Sunday, April 5, 2020

Disneyland Beignets from Home!

To keep myself busy and to keep from feeling sad that we missed out on our big family Disneyland trip, I've been planning a "Disneyland at Home" day. I planned it in my head for weeks! It was keeping me going almost as much as a regular vacation countdown and prep would. Yesterday was finally the day! You may have seen some of the pics on our Facebook page. We did a lot of YouTube ridethroughs and wore our ears, but the best part was the food! Mickey pancakes for breakfast, Mickey ice cream bars and churros for a snack (Tio Pepe is the brand Disney uses, you can find it at Smart and Final!). But I was MOST looking forward to those amazing New Orleans Square beignets!

First of all, we used the official Cafe du Monde beignet mix. Cafe du Monde has been a New Orleans staple since 1862, so you know they're doing something right! You can even purchase the mix at Ralph Brennen's Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney (or Amazon while everything's closed!).

*Fun Fact!* If you like cooking shows, Jon Favreau did an episode of The Chef Show where they made this exact mix and it's totally worth checking out on Netflix.

The mix makes it very simple, ingredient wise. You just need 2 cups of mix (refrigerate the rest) and 7oz of water. Can't get easier! Aside from that's you'll need LOTS of flour, powdered sugar, oil for frying, and a Mickey cookie cutter.

I didn't actually have a Mickey cookie cutter! My mom has one and when I first got this mix (you know, before the pandemic) I just figured I'd borrow from her. So that left me with a bit of a problem. Luckily for me, I have a 3D printer and a husband who loves a project!

Before we got started, we put on a "New Orleans" mix on Spotify and it didn't disappoint!

All you need to do is mix the powder and water, roll to 1/8 inch thick, and fry at 370F. But we learned a few things along the way...

To start, the dough is sticky. Like crazy, stick to everything, so-much-stickier-than-you'd-expect sticky. So when you roll it out, use WAY more flour than you'd ever think you'd need. So much flour! Be SURE NOT TO ROLL TOO THIN. Ours were too thin and it made some of our beignets kind of flat (but still tasty!).

Because of the stickiness, we found it helpful to use a knife to help separate our Mickey from the rest of the dough. Also, a spatula might help you get it off of your work surface. Don't underestimate the stickiness.

When you're frying, keep basting the beignets with more oil so they puff up nicely and cook evenly. They only take a few minutes on each side, so keep an eye on them.

Cover them completely in powdered sugar and eat immediately. They're amazing!!!!

We took the leftover bits of dough that we couldn't quite get more Mickeys out of and made them into squares. This time we left the dough much thicker and they puffed up beautifully compared to our over-rolled ones. Live and learn! 

Easy peasy but pretty messy. Give it a try and tell us what you think!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

We Made Jack Jack's Num Num Cookies!

So, let's get this out of the way, I'm a homebody by nature. If I could do anything on a given weekend, it'd be to stay home with my hubby and son. So, in that sense, social distancing hasn't given me the cabin fever it's given some of my friends. 

Having said that, I have had the urge to bake. Now I have little to no interest in cooking. Dinner? How can I get out of making it? But I’ve always enjoyed baking. I am not great at it, by any stretch of the imagination. But I do enjoy it. 

I have also been feeling bummed, as many of us have, because my Spring Break Disneyland trip was cancelled. (Postponed. I’m going to say postponed.) So, how perfect is it that Disney/Pixar recently released the recipe for the Jack Jack Num Num cookies? Something from Disneyland that I could bake at home?! Sign me up!!

First, can we talk about how cute the recipe cards are?! Disney/Pixar always does an awesome job with adorable little touches!





So, let’s go through the steps. First gather your ingredient. Check!!

Next, brown the butter...I’ve never done that before. Ain’t gonna lie, I watched a couple YouTube videos first. Here’s mine:

Probably could have gotten it a little browner, but all roads pointed to “butter goes from browned to burned really quickly, so I erred on the side of caution. (Btw, if you’ve never browned butter before: medium-low heat and constant stirring are your friends.) Let that cool until is starts to solidify. 

From there, I creamed the browned butter with the sugars, mixed in the wet ingredients, then the dry ones, stirred in chocolate chips, and formed cookie dough balls. 


Now, full disclosure, I have never had Jack Jack's Num Num cookie before. They became a big thing *after* my last trip to the park. But I know enough to know that they are huge and served in muffin-sized cups. So I tried to make mine big! 12 cookies from the big batch of cookie dough. 

From there, refrigerate. (Ugh! I wanted to bake them right away!) Directions say at least one hour, overnight is ideal. I did about 5 1/2 hours. 

Now comes the part that I had to change: this recipe is for regular-sized cookies. 7-10 minutes was not going to cut it for cookies that were at least double-sized. So I checked on them every 5-10 minutes after the first 10. They were in the oven just over 20 minutes. 

So, after all that, how did they turn out? Amazing. Dangerously good. Possibly the best chocolate chip cookie I have ever eaten!! Two sticks of browned butter will do that, I guess. (And I don’t even like butter!) They are sweet and moist and chewy and chocolaty and all amazing things! They don’t look exactly the same as they do in the park, but again, I said I *like* baking...I’m not great at it.  

If you have the ingredients in the house already (I did!), or are planning your socially-distanced grocery shopping soon, I highly recommend trying this recipe out! You won’t regret it. 

Have you tried to make these cookies, too? Let us know what you thought of them in the comments!

Friday, March 27, 2020

What To Do While Disneyland Is Closed

Let's start with the most important part: we hope you're all safe, feeling well, and social distancing as much as is possible! We love you!

Times are weird right now. Most of us aren't going to work, kids are home from school, and everything is closed. With today's announcement that Disneyland and Walt Disney World are extending their closures "indefinitely," we're figuring we can't be the only ones who are wondering how to keep the Disney Blues away. We're here to help!! Here's our best tips for keeping the magic alive, whether you're just bored to tears at home or you're (like us) pretty sad to be cancelling your Spring Break Disney trip.

1. Watch ride throughs! It's a super quick and easy YouTube search to find full ride throughs of your favorite Disneyland attractions. And be sure to check our Facebook page, because we've been posting our fave ride videos daily!

2. Wear your Disney gear! Come on, you know you're just itching to wear your ears around the house. Bonus points if you wear them in a Zoom meeting!

3. Make Disney Snacks! I *may* have bought the last box of Mickey ice cream bars at the grocery store when I was buying quarantine supplies, and I'll for sure be eating those when it was supposed to be our vacation. But there are also a lot of Disney snacks you can make at home, and we've already made a lot of them! Check out our favorite attempts at Disney snacks by clicking the links below:


4. Play a Disney music trivia game! There may be more versions available, but our favorite is Alexa's  Disney Hits Challenge. Just ask her to play!

5. Make up your own Disneyland game! Our favorite to play with the kids is to go through the alphabet and take turns naming something from Disneyland for each letter (A for Alice in Wonderland, B for Bengal get it).

6. Give yourself a Disney themed manicure! It can be as complicated or simple as you like. Just have some fun!

7. Read old Dole Whip A Day blogs! We're VERY close to our 5th anniversary (blogiversary??) so there's a LOT to choose from. Scroll through all the old faves here!

Friday, January 31, 2020

Spider-Man Soars Above Avengers Campus

Wow! We have new Avengers Campus news. When the new Marvel themed land opens at California Adventure this summer, Spider-Man will be swinging high above our heads.

Word came out back in 2019 that Disney was working on an extremely advanced animatronic, and now we officially know what they were up to. Check out the video below, released by Disney yesterday.

Looks like we're going to have a life size, acrobatic animatronic Spider-Man swinging into action before our very eyes! And in case you forgot, there's a lot more excitement heading our way when Avengers Campus opens. Here's what we know so far:
  • A Spider-Man attraction where you can fling webs and swing yourself across the city to help save the day

  • Meet and greets with your Marvel faves (Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Black Widow, and Black Panther to name a few)
  • Pym Test Kitchen, where you'll be able to try unusually sized foods that have been affected by Ant Man's growing and shrinking technology
  • In Phase 2 (date unknown), we'll find another e-ticket style ride where you can fly the Quintet and help the Avengers fight to save the world

With all this new info out, what are you most excited for? Give us a shout and let us know!

Friday, January 3, 2020

Disneyland 2020 Update

The new year is here! Time to take down the holiday decorations, make some resolutions, and get organized. For the Disneyland Resort, that means a new ride, new events, new entertainment, and some much needed ride refurbishments. Are you heading to the parks in 2020? Here's what you can expect for the start of the new decade.

A Brand New Ride!

Whether or not you're a Star Wars fan, Rise of the Resistance (opening January 17) is looking like it'll be an incredible experience. We've peeked at what they have over in Walt Disney World, and this looks like nothing we've ever seen before! At nearly 20 minutes long, this attraction uses brand new tech, enormous animatronics, and is full of surprises. Is it a dark ride? Is it a simulator? Is it a roller coaster? Yes and no! We're so helpful right? We'd rather not give too much away, but if you're curious and don't like surprises, check out a ride through on YouTube.

New Entertainment!

Making it's debut on February 28, Magic Happens is a brand new daytime parade. Let's face it, it's been a long time since we've seen a new daytime parade! It should be an amazing mix of old and new. Classic characters combined with characters from Moana, Coco, and Frozen. Well known and loved Disney music mixed with a new song from Todrick Hall. Look for this parade daily starting February 28.

Themed Parties!

Disneyland After Dark parties are back for 2020! There are four planned so far and tickets go fast, so if these sound amazing to you, you'd better snatch up tickets now. They're pricey at $109 per person, but you'll get some amazing experiences that you can't get on a regular park day like staying after closing, special decorations, shows, characters, and shorter wait times.

**FYI: From what we've heard about these parties before, not every ride is open but most people want to do all of the character photo ops so the ride lines tend to be pretty short. Take advantage and plan out what you want to be able to see and do!

  • On January 29 there's 80s night: Fantasyland Theater is transformed back into Videopolis (if you're old like me, you'll remember this one!) with music and dancing, an 80s themed fireworks show, special food and merch, and special "nostalgic" meet and greets. 
  • February 12 and 13 will be Sweethearts night, returning from last year: Love song themed dance parties located across Disneyland Park, meet and greets with Disney couples, romantic photo ops, and (as always) special food and merch. 
  • March 5 will be Pixar Night over at California Adventure: Check out Pixar dance parties that are themed to the different classic movies, Pixar pal photo ops, and *of course* special food and merch!
  • Also in DCA on April 30 is the amazing VILLAINS NIGHT: Check out your favorite villains in the Villains Cabaret show, photo ops with villains and photo backdrops of their lairs, and YOU GUESSED IT, special food and merch! (Seeing the pattern??)

Closed for Refurbishment

It's never fun to get to the parks only to find out that your favorite ride is closed. On the other hand, we all know that some rides need a little TLC. So at least you can know what to expect when you get there if you check out our list of planned refurbishments for the beginning of 2020.
  • Snow White's Scary Adventure
    • Beginning January 7, Snow White is getting a major makeover. You can expect new projections (much like Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland got), new music, and a BRAND NEW ENDING! You'll no longer be left hanging when the dwarfs defeat the witch. We'll get a new scene where Snow White happily wakes up in the forest. So exciting! Plus the outside of the ride will get a facelift to help it match the castle. No official word yet on how long the ride will be closed, but we've heard this might be a long one, reopening in the Summer. Stay tuned on our Facebook page for updates. 
  • Haunted Mansion
    • The Haunted Mansion always closes in January to take down the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay, but this year its getting an extended renovation to the exterior of the ride. It seems that the overlay has done a decent amount of damage over time, so that's going to be fixed up, reopening sometime in the Spring. 
  • Indiana Jones
    • We know that Indy is going to get a major refurb sometime in 2020, but so far there aren't any details as to when. So we'll do our very best to keep you all up to date!

That's everything we know so far! What are you most excited for? I, personally, can't wait to see what they do with Snow White. I loved the Alice in Wonderland enhancements, but was underwhelmed by the additions to Peter Pan. I'm hoping that with the new scene, Snow White will feel totally fresh and exciting. 

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Holidays at Disneyland 2019

It's been quite a few years since we've been able to visit Disneyland during the holidays, and to be totally honest, we miss it! So we love doing these seasonal updates so people who are lucky enough to be planning a trip to the Disneyland Resort this holiday season can plan ahead, or people like us who are staying home this year can dream about their next trip! The most wonderful time of the year begins at Disneyland starting November 8 and we've got your details below. From shows to ride overlays, food to decorations, there's a lot to go through. So let's dive in!


It's a Small World Holiday Lighting

Photo Credit: Disney
Beginning at dusk, and then every 30 minutes throughout the night, there's an adorable projection show with music, lights, and holiday fun right on the front of the ride itself!

California Adventure Tree Lighting

If you're not heading over to the Small World show at dusk, head over to the Christmas tree at California Adventure. They'll be doing a tree lighting ceremony every evening!

Christmas Fantasy Parade

Photo Credit: Disney
See all of your favorite Disney and Pixar friends ready for the holidays, followed by a visit from Santa! (Santa!!!!!!) Keep in mind that the parade is weather permitting, but there's not usually much of an issue with that in Southern California.

World of Color Season of Light

Photo Credit: Disney

Where are my World of Color fans at??? World of Color returns for the holiday season with a special show. Don't forget to get Fastpasses for the show near the Little Mermaid Adventure or book a dining package for guaranteed seats. There's also open viewing area but space is limited!

Believe in Holiday Magic Fireworks Show

Finish off your night with the always amazing Believe in Holiday Magic. Who doesn't love a little Disney snow??

Ride Overlays
Sadly, the Jingle Cruise still isn't returning to Disneyland this year (boo!), but the classics are still coming back, one with a new twist!

It's a Small World Holiday

The It's a Small World holiday transformation is back, and this year we've got a new twist...3 scents!! Head over to the classic attraction and get your sniffer ready for cinnamon in South America, coconut in the South Seas, and cherry blossom in Asia. Personally, I think this should stay year round. I'd love to see (smell?) scents of the world incorporated into the regular version of the ride, just like Soarin'!

Haunted Mansion Holiday

My all time favorite attraction. No competition. This year, you can admire the Haunted Mansion 50th Anniversary gingerbread house in the ballroom scene.

Let's Talk Food!!!
There are A LOT of special seasonal food offerings this year.

Festival of the Holidays

This food spectacular is back at DCA and there are some amazing choices. Too many, in fact, for us to try to come up with highlights. Good thing Disney Food Blog was here to make this handy guide for us all!

Credit: Disney Food Blog 

Other Seasonal Offerings

You should be able to find seasonal menu items all over the parks, but we recommend:

  • Pumpkin Soup in a bread bowl at Boudin
  • Pecan Monkey Bread at the Bengal BBQ
  • Santa's Cookies and Milk Churro at the churro cart near Casey Jr
  • Peppermint Holiday Sundae at the Gibson Girl
  • Hot Chocolate Beignets at Cafe Orleans
  • Thanks-mas Sandwich (Oven-roasted turkey, stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce on rustic bread) at the Jolly Holiday)

You know Disney is going to decorate the parks right! Take a look at some of this beauty!

What do you think?? What looks best to you? Anything new you're excited to see? Sound off in the comments and don't forget to stay tuned to our Facebook Page for info on Candy Canes as soon as it becomes available. Happy Holidays!!!

Friday, August 30, 2019

Haunted Mansion 50th Anniversary History and Trivia

Disneyland's Haunted Mansion celebrated it's 50th anniversary earlier this month. In honor of fifty years of spooky fun, we've put together a list of fun details, history, and trivia! Enjoy, and be sure to let us know you're favorite piece of Haunted Mansion trivia. We love to learn new Disney facts!

Walt Wanted the Mansion Scary on the Inside, but Not the Outside

Original designs for the exterior of the Haunted Mansion had shattered windows, broken shutters, and even bats flying around. However, Walt Disney didn't like the idea of something so shabby being visible as you walk through the park so plans were changed so that it would look like a normal house on the outside, but be completely haunted on the inside.

There was a Five Hour Wait Time On Opening Day

You think wait times are bad now? It's reported that on it's opening day, the line for the Haunted Mansion was up to five hours long and stretched back to Fantasyland! (Which btw makes the time I waited 3-4 hours for Indiana Jones and the line curved out of Adventureland, down Main Street, and wrapped into Frontierland seem much less impressive.)

There's a Very Practical Reason for the Stretching Portrait Room
Photo Credit: Mansionology
Ever wonder why you're in an elevator for the Stretching Portrait Room, only to walk down a hallway, board a Doom Buggy, and go back uphill when the ride itself begins? Then, of course, you go back down for the graveyard scene, and up one more time as you exit the ride.

The reason for all of this up and down is that the tracks to the Disneyland Railroad are literally in the way of a smooth ride. There's not much in the actual "Mansion" itself. Most of the attraction is in a rather large building backstage. But because the train runs directly behind the mansion, the workaround for imagineers was to have you go down an elevator (the stretching room), walk under the tracks (the hallway with the haunted portraits), go back up into the building that holds the main part of the attraction (going uphill into the Endless Hallway), go back down at the end to cross back under the train tracks (going down from the bride's room into the graveyard), then come back up to exit the ride (the escalator as you pass the "Hurry Back" ghost). That's a lot of work!!!

Extra Fun Fact!! This is why if you visit the Haunted Mansion in Walt Disney World, the ceiling lifts in the stretching portrait room. There's no need for you to go down!

One of the Glass Panels in the Ballroom Scene has been Broken for Decades

If you've ever looked REALLY carefully during the ballroom scene, you may have noticed a spider sitting on a web. It's all the way on the left side before you leave the room, and it's at about eye level - so you won't notice it if you're looking down at the ghostly dancers. The spider is actually there to cover a crack in the glass! The piece of glass is so enormous that they'd actually have to lift it out through the roof so they've never fixed it. Rumor has it a kid with a BB gun shot at it, but there's no concrete info on what actually broke the window in the first place.

The Hatbox Ghost Returned Because They Could Finally Get it Right

Photo Credit: The Disney Blog
When Disneyland brought back the Hatbox Ghost in 2015, some fans were confused as to why he was a big deal, other than being a super spooky ghost with an awesome special effect. The original ads for the Haunted Mansion back in the 60s all had the Hatbox Ghost prominently displayed on them. He was everywhere. But when the ride opened, the effect just wasn't right. There was too much ambient light for this face to fully disappear from either his body or the hatbox. It just didn't work, so he was quickly removed. Over the years he became a little bit of a legend, with some Disney fans remembering him but there being very little evidence he ever existed within the ride. Fast forward to Disneyland's Diamond Celebration and he returned with much fanfare now that the technology was there to really get the effect of his face leaving his body and appearing in his hatbox to be just as creepy as it was originally intended to be.

Hidden Mickey of Dishes

Photo Credit: Inside the Magic
For the Hidden Mickey lovers: There's always a Mickey made out of the dishes on the table in the ballroom scene. It gets moved around once in a while, but it's always there somewhere.

Hidden Belle in the Bride Room

Photo Credit Unknown...but it's a great shot!!
This one is newer and I honestly don't know how long it'll be around (much like the Lego Captain Jack Sparrow that used to be in the Pirates of the Caribbean), but there is a small figurine of Belle in the Bride's Attic room. I'm hoping it'll still be there when I next visit because I haven't seen this one there for myself. Have any of you?

Madame Leota is Actually an Imagineer

Leota Toombs working on Pirates of the Caribbean (Photo Credit: D23)
The floating head of Madame Leota is one of the most iconic images of the Haunted Mansion. While you may know that she is voiced by Disney legend Eleanor Audley (voice of Maleficent and Lady Tremaine), did you know that the face you see belongs to Imagineer Leota Toombs? Leota worked for Disney originally in the Ink and Paint department, and then as an Imagineer for classic attractions like Its a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Haunted Mansion itself. She's also the model for the "Hurry Back" bride at the end of the ride (and the voice that time as well!).

Madame Leota in the Holiday Overlay is her Daughter

Photo Credit: Chip and Co
Keeping it in the family, the face of Madame Leota that's used in Haunted Mansion Holiday belongs to Leota Tooms' daughter, Kim Irvine (also an Imagineer!).

The Haunted Mansion is based off of a Real House

The exterior of the Haunted Mansion is based off the Shipley-Lydecker house in Baltimore, Maryland. Unfortunately the house is no longer standing, but you can see how it's practically identical to Disneyland's Haunted Mansion.