Andrew’s September Disneyland Trip Report – Part 2

Trip Report Saturday was a wise and noble notion but it went back to the grave just as soon as it was revived.  Someday, and someday soon, it will rise again but for this week the trip report comes on a Tuesday.  If you missed the first installment, click here.

After riding a few attractions with short lines in Fantasyland, Melissa and I braved a place we hadn’t been in years – Mickey’s Toontown.  I’ve never thought highly of Toontown.  Maybe because I didn’t love theme parks until I was a bit older, I never grew a nostalgic affection for the land.  We had completely skipped Toontown on our last trip to Disneyland so we thought we’d walk around for a while and see what we were missing.

Miss Daisy Boat ToonTown

We walked through Mickey’s house and met him at the end, climbed through a treehouse, rode a roller coaster, walked around and through a boat, saw a few nice fountains, snapped some photos, interacted with some gags, and tried to experience just about everything Toontown offered.  And to be honest, none of what I listed above left an impression on me.  I do see that kids could have fun here but they also have fun in most other areas of the park.

The thing is, Toontown has a well-executed theme.  The design looks cartoonish and I can’t picture it looking much better than it did.  The problem, in my opinion, lies within the idea of Toontown.  Like DinoLand USA in Animal Kingdom, the theme is carried out well but the idea behind the theme is not a place where I want to spend a large amount of time.  The area doesn’t have an inviting atmosphere and once I was done with the attractions and seeing everything, I didn’t have much interest in sitting and taking in the sights and sounds.  I want to do that in every other area in Disneyland, even Tomorrowland which has many flaws.  All of this is why I’m just a little sad that Star Wars Land will be replacing Big Thunder Ranch instead of Toontown.  I find Big Thunder Ranch to be more unique and charming than what is staying.  I understand why they went the route they did.  I’m not annoyed or mad about it, just a little bit sad.  I know many people out there like, or even love, Toontown and that’s great.  The land just isn’t for me and I think that eventually the area will be used for something else.

Mickey toontown fountain

I did leave out one attraction from the list of things I was unimpressed by in Toontown and that is Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin.  That attraction is really fun and well done.  The story and jokes are very funny throughout and the attraction is zany in a Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride fashion.  It’s easy to see why Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin has a cult-following of sorts.  This attraction is the best reason to keep Toontown alive and for me to abandon my #SaveTheGoats campaign.  If Toontown is ever abandoned, I hope Roger Rabbit makes the short spin to Fantasyland and finds a home there.

Baymax… Attack!

Baymex attack

We made a quick trip back to Main Street and went to the flag retreat ceremony.  I haven’t decided if I will write a full post about the flag retreat yet but I really enjoyed myself.  This was an event that I’d wanted to attend for quite some time.  Everyday at 5 PM, they lower the flag on Main Street for the evening.  The Disneyland Band and Dapper Dans join to play a few songs and honor members and veterans of the military.  It’s a heartfelt ceremony that is touching to watch.  It lasts for about 20 minutes and I heartily recommend seeing it, if you haven’t already.

Lowering the flag

After the ceremony, we headed to our delicious fried chicken dinner at Plaza Inn.  I reviewed this meal a few weeks ago, you can read it here.  In short, I really enjoyed our dinner and Melissa thought it was decent.

We had gotten fairly tired by this point and had done most of the attractions on our check list so we slowed it down with a ride on the Mark Twain Riverboat.

Big thunder river boat paddle

Hungry Bear Splash River Boat

I’ve raved about the Mark Twain River Boat a few times before.  This time Melissa and I got a spot on the top deck of the boat.  The top deck offers the most views of the surroundings, even if it doesn’t have as much character as the first or second deck.  I walked around and took pictures as Melissa rested and took in the sights from a bench.

The ride around the river is really beautiful and there is a ton to look at.  If you go at the wrong time this boat ride could be miserably hot so I recommend taking a ride in the early evening, on one of the last trips the boat offers.  I’ll eventually do a photo tour post of the Mark Twain River Boat.  For now, here’s a few more photos.

Native Americans River Boat

Castle and Matterhorn River Boat

Rivers of America

We spent another hour or two wandering around Frontierland and New Orleans Square.  The parks were so empty that it was easy to ride anything we wanted, even in the early evening.  Another trip on Big Thunder and through the Caribbean were in order, as well as watching the sun set over Splash Mountain.

Tom Sawyer Splash light

Big Thunder Train turning

Melissa and I were very excited for the new 60th anniversary and decided to find our place along Main Street about 45 minutes before Paint the Night began.  Many people had already lined up in this area, so we didn’t have as good of viewing area as we would a few nights later.

Tinkerbell with lumiere and PP

Slinky from afar PTN

The first time watching these shows was nothing short of incredible.  I took more pictures the second time, as I simply watched a good share of the parade and fireworks the first time.  The scale of the parade really blew me away at first, as Cassie and I tried to explain with our review.  The fireworks were incredible too, although I enjoyed the second time I saw it more as I had a better spot to see everything around me.  All in all, it was an unforgettable night being able to see both of these shows for the first time.

Frozen Elsa stretched out arms PTN

sharp Disneyland Forever

The park closed shortly after the fireworks ended.  I typically bring my tripod to shoot some night photos after the park closes, but I forgot a piece of the tripod at home so I wasn’t able to this night.

Melissa and I wandered through Tomorrowland.  I had hoped that Tomorrowland, after closing, would be warm and vibrant with the neon lights.  I was slightly underwhelmed.  The land was fairly dark and that made it feel as if there was a lot of empty space.  At its best, Tomorrowland should be full of energy, exploration and hopefulness; a sign of the beautiful future that is to come.  Right now it looks a little dim.  I do believe that it could be fixed fairly easily.  A new attraction would do wonders, as well as maybe a slightly different color theme.  On this night, the land seemed tired but with a few positive changes it could be Disney’s best land.

Tomorroland night tall

Our energy was waning and I was a little dejected about forgetting a piece of my tripod.  With that in mind, we made the 15-minute walk back to the Howard Johnson and headed to bed.

The next morning saw the park open at 10, but we took advantage of the Magic Morning on our ticket and went into Disneyland at 9.  Our plan of attack was to go to Peter Pan as soon as we got into the park.  Even with going right at gate opening, Peter Pan had a 45-minute line.  People were very eager to see the new enhancements that they added to the attraction, as it was easily the most popular attraction while we were there.  We put it off for another day and headed over to other Fantasyland attractions.

Teacups daytime

In my last few trips to Disneyland Alice in Wonderland had been closed.  I was happy to find it open and we promptly hopped on.  I’m late to the (tea) party, but I was really impressed by the upgrades they made to Alice.  Everything looked sharp.  After the upgrades, this attractions lands right on the fringe of my top-5 dark rides at Disneyland (which I consider to be one of Disneyland’s strong points).

It was nice to do a few attractions but I’m not sure the Magic Morning helps the park experience that much during the off-season.  Complaining about it would be fairly ridiculous, as they are opening up the park for an extra hour to select guests.  With that being said, Disneyland doesn’t open much up during the Magic Morning (Tomorrowland and Fantasyland) so there are pretty big crowds in select spots.  If you go into the morning just looking to get a few extra attractions in then the Magic Morning is great.  If you are looking to get in a bunch of E-ticket attractions, then you may be disappointed.  Of course, all of that depends on the time of year.  Either way, I was happy to head over to California Adventure after an hour in Disneyland, as it was significantly less crowded than Disneyland (meaning hardly anyone was there because Disneyland wasn’t THAT crowded).

Flo's dining room

We grabbed a FastPass for Radiator Springs Racers and hurried off to Flo’s since we had rented it out for breakfast.  Okay, we didn’t really rent it out but we were the only ones in there.  We really enjoyed having a relaxing breakfast in there and staring out over Radiator Springs.  I will have a review of our breakfast sometime soon but, in short, the food was good but not great.

This seems as good of a spot as any to stop this installment.  Part 3 will conclude our day at California Adventure and a take quick look at how we spent our day outside of the parks on the following day.

I’m always looking for feedback on trip reports.  Would you like more photos?  More detailed plans of what we did and why we did it?  More opinions on areas and attractions?  Please let us know in the comments and we will try to include that in future trip reports.  Thank you very much for reading and have a great day!

-Andrew

Question of the Week (9/27/15)

Every week our writers get together and answer a Disney related question.  Here is this week’s question and answers.  Leave your answers in the comments!

Question of the Week: Where is your favorite place to sit and relax in the Disney Parks?

Melissa H. – I definitely enjoy sitting in the exit area of Indiana Jones – right between the entrance to the line and the Fastpass Distribution center for the ride. I can listen to the sounds of the Jungle Cruise and pretend like I’m really lost deep in the jungle.

jungle cruise sign

Cassie – My favorite place to relax is definitely the Animation Academy at California Adventure. Even if I cant find a comfy couch spot, I’ve been know to lay out a sweatshirt on the carpet and take a snooze…on more than one occasion. The whole place is so peaceful and cozy.

Melissa L. – I’d say my favorite place to relax is any where I can find a seat! I can’t think of one place I always like to stop since I definitely do tend to go, go, go while at the parks. But it is always nice to find a place to sit where it’s not extremely crowded and people watch. This way we always end up finding a new quite spot to enjoy!

Fantasyland & Matterhorn

Leslie – My favorite place to sit and relax is actually inside the Columbia Harbour House. I like to get a bite to eat here and head upstairs to a room with a nice view. From the left side I can see the Haunted Mansion que line and Tom Sawyer’s Island and from the right I can see parts of Fantasyland. Air conditioned and usually a bit deserted this upstairs area is nice and since the restaurant is quick service people are usually in and out quickly. My old roommate Devon showed me this spot and I find myself frequenting it when I am in Magic Kingdom.

Andrew – Leslie stole one of my answers so I’ll go with a different one… Sitting outside at the French Market in Disneyland is fantastic, especially if you can get a seat facing the Rivers of America. This area has such an atmosphere, especially at night. There is live jazz music playing and a buzz of anticipation for the upcoming Fantasmic! But, there are things to see during the day too – gazing out onto Tom Sawyer Island, looking at Haunted Mansion to your left and Big Thunder on your right. Plus, there are an incredible amount of people who pass through here and it is fun to people watch. It’s a great place to sit with a snack (also known as a meal, in my mind) and relax for a while.

Tom Sawyer Island

Kelsee – I am with Cassie! I love the Art of Animation Academy in California Adventure! It is my favorite place to relax mid day while at the parks! So relaxing and cool from the hot California heat!

water flamingos AK

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Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Review (Magic Kingdom)

On September 22nd I had the opportunity to be a guest at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. After spending all day in Magic Kingdom, the clock struck 7 and the party began. Looking at my map and trying to make a plan with some of my friends there was a lot to do and only 5 hours to do it all. There was trick or treating to be done, event merchandise to buy, characters to meet, shows to watch, parades, and of course Hallowishes. I am a bad news first kind of person, so here goes.

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Unfortunately, I was attending a sold out party. The park was filled with costumed guests who like me wanted nothing more than to do everything on their list if they could. So to say lines were long is an understatement. Lines were unbelievable for character meet and greet which was the main thing I wanted to do that evening.

To give you an idea Jack and Sally had an estimated 2 hour line when we went to see them, Cruella had a 1 hour line, Mickey and the gang also had an hour line. Put that together and you miss some of the shows and, possibly, the fireworks show. As such I made an executive decision and skipped out on these characters. I was able to see Lotso, Snow White (no Prince however), and the Hag. I also took the opportunity to see Elsa and Anna as their line was only a 30 minute wait (a record low!).

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I did not do any trick or treating as lines to get candy were also long and I can buy myself a bag of candy for cheaper than the event ticket.

Now that we have the negatives out-of-the-way let us look at the positives.

Celebrate the Magic was pretty much the same but offered a bit more on the villains side and covered the castle with some interesting projections. I really enjoyed the additions and hope they will remain for a time, but I feel they will change once the Christmas season is upon us.

After Celebrate the Magic was Wishes, but not as you know it. The Ghost Host brought us a wonderful Happy Hallowishes, which is much different and probably the highlight of the night. With new mixes of some of our favorite villains songs as well as projections along the castle during the performance it was a sight to see. YouTube videos do not give it justice and it is definitely one of those firework displays that you should simply watch and not try to record. You lose the magic while trying to view it through a phone or camera display.

Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular was amazing. During the performance your favorite witches and mine return, after only 22 years away this time (they claim they are getting better at it, I say one of us 90’s kids lit the candle on purpose). The costumes were spot on, you could swear it was really Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy on stage from their facial expressions, movements and mannerisms. Of course the sisters are not here to steal all of Disney’s children, they simply want to throw a party, and with the help of some villainous friends that is just what they do. As much as I hate to admit it after the Sanderson Sisters the best costume was Oogie Boogie (I shiver at how real it looked). Best of all the Sisters sang the famous “I Put A Spell On You” to the delight of the crowd with a very emphasized “heck to pay”. It was definitely a high-energy crowd who was ready for this return of the Sisters a long time ago. We were sad when we had to say bye-bye because we could have danced all night, or til we were dead, whichever came first.

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Mickey’s Boo to You Halloween Parade was fantastic. The floats were all excellently themed and characters that are not usually in the parade had their own floats (like Clarabelle Cow and Clara Cluck). Each different float had themed music that goes with the overall music and the dancers were all fantastic. In true villain fashion they got the last laugh (quite literally in the Evil Queen’s case) and were presented at the end of the parade. This was definitely one of the best parts of the night and was my closing event.

After this I went and got my party merchandise and began the trek home. As there was still one more Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular there was not a huge crowd trying to leave while I was.

So the question is, with a price range of 63-80 dollars, was my night worth it? Yes, and no, for what I wanted to do it was very difficult. The sheer amount of people made it impossible to see all the characters (Disney however organized this as best as they could, having multiple lines at once so there could be a constant draw). Trick or Treating was not as important to me so that is not a down side. The shows and parade were phenomenal, as such if I could go back I would still purchase another ticket. I cannot control how many guests are in the park, or how many come to the party. What I can control is my attitude and if I look back I had an amazing time. For that there is no price.

IMG_4386

– Leslie

*To the readers, I apologize for my absence and the well…few months between posts. I work 40+ hours each week here at Disney and am also still in school during my time here. I hope I will be able to write more for you all soon.

Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotel: Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel Review

On our latest trip down to Disneyland, we stayed three nights in the Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel and Water Playground.  Well, technically we didn’t stay in the Water Playground but that was part of the hotels official name so I had to call it that at least once.  The Howard Johnson, or HoJo as the cool kids say, is about a 15 minute walk to the gates of Disneyland.  The hotel is directly across the street from Disneyland, as it’s on Harbor Blvd. and near I-5.  I had heard many people rave about the Howard Johnson and I was eager to try the hotel out.

As I said, this particular HoJo is very well thought of, ranking number 6 on TripAdvisor’s list of all Anaheim hotels.  Much of that may come from the family friendly nature of the hotel.  The official title this place holds isn’t afraid to boast of their ‘Water Playground’ and rightfully so.  From what I can tell there isn’t much like it when talking about Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotels.

The layout of the hotel is family friendly, as well.  Instead of a standard motel that you are more likely to see on Harbor, the Howard Johnson has several building with rooms in them, making it a fairly large piece of property when all is said and done.  The walkways from building to building were well-kept and looked nice.  The whole section felt safe and, for a road with some run-down hotels on it, that in itself is an accomplishment.

With all of that being said, I’m still unsure of how I feel about the Howard Johnson.  Let’s jump into the details to break it down further!

Howard Johnson room

There are several different rooms available at the Howard Johnson.  As you can see, Melissa and I opted for the king bed room.  I also believe we ended up with a handicap accessible room.  I don’t know the reason we had this room, probably due to what they had available.

Our room was… Umm… Weird.  First, the good.  There was quite a bit of space in it, as there usually are with king bed hotel rooms.  I really liked our deck, which was pretty wide.  We were on the first floor so there wasn’t much to look at but that’s beside the point.  While I’m no design expert, I am a trust-worthy source when it comes to grading hotel art.  The art on these walls graded out to a B.  Being so close to I-5, I was a little worried that we’d hear traffic all through the night but I don’t remember that at all.  Last of all, and maybe most importantly, our bed was comfortable.  Not extremely soft but enough to sink down a little bit.  Neither of us had any trouble sleeping.

Howard Johnson towards door

Now, for the bad.  The room was fairly ugly.  The walls were nice enough with the decent artwork and simplistic nature but everything else was not kind to the eye.  Of course, this is all a matter of taste but the green carpet wasn’t my favorite.  Mix it in with the different greens and the red on the bed and you’ve made for an ugly Christmas.  The room was kept clean by the staff (who were kind and helpful in all of our encounters) but the vague shades of color made the room feel dark and dirtier than it actually was.  We had a few problems with our TV, some of the channels would come in and out, but that was probably just a weird occurrence.

The room did have a nice little table and desk.  As I mentioned, the room had a TV that was a decent size and was mounted on the wall, which is nice.

Moving on to the bathroom…

Howard Johnson bathroom toilet

No, this is not a flattering picture but I thought it showed the weirdness of the bathroom.  There was a ton of room in the bathroom which is great, right?  I’m not so sure that’s the case here.  There was too much space for everything being so small.  Of course, a toilet is always about the same size (doing my best to stay away from any bathroom humor but you don’t know how hard this is).  Sinks, on the other hand, can vary in size and this one was extremely small.  The same goes with the shower/tub.  If the bathroom was a regular size then everything would fit in better but here it just made the room seem hollow.  That made the bathroom kind of off-putting.  I would chalk it up to me being weird, but Melissa disliked it even more than me so that’s why I included it in the review.  Again, we did seem to have a handicap accessible room so other bathrooms could be different.

Shower Howard Johnson

All in all, the room could have utilized space much better than they did.  Also, some different colors in the room would make it feel much less dated.

Moving on to the star of the show, the water playground.  This thing really was cool and I can see why families with kids under 11 or 12 would love this place.  I know I would have loved this when I was a kid.

Howard Johnson water playground

There’s a few slides, ropes to climb on, that weird mushroom thing and then that giant bucket of water dumps every couple of minutes.  There’s also a hot tub on the far end of this picture where parents could easily watch their kids play from.  The hot tub was fairly small (it could probably fit 4 or 5 comfortably).  If hot tubs aren’t your thing, there were plenty of chairs and umbrellas around to lounge in.

Howard Johnson turtle wade pool

The other half of the water playground was a place for smaller children.  There’s a little splash area with Franklin the Turtle’s second cousin, Delanor (don’t look that up, you won’t find anything).  There’s also a wade pool, as you can see.  Over on the opposite side of the hotel property there was an actual pool, although it meant business.  There was no time for silly things like water playgrounds at this pool.

Howard Johnson Pool

This pool was more your run-of-the-mill hotel pool, although cleaner than most.  Both ‘water areas’ (I don’t know what else to call them) were well-kept and looked nice.  Melissa and I spent a few minutes at each place.  I would have spent more at the water playground if I hadn’t felt like such a creep for being the only adult standing under a giant bucket of water that was about to get dumped on me.

Like I said, the water areas are best suited for pre-teens and younger.  I have a hard time seeing any teenager really enjoying the water playground and the pool is just your average pool.  As for adults without kids, the water playground is fun but you’ll get some looks from parents if you are there for more than 10 minutes.  I speak from experience.

The hotel also featured a game room with about 7 or 8 games in there.  Across the way from that was a gift shop that had a decent variety, from snacks to souvenirs.  Both of those were nice little accommodations but not something to pick this hotel for.

Howard Johnson flowers

Nearby there were a few places to eat, namely Mimi’s Cafe and McDonald’s.  I’ve never eaten at Mimi’s.  I have eaten at McDonald’s, unfortunately.  Although McDonald’s is in a good spot to stop and grab some breakfast in the morning on the way to the park.

As far as other hotel amenities, there was no workout room.  There was free wifi and parking.  At least, I believe the parking was free as the website implies that it is (we didn’t have a car so I’m not sure).  There was a tax (and resort fee) of about 18% which is pretty steep.  I’m guessing that percentage is so high so then they can offer ‘free’ wifi and parking.

Before the tax and fees, the Howard Johnson offers rooms from about 140-180 a night.  There are plenty of discounts to be found though, with Howard Johnson being a well-known hotel chain.  Still, I think this price is just a little bit too high.  There are other hotels that are a bit cheaper per night with nicer rooms.  It all comes down to how much you value the water playground, which is definitely unique and great for kids.

Overall, I didn’t think this hotel lived up to the hype.  I understand why families would really like it.  The location was pretty good, the hotel felt safe and the water features were unique.  On the downside, the room felt dated and was somewhat ugly.  As I said, I think the hotel is slightly overpriced but could be worth it for families with kids who love the water.

Rating – 7/10

Howard Johnson Castaway Cove

Have you stayed at the Anaheim Howard Johnson?  What were your thoughts on it?  Let us know in the comments!  Thank you for reading!

– Andrew

Question of the Week (9/21/15)

Every week our writers get together and answer a Disney-related question.  Here is this week’s question and answer.  Leave your answer to the question of the week in the comments!

Belle purple rose

Question of the week: Time to lighten things up! What Disney character do you wish did (more) meet & greets at the parks?

Melissa H. – My experience with Disney World is very limited, so this is based on what I know about characters at Disneyland. It feels to me like all they really have out are the Fab Five (Mickey & his gang) or Princesses. I just wish they would rotate in more variety. When I was a kid there would be villains like Jafar, sidekicks like Meeko, or just all around fun characters to meet like Brer Fox or Max Goof. I’m sure Disney must have those costumes stored somewhere. Really, more than anything, I just wish they would let the characters wander around the parks more like they used to. It was super fun to be walking and just randomly see a character moseying along. Something about that just felt much more magical than them always standing post in designated areas.

Cassie Minnie

Andrew – I’m really on a Jungle Book kick lately. More specifically, I love King Louie. His part in Mickey and the Magical Map was easily my favorite part of the show. He’s a fun and exciting character that is a tad bit goofy. I know they have the costume for him since he’s in that show and in Fantasmic! so I’d love to see him around more often. I’m not sure if he makes any appearances in Disney World but him being in Animal Kingdom would make a lot of sense. I’d love to see him out doing meet & greets!  Also, a Mr. Toad meet & greet would be a dream come true.

Melissa L. – I’d love for the dwarfs from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs would be out more often! For some reason, I’ve always been attracted to Grumpy. He is my favorite and I’ve always wanted to meet him. I know he is in a few parades, but I’ve never seen them in a meet and greet and I think it would be really fun!!

Dwarves

Cassie – I’m not a huge character fan in general…however I do think Mulan and Pocahontas get overlooked a lot at the Disney parks and their characters deserve more attention. Like Andrew, I loved their parts in Mickey and the Magical Map.They are also both empowering strong female characters for little girls to look up to! Like, no offense to Aurora, but Mulan saved all of China, pretty sure she should get a wee bit more attention!

Kelsee – I wish they’d bring out Wendy Darling and Alice more. I love their accents and back stories. They are two of my favorite characters so I guess my opinion is biased. I agree with bringing out the action princesses/characters more! They deserve it!

FoF Wendy

Leslie – My answer I suppose is very general but I would like more villain meet and greets. I know they are usually reserved for Halloween but lots of people love the villains and it is very rare to see. I just would like a chance to see a few more.

Mr. Toad

Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney!  You can subscribe to the blog and like our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages (or accounts) on the right side of this page.  Also, don’t forget to answer the question of the week!  We look forward to bringing you another week of posts.  Have a great day!

Andrew’s September Disneyland Trip Report – Part 1

A long, long time ago in this galaxy a blog was created.  It was a blog for the people, written by the people.  This blog was to be called Wandering in Disney and, surely, great things were to come.  Founded on pure ideals, like posting trip reports on Saturdays, Wandering in Disney was to be the King Louie of the interwebs (too cool for its own good?).  Alas, those ideas had a shelf life of about two weeks and Trip Report Saturdays came crashing down, much like King Louie’s kingdom.  But, much like the monkeys of the world (anyone seen Monkey Kingdom?), you can only keep us down for so long!  Trip Report Saturdays are back, at least temporarily.   With all of that nonsense over with, let’s get to my trip report from Disneyland earlier this month.

As loyal readers know, Melissa L. and I were in Disneyland for a trip planned around the Disneyland 10K (and the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend).  You can read all about that here, as I won’t go into much detail about the actual race.  Planning the trip around the 10K was just half of the story though.  Once I heard the offerings that were to be included for the Disneyland 60th Anniversary (a few of which Cassie and I have reviewed in the last few weeks) I couldn’t get to Disneyland fast enough.  I was pretty restless in the weeks leading up to our trip, maybe more than ever before.  I often forget that planning a trip for Disneyland is much different than planning one for Disney World.  There isn’t as much to prepare for at Disneyland (reservations aren’t needed as early, fastpass planning, etc.) which has its pros and cons.  I do enjoy not having my days mapped out as much, but I also enjoy mapping out my days before the trip.  I tinker with our fastpass+ and dining reservations like nobody’s business when headed to Disney World.  When we go to Disneyland, I miss that but I enjoy the freedom when I actually get there.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m glad Disneyland and Disney World are different in this way.  It makes the experience much different for Disney Parks veterans.

We landed in Anaheim on Tuesday night and checked into our hotel, the Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel.  I’ll have a review of the hotel sometime in the near future.  We have typically stayed with relatives on previous trips to Disneyland so it was an exciting change to be so close to the parks (although we did miss our relatives).  We were a little over excited when we checked in, so even though it was fairly late we walked over to Downtown Disney for a snack.  A snack for Melissa was a few pretzel bites.  A snack for me was a whole sandwich from Earl of Sandwich.  Vacation had begun.

DL entrance 60

The next morning we woke up a bit before 9, purchased our park tickets at the hotel lobby (yes, I’m still somewhat afraid of buying discounted tickets.  Silly, I know), and made the short 15 minute walk to the Disneyland entrance.  Park hours for the day were from 10-9 at Disneyland, so we made it for gate opening easily.  Last time we were at Disneyland, Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye was closed so we started there.  This wasn’t the brightest move looking back (more on that in the next few installments) but this is Melissa’s favorite attraction so going on it first was fun.  We had our pick of attractions that day, as the parks were very empty like Cassie had mentioned in her previous report.  We were doing about 3 attractions an hour for the first part of the day, which is incredible when you consider each takes almost 10 minutes and you have to walk to them.

Tomorrowland from Space Mt roof

One of the highlights of those early morning attractions was going on the refurbished Matterhorn.  While it’s opened to mixed reviews, I think the attraction is slightly better than it was.  They made the story a bit more obvious, which I could take or leave but more than anything they just made the whole attraction look better.  The outside, specifically, looks as good as I’ve ever seen it.  I’m sure there were several changes that had to be done to the exterior of the Matterhorn due to the projections that are on it during Disneyland Forever, and now the entire exterior looks incredible.  The waterfalls seem more prevalent, the snow seems to pop more and the mountain even appears more dominant as it towers above the Disneyland skyline.  Hopefully, after all of these changes, the next change will be a new, smoother track system.  Going on the Matterhorn still hurts, but it’s more than worth it to ride this classic.  Still, that was the only time we rode this all week (to be fair, lines were much longer over the weekend and we aren’t much for waiting in those).

Mailbox

Since the park opened late in the morning, it was time for lunch pretty quickly.  After our jaunt from E-ticket to E-ticket attractions and Melissa stopping quickly in a few stores, we ended up at the Little Red Wagon with Corn Dogs for lunch.  We ordered, got our corn dogs and enjoyed them inside of the Plaza Inn next door.  I don’t know if that’s frowned upon, but no one told us not to and we were pleased with the air-conditioning!  It was a very enjoyable lunch that is basically a Disneyland rite of passage.

dole whip 1

What better way to top off a lunch than with a Dole Whip float?  There isn’t a better option.  It wasn’t even 1 PM yet and we had two iconic foods out-of-the-way.  Not a bad pace, but not great either.

We enjoyed our Dole Whips inside of the Tiki Room.  I love the longer version of this show, compared to Magic Kingdom’s.  Although the difference is small, this one feels more complete.  We were lucky to have very mild weather during our trip, but it was still nice to be inside of air-conditioning while watching a Disneyland original.

tiki room full

The afternoon was spent doing a few more of the big attractions.  Splash Mountain, as always, was great.  Pirates of the Caribbean was in great shape with all of the effects working during our ride that day.  The same goes for Big Thunder Mountain, which is slowly creeping up my favorite attraction of all-time list.  I can’t rave about the simple changes they made to this attraction, a few years ago, enough.  They enhance the ride experience unlike any other simple change to an attraction I’ve been on.  I have no idea why they haven’t added these changes to Magic Kingdom, but it needs to happen pronto.

river shipwreck

On my list of things to do this trip was to spend a little bit more time around the Hungry Bear Restaurant area.  We didn’t end up eating here but we definitely completed our mission.  Every time we were in that area, we spent a few extra minutes sitting on the deck of the restaurant or exploring the walkable areas around it.  I’m drawn to the water, and being along the river is just extremely appealing to me.  I find it cooler and more beautiful than other areas (not to say that other areas aren’t beautiful).

Fowler's Inn

ship mast wide angle

That afternoon we happened upon a little spot that we had crossed by many times before.  The Harbour Gallery, which is known for soups and baked potatoes, has a beautiful seating area that just kind of keeps going.  We stopped for some free ice water here and then just followed the short path around the backside of the counter-service restaurant.  The deck there was right along the water and it served as a dock for the Sailing Ship Columbia.  I can only assume the Harbour Gallery and the Fowler’s Inn next door were to give sailors a place to eat and rest their heads before the Columbia hit the open seas again.  Disneyland back stories fascinate me and stumbling upon one that you hadn’t thought of or heard before is somehow extra rewarding.

Melissa and I have this, somewhat, unwritten rule where we go on all of the E-ticket attractions she wants to.  After that we slow down and enjoy the little things, which is what I like to do because they tell me to do that in the American classic, Zombieland.  If you take the rules from Zombieland, your life will get better.  For the most part.  Usually the first day or two in the parks we go at a pretty quick pace so that we have time to slow down later on in our trip.  Well, with lines being short through the entire day (except for Peter Pan’s Flight) we had completed most of the attractions on her list already.  With that in mind, it was time for some wandering in Disney.  Heyo! Did you catch that?

I come from the Tom Bricker School of Goat Galaxy Lovers (it sounds worse than it really is) so next on our docket was a bittersweet trip to see the goats of Disneyland.  Yes, Disneyland has goats.  You can go pet them.  Why would you choose to go pet goats when instead you can ride attractions that cost millions of dollars to build?  Long answer short, because goats hold a special key to your heart that will bring you true happiness, if only for a split second.  You’d hate to see the long answer.

Cool goat 1

Goat Galaxy is one of a few parts of Big Thunder Ranch (there is also cows, sheep, some very kind and informative cast members and Woody sometimes has meet & greets back here), and easily the best.  Goats wander around in their fairly large petting zoo while park guests roam with them.  While the last few paragraphs have been dripping in sarcasm, I do really love this section of the park.  There is something incredibly charming about this area that most other theme parks don’t have.  While Disneyland may take you out of reality, petting some goats may make you feel like a kid again.  That’s all part of the theme park experience.  That’s also enough of the sappy part of this post.

Andrew and goat

It was a bittersweet trip to see our goat friends because when we come back they will almost surely not be there.  Star Wars is coming in to the section Goat Galaxy currently holds down and while the change makes a lot of sense and is probably for the best, it will be sad to lose this area of the park that isn’t tied to a franchise and has a quiet, calming feel to it.

Lock the goat, look back!

So long, goat friends.  This won’t be a problem for you, but stay cool.  May we meet again.

I like doing trip reports because it is a pretty free writing style.  I don’t like trip reports because I’m afraid that I will scare any of our current or potential readers away once they realize how weird I am.  Sorry Cassie, Melissas, Kelsee and Leslie.  It’s my fault the blog hasn’t hit it big yet.

Fantasyland & Matterhorn

We stopped for a snack in Fantasyland and did a few attractions there.  All of Fantasyland seemed well taken care of and didn’t look worn down at all.  If I had more time at Disneyland I would have liked to do a photo series on just how clean and impressive all of the buildings, facades and rock-work (among other things) looked.  I knew that those in charge were going to do some work before the 60th anniversary began to get the parks to look as if they were in tip-top shape, I guess I just never imagined how good ‘tip-top shape’ would look.  There’s no two ways around it, Disneyland looks incredible right now.  It’s something I will repeat over and over again in the next few installments of the trip report.  I was completely blown away.  If you were on the fence about going in the next couple of months or waiting for a couple of years, go now.  Everything looks incredible and that, in my opinion, really does enhance guests experience whether they know it or not.

It's a Small World day

I told myself that this post would end after the first day or at 2,000 words.  2,000 words has come and gone and we haven’t even made it to dinner.  So, next week we’ll pick up with a stroll through ToonTown and a flag retreat.  Thank you for reading!

-Andrew

Disneyland Forever Review and Discussion

This week, Cassie and I (Andrew) sat down to discuss Disneyland Forever, the new nighttime spectacular at Disneyland.  We asked a few questions back and forth and shared our answers.  Unfortunately, I’ve only gotten to edit photos from the first time I saw the show (the time when my tripod broke!).  What is also unfortunate is that I like my batch of photos from the second time I saw the show much better so… stay tuned for future posts with better photos of Disneyland Forever.  Be warned, there are some spoilers of the show below.  Enjoy!

Castle red Disneyland Forever

Andrew – I guess to start off we’ll go the same route as the parade questions, where did you stand to watch Disneyland Forever and how did you end up in that spot?

Cassie – I ended up watching Disneyland Forever in an awesome spot. I was almost directly in front of the caste, a little to the left side. There was part of a tree in front of my view but it didn’t stop me from clearly seeing the entire show. When I get a chance to see the show again I will definitely try to get a little closer to the front of the caste. How about YOU?

What part(s) of this show did you find unique/different from other firework shows?

Colorful Disneyland Forever

Andrew – We saw it twice. The first time we were in front of the center hub and a little to the right of the castle. Like you, a tree partially blocked our view of the castle but we could see most projections, including a great view of the Matterhorn. The second time we opted for behind the partners statue but more in the dead center. Obviously, the best spot would be as close as we were the first time but in the exact center. Still, it was fun to be a little further back Main Street so that we could see some of the projections on Main Street.

Good question! I think the show is definitely unique in the amount of projections around the park. The show heavily relies on these projections on the castle, Main Street, Matterhorn, It’s a Small World, and some places in Frontierland to help tell the story. I also could be wrong in thinking this but it seemed as if their were more shapes being made by the fireworks. The whole show was a glimpse into the future of how these shows will totally overwhelm your eyes with different places to look at. Disneyland Forever was definitely a futuristic show that was rooted in Disney’s history and nostalgia. What was unique to you?

Also, do you have favorite moments from the show?

Fireworks old fashioned Disneyland Forever

Cassie – I agree that the projections served as an incredibly unique tool for Disneyland Forever. They helped tell the stories so well, and were thoroughly used throughout the park. It seems like even those who may not have had a seating spot by the castle were still able to see an incredible show through the projections. I also found the use of live characters to be unique and really awesome! I was in total awe when Tinker Bell flew overhead, I did not see that coming!

My favorite part of Disneyland Forever was the Lion King section. Circle of Life is such an incredible song and The Lion King is one of my very favorite Disney movies. I got serious chills when the song began and the colors/theme put you in an orange African sunrise. My second favorite part was probably the beginning of the show, which paid tribute Walt Disney and put you in the orange tree fields that once sat where Disneyland sits today.

Walt Disney Disneyland Forever

Did you find that Disneyland Forever had a fair balance between the Disney classics and the newer Disney movies?

Andrew – I agree, the Lion King section was amazing. It really brought the song and movie to life! I loved the opening, as well. The Finding Nemo section was also great and light-hearted.

I thought it was a pretty decent balance from the Disney catalog. Better than World of Color, for example. There were nice tie-ins to some Pixar films. I think it will age really well over time, even if they might be lacking in the very first few Disney films. What about you?

Gold and Blue Disneyland Forever

Cassie – I thought the amount of new Disney magic was just right. I really loved that they incorporated Finding Nemo into the mix because I think that show sometimes gets overlooked. I especially loved the flying Nemo and his journey to the Matterhorn Mountain turned volcano. When it comes to Frozen, I can take it or leave it. I understand that Frozen is immensely popular with today’s youth, but it seems to be the center of attention these days. I did love the snow during the Frozen part, it was a very nice touch. The show also incorporated some amazing classics such as The Jungle Book, and Winnie the Pooh. I loved the mix of old and new all around.

Andrew – Oh yeah, the Jungle Book was awesome. I love that movie.

sharp Disneyland Forever

Would you be excited to see it in a different viewing area (like by It’s a Small World or Tom Sawyer Island) or would you rather just stick to Main Street?

Cassie – It might be cool to see the show from all the different angles, but Main Street definitely has the best viewing options!

Were there any cathartic or emotional parts of the show for you?

Andrew – Surprisingly, I didn’t get as emotional in this one. The Tangled section was fairly emotional the first time just because my wife walked down the aisle to that song, and it was beautifully done. Any section where they talked about Walt was beautiful, as well. I somehow was more emotional during World of Color and Paint the Night, even though I liked Disneyland Forever just as much. What about you?

How does this compare to the previous fireworks shows you have seen at any Disney Park?

red yellow green Disneyland Forever

Cassie – I haven’t seen the new World of Color yet but I hear it’s a major tearjerker! Disneyland Forever pulled at my heart strings a lot. Like I said above, whenever Circle of Life plays I get pretty emotional. Also, even though I am not the biggest Frozen fan ever, I am a huge Idina Menzel fan, so Let it Go always brings me joy. That song combined with the snow was really beautiful. However, the finale brought the most cathartic emotions for me. I like to look around at all the faces of all the people, seeing and experiencing the same beautiful moment together.

Much like Paint the Night, Disneyland Forever far exceeded my expectations of what a show can provide. The Disney imagineers challenge themselves constantly and will continue to thrill and surprise us with every passing year. Disneyland Forever tromps any other fireworks display I have ever seen, Disneyland or elsewhere. That being said, Disneyland Forever is NOT just a fireworks show, its a complex experience with technology, music, and stunning theatrical components. I would recommend this show to everyone and anyone. It does not disappoint.

How does it compare for you?

Andrew – Let’s see if I can make this make sense… Disneyland Forever was the best show I’ve ever seen but it wasn’t my favorite. It was my 2nd favorite. I still love the idea and nostalgia behind Remember… Dreams Come True. That show was more specific to Disney Parks instead of just Disney and always made me smile. With that being said, I think Disneyland Forever is an overall better show in the what they accomplished.

Did you like Disneyland Forever better than Paint the Night?

Mickey Mouse ears Disneyland Forever_edited-1

Cassie – Ooooh that is such a tough question, like comparing apples and oranges! However, I did “like” Disneyland Forever more than Paint the Night. I think mostly because the fireworks show made me have such an emotional experience. For me, Paint the Night was a lot of fun, but Disneyland Forever was a bigger and more intense experience.

Andrew – Yeah, it’s not really a fair question at all. Especially since I like firework shows better than parades in general. I was blown away by the scale of Paint the Night but Disneyland Forever was an incredible achievement unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I believe both will be fan-favorites for a very long time.

Finale 1 Disneyland forever

Let us know your thoughts on Disneyland Forever in the comments if you have seen it!  Last week, we talked about Paint the Night.  If you missed that review and discussions, you can read it here.  In the coming weeks, we will be reviewing the new World of Color show and then will be doing an overview of the entire 60th Anniversary celebration with some tips included.  Stay tuned for those and thank you for reading!

Plaza Inn Lunch and Dinner Review

Plaza Inn is a Disneyland restaurant that serves a character breakfast in the morning and becomes a quick service location for lunch and dinner.  Located at the end of Main Street, Plaza Inn envelops a Victorian-style theme.  In this review, I will cover lunch and/or dinner at Plaza Inn.

Disneyland is lauded for its charm and restaurants like this are part of the reason why.  While Walt Disney World rules in sheer number of counter-service food options, Disneyland generally conquers in quality and making guests feel welcome.  A portion of that ‘hospitality’ has to do with the use of real dishes and silverware instead of serving food on paper plates.  It’s a minute detail, but something that makes Disneyland special.  Of course, a plate can’t enhance the taste of food but it can enhance the quality of someone’s experience.  Plaza Inn succeeds in that aspect as well as having really nice indoor and outdoor seating.

Plaza Inn

Plaza Inn’s outdoor seating is on a patio that curves around the restaurant.  If looking out at the park from the patio, the far left views the end of Main Street and the far right has views into first few steps of Tomorrowland.  Of course, this means that the middle (and, to a lesser degree, the sides) of the patio has some stunning views of Sleeping Beauty Castle.  There is also plenty of shade on the patio so it’s beautiful on a warm day and not insufferable on a hot day.

The inside of the Plaza Inn competes with the classic views of the outside with beautiful and elegant decor.  This restaurant, originally called the Red Wagon Inn, has been serving guests ever since Disneyland’s opening day.  While this fact can’t alone make a place have charm, it certainly doesn’t hurt.  The decor and Victorian them doesn’t hurt either.  With a stained glass roof, elegant tables and chairs, and a helpful serving staff (more on that later), eating inside at the Plaza Inn welcomes guests into a different and simpler era.

Plaza Inn table

Theming can only take a place so far though, especially when it comes to a restaurant.  Ultimately, people are only going to go to restaurants that serve good food.  That is unless they aren’t loyal, informed, Wandering in Disney readers (where’s the sarcasm font?).  Fortunately for Plaza Inn, I think they serve food that at least almost matches the charming atmosphere inside.

For lunch and dinner, Plaza Inn offers a pretty interesting variety of southern food, pasta and salads (you can see a menu here).  The restaurant is best known for their fried chicken.  Knowing that, Melissa and I both ordered this on our last visit.  We quickly got our food, paid for it and sat down inside by the big open windows, on the Tomorrowland side of the restaurant.

We were both pretty hungry but after seeing our plates, it was pretty clear that we should have shared our meal.  The chicken plate comes with three pieces of chicken (both of our plates had one leg, one thigh and one wing on them).  The plate, as you can see, also came with mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, and a biscuit.

Plaza Inn chicken

We’ll start with the mediocre and progress to the great.  The biscuit wasn’t anything special.  While I’m the biscuit connoisseur some are, I trust my wife in her judging of all things biscuit and she thought these were just okay.  They weren’t bad by any means, just not memorable.  The mashed potatoes were creamy and buttery and the gravy was pretty good.  I enjoyed them and they supplemented the chicken well.  Coming in second place on the plate was the green beans.  There was the right amount of seasoning on them and they also went well with the chicken.

All of those sides were simply a warm-up to the entrée that is theme park legend.  Suffice to say, the fried chicken at Plaza Inn is fantastic.  Fried to a perfect golden brown, the chicken was incredibly juicy and some of the best I’ve ever had.  While I’m no biscuit expert, I’m slowly working my way up the fried chicken ladder of expertise and this was about as good as it gets.  The only downside after I cleared up this large plate was that I had no room for dessert.  Melissa barely finished half of her plate and still didn’t have any room left.  I highly recommend sharing if you come here.

With of all of the praising out-of-the-way, I will say that Melissa didn’t love her meal.  While she didn’t dislike the food, she said Plaza Inn wasn’t a place that she would care about going back to.  While I’m fairly sure that she’s crazy, if you don’t like fried chicken then this place might not be for you.  While I haven’t personally had another item here and think it’s absolutely absurd that anyone would want anything other than the fried chicken (again, sarcasm font seems to be missing), different entrees at the Plaza Inn haven’t fared well in other reviews I’ve read.

We had a great experience with the staff at Plaza Inn.  Getting our food was extremely easy and our table was cleared and taken care of without us using a muscle.  The man clearing tables was a cheerful man, who was eager to talk with guests.  Towards the end of our meal, he pulled out a harmonica and played a few songs.  He also led the group in singing Happy Birthday to two guests that were celebrating there.  He also brought those guests a piece of cake with a candle.  This was just another example of the detail and charm that Disneyland, and specifically Plaza Inn, offers.

Plaza Inn night

As far as value, the chicken entrée was $16.49.  Without looking it up, I think that is the most expensive counter-service meal at Disneyland.  Is it worth it?  Probably.  Before we went on this trip I had a fried chicken meal at a sit-down restaurant near my home.  The price was $16 for four pieces of fried chicken and included a salad.  I’d say that’s about what most places would charge for a similar meal, if not a little more.  The meal at Plaza Inn was much better than most other fried chicken entrees and served equal or more food than most places.  So, with that in mind I’d say it was a decent value.  Not the best in the parks but a fine option.  While I was in there I did here someone complain about the price of the meal.  I had to roll my eyes a little bit.  I understand that Disney may overprice most of their meals but this wasn’t buying a 3-piece combo at KFC.  It was quality food, served on real plates, while being waited on in an impressive restaurant.

Taking all of these items into account, I’ve gone back and forth on the rating I was going to give it.  I completely enjoyed the experience while Melissa liked it but wasn’t eager to go back.  I do think that Plaza Inn isn’t extremely versatile and other reviews seem to agree.  They are incredibly good at what they are known for and may be lacking otherwise.  That combined with the wonderful atmosphere made for a pretty high rating.

Overall Rating – 9/10

Have you eaten at the Plaza Inn?  If you have, please leave your thoughts in the comments.  If you want more Disney dining reviews, please visit our dining page.  Thank you for reading!

– Andrew

Question of the Week (9/13/15)

Every week our writers get together and answer a Disney-related question.  Here is this week’s question and answer, leave your answer in the comments!

Question of the Week: Have you been to a Disney Park in the Fall? If you have, what was different and impressed you about it? What would you look forward to seeing again/seeing for the first time if you were to go in autumn?

Harambe theater

Melissa L. – The closest I’ve been to a Disney park in the fall is September last year and I honestly don’t remember much. I know they had fun pumpkins everywhere for decoration and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party some evenings, but that’s really all I remember. We didn’t end up going to the Halloween party so that could be why it doesn’t resonate with me as much, but the pumpkins were cool to take pictures with. This past trip to Disneyland they had started to set up for fall and the overlay of Nightmare Before Christmas looked pretty impressive on the haunted mansion. It was closed as they were still working on it, but it looked really fun.

Melissa H. – When I was younger we always went in the beginning of October with our family friends. Back then there wasn’t too much that changed in the parks (or I was just too young to notice what did). The decorations seemed to be more subtle back then than they are now and the only major change I can remember is the changing of Haunted Mansion to Haunted Mansion Holiday. This year, I am going to be in Disneyland at the beginning of October again. In fact, our trip is just 24 days away!! I am really excited to try some of the fall food (pumpkin beignets anyone?) and to ride Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy.

Epcot Sunset_edited-1

Andrew – Like Melissa L, I’ve only been in a Disney Park right after Labor Day so not too much into the Fall. I did think the decorations were a lot of fun. It seems that Disneyland might do a little more as far as attraction overlays, but both coasts had some fun decorations. I really liked how the decor was somewhat understated and not completely over the top. I also like the weather and the crowds during that time!

If I was to go back during the Fall (I’m looking at you Disney World, next year…) I’d really like to experience the Food & Wine Festival in Epcot, even if it is extremely popular now. I’d also like to do Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party!

upside down tree

Cassie – I really enjoy going to Disneyland during the fall. It’s cooled down and the parks are much quieter. On nights when they have Mickey’s Halloween Party I like to go to the parks the morning of. The whole place is a ghost town because of the festivities at night so seriously no one is there. My friend and I went at this time last year and rode Splash Mountain and Space Mountain like four times with no wait. I also really love when The Haunted Mansion gets a makeover and all the Halloween decorations in general. I’ve never been to Mickey’s Halloween Party but I am hoping to go this year!

Kelsee – Last year we went during fall/Halloween time and I absolutely loved it. I had never been at this time of year and I loved all of the fall decorations. I also love that it is less crowded. I would love to again at this time and go to Halloween party. I loved seeing everyone in their creative costumes, it added to the whole experience. Other than my Christmastime trips, this is my favorite time to go.

pumpkin mk

Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney!  Please subscribe to our blog and like our Facebook page.  You can do both of those things on the right side of this page.  Also, don’t forget to leave your answer to the Question of the Week in the comments.  You can leave any comments, questions, or ideas there, as well.  If you need help with trip planning, please send us an email at wanderingindisney@gmail.com.  Have a great week everyone!

Paint the Night Review and Discussion

Cassie and I (Andrew) were both able to see the Disneyland 60th Anniversary offerings recently.  With that in mind, we thought we’d send a few messages back and forth, reviewing the shows.  Eventually, this series will end up with a large post with mini reviews of each show and tips on how to conquer Disneyland Resort during the 60th Anniversary.  Today we’ll start this series by discussing the new nighttime parade at Disneyland, Paint the Night.  If you don’t want us to spoil some of the parade, now might be a good place to stop!

Paint the night drum

Andrew – So, I guess the place to start is what location did you see Paint the Night at and what were your general thoughts about it?

Cassie – I found a great place to watch Paint The Night sitting pretty much at the base of Matterhorn Mountain. I was able to see everything very well because there were no spectators in front of me. I thought the entire show was incredibly unique, having never seen an evening parade show with so much LIGHT!

Mike Monsters Inc float

What was your favorite float/part of the parade and why?

Andrew – I completely agree about the show being unique. There were an incredible amount of colors and all of the lights were jaw dropping. I had tried to stay away from seeing any spoilers of the parade and been pretty successful so I was amazed by most of the floats. I loved the call backs to the Main Street Electrical Parade while keeping Paint the Night current at the same time. While I’m not a big fan of parades in general, this one blew me away.

As for my favorite float, that’s a pretty tough questions. All of them were spectacular and I didn’t have a clear-cut favorite. I imagine my favorite will change with every viewing. For now I’ll say the Slinky Dog float. The length itself is impressive. Then, when you factor in how they made him look like a slinky through lights was incredible. Lumiere wasn’t one of the main floats but I thought he was very well done as well.

Slinky Dog

Same question but for you!

Cassie – I was really excited when I saw the giant magical Lumiere. He is one of my favorite characters from my favorite Disney film so I just adored that. However, my favorite float was the Monster Inc. float. The moving doors which collectively exposed a different monster each time they opened were spectacular. The character of Sulley was also so impressive and fun! The whole float really put you into the world of Monster Inc.

Monters inc sulley

Andrew – What did you think of the music in the parade?

Cassie – One of my very favorite parts of Paint the Night was the music. RIght when the tunes began I turned to my friend and said “I bet you anything this is Owl City!” I was a BIG Owl City fan back in 2009ish and could tell right away that they did the soundtrack, and I loved it! I have actually been listening to this link pretty regularly because I cannot get this dang song out of my head! The music was super catchy and a ton of fun!

Mack truck

You?

Andrew – I feel close to the same. While it’s not the type of music that I’d listen to regularly, it is energetic, fun and fits the parade well. The songs were catchy and had a nice mix of Disney, Main Street Electrical Parade, and new music. The main melody will be stuck in my head for months. As far as parades go, this is probably my second favorite parade soundtrack next to Main Street Electrical Parade. I think it will age pretty well over time, which is great.

Lumiere

Were there any parts that were just okay or disappointing to you?

Cassie – The only part that was a tad disappointing to me was due to a wardrobe malfunction with Jessie’s costume during the Toy Story part of the parade. One of her pant sleeves was ripped and the lights on her outfit were not working properly. Poor thing. However, the cast member, in true Disney fashion, never broke character or seemed to let it bother her. Another cast member pulled her aside at one point and tried to help, but Jessie just shook it off and continued to dance! The show must go on, but I do imagine they often experience technical difficulties with all those lights!

How about you?

Also, speaking of costumes, did any characters outfits stand out to you?

Andrew – Yeah, they must have to do a ton of maintenance to be able to do the parade every night! I don’t think I was disappointed in any of it. The new shows used a little bit too much Frozen in my opinion, but that float was beautiful so my real beef is probably with World of Color.

Frozen float

Hmm… Costumes. I’ll let you speak more on this one because, well, you know what you’re talking about more than I do. But, I will say that I was impressed with all of the costumes in general, especially the face characters (the ones without a character head to put on). How they made those costumes to where they could light up the faces of the characters was very impressive and one of the greatest feats of the whole parade. I never once thought, ‘I wish I could see that characters face more’ even though there weren’t any lights directly on the faces.

How about you?

Cassie – The costume for Belle was astronomical. I feel like I can’t even call it a “costume” because it was on such a large-scale. The way they created the entire float around her iconic yellow dress was just magical. I read that her dress contained more decorative light caps than any other float in the parade and had 40 customized designed jewels. Talk about high-wattage! I also loved the way Belle sat upon the length of the skirt, making her look at least eight feet tall. Overall, it was such a beautiful and creative way to display her look.

Belle purple rose

Andrew – That’s really cool, I didn’t know that.

Last question for this post, is this the best parade you’ve ever seen?

Cassie – I can not think of a parade that I have ever seen that tops Paint the Night. As we move through time and technology grows, shows like Paint the Night are going to continue to push boundaries and make the impossible, possible. While I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the classical Main Street Electrical Parade, I can see Paint the Night eventually becoming a legendary Disneyland classic.

Woody and Slinky

Andrew – I completely agree. While I love the nostalgia of Main Street Electrical and the abstract art behind Festival of Fantasy in Magic Kingdom, neither are as jaw dropping as this parade. I was completely blown away by it.

Sorcerer Mickey

Next week we’ll be discussing Disneyland Forever, the new fireworks spectacular in Disneyland.

Have you seen Paint the Night?  What are your thoughts?  Let us know in the comments!