Scenes from Disney Parks: Reflections of Christmas


Merry Christmas Eve! Hopefully you’re done with the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, present wrapping, making cookies, and are snuggled up at home by the fire watching The Muppet Christmas Carol. My plan for a quiet Christmas Eve calls for a traditional viewing of that (plus A Muppet Family Christmas, Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, The Bishop’s Wife, Christmas Vacation, Elf, and It’s a Wonderful Life, for all of you keeping score at home…), but first I wanted to share a quick post with you. Last Christmas Eve, I shared a post about Country Bear Christmas, something with a lot of personal meaning to me. I thought I’d continue the tradition this year with something else I love: rain.

I’ve spent a decent part of the last month or so in the pouring rain, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Really. When it starts raining in the Disney Parks, other guests start heading towards the exits, leaving those who are willing to “brave” the precipitation the parks at their prettiest (save for perhaps when the parks are snow-covered, which I have yet to see) and least crowded. This is especially true at Christmas-time, when the reflections of the lights form long streaks of light on the ground.

If you only focus on the soggy feet or soaked shirt, it probably doesn’t seem worth it to stick around once the rain starts falling. However, if instead of heading for the exits, you take a moment to pause and soak up not just the rain drops but the serene scenes of the park, you’ll notice there’s beauty all around you. I know, I know, it doesn’t sound like a ton of fun to get soaked in a Disney theme park, but trust me: it’s worth it for the beauty…or for the shorter lines, in the event that you don’t care about the “extra” beauty and would rather just enjoy the beauty when it’s nice out!

You can click on each photo to view it larger (and with high resolution) in my gallery and to see the camera settings I used. All photos in this post were captured with my Nikon D750 DSLR and Nikon D810 DSLR.

Hope you enjoy the photos. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your families! (more…)

Cars Land Tips & Tricks

Cars Land at Disney California Adventure has solidified its place as one of the most popular theme park lands at Disneyland Resort, with guests rushing to Radiator Springs Racers, and waiting hours in line for it other times of the day. While Cars Land is a big draw for this one attraction, there is a lot to see and do in Cars Land.

From saving time in line for Radiator Springs Racers to slowing down and enjoying the details of Cars Land, this post covers some of our tips and tricks for Cars Land.

With that said, let’s get rolling. (Okay, sorry for that awful pun…but it’s pretty consistent with the generally corny writing style of this blog, so are you really that surprised?) (more…)

Disneyland Christmas 2013 Trip Report – Part I

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Early in 2013, we booked a trip to Walt Disney World for the first weekend in December. We had missed Reunion in 2012, and weren’t going to let it happen again. Even that early, airfare was somewhat pricey. Then, in June, I received an email alert from Airfarewatchdog (I plan on doing a post explaining how to leverage Airfarewatchdog alerts and ITA Software soon) with airfare from Indianapolis to Los Angeles for $110 round trip on numerous dates. I booked two trips that day, one in October and one in December, and planned on booking more later when I had time to consider other dates. It was clearly a price mistake, as airfare more than doubled in price a couple of hours later. The weekend I booked the December airfare was the same weekend as Reunion, so we had a dilemma. Since we hadn’t yet seen Cars Land or Buena Vista Street for Christmas, Disneyland won out. (Next year, Reunion!)

We only booked a weekend trip, leaving home early Saturday morning and returning on Monday, but it was well-worth the visit to see Disneyland Resort at Christmas. Our friend Guy picked us up from the airport. Guy is an interesting fella: he is well-versed in all things Disneyland, is a fan of wearing sunglasses when it’s not sunny out, is an enthusiast of Nike shoes and Captain EO, and has a dog that’s way cooler than him.

I had been checking the weather forecast prior to our trip, and it called for rain our first day. It rains around 11 days per year in Anaheim, so I was pretty excited. I know, “excitement” is not the normal reaction for rain, but it makes for some great photography, especially at Christmas when the reflections are especially great. Unfortunately, right after we checked into our hotel (the Ramada Maingate, which now replaces Desert Inn as our top pick along Harbour Boulevard) it stopped raining for the day. I guess that’s better than it raining on us for a few hours, and then stopping a couple of hours before night…

Sarah and I were both starving, so our first stop was somewhere to eat. We stopped at Cafe Orleans to see if they had any availability, and the wait was an hour. We then checked Blue Bayou, with similar results. Not wanting to wander aimlessly any longer, we opted to just do Hungry Bear Restaurant. This seems to be our default when we can’t think of anywhere else to eat, and while I like it, we eat there way too much. (more…)

Cozy Cone Motel Review

This Cozy Cone Motel review is actually not a review of a motel at all, but of a cluster of outdoor vending “cones.” So, if you opened this review hoping to learn about the latest hotel at Disneyland, you’re going to be disappointed. Although, I suppose you could take a nap at one of the picnic tables by the Cozy Cones. As far as food goes at the Cozy Cone Motel, the stands specialize in cone related foods and bad puns.

It’s not all bad at Cozy Cone Motel. Actually, depending upon how you view the Cozy Cone Motel, you might be pleasantly surprised..or very disappointed. As far as general theme goes, I think it’s fair to applaud Imagineering for its ambition on the Cozy Cone Motel. Instead of going the less authentic route of expanding the check-in/lobby/Sally’s office area to make a dedicated quick service restaurant with the individual cones serving as covered picnic table locations (or something), they decided to make things proportionately more accurate and have the lobby be smaller (and inaccessible to park guests) and have the cones more prominent. (more…)

Flo’s V8 Cafe Review

This Flo’s V8 Cafe review could easily summarize our opinion of this Cars Land restaurant at Disney California Adventure in three words: “Eat at Flo’s.” Flo’s V8 Cafe combines the best of Disney theming, quality comfort food, and incredible ambiance to become one of the top Disneyland Resort restaurants.

Starting with the theme, Flo’s V8 Cafe is modeled after a real restaurant on Route 66, Midpoint Cafe in Midpoint, Texas. Before you snort in derision that the real restaurant is in Texas and this is a California theme park, it’s fair to say that this restaurant could be found anywhere along Route 66, including California. More than anything, it looks like Flo’s V8 Cafe that caters to talking cars from a certain Pixar film, which is set in a fictional town an an area that’s most likely Arizona…which is also not California. Whatever. The cafe and the land work, and they work well.

Flo’s V8 Cafe is a mix of real-life 60s-era car culture and backstory from Cars having to do with the rise of racing in Radiator Springs. The neon will draw you toward the restaurant, where you’ll notice great details such as oil cans, gas pumps, cacti, and varying types of architecture depending upon what side of the restaurant you view. Once inside, the rest of the details will continue to mesmerize you. (more…)