Monthly Archives: November 2013

Disneyland Day 3 – Fireworks, parades and rides a-plenty!

Now that we were well-acquainted with the park, it was much easier to move around and see what we wanted to in a big hurry. We took the monorail right to Tomorrowland (after another breakfast at Goofy’s Kitchen!) and hopped on the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. This is well worth it – if you have any memories of the submarines at West Edmonton Mall, they look very similar but (in classic Disney style) are so much more. The ride is situated directly under the Tomorrowland monorail stop, so if you are itching to get on some rides, consider going there first.

Other rides in the Tomorrowland area which we enjoyed include Matterhorn (a thrilling, bumpy rollercoaster-style bobsled ride which I don’t recommend for small children) Space Mountain (very smooth, very thrilling rollercoaster-style ride in total darkness with stars) Captain Eo (open only for a very limited time, a Michael Jackson sci-fi 4D 1986 adventure – my husband’s favourite ride in the whole park) the Innoventions pavilion (featuring lots of technological gadgets, a ‘future’ house, ASIMO the robot, Thor and Iron Man) and Star Tours (an interactive Star Wars video ride with loads of different possible routes and endings.)

If you are navigating through the park, it’s probably easiest to tackle one “land” at a time – we decided to do this with Tomorrowland, and we managed to get a lot of rides done in a short time. It can be tempting to run across the park to go on specific rides, but you will love absolutely everything at Disneyland (trust me!) so consider tackling each ride as you walk by it. If there are very long lines at a ride you want to go on, grab a FastPass and come back at the time which is listed on it. (This is a way for Disneyland to reduce line-ups – you get a FastPass and if you come back at that time, you get to go in a much, much shorter line.)

 

After finishing Tomorrowland, we walked on towards the back of the park. Splash Mountain is a very long, quite intense log ride. You will definitely get wet, so watch the weather when you go on! The Haunted Mansion was all dolled up for the holidays as a Nightmare Before Christmas ride, completely overhauled to include loads of references to the Tim Burton flick. This ride is very surprising and very spooky for little ones (small children have to come accompanied with an adult) but there are a few opportunities for a quick exit if you decide that this ride may be too much for your family. We loved it, but there were a few kids who were ushered out after the first part of the mansion.

I highly recommend visiting the park both in the daytime and at night – the park at night is a totally different experience and is all lit up with beautiful displays which add to the whole experience. As an added bonus, if you are there on a weekday night during the holiday season, it tends to be a lot quieter than you might expect. The longest we waited for a ride was about 20 minutes, and we often walked right on to whatever we wanted to see. Consider going early (hotel guests get an extra “magic hour” which allows an hour early entry) and enjoying the park until about 11:00-12:00, then going back to the hotel for a rest and a dip in the pool and coming back to the park around 4:00 PM. You’ll get the shortest lines that way and you will definitely want a break!

In the evening, we had the opportunity to watch the incredible A Christmas Fantasy Parade (insidethemagic.net) which was absolutely magical and featured loads of Disney characters, dancers of all kinds, and, of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus. This parade runs every night from around 5-6 PM – arrive early to find a place where you can see the parade. It’s absolutely worth it!

If you stick around, there are two more shows every night at Disneyland Park – Believe…In Holiday Magic, the nightly fireworks show which runs twice a night, and Fantasmic! an incredible multi-media spectacular which is more appropriate for the slightly older child (6+) and also runs twice a night. Fantasmic! is absolutely incredible in scale and execution – like everything at Disneyland, you really have to see it to believe it! If you have a room in the Disneyland Hotel, ask for one with a firework view – it is possible to see a lot of the show from your room if your kids are tired. Make sure to turn the TV to the firework music channel!

The monorail runs until the park closes, so make sure to get on before then if you want to save sleepy feet at the end of the night.

Disneyland Day 2 – It’s A Small World, Goofy’s Kitchen, World of Color – Winter Dreams and much more!

GoofysKitchenWe were up very early on our second day at Disneyland Resort, since we were looking forward to the day and couldn’t wait to get started. Our first order of business was to eat breakfast at Goofy’s Kitchen – a fantastic buffet restaurant in the basement of the Disneyland Hotel, which features tons of Disney characters (we saw Goofy, Chip, Dale, Pluto, Baloo, Alice, Jasmine, and Belle in the first day there) as well as crowd-pleasing food for every palate. Top billing in my mind was the peanut butter and jelly pizza and the awesome ice cream factory, but there were tons of options for breakfast and lunch.

Very close to the hotel is the monorail, which takes you right into Disneyland Park and saves a lot of time if you already have your ticket with you – otherwise, you will have to walk the 10-15 minutes through Downtown Disney to get to the two parks. The monorail is quick and fun, and drops you off right in Tomorrowland.

It’s A Small World has been totally redesigned for the holidays. Whether or not you have ever actually been on it before, you probably know the basics – It’s A Small World features thousands of lovingly crafted animatronic figures of children and Disney characters from all around the world. We decided to go there first. I loved it, and it’s the perfect speed for very small children – no seatbelts required. The holiday version has loads of cute winter touches, Christmas trees, and a new soundtrack which mixes Christmas carols in with the usual “It’s A Small World” theme. The outside of the ride is more than worth seeing all by itself, especially all lit up for Christmas!

annaelsaOn our second day at Disneyland Park, we also had the opportunity to meet Elsa and Anna, the princesses from the upcoming Disney film Frozen. They were very gracious and funny and their little house had a photographer in it (who was happy to take pictures with my camera as well as his own.) After we had our picture taken, I was handed a card with a code on it which I could use to access the picture online and decide whether or not I liked it. Very handy!

One of the highlights of any Disney park is definitely the variety and number of characters you can meet. If the characters are from a new movie, chances are they will have their own little area, like Anna and Elsa, Merida, and Tinkerbell and her friends. Otherwise, you will see them wandering around in the park throughout the day – feel free to approach them for a hug or a high-five.

If you have a child who isn’t into mascots and princesses, Disney now owns Marvel and Star Wars – meaning that there are a number of Star Wars attractions and characters, such as Jedi Training Academy, and a meet-and-greet with Thor. Jedi Training Academy is an outdoor show with loads of audience participation, plus popular villains and characters like Darth Vader and Darth Maul. Thor hangs out in the Innoventions building along with Iron Man’s armour, which is a pretty incredible display all by itself. There are many opportunities for children of all ages to get excited about something at Disneyland!

worldofcolorIn the evening, we were allowed special access to the world premier of World of Color – Winter Dreams at Disney California Adventure park. (Insidethemagic.net has a full video of the event as we saw it, although you really have to see it in person to get the full effect.) This multimedia show takes place on the water, and features hundreds of synced water jets and colored lights which combine to allow video projections on to streams of mist on the water itself.

It’s hard for me to express the sheer scale of this show – they accomplish an absolutely incredible amount of spectacular effects, including multiple projected musical numbers featuring favourite Disney characters, an Honor Choir made up of hundreds of regular Americans singing a song together via projection on the water, and much more. It is jaw-dropping and an absolute must if you are going to Disney California Adventure at any time. Along with our special access, we were given Mickey Mouse hats with ears that glowed and flashed along with the show – because there were hundreds of these hats distributed, it added an entirely new dimension to the show.

vivanavidadWe ended up going back to our room at the Disneyland Hotel around 11:30 PM, after being treated to dinner at ¡Viva Navidad! (Insidethemagic.com) taking place in Paradise Garden, the Mexico-themed area towards the back of Disney California Adventure. It has all the flavour of a street party, lots of music, and characters like the Three Amigos dressed and mingling with guests. It is high-energy and loads of fun! You can get some wonderful Mexican and South American food in this area, which is a lovely change from pizza and hot dogs for the more adventurous palate.

Wherever you go in either park, it feels like there is always something special and unique going on – no matter what time of day, there are little moments of Disney magic. Whether it’s a light show, fireworks, a parade, or just a favourite character rounding the corner into view, it can’t help but put a smile on just about anyone’s face.

 

Disneyland Day 1 – Arrival, Check-In, Main Street USA, Fantasyland, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, and New Orleans Square

If you’re coming down to Disneyland by plane, you’ll want to get up nice and early to make sure your flight goes smoothly. My husband Andrew and I got up at about 7:30 on Wednesday morning for our 11:10 flight to Los Angeles, California (LAX). We arrived at the airport a little after 9:00 AM. When you arrive at the airport, you’ll need to go through customs after you check in your bags and get your boarding pass, but the American side of the airport is self-contained and has its own screening area, so it moves fairly quickly.

There were loads of kids and parents on the plane with us to LAX, most of whom were coming to Disneyland as well! The atmosphere was very positive the whole way and as we flew Air Canada, there were loads of entertainment options on the seat-back TVs to keep everyone happy and occupied during the 3-hour flight from YYC to LAX.

When we arrived at LAX, it was very easy and straightforward to get our luggage. Every hour on the hour, a huge coach bus called the Disneyland Express arrives outside the baggage area. It’s very easy to spot as it’s covered in fun Disney characters, and you’ll notice the lineup to get on right away! It stops at all the hotels in Disneyland if you are staying on or near the park. It takes anywhere between 1-2 hours to get to the park from Los Angeles, depending on the traffic, so make sure to stop at the bathroom in the airport!

Check-in was quick and seamless. One of the first things you’ll notice upon entering your hotel is that the staff is unbelievably friendly and accommodating – it’s all a part of the Disney magic. Everything from your taps to your bed linens are themed, but I found the decor at the Disneyland Hotel to be very modern and understated, which made it easy to relax and get comfortable in the room. There’s free WiFi, basic cable and loads of interesting information about the park in every room. If you have little ones, you’ll love the Disney-only channels on the TV – there’s a princess bedtime story channel, music channels which sync to the fireworks and World of Color shows every night (if you can see them from your window,) and a couple of information channels which should help you with planning your day.

There are three hub areas at what you and I would think of as Disneyland – Downtown Disney, Disneyland Park, and Disneyland California Adventure.

Downtown Disney lies outside of the parks, and therefore you don’t have to pay any kind of fee to hang out there. It’s primarily retail and restaurants, but there are some very cool shopping options besides the many Disney-branded stores that line the street, including Sephora and Fossil. There’s also an Alamo Rent-a-Car in case you would like to leave the park at any time to explore. Don’t miss World of Disney, an absolutely massive Disney store full to the brim with an incredible assortment of toys, clothing and keepsakes.

Disney California Adventure is a fairly new park which had a massive relaunch last year. It is now home to Cars Land, A Bug’s Land, and Hollywood Land, and has more of a Pixar flavour to it than Disneyland Park does. Because Cars Land is very new, it is almost always packed – consider coming later in the evening to check out the rides.

Disneyland Park is really the first thing that pops into your head when you think about the resort. It features the Sleeping Beauty castle and many of the more iconic rides, such as Pirates of the Caribbean, the Indiana Jones Adventure, It’s a Small World, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, the Mad Tea Party teacup ride, and many more.

Disneyland Park is divided into sections based on theme. We visited these last night:

  • Main Street USA, the 1900s-themed entrance to the park;
  • Fantasyland, which features many of the more child-friendly, classic rides and is themed as a fairytale kingdom;
  • Tomorrowland, which has interactive and “futuristic” rides like Star Tours (a Star Wars ride) and Space Mountain and has a sci-fi flavour;
  • Adventureland, which has the Jungle Cruise and Indiana Jones Adventure and is themed to feel “exotic” and jungle-like;
  • New Orleans Square, which features attractions, restaurants and retail, as well as Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion.

My husband likes rides a lot more than I do, but we found all of these rides to be really good fun for both of us. The Jungle Cruise (dressed up for the holidays as the Jingle Cruise) is a good introduction to the park and is a boat ride with a skipper who cracks cheesy jokes throughout, even if it shows its age with the animatronic African tribesmen that you see along the way. The Indiana Jones Adventure was incredibly fun and beautifully themed with every possible iconic image from the original trilogy, from the beginning of the line to get in until you leave. It’s very bouncy and fun, so I would recommend slightly older riders for this one – ask the Cast Member in charge of the ride for guidance. The Pirates of the Caribbean was beyond my wildest expectations and is mostly about the absolutely gob-smacking visual experience; it’s a very gentle ride, but has lots of skeletons and other scary images which might not be suitable for very young riders.

I want to stress here that even if you have a very young child, there is more than enough to keep them entertained even without rides. Every foot of the park is beautiful; everything is themed and detailed to look absolutely magical. Disney characters roam the park to give hugs and high-fives, and the themed streets are enough to keep everyone absolutely enchanted. If you haven’t been to Disneyland Park before, it is hard to describe the atmosphere and level of detail that exists here – you simply have to come see it for yourself!

We’re Going to Disneyland!

We have been invited by The Walt Disney Company to enjoy a sneak peek at their winter and holiday offerings at Disneyland Resort and Disney California Adventure!

We will be on-site at Disneyland Resort from Nov. 13 to Nov. 17. If you’re thinking about booking a trip to California to take part in the Disney holiday festivities, let us tell you our best bets for a magical vacation for you and your family!

Holidays at the Disneyland Resort are filled with an abundance of merriment, tradition and new experiences this year, including the debut of “World of Color − Winter Dreams.” The all-new version of “World of Color” in Disney California Adventure Park brings the spirit of the holidays to life with music, humor and the joy of the season.

Hosted by Olaf the snowman, from the upcoming Walt Disney Pictures animated feature “Frozen,” the “World of Color − Winter Dreams” show combines new animation with classic winter scenes from beloved Disney and Disney•Pixar films, such as “Bambi,” “Fantasia” and “Toy Story.” The show includes new music and special effects, including new methods for utilizing the massive “stage” of water, color and light that comes to life with the power of nearly 1,200 fountains.

Also new in Disney California Adventure, “Disney ¡Viva Navidad!” takes over Paradise Gardens with a daily celebration inspired by the warmth and joyous spirit of Latino culture and holiday traditions. From Nov. 15 through Jan. 6, 2014, “Disney ¡Viva Navidad!” offers special activities such as live Latino music, dance lessons, crafts and face painting for children and a “Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party.” The festivities also include traditional holiday foods and appearances by some popular Disney characters.  The grand finale of “Disney ¡Viva Navidad!” will be the special celebration of Three Kings Day (Dia de los Reyes) Jan. 3 through 6, 2014 in Paradise Garden.

These new experiences join a merry lineup of Disneyland Resort holiday traditions that begin Nov. 12, including “A Christmas Fantasy” parade“Believe…in Holiday Magic” fireworks and snowfall on Main Street, U.S.A. in Disneyland Park, plus special seasonal décor on Buena Vista Street, along with whimsical décor in Cars Land and a bug’s land in Disney California Adventure. Characters also make holiday appearances and the skippers of Jingle Cruise add some new holiday fun.

– Disneyland Resort Debuts ‘World of Color − Winter Dreams,’ A Merry New Spectacular for 2013 Holiday Season

Stay tuned for live updates on the Disney magic from tomorrow until Sunday, Nov. 17th!