Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Disneyland Resort ~ 60th Anniversary ~ After Dark

We were only in the parks for one day so there were definitely a lot of things we missed due to wanting to see other displays in the park. For instance, we didn't get to see the new World of Color show and I do hear it is a wonderful thing. But we did want to see the new Paint The Night Parade which was going on at the same time so we had to make the decision on which one we wanted to see more and the parade won.

Last week we left off in CarsLand. We positioned ourselves just for the display at sunset. This is because there is a routine at sunset that you really should see if you and your family love CARS.
 They begin by playing Life Could Be A Dream over the loudspeakers in town and then the neon lights begin to light up! 
 The streetlights first and then slowly over the course of the song the entire street begins to glow with neon. It is really so beautiful.
Once it really gets dark this part of California Adventure is my favorite. It, literally, glows.
 Even the race track for the Radiator Springs Racers glows! If you get a chance then make sure to ride this during the daytime as well as at night. (There is a single rider line, if your party doesn't feel like it has to ride together, that moves much faster than either the fastpass or the regular lines)
 We left CarsLand at that point so we could head back over to Disneyland and was stopped in our tracks by how beautiful the Carthay Circle Theater looks all lit up at night. Truly stunning!
Take a few moments to look back at the parks entrances when you leave for the night. Everything has been designed to be exceptionally beautiful. 
 After the first parade, which is around 8pm, it was absolutely crazy. Even with low crowds the "let out" of the parade was insanely crowded. Little Man doesn't like the fireworks so we positioned ourselves in front of the Main Street train station...about as far from the fireworks sounds as we could be and still be in the park. When we do this again we will be on the other side of this park so we can see the buildings on Main Street as well as the castle.
 They start off the fireworks with Mickey Ears!
 But it was the projections on the buildings of Main Street that stole the show! What was going on up in the sky was certainly beautiful but the colors of lights on the buildings of Main Street were SO cool!
 And they changed! Each song brought new colors and projections!
 So, if you are going, make sure that you position yourself on Main Street for the fireworks display. This works if you are planning on seeing the parade after it too since it goes right down Main Street as well!
 I had heard the parade was beautiful but nothing prepared me for just how truly dazzling it would be.
 Everything is lit up in neon colors! From the floats to the dancers to the ground just glowed!
 There was only one small, picky, problem. The characters didn't have their faces well lit. I'm hoping that this is something that, over the year, they address and correct. 
 The use of projections is really big this year in the Parks. We saw many of the rides using this technology and the parade was no exception.
 We all loved the aerial marionettes which are as tall as the buildings in the square!
 What was fun was seeing the puppeteers inside of could tell they were having a great time putting on this display!
 One of my favorite floats was the Monsters Inc. float. Sully was dancing around on it while pretending to work the doors.
 And the doors, using the projector technology, were SO much fun! Bright and colorful and wonderful! We all "ooh'd and ahhh'd" at this one!
 The favorite of our Little Man was the CARS characters. Lightening led the group, showing off, as usual.
 I'm not really sure what these dancers are supposed to be but they were definitely a lot of fun.
 But it was Mac who was the hit for this part of the show. His broad sides projected several different scenes and light displays.
 He was definitely my favorite with his big personality showing through with the lights!
 DJ, hanging out on the back of Mac, was bouncing around and being his normal, playful, music playing self.
 Then it was Under the Sea time! I think the "delicate" dancers were my favorites in this parade.
 Ariel, Flounder, King Triton and Sebastian could all be found on this very bright and colorful float.

 Even the back of the float was super bright and colorful!

 The it was Toy Story's turn to take the floor. With Jesse and her dancers leading the way we knew that fun was going to follow!
 Buzz and Woody both road on the Slinky Dog float. Unfortunately, because of the above mentioned problem with seeing the characters, I couldn't get a good shot of either of them. But Slinky Dog sure looks happy!
What Disney parade would be complete without Princesses? The fair Ladies in Waiting began that section. Their lights changed colors as they made their way down the parade route too!
 The Disney Princess float was definitely the most ornate float of the parade. Beautiful Belle led the way.
 Rapunzel and Cinderella followed in their own grand little trailing floats, divided by beautiful candelabra floats in between.
 But right now, the Disney Universe is crowded by FROZEN and the dual princesses of Elsa and Anna. 
 The float is truly magnificent. I have no idea what it is really made out of but it definitely looks like a carved ice sculpture!
 Elsa and Anna act like the royalty they are, greeting their adoring fans. This float got the biggest response from the crowd.
The details, like this side panel which shows the princesses as little girls, is part of what makes this my favorite float. 
 I'm not a huge FROZEN fan...I liked it but I'm not obsessed...but I do dearly love Olaf! He rides on the back of the float, merrily dancing his way through the parade!
 And here comes Mickey Mouse! Like Santa at the end of a Christmas Parade, all Disneyland parades end with Mickey. The rest of the fabulous 5 (yes, Daisy always gets left out) ride in on their own floats.
 Then Mickey gets his own personal entourage of dancers to lead the way.
 And what a float he has! It stands as tall as a building and seems to have more lights than any of the other floats. Not only does he stand on a multi-colored light tier but...
 The part of the float that trails behind is made up of a huge diamond, surrounded by piano key-like lights with swirling rotating lights above. This parade is truly Dazzling!
 By the time the parade was over it was after 11:30pm and most of everyone in the park had begun to leave. We did the opposite. We headed for the castle!
 It is truly stunning. Just standing there, trying to take it all in, I realized that, of all the editions of decorations this castle has had in my 53 years, this one is my absolute favorite.
 Each section has been "blinged" out. Covered in lights, draped with jewels and bathed in blue lights.
 Of course, the giant diamond cut 60th sign hangs over the entranceway. Beautiful during the daytime, it is breathtaking at night.
 This late at night there were so very few people around that it feels like this is your own private world. I have to recommend taking the time to be here, at the castle, when the park closes. It's truly magical.
 In fact, I was right here, taking this shot, when the announcement that Disneyland was now closed played over the park. I think it was me and 3 other people who were still here at that time. Just magical.
Disneyland is a very special place for all of us in our family. It is where we still meet up as a family, even though most of the kids and grandkids are grown and the only small ones are now the great-grandkids. We have had major celebrations here, ran away from the world during times of great sorrow to here, and consider this a place of healing for us. There is something to the idea that Walt had all those years ago. For us, this is a place of Magic, of Wonder, of Joy. I've been over a hundred times and I'm sure there are another couple of dozen times in my future. With memories like the one in the photo above, how could I resist returning to such a beautiful place?

I hope you can make it out while the 60th Anniversary Celebration is still going on. We'll be back out again next April to celebrate our son's 15th birthday...this time we'll take a couple of days so we can explore even more. Make sure to click on the same photos so you can see the full sized versions!

Next week, I'll take you back to Sicily and tour the area where they filmed the Godfather! In the meantime you can catch me on Facebook and daily on Instagram. If you stop by make sure to say HI!


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Disney California Adventure

While this trip to the Disneyland Resort was, primarily, for Disneyland we did have a couple of things we wanted to do in California Adventure too. One was to watch the parade while enjoying our celebratory dinner at the Wine Country Trattoria. The other was to ride the Radiator Springs Racers in CarsLand. The rest of our afternoon was spent waiting to achieve that second goal. Sometimes plans don't go smoothly and, when at Disney, you have to learn to go with the flow.
 The parks were still rather uncrowded by the time we made our way over to the second park. You can see there are basically no lines to get in and the square isn't even crowded. It was about 4pm on a Thursday so, remember, timing is everything.
 Immediately I could tell that there would be all sorts of hidden diamonds all over the resort. Such beautiful additions to the already existing decor.
 And, while Disneyland is all about Victorian details, California Adventure is all about vintage California. Being a native Californian I can tell you that the details are spot-on and so very beautiful. By the way, this is the restrooms. 
 Even the benches carry typical Mexican influenced details that are so very well known in our California architecture. This makes me want to go tile something...right NOW.
 The Park also has it's own here-to-there transportation. I've never actually ridden the Buena Vista Trolley but I can't help but photograph it each time I see it. Sure is a beauty!
 Ok, I'll say it. I miss the Golden Gate Bridge that use to be here in this spot. When they renovated a few years ago the bridge was removed and this causeway was inserted instead. As with Disneyland, this entryway is mainly shops and places to grab a quick bite to eat. Still...I did love the addition of the D with the diamond.
 One of the changes I do love about this area is all the Art Deco details. Seriously, they are everywhere. And not just on the outside but on the inside of the shops and restaurants too! LOOK UP! So pretty!

 But my favorite renovation was the removal of the Sun Fountain (altho' my son still misses it) and the construction of the Carthay Circle Lounge and Restaurant. This is such a stunning landmark for this park. 
Designed to look like a vintage movie theater it even has a grand Marquee....that they have made even more grand for the Diamond Celebration! Inside you will find a gorgeous, intimate lounge for you and your "other" to cuddle up and spend some romantic time.
 And upstairs you can find a world class restaurant perfect for any Honeymoon dinner! Inside and out this is just a gorgeous feat of architecture.
 A quick word on Disney Style. Pretty much anything comfortable and decent is the way to go in a Disney park. BUT...there are those who go so much further. We simply adored how these two couples made custom shirts just for their visit! SO much fun! So if you are wacky enough (and we were wishing we'd thought of it first!) then fly your Disney Flag...this is the place to do it!

 No matter how beautiful the architecture, it's the waterfall that gets the most press when it comes to the Family Photo. In case you are wondering, the Disneyland Resort started water saving measures back in 2008, before our drought here in California began. All water is recycled and reclaimed water. They catch storm water, what there is of it, and purify and treat all reclaimed water so while the water is non-potable, not recommended for drinking, it's not wasted water either. 
 Right past the waterfall is the Wine Country Trattoria. This was where we were told we could have a wonderful dinner and have a great view of the parade as it passed by at about 5:30. So we made a 5pm reservation and requested a balcony side table. Dinner was wonderful but this is not "cheap eats". This was to celebrate a wedding anniversary though so the one splurge was worth it. 
 The view of Paradise Pier was great from here too! We all loved it when California Screamin' roared past!
 But the parade was one of the reasons we wanted to be where we were sitting so when it started all eyes were on the dancers and floats that passed by...starting with Monsters University!
 Some of the characters are animatronics that interact with the crowd.
 Some of them catch a ride on the back of the dancers. 
 But some of them actually have people inside the suits really making the characters come alive. Sully was one of my very favorites from this parade!
 Of course Mike was on the back of the float! 
 Other Family Favorite Films were covered in the parade as well like The Incredibles.
 Finding Nemo has a few characters spotlighted as well.
 But it was the dancers that kept grabbing my attention. Their ornate costumes and their graceful joy they kept handing out like candy to their audience is just captivating! 
 It wasn't too hot of a day but definitely too hot to be wearing a long sleeved polyester costume with a plastic wig on your head and yet, with her attitude you would like this was 60 degrees and everything was just fine!
 A Bug's Life was also spotlighted and the Stick Insect, Slim, was my absolute favorite! He bopped and danced all over the street!
 Toy Story was a highlight for my grandson. He's 4 and not much into parades but when the aliens arrived he was ALL about this parade!
 Buzz Lightyear has his own dancers. You have to hand it to them...dancing with that tall, plastic hair has to be hard to do...but they make it look easy!
 Jesse and Woody were on their float, teeter-tottering on giant Tinkertoys but it was the back of the float that made the kids laugh out loud.
 Slinky the Dog was at the back and, poor thing, he was unraveling into the crowd! His tail end was all over the place, to the delight of the kids!
 Somehow, Slinky didn't seem too dismayed that he never did get his tail under control!
 The real star of this Park is definitely Lightening McQueen. You can find him in the parade, of course, but you can also find him in CarsLand ready to pose for pictures at the Cozy Cone Motel.
 And look who was right behind Lightening!
 His true blue buddy, Tow Mater! This was the end of the parade and the end of our dinner and time for us to make our way to CarsLand!
 You can actually walk from Paradise Pier to the back tunnel into CarsLand where you get your first glimpse of the waterfall. You ride past it when you are on the ride too!
 One thing you may not have expected is the plants and flowers they have all over the place in the Parks! 
 Or the fact that they are color coordinated to match the color schemes for the ride or restaurant where they are planted! These bright Gazania are planted at the Cozy Cone Motel near one of the food service windows.
 A moment to talk about souvenirs. We all fell in love with these souvenir cups in CarsLand. Our little man has a transportation/Cars themed room so buying these was as much for decoration for his room as to get us all something to drink. So we didn't mind paying the HUGE cost for them. In fact, we joked that we needed to pretend we were getting them at Pottery Barn so the price wouldn't seem so steep. So keep in mind...the items are totally cute but totally expensive so think about what you will use them for when you return back to your real world before spending the money at the themepark.
This almost looks like I inserted a photo of Arches National Park here on accident...this is to show how perfectly Disney "gets" it. These are the "mountains" behind the Radiator Springs Racers ride!
 You will even find real plants along the edges, like these cactus which flower this time of year. Sadly the ride itself was broken. With the promise of it running in the next half hour or so we decided to head off to Bug's Land. 
 Where we met DJ on the way!! The kids were thrilled to see him and he hung out while they danced around to his music!
 We got in line for Heimlich's Chew Chew Train. This silly ride is a family favorite that we can't resist each time we go. You also get a great view of the Tower of Terror from there!
 HUGE plants are planted here to give the illusion that you are so very small. There are many different types that it's fun, and cooler, to hang out in their shade on a hot day.
At night these adorable lightening bugs light up their butts to provide illumination along the pathway to the head of the line.
 The ride is a slow, small circle in the adorable little train. You go through a hollowed out watermelon and actually smell watermelon, past animal crackers and smell is tons of fun and not scary in the least to the little ones in your party. I'll admit, it's always the adults who suggest going on the ride again, not the kids! 
After the ride it was back to CarsLand. 
 To watch them run empty cars but not actually open the ride yet.

 So we headed back to Paradise Pier to ride The Little Mermaid Ride. This ride is fairly new, just a few years old, and is located in a gorgeous Art Deco styled building right where you would meet up to watch World of Color.
 The ride is a slow one filled with music and lots of fun characters from the movie but if your little one is afraid of the dark then this wouldn't be a great one for them. It starts off with Scuttle.
 Onto Ariel telling Flounder all about wanting to be part of that world...
Then the enchantment begins where she meet up with Ursula and is offered the promise of legs.
 There's just one...little...catch....
 This was my favorite effect of the ride...where you can see Ariel signing the contract to give her voice away and earn legs.
 Of course Sebastian wastes no time in trying to get Eric to "kiss the girl"...
 Ariel looks less than convinced that this plan is actually going to work out.
 Of course, the plan works perfectly, Sebastian and King Triton rejoice....
 At they lived Happily Ever After....If you are staying at the resort you can actually "rent" the movie to show the kids when you get back to your room!  
For us it was back to CarsLand and one more try at getting on this ride. As the sun began to set we were...not victorious. Sometimes it doesn't go smoothly but that just means you have to go find other adventures to enjoy while you wait. So we hung out and watched the sunset and waited.

Next week I'll cover our favorite time of the day in the parks....Disneyland Resort After Dark! The parks come alive after dark but with the Diamond Celebration there are so many extra treats in store for you I just can't wait to share them! (Spoiler Alert: We did get on the ride in the end!!!) See you next week!

In the meantime don't forget to click on the smaller photos so you can see the full size images and come visit me on Facebook or on Instagram! If you do visit, please make sure to say HI!