Once Upon a Time In Anaheim…

“Anaheim, California. There grew a grove of orange trees covering a lot of ground.

Once upon a time in Anaheim… Anaheim, California, a man beheld those orange groves wondering if he had found the answer to his special dream – his very special vision. He walked around… and looked around… and came to this decision:

(The man’s name was Walt Disney. And as he stood in that orange grove 25 years ago, he saw in his mind’s eye a magic kingdom the likes of which never, NEVER existed anywhere on Earth.)

And he said, “I will build my dream in Anaheim – Anaheim, California! And everything I build will be the grandest sort of fantasy – imagination is the key to Disneyland!” – Danny Kaye, from the Disneyland 25th Anniversary Special

The Whole Special. It’s so deliciously 1980.

Imagination, along with hard work, perseverance, stubbornness, contributions from others, and so much more was, and still is, the key to Disneyland. As Walt’s opening day broadcast began on July 17th, 1955, imagination ran wild. The theme park was born, and what an amazing debut it made. On televisions across America, a new locale became the go-to destination for many families. Given Walt Disney’s dream and drive, looking back, this is not surprising. However, up until that point, it was very much up in the air.

Not anymore. 58 years later, and the park is going strong as ever. Even with Disney Parks world wide, people still travel from all over the globe to visit Walt’s original theme park.

People like us. We, the vacationers, the day trippers, the locals who love to go and soak up the atmosphere. Who still talk to Mickey as if we’re seeing him for the first time. Who plan for weeks on end which ride will be our first when we get there. Who put on mouse ears as if they are part of our everyday accessories. Who stand in line for 25 minutes on a hot day for a Dole Whip because water just won’t do.

Although some naysayers may scoff, there really is a magic feel to Disneyland. Whether it’s nostalgia, an escape from real life, or the need to relax on a bench as horse drawn trolleys pass by, we feel transformed as we enter. For even a few hours of the day we can forget our worries, or, at the very least, take time to reflect a bit while riding a train through jungles, New Orleans and a prehistoric scenario.

Because of this magic that lingers long after I’ve left the park, even now, a month and a half out from another trip, I want to take the time today to say the following:

Happy Birthday, Disneyland. Thank you to all who worked on creating this happy place, from Walt himself to the bulldozer drivers who cleared the orange groves… you have my gratitude. May you continue to be a source of joy and inspiration on this earth for years to come. May our grandchildren know the wonder of flying with elephants and sliding down icy slopes of hills while eluding abominable snowmen. Here’s to many more birthdays to come.

You’ve Got A “New” Friend In Me

Hey-there, Hi-there, Ho-there, DisNerds!

I cannot even begin to tell you how ecstatic I am to be featured here on this wonderful blog. English words fail to describe just how excited I am to see where this all goes. (Luckily we all love a world whose ridiculously imaginatory lexicon is only rivaled by Dr. Seuss, so I believe I can find some word to describe my feelings. Tigger-ific? Supercalifragilistexpealidocious? Point being: Disney is awesome and I’m infinitely-and-beyond happy to be on-board with this blog.)

So, I’m certain I’ll have the opportunity to explain more of my Disney-love (how I came to love it, how I live it, etc.) but I’ll just take this paragraph to at least introduce myself this much: I am Mouseketeer Hayden (“Hi, Hayden…”) I am 21 years old, and I’ve been a Disney geek for 10+ years now. (The first 11 or so was all training, mind you.) It’s interesting to see the variety of Disney geeks you stumble upon… Some can stump me on every single Mickey Mouse related trivia question we’d be asked, others seem to know an uncomfortable amount of information about Annette Funicello. Myself? Gosh, you’ll be hearing a lot from me about Disneyland, Disney Imagineering, Disney Animation, and the man Disney himself.

Craig spoke briefly of my life’s most recent grand adventure as he introduced me. In short, I returned this May from Seattle, Washington where I served as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’ll spare you two years worth of stories (though I’d be happy to share with any who’d like to hear them via private conversations) and explain this much: I served this mission knowing full well that I’d be away from family and friends for two years, my only contact with them being occasional letters and weekly e-mails (and I was allotted only an hour’s worth of e-mailing, mind you). I understood that I’d be asked to forsake all forms of “worldly” entertainment, including, but not limited to: movies, music (excluding sacred hymns, of course), radio, iPods, iPhones, computers, newspapers, television, etc. I knew that I wouldn’t have any “vacation” time; certainly no time to even think about Disneyland, let alone go to Disneyland. Such is the life of a Mormon missionary!

From Mouseketeer to Missionary: Setting aside mouse ears for a clean-cut 'do, a pin lanyard for a necktie.

From Mouseketeer to Missionary: Setting aside mouse ears for a clean-cut ‘do, a pin lanyard for a necktie.

May 11th, 2013, I was reunited with my family. It was a wonderful moment. I can’t even begin to describe the emotion(s) of it all. Suffice it to say, I was with who I loved most. But I wasn’t “where” we needed to be quite yet.

May 28, 2013, I came “home”. Tears welled up in my eyes seeing the crest of the Matterhorn rise as we drove down the I-5. My heart was racing driving down Katella. There it was, I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Disneyland was still there. Finally, my family was reunited with the place we loved most. They had gone a handful of times during my mission, but lamented the fact that the group was always an un-even 5. (I like to think they actually missed me, but I think they were more upset at the fact that 5 always meant someone was riding solo, missing the fact that 6 in a party leant itself to easier seating configurations… I jest.)

I felt absolutely spoiled; for the next 5 days I felt like Disneyland was putting on its best show just for me. The rides went smoother, the cast members were happier, the paint was fresher… I felt like it’d missed me, and that it was mighty happy to see me back. Thank goodness, too. I entertained the thought that perhaps I wasn’t as ready for Disneyland as perhaps I needed to be.

It was interesting to see the things that changed, yes, from major installments to minor details. Some sails and other various fabrics in Pirates of the Caribbean had been changed out. Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye certainly had its share of enhancements.  California Adventure… I don’t think anything was the same there! A new entrance, Buena Vista Street, Cars Land, trolleys, shows, stores… What an experience that was, seeing for the first time! A water feature here had been repainted, a merchandise rack had been shifted there… But I was still walkin’ right down the middle of the same Main Street USA. I was still being followed home by the same pestering hitch-hiking ghosts. It’s just as small a world now as it was when those 2 years ago. Which was all sorts of wonderful. I found I needed to be at Disneyland for more reasons than to just satisfy a Disney geek’s cravings and yearnings. I needed to be there to remind myself of where I had come from, who I was, and where I’ve wanted to be going. It was here I felt a figurative “last piece of the puzzle” fall into place, solidifying all of the life lessons I had learned through my missionary service into my heart. I was I sure picked an eventful two years to take a hiatus from, I’ll tell you what! It was wonderful to feel that my two years away from the magic didn’t deplete me in anyway. It has very much so been a compounding experience; each passing moment finds me all the more prepared for the next. I was just as ready for Disneyland as I had ever been.

Friends at first, and friends at last. Disney hasn't stopped providing magical moments, and I certainly haven't stopped enjoying them!

Friends at first, and friends at last. Disney hasn’t stopped providing magical moments, and I certainly haven’t stopped enjoying them!

Now granted, that’s a very sappy and sentimental look at things. Perhaps another entry later I can provide a greater (and more factual) trip report. I’ll say this much:

Car’s Land? I watch a Youtube video of Radiator Springs Racers every day to remind myself that it was actually real. From Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree down the road to the Cadillac Range, it was nothing but extraordinarily delightful.

Buena Vista Street was far greater than I could have ever anticipated. I first saw it at nighttime, and I immediately fell in love. It provides such an incredibly immersive experience. It had me in awe the minute I scanned my pass and stepped in.

Ariel’s Undersea Adventure can be summed up in this question: Where can I get one of them Ursula audio-animatronics for my home? (I LOVE IT. I NEED IT.)

There are so many more stories to share, and yet today there is so little time. I hope you enjoyed this, and if anything I hope you take this from it all: I friggin’ missed Disneyland, I’m excited to be back, and I can’t wait to go again. And, if I might add… I am happy to be here, contributing to this blog! Have a Disney Day, folks!

The Internet and Disney – Is the Joke On Us?

May 22, 2019: I wrote this piece over 6 years ago. However, any time I see a change within the Disney company, or fandom reactions of almost anything, I’m constantly reminded of this article. With Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge due to open very shortly, I decided not only to revisit the piece, but to also update with new thoughts. I hope you enjoy!

I’m not a big fan of practical jokes that come in the form of fake ads and misleading articles. I’m not talking about stories on sites such as The Onion, which are known for such over-the-top satire. I’m talking about the type of articles that are usually released on or around April Fool’s day, or as it has come to be known, “Don’t Believe the Internet Day.”  While I find many of them amusing (who doesn’t like to see how many ways companies can wrap bacon into their products?), I feel many of the “news” articles written can be misleading. For that reason, I don’t take much stock in articles I see posted on that day.

However, I do appreciate the idea of a good joke as much as the next person, and judging by the amount of sharing of false ads and whatnot, I know I’m not alone. This led me to really think about the internet, the sharing of news, ads, pictures, and, of course, gossip. And sometimes, if you will pardon the cynicism, I wonder if the internet in some ways isn’t just one big joke we’re playing on ourselves.

Okay, I'm not suggesting we do away with the internet.. but please, read on....

Okay, I’m not suggesting we do away with the internet.. but please, read on….

I’m sure I’m not original in my thought, but the thought enters my head more and more often: What if the internet had been around when Walt had been building Disneyland?

Here’s the first preview the general public got of Disneyland:

Can you imagine “insider” reporting by some of the select few, who focused mainly on what was going wrong?

“Rumor has it the wrong trees were bulldozed. If this is the kind of care being put into this construction, what can we expect for the rest of the park?”

“Insiders are saying there aren’t enough attractions in the area of the park called ‘Tomorrowland.’ Instead, looks like the suits are pulling in sponsored exhibits, so get ready for lots of corporate plugs, folks. We don’t need that in a theme park.”

“@DisneyLanding1955 tweeted: Apparently @RealWaltDisney is using the plumbers strike to justify the lack of drinking fountains. Yet he’ll take your money for drinks. (@RealWaltDisney replied:@DisneyLanding1955 People can buy a Pepsi, but they can’t pee in the streets.)”

“Apparently the river that’s going to hold a steamboat completely drained overnight. I wouldn’t count on this park to be worth much with this kind of thing not being thought through.”

“The color scheme of the buildings in Fantasyland are loud and look more like a circus than a Fantasy. What’s more, there’s not even a Pinocchio ride.”

“I’m at the park, and a lot of guests seem to be coming in with counterfeit tickets. The ticket takers seem to be powerless to do anything about it. This is not a sign of good management”

“Crowd control is going to be an issue. The Mark Twain is about to tip over. This place was not built soundly.”

“It’s hot, and the asphalt isn’t hardened. Ladies are losing their heels. I’m beginning to think Disneyland will never be completed.”

Now, let’s be honest. If these were the images you had in your mind, would it influence you on whether or not you wanted to go to Disneyland? I’m not saying it would for everyone, but it would at least make me reluctant. However, people at home didn’t have that outlet. They had black and white TV sets. They had Walt showing up in 1954 with a new TV show that was essentially a huge commercial, albeit a very entertaining one at that. Opening day? Except for a few miscues, the viewing public had no idea of the craziness behind the scenes. They had a front row seat to a new and amazing world! The following day, newspapers ran the articles on the chaos, but at that point it was a bit late to form much public opinion. The general public had already seen magic from the comfort of their living room and now had a way to experience it themselves.

Now, I’m not saying that criticism is a bad thing. We learn from it. Mistakes and misfires are corrected and we move forward. However, it does pose the question: do we let it affect our personal judgement? The above scenarios, the “imagining” of internet reporting from back in the day – they’re all true instances thrown in with a bit of opinion (Although the bulldozing of the wrong trees has been purported to be a myth). As I asked before, would those statements make you more skeptical about going to Disneyland, or would you still go eagerly? What about movies that were predicted bombs, like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? The issues Walt had with P.L. Travers in getting Mary Poppins made?

I guess the point I’m trying to make is this:

Although I’ve used Disney as the example, this one could really apply to anything. Are we letting ourselves be influenced by inherent negativity online without actually thinking for ourselves, or is it better to go in with a bit of skepticism? The jury is still out for me personally, just a bit of something to think about as you read all those “insider” and negative articles. Perhaps a balance of both is in order?

I’d love to hear others’ thoughts on this!

I know this is overstating. I just find it really funny, too.

I know this is overstating. I just find it really funny, too.

Fantasy Faire – A Dad’s Eye View

Good day to you all, fellow DisNerds! Ready for some princesses? Would you like a Boysen-Apple Freeze and a show to go with them?

Fantasy Faire, the new expansion of Fantasyland at Disneyland that takes over Carnation Gardens, opens March 12th. Living out of state, I’m not able to be at the parks whenever a new area opens up. Fortunately, on my last trip to the Happiest Place on Earth, I was able to preview the area with my family. I know there are lots of pictures floating around at this point. However, I wanted to share from my perspective: a parent, seeing it through the eyes of his little girl.

We went in to this trip with her truly believing she wouldn’t be able to see the Faire until our next trip, as we were just a little too early. When we met our friend from Disney Park Secrets, he hinted at it to her:

Austen: “See that area over there? What do you know about it?”

Caitlin: “It’s the Fantasy Faire. We won’t be able to go till next trip.”

Austen: “I don’t know, I see people in there…”

Caitlin: “No, that’s just workers, it’s not ready yet.”

That was followed by this little exchange once he told her he we were sneak previewing it:

 

From that point of disbelief on, all she could keep saying was, “Best..Surprise…EVER!!!” And well, seeing her eyes light up at everything from the shows to the scenery to the meet and greets…I couldn’t disagree. As follows, here are some of the pictures I took with my cell phone (Please forgive the fuzziness in a few) with observations of the area.

 

The village itself has some great detail. It definitely has a wonderful Fantasyland feel. Imagineers should be proud!

 

The first thing we did as we arrived was head over to the Royal Theatre, where the Tangled performance was about to begin. Now, for any parent who has visited the old Princess Fantasy Faire and seen a coronation ceremony or storytelling time, you understand the idea that I wasn’t going in with high expectations. I mean, the presentations were cute for kids, and it’s fun to watch the little ones dance, but that’s about it. So to say the shows here exceeded my expectations was an understatement.

 

The shows, told by “Mr. Jones and Mr. Smythe” with help from the lead characters, are extremely entertaining. Told with humor and music, I heard as many adults laughing as children. If you don’t have children to take for the meet and greet area, still make time to see the shows here. You won’t regret it.

 

Afterward, we got to meet Rapunzel and Flynn! Charming as always, this was a plus for the children in attendance.

 

Yeah…. he’s got smoulder.

 

After the show was over, Mr. Smythe or Mr. Jones would take turns for fun in the Square. Here, he plays “Lost and Found” with the help of the village maidens, asking my little one if she recognizes a certain shoe:

 

 

Great to see these kinds of interactions – boys and girls alike were getting into it!

 

After this little impromptu gathering, we headed toward the Royal Hall (the meet and greet area). The princesses in attendance that day were Cinderella, Ariel and Aurora (this may be par for the course, as Snow White is set to make appearances by her wishing well and other princesses in their appropriately themed lands).

Although I’ve included only one picture of the area, you can see just how intricate and elegant the meeting area is!

 

Upon exiting, it’s time to leave, right?

Nope.

The next Tangled show was starting, which gave us the perfect opportunity to check out the details in the rest of the area and maybe have a snack from Maurice’s. Before we headed to his cart, however, we stopped to check out this fun little feature:

 

Clopin’s Music Box is a fun little interactive element where visitors turn the wheel to set things into motion, with music and moving features.

 

Make sure you look closely at all of the characters in the far background – see how many Disney characters you can spot!

 

Remember to click on the link for a bigger picture to see better!

 

Another nice touch that we all loved was Figaro, who sleeps high up on a ledge…

 

Everything was nice and peaceful….

 

Until his little feathered friend wakes him up.

 

“Are you tweetin’ at me?”

 

Time for a snack! Maurice’s sells a few different twists, including cheddar garlic, strawberry, and chocolate. But the real highlight here is the Boysen-Apple (Get it? POISON Apple?) Freeze. Quite sweet and refreshing on a warm day, this is bound to be a hit!

 

It’s a great drink for kids and adults alike, and those in my party preferred this over Red’s Apple Freeze from the Cozy Cones in Cars Land.

 

We were able to come back later to catch the Beauty and the Beast Show in the Royal Theatre. Once again, it was very entertaining for audiences of all ages and included a meet and greet with Belle afterward.

 

My princess with the Disney variety – they have the same tailor!

 

As all good things must come to an end, so did our time in the new Fantasy Faire. However, it’s safe to say, we’ll be back. This area will remain popular for a long time for families and many grown ups as well. Perhaps I’m skewed as a parent who got to see the joy on his daughter’s face, but I have a hard time finding flaw with any aspect of this area. From the shows to interactions, food to detail, Disney once again has another area to be truly proud of.

One last shot to share… as I went to attempt a picture of Rapunzel’s tower with Sleeping Beauty Castle in the background, a friend stopped by in the clouds to say hello….

 

See ya real soon, Fantasy Faire!

 

That’s it for now, folks! A special thanks to Austen over at Disney Park Secrets for making this day possible for a friend and his family!

Hello, Old Friend

From Walt Disney World’s News release: “During ‘Long Lost Friends Week,’ lesser-known Disney characters will step into the spotlight Jan. 21-27, 2013 for meet and greets at Town Square in Magic Kingdom park at Walt Disney World Resort. Fans will have the unique chance to get up-close and personal and enjoy photo opportunities with characters that could include Clarabelle Cow, Robin Hood or The Three Little Pigs.

 

I’ve read countless stories of people, especially young adults, who have rediscovered their love for Disney after going through that adolescent phase of “Disney is not cool.” Be it the influence of peers, the loss of innocence, or just an attribute of  growing up, it seems to occur for many. While I never went through a true “dislike” of Disney, I definitely did try to distance myself from it. It just wasn’t the “cool thing” to like, and as most boys around the junior high age, I just wanted to fit in. Do I look back at those years without professing my mouse fandom with regret? No, I don’t. I don’t think I would appreciate Disney as much without the opportunity to rediscover it.

The summer before I started high school, I walked down to my local Blockbuster with a friend to rent a movie – Back to the Future 2, if I remember correctly. While in the store, browsing movies I saw The Little Mermaid on the shelf. Remembering my sister had mentioned wanting to watch it sometime, and in a rare instance of being a good little brother, I picked it up and brought it home as well. Not for me, but for her. Nonetheless, I put it in when I was home by myself, and became entranced; more than I would admit for a long time. The animation was great, the music by Ashman and Menken was just plain fun, and the story was enough to keep me interested. Buddy Hackett’s voicing of Scuttle was perfect, and still cracks me up to this day.

 

One of my favorite posters from the movie.

 

Of course, as much as I loved it, I wasn’t about to admit it to the rest of the world, much less tell the guys that I hung out with, “Hey, you really need to check out The Little Mermaid!” It still wasn’t the “cool” thing to do. So, as much as I was re-embracing the magic, it was a slow process I wasn’t sure I wanted to share with others.

Being a part of performing arts in high school was a life changing experience for me. It taught me a lot about individuality. For anyone that’s been part of a group such as choir, band, drama, dance… I’m sure you get it. There are a slew of personalities, and in the confines of those hallways, they truly emerged. It was there I learned to be willing to share my appreciation for Disney, including, yes, The Little Mermaid. Along with one other particular experience chronicled in an earlier entry, “A Thank You Note,” high school was a critical time in rediscovering my love of Disney.

Then there was the beauty of being able to go to Disneyland as a choir member. Having not been in a few years, that was an amazingly magical trip. Although it was only a day, and a day interrupted by “having” to perform, it was a day of firsts. My first time on Space Mountain, my first time on Splash Mountain (complete with a two hour wait in line), the time I truly was able to really appreciate the details in rides like Pirates of the Caribbean, and my first…churro. Oh, crispy, yet soft tasty churro. How many we ate while waiting in that two hour Splash Mountain line, I’m not sure.

Between rediscovering movies like The Little Mermaid and going back to Disneyland that year, it really was like Disney was a long lost friend, but somehow I was truly meeting them for the first time.

 

 

In many ways, every trip back to Disneyland and many of the movies I see are like seeing those old friends for the first time yet again. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Golden Entertainer

Courtesy wallyboag.com

Disney’s Press Release: Guests visiting Disney Parks in 2013 will find an extra sprinkling of pixie dust each week with “Limited Time Magic.” At DisneylandResort, those limited-time events include a special tribute to the classic “Golden Horseshoe Revue” beginning Jan. 10. “A Salute to the Golden Horseshoe Review” will play for four weeks, with shows every Thursday through Monday from January 10 through Feb. 4.  Inspired by the world-famous Frontierland show enjoyed by Walt Disney, “A Salute to the Golden Horseshoe Revue” will be an homage to those fun-filled, family-friendly musical variety shows of the past. Hosted by Miss Lily and her Saloon Girls, the show brings together favorite song and dance numbers such as “Hello, Everybody,” “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” “Belly up to the Bar” and “Can-Can.” Guests may reserve a seat at the show by requesting a reservation at the Golden Horseshoe entrance on the date of the selected performance. Tickets for the preferred show time will be issued based on availability.

Hello, dear readers and fellow DisNerds! Few words in this post today, as I have chosen instead to let a legendary performer’s talent speak for itself.

Wally Boag, one of the stars of the Original Golden Horseshoe Revue (Along with Betty Taylor, Donald Novis, and later, Fulton Burley along with many others), was, to say the least, one of a kind. Although I was never blessed to see the man perform at the Horseshoe, I consider myself a fan of his high energy and incredibly funny style. Known for physical comedy (pratfalls, balloon animals, spitting out “teeth” after being decked by Ms. Taylor), his comedy translated well onto record as well, evidenced by the Walt Disney Records release of Slew Foot Sue’s Golden Horseshoe Revue. No matter how many times I listen, I still crack up at his delivery of “When they operated on father, they opened mother’s male.”

To my understanding, in the current tribute running at Disneyland, there is no “Boag-esque” part of the show. This is not a disservice; instead it’s a testimony to how amazing the man was in the roles he played. As well, there is another tribute to the man that has stood the test of time:

Jose, aka Herr Schmidt, who has no hair!

As I stated earlier, instead of going on about my admiration for a performer such as Wally (you can find more information on the performers life and achievements here), I’d let his work speak for itself. Not with a video from the Revue, but instead from an early appearance on the original Mickey Mouse Club. Note how he’s not “Wally Boag from The Golden Horseshoe,” but instead, “Wally Boag, the balloon man from Disneyland.” I know I wouldn’t have minded the honor of my very own Boagaloon!

Thanks for reading, and see you next week with another new “Limited Time Magic” inspired post!

(Shameless plug: Confessions of a DisNerd is now on Pinterest – feel free to follow there as well!)

I’m All Ears!

Year Of the DisNerd, Week 1

From the Disney Parks Blog: ” We’re also excited to announce that 2013 will be the “Year of the Ear” at Disney Parks. Every month, Disney Parks will release new ear hats to add to your collection as part of “Limited Time Magic.” January will start with the limited release of Disney Couture Ear Hats. And each month, there will be fun designs to discover.”

From the first airing of the Mickey Mouse Club in 1955, I’m sure Walt knew mouse ears would be big. After all, he’d seen coonskin caps take off  the year before with Davy Crockett, and also knew the marketing power of the mouse. However, the phenomenon of mouse ear hats in the parks… well, who could’ve guessed?

Ears quickly become a must-have for fans of all ages, especially on their first trip. It was that way for me…

Vintage Mickey, and Vintage Me.

And it was the same for my daughter.

Though you can barely see them, mine say “I Never Want To Grow Up.” I stand by that statement.

Of course, it doesn’t end with children, or Mickey ears for that matter. Kids and adults alike can be seen wearing all kinds of headgear, ranging from ears, to wigs, to oversized hats throughout the park. Why? Perhaps because everyone else is doing it? Certainly not the fashion sense, although with a line of couture inspired ears, it could be possible.

I truly believe it’s because we lose our inhibitions at places like Disneyland and Walt Disney World. We walk through the turnstiles and, for the most part, embrace fantasy. We skip down Main Street, we talk to the characters as if they’re long lost friends (of course they are!), we journey with pirates, and sing along with birds and tikis as if it were an everyday occurrence.

And we don the ears, as if they are a natural extension of us within the park. Yes, we may buy a ball cap to wear at home to remind us of our trip. But for our time within the park, it’s more natural to have wild auburn hair under a top hat, dreadlocks underneath a pirate’s three-point hat, or spherical rodent ears protruding from our skulls.

Year of the ear?

As long as there’s imagination left in the world, I see many more years of ears to come.

Happy Birthday, Walt!

Walter Elias Disney, 1901-1966

111 years ago today a man who would alter the course of entertainment was born. Though most would not be aware for quite a few more years, the effects of his influence continue to be felt to this day, some 40 plus years after his passing.

The accomplishments of Walter Elias Disney are quite numerous and can be found on many websites, books, and documentaries. They can be witnessed through animation shorts such as “Steamboat Willie” and “Flowers & Trees”, feature films such as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” and “Mary Poppins”, and in theme parks worldwide. His legacy is evident in the company name alone.

To many people, the adoration of the man can tend to near the point of worshipping the man; faultless and amazing at every turn. The man who believed in the power of dreams and imagination – a true hero worship. I personally find myself fascinated with him because he was human. He had many failures, financial struggles, bad ideas, could sometimes be gruff, even impersonal to many he worked with. Yet through it all, he was also a hard worker, a master storyteller, a man with outlandish and genius ideas. Yes, a dreamer with a huge imagination. But someone who was willing to work and sacrifice to make those dreams come true. Someone who would learn from his mistakes and keep moving forward. Someone who didn’t take no for an answer. That’s the man I admire and pay tribute to today.

So happy birthday, Walt. Thank you for your contributions you made to animation, film, music, theme parks, technology, and so much more. Thanks for being the man behind the magic – and for making that magic happen with hard work, determination, stubbornness, and yes, dreams.

Millions of fans, both casual and otherwise, are grateful.

As is this DisNerd.

Christmas In Disneyland: A Small World Holiday

Hello, dear readers! I had planned to post this from California, but the lovely Wi-Fi situation being what it was, this just didn’t happen. That being said, now that I’m back, I have a few pictures that I look forward to sharing with you! The first group of pictures comes from one attraction in Disneyland: It’s A Small World Holiday. The decision by the powers that be at Disney to give Small World a holiday makeover is just genius. For a couple months each year, the attraction becomes all Christmased out, as guests are led on a holiday celebration around the world. The song that never seems to leave one’s head is partnered with Jingle Bells and Deck the Halls for an even more unforgettable experience, and the results are, to say the least, catchy and fun. With that much being said, I will now stop with words, and let pictures of this attraction speak for themselves.

Quick note: All of these pictures were taken with no flash, as flash photography is not allowed on the attraction. Therefore, a few of the pics may seem a little fuzzy. However, I hope to have caught enough of the spirit and essence of the ride to pass along to you, dear readers!

(To see bigger versions of the pictures, click on the pictures in this post.)

Merry Small World, Indeed.

Entering Europe!

The Mayans may have said 2012, but Small World predicts we carry on!

Prospero Ano y Felicidad!

It’s the thing to say on this bright Hawaiian Christmas day!

Can It Be?

We’ll end with a few night time shots:

Nothing quite as beautiful as Small World Holiday at night…

That will do it for this photo essay – I’ll try to have more pictures up next week! Hope everyone has a blessed Thanksgiving!

Disneyland, Sptember 2012: A Photo Essay (Part 3)

With the first two parts of my photo essay taking place over on the Disneyland side of the resort, it’s now time to head over to California Adventure with a few pictures of their two newest areas, Buena Vista Street and Cars Land.

Of course, first, we had to stop and eat our fill at Goofy’s Kitchen. While a little up there in price, the character interactions are always awesome. We always make sure to go back for seconds in the all-you-can-eat buffet, along with desert; thus eliminating the need for lunch, making things a touch more cost effective.
Not to mention, the PB&J pizza is out of this world!

Peace out, Pinocchio!

Time to walk off our breakfast from Goofy’s and head to Disney California Adventure! So much to see, new places to discover – where o where do we start?

Luckily, we have our tour guide to check the map!

I have to say, Buena Vista Street is a great addition to the park. I love the idea of a 1920’s “Walt was here” theme. The music is great, the “citizens” roaming the street are awesome – the atmosphere is just right.

I keep wanting to call the cop “Ward” for some odd reason…

I couldn’t help feeling truly transported on Buena Vista Street. I have a friend who happens to live near the resort; one of his favorite things to do is drinking coffee and reading the latest copy of the Buena Vista Bugle in the mornings while people watching.

With views like this, I can’t say I blame him!

From one red car to the next…

See what I did there with that transition?

Cars Land is a huge home run for the folks at Disney. the detail of…well…. everything is amazing. So great to see such a welcome addition to the park! I couldn’t help but notice everything from the tiniest details like the tops of the chain stanchions in the queue for Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree….

They’re radiator caps!!! I’m amused by these little touches.

…. to the tribute to Teepee-style lodging on  Route 66 with the Cozy Cone Motel!

FYI, if you have the opportunity (and don’t mind ultra sweet stuff), I highly recommend the deliciousness that is Red’s Apple Freeze at the Cozy Cone!

Of course, the rides are awesome as well – I’m just a huge fan of being able to take in all of the touches that bring about an authentic “Disneyfied” feeling. Both new parts of the park do this well. I couldn’t help but think as we exited, that it truly lived up to the name of Disney, as well as the fun and entertainment it stands for.

Thanks again, Walt. For your dream that turned into so much more! I know so many dreamers who appreciate that!

Folks, that wraps up my photo essay of the latest trip. I look forward to bringing you more for the kickoff of the holiday season in November. Keep your eye on the blog for more stories, thoughts and views of Disney (parks and otherwise) from the eyes of a true fan. Please know that I appreciate your reading, your comments, follows, likes and shares more than you know!