If you are into the wonderful world of collecting runDisney medals, you undoubtedly already know that this weekend is not only Labor Day, but also the sold-out Half-Marathon Weekend at Disneyland Resort. But even if the only Disney running you do is to Peter Pan at rope drop, you should be aware of the athletic activities in case you were planning on an early morning visit to the Anaheim parks in the next few days.
Race-related activities kicks off this morning with the Disneyland Health & Fitness Expo, which continues until 5pm Saturday at the Disneyland Hotel. On Saturday (8/31) the 5k Family Fun Run and 10k race start at 5:15am and 6:15am, respectively, with Kids Races held in Downtown Disney at 10am. Finally, the Pasta in the Park party takes over a corner of Disneyland at 6pm (separate ticket required, sold-out).
In keeping with Disney’s current “Christmas in July” Limited Time Magic promotion, Disneyland Resort made a surprise announcement today and revealed an all-new “Winter Dreams” version of the uber-popular World of Color nighttime show, coming exclusively to Disney California Adventure this holiday season.
The revamped show will debut on November 15, 2013, and is expected to run nightly through New Year’s 2014. The new show will be hosted by Olaf, a snowman character from the upcoming CGI animated film Frozen, and also feature winter-inspired elements from classic films like Bambi and Toy Story.
As every experienced theme park commando knows, the Unofficial Guide’s number one tip for visiting Disneyland on a busy day (like during 2013’s spring break season) is “arrive early, arrive early, arrive early.” But the flip side is our paradoxical suggestion to stay late during extended operating hours, in order to take advantage of evening entertainment and shorter attraction lines.
Following both recommendations can result in spending a solid 16+ hours inside the park, if you enter at 8am and depart at midnight (a standard peak-season operating schedule). If that sounds more like a death march than a vacation to you, you’re not alone. That leads us to our most frequently overlooked essential epigram of touring intelligence: take a nap! A few minutes (or hours) of shut-eye in the middle of the afternoon will not only re-energize you for the evening, but also offer an escape from the worst wait times of the day. By the way, this advice is just as crucial for adults as it is for children. Even if you never take a nap at home, take the time for a lie-down any day you spend over 8 hours touring. Trust me, you’ll thank us!
Unlike the sprawling Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort is compact and easily accessible from numerous off-site hotels, making it easy for many guests to walk from the park gates to their rooms in less time than it take to retrieve a vehicle from the parking garage. If you are staying on property or within a short stroll of Disneyland, there’s absolutely no excuse not to take a mid-day rest in your room.
However, there are still plenty of visitors who can’t or won’t leave the Disneyland Resort and return again later that day. When you need to recharge, but don’t want to walk off property, where do you go? If you can’t retreat to your room, there are still some quiet corners amid the resort’s chaos where you can catnap. For starters, here are four of my favorite spots to sneak forty winks around the Disneyland Resort.
Right now at Walt Disney World, the 20th annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is in full swing, attracting tourists from far and wide to admire the park’s painstakingly pruned foliage. But while this Orlando attraction may get the lion’s share of agricultural attention, Disney’s left coast parks don’t need a special occasion to shine in the shrubbery department.
With the spring season officially started (as of the vernal equinox on March 20), it’s appropriate for us to take a moment to stop smell the roses… along with the irises, violets, sunflowers, and other assorted horticultural spectacles seeded around the Disneyland Resort. For today’s photo gallery, I’ve selected a variety of snaps that I took last month during an Anaheim research expedition, highlighting the vibrant colors and rich textures you can currently find in flowerbeds around the Happiest Place on Earth.
After many weeks of refurbishment, DCA’s Disney Junior show reopened on Friday, March 22, with the same refreshed production that previously premiered at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios park. This latest version retains the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse framing segments and Jake and the Neverland Pirates vignette, while replacing the Handy Mandy and Little Einsteins sequences with new scenes inspired by Sophia the First and Doc McStuffins. As before, the show uses a mix of live actors and rod puppets manipulated from beneath the stage.
Recently, I wrote about five of my favorite ways to begin my day at Disneyland Park. Until this past summer, Disneyland’s original park was most visitors’ first destination, with its little brother Disney California Adventure an afterthought on many itineraries.
Now, how the tables have turned: since last June’s grand re-opening of DCA, headlined by Cars Land and the Radiator Springs Racers E-Ticket, the former also-ran is often drawing as many (or even more) “first click” entries as its older sibling. That means more and more visitors are starting their Disney day on Buena Vista Street instead of Main Street, U.S.A.
As a result, we advise you arrive at DCA’s front gate at least 45 minutes before the official opening time; guests are typically allowed into the entry plaza at least 30 minutes early, and Disneyland’s current ID-checking procedures can make for slow lines at the turnstiles. Most importantly, don’t visit DCA on an Extra Magic Hour morning (currently Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday) unless you are staying in a Disney resort hotel and can take advantage of the early entry.
Once you are inside the park and awaiting rope drop, what to do? Here are my top five tips for making mornings at DCA more memorable:
If Disneyland is the Happiest Place on Earth, and February 14 is the Most Romantic Day of the Year, then Anaheim must be the best place imaginable to spend Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart — right? Well, I’m about to find out, as my wife and I are spending Valentine’s week in Anaheim.
On the plus side, weekdays in mid-February (like the 14th) are on the moderate side of our Crowd Calendar; Valentine’s Day, itself, is expected to be a 6 out of 10 at the Disneyland Resort. And from February 11 through 17, as part of the Limited Time Magic marketing campaign, Disney is rolling out some additional meet & greet opportunities and menu offerings.
In a surprise move, Disneyland Resort has quietly released details of a new limited-time perk for all Disneyland Annual Passholders. On Thursday nights in February 2013, Passholders can stay in Disney California Adventure for an extra 2 hours past the usual closing time. That’s 120 more minutes to enjoy the rides in Cars Land and elsewhere around Anaheim’s hottest attraction.
The program will only be offered on Thursdays, February 7, 14, 21, & 28. Passholders will be allowed to stay until 10pm on the 7th, 14th, and 28th, and until 11pm on the 21st.
In order to participate, you must arrive at DCA between noon and 90 minutes after the regular park closing time, in order to obtain a special wristband near the front turnstiles. A valid annual pass and photo ID are required; regular parking fees still apply.
Note that this temporary “stay late” program is in addition to the ongoing early entry perk, which allows annual Passholders into the parks an hour early on the weekends. That program runs through April 14, but is not available on February 3.
The beautiful Hyperion Theater in Disney California Adventure is normally home to the excellent Aladdin stage show, an enhanced version of which will bow on Broadway next year. But tonight (1/25/2013), for one night only, the theater will be taken over by a musical icon even more mesmerizingly mercurial and outrageously colorful than the Genie.
Elton John, a rock superstar since the 1970s, and the Oscar-winning songwriter behind The Lion King soundtrack, will perform a private concert tonight at the Disneyland Resort in conjunction with the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) trade convention currently occurring at the Anaheim convention center across the street. John is schedule play a 5-song set, accompanied by a 70-piece orchestra conducted by James Newton Howard. Other performers appearing include Amy Grant, Chaka Khan, Dave Grusin, Earth, Wind & Fire, David Foster, Dave Koz, LEOGUN, Landon Pigg, Lucy Schwartz, Michael McDonald, Sarah McLachlan, Sinbad and Toto.