly but the reality is three asteroids crashed into Mercury once upon a time and created Mickey Mouse in outer space. Enjoy the video from Jeanne Moos and CNN.

Monday, June 18, 2012

DCA Buckles But Doesn't Break During Cars Land Opening

Cars Land - Opening Day - June 15, 2012
An O.C. Register Photo

Disney won't do it. They are very secretive when it comes to numbers reporting but MiceAge's Al Lutz put the numbers out there (based on inside sources). Disney California Adventure broke its all time attendance record with the Buena Vista Street and Cars Land Opening on Friday. Some 43,000 people passed through the turnstiles. The record fell again yesterday (Sunday) when 45,000 people entered DCA. And most of them headed right to Cars Land. Attendance will continue to be high through this week with the possibility of more records next weekend before the summer blackout period begins for Southern California pass holders. 

Yes it was crowded as evident by some of the pictures coming out. And while Cars Land was near impossible to navigate, most felt the rest of Disney California Adventure handled the record crowds quite well. DCA did flex and bend with the crowd levels but did not break into chaos gridlock as some had predicted. Disney could be on to something. They may finally have made California Adventure into a very nice, thematically rich, full featured, full day theme park, and a park that can be enjoyed by high numbers of guests.

The passes through Buena Vista St.
An O.C. Register Photo

Care to ride on Radiator Springs Racers? Here is the back of the line.
You are hours away from the Cars Land and the ride itself.
An O.C Register Photo

Mrs. DLT Sets Me Straight On Glow With The Show

Glow With The Show Lighted Mouse Ears
A photo

As she is not shy about doing, Mrs. DisneylandTraveler told me I was missing the point about the Glow With The Show events at the World of Color. It's an enhancement to the show where now the spectator is part of the show itself rather than a distant viewer. My point about 4000 people all wearing the same night light on their heads removes the individual spectator and replaces it with a mass ensemble of sheep was, well... all wet.

Here is the one thing we did agree on. Twenty-five bucks for the ears? My niece and her husband go to Disneyland quite often. She has four kids. Let's, dad, kids X 4 - sounds like $150. Ouch! 

Here is another problem that has surfaced since my original post yesterday. Most of the video of the World of Color Glow With the Show out on the internet came from a press preview event last Thursday. Everyone watching World of Color was given a set of ears to put on. No one had to lay out the $25. When the regular World of Color shows ran over the weekend, only a few people in the audience were actually wearing the lighted ears. There's a big difference when there are only 40 people with lighted ears on viewing the show compared to a couple of thousand. It loses a lot of impact, a lot.

And someone else pointed out another issue. You are spending $25 to watch other people's heads. You can't see your own. How do you know your own head is glowing with the show?

Disney is holding special Glow With The Show events for select annual pass holders later in the month. Once again, Disney will distribute the expensive ears for free. The hope is that if they can get annual pass holders to return to the park with the ears and participate in glow events then maybe the idea will catch on and everybody will want the ears. Seems like a stretch, a really big stretch...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Let's Glow With The Show....Or Not

Glow With The Show at World of Color
An O.C. Register Photo

As mentioned, I'm a sports guy. I like sports. Currently on tap is the NBA Finals with the Miami Heat (boo) vs. the  Oklahoma City Thunder (yah). Both teams, especially OKC, have rabid fans. And both teams do something similar. Before every game a cheap t-shirt is draped across the expensive seats that are within view of the TV cameras. It is hoped that everyone puts the t-shirt on. What is presented on TV is a sea of white if you are Miami at home and a sea of blue if you are OKC at home, basically the fans are wearing the same color as home uniforms of the players. Now it may look like a united front on TV with players and fans all wearing the same colors, but I struggle with this lemming type of behavior. Whatever happened to the individual? If I were fortunate enough to get one of these expensive seats, there would be no way I would put on the same shirt just because "everyone else is doing it". As my Dad said years ago, "if everyone else was doing it, would you jump off the Golden Gate Bridge too?" (his examples were a bit on the extreme side).

Which brings me to the great "Glow with the Show" experiment which is being test run with spectators of the World of Color water show at Disney California Adventure. Special lighted Mickey Ears can be worn which will turn colors to match what is being presented with the show itself. Emitters placed around Paradise Pier send signals to the ears telling your noggin to change colors. Yep, there is a certain amount of technology going on here but I'm not interested enough to try and explain it. I'm trying to figure out the purpose of doing the exact same thing as a few thousand other people standing there watching the show. I'm there to watch the World of Color, not look around and watch the top of people's heads. To me, the idea seems kind of lame. But I'm also perfectly willing to admit that this could be just me as there are people desperately trying to get into the special Glow With The Show World of Color. Did I mention the special ears cost $25? You get to look like the people standing next to you, Disney pockets large amounts of cash from ear sales.

I'm no fun at all.

Check out a few minutes of YouTube video from Glow With the Show from and decide for yourself.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

DHI Remembers Tomorrowland's Flying Saucers Ride

Cars Land's Luigi's Flying Tires is getting punished around the internet world. There are some who like the ride, but most find it slow and boring (those that can actually get the tires to move a bit that is). The other complaint is that the queue line moves extremely slow because of low ride capacity.

With that in mind, the Disney History Institute has just posted an excellent video giving us a look at the original Flying Saucers attraction in Tomorrowland that had a brief lifespan back in the early 60's. The ride was eventually shut down because of low capacity, constant breakdowns and a large staff to support its operation and maintenance. Luigi? Take a look in the mirror.

Matterhorn Returns - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

With all that went on with Disney California Adventure yesterday, quietly over in Disneyland, an icon was returned to service, the mighty Matterhorn roller coaster. The mountain has been closed for 6 months for refurbishment. Was the wait worth it, or a bit of a disappointment? Both.

The Good -

For generations, the Matterhorn has provided screams and fun for Disneyland fans. It was the first roller coaster I ever rode on as a child and I remember it to this day. Just having the coaster up and running is a very, very good thing. The mountain looks great with a fresh coat of paint. Also, for the first time since Disneyland's 50th Anniversary celebration back in 2005, climbers have returned to the mountain. It's an entertaining spectacle to watch them trek up the mountainside while enjoying a break over at the Tomorrowland Terrace.

The Bad -

While the outside sparkles with new paint, many fans were looking for something new and exciting inside the ride, perhaps a new abominable snowman, or a new scene of fright. Well that didn't happen, the ride is essentially the same. Maybe he's been cleaned up a bit, but it's the same old Harold.

The Ugly -

Disneyland forums and discussion boards are filled with negative comments about the new 3-seat sleds. Maybe if you're a kid, all is well in the Matterhorn world. But if your an adult, especially if you are a bit on the taller and larger framed side, the comfort of the old sled design has gone out the window. The new sleds are considerably more cramped inside, though the more typical Disneyland side-to-side seat belt design (similar to Indiana Jones, Soarin', and the Tower of Terror) makes getting buckled in much quicker.

The Bottom Line -

Yeah, people will long for the space of the old sleds and the ability to ride tandem and maybe there was a wish for something new and different with the mountain but in the end, just having the ride running again is its own reward. It's a classic and a Matterhorn with a few shortcomings is better than no Matterhorn at all.

Cars Land Opens - Dude, You're Stepping On My Toe

Cars Land Opening Day - Morning
A Fishbulb MiceChat Inside the Parks Photo
What could you do with six hours of your life? I'll answer that question shortly. So yesterday Disney California Adventure, with pomp and circumstance, re-opened to the public. Yes, the walls were all down and Buena Vista Street and Cars Land were finally opened to thousands of eager Disney fans, many of whom waited all night to get in. For most of those people, Buena Vista Street is a place to pass by on your way to Cars Land. Yes, Cars Land was the place to be yesterday for seemingly everyone in DCA. The rest of the park was busy, but manageable. Cars Land was a mad house and will be that way for awhile, especially for the next week or so. 

How bad was it? Well, as anticipated, the lines for the two smaller rides - the controversial Luigi's Flying Tires and the surprisingly fun Mater's Junkyard Jamboree almost immediately jumped into the 90 minute wait time category. 90 minutes for rides that are less than 2 minutes long? That's nothing.

Yesterday it was all about the public (and I would be willing to bet that the majority of these people are annual pass holders) getting their chance to get on Radiator Springs Racers. By reports, within 15 minutes of park opening, the stand-by line to get on was 3 hrs. MousePlanet reported that fast passes for the entire day were completely distributed by 9:55 am. No more - the machines were closed. About 20 minutes after the ride opened, it had to be temporally shut down, and people continued to line up with a line that extended back to the Paradise Pier bridge. How long was that line? I saw estimates that it was five and a half to six hours long! What could you do with six hours of your line standing life back? I read a post from someone that they could hop on a plane, fly the 3000 miles to Orlando, take the bus to WDW, check into a hotel, go over to EPCOT, and get on Soarin' in about six hours. A bit of a stretch but not a big one.

Later in the day and through the evening, the stand-by wait time posted 240 minute wait times - about 4 hours. According to MousePlanet, the wait time of 240 minutes was still posted when DCA closed at 11:00 pm. As Disney practice, if you are standing in line for a ride when the park closes, you get on. I guess that means the ride finally shut down for the night about 3:00 am. There might have been some overtime for cast members here.

It will be interesting to see how the crowds progress through the summer. I'm keeping my distance for now. My feet hurt bad enough from walking on a trip to Disneyland. I don't need my toes stepped on as well.

It's Good To Be Bob Iger These Days

Disney Chairman & CEO Bob Iger and Friends
A MiceChat / Dateline Disneyland Photo
Why is the man in the picture above smiling? That's Bob Iger the Chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company, the big man over all of it and he has every reason to be smiling.

On March 9th, Walt Disney Studios released the movie John Carter a movie that was already known to be a bomb. Iger had already called the Chairman of Disney Studios Rich Ross into his office then in a probably a stone cold business like fashion, showed Ross where the door was. Right after the release of John Carter, Disney issued a press release saying Disney would take a $200 million dollar write off for the epic failing of John Carter, the most expensive movie ever made, and a huge financial failure. 

But Iger didn't lose any sleep over it even though he still had to go before his shareholders at the annual public meeting and facilitate the quarterly profits conference call with the business media. He confidently pointed to Disney's success with other aspects of the Walt Disney Company (notably the huge money maker that Disney's ESPN is along with the Disney Channel) and also held a couple of aces up his sleeve. Who else had reason to smile after releasing the biggest movie flop of all time?

May 4th, the Disney owned Marvel Entertainment and Studios releases the movie The Avengers. It becomes the 3rd highest grossing movie ever, kicking the pants off that Harry Potter kid and delivering a beat down to the Dark Knight. Only the James Cameron movies of Avatar and Titanic have made more money than The Avengers. Iger smiles all the way to bank as the movie, still in release, has made some $1.4 billion dollars and just wait till the DVD / Blu-ray release comes out somewhere around September. Yep, The Avengers, a reason for Iger to smile since buying Marvel was pretty much all his idea. Ever the standard bearer of cross-promotion, Iger is determined to get Avengers attractions in his theme parks where he his permitted to do so (sorry WDW fans, you're going to be left out on this one).

And then with hype and fanfare second to none, Iger re-opens the new and improved expanded Disney California Adventure yesterday which caps off about 5 years of planning and effort to remake the Disney Park that fell flat on its face when it opened in 2001. Yesterday the people came and came. The people will continue to come this weekend, this summer, and what Disney hopes is well into next year and beyond. It's going to be the biggest summer ever for The Disneyland Resort. More smiling from Iger.

Man of the people, Iger mixes with the public at the opening
of Cars Land. A MiceChat / Dateline Disneyland photo
Iger along with Chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts Tom Staggs and Pixar boss (along with about a half a dozen other Disney titles) John Lasseter have been quite visible in DCA this past week, and especially for Iger, that is a sight not often seen. These guys have been like expectant fathers about to give birth to a child. Yesterday Iger, Staggs, and Lasseter were seen talking to regular park guests. Last week they were riding the rides of Cars Land along with a group of annual pass holders. Yep, Bob Iger, just like Walt Disney, a man of the people. Well, not quite.

Storytellers Statue - Buena Vista St. - Disney California Adventure
A MiceChat / Dateline Disneyland Photo

The just unveiled statue of Walt and Mickey on Buena Vista Street represents Walt when he first came to California in 1923 (we'll ignore the historical fact that Mickey came along about 5 years later). According to Walt himself through interviews, he stepped off the train in Hollywood with about $40 in his pocket and a brain stuffed with imagination and dogged perseverance. I don't know if Bob Iger has $40 in his pocket. He probably doesn't need any cash at all. Through assorted compensation from Disney, Iger is estimated to make around $30 million dollars a year. Man of the people? Iger doesn't need to be. He is one smart business man. Not bad for someone who started his career in media as a TV weatherman.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

More Great News - The Carnation Cafe Reopens Today

Chef Oscar at the remodeled Carnation Cafe now indoor seating
A MiceChat Photo

And still more great news. After a six month refurbishment, the Carnation Cafe has reopened with an all new indoor dining area to go along with the traditional outdoor patio dining. The indoor dining area of the Carnation Cafe was created by the moving old Blue Ribbon Bakery to the new Jolly Holiday Bakery found at the end of Main St. The updated menu features some new items along with some Carnation Cafe traditional favorites.

And right back where he belongs is Chef Oscar back home at the Carnation Cafe, charming guests with his warmth and friendliness, a Disneyland ambassador of good will of the highest regard. If you are new to this blog or not acquainted with Chef Oscar, he is Disneyland's longest tenured cast member. I believe he started 1957 just a short time after the park opened. 1957 - 2012, you can do the math but I believe he has worked at Disneyland for 55 years. Now, he isn't a real chef. Maybe he was at one time but for now, he just makes sure your Disney day and a visit to the Carnation Cafe is as pleasant as possible.

Did I mention that the Carnation Cafe is the mine and Mrs. DisneylandTraveler favorite place to eat at Disneyland yet? A classic Disney dining experience that will not break your budget.

Walt and Mickey Arrive In DCA

Partners - DCA
A Laura Gilbreath - photo

Finally out from under wraps, we have our first look at the Walt and Mickey Partners statue in DCA thanks to Laura Gilbreath of Just a wonderful addition to welcome you into the park. I have a friend who said he was going to miss that old Sunshine Fountain that was the focal point of the old DCA entrance. Huh? This new entrance is stunning. Just like over at Disneyland, the Partners statue welcomes you to something special and carefully watches over all the smiling faces as people pass by. I have a thousand pictures to take on my next trip. It all starts with this.

Buy A Ticket...Go See Cars Land...Not !

That's a wonderful picture of the Route 66 main drag of Cars Land just after nightfall. Do you see something missing? If your answer is 'people' then you win the prize (no prizes actually given). Lots and lots of people. A crushing load of humanity is expected.

How many people are going to Cars Land this weekend when the place officially opens Friday morning? Disney will be allowing people to begin line up Thursday night then putting them into groups of about 1000 then letting the groups into one at a time. This has trouble written all over it. Maybe its just me though.

But if your idea is take take your ticket or annual pass and walk through the turnstile on Friday then head right on over to enjoy the sights and rides of Cars Land, I think you got another thing coming. With so much promotional hype (L.A. Times this morning called Radiator Springs Racers Disney's first F-ticket attraction) its hard not to imagine everyone, I mean everyone, not showing up to DCA this weekend. The closing of the front gates of DCA and No Parking are real possibilities.

Does this sound like fun? Look on the bright side, Toy Story Mania and Soarin' Over California may have some of their shortest lines ever (I doubt that would be true but I'm holding out hope for any piece of positive news here).

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln...Vampire Hunter

Disneyland Opera House Theater Lobby

What has happened here? 

It wasn't too many months ago where I found myself sitting in Disneyland's Main Street Opera House listening to the wisdom of the great President, Abraham Lincoln. The spacious seating at the Opera House was probably about 20 percent full. Since I make it a point to see Lincoln once on every trip, that 20 percent in the audience seems about average sad to say. Like I have said before, most people race by the Opera House and Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln without a glance on their way to Space Mountain which most likely would have broken down by the time they get there.

I love the animatronic Lincoln and all that goes with it, the beautiful theater lobby, the stirring pre-show before Lincoln takes the stage, and the haunting music. It's a wonderful way to spend 20 minutes or so (and guess what? no line at all). Better than my fondness for the Lincoln attraction was Walt Disney's fondness for it. He built the original Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln for the New York's World Fair in 1964 then moved it into Disneyland following its run at the fair. Through the years it has been changed a few times. For periods of time, they have removed the attraction completely. But Lincoln always comes bank thanks to imagineers like Tony Baxter who won't let it die (though many wish it would go away). There's a history with Abraham Lincoln, Walt Disney, and Disneyland that needs to stay alive. With the shear commercialism of a trip to Disneyland where you pay through the nose to get in then they try and sell you everything under the sun, Disney doesn't make a cent off the Lincoln attraction. There are no Lincoln toy models, t-shirts, or stovepipe hats sold in an adjoining store. The Lincoln attraction is a labor of love and respect for the President who was assassinated in office.

Respect. I bring all this up now because a new movie hits the theaters soon with the title of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. How sad is that? How can taking a fallen hero in real life and put him in a cheesy horror movie be a good idea? Who sees this sort of thing? I tend to think its the same group of people who race by Disneyland's Opera House and Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln on their way to Space Mountain only to find out the ride has broken down by the time they get there.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, I urge you take your family, friends, whomever, and stop by and see the Lincoln attraction in Disneyland. You'll be glad you did since the animatronic is amazing (just watch the subtle movement of the hands and fingers) and what Lincoln says still needs to be heard today. And I also urge you to stay far away from Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter the movie as possible. Fallen heroes deserve far more respect.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Early Votes Are In - Cars Land Is A Hit

You know when you watch election returns on TV (do people still do that?) and as soon as the polls close a whole bunch of votes come in from the already counted absentee ballots of people who voted early? Well, the early votes are in on Cars Land and I think we have a pretty clear winner. The place is a hit though not without faults (like most politicians).

The Clear Winners

Radiator Springs Racers - One of the best attractions ever built by Disney. Fully immersed in theming and fun for the whole family, RSR delivers in a big way. The only complaints I read about were those who wished there were more indoor dark rides scenes or thought maybe the car was just a little too quick going by them. 

Cars Land at Night - Dripping with multi-colored neon with the flood-lit Cadillac Mountain Range in the background, the place looks absolutely stunning at night. It will be an absolute DCA must to catch the moment of the day when they turn the lights on with "Sha-Boom, Sha-Boom, Life Can Be a Dream" playing in the background.

Positive Plusses

Flo's V8 Cafe - The new counter service restaurant is large and spacious with indoor and outdoor seating. Most have commented how much they have enjoyed the main course entrees (beef, turkey, or pork) and really like the apple - cheddar pie. Flo's also serves breakfast though I saw a few negative comments with the breakfast offerings, the most common being what was supposed to be a hot meal came out a little cold. Any DCA restaurant that will serve Racer 5 IPA on tap is OK in The Disneyland Traveler's book. 

Mater's Junkyard Jamboree - This little ride has proved to be quite enjoyable for people of all ages and provides a pretty good jolt of fun as it whips you around. It's a keeper. Not a fast loading ride though. There will be an always present fairly long line.

Cars Land Exclusive Merchandise - The merchandise being sold that is exclusive to the Cars Land area was flying off the shelves. It was being purchased so fast in fact that Disney had to pull some of the hot sellers back in order to have stock for the opening this weekend.

Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

Luigi's Flying Tires - This was supposed to be the successful return of the Tomorrowland's Flying Saucers attraction of the 1960's. Well that ride had to be taken out after only about 5 years of operation. It was extremely slow loading and required a large operational and mechanical staff to keep it running. Guess what? Luigi may face the exact same problems. Only about 400 people an hour can ride the 90 second ride. It requires a staff of cast members to be on hand to tell people how to operate the thing and the tires get stuck in corners requiring cast members to dangerously go out and physically push the stuck vehicles. Those who get the hang of operating the ride kind of like it, but the operational overhead may just not be worth it. Most complain the queue line moves excruciatingly slow but has nice theming. Unless the wait is 30 minutes or less, it just doesn't seem to be worth it and once it goes into full operation this weekend, it will NEVER be less than a 30 minutes wait. Trouble.

Cozy Corn Motel Food Stands - Looks nice and may still work out OK but having 5 separate cones each selling a different food item and specialty drink has proved to be a problem with the large number of guests in Cars Land. Lines to get the food, even something as simple as popcorn or churros, move extremely slow and then there is the problem of what to do when members of your traveling party can't agree what food items to get. Jumping from cone to cone for different food items proved to be impossible. Once you pick a cone, you are pretty much committed to what that cone has to offer because the wait could be a half hour or more. Ugh!

This Could Be Bad

It's Hot In Here - MiceAge started a thread with some people complaining about the lack of shade, the high numbers of people, and the absorption of heat. Getting overheated is never a good thing. Inside at Flo's enjoying a Racer 5 might be a popular past time.

Don't Forget About Buena Vista Street

While a lot of the noise on Disney forums and discussion boards coming out of this weekends preview days was about Cars Land and how great it is (with a few issues here and there), the talk about Buena Vista Street seems to have fallen into the background. That area of the park was also allowed to be previewed by a select few, so few in fact that those who purchased the 4 hour preview time were allowed into Buena Vista Street anytime as opposed to the scheduled block of hours you were committed to for Cars Land. For many, it was all about Cars Land.

Well there will be a few of us that when we do get to see the expanded Disney California Adventure first hand, the majority of our time will be spent right on Buena Vista Street. While I do look forward to seeing Cars Land, day and night, and look forward to the amazing Radiator Springs Racers attraction, I just know that when it comes down to it, probably most of my time will be spent on Buena Vista Street just like over at Disneyland where I'm a Main St. kind of person. I visit the other "lands" in Disneyland but my heart lives on Main St. And that's how I picture myself on the new Buena Vista Street, at least that is my hope.

Mrs. DisneylandTraveler is a shopper. Me, not so much. But now there are wonderful sitting areas around the stores, shops, and restaurants as opposed to the concrete slabs of the old Sunshine Plaza. There's a fountain and the soon to be unveiled statue of Walt and Mickey circa 1920's. I see myself spending quality time in these seating areas watching people and soaking up the atmosphere. For me, it's as good as any ride.

The Carthay Circle Restaurant is absolutely beautiful inside based on the pictures I have seen. I am still working the angles to get Mrs. DLT in there when her first glance at the menu turned out to be not so inviting. The new Fiddler, Fifer, and Practical Cafe looks stunning and quite spacious inside, but again a menu which features horseradish on the roast beef sandwich and sauerkraut on the turkey sandwich would not come up on the good side of Mrs. DLT. They do have a Starbucks though, a Mrs. DLT favorite. I would hate to think that of all the new dining adventures in the remodeled front part of the park we ended up at Taste Pilot's Grill for a chicken sandwich. It is certainly possible.

I'm not sure about the walk around characters or the "Newsies" semi-impromptu singing performances, I don't need any of that to add to my enjoyment. Just like over at Disneyland, I can take or leave the Dapper Dans and certainly have little use for the Mad Hatter running around like he runs the place. A view from a nice bench, hopefully with some shade from a nearby tree, along with some pleasant music looping in the background is all I need. I'm pretty easy to please. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Dumbest Looking Disney Hat - EVER

Disney has made their share of stupid looking hats over the years. Sometimes it's been intentional. And of course, these "unique" hats come with an exorbitant price tag. But this one takes the cake. We may have a new leader in the clubhouse for probably the dumbest looking hat I've ever seen. Anyone care to wear a whitewall tire as a hat? When he was much younger, if the Boy would have asked me to buy him at tire hat, I would have had to tell Mrs. DisneylandTraveler to take him to the doctor to see if there was something wrong with him. Maybe he hit his head on something. It could be just me. If a hat like this is your fashion statement, good luck to you.

Then again, I had a Davy Crockett "coonskin" hat when I was a kid. Wearing a dead rat on your head would look pretty silly in 2012.

The only reason, THE ONLY REASON, I would think about getting a hat like this is that many are questioning how long Luigi's Flying Tires will be around as a ride. It may have some collector's value at some point in the future. These things could have a future on EBay.

Starbuck's Beverage Pricing in DCA

Starbuck's Menu - Disney California Adventure
A Dateline Disneyland MiceChat photo

I was curious just how much Disney was going to tack on to the price of a Starbuck's beverage at the new  Fiddler, Fifer, and Practical Cafe (still can't get over that name) on Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure when it opens to serve the public next weekend. To be honest, knowing Disney, I was expecting them to add on a buck or two to the standard price of your local Starbuck's down the street. Surprisingly, it's not that bad. MiceChat's Dateline Disneyland snapped a picture of the posted menu board at the annual pass holder preview yesterday. Although sizing of the picture is a bit of a challenge with this blogging software, the jacked up prices only look to be about 50 or 60 cents higher than your regular neighborhood Starbucks. I certainly can't complain about that. Go over to the new Ghirardelli Fountain and Chocolate Shop in DCA and price a sundae. The price of one of those is an eye opener.

First Video Look - Mater's Junkyard Jamboree

Here is the fist video look of Mater's Junkyard Jamboree in full swing so to speak. This video was created by MiceChat's Dateline Disneyland. By most accounts, this little ride is surprisingly a lot of fun (if you can get by the rather hick-like music). Even those who can't do a ride like Tea Cups because of motion sickness are saying this ride, while it does have a bit of kick when the trailer whips out, is not affecting them in an adverse way. (i.e. "I need to sit down. I think I'm ready to toss up lunch").

This might be the little gem of Cars Land. For me, still depends on how long the wait is to get on.


First Video Look - Luigi's Flying Tires

Here is the first video look of Luigi's Flying Tires in Cars Land. The video was shot yesterday and uploaded by MiceChat. Personal opinion. Ponderous and slow, this is primarily a ride children might enjoy. Adults and parents might be bored to tears. The beach balls were added as an afterthought since test riders once in the floating tires, didn't know quite what to do to have some fun with the ride.

As previously discussed, this might be the slowest loading ride in either Disneyland or DCA (it's debatable but Peter Pan's Flight and Dumbo currently run neck and neck for the slowest rides to load guests). It is estimated that Luigi's line might extend an hour or more over the summer and the ride is only about 90 seconds long. Maybe if its a walk-on with a very slow day in mid-winter the Disneyland Traveler may have to give this ride experience a pass by - just not worth any kind of wait.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

First Video Posted Of Radiator Springs Racers - Full Ride Through

Radiator Springs Racers - Official Disney Photo

And just like that we have the first full Radiator Springs Racers complete ride-thru video this one coming from and posted to MiceChat. Disney kept photos and videos of Cars Land at bay as long as they could but with Annual Passholders paying anywhere from $75 to $500 for an early admittance and a few hours in Cars Land (benefiting Children's Hospital of Orange County) I guess they thought best to lift the photo and video restrictions that were in place for the Cast Members preview days last week.

Get ready for a very long wait to get on this ride - the best Disneyland attraction probably since Indiana Jones Adventure.

** Update **
I've added a second video that was posted to YouTube shortly after the first. The first video is from the left side track and the second is from the right side track. There is a slight difference between the two tracks inside the show building. The left side passes through Luigi's Tire Shop before entering the race track and the right passes through Ramone's Body Shop. I think the first video is better overall but the second video does a better job filming the interior show scenes.

Enjoy the ride (mega spoiler alert).

More Cars Land Photos and a New Video

Cars Land - Official Disney Photography
Does it show? Can you tell? I'm a little tired of writing things about Cars Land. I'm officially Cars Land out. But yet there is still another week or so to go. So while I grow a bit tired of all the hype, the chronicler of all things Disney related that I am and really what this blog is all about, continues on. Fortunately with this post, I don't have to do a lot of writing about Cars Land. Disney released another series of photographs by their Disneyland park photographer Paul Hiffmeyer that are just spectacular and gives us the best look yet at the place that is still behind construction walls until later this week.

Also, at the end of this post is a video that Disney showed during its ABC coverage of the Indianapolis 500 pre-race program a few weeks ago where Cars (the movies) and Cars Land chief creator and visionary John Lasseter along with sports broadcaster Brent Musburger, gives one of the best looks yet at Cars Land through video.

Disneyland photographer Paul Hiffmeyer shows us Radiator Springs Racers including the first photographs of the interior of the ride's show building.

Cars Land - Official Disney Photography

Cars Land - Official Disney Photography

Cars Land - Official Disney Photography

Cars Land - Official Disney Photography

Cars Land - Official Disney Photography

Cars Land - Official Disney Photography

Cars Land - Official Disney Photography

Cars Land - Official Disney Photography

Cars Land - Official Disney Photography

Over to the controversial Luigi's Flying Tires. Potentially the slowest loading ride in either park with one of the longest lines.

Cars Land - Official Disney Photography

Cars Land - Official Disney Photography

And finally a look at Mater's Junkyard Jamboree in action. Reports are kind of surprising that this little ride is actually quite fun.

Cars Land - Official Disney Photography

Being a car racing fan, I watched this video when it first appeared a few weeks ago during the Indianapolis 500 broadcast. I was hoping Disney was going to post it and they finally did yesterday. Do you think John Lasseter is a bit enthusiastic about his new "land"?

I am sure there are more pictures and videos to come.

In The Meantime, The Matterhorn Says..."What About Me?"

As I had written in a previous post, Cars Land, Cars Land, Blah, Blah, Blah.... That is all we here about now as we approach Cars Land grand opening. Even Buena Vista Street plays second fiddle. Well, the third fiddle belongs to the reopening of Disneyland's venerable Matterhorn, also slated to begin regular operation June 15, the same day Cars Land and Buena Vista Street are thrown open to the public. It almost seems like the great Matterhorn ride is playing off the Rodney Dangerfield classic comedy routine which begins - "I don't get no respect, no respect at all I'm telling you..."

So with all the talk of what's going on in Disney California Adventure, the Matterhorn re-opening almost seems like an afterthought, which it never should be. Some of the most highly read posts in this blog as far as number of viewers are about the Matterhorn. The real fans of Disneyland know its place and while little is being written about or said in the grand scheme of things about its re-opening, down deep, fans know the importance of the attraction.

While everyone marvels at the new paint job of the mountainside, are curious about what riding in the new sleds will be like, no one really knows or is saying anything about the changes that are inside the mountain and the return of our friend Harold the Abominable Snowman. Will he be just be cleaned up with his hair combed and best suit of white fur on, or will it be an all new encounter with the monster? Cars Land I'm sure will be great to visit but underneath it all, it is primarily a kids area. In the meantime, there is a great roller coaster waiting to return and bring happiness to the kid in all of us. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Contemplating A Disneyland Christmas...In June

Winter Castle

I'm sitting here working on this blog in my favorite living room chair, shorts, t-shirt and barefoot. Over in the corner of the room is a standing oscillating fan gently humming, assisting the forced air conditioning with keeping the room at a comfortable temperature. And I'm here contemplating Christmas at Disneyland. A few weeks ago, I posted that if I were to pick a time to go back to Disneyland this year it would either be the week before Thanksgiving or the first two weeks of December. Disneyland would be decked out in its Christmas best. Disneyland doesn't own a hideous Christmas sweater. During Christmas, Disneyland shines!

What brought this all on was an email from my former boss to some of the more Disneyland savvy veterans around the office looking for some advice about a large family trip she is planning just after Christmas. Rather than replying to her email, I'll just lay a few things out here.

it's a small world holiday

First of all - Go! There is no better place to be during the Christmas holidays than Disneyland, especially with family around. Magic. I've said this is my one caveat. Go to Disneyland to enhance your holiday experience. Don't go with hopes that it will lift you out of your holiday blues if things aren't quite going your way during the holidays. The mouse has more ways to get you to open your wallet and whip out a charge card than you can shake a stick at. Sometimes it grows tiresome because it permeates the place. If you begin to look - "spend $60 on any purchase and get this beautiful Mickey and Minnie embroidered Christmas throw for just an additional $18" - you'll see things like that in every store. The over-commercialization can be a downer, if you let it. 

A hotel? Well, if this is a once in a lifetime chance, do consider The Disneyland Hotel or The Grand Californian. One year we had 4 families split the cost of a 3-bedroom suite at The Disneyland Hotel. Expensive? - you bet, but the overall cost was split 4 ways so it was doable. We also stayed at The Grand Californian with 3 adjoining rooms plus a 4th room across the hall. Not as nice of a set-up as the suite, but still not a bad way to go. And yes, very expensive - especially during the holidays. The difference between The Grand Californian and The Disneyland Hotel? The GC is more convenient, more stately, more lavish, and more upscale. The rooms are some of the quietest you will ever stay in. The Disneyland Hotel, now completely remodeled from head to toe, is just more Disney fun. It almost feels like an extension of the park. You never actually leave the Disney experience while staying at The Disneyland Hotel.

But with trips to Disneyland, choices need to be made. The Disneyland Traveler would much rather spend his Disney budget inside the park than on a hotel room. For the last several trips, Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I have stayed at The Candy Cane Inn on Harbor Blvd. CCI isn't the cheapest hotel in the resort area, it isn't the closest to the front gates, but what it is.... a very nice place to stay with immaculate grounds, a first rate staff, very clean rooms, and they have their own private shuttle (even though it's only about a 10 minute walk from the hotel to the front gates of the park). Check out the reviews of the Candy Cane Inn on It usually ranks in the top 5 and often beats out the Disney owned resorts. We have never had an unpleasant stay and it's about a third of the cost of a Disney owned hotel.

The front desk of the Candy Cane Inn
Customer Service is usually outstanding

Admission and tickets. Prices to enter Disneyland and Disney California Adventure went up on May 20th. Fortunately for the occasional park visitor or vacationer, the annual pass holders took the biggest blow in the pocketbook. A premium annual pass to Disneyland is now $649 for anyone over the age of 3. With the relaunch of Disney California Adventure coming June 15th and the opening of the Buena Vista Street entrance and Cars Land, Disney expects large crowds for the next year so don't look for too many discount opportunities. If things do slow down, they can always offer discounts to park hopper tickets or add a free day on to multi-day park hoppers. Wouldn't count on it though. One way you can save a little money is to commit to visiting 1 park per day instead of traditional park hopping. The single park multi-day admission packages are cheaper than the park hoppers.

Cars Land at Nite - A Disney Parks Blog Photo

Buena Vista Street - DCA

Carthay Circle Restaurant - Buena Vista Street
Disney California Adventure

Carthay Circle Restaurant & Lounge
Disney California Adventure

Red Car Trolley - Buena Vista Street
to the Tower of Terror

What not to miss during the holidays?  Start with A Christmas Fantasy Parade - still Disneyland's best parade though it can only be seen about 7 weeks a year.

It should be noted that the longest parade route of any Disney park in the world is now in Disney California Adventure. Rumor has it that Buena Vista St. will put up full holiday decorations much the same as Main St. Disneyland. No word on a holiday parade but it is possible to bring the Electrical Parade for a holiday visit I suppose.

What else is not to be missed? Lighting of the Winter Castle, fireworks, and yes, they do make it snow on Main Street (well, it's more like tiny soap bubbles, but you can pretend).

Of course, check out the holiday overlays for it's a small world and The Haunted Mansion...

it's a small world - holiday overlay

Also be sure to go over to the Big Thunder Ranch to see the Reindeer Round-up. That's where Santa sets up shop and yes, there are real reindeer wandering about. 

Crowds - Christmas week is one of the busiest weeks of the year. In general, on Christmas Eve Day, Christmas Day, and New Years Eve Day, Disney will have to close off park admission sometime in the afternoon because park capacity has been reached. This is more true for Disneyland rather than DCA but this year, all bets are off. Last year, the official end of the Christmas season at Disneyland ended January 8.

The one thing about December is the unpredictability of the weather, even in Southern California where it isn't supposed to rain. Last year's Candlelight Processional weekend was completely rained out. Below there is a video of a nice December day we had back in 2008. It was so bad the park closed down 2 hours early probably because there were more staff working than actual paid guests. Disneyland doesn't work very well in a hard rain and things seem to systematically shut down. A little rain at Disneyland isn't a bad thing because it keeps the locals out. A lot of rain can make things miserable. Also, while the days in Southern California can be quite nice in the winter months, the temperature really drops once the sun starts to go down. A word from personal experience, a ride on Splash Mountain or Grizzly River Run at 5 in the afternoon isn't a good idea. There's a reason why the lines for these rides suddenly gets much shorter that time of day.

To be continued....

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