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.

Announcement: The Lost Safari

Hello, dear readers! It’s with great honor and pride I make this announcement to you:

Confessions of a DisNerd is joining forces with two other blogs, Tales of a Disneyland Cast Member and Disney Park Secrets, to form a new partnership: The Lost Safari.

Special thanks to Jenny Skousen for the awesome picture!

So, what exactly is The Lost Safari?

The Lost Safari is a primarily Facebook focused group consisting of the aforementioned blogs created with the intent of having one location to share information and blog postings with our readers. By having this group, this one location, readers can join and choose to be notified via Facebook whenever one of the blogs has a new post, story, or something else we want to share with everyone.

Why was the Lost Safari Formed?

When we first started discussing the possibility of a “support group,” so to speak, our main intent was for a group of bloggers to be able to show support for each others’ writing and postings, as well as promote each others’ blogs in one place. Stated plainly, there are many sites and blogs and websites out there – many on the subject of Disney alone. We realize the individuality of each blogger, but at the same time find ourselves united in one common denominator: Our love for Disney. Through our discussions, we’ve come to realize that the blogosphere is not a place of competition. There are so many worth reading. If we can occasionally partner with each other on content and support, perhaps we can broaden our audience and share our passions with others while maintaining our own unique identities.

In doing this we promise two things:

1:To remain upbeat. If you are looking for Disney “watchdog” groups, you won’t find them in The Lost Safari. There are plenty of websites, blogs and even Twitter accounts that specialize in that sort of thing; just not us. We are, first and foremost, fans. Therefore, our views will more than likely celebrate the things we love about Disney.

2: We won’t overwhelm you with posts. The beauty of Facebook groups is that one can elect to receive notifications whenever there is a new post as opposed to relying on a news feed to show you the latest posting, which can easily be missed. This being said, we promise not to overload your notifications with multiple posts.

So, Mr. DisNerd, we know about your blog. What about the other two?

The other two blogs come highly recommended – great reading indeed! A little info on both:

Tales Of A Disneyland Cast Member

Danielle, author of Tales of a Disneyland Cast Member, worked for The Disneyland Resort at both The Grand Californian and The World Famous Jungle Cruise. Through her recollections of experience and one on one personal interactions, you’ll find yourself laughing one minute and in tears the next. Many of her stories seem to hit home with many readers, either through the magic Disney provides or similar life experiences. I highly recommend reading stories like “A Main Street Kiss” with a box of tissue.

Disney Park Secrets

Meanwhile, over at Disney Park Secrets, Austen and Jake have taken the time to set up a blog to appeal to even the most casual of Disneyland visitors. They have combined their knowledge of park information, such as history and details of rides, to give park visitors a new appreciation for what they are seeing as they go through the park, as well as things to keep an eye out for, such as finding Jabba the Hutt in Adventureland (who knew?!?). In addition, with one of the authors living locally, you’ll see newer pictures and reports of more recent experiences, such as the space shuttle Endeavour’s final flyover of Disneyland.

As for me, I’ll keep doing what I always do, covering and chronicling my love for all aspects of Disney, perhaps with more reviews and articles that focus outside of the parks. One thing will stay consistent – hopefully my love for all things Disney, i.e. my DisNerdom shines through.

I encourage anyone who is interested in following this new partnership to check out and join The Lost Safari on Facebook, as well as follow both Tales and Secrets on their individual Facebook fan pages as well. And of course, if you haven’t yet followed Confessions of a DisNerd on Facebook, I encourage you to do that also!

Thanks for taking the time to read this rather lengthy post – we all look forward to seeing what the future holds for our new partnership!

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!

Disneyland, September 2012 – A Photo Essay (Part 2)

I’d like to start this next part by stating the following: I never understood the appeal of Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Disneyland. Never understood, that is, until I had a little girl that was old enough to be appealed to.

Oh boy, do I understand now!

The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is a special experience that caters to the inner princess of every little girl. From the care of the “Fairy Godmothers in Training” to the magic mirror reveal, it’s a great way to make a little girl feel very special for a day (or two, if the hairspray and style holds)!

Who doesn’t feel like a royal princess after this experience? Our little girl sure did!

In fact, a few families with small children (and a couple grown ups as well) asked our daughter if they could get their picture taken with her. Of course, she obliged and felt like holding court to see if she could get even more visitors! Special thanks to my good friend Austen from the Disney Park Secrets blog for being part of her entourage and acting as royal guard along with another friend!

“Sure, you can have my autograph too!”

Going forward into Fantasyland, the next stop is definitely a must for multiple rides in a trip….

In a discussion with a friend the other day, we were both talking about how well classic dark rides have held up in Fantasyland. The paint schemes, the story, the music, the feeling of immersion –  you ARE part of the story; it just draws the rider in. Nowhere is this exemplified better than in Peter Pan’s Flight. The continuous 30-45 minute waits for a 2 minute ride are proof of that!

“There it is, Wendy – second start to the right and straight on ’till morning!”

Moving on to our next destination, It’s a Small World, we stop for a picture in the stationary teacup, a photo favorite of kids and adults alike… wait…it’s missing!

Hopefully it’s just getting some touch-up and will return; perhaps it has already. Any readers who frequent the park, can you confirm this?

No time to stop and cry over spilled tea… we have to journey to the rest of the world!

It is a small one, after all!

We arrived at It’s A Small World, right about the time of the Soundsational Parade. With all eyes fixed on the parade route, the line for Small World was nonexistent. Not only were we loaded onto our own boat, the boats behind us were empty!

Which gave me thoughts for a great Small World Halloween picture…..

“Sure, they go on, but nobody ever comes out…….”

Time to move from that horror into Toontown. Such a great themed land. Sure, there could stand to be a little more in the way of rides, but the detail put into this area is just amazing. From the curved architecture, the talking mailboxes and gag boxes to the little details in every house, there are so many opportunities to just admire the thought that went into it!

One of my favorite resting spots (for a parent, that meant about two minutes to be still in shade) is the area behind Donald Duck’s Boat, The S.S. Daisy. Between the shade and constantly running water, it’s quite a nice area to cool off! Which leads to one of my favorite pics of the trip – finding a bit of Adventureland in Toontown:

I’ve titled it “The Backside of Duckwater.”

With the mention of Adventureland, I’ll leave you with one more picture today; this one a bit of an observation. I often forget how awesome Adventureland looks in its theming. Even in a little area, it really does feel like you’ve been transported to a little outpost in the Jungle. The reason it gets missed so much is due to the bottlenecks that tend to happen between strollers, people walking toward New Orleans Square, and Indiana Jones riders. This past trip, with Indy closed, Adventureland became walkable again, and we were really able to enjoy the beauty:

Look! Elbow room!

Well, dear readers, that wraps up part two of my photo essay! I have one more part coming – a few pictures from California Adventure. Until then, I hope you’ve enjoyed these pictures. Feel free to share with your friends and leave any comments you may have as well! Thanks for reading!

Disneyland, September 2012: A Photo Essay (Part 1)

Hello, dear readers! Really, it’s been too long. Having arrived back from a trip to Walt’s original Magic Kingdom last week, I thought I’d share some pictures with you via this blog. Before we begin, I would like to note a few things:

First off, I am not a professional photographer. The pictures you see here were taken either with my cell phone or our family point-and-shoot, either by myself or my lovely wife. We do not claim them to be works of art (although some of them turned out pretty cool), just pictures we felt like taking.

Second, while there may a few things we noticed this trip that may not have been there before, this is not intended to be a photo update or trip report. Just pictures I felt like sharing. You won’t see twenty five pictures of construction walls and dirt.

Lastly, I have no intention to make Confessions of a DisNerd a running commentary or “watchdog” type site. There’s plenty of those already, and you can follow lots of people on Twitter for that. I just want to have fun, and enjoy the magic of Disney – and I hope you do too.

So without further adieu, here’s the first of our pictures from our latest trip (you should be able to click on them to see bigger versions) – hope you enjoy!

 

How many of us actually wait for a Main Street vehicle to show up as opposed to jumping on because it happens to be there? My little girl loves the vehicles and was very willing to wait for the double-decker Omnibus to arrive!

 

Always love seeing this most welcome sight – the horse drawn carriages, the train station announcements, the music playing…. Main Street doesn’t need the words to say. “Welcome Home.”

 

One thing you will notice is that City Hall (as well as the fire station) was under construction. One thing I love when they do these refurbishments on Main Street is the facade covers they put in place. The details are great, and still give a feel of Main Street, U.S.A. For example….

 

If you look closely in the window of the fire station, you can’t help but notice: the light is still on for Walt!

 

One of my favorite places to visit is the gallery at the front of Main Street – I love seeing the concept art, renderings and models. Right now, the focus is on the various castles of Disney theme parks. What a beautiful exhibit to behold!

 

Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant from Disneyland Paris is a sight to behold, even in scale!

 

I love seeing Main Street this time of year. Before the fall decorations are put up, when it’s in all of it’s non-holiday glory. It’s second only to…

 

Christmas!?!? In September???

 

It was only on a couple buildings, so we figured there had to be something promotional going on.

 

Yep – this explains it!

 

We saw filming going on that night, or at least prep for filming. Whatever the reason, it was a prefect tease of the season coming in just a couple months!

 

Might as well enjoy the short lived holiday spirit! I must say, nothing makes you ready for Christmas on a 90+ degree day like seeing these decorations. I’m ready!

 

But, as it turns out, those few shops on Main Street weren’t the only ones ready to get in the holiday spirit!

 

Over in Pixie Hollow, things have been getting their own winter touch in preparation for the latest Tinker Bell movie, “The Secret of the Wings.”

 

Little touches, like the statues in Pixie Hollow make the wait so pleasant! Can’t help but love the details (and the music) in this area!

 

Fortunately, we happened to be among the first group of people to meet the newest pixie friend, Periwinkle!

 

Pixie Hollow is always a fun time, especially for the little ones. The fairies are always so entertaining! It helps when you’re as into the movies as we are, but on that end, they really are surprisingly good movies!

 

Well, as we’ve reached the end of Main Street and enter the realm of Fantasy, we’ve also reached the end of this entry. Look for part two to come within the next day or two – I appreciate your patience in waiting for this post and hope you’ve enjoyed!

 

Credit goes to the lovely Mrs. DisNerd for taking this awesome sunset shot – seemed like a great way to end this entry!

 

Seeing Cars Land

Although it’s been open for a few months, we like to avoid summer months at Disneyland – the crowds are a bit much for our tastes. Therefore, this trip has been our first glimpse into the newly completed Cars Land; needless to say, it did not disappoint. By now you’ve seen countless pictures of the land, but in all honesty, pictures do not do it justice. It has to be seen to be believed! While pictures show the grand layout, there are so many little details that can be easily overlooked. For example, the tops of the posts of the chain barriers in Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree:

image

They’re radiator caps!

It’s little touches like this that make Disney stand out from the crowd. Add touches like this to the land, the layout and the music, and you have a grand addition to the parks.

Not to mention, you never know who you’ll see on the streets or Radiator Springs!

image

Disneyland Prep – Counting Down

If you haven’t noticed by now, my family’s a little nuts about Disneyland. Aside from the trip itself, one of our favorite times is the time when it starts getting close enough to have “countdown” activities.

 

4…3…2…1….. Blastoff!!!

 

In the past, we’ve done advent type calendars where the kiddo can put stickers on each day as we creep closer. We’ve had Disney-themed meals from an alfredo pasta resembling  the Countdown Chicken Fusili from Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port to freshly popped popcorn served in Disney souvenir bucket. We play games – the latest being a yard sale find of “The Magic Kingdom” board game. We watch Youtube videos of rides. We listen to music – the “Musical History of Disneyland” 6 CD set is practically memorized around our house!

And of course, there are movies. Videos that range from classic Disney films and shorts to old Disneyland television specials to home movies. After the little one goes to bed, my wife and I may put in something that wouldn’t hold the little girl’s interest, like a documentary or opening day coverage (I know what you’re thinking, but our daughter is four – I’m sure she’ll appreciate it someday!).

As our next vacation is rapidly approaching, I thought over the upcoming days, I’d share Disney related activities we’ve done here on the blog. Whether it be music that catches my ear and inspires me to write about it, movies that I watch that inspire thoughts, or activities that inspire a story I think you might enjoy, I’ll share it here.

I hope you enjoy and have fun reading – if signal permits, maybe I’ll even be able to share pictures from the park once I’m there!

Until then, I ask you, fellow readers: Do you do anything special to countdown the days until your Disney trip? If so, I’d love to hear what you do in the comments below!

Happy Birthday, Disneyland!

Welcoming words indeed.

 

57 Years ago today, Disneyland opened its gates for the first time to select (and not so select – tickets were easily duplicated!) invited guests, and the world got its first glimpse of a true phenomenon. Though the day proved to be hectic to say the least – overcrowding, freshly poured asphalt sinking high heels into Main Street, jumbled broadcasting – there was truly nothing like it, and the public, if not the critics, ate up every minute of it. What could have turned into one of the biggest follies the Disney company had ever known turned into success instead. As hard as it is to imagine in today’s information age of instant everything, this was truly a first glimpse of everything. With no internet fan sites providing inch by inch sneak photos of construction progress, criticisms and skepticism, all the public had to go off was occasional updates from the Disneyland TV show and the reputation of Disney: both the company and Walt himself.

But that was enough.

What many couldn’t fathom in their own mind was captured perfectly from Walt’s imagination and put into action in wonderful ways. Guests could fly over London with Peter Pan. Go for a spin in a teacup. Visit the old west. Pretend they were on a safari in the deepest jungles of Africa. Visit the far off future of 1986 – imagine the wonders of life by then! Relive an Americana so perfect it could only exist on Main Street, USA. This wasn’t a cheap park built off of roller coasters and ferris wheels  – it was the first true theme park.

While nothing ever ran as smooth as expected, the park only gained in popularity as time went by. Ten years later, the worldwide sensation was even more sensational, and once again, those who weren’t there gathered around their televisions to celebrate.

 

Fifty-seven years later, Disneyland is still going strong. Sure, other parks have opened, mistakes have been made along with achievements, but the magic is still there. I see it in the face of my child. I see it on the heads of full grown adults wearing hats shaped like Goofy. I hear it in the laughter and screams of someone enjoying a ride, whether it be the first or one hundred and first time for them. I feel it in my heart. I walk through the gate, and part of me is home.

So happy birthday, Disneyland. You’ve come a long way, and always have a long way to go. There’s plenty of imagination left in all of us, and can’t wait to see what the future holds for the young and young at heart.

And as always, thanks, Walt. I’ve said it before and will say it again: Some stars just refuse to fade.

The 15 Day Disneyland Challenge – Day 15!

Note: This post is part of a 15 Day challenge with questions referring to Disneyland or Walt Disney World. For more information, or to see all 15 questions, please refer to the introductory post, The 15 Day Disneyland Challenge. As stated in that post, I am not the creator of the challenge – just a willing participant!

Day 15 – Your Favorite Castle/Park Icon

This one’s not tough at all. Nothing comes close. Not in beauty. Not in meaning. It’s not the tallest, not the biggest, not housing a ride, but a true icon: Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.

Nothing more beautiful in the park, even at night.

I’ve repeated a few times what it means to me to hear Jiminy Cricket singing “When You Wish Upon a Star” as you walk through, but it bears repeating. As you pass through, whether walking into Fantsayland or leaving the park, for that moment, if you pause and listen, you begin to truly believe your dreams WILL come true. It’s not just the song, it’s the location. You can look into a world of Fantasy or out onto the streets of yore, but either way, for just that brief moment, all is right with the world.

The castle is quaint – any bigger, and the Matterhorn would be dwarfed – the perception would be ruined. As it is, it’s perfect. It’s the obligatory picture shot. It’s the spot to see fireworks in front of. It’s the location of Lord knows how many wedding proposals. What little girl hasn’t looked upon Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, imagining it was their royal home? I know mine has. Maybe that’s the reason she never wants to leave. She doesn’t want to leave her home. And who knows? Someday it might be. After all, When You Wish Upon a Star…..

I still get misty every time I see this.

And with that, dear readers, we conclude The 15 Day Disneyland Challenge. As I have stated on the official Confessions of a Disnerd Facebook Page, I’m not going anywhere – I’m just getting started. Next week I plan sharing exactly where I see the blog going from here, as well as a fun giveaway! I’m excited to be on this Disneyfied journey with all of you!

Until then, I ask you to share: What’s your favorite icon in any of the parks?