Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Coming in 2016!

There are a lot of changes coming to Disneyland with the new year, and this is your place to review them all - the good, the bad, and the ugly!

The Good

Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters 

While we were sad to see Luigi's Flying Tires go, Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters looks like it can be a great new addition when it opens in February. From the sneak peeks we've seen so far, it will be using a trackless system that's already in place in Tokyo Disney Sea that will allow for the cars to move without the riders quite knowing where they're going. As long as it's not too similar to Mater's Junkyard Jamboree right next door, which has been our main concern, it'll be great to have a third exciting ride in Cars Land again.

Paint the Night Dinner and Reserved Seating

With the temporary closure of Fantasmic coming soon (more details below), Disneyland is using its dinner/show fastpass system for the amazing Paint the Night parade starting in January. They're already taking reservations, so if you have a trip coming soon, you can start booking at the Disneyland Dining website. 

Dinner is either a three course meal at the Blue Bayou or a packaged meal from Aladdin's Oasis that can either be eaten at the tables there or taken to-go. 

All that's been announced for the seating is that it's "near It's A Small World," but our best guess is that it'll be in the elevated section on the right hand side of the path (if you're facing Small World). 

Diamond Celebration Continues

Disneyland's 60th Anniversary will be continuing through September 2016 so there's lots of time to still see the gorgeous castle decorations, dazzling diamonds, and special merchandise all over the parks. 

New Menus at the River Belle and Rancho Del Zocalo

With the closure of Big Thunder BBQ (Boo! More details below.), the delicious BBQ menu is being transferred to the River Belle Terrace. The restaurant will become table service and you'll most likely need a reservation to get a seat. 

"Where will the River Belle's famous Mickey shaped pancakes go once there changes take place?" you ask. Great question! Rancho Del Zocalo in Frontierland will start serving breakfast, including the iconic pancakes!

Frozen Musical at the Hyperion Theater

Beginning sometime summer of 2016, the Hyperion Theater in California Adventure will be showing a live Frozen stage show. We know a lot of people are a little burned out on Frozen (Frost bitten? Freezer burned?), if it's even half as good as the Aladdin show its replacing, it'll have audiences cheering. 

The Bad

Temporary Closures 

With the beginning of construction of Star Wars Land, these favorite attractions will be closed for the next year - 18 months:

• The Disneyland Railroad 
• Pirate's Lair/Tom Sawyer's Island (It will be smaller when it reopens, but no one's been allowed on the side of the island they're closing for years, anyway.)
• Rivers of America (They close and drain the Rivers every few years, so we'll just be pretending this is one of those years so that were not too sad.)
• Fantasmic (They haven't announced a date yet when this will return, but rumors are it'll be closer to the 18 month mark.)
• Mark Twain and Sailing Ship Columbia

The Ugly

Permanent Closures

As we mentioned earlier, these two favorites will be closing for good on January 11. 

• Big Thunder Ranch and BBQ (No more seasonal fun at the Ranch! We loved that!)
• Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Disney Holiday Fun in San Francisco

Attention San Francisco Bay Area Disney fans (or anyone considering a trip that way)!! How many of you have been to the amazing Weaver's Winter Wonderland? It's the best Disney you can get during the holidays without going to the parks.

About 45 minutes north of San Francisco in Rohnert Park, you'll find an entire block decked out with huge wooden holiday and Disney characters. There are even 101 Dalmatians for you to find and count!

At the end of the street is the grand finale...the Weaver's house! Featured on The Great Christmas Light Fight in 2014, this house is transformed into a castle filled not only with holiday cheer, but endless Disney fun!

If you find yourself in the area, be sure to check this place out! You'll be so glad you did.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Last Minute Disney Touches for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Are you ready? Wish you were spending the holiday braving lines at Disneyland instead of lines at the grocery store (I did that today...it was unpleasant)? We've scoured the Internet (by Internet, we mean the amazing Disney Family blog, who gets credit for all photos) to find you the best last minute Disney touches to add to your Thanksgiving! All you need is a printer, scissors, and tape. These are top five our faves. Just click the links to get the full downloads and instructions.

Let Mickey and Minnie take a little stress out of your planning with this adorable to do list. 

When I saw these labels, I first thought it was perfect for setting up a Thanksgiving buffet, but the Disney Family blog actually suggests using them to label leftover that you pack up for people. Fun!

This is a favorite of mine because it's so unexpected! First of all, Pluto is very underplayed in my opinion, so I like to see him getting some love. Secondly, what a great use of butternut squash! This is truly the perfect decoration. 

Pretend you're on your Disney vacation and wear your ears with pride! Just print, cut, and tape!

End your night on a sweet note with this Mickey box. It's just the right size to hold a few candies (candy corn??) to serve after dinner or give away as little goody bags. 

Do you add any Disney touches to your Thanksgiving? We'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Disneyland Resort Holiday Update

The holidays are in full swing at the Disneyland Resort! From ride overlays to enormous Christmas trees, we've checked it all out and are ready to report back to you!

Holiday Rides

Haunted Mansion Holiday has been up since Halloween, but now it's joined by It's A Small World Holiday and The Jingle Cruise. 

Haunted Mansion Holiday is my absolute favorite with its absurd attention to detail. Check out the long list running down the front of the mansion with Jack's "Christmas Formula." Total perfection!

It's A Small World Holiday it quite a sight to see! If you love Christmas, this is for you. If you get overwhelmed easily...you might want to take a pass. But it's beautiful from the outside!

I missed the Jingle Cruise by a couple days this year, but I've been on it before and it's adorable! The jungle is covered in decorations and the skippers have seasonal corny jokes. What could be better?

Decorated Lands

Just around the corner from the Nightmare Before Christmas scene at the Haubted Mansion is this beautiful Mardi Gras inspired decor in New Orleans Square. 

Toontown was really beautifully done this year with garlands, bows, and lights on every building! 

Cars Land has some of the best themed decorations around! Garlands made from filters and tires hang across Route 66 and each little area has additional decorations. There's a decorated tree made of orange cones at the Cozy Cone and there is a shiny silver tree decorated in old records at Flo's. 

Grizzly Peak has different decorations all over, all in a very natural, rustic style with lots of pine cones and bows. It's beautiful and understated. I loved it all!

Adding the Holidays to the Diamond Celebration

Main Street doesn't have the usual decoration setup that it's had for the past few years. 

The epically tall Christmas tree is still sitting at the Town Square end of Main Street and is as impressive as ever. However, the garlands that usually go across Main Street are missing this year (rumor has it they're too low for the tall Pain The Night Parade floats to pass under). 

Decorated wreaths have been placed around the "diamond Ds" that go along Main Street. 

The Castle is still in all of its Diamond Celebration glory! No winter castle this year, which is a bummer, but I love the diamond decorations so much that I don't mind missing it this year! Plus, they added a pretty cool ornament garland/wreath just so you know they didn't completely ignore the traditions of this time of year. 

What do you think of this year's decorations what would you life to see them do next year? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Great Tip for Saving Money on your Disney Vacation!

If you know me, you know that two of my favorite things are Disney and Target! Today I was able to combine my faves to save me money on my upcoming Disneyland vacation!

What you need:

1. Target Red Card
2. Patience
3. Planning

How to Save:

You get 5% off of ANY purchase at Target with a Red Card, including gift cards!! Before going to the store, I looked at how much Disneyland tickets were going to cost me. I need 3 day passes, and this time I'm trying 1 park per day to save a little $$. For 2 adults and 1 child (my youngest is still under 3 and doesn't need a ticket - woohoo!), my total would be $694. 

So I need $700 in Disney gift cards. Here's the slightly annoying part; Target only sells $50 Disney gift cards. I guess it's better than $25s! So I had to buy 14 gift cards... the cashier was very confused, but was pretty excited to hear my plan. After my 5% discount, I saved $35! I'll take it!!!

Using the Gift Cards:

I went to www.disneygiftcard.com to register my cards. Here's where the patience was needed. I had to register each card by typing in the account number and security code. You can only have 5 cards registered at a time, so after I input each card, I immediately transferred the balance onto the first card I entered, and deleted the empty one. The transferring and deleting was incredibly simple. It was just a time consuming process with 14 cards! 

Then all I had to do was buy my tickets online with the one gift card that held the entire $700 balance. 

NOTE #1: The Disneyland app doesn't seem to let you pay with gift cards. Use the website instead if you don't want to buy at the ticket booths when you get there. 

NOTE #2: Just so you know, you'll get an email from the gift card website each time you add a card, transfer a card balance, or delete a card. I finished all of that work only to find 39 unread emails in my inbox to sort through! 

What I'd do Differently Next Time:

Next time I'd plan ahead! I could pick up a Disney gift card every time I'm at Target and pay for my whole next trip this way. 5% isn't bad on an entire Disney vacation! Also, doing it more slowly would save me the irritation of trying to input, transfer, and delete ONE MILLION gift cards all while my dinner is cooking. I still may do it! I have a couple days to make another Target run. I could buy a few more gift cards to get 5% off my meals and souvenirs. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

More Disneyland Fast Facts!

We've done it once before, but now, thanks to an article in a local newspaper, we have a new set of Disneyland fun facts to share with you!
(Facts courtesy of the Press Democrat)

1. On opening day, the Jungle Cruise was called the Explorer Boat Ride Through the Rivers of Mexico, Africa, Central and South America, and Australia. (Good call on the name change, guys!)

2. Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. were among the first people to ride the Autopia. 

3. Two of the book titles you can see in the library scene of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride are "For Whom the Toads Croak" and "A Tadpole Grows in Brooklyn."

4. Jonathan Gold, a restaurant critic for the LA Times, said that Disneyland's corn dog is the best he's ever had. 

5. It was predicted by a psychic in 1971 that Disneyland would be inside of a bubble to control the weather by 1999!

6. In the early days of Disneyland, there was a lingerie store on Main Street called The Wizard of Bras. 

7. Richard Carpenter (of The Carpenters) played music on Main Street in 1967, but was fired for playing modern music. 

8. The E Ticket, for Disneyland's best rides, wasn't introduced until 1959 when the Matterhorn and Submarine Voyage opened. 

9. Walt Disney originally wanted Disneyland to be in Burbank, but when he brought the idea to the city, they said no because they thought it would create a "carny atmosphere."

10. When Tom Sawyer Island first opened in 1956, kids could borrow fishing poles and fish in a pond filled with catfish, perch, and bluegill. (What did they do with the fish once the kids caught them???)

Know any other Disneyland facts? Share them with us in the comments below!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Former Cast Member Confessions: Electric Wheelchair Races

For anyone who didn't already know, one of your Dole Whip A Day friends was a Disneyland Cast Member back in 2004....Best. Summer. Ever. I have a LOT of stories that I'd love to share, and I'm kicking it off with the Cast Member ECV (Electronic Convenience Vehicle) Races around Main Street!

I used to work on Main Street in the stores, which also included the stroller/wheelchair rental area since it was still within the Disneyland gates at the time. It wasn't my favorite area to be assigned because I much preferred seeing all the great merchandise and planning what I'd come in early to buy the next day! But it was still pretty fun. It wasn't very stressful, I usually had a great view of the fireworks, and there was a lot of freedom to roam around the park (collecting abandoned stroller at the end of the night). One of the jobs when I was working strollers was to drive the ECVs backstage to the storage and repair area after the park closed. Well, to do that you have to be good at driving them, right?

The training was fantastic! A more seasoned CM lined us all up (there were somewhere around 10 of us) and gave each of us the coveted RED KEY to an ECV. The red key allows it to go much faster! Then he laid out the course - starting at the right tunnel that leads onto Main Street, we had to ride around Town Square and then back up to the tunnel area. We had to listen carefully, since we were also practicing stopping. If you stand up on an ECV, it should automatically stop...should. More on that in a minute.

On your marks, get set, go!!! Off we were in the slowest race ever (WITH the fast keys!) We crawled our way through the tunnel and around Town Square. Our leader yelled "Stop!" and everyone stood up. All of the ECVs stopped, except mine of course! I was so shocked that I didn't think to turn the key to turn it off completely. No, I continued rolling down Main Street, at midnight, in front of guests who were still filing out of the park, screaming "I can't stop!!!!!" Take a moment to let the mental image sink in... Got it?

Once I got my runaway chair under control, we started up again and I won! Of course I did - my chair didn't work properly. But I do love to win so I'll take it!

I also had a pretty big crash one day trying to get an ECV through the weird entry to backstage, but I'll save that for another day!

Want to hear more Cast Member stories? Sound off in the comments below!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Disney On Ice - Super Fun!

I got the chance to see Disney On Ice: Dare to Dream last weekend. What a great experience!


The show started late because there was a bit of a parking situation (a Raiders/Broncos game sharing the parking lot!) and they wanted to give more people a chance to arrive. While we waited, some other ice skaters came out and did some tricks with little flying discs. There was also lots of Disney music being played in the background to sing along with. They were already selling all kinds of treats and toys so everyone would be ready! 

Snacks and Souvenirs

There are plenty of options, if you're looking to buy! We decided on some of the treats: popcorn in a Disney On Ice bag and cotton candy with a Pascal hat! There are also lights, tshirts, and toys for sale. 

Pro tip: Lots of families came in Disney clothes and brought toys or food. We bought a pack of glow sticks at Target and brought them with us so we could have the budget for the snacks ($14 cotton candy is a little high!). 

The Show!!

I've been to Disney On Ice before, so I was used to the setup. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy come out in between each segment to (kind of) tie it all together. 

To start off, there was a little Princess and the Frog intro. It was very upbeat, and I would have loved to have seen a whole segment dedicated to it. 

Next was Snow White. The magic mirror was a very cool effect as it glided across the ice. My kids have seen the movie before, so they could easily follow the story, but to anyone who hasn't, it probably would have been nice to include the Queen's transformation into the witch. But all of the great music was there and the skating was wonderful. 

After Snow White was Cinderella. This segment was terrific. It had some very cool costume changes (when the step sisters ruin Cinderella's pink dress and she ends up in rags, and then her transformation into her ball gown after Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo), the Prince has a bigger part than in the movie (hooray!), and the step sisters were terribly fun!

Last was Tangled. It was pretty amazing! They followed the story very closely, including the frying pan gag and a perfect version of the I Have A Dream song and dance. Maximus the horse made an appearance that was quite impressive! Ice skating horses; who knew, right? But the best part by far were the aerial tricks that Rapunzel and Flynn did while hanging from her "hair." I've never seen anything like it in an ice show! 

Final Thought

I was going to love it anyway because it's Disney, but really...if you get a chance, go see this show! 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Last Chance to See/Do at Disneyland!

There are a lot of changes coming to Disneyland with the addition of  Star Wars Land. Some things are closing temporarily during construction and others are going for good! Check out our list below and try to see and do as many of these as possible before January when construction starts!

Closing for About a Year 

1. Mark Twain

This classic riverboat will be returning when the Rivers of America reopen, but it will run a shorter route. Ask to ride up with the captain while you still can!

2. Sailing Ship Columbia

While this boat doesn't run as frequently as the Mark Twain, it's still a fun and interesting ride to see.

3. Tom Sawyer Island (Pirates Lair)

You have 3 months left to ride a raft across the Rivers of America to the perfect spot for climbing, discovering caves, and getting very dirty! Part of the island is being removed, but it's the section that was home to Fort Wilderness which has been permanently closed off for years anyway. 

4. Canoes

This ride is hard work and doesn't get too much traffic, but if you're looking for a workout after your 10th Dole Whip, hop on before it says goodbye for a year. (I'm personally hoping it'll return as part of Star Wars Land so we can call it the "Obi-wan Canoebis"!)

5. Fantasmic!

The bad news about the show closing for the year: 1. We'll miss it! 2. The crowd that usually watches it has to go somewhere else during a time of night when rides have shorter lines. 
The good news: New Orleans Square will be accessible at night without taking your life in your hands!

6. Disneyland Railroad

They'll be changing the layout of the tracks during the closure, which I'm sure is no small task. But I'll sure miss it! It's such a fun way I get around the park when your feet are tired! That also means no riding up front with the engineer or in the Lilly Belle car, either.

Gone Forever

1. Big Thunder Ranch

Home to some lovely animals and seasonal activities/characters, this area will be closing for good to make way for Star Wars. 

2. Big Thunder BBQ 

Photo Credit: Disneyland.com

My favorite meal in the park! It's all you can eat, delicious, and has a great atmosphere and entertainment. Get your reservations in while you can. We'll miss you, BBQ!