Disneyland (CA)

Disney California Adventure’s New Festival of Holidays Is Pretty Darn Good

by on November 9, 2016

dsc00400It’s crazy to think that after 15 years of existence Disney California Adventure finally has holiday offerings that rival Disneyland. It’s true. Not only are there a ton of things to experiance, but they’re all high in quality as well. This is a huge change from the days when a few wreaths and Santa clothes on some scarecrows were all the park got. The “Festival of Holidays” moniker is perfect because several different holidays are represented in the event, including Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas. An event like this that represents the diversity of California naturally fits in to Disney’s California-themed park. Lets go over some of the offerings:

Princess Elena’s Musical Grand Arrival

It may seem silly to lead off this post with a Disney princess but her popularity can’t be denied. Princess Elena is available to meet at Disneyland Resort for the first time, and she also has “musical cavalcade” to welcome her in. If you’d like to meet Elena you should make it a priority early in the day as her lines can quickly get long. She is located in the gazebo to the right of Paradise Garden Grill, near Goofy’s Sky School. As for her Musical Grand Arrival, it takes place on the walkway directly in front of Goofy’s Sky School. A group of dancers come out to Elena’s theme song and then the princess herself arrives on a float. The rest of the show is made up of a series of songs, sung by Elena. The show lasts 12 minutes. There isn’t a lot of room for guests to watch this show, so if it’s on your itinerary be sure to show up about 20 minutes early to grab a prime spot.

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Elena’s Musical Grand Arrival Video:

Festive Eats

Food & Wine Festival returned to DCA earlier this year and was a huge hit so Disney has brought the same booths back for the holiday season. This time a whopping 14 booths selling a variety of cultural holiday food can be found throughout the park. While the food is good quality it does not come cheap. Most of the savory items, such as the Roasted Turkey Slider from the Winter Sliderland booth, or Chicken & Potato Curry from Spice Salutations range in price from $7 and up. These are not full meals, but samples that can be finished in a couple of bites. For example, one of the dishes is a $8.50 shrimp cocktail that includes TWO SHRIMP. Sarah, Tom Bricker and I sampled some items, but we stuck to the desserts. Festival desserts are as small as the savory food options, but cost $4 to $6 each.

My top 4 Festival of Holidays desserts:

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Observations From Visiting 3 Different Disney Resorts in 16 Days

by on November 4, 2016

Sleeping Beauty Castle ParisMy wife and I recently decided to visit Paris for a week, and as you may be aware, there is a Disney resort there — so being the complete Disney dorks that we are, paying a visit to Disneyland Paris was a must-do. Of course, our daughter was staying in the Orlando area with her grandparents and we had to come back through there to get her, so we decided to pay the Mouse a quick visit at Walt Disney World while we got over our jetlag. Shortly after arriving back home, I had to head out to Southern California for work, and it presented me with an opportunity — even if only briefly — to visit my third Disney resort in just over 2 weeks. I had to take it.

So, apart from the whirlwind of travel, what is it like to experience every Disney resort in the Western Hemisphere back-to-back-to-back? The three resorts share similar layouts and several attractions, but my biggest takeaway is how much it highlighted the differences between these outwardly similar parks. So, without further ado, let me share some of the biggest stuff I noticed, and pass out a few superlatives…

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Disneyland Crowd Calendar Update

by on October 25, 2016

The new crowd calendar distribution shifts days towards the middle of our scale

The new crowd calendar distribution shifts days towards the middle of our scale

Wait times are up at Disneyland Resort in California, and it is time to calibrate and update the Disneyland Crowd Calendar. Over the past twelve months the average crowd level at Disneyland was between 6.5 and 7.5 on our scale. We would like that average to be between ‘5’ and ‘6’. In addition, the crowd calendar needs to periodically adjust to the changing forecasts for wait times at the attractions. The forecasts use hundreds of factors to determine what the wait time is likely to be at any given date and time and since many of those factors change periodically, so must the Crowd Calendar. School calendars, events, park hours, annual passholder blockouts, single-day ticket prices, holiday schedules and attraction refurbishments are some of the many factors that influence wait times.

Today the latest Disneyland Crowd Calendar numbers appear on the Crowd Calendar page. The new figures represent a three month long examination of what affects wait times at each of Disneyland Resort’s attractions. The result will be a shift in the overall distribution of crowd levels on our scale. This means that a change in crowd level for a particular day doesn’t necessarily mean that the day will have different wait times that what we predicted before, although it can mean that too. Think of it like fixing a dollar amount based on the value of a dollar in a given year. You may have read articles that use “based on 2012 dollars”, to compare prices over time, for example. Well, the Disneyland Crowd Calendar is now using 2016 wait times as a fixed reference point.

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Daisy’s Best Week Ever October 13, 2016: Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland!

by on October 13, 2016

Hello, lovebugs! I hope you’ve had an amazing last few weeks! This week we’re visiting Disneyland and then going all the way to Tokyo Disneyland. I hope you’re ready for a trip around the (Disney) world! 

If I had to pick a favorite Disney movie then it would either be The Hunchback of Notre Dame or The Nightmare Before Christmas. (What’s your favorite? I’d love to hear in the comments!) Because of my wacky taste in films, the Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland holds a special place in my heart. Back in May I started to make my plans to go see the attraction overlay. If you aren’t familiar, this is when Jack and all his friends take over The Haunted Mansion, and he’s looking great this year!

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Just added this year is Sally looking on in adoration at her Pumpkin King! She’s always been one of my favorite characters so I was over the moon to see her added. The photos just don’t do it justice, but Guy added a great video here if you’d like take a spin on the attraction.

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The gingerbread house this year was even themed in Sally’s honor. Those panels are supposed to look like the panels on her dress with a creepy arm stretched out stitching it all together. It’s so cool that they update the house every year! 😀

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Don’t leave now! You haven’t seen any of my Tokyo Disney trip yet. Click below to read more.

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Disney PhotoPass at runDisney races

by on October 4, 2016

As a runDisney addict, I love getting as many pictures as I can during the races. Starting with the Star Wars Dark Side race weekend at Walt Disney World, Disney PhotoPass became the official photo provider for runDisney, instead of MarathonFoto. I have now participated in two runDisney race weekends since the change, one at Walt Disney World and one at Disneyland. Here’s a rundown on how Disney PhotoPass works with the races.

runDisney Disneyland Half Marathon

In the official race guide and on the back of your bib is a code for each race, where you add your bib number to the end. Then, you enter this into the My Disney Experience App, the Disneyland app, or MyDisneyPhotoPass.com. The code is usually the year, race weekend abbreviation, race distance, and your bib number. For example, the code for the Star Wars Dark Side Half was 2016-DARK-HLFx-xxxx, where the x is your bib number. You have a separate code for each race, even if you are doing a challenge during the weekend.

The best part of this change is that if you have an Annual Pass that includes Disney PhotoPass pictures, or have purchased Memory Maker at Walt Disney World or Disney PhotoPass at Disneyland, then your runDisney pictures are included as well! With MarathonFoto, you had to pay separately for each race (with a small discount if you were doing a multiple race challenge), as well as for each person. So if you ran with family or friends, and weren’t always together during the race, you had to pay separately each time if you wanted all those pictures. Now, you can enter everyone’s code under one account. This is a huge cost savings.

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Updated: What to Expect from 2016 Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland

by on September 26, 2016

DSC07067Mickey’s Halloween Party is a special extra-ticket event held select nights at at Disneyland during the Halloween season. The party includes a special fireworks show featuring a fly-by of Zero (instead of Tinker Bell), an exclusive Halloween parade with an appearance by a horseback riding headless horseman,  trick-or-treating, and more. In this post we’ll talk about what to expect from 2016 Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland.

Mickey’s Halloween Party takes place in Disneyland on select nights in the fall, typically running from late-September until Halloween. In 2016, the party dates are September 23, 26, 28, 30, October 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 24, 26, 29 and 31.

Tickets for Mickey’s Halloween Party are now on sale.

What time is the Party?

Officially the Party runs from 6 pm on some nights and 7 pm on others. The party runs until 11 pm or 12 am, depending on the night. Guests with valid Halloween party tickets may enter the park up to three hours prior to the event’s start time.

Will I need a special ticket to get into the Party?

Yes. Admission requires buying a separate ticket just for this event. It’s not included in any regular theme park tickets or annual passports.

How much do the Party tickets cost?

There’s a range of pricing, including discounts for buying in advance. The official Disney website lists the following prices:

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Get a Peek of Doctor Strange at Disney Parks

by on September 19, 2016

©Disney

Doctor Strange

Beginning October 7, Guests will be able to see a sneak peek of the upcoming film Doctor Strange.

At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Guests can make a stop at One Man’s Dream’s theater while while Guests at Disney California Adventure will get to see this advance look in 3D with in-theater effects at the Sunset Showcase Theater (formerly Crown Jewel Theater) in Hollywood Land. The sneak peek will last about 10 minutes.

Guests are invited to come see why the impossibilities are endless, when they experience Doctor Strange in theaters on November 4.

Disney California Adventure AtMousePhere Part 2

by on September 7, 2016

This is the final area music blog for AtMousePhere! If you’ve been wondering what’s next, we are going to start covering the music of some of the specific attractions of Walt Disney World and Disneyland. If you have any recommendations on where to start, comment below!

If you haven’t read Part 1 of the Disney California Adventure AtMousePhere, we covered the music of Buena Vista Street, Hollywood Land, A Bug’s Land, and Pacific Wharf. Today we cover the final lands, exploring the music of the current incarnations of Grizzly Peak (and the Airfield), Paradise Pier (and Park), and Cars Land!

Grizzly River Run (2)Grizzly Peak

Grizzly Peak used to consist of a smaller footprint in DCA. However, in 2015 the Condor Flats name was retired and Grizzly Peak inherited the land, renaming it “Grizzly Peak Airfield.” As a result, there are two separate areas of music – one surrounding the area by Soarin’ and one surrounding the area of Grizzly River Run.

Grizzly Peak Airfield’s music is very sweeping and large. It’s music you’d want to have at your disposal when looking over a land like Yellowstone, Yosemite, or the Grand Canyon.

Not all of the music you’ll hear here is soundtrack-based. Quite a few of the pieces are strict compositions. For example, composer Tim Janis’ album American Horizons provides fodder for at least three pieces, including “The Rocky Mountains,” “Hillside Meadow,” and “Summer’s Glory.” Two other Janis albums can also be heard: A Quiet Shore and Coastal America. Patrick Doyle has also contributed music from his album Impressions of America like “The Great Plains.”

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Daisy’s Best Week Ever August 25, 2016: Magic Kingdom, and Epcot, and DISNEYLAND. Oh my!

by on August 25, 2016

Hello, my lovebugs! I’m so excited to be able to share this week with you. Hopefully I’ll be getting back into rotation with the team moving forward, so we’ll be seeing a lot more of each other! This week I visited the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and had a surprise two night adventure at Disneyland. (I know, right??) So let’s get started with one of my favorite views in the Magic Kingdom.

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I know, it’s a bathroom, but doesn’t it look majestic? Of course, I was excited to see anything after 67 days away from the parks. We decided to downgrade to silver passes this year and while I had a couple of tough days missing my “home” over the summer, it was overall a positive experience. I think we’ll continue with passes at this level in future years. What would you do? Do you think we’re crazy skipping the summer and peak holidays? Let me know in the comments.

There’s so much more to see – click to read more. 🙂

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World of Color Dessert Party Review

by on August 24, 2016

WoC_Dessert_Party (8)On a recent visit to Disneyland my wife and I decided to splurge a little and try out the World of Color Dessert Party at Disney’s California Adventure. Much like the Wishes Dessert Party at the Magic Kingdom, it is an opportunity for reserved seating and snacks to a popular nighttime spectacular. Of course, this all comes at a price–and what a price–so let’s start there.

Cost and Reservations

I’m not going to dance around this: it costs $79 per person. That includes tax and gratuity, but $79 is the price for both adults and children. That means my family of 4 had to pay $316 for this opportunity. Later I’ll discuss whether I think it even remotely approaches a good value and after I finish writing this I’ll research tax exclusions and the warning signs of financial stress-related heart problems.

When you book the dessert party, full prepayment is required. It can still be cancelled without penalty up to 24 hours before the reservation, but it must be paid in full upon making the reservation. If there are two World of Color showings in one evening, the dessert party is only offered for the first one.

WoC_Dessert_Party (5)Location, Seating, and Arrival

Now that we’ve gotten through the worst of it (the cost), let’s discuss the best of it. The site for the dessert party is on the second tier, right in the center of the viewing area. It actually is behind the best, front-and-center viewing spot reserved for those with the dining package, but that’s not the whole of it.

If you get dining package reservations, you are in the best section, but it is a deep area and all standing room only. Therefore, if you’re not waiting to enter at least 60 minutes before the show you will be packed in behind many other people. The dessert party is raised slightly above the dining package area so the effects are fairly easily seen above their heads.

I’m slow-rolling the best part here, though: everyone at the dessert party is seated. Yes, you can sit at your table in relative comfort looking above the heads of other guests. It does inflate the ego a bit. Specifically, the party area is a long section with two rows of tables–some high tops and some low. Where you sit is based somewhat on when you arrive.

WoC_Dessert_Party (6)For instance, we arrived at the check-in area around 8pm–one hour before the World of Color scheduled show time. The reservation when we booked was for 8:15pm, but it also tells you to arrive an hour before the show, so we’re starting off a little confused. When we got there at 8, we were behind a handful of groups already waiting.

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