Disney World is my favorite place on earth and I love to visit as much as I can. There’s plenty to do with four theme parks, two water parks, a shopping district, and a number of incredibly themed resorts; but this Disney World Regular has her eye set on another Disney Park for her next trip. Where? The Disneyland Resort! But why? After all, the Disneyland Resort is much smaller, as is its castle, and many of the rides found at Disney World are also at both Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. There’s also no water parks or as nearly many resorts. But wait! I have some good reasons, many of which Disneyland fans are sure to back me up on. In fact, many of my fellow Disney fans argue that the Disneyland Resort is better than Disney World on a number of points. So keep reading to find out why this Disney World Regular wants to visit Disneyland.
To Be A Park Newbie: My first trip to Disney World took place when I was nine months old. You see, both of my parents were Disney fanatics and couldn’t wait to introduce me to the Disney magic. Throughout my childhood, we took as many trips as we could. In fact, one of my earliest childhood memories is lying on my bed and studying the Disney World park maps from our most recent trip. I know that I was incredibly fortunate to have visited Disney World throughout my childhood, a tradition I’ve continued to this day; but I must admit that just once, I would like to see my favorite place on earth with new eyes, like a first-time guest who has no idea what’s around the next corner. But seeing how I can’t do that, I can go to the Disneyland Resort! I’ve always wanted to go. It’s Walt’s original vision and is the reason why there’s a Disney World in the first place. Not only would a visit be fulfilling as a Disney Fan, but I would love the chance to be a park newbie, to actually need those free parks at the entrance, and to sport one of those first-time visit buttons!
Watch these videos and see World of Color in a whole new way. (images by Seth Kubersky)
Just as Walt famously said that the Disney empire “all started with a mouse,” the magic of Touring Plans all started with a book — namely, the Unofficial Guide. As co-author (with Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa) of The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland, I’m proud to announce that preliminary work is complete on the 2015 edition of our Anaheim guidebook, which will make its way to store shelves in plenty of time for the resort’s upcoming 60th anniversary. Naturally, we’ll continue to refine the text right up until the time it is sent to the printers later this year, and we’ll be bringing you details on the changes made to the tome as its publication approaches in the fall. But for now, I wanted to share a tiny taste of a couple of the changes coming to the Unofficial Guide, via a few fun Disney California Adventure videos — featuring the Mariachi Divas and World of Color — that I recorded during my most recent visit to the Happiest Place on Earth.
The Mariachi Divas are one of my favorite under-the-radar entertainment diversions found at Disney California Adventure, but until now they’ve be unjustly under-represented in the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland. We’ve rectified that with an an expanded entry on this fabulously festive singing group.
Disney California Adventure is decked out for the holidays. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)
It may not have the six decades of cherished Christmas traditions of its older sibling across the Disneyland Resort esplanade, but don’t dismiss the Disney California Adventure holiday celebrations. The park has made great strides since its Cars Land-fueled rebirth last summer, and this year’s enhanced seasonal offerings are no exception. Once you’ve finished checking out my five favorite Disneyland holiday additions, tackle these top picks among DCA’s Christmas presents.
Buena Vista Street Decor and Shows
As soon as you step through Disney California Adventure’s Art Deco gates into the 1920’s era Buena Vista Street, you’ll notice the seasonal spirit in the shop windows. DCA has been criticized for redecorating the original Imagineer-designed window dispays with non-period merchandise, but the retail corridor’s holiday treatments for 2013 represent a return to form.
Some people saw the recent Disney Pictures’ release PLANES as a cynical cash grab that merely made margins modifications to Pixar’s charming CARS franchise…and some other people enjoy Dane Cook. Whichever camp you fall in, you must admit it was inevitable that the anthropomorphized aircraft would eventually arrive in at least one of Mickey’s theme parks.
Disney recently announced a call for guests to submit their family’s seasonal holiday cards, which will be digitally scanned and incorporated into new projections for World of Color — Winter Dreams, as the limited-time variation of DCA’s nighttime fountain show will be known. See here for details on the artwork requirement and submission rules; all cards must be postmarked or delivered in person to the Anaheim Downtown Disney’s World of Disney store by September 20, 2013.
Disney California Adventure’s World of Color nighttime spectacular is one of the most popular productions at the Disneyland Resort, and having a meal a the park’s upscale Carthay Circle Restaurant has been the best way to secure “Center Stage” VIP viewing area tickets to the show. Recently, Disney has made a major change to the way World of Color Fastpasses are distributed to Carthay Circle diners.
Previously, anyone eating at Carthay Circle for lunch or dinner would receive a WoC ticket at no extra charge, as long each person ordered an entree along with an appetizer or dessert. Recently, a “fixed price” 3-course menu was introduced for WoC diners, and the original 2-course option has now been eliminated.
Currently, in order to receive WoC passes, Carthay Circle customers must order from a limited 3-course lunch menu ($39 adults, $22 children) or dinner menu ($59 adults, $24 children). You can see the available meal options by following the above links; notable, the popular duck wings and cheese biscuits are not offered on the WoC menus.
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 we shared back in March, Disneyland Resort is planning to celebrate Greek culture with an Opa! festival later this month. The event be held at both Disneyland Resort parks over the weekend of May 25 to 27.
This week Disneyland released details on the food and entertainment that will feature at this event. Activities will take place daily from 10am to 6pm in the small world mall area of Disneyland Park and Paradise Gardens at Disney California Adventure. You’ll find line dancing, wine seminars, and food tastings at Disney California Adventure; Hercules will conduct “Olympic training” games at Disneyland Park.
The above events (excluding food and drinks) are included in regular park admission. In addition, Executive Chef Christine Weissman, Greek celebrity Chef Argiro Barbarigou, and Greek winemaker Christina Boutari will present “Celebrate Greece: A Culinary Experience,” a 4-course dinner at DCA’s Golden Valley Winery on May 26 at 8pm. Tickets are $150, including tax, gratuity, and reserved World of Color viewing (park admission separate); click here for reservations and tickets.
Recently, I shared some of my favorite ways to start a morning at Disney California Adventure. Today, let’s look at the flip side of the operating day. While crowds are arriving early every day at DCA’s front gate since Cars Land‘s arrival, some of the park’s highlights can only be experienced after dark. Here are my top five ways to finish off an evening at DCA:
Drinks With a View
One distinct advantage DCA has over its older brother across the Esplanade is the ability to imbibe alcoholic beverages as you tour. You’ll find spots to whet your whistle all around the park, from Carthay Circle’s swanky downstairs lounge to the imported beer kiosk near the Paradise Garden Grill. Nothing beats having a finely crafted cocktail in the night air, enjoying the park’s cleverly Imagineered aesthetics, and DCA has a couple of ideal evening watering holes.
I’ve already extolled the romantic virtues of the Alfresco Lounge at Golden Valley Winery, which has a second-story view down Route 66 to the stunning Cadillac Mountain range. Another great spot for a beverage is the Cove Bar behind Ariel’s Grotto; simply cut through the restaurant lobby to reach this often-overlooked gem. In addition to the standard extensive drink list, the Cove offers a small menu of large appetizers; the lobster nachos are big enough for four or more to share. Best of all, the bar recently rescinded its policy of levying a $10 cover charge during World of Color performances, making it a great place to watch the show, provided you don’t mind an obtuse perspective of the water screens.