Question of the Week (11/29/15)

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!

Big Thunder at night

Question of the Week: If you could go to a Disney Park with any celebrity (has to be alive, or else too many of us would answer with Walt) who would it be? Why that person and what park would you go to?

Melissa L. – I would choose Jennifer Lawrence! I think she would be a blast and we’d be laughing the whole time! Every time I see her in an interview she seems like a pretty down to earth person and it would be cool to know her. And I think we would go to Disneyland. It’s close to her and one of my favorites.

cropped-magic-kingdom.jpg
Cassie – I would definitely go to Disneyland with Amy Poehler because I love her and it would be the best day of my life. We would eat corn dogs together and laugh our way all around the park. Amy, if you’re reading this I am free to go whenever! PM me!

Japan Bridge Epcot_edited-2

Andrew – Both of those are excellent choices. I think I’d go with Jimmy Fallon for a few reasons. First of all, I was worried that everyone else would choose girls so I felt it was my obligation to pick a guy. I also think Fallon is very funny and knows how to have a lot of fun. He’s pretty high energy and is always laughing. Also, I’d like to show him how much better Disneyland is than Universal ūüėȬ†Others I considered were Steve Carell and Emma Stone (my 15-year old self said Scarlett Johansson, hands down).

Everest:discovery

Leslie – I would probably want to go to Magic Kingdom with Chris Pratt because one he is such a great person, and two because he is such a goofball. I think it would be great to ride rides together and doing character meet and greets with him would be amazing.

MK gold fw

Kelsee –¬†I would love to go with Ryan Gosling to Disneyland, but not for the typical reason you would think! He is a HUGE Disneyland fanatic. He was a Mouseketeer and has been quoted as “being in a relationship with Disneyland”. Also, he ditched the Oscars to go to Disneyland. How cool is that? That is a true fan right there. Anyone with that kind of love for Disneyland, is my kind of person.

California Grill Fireworks

Which celebrity would you go with to a Disney Park?  Let us know in the comments!

Thank you so much for reading Wandering in Disney.  If you like what you see on our blog please like our Facebook Page and subscribe to our blog via email or WordPress.  You can do both of those things on the right side of this page.  If you have any questions or need help planning a Disney trip, leave a comment for us or send an email to wanderingindisney@gmail.com.  Have a great week!

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What We’re Thankful For – 2015 Edition

You know those blog advertisements, typically on Facebook, that are¬†just lists? ¬†Like “Seven Ways to Feel More Rested While Getting Less Sleep” or “Nineteen Things We Wish We Could Bring Back From the Year 1900” or the elusive “4 Tips on how to¬†Kidnap a Rhinoceros Without Getting Injured!” ¬†You look at those headlines and think “well, that’s better than the stupid blogs that are like ‘A Girl Walked Into a Grocery Store and You Won’t Believe What Happened Next…’ but those lists are kind of dumb”¬†and then you click on it anyway because you’re really interested in Rhinos? ¬†Yeah, that never happens to me either.

Thanksgiving, at its best, is a day that we reflect on what we’re thankful for. ¬†At its worst, Thanksgiving is a day we eat way too much. ¬†What I’m trying to say is, Thanksgiving is really great. ¬†I’m also trying to say that, since this is a Disney parks blog, you have stumbled upon one of those lists (that I mentioned up above) of things I’m thankful for at Disney Parks. ¬†Remember, you should be spending this day enjoying your family and friends. ¬†Finding out that this is one of those ‘list posts’ is punishment for not doing that. ¬†This will become a new blog tradition if I remember that I wrote this post next year. ¬†I give that a 54% chance of that happening (I’m a math genius). ¬†So, without further ado, here¬†are a few things I’m thankful for at Disney Parks in 2015.

Woody and Slinky

New nighttime entertainment at Disneyland –¬†I’m not positive if this is an actual saying but the phrase, ‘you don’t know what you’re missing until you’ve been there’ completely embodies the new entertainment offered for Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary. ¬†I never knew how much I would enjoy a nighttime parade but it completely blew my mind. ¬†Paint the Night is a cherry on top of the best theme park in North America. ¬†Disneyland Forever is the kind of forward-thinking, technologically advanced, fireworks show that makes everyone so hopeful about what Disney will come up with over the next few years.

Colorful Disneyland Forever

Goat Galaxy –¬†With new coming in, old has to go out. ¬†Not all of the old but some of it. ¬†Unfortunately, that means the end of the run for one of Disneyland’s most charming areas. ¬†When I write this next year (again, not sure that this will actually happen) the petting zoo in Disneyland’s Big Thunder Ranch will be no more. ¬†That’s because Big Thunder Ranch will be no more. ¬†The goats will be herded towards a galaxy far away as Star Wars Land rumbles into its spot. ¬†These goats aren’t something many people know about but they make Disney feel a bit more like the opening day version of the park than the version we have now. ¬†Plus, goats are incredibly cool. ¬†Travel safely, goats. ¬†The goats at my local fair just don’t measure up to you.

Lock the goat, look back!

A Star Wars Land Announcement –¬†It only took a decade (or so) but a Star Wars area is coming to both coasts. ¬†With the recent success of themed lands, it’s hard not to feel good about the direction these Star Wars Lands are headed. ¬†They both will be massive and completely immersive. ¬†While we will have to wait a long while for the land itself, an announcement was finally made and we can look forward to what is to come with more certainty.

Dole Whip –¬†Well, duh.

dole whip 1

runDisney –¬†This was the first year I did a runDisney event and, boy, the race¬†was everything that it was built up to be. ¬†The organization was superb, the course (Disneyland 10K) was excellent, the feeling was euphoric, and the memories won’t soon go away. ¬†I’m very thankful for this side of the Disney company and this won’t be the last time you hear me heap praise on them. ¬†I’m also incredibly thankful for the company I had while completing this race!

10K Finish with medals

Loving Animal Kingdom before it was cool to love Animal Kingdom –¬†You thought “Okay, he suckered me into reading his list. ¬†Surely he won’t talk about how he’s so awesome for liking something before it was a trend to like it!” ¬†First of all, don’t call me Shirley. ¬†Second of all, figure out how to word that second sentence better. ¬†Third of all, of course I’m not above that! ¬†Animal Kingdom is about to become the second best (if not the best) park in Walt Disney World. ¬†With new nighttime hours and entertainment, the park will take on a different feel and I can’t wait to see what it’s like. ¬†Then, Pandora will come on-line and knock everyone’s socks off. ¬†But, Animal Kingdom is already an incredible theme park. ¬†There is nothing like it in the world. ¬†Not everyone gets Animal Kingdom, and that’s fine. ¬†But the concept behind Animal Kingdom is a joy and it’s executed to near perfection (if it weren’t for DinoLand), here’s guessing that more people catch on to that after these coming additions. ¬†I’m just thankful for the park as it is now.

Tree of life trail AK

Pommes Frites at Cafe Orleans (Disneyland) –¬†The best thing I ate at a Disney Park this year.

Pommes Frites Cafe Orleans

The Disney Fan Community –¬†This blog is almost a year old and we’ve been honored that you have spent some of your time reading our posts. ¬†We’re thankful for other Disney blogs and podcasts that have inspired us. ¬†I’m especially thankful for my group of writers who have helped me start this blog and keep it going.

What? ¬†Didn’t you know all of these lists end with a sappy, cheesy one followed by a picture of a sunset?

sunset california screamin paradise pier

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

– Andrew

Question of the Week (11/23/15)

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!

Safari

Question of the Week: You can only have one, a trip to Disney World for 5 days and you stay in a deluxe resort or a trip to Disney World for 10 days and you stay in a value resort? Explain why you chose the option you did.

Cassie –¬†I would say 5 days in a deluxe resort! I am a big fan of the amenities that a deluxe resort has to offer and if I am on a vacation I would like my experience to be as wonderful as possible. I also think that more than five days at Disney World would be pretty exhausting. While I have never been there, I know from experience at Disneyland that the parks can drain you both financially and physically. 10 days of Disney World and I would be a poor and worn-out gal!

Grand Flo

Melissa L. –¬†This is tough, but I think I would go 10 days and stay at a value resort. While I have yet to stay in a value resort, the only downside o really see is they are further from the parks than other places. But I like to have long trips while I am there so I can take it slow and enjoy it all! I would probably have to have a day off in the middle though!

MK gold fw

Andrew – I think this is a tough one. I love the accommodations and location of most of the deluxe resorts but I also don’t spend much time in the hotel room. I think I’d choose the value resort and longer stay. I’d leave at least one day outside of the parks so that I could go relax at some of the deluxe resorts that I want to see. There is simply too much to see at Disney World so I’d almost always side with the longer stay, as long as I was on property.

Leslie dragon

Kelsee –¬†I would pick the longer stay with a value resort stay. Like Andrew and Melissa mentioned, there’s so much to see and I’d actually like to leave Disney World for once and not feel like I missed out on something. The value resorts are still very nice and as long as I have a nice bed and pillow to rest on at night, I don’t care where I stay as long as I get as much park time in as possible.

Magic Kingdom ferry

Thank you all for reading Wandering in Disney, we really appreciate it! ¬†You can subscribe to the blog and like our Facebook Page on the right side of this page. ¬†Don’t forget to answer the Question of the Week in the comments below. ¬†Have a great week, everyone!

Flo’s V8 Cafe – Breakfast Review

Flo’s V8 Cafe is a quick-service restaurant in Disney California Adventure. ¬†Located in Cars Land, Flo’s is what ties the area together. ¬†Adorned in neon lights in the evening and bright colors through the day, Flo’s is one of the first things eyes are drawn to when entering Cars Land. ¬†Flo’s serves American comfort and southwestern food.

Flo's dining room

On our latest trip to Flo’s we went for breakfast. ¬†Quick-service restaurants aren’t often known for their breakfasts. ¬†For whatever reason, Disney (and other theme parks) haven’t quite figured out how to offer good food at these counter service places. ¬†Instead,¬†these places usually offer rubber scrambled eggs, mushy potatoes, and sausage that you don’t entirely trust. ¬†Most counter-service restaurants don’t offer inspired and original menus either, it’s just the same everywhere you go.

Seating RSR Flo's

Does Flo’s break that trend? ¬†I think for the most part, the answer is yes. ¬†As you can see from this menu, there are four¬†adult entr√©e options for breakfast. ¬†Two of those, the Brioche French Toast and the Chicken Tamale Breakfast, are not your standard counter-service fare. ¬†The other two options are fine, being a standard breakfast plate (bacon, eggs and the like) and a fruit plate with yogurt. ¬†Those are typical choices at quick-service restaurants, but I don’t mind having a few standard dishes as long as there are unique options on the menu.

We went to Flo’s and ordered at the counter. ¬†There was hardly anyone in there, which I don’t quite understand. ¬†I get that many people like Starbucks or eat in their hotel room but most guests will settle for those standard breakfast choices that I mentioned up above. ¬†Needless to say, that is why more original choices aren’t offered at different locations. ¬†Why serve it if there is no demand? ¬†I digress, it was nice to have one of the funnest restaurants in the Disneyland Resort to ourselves. ¬†We sat indoors but by the big windows facing Radiator Springs Racers. ¬†We had an incredibly peaceful meal and the wait staff there was very attentive, although that might have had to do with us being the only people in there.

Banana french toast Flo's

Melissa ordered the Brioche French Toast and enjoyed it. ¬†I had a taste too and thought that it was moist and not overly heavy. ¬†I liked the caramel sauce, but was also happy that the toast wasn’t drenched in it. ¬†The bananas served with it were a nice touch and augmented the taste of the toast. ¬†Melissa said that she usually gets tired of dishes like this about halfway through, due to the sweetness and how dense the french toast is, but this dish was much better than the usual Brioche French Toast and she had no trouble finishing it all.

chicken tamale Flo's

I ordered the Chicken Tamale Breakfast and am still unsure of how I feel about it, three months later. ¬†First of all, I commend Flo’s for an ambitious dish. ¬†I really enjoyed the idea behind the dish, with a chicken tamale on scrambled eggs, topped with a salsa verde. ¬†It was the individual components of the dish that may have let me know some. ¬†I thought the chicken in the tamale lacked flavor and didn’t taste extremely fresh. ¬†The eggs were better than usual counter-service eggs but still not enough to make me think highly of them. ¬†The salsa was my favorite part of the dish and may have helped to hide some of the other weaknesses. ¬†Overall, I thought the dish was decent but could have been more.

Jeep Date Flo's

Flo’s is a great place for any meal simply because of its location and theming. ¬†Each room is decorated differently and has some great gags to look at. ¬†The room we sat in had records up on the wall based on fake bands. ¬†All of these band names were based on real bands but were filled with car puns. ¬†They were all interesting and fun to look at.

Cars land day

Overall, I think there are a lot of reasons to visit Flo’s for breakfast. ¬†There is a break from all of the crowds, the restaurant has great theming and offers fun views, and the menu is interesting. ¬†Could the food be better? ¬†Of course. ¬†I would also like to see them expand the menu. ¬†But, Flo’s was still very fun and a place I’d recommend. ¬†It’s much better than your standard counter-service breakfast.

Overall Rating – 8/10

-Andrew

Question of the Week (11/16/15)

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).

gargoyle

Question of the Week: The official end to Captain EO at Walt Disney World was announced this week (it’s unofficially been out of Disneyland for a while), ending its nostalgia-fueled return to the park. While I doubt any of us are sad to see Captain EO go, which extinct attraction would you bring back to the parks for a few years?

Melissa L. –¬†I think I’d most like to see the return of the People Mover to Disneyland. It’s always a good ride to be able to sit and have a break after walking around all day long and it’s one of my favorites!

Tomorroland night tall

Leslie – With Captain EO going away (which I have never seen mind you) I would love to see the return of Honey I Shrunk the Audience. This was perhaps one of my favorite shows and I was really mad when they replaced it (which is probably why I have never seen Captain EO). It was definitely a family favorite, but kids these days don’t know what they are missing.

Andrew –¬†I would love to see the return of the original Journey Into Imagination return to the Imagination Pavilion in Epcot. I was never able to experience this attraction that was overhauled in 1998 but I know many people love and miss it. I also think that a great dark ride is something Epcot really needs. Maybe someday this one will come back!

Imagination

Cassie – I only saw Captain EO once and was pretty confused the whole time. I just felt like it was a big cult inside joke that I didn’t understand. So PEACE Captain EO, no hard feelings! I am with Leslie in saying that I would love to see the return of Honey I Shrunk the Audience. I remember this show so vividly from my childhood and thought it was the coolest thing ever when I was young.

FoF Peter Pan skull

Kelsee –¬†The attraction I would like to see come back is skull rock from Peter Pan and the Pirates cove dining experience as well as Captain Hook’s Ship that used to be in Disneyland’s Fantasyland. Considering this attraction was closed before I was even born, I didn’t have the chance to experience it but I wish I had. I think that it would be a fun themed restaurant/attraction similar to Be Our Guest in Disney World. I’m a sucker for movie themed restaurants, so I think this would be a great nostalgic attraction to bring back from the past.

Grizzly Peak wide

Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney, we really appreciate it. ¬†If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our blog via email or WordPress and like our Facebook page on the right side of this post!

A Disney Chat (November 2015)

Andrew, Cassie, Leslie, and Melissa H. got together and chatted on a few Disney topics. ¬†Here is most of what they talked about. ¬†I apologize for any grammatical errors, as the it’s slightly harder to edit this format than a regular post.

sharp Disneyland Forever

Leslie- How does everyone feel about Star Wars weekend not being a thing anymore?

Andrew –¬†I don’t think it’s a big deal because every weekend will be Star Wars weekend now at Hollywood Studios. As long as they keep bringing in actors to meet guests and occasionally speaking then I’ll be fine with it. ¬†I also wouldn’t be surprised if they brought it back after all the construction is done, in some form or another.
You experienced it more recently than I have Leslie, how do you feel about it?

Leslie –¬†I loved Star Wars Weekend, as such I’m looking forward to a permanent Star Wars Weekend. I didn’t take time to meet actors because it was always packed and I had no time (minus the spontaneous James Arnold Taylor meeting I had) but if they continue to schedule actors that would be great. I know sometime recently Ashley Eckstien was supposed to be back but it was strictly for her clothing line, not for her role as Ashoka. To me the character meet and greets made the experience, and the stage shows. I think both of those will be incorporated to the new land. As well as potentially a fireworks show.
Plus new rides. New Star Wars rides. So cool.

Cassie –¬†Truth be told, I am not the biggest Star Wars fan in general. I am looking forward to the Star Wars Land, but I don’t have much of an opinion otherwise about anything Star Wars related. (And I know it isn’t Disney related, but talk to me when Hollywood Harry Potter World opens in the spring…I will have a lot to say about THAT).

Dragon Diagon Alley

Andrew –¬†The Star Wars fireworks show is confirmed. Super excited for that!
How much of your Disney time will Universal Studios take, now that it’s becoming an interesting option?

Cassie –¬†I will probably have to quit my job seeing as I will be attending Hogwarts full-time….

Melissa H. –¬†I definitely will be taking at least a day or two for Universal. Usually it’s a rare visit, but I definitely will want to go more often.

Leslie –¬†I unfortunately did not spend anytime at Universal this year (a sin I know but no car) however Universal in California is striving to gain a draw and it definitely will with Harry Potter.

Andrew –¬†Universal is way more interesting now. I do wish that the Harry Potter in Hollywood would be way different from¬†Orlando because I feel like I experienced it already.

Cassie –¬†But in all honesty, my annual pass is up in February and I will probably be postponing renewing for a little while. I am hoping to use it as much as possible the next few months, but come spring, HP world will probably have my full attention. Also, Universal Studios is about 5 minutes from my house and Disneyland is an hour. Sorry Disney, I STILL LOVE YOU

Voyager submarine monorail nemo_edited-1

Melissa H – This is kind of back tracking to the Star Wars thing, but what do you guys think will become of a Tomorrowland in Disneyland once Star Wars is complete? I can’t imagine Star Tours would stay there…

Andrew –¬†Good question, Melissa.

Leslie –¬†It’s the same question I have for Star Tours in Hollywood Studios. It makes no sense to keep it where it is in its layout.

Cassie –¬†I feel like maybe they will keep Star Tours for the nostalgic purpose?

Andrew –¬†I think a full reboot of Tomorrowland is in order. Space Mountain isn’t going anywhere but everything else is on the table. While Tomorrowland the movie flopped I thought the idea behind it was great. They need to make Tomorrowland futuristic again, with new technology. The nostalgic 80’s feel to Tomorrowland should be on its way out as it’s served it’s time and now feels stale.

Melissa H. –¬†I don’t necessarily think they would get rid of it, but it seems like it would fit better in Star Wars Land. I am with you Andrew – it feels cheesy and outdated
Tomorrowland is cheesy

Leslie –¬†I really want a steampunk Tomorrowland. Like Discoveryland in Tokyo Disney. Something that doesn’t age.

Andrew –¬†In Disney World, I think Star Tours will stay put. Judging by the permits filed that is where the majority of the work for the new Star Wars Land will be. Of course, you might know something I don’t.

Melissa H. –¬†That would be cool Leslie!

Andrew –¬†I completely agree with Leslie.
In fact, just copy a bunch of things from Tokyo DisneySea and I’d be happy.
I really hope they’d move Star Tours to the Star Wars Land in Disneyland. It makes way more sense to do that. Same thing with Buzz Lightyear and moving that to Toy Story Land in DHS.

Leslie –¬†I just want 20,000 leagues back…and really the only thing I know is that the new Star Wars store is over where the drawing academy was.

Melissa H. –¬†It just seems like they are going to have to do something with Tomorrowland… Otherwise it’s going to be a real dead-end in the park. Whether that’s completely re-theming it and turning it into a completely different land, or just updating it I don’t know.

Tomorrowland from Space Mt roof
Andrew –¬†I don’t think that store will be permanent, Leslie. I’m guessing they are trying to put as much stuff in the places that won’t be under construction as possible.

Leslie –¬†Maybe, I know very little about it other than they have it there and people are opening the store there. No clue what it looks like inside at all. And yeah Tomorrowland needs some sort of serious help.

Andrew –¬†It’s a good question about Tomorrowland. I went over there (Disneyland) to take photos one night as the park was closing and was put off by the lack of lights and energy. There was nothing about the land that made me want to stay. It wasn’t bright and optimistic but instead dull.
Still better than ToonTown!

Melissa H. –¬†I totally agree Andrew. It would kill me a little inside to see it completely go (just because of the fact that it was an original) but it just feels so terrible over there now…

Cassie –¬†It just needs to be “Tomorrow”land again…not 1988 land…

Andrew –¬†That’s it exactly. But it would be so hard to keep it updated. I understand the dilemma but doing nothing is definitely not the solution.

Leslie –¬†If we made Tomorrowland into Star Wars land…

Melissa H. –¬†Leslie that’s exactly what I’ve said to people! I just don’t think it has enough space for what they are planning. But it would make sense

Andrew¬†–¬†Too late for that idea, Leslie! Instead it’s goodbye to my beloved goats…
I think they found the best possible spots for Star Wars Land, honestly. Should help with the crowds in both parks a ton.

Cassie –¬†Agreed. That area is a ghost land…or should I say GOAT land

Lock the goat, look back!

Andrew –¬†Do any of the add-ons or hard ticket events excite you (like tours, breakfast in the Jungle Cruise, the new Club Villain dinner)? And would you ever pay for them?

Melissa H. –¬†I would be willing to pay ANYTHING to do the Jungle Cruise breakfast. Seriously – that’s like my dream come true.

Andrew –¬†$300?

Melissa H –¬†I would do it. If it wasn’t already completely booked.

Leslie –¬†Poor goats. The tours have always interested me, but being constantly busy had been hard. I’m up for anything Jungle Cruise. The Club Villains sounds awesome too. Also I don’t think it’s fair to ask me if I would pay for it cause I probably would. I’ve always been about the Disney experience over money.

Cassie – I too would love to dine along the Jungle Cruise. I think they could incorporate some exotic flavors.

Andrew –¬†Leslie and Cassie have experienced the Halloween Parties, right? You both thought it was worth the cost?

Leslie –¬†It was just so busy…and I enjoyed Christmas more. Probably because I love Christmas more and I was more prepared for it. Plus,¬†fewer people.

Andrew –¬†Was the Christmas party worth it? Not to steal any thunder from your upcoming review.

Cassie –¬†I’d say yes and no too. Yes, because of all the new things to experience. No, because it is usually too busy to experience it all. That was kind of an oxymoron. Sorry.

Leslie –¬†It’s again a yes and no answer. I liked it better than the Halloween party overall, but that’s probably because I love Christmas more than the average person.

Andrew –¬†Makes sense. I feel like that’s how most reviews of the hard ticket events are. It was interesting but there wasn’t enough time or space to enjoy it all.
None of you have taken an actual tour, right?

Leslie –¬†Pretty much. That’s the short version. Nope no tours have been taken unfortunately.

Andrew –¬†I’d love to take one at some point. But I never want to give up hours of my vacation.

Eureka Grizzly_edited-1

That’s it for this chat. ¬†If you have something you’d like to add to any of the topics we addressed, please put them in the comments! ¬†Thank you for reading and have a great day! ¬†Also, if you have any ideas on how to format these chats better, we’re all (Mickey) ears.

Andrew September Disneyland Trip Report – Part 5

The fifth and final trip installment of this trip report is finally here. If you missed part 1, 2, 3, or 4, just click on those numbers and they will magically appear on your screen. Seeing how I’ve already discussed many of my opinions in the previous installments, this final trip report will most likely be more photo based. Unless I somehow start talking about goats again. ¬†All bets are off if goats get brought up.

Our final day at the parks is¬†basically making our own ‘Disneyland¬†Greatest Hits plus Some B-Sides’ record. ¬†We repeat our favorite parts from the vacation, as well as try to experience anything that we may have missed on our last day in the parks. ¬†The interesting thing about vacationing often at a Disney park is that I have a new favorite place to go, attraction to ride, and place to eat nearly every trip. ¬†Each vacation has its own greatest hits. ¬†That’s some of what keeps me coming back.

We started the morning in Fantasyland on the Storybook Land Canal Boats. ¬†I love slow boat rides and the models set up here are really cool. ¬†They have added an Arendelle model to the attraction, which was fun to see. ¬†I think the attraction could be given a boost of energy if they continue to change out some of the models every few years. ¬†Even if they don’t, it’s charming and relaxing.

Arrendale storybook canal

Me and Mr Toad

We spent a little more time in Fantasyland, riding the greatest attraction known to man (Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride) and Alice in Wonderland, again. ¬†We took a spin on the carousel and headed toward Tomorrowland. ¬†Along the way we stumbled upon the Mad Hatter and Alice meeting guests and putting on quite a show. ¬†There weren’t many park guests around, which I think was why this was the most intimate and best meet & greet I’ve ever experienced at the park. ¬†The Mad Hatter kept pulling props out of his jacket (mainly sugar for his tea and a fake felt cup) and tossing them to Melissa. ¬†They had a nice game of catch. ¬†Alice and him bickered back and forth, playfully. ¬†They put on a great little improv show and got so caught up in the moment that they nearly forgot to take a photo with guests who were waiting. ¬†I would love to see this more often with the face characters who are able to speak (as opposed to the ones who have to wear heads for the costume). ¬†Pairing characters with each other allows them to play off what the other says nicely and makes the experience more organic.

Mad hatter and Alice

We continued our jaunt towards Tomorrowland and decided it was time venture under sea in the submarines.  The line was fairly slow but offered some unique views of the park.  Have I mentioned how great the Matterhorn looks?

Matterhorn blue sky

The submarine voyage in Disneyland is pretty unique. ¬†I don’t think it’s a great attraction but there isn’t much else like that experience. ¬†The area feels historic, which is both good and bad. ¬†Eventually, I think the submarines could go away and the space could be better put to use (same goes for Autopia) but¬†it will be somewhat sad if they did go away.

voyager submarine matterhorn nemo_edited-1

Voyager submarine monorail nemo_edited-1

The actual attraction itself makes me feel a little nauseous. ¬†I never get claustrophobic but I think that’s what I was feeling inside the submarine, I really don’t know because I’ve never been claustrophobic before. ¬†I would guess if it made me feel that way then others probably do, as well. ¬†It’s fun to look at the areas under the water. ¬†There is some interesting technology they have utilized, with the screens being underwater. ¬†It’s an immersive experience that is unlike most theme park attractions, even if it does make me a little queasy.

colorful nemo's submarine

Star Tours guy

We caught a few more Tomorrowland attractions.  We had such a great experience on Star Tours earlier in the trip that we rode it again.  There are different possibilities for each ride, yet I always felt like it was the same for me.  The first time on this though was a brand new experience, which was fantastic.  The second time was partly new, and that was fun.

We grabbed some lunch at Rancho del Zocalo, which we always enjoy. ¬†It was time for a nap so we headed back to the hotel for a couple of hours. ¬†On the way out, we happened upon some more streetmosphere entertainment. ¬†This time it was a 6-piece band performing some old tunes, as well as Disney classics. ¬†I always enjoy these random pit-stops along the way. ¬†I had never been a big fan of the ‘rest in the middle of the day’ plan but this trip might have converted me. ¬†I think if you’re staying close enough to the park then this is a great choice, as you miss the hottest part of the day and big crowds.

Paradise Pier from Little Mermaid

After our break, it was time to bid farewell to California Adventure. ¬†We had an early evening dinner reservation at Carthay Circle so before dinner we went to Paradise Pier to snap a few photos. ¬†I think this area still has a lot of work to do but it is so much more inviting than a decade ago. ¬†The Cove Bar, located right next to Ariel’s Grotto (the left side of the above photo), is undergoing construction. ¬†Once that is finished I think this area will become even more appealing to the eye.

Pacific Wharf Tower of Terror

Looking the other way, the park also looks great. ¬†Ignoring the eye sore that is A Bug’s Life, there is a case to be made that each of the other ‘Lands’ are of pretty good quality. ¬†Pacific Wharf is an interesting case. ¬†I like the food there to varying degrees, depending on the restaurant, but I think it’d be interesting to have the restaurants and food options vary. ¬†Even if they went to a small food festival type of feel there, I think it’d be very interesting. ¬†I’m mainly just rambling and blueskying here so it’s probably in our best interest to move on.

sunset california screamin paradise pier

Paradise Pier lights

Paradise Pier fun wheel from bridge

Before dinner, Melissa had tried to get another ride on California Screamin’ but the line was too long. ¬†So, after our fantastic dinner we went back and she rode one of her favorite coasters. ¬†I hung back and took some photos as the sun was setting. ¬†Southern California isn’t the easiest spot to get great sunset photos, unless you are by the coast. Still, I ended up with a few shots that I thought were okay.

Cars Land rock sunset

Cars Land RSR sunset

Before heading back to Disneyland we took a slow stroll through Cars Land.  This is becoming a new tradition to end our stay at California Adventure.

Peter Pan Sign

We had missed Peter Pan’s Flight so far on this trip and it was the last thing on the list we had to check off. ¬†We went right before the first Paint the Night showing of the night and line wasn’t too bad, relative to every other time. ¬†The changes they made to this attraction were small but noticeable. ¬†The whole attraction looked better. ¬†The first scene had the biggest changes and the technology was very cool. ¬†It’s work like this that has to be done to bring classic attractions into modern times. ¬†When Disney let’s a classic attraction sit and don’t update it, it becomes a relic. ¬†That leads to outdated attractions that would take nearly as much money to update and refresh as it would to build an entirely new attraction. ¬†Our classics need to be updated every few years, in order to keep them current, and Disney did a nice job with this one. ¬†I think they have realized this is important, with a new Soarin’ film coming and other examples throughout the last few years.

Light with tree limbs

inside Space Mountain

I snapped a few photos around Fantasyland and then we took a ride in Space Mountain.  I like putting the two photos above next to each other.  I think it sums up the versatility that great theme parks offer.

We took our place for Disneyland Forever after this and watched the great fireworks show.  We stood a little further back on Main Street this time.  It was a crowded evening and our view was good but not great.  I think standing right in front of the Partners Statue is the absolute best spot to see this show.

Disneyland Forever cropped pink and yellow

Disneyland Forever sparkly castle

After Disneyland Forever we walked back towards It’s a Small World to save a spot for Paint the Night. ¬†Our feet were tired and we were trying for an optimal spot, so we immediately found a spot at the front of the sidewalk and took a seat. ¬†There were a lot of moments that I’ll remember from this trip, namely the 10K that Melissa and I ran. ¬†But, outside of the race, I think Paint the Night stole the proverbial show during our trip. ¬†It’s an incredible parade and I can’t wait to see it again.

Lumiere Paint the Night

Mike W front Paint the Night

Paint the night princesses fairies

After the parade it was time for a little bit of nighttime photography. ¬†If there was a small beef I have with Disneyland, and this is really nitpicking, it’s that they don’t have a spot where the lights totally captivate you at night. ¬†Cars Land at night is incredible. ¬†World Showcase after dark is magnificent. ¬†Yes, Main Street is beautiful and iconic but the other lands leave a little bit to be desired, in my opinion. ¬†Tomorrowland should shine (pun intended) in this area but it might be worst of all the lands, as far as lights inside the land.

Whale at night

Mr. Toads Wild Ride castle background

lighthouse tea party castle

With having said that very small complaint, I think Disneyland is in peak condition right now.  The attractions were all running great and everything looks better than it has in a long time.

castle front right

Matterhorn night waterfall

I look forward to what the future holds at Disneyland but I’m glad I was able to go this year. ¬†The resort is on the brink of big (good, but big) changes and this will be the last chance for while to see the parks running at full steam. ¬†I’ll remember the debuts of the shows, hanging out with the goats, and riding on the full riverboat route well. ¬†I’ll really cherish Melissa and I completing a goal in one of our favorite places on Earth. ¬†As usual, I can’t wait to go back.

Partners night 60th castle
– Andrew

Question of the Week (11/8/15)

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

Corn Dog wagon at night

Question of the Week: Disney reportedly had a crowd increase of 15% this quarter. What is the best way for Disney to manage crowds at their U.S. theme parks? Is raising prices the only logical solution?

Melissa H. –¬†This was something that we were discussing on our trip. Just about 5 years ago, October was considered to be a slower time of year at Disneyland. However, when we were there this year the crowds felt very similar to those that we had experienced in May/June. I don’t really know what the most logical solution to this problem is. The raising of prices may help, but the people who still really want to go will be willing to pay the money to go. We were discussing how it would be kind of cool if Disney came up with a calendar system where you had to reserve the days of your vacation and then once those days were fully booked, no more tickets would be sold for that day. Obviously, that has lots of problems with it, but it would also be kind of nice to see what sort of crowds to expect when you were there. The only other thing I could think of would be lowering what they consider to be the max capacity of their parks, but this still doesn’t really solve things. It is a good problem to have as a company, but not the most fun problem to have as a park guest.

Grand Floridian drums_edited-2

Andrew –¬†It’s so hard to come up with a solution that doesn’t add more problems. While I don’t agree with constantly raising prices, I can see why Disney has come to this solution so often. With that being said, I think the best solution is to keep expanding the park. The company has started doing this after a long drought. New Fantasyland added a lot of capacity to Magic Kingdom. Star Wars Land will bring a lot of extra room when they come in a few years, as well as Pandora in 2017. The problem here is that if the company keeps expanding then they can justify raising prices. Also, people would be interested in new lands, making them full. Eventually the answer may be to open more parks but I think that will be at least another decade out.

Cars rock

Cassie –¬†Raising the prices is surely the most practical suggestion for controlling the crowds. I will personally be going to the parks less once my annual pass expires because of the price raise. I am sure a lot of others will follow suit. The thought of lowering the max capacity of the parks did cross my mind too, I could see that happening in the future as the population keeps growing. It’s definitely a tough call. While everyone should be able to visit the parks whenever they want, there need to be sacrifices made somewhere.

Melissa L. –¬†This is a very hard question to answer. However I think I agree with Andrew in the idea of expanding the parks. With having the parks offer more, having a raised price at least makes you feel there is a reason for the price increase.

Everest:discovery

Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney! ¬†You can subscribe to the blog and like our Facebook page on the right side of this page. ¬†Don’t forget to answer the question of the week, in the comments. ¬†Have a great week!

FastPass+ Guide to Disney’s Hollywood Studios

I find that FastPasses are the biggest source of frustration to first-time or infrequent park goers. Many people don’t know what they are, how to use them, or what to use them on. With this in mind, I’m going to write a guide to each U.S. park on when and where to use FastPasses.

We started this series with Disney’s Animal Kingdom. ¬†If you are unfamiliar with FastPass+, check out that post for a more detailed description on what it is and how to use it.

A FastPass to go burn the old hat might be better than some of these options!

A FastPass to go burn the old hat might be better than some of these options!

Is the FastPass+ System Different in Hollywood Studios?

The short answer here is yes. ¬†Why would I ask that question in this blog post if it wasn’t? ¬†It’d be a real waste of time to ask that question and then just say no.

At Hollywood Studios, FastPasses are divided into two different groups РGroup A and Group B.  Group A is supposedly the marquee attractions while Group B is slightly less thought of.  When reserving FastPasses ahead of time, guests can select one attraction from Group A and two selections from Group B.  If you are at Hollywood Studios and have completed your FastPasses then you can reserve a FastPass from either group, assuming they are available.

Fozzie

Here are the attractions in both groups:

Group A

  • The Great Movie Ride
  • Toy Story Midway Mania
  • Fantasmic!
  • Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage
  • Rock n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith

Group B

  • Disney Junior – Live on Stage
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
  • Star Tours: The Adventure Continues
  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing Along Celebration
  • Lights, Motor, Action! Extreme Stunt Show
  • MuppetVision 3D
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

One last note about Hollywood Studios before the rankings… This park is going through a big change right now and the FastPass situation may be pretty fluid, meaning some attractions may be leaving or¬†will not have FastPass availability. ¬†I will try to keep this post updated as the park changes.

Camp Wocka-Wocka

Group A FastPass+ Strategy and Rankings for Hollywood Studios

We’ll start with Group A and work through every FastPass option. ¬†As we did with Animal Kingdom, let’s start with the shows. ¬†In Group A, Fantasmic! and Beauty and the Beast are the shows available. ¬†Beauty and the Beast is a charming show that lasts about half an hour. ¬†It may not be long for the park now. ¬†The seating is outdoor but undercover so there is some shade. ¬†While there isn’t a ton of seating, there are enough shows in the day so that a guest would hardly ever be turned away do to the theater reaching capacity. ¬†To put it simply, Beauty and the Beast isn’t worth using your Group A FastPass+ on.

Fantasmic! could be a different story. ¬†There are either one or two shows a night of Fantasmic! and they are usually full. ¬†While I don’t think this is a good use of a FastPass, I think there is some rationale behind it. ¬†Also, if you FastPass+ this show there’s a good chance that the seating will be better than if you are a standby guest.

As far as the rides go, The Great Movie Ride is a waste of a Group A FastPass. ¬†While I like the ride, the wait isn’t very long and doesn’t exceed the quality of other attractions.

Rock n’ Roller Coaster is a more viable option. ¬†The wait time can be pretty long here and if you are morally opposed to single-rider lines then a FastPass isn’t a bad choice. ¬†This all depends on how you feel about Toy Story Midway Mania; if you don’t go on Toy Story then Rock n’ Roller Coaster and Fantasmic! seem like the best Group A FastPass+ options. ¬†Which one you choose depends if thrill rides or shows are more of ‘your thing’.

Toy Story Mania EtchASketch

If you have ever been to Hollywood Studios then you know the ridiculous amount of fanfare that Toy Story Midway Mania has. ¬†While we can argue over whether this attraction is worthy of 100-minute waits (it probably isn’t), there is no arguing that this is Hollywood Studios most popular attraction. ¬†If you want to go on Toy Story Midway Mania, reserving a FastPass is the best and most efficient way to go about it.

Here’s my ranking of the Group A Fastpass+ options:

5. Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage – This simply isn’t popular enough to demand a FastPass.

4. The Great Movie Ride –¬†This is the ride version of Beauty and the Beast. ¬†While slightly popular, this attraction doesn’t have big enough wait times to warrant a FastPass.

3. Fantasmic! –¬†Possibly worthy of a FastPass+ if shows are easily your favorite thing about Disney Parks. ¬†If not, there are better options.

2. Rock n’ Roller Coaster –¬†A fun thrill ride that is a good option for a FastPass if you don’t want to go in the single-rider line or aren’t interested in Toy Story Midway Mania.

1. Toy Story Midway Mania –¬†The most popular attraction in the park. ¬†If you don’t have a FastPass for it then be prepared to wait over an hour.

Dhs tot street

Group B FastPass+ Strategy and Rankings

To be perfectly honest, there are a few attractions on this Group B list that I haven’t even tried. ¬†As usual, let’s start with the shows.

Disney Junior – Live on Stage is the attraction I’ve yet to experience. ¬†Being a show for little kids, I’m guessing there isn’t much of a wait time. ¬†Disney Junior isn’t worth a FastPass.

The same goes for many of the shows on this list. ¬†Lights, Motor Action!, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! (these shows must be exciting due to their excessive exclamation points), MuppetVision 3D, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, and the Frozen Sing-Along all are shows with varying degrees of popularity. ¬†With that being said, if you show up 15 minutes before showtime to any of these then you will get in. ¬†At one point the Frozen Sing-Along was very popular but has waned recently and probably isn’t worth a FastPass anymore. ¬†If there was a show from Group B to FastPass, Frozen is it.

That leaves 2 attractions which is exactly the amount of FastPasses a guest can reserve from Group B.  Star Tours and Tower of Terror are left on our list of possibilities and they are absolutely what you should use your FastPasses on unless there are some strange circumstances that you are dealing with.

tot

Here’s my ranking for the Group B attractions:

8. ¬†Disney Junior – Live on Stage –¬†There isn’t much of a wait at all here, judging by usual wait times for the attraction.

7. ¬†MuppetVision 3D – The show isn’t very popular, there are a ton of showtimes, the theater is pretty large, and the queue is really fun compared to every other queue in this park.

6.  Lights, Motor, Action! Extreme Stunt Show РA big venue + an average show = something not worthy of a FastPass.

5.  Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular РThe Lights, Motor, Action! equation except with a better show.

4. ¬†Voyage of the Little Mermaid –¬†At this point with all of these shows, I’m just putting things higher on the list because they have less seating. ¬†That’s why this is 4th.

3. ¬†For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing Along Celebration –¬†It’s my least favorite show on this list but it’s still somewhat popular.

2. ¬†Star Tours: The Adventure Continues –¬†A very fun attraction and an easy choice for a FastPass.

1. ¬†Twilight Zone Tower of Terror –¬†Possibly the best attraction at Walt Disney World. ¬†FastPass+ this and ride it at park opening, as well. ¬†Unless you hate falling at rapid speeds like I do.

Star Tours robot

As you’ll notice, there are five attractions on this list that aren’t shows. ¬†You can FastPass three of those and possibly get a FastPass for another show or attraction once you’ve completed your original three. ¬†That’s why Hollywood Studios¬†is seen as a half-day park. ¬†Soon it will be better and will have way more attractions to offer.

What do you think of my rankings for FastPass+ in the Studios?  Do you have any tips that you would add?  Let me know in the comments.  Thank you for reading!

– Andrew

Question of the Week (11/2/15)

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

Question of the Week: We all have our favorite theme park, but what U.S. Disney theme park’s future are you most excited about?

Via Disney Parks Blog

Via Disney Parks Blog

Leslie –¬†I am definitely excited to see how Disney World changes. With all the current construction, plus the new plans for Pixar and Star Wars it is going to look amazing. Disney Springs is coming together nicely, as well, as more announcements for its future unfold. When the construction there is done it will be beautiful I’m sure, but I might be a bit bias now.

water flamingos AK

Andrew –¬†While I love Star Wars and can’t wait to see what they bring to Disneyland and Hollywood Studios, I think I’m most excited for the future of Animal Kingdom. I think it’s Disney’s most beautiful park and I’m looking forward to seeing what it looks like at dusk and into the night. The models of Pandora look incredible. I’m also excited for their new nighttime show, Rivers of Light, and Kilimanjaro Safaris, my favorite Disney World attraction, at night.

Via Disney Parks Blog

Via Disney Parks Blog

Melissa L. –¬†I think I’m most excited for the new additions to Hollywood Studios. I really love¬†this park even if it is a little discombobulated at this time. I think being immersed¬†in Star Wars will be great and I can’t wait to see what they do. I also love Pixar and Toy Story and am excited to see what they will come up with.

Melissa H. –¬†I think I am most excited for all that is happening in Hollywood Studios. It has always had fun attractions, but felt like some of that spark of Disney Magic was missing. I am excited to see what happens as they add to it and begin to build up some of the popular themes that they already have positioned there.

sharp Disneyland Forever

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