The Essence of the Disney Parks’ Magic

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Now that I’ve “Aired My Disney Parks Grievances,” I figure it’s time to show the other side of the coin and share why I enjoy the Disney theme parks so much. Shockingly, no, I do not go because I get some misplaced sense of enjoyment out of other guests catching my ire. Most of the time, the little pet peeves I mentioned don’t even phase me; they’re just little, fleeting moments. I’m guessing this is true for most people. While America’s national pastime is complaining (sorry, baseball), I think we all mostly enjoy life or, in this case, the Disney theme parks.

For the most part, what I’m going to list here as the “essence” of what I find endearing about the parks is what makes the experience “complete.” Sure, the parks wouldn’t be what they are without amazing E-Tickets like Splash Mountain and Tower of Terror, nor is there anything quite like stepping onto Main Street and seeing Cinderella Castle in the distance, but I view those things as the foundation of the experience.

There are literally hundreds of different things about the parks that put a smile on my face and make me a hopeless Disney “addict,” but instead of simply posting a laundry-list without much explanation for each, I want to focus on a select few, saving the two most important things for last… (more…)

Avengers Assemble!…at Disneyland?

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This post covers a couple of things: new Avengers food at Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port in Disneyland, and whether a Marvel attraction is replacing Innoventions next door. Let’s start with the more intriguing subject. That’s right, the food.

I’ll admit that I was pretty hyped when I read an article on the Disney Parks Blog about the Iron Man waffle (yes, you read that correctly–it’s a waffle shaped like Iron Man) on Friday afternoon. I mean, it’s a waffle, shaped like a super hero. That’s something truly special, and I felt the need to consume it ASAP. In actuality, my excitement probably wasn’t so much about the waffle itself as the fact that I now had a pretext to head to Disneyland after finishing work.

I met up with Hawkeye4Life Fan Club Founder Guy Selga, and we each purchased all of the Avengers items at Pizza Port (besides the pricey Iron Man novelty cup). There was much excitement in the air, as the potential of a delicious waffle shaped like a super hero could instantly catapult Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port from being one of the worst restaurants at Disneyland to one of the best restaurants…in the world. I mean, c’mon, it’s a waffle shaped like Iron Man? That’s serious business.

Let’s take a look at whether the waffle and other Avengers foods we assembled lived up to the hype. Oh, and also the minor question of if and when a Marvel attraction is coming to Tomorrowland… (more…)

Dixieland at Disneyland

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Dixieland at Disneyland was an annual special event held at Disneyland beginning in 1960 and lasting through 1970 that featured live bands, a Mardi Gras floating parade on the Rivers of America, scenic environments, and more. It was a special hard ticket event priced around $4.50, and it brought out jazz fans in droves. Dixieland at Disneyland was also a special Annual Passholder event earlier this week with some similar elements, harkening back to the early days of Dixieland at Disneyland.

I was fortunate enough to attend this week’s Dixieland at Disneyland event, and had an amazing time at the event. It has been the highlight, so far, of the Annual Passholder events I’ve attended that I discussed in the Disneyland Annual Pass Info & Tips post. I wrote there that these events demonstrate that Disneyland does care about its Annual Passholders, and having an event like this that pays homage to Disneyland history and features a presumably large entertainment budget really shows me that there are people working hard behind the scenes at Disneyland who really care and “get” it.

Because I was impressed by the event and wanted to share some of the experience, I thought I’d write a recap. At the same time, I don’t want this to come across as “here’s a look at this awesome one-time(?) event you’ll probably never get to attend. HAHA, SUCKERS!” so I thought I would strike a balance by highlighting the history of Dixieland at Disneyland as well as a recap of this specific incarnation of it.

Fair enough? We’ll start with some historical info about Dixieland at Disneyland, then I’ll share some of my photos and thoughts from this year’s event… (more…)

Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotel Review: Hotel Menage

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Hotel Menage is a Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotel located about 12 minutes from the parks near the I-5 freeway. The hotel aims for trendy and chic, and succeeds somewhat. This review features photos of the hotel, plus thoughts about our experience of staying here.

Let’s start the review by covering the location. With it being only a 12 minute walk from Disney California Adventure and Disneyland, the location is pretty solid on paper. It’s essentially right across the street from the HoJo Anaheim, both of which the I-5 freeway runs past. For those unfamiliar with the 5, it’s a major highway running through Orange County, which right away should raise concerns about noise. I never had any trouble sleeping or really noticed the sounds of the freeway, but light sleepers might want to think twice about booking this hotel, just the same. Likewise, when walking to the park, you have to cross the I-5 on and off ramps. There are pedestrian traffic signals here, but it still seems like a bit of a sketchy intersection.

Hotel Menage is one of the 39 Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotels, meaning you could book it as part of a vacation package if you so desired (although if you choose to do that, you’re going to pay an inflated rate). It’s nice hotel that would earn that distinction regardless of location. You can get an idea of how it stacks up to the competition, plus our overall comparison of the benefits of staying off-site versus on-site in our Where to Stay at Disneyland post.

So what are the pros and cons of staying at Hotel Menage? Let’s take a look… (more…)

Disney Parks Pet Peeves

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To borrow the immortal words of Frank Costanza, I’ve got a lot of problems with you people, and now you’re going to hear about it! That’s right. I know this blog is normally rainbows, unicorns, and all sorts of other good vibrations, but it’s time for you to hear what I really think (…as if I’ve been holding back ;) ). Here, it’s time for my “Airing of Disney Parks Grievances.”

On the surface, I’m a reasonably patient person with a fairly relaxed attitude. Just under that lies a surly curmudgeon who holds back festering irritation about myriad little things that probably should bother no one, many of which are witnessed in the parks. Much like an internal combustion engine somehow magically converts fuel into energy, I think in a way I turn these minor irritations into some sort of energy for (hopefully?) fruitful endeavors. So this isn’t all negative!

With that said, this post is in no way helpful to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or other park trip planning. Actually, it’s not really helpful to anything anywhere at all. Think of it as a junk food blog post that you shouldn’t waste your time reading. That is, unless you read any of the crap on BuzzFeed, ESPN, Facebook, Twitter, etc. In that case you clearly don’t care about wasting your time, so read away, kind souls!

Now I’ll let my inner Statler & Waldorf take over and share a few of my many Disney theme park pet peeves…

(Fair warning: this is my inner Statler & Waldorf talking, so it does have a bit more bite than normal–for the sake of balance, I’ll be back next week with a post titled “Endearing Things About Disney Parks”) (more…)