Best Disneyland Christmas Snacks

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One of my favorite things about Disneyland Resort at Christmas is the food. Yeah, yeah, “it’s a small world” holiday, Haunted Mansion Holiday, and World of Color – Winter Dreams are all good, but is there really as big of an E-Ticket at the Plaza Inn Yule Log? Is there anything more ‘magical’ than playing with goats and then heading to the Big Thunder Ranch for Peppermint Ice Cream and Brownie Skillet? Not only are there a lot of great desserts at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure for Christmas, but there are interesting special items available for the holidays.

Eating all of the special Christmas menu items at Disneyland Resort would be a herculean task, and this is a task we’ve proudly(?) attempted to undertake in the name of research. There are probably an upwards of 40 special menu items available for Christmas each year, with most on special placard menus at the restaurants. Many of these items ostensibly have nothing to do with Christmas (like the Hot Roast Beef and Cheddar Sandwich at Jolly Holiday Cafe). Others sound delicious in theory, but are sort of duds (like the Golden Horseshoe Ice Cream Nachos). Others still just sound like really bad ideas (like the Cherry Cobbler Flatbread at Village Haus).

This post takes a look at some of our favorites that we recommend seeking out if you have the chance…

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Yule Log – Any day of the year, Plaza Inn is a gift to mankind thanks to its amazing fried chicken. During November and December, it approaches dangerous levels of awesomeness due to the fried chicken plus the Yule Log. How does the Yule Log taste? Succinctly put, the yule log had us saying “yum” and “wow” about every seven seconds! Less succinctly put, the Yule Log is the perfect combination of sponge cake and cream, with rich pumpkin or chocolate mousse. None of the flavors overpowers or is too rich, meaning a single guest can easily conquer this entire largely-sized dessert. Usually, November is a pumpkin yule log and December is a coffee or chocolate one. Plan trips both months to try them each. Worth the airfare. (more…)

Baby Sinclair in the Osborne Lights at Disney World

No, that headline above isn’t desperate clickbait. Baby Sinclair of Dinosaurs fame made his debut in Walt Disney World’s Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights…a year ago. Since we only cover the hard-hitting news and have the utmost journalistic integrity here at Disney Tourist Blog, a team of drunken monkeys has been working for like 10 minutes on this post we’ve been carefully researching this critical development since Baby Sinclair first appeared in order to bring you our thorough analysis, and have finally completed this arduous task. We present the fruits of our labor in this brilliant essay about Baby Sinclair in the Osborne Lights.

At this point, some of you are probably muttering, “who is Baby Sinclair, and why should I care?” First, shame on you. Second, Baby Sinclair is the voice of a generation: my generation. Before we get to his significance in the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Walt Disney World, a bit of background is probably in order so you can understand just how important this is, and what it means for the future of Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Dinosaurs is a sitcom that ran in the early 1990s from Jim Henson Productions–the first major project after the death of Jim Henson–that lasted only four seasons. It features a family of dinosaur Muppet-esque characters in an edgy family sitcom. For youngsters like me, the show was all about Baby Sinclair. In a retrospective on the show, Vulture described him succinctly as the “silly TV candy meant to lure younger viewers into what is otherwise a family sitcom with a sneakily serious agenda.”



Baby Sinclair was something special for my generation. A hero. Not the hero we deserved, but the hero we needed. Perhaps “hero” is the wrong word, but he was a dinosaur and he was awesome, so it seems about right. If anything, he seemed like the character Generation Me deserved: rude, narcissistic, and demanding that his parents cater to his every whim. These lovely attributes became hallmarks of my generation, and there’s a distinct possibility that Baby Sinclair was partially the catalyst.

There’s also a good chance that he was written to have dual meanings: one as the “candy” that would draw in younger viewers with his catchphrases and adorable obnoxiousness, the other as commentary on the same young viewers who loved him. After all, once you got past the mind-blowing awesomeness of the fact that you were watching the actual, recreated social dynamic of dinosaurs in their natural habitats as they actually lived millions of years ago (source: science), Dinosaurs was, at its core, social commentary. (more…)

What’s In My Camera Bag – 2014-2015 Edition

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Wondering what’s in my camera bag? I previously shared the camera, lenses, tripod, and other photography equipment I carry, in response to questions I receive about what camera I use, how I carry my gear into the Disney Parks, and other assorted questions.

That was nearly a year ago, and some things have changed since then. I realized this when going to find the link to send in response to an email over the holiday weekend, and figured it might additionally be useful for those of you doing Christmas shopping for the photographers in your family. (Or if you’re doing my favorite kind of gift giving: for yourself! ;))

Although I own a lot more camera gear than what is on this list, these are the items I typically carry in my camera bag on a normal day in the parks. Unless I’m borrowing a new toy, trying to travel light, or just looking to do something different this stuff is all in my camera bag. Yes, all of it. I’m a gear sherpa. The photo above shows my camera bag packed as it would be for a normal day, weighing north of 25 pounds.

I’m guessing most sane people won’t want to carry all of this while running around the parks, but it underscores another point (and responds to another couple of questions), yes, you can bring this much photography equipment into the Disney Parks and yes, you can take this much photography onto every attraction at Walt Disney World besides Sum of All Thrills. (It’s a bit of an awkward fit on Space Mountain and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but it does fit.) You are not required to use lockers on any other attractions at Walt Disney World or Disneyland, but if you’re heading to the Universal parks, too, be aware that you will have to use lockers at most attractions there, and that this bag is too large to fit in the normal lockers outside of each attraction, but it will fit in the lockers at the front of the park.

With that said, here’s what I generally carry in my camera bag… (more…)

Marc Davis: Walt Disney’s Renaissance Man Book Review

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Marc Davis: Walt Disney’s Renaissance Man is a new coffee table book concerning the legendary Imagineer who created memorable characters in the theme parks and in Disney animated classics. As is implied from the title of the book calling him a renaissance man, Marc Davis had a long and varied career with Disney. He created iconic Disney characters, such as Cinderella, Alice, Tinker Bell, Maleficent, and Cruella De Vil for the animation studios before transferring to Imagineering. There, he worked on Disneyland and 1964-65 New York World’s Fair attractions including Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Country Bear Jamboree, Carousel of Progress, and Haunted Mansion. Despite being one of Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men, this is the first major release devoted to the career of Marc Davis.

If you are looking for a comprehensive biography of Marc Davis, you will be sorely disappointed by Marc Davis: Walt Disney’s Renaissance Man. Each chapter only has 2-3 pages of text, and it’s all rather cursory. This is a coffee table book through and through, and while each chapter begins with an anecdote from someone notable, even in sum they present little more than an overview of his professional life.

Despite this, the book is still effective. Most of the anecdotes share enough to get a feel for Marc Davis’ personality, with the best coming from people who knew Marc personally. Some of the anecdotes are from respected individuals (like Pete Docter) in animation or Imagineering who didn’t know him personally, but appreciate his work. These contributors offer their gravitas in reaffirming the notion that Marc Davis was incredibly talented, but they do little to tell his story. I wouldn’t mind these sections so much were there more of substance about Marc in the rest of the book.

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Even where the text fails, the illustrations succeed. Most of these come from the pages of Marc Davis’ sketchbooks or concept art found in Disney research libraries or archives, and they alone say a lot about the man. The decision to include a variety of different types of images spanning the breadth of Davis’ career was a great one, and these images in their totality speak volumes about Davis. (more…)

The Disney Jumbo Turkey Leg Review

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I have a confession: until recently, I had never consumed a jumbo turkey leg at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or any other Disney park. Don’t get me wrong, I am an avid carnivore and a huge fan of eating large chunks of meat off the bone, but something about the turkey leg just looked…unappetizing. However, since I always want to do what the cool kids are doing, and since I wanted a somewhat fitting post for Thanksgiving, I decided to give one a try. This post covers my review of the ubiquitous Disney turkey jumbo leg, plus about 900 words of filler since the review itself only needs to be like 2 sentences.

First, let’s start with a bit of unnecessary background. According to a recent New York Times article, the turkey leg made its Walt Disney World debut in Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom near the Big Al stand in the 1980s. As a Country Bear Jamboree fan, I could not be any prouder that the prolific history of this snack involves the Magic Kingdom’s most storied attraction. I’m also not surprised that Big Al is mentioned in the same sentence as the jumbo turkey legs. He seems like a jumbo turkey leg kind of bear. Since every red-blooded American enjoys a good piece of bone-in meat from time to time, the turkey legs were an immediate sensation, and eventually became somewhat of a culinary symbol of the Disney Parks, much like the churro.

As an “eating things that are awful for you” craze swept America in the 2000s, sales of the turkey leg exploded, with an estimated two million plus turkey legs sold per year in Disneyland and Walt Disney World. With this has come coverage in mainstream media, as well as controversy from animal welfare groups that have wondered just what kind of mutant turkey is producing legs that large. I remain fearful of the day one of these artificially bred turkeys is fed after midnight and transforms into something truly terrifying. (more…)

TCM to Sponsor Great Movie Ride: Why This Matters

Turner Classic Movies is entering into a sponsorship/strategic partnership with Disney, one that will include a sponsorship of the Great Movie Ride in Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, as well Walt Disney Studios providing TCM with vintage movies and episodes of TV series like “Disneyland” and “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” for a periodic programming block on the channel called “Treasures From the Disney Vault.”

The first change under the sponsorship will debut in early 2015, with the films in the pre-show theater queue and finale of the Great Movie Ride receiving a refresh thanks to Turner Classic Movies. Additional changes have not yet been announced, beyond some new branding (see poster below) and TCM to “inject brand authority” into the attraction, whatever that means (also see below). TCM will also attempt to encouraging guests to explore the world of classic film once they leave Walt Disney World.

There are a ton more details about the partnership in this New York Times article, but since I don’t see value in regurgitating info press release style here, I’ve covered only the salient details above. You can read that article for more specifics. Instead, I want to offer commentary focusing on why I think this is a big deal.

Actually, at first blush, it may not seem important at all. Perhaps even bad, if you love the pre-show film and its infinite quotability, as I do. No changes to the substance of the attraction have been announced, so this really might end up being a non-story.

I think that’s a fairly cynical view, although I can understand why Disney fans might be cynical about anything good happening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I am not quite this cynical… (more…)

Disney Paint the Night Parade

Disney Paint the Night parade is a new nighttime parade ‘spectacular’ at Hong Kong Disneyland. Think of it as Main Street Electrical Parade for the new generation, in that the core concept of the light parade is the same, but the execution has been technically modernized, as has the soundtrack and the Disney characters represented. This post features my Paint the Night parade photos, plus my review of the parade and random thoughts.

Let’s start with a little context. Paint the Night parade has seven units: Tinker Bell Opening Unit, Monsters Inc. Unit, Cars Unit, The Little Mermaid Unit, Belle Candlelight Unit, Toy Story Unit, Mickey & Friends Finale Unit and features Owl City’s “When Can I See You Again?” as its theme song. Other than that, I’m not going to bore you with a bunch of basic facts that you could read about in the parade’s press release or Wikipedia page. If you want to know that stuff, click those links. Instead, I thought I’d share my thoughts on this parade.

First, the good. The good is that Hong Kong Disneyland now has a nighttime parade, and more nighttime parades can only be a good thing. I’m a huge fan of these parades, with SpectroMagic and Dreamlights being my two favorite parades ever.

Several of the floats here are really ambitious, showcasing advanced technologies that are really impressive. In fact, just about every float does something that hasn’t been done in a nighttime parade before (at least to my knowledge), so the parade really pushes the envelope in that regard. I was especially captivated by the Mickey Mouse float, which had this twisty-thingy (that’s the technical name) that sort of was like an infinite loop. It was absolutely mesmerizing. (Watch the parade on YouTube if my excellent explanation left you saying “huh?”) (more…)

Top 10 Disney Theme Parks

Want to plan the perfect Disneyland visit? Here are 101 of our BEST tips! http://www.disneytouristblog.com/101-best-disneyland-tips/

Disney has 11 worldwide theme parks at Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney Resort, and Hong Kong Disneyland. While each of these 5 resorts has a Disneyland/Magic Kingdom style park, not all of these parks are of the same quality, and their second gates and beyond are all fairly different. Some of you have been asking me to rank all of the Disney Parks for a while, and while this technically won’t do that since it’s leaving one off to fit within the “Top 10″ format, it really will since it’s only leaving one off.

Think of this list as like my ‘power rankings’ for the Disney Parks. It’s my attempt at objectivity in ranking the parks, but my personal biases and most recent impressions undoubtedly will creep in a little. Like power rankings, my actual rankings could vary month to month or even week to week depending upon maintenance, new attraction announcements, seasonal improvements, and a litany of other variables. It’s all very scientific. ;)

Keep in mind that this list is all in good fun. Like sports fans, most Disney fans have strong allegiances towards their home park and take offense when they feel it’s slighted. Although I view the parks of Walt Disney World as my “home” parks, I don’t really think I have allegiance to these parks that prevents me from seeing their faults (although I do have admittedly strong nostalgia for 3 of the 4 parks). In any case, remember that this is one random dude’s opinion on the internet. At the end of the day, it doesn’t impact your enjoyment of your “favorite” park if I rank it at number 8, nor does my opinion matter (at all) in the grand scheme of things.

With that said, here are my rankings of every Disney Park, minus the Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris… (more…)