Once again I have badgered my friends from the “Be Our Guest Podcast” into having me on as a guest. Mike Rahlman did a good job pretending to be interested in our adventures at Disneyland, Cali-forn-I-A. Seriously, the folks at BOGP are like family! Thanks for indulging me once again!
Last Christmas we decided to do something fun with each of the kids rather than buy a bunch of gifts. We ended up spending a the day traipsing around Boston hemorrhaging cash, but ultimately having a terrific time. You can read about the whole adventure HERE.
Now that you are caught up, you know that our respective outings were a big success. Because of this, we thought we might do the something similar this year. Due to our lack of creativity and proximity to the great city of Boston we decided to hit up the Hub once again. I got the idea of trying to get tickets to the Holiday Pops at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. It was just a few weeks before Christmas so I was sure that the tickets would be sold out at this point. Surprisingly, we were able to snag four seats. Pair this event with dinner at the Top of the Hub restaurant at the Prudential Center, and you’ve got the makings of a quintessential Christmas Eve in Boston.
We parked our family truckster at garage in the Prudential Center where we would be ending the night. It seemed like a good deal…unless you are parked for more than five hours, after such time you will the owe twice the advertised price plus your two eye teeth.
The decorations are free with the price of parking.
Looks like this guy's trying to make a run for it!
The weather was perfect for walking through the city, sunny and crisp. I hadn’t spent much time in this area so it was nice to see some of the different architecture.
111 Huntington Avenue, the eighth tallest building in Boston. FYI.
The Christian Science Center
I don’t know much about the faith of the Christian Scientists, but they must be good tithers because that is one heck of a building!
We’ve reached our destination, Boston Symphony Hall.
Home of The Holiday Pops!
We made a harried commuter stop and take our picture. Thanks, random stranger!
If I sent out Christmas cards, this would be for next year’s edition.
The hall was appropriately bedecked in Holiday Splendor.
You might think that this is simply a long shot of the auditorium but no, our seats were actually this far back. In fact, I believe I walked about twenty feet forward for this picture.
When you get tickets for Holiday Pops three weeks before Christmas, you end up in row U. This means:
U get a view of everyone in the WHOLE place!
U can lean over and adjust the sound board, if you don’t find the audio to your liking.
Hey guys, I can help with the EQ!
U can pop right out to visit the rest room.
The exit is conveniently RIGHT THERE!
Dear social media, guess what my parents got me for Christmas. Nope, keep guessing...
A view of the stage obtained from the internet. These people got their tickets in July.
Despite all my whining, it really didn’t matter where we were sitting. The show was fantastic from any angle. There was an excellent variety of songs, from the secular to the divine, which were performed with exuberance. The biggest hit of the night was a reinterpretation of the “Twelve Days Of Christmas”. This was a remarkable feat due to the fact that the original song is an obnoxiously long, cringe-worthy holiday slog. Despite the fact that it clocked in at nearly ten minutes, it was a delightful number that incorporated tunes from pieces as varied as “Surry with A Fringe On Top” to “Bohemian Rhapsody”. They don’t allow any video during the concert, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Jeff and I have had the opportunity to attend the Boston Symphony at this same venue on a couple of occasions. The Pops was definitely a different experience. First off, instead of row seating, there were tables and chairs. This was a good thing because it afforded the opportunity to have some wine during the show.
Wine. Always a good addition.
What’s not good about this set up is the crowding around the tables; not nearly as comfortable or easy to move about. Another big difference was the protocol of the audience during the performance. At the Symphony, there was absolute silence during the pieces. Not only did everyone know not to applaud until the entire movement was finished, they also didn’t cough or shift about in their seats. When a piece was over, the hall sounded like the tuberculosis ward from all the pent up coughs being expelled! There was no such protocol at the Pops. This is a much more casual event, which is to be expected during this jubilant season. However, there was so much going on off stage that it was very distracting. While I did enjoy having an adult beverage as I mentioned, they also offered sandwiches and snacks during the entire event. This meant servers were constantly shuffling around trying to make their way through the maze of tables and chairs. This was distracting enough, but the sandwiches were served in plastic clam- shells that make a loud “pop” whenever they’re opened. Hey, maybe that’s where the name comes from?
Hey, you with the sandwich! Can you keep it down back there?
I know I do risk sounding like a crabby pants here, but my observations are simply for your information. I had expectations of the Pops that were not met, simply because I was using our symphony experience as a guide. These are totally different events and both are a fantastic take. I will definitely make the Holiday Pops a part of our Christmas plans in the future…but I’ll order the tickets in August.
We had a lovely stroll back to the Prudential Center. There was a perfect, Christmasy chill in the air. Now you will see all the same buildings as earlier only in reverse order and all lit up.
You have such a pretty face, you should be on a Christmas Card!
There's no elves baking cookies in there. I checked.
We had about thirty minutes before our reservation so we wandered around the shops at the Prudential tower, soaking in the Christmas Eve atmosphere.
The larger the ornaments, the fewer you need!
He found his way back home
They had the blingiest trees ever!
I love the night life. I got to boogie on the disco roooouunnd, oh yeah!
There were carolers wandering about the galleria. Sadly, people didn’t seem to be taking much notice of them. When Matt and I stopped to have a listen and show some support, he inadvertently made a gesture that indicated he had a request, so we had to come up with a tune for them on the spot to avoid embarrassment. This was my choice.
Watercolors of Boston sights.
These hats are adorable! I'm sure I'd look like a Q-tip in one, though.
I see what you did there.
One of the hip clothing stores had this etherial holiday decor that looked all iridescent and fantasctical, but the photo I took just makes it look like someone ran Tinker Bell through the shredder.
Regurgitated Faerie Wings
It was time to make our way up to the Top of the Hub.
We had to check in with security before were allowed access to the elevators.
The elevator corridor reminded me of a certain fictional hotel.
Come play with us Danny, forever and ever...
See you in 52 floors!
Dinner at the Top of The Hub is all about the view. Even though one can technically catch a glimpse of the illuminated city scape from most tables, I really wanted to be able to press my face right against the plate glass. I approached the podium ready to deploy my patented method of obtaining a primo table, but before I could even finish my schpeel, the hostess was leading us over to the most perfect spot.
Matt admiring the view
Meghan admiring the menu
The dining room was lovely and was buzzing with people enjoying a special Christmas Eve meal. Our server was friendly with just the right amount of formality which you would want in a restaurant of this caliber. The lighting was appropriately dim, but terrible for taking photos. I’ve tried to lighten them through editing but to no avail. I’m going to inflict them on you anyway.
This was a Prix Fixe menu. I’m not sure how to pronounce this. I believe it’s supposed to be “Pree Fee ” which makes me giggle. We were able to choose from among several appetizers and main courses, but the salad and dessert were set. The courses were presented “ballet style” where two servers approached the table and set all of our plates down at the same time. The soup that Meghan and Jeff got was poured table-side. Very classy.
Veloute of Chestnut Soup Chantarelle Mushroom, Duck Confit Dumplings
For the main courses, we all chose something different, which is standard operating procedure in this family. That way we get to try as many dishes as possible. Thank you Lord, for giving me kids who are adventurous eaters!
My main: Scottish Salmon , Rock Shrimp Risotto, Preserved Lemons
Jeff’s main: New Zealand Venison Rack, Celery Root Gratin, Squash Puree, Port Soaked Prunes
The gratin was just like the one we had at Steakhouse 55 in the Disneyland Hotel. It all comes back around to Disney.
I barely got to Matt’s plate in time before he destroyed it…
The meal was going along absolutely splendidly until…the salad. For some reason they decided that a beet salad would be universally enjoyed by all their customers. I like just about every food on God’s green earth except for beets. No one in our family likes beets. We rolled with it by scraping up the goat cheese and pistachio garnish as our salad. The people at the table next to us were not so accepting. They were a bit annoyed that there was no alternative.
I didn’t take a picture, so I’ll substitute this photo from Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival for your enjoyment.
The dessert course was very tasty, but not remarkable. It was an eggnog tiramisu not much different from what you might find at any standard casual dining restaurant. Nothing wrong with it, but for the price of admission I expected something more fancy. The cheesy marzipan bow just didn’t do it for me.
The promotion for the dinner noted that there would be a Jazz band playing the event. This was true, but it was only in the lounge. I could here the boom, boom, boom of the plucking of the strings on the stand-up bass during our entire meal. When we finished up we decided to pop over and catch a few songs.
There were several open tables in the lounge so we plopped down at one…and then were unceremonioulsy asked to vacate because there was a waiting list. Hmmm…That’s ok. I’ve been thrown out of better places than this! Well, no I guess this is the classiest place I’ve been asked to leave.
No worries, we just moseyed on down two floors to the Sky Walk…which was closed.
We honestly wouldn’t have partook in the Sky Walk anyway because we discovered it as fourteen dollars per person! Besides, we got all the view we needed from our table. We decided to regroup downstairs in the lobby and ultimately head on home.
So dashing in that scarf!
Yup, it's time to go!
So that was Christmas Eve. We did stuff, saw things and ate a lot of food. What it boils down to is that we enjoyed the pleasure of spending time together; something that happens less frequently now that the children are really young adults. Hopefully, these times together have created memories that they will always carry with them.
You worked so hard to plan your trip and you had a fabulous time, but now you’re not in Disney anymore. People have stopped telling you to have a Magical Day. It’s official. You have the post Disney blues. So, how do we deal with the inevitable let down?The best way is to plan another trip! For our family, this is not going to be anytime soon due to the hefty college tuition bills a-rollin’ in. Instead, I’ve done what any level headed, perfectly normal person would do. Create a delusion.
We had planned a day trip to the Roger Williams Zoo as a last hurrah before school started. Meg wanted to add some animal photography to her portfolio. We got our tickets and passed through the gates when I felt something familiar. Not surprisingly it brought me back to Disney’s Animal Kingdom . From that moment on, I kept on seeing things that reminded me of Walt’s parks. Come with me as we explore the depths of my Disney personality disorder.
The real Animal Kingdom
I hadn’t been to the Roger Williams Zoo in years. I was impressed by the lush, jungley plantings. If it was raining like up-turned bathtubs full of water, it would have seemed even more like our last visit to Animal Kingdom!
Africa in Rhode Island
Gorgeous Bamboo Plants
I’ll deny it if you ask me in public but I have to say, the presentation of the wild life was actually better here at Roger Williams. You get so much more up close than with the simulated Kilimanjaro Safari.
The lion exhibit was exactly the same as Disney, meaning you don’t see no dang lion!
You see him up at the top there? Me neither.
If they hung the food lower, would his neck get shorter? Discuss.
Speaking of camels...
There were some areas that had an air of Epcot about them, if you held your hands on either side of your face like horse blinders, and squinted real hard, you might feel like you’re actually in World Showcase!
The real Morocco pavilion at Epcot.
Some Moroccanesque details at the zoo.
The Italy section was…not bad!
Italy pavilion, Epcot
Very close, very close indeed.
Venice via Rhode Island
The zoo itself is a part of the larger Roger Williams Park. Like Epcot, the park surrounds a lake. This provides the opportunity for boats of all sorts, including adorable swan paddleboats, electric boats, canoes and kayaks. You have to pay extra for these, unlike Epcot where the friendship boats are free. The tickets to the zoo, however, are about a jillion dollars less than Epcot, so I guess that evens things out.
World Showcase Lagoon, Epcot
Roger Williams Park Lake
This next section took me aaallll the way back the the west coast to Disney California Adventure. One of my favorite places was the Golden State area surrounding the Grizzly River Run. Misty waterfalls and aromatic conifers set the mood. Hats off to the Roger Williams Zoo and their new Northern American trail. The plantings were lovely and the water features…impressive!
The mist of the Grizzly River Run in DCA
Northern American trail. Care for a stroll?
America! Heck Ya!
Now we are entering the realms of Fantasyland, and I don’t just mean my delusions. It’s no secret that this is my least favorite part of WDW. There are too many, well, children. It’s wall to wall strollers and whining. However, the Rogers Williams likeness at the zoo had me completely charmed.
Fantasyland in WDW
This area is the result of a five million dollar project sponsored by Hasbro. If I had small children and lived in he area, I would definitely get a season pass. The tree house was winsome enough from the outside, but my understanding is that there is a plentitude of activities for the kids to do up there. No adults allowed!
This would he most awesome tree house ever, if they let me up there!
Charming natural details
Sprinklers reminiscent of Epcot's "Jumping Fountains"
Not only were there a ton of activities for the kids to do, there also were guides everywhere helping the little ones play games and generally giving parents a break. Well done Hasbro/Z00!
Doesn't get more Disney than this.
A couple more stray Disney nerd sightings…
Yo ho, yo ho...a Pirate's life for me!
The back side of water!
We finished up our time at the zoo and decided to take a jaunt on over to Newport because, you know, mansions and such. Instead we spent the majority of our time in the downtown area which happened to remind me of…
Main Street USA!
This guy was dressed in his red white & blue as if he was gonna break into the “Good Morning” song just for me. He also has a bit of a “Where’s Waldo?” thing going on, but that’s off topic.
Just like the Magic Kingdom, one has the opportunity to treat yourself to some hand made candy at the confectionary…
Grab a coffee and a snack at the bakery…
REAL espresso. Sadly, not available on Disney's Main Street.
And purchase some hand blown glass art…
These vases are very oddly shaped.
Being right on the water and replete with Kennedy-style cash, Newport bay is chock-full of Yachts, bringing me back to our oh-so-short but memorable stay at…
Disney's Yacht and Beach Club
We finally did make our way towards the famous mansions, but nothing man-made can compare to the majesty of the ocean waves crashing into the ruddy cliffs of the coast.
Ooh, Ooh! The Haunted Mansion!
These shots of a primo classic thunderbird are a perfect segue to our next destination.
We decided to get some dinner, but closer to home. I am quite fond of fancy pants gourmet cuisine. Nonetheless, my very favorite food ever is good, old fashioned Southern Fried Chicken. When we are in Walt Disney World we always make our way to 50′s Primetime Café for Mom’s home cookin’ and some ribbing from the “cousins”. Lucky for us (but not for my middle), just twenty minutes from home, we have the sensational Dave’s Diner.
Disney's 50s Primetime Café
Classic diner fixtures
Love the checker board floors!
Here it is, the best fried chicken and biscuits I’ve ever had! Yes, even better than WDW. If you’re keeping score, there were quite a few things about our outing that I preferred over it’s Disney equivalent. Hmmm… never you mind that.
Om, nom, nom.
So there you have it. We had a great little day trip right here in New England, and I got to pretend my way through a Disney vacation. That’s not weird, right?
Griffith Park was not the last delight that we happened upon on totally by accident. As we were making our way to our dinner destination, we spotted an odd figure perched atop the roof of a building. It wasn’t until we were right on top of it that we realized what it was. Could it be? Oh yes, my friends, it was the Jim Henson Studios! I screeched “turn around, turn around!” as I waved my arms in a muppety fashion.
Not only was this the place where Mr. Henson and his creative team worked on some of the best movies and television ever (oh yes, I said it), this also served as a major set piece for the Muppets movie!
Jim Henson Studios made to look like the abandoned Muppet studios.
I have stood on the same pavement as Walter!!!
I crept as close to the gate as I could before a man came out of the little security shack.
Doesn't Kermit look classy with his bowler hat?
Coincidently, the styling of the Jim Henson Studios looks very similar to our next location. So as not to be confused, this is the Tam O’ Shanter restaurant.
The Tam is located just a few miles away from the Disney Studios in Burbank and is Los Angeles’ oldest restaurant. It has remained in the same location under the same ownership and management since 1922. More importantly, Walt Disney ate here! He frequented the restaurant so often that is was commonly referred to as the “studio commissary.”
This place just got 100% more handsome.
More Tudor style
Window detail at the entrance
The Disney connection is not obvious, but if you know the history you’ll find some special artwork in the lobby that reveals as much.
Personalized Disney artwork, drawn by Walt himself!
Signed, sealed, delivered.
A more recent drawing. Notice the guests at the table.
The dining room is very dark, with wood paneling and all manner of Scottish details.
One of those details is the ahem, traditional dress that the servers don. The men look as if they forge pewter in their off hours. The ladies look more like the St. Pauly Girl.
Hubba, Hubba Hostess
The fact that this is a Scottish restaurant was a huge draw for us, and I’m not talkin’ bout haggis. It’s the single malt scotch.
A map that leads to peaty heaven.
Care for a dram?
We weren’t very hungry at this point, so we decided to hang out in the bar side of the restaurant which has a smaller pub menu.
As much as we would have enjoyed imbibing with that Scotch whisky, we still had a bit of driving ahead of us so we went with an ale instead.
Beer as consolation. A first world problem.
Beautiful stained glass window at our booth
This place is known for their Prime Rib but we were just not hungry enough to appreciate something so heavy (this story is seeming more and more tragic as I tell it). We went with something traditional though, the Scotch Rarebit. I’ve never had any sort of rarebit. The name is confusing, making one think that a furry little garden rodent might be involved. From my extensive research on the Wikipedia, the dish does derive it’s name from the idea that rabbit is the poor man’s meat and cheese is the poorer man’s rabbit.
Cheese, glorious cheese.
Now, this may look like Velveeta on toast, but the flavors were far more complex. The whiskey and worcestershire add an unexpected depth of flavor. If you’re so inclined, I’ve provided a recipe, or you can try it yourself at the Tam!
For our dinner we shared a hand carved turkey sandwich. They were nice enough to split it for us, and they piled on enough pickles and side salads to feed four very large men.
There's a turkey sandwich back there behind the beets.
We lounged around for a bit and I took a few more pictures of the dining room before we headed out. I nerdily asked the server about the famous (among about 40 people) table 31. This was Walt’s table.
I bet they don't even know or even care...sigh.
Off to the airport! Believe it or not we STILL had more time to kill even after this marathon day.
Fortunately I had a plan. I had heard on one of my Disney Podcasts about an interesting lounge right in LAX called Encounter. If you didn’t know better, you would think that this was a part of the control tower for the airport, but it’s actually a super groovy restaurant suspended in those parabolic arches.
The building itself was constructed in 1961 as a part of a “jet age terminal project”. It served as a themed monument until 1997 when the Encounter Restaurant was introduced. Everything about the place still reads groovy 1960s.
Restaurant or swingers club?
Futuristic space music plays in the elevator as you ascend.
Once up in the pod of the restaurant you are treated to amazing 360 degree views
Outer space Martini, remarkably similar to a terrestrial martini.
The interiors are just as bizarre as the building itself.
Lava Lamps line the bar
Alien Beer Taps
Galaxy themed Bar Tops
Lighted Ceiling Panels
It looks as if my husband has been hatched from an orb.
The shagadelic Encounter lounge is an interesting take to be sure, but visiting at night is a real showstopper. The lighting surrounding the restaurant and off in the distance at LAX is an amazing kaleidoscope of colors.
..and Pink. They had all the colors, really.
Looking down from Encounter.
I am sure that this theme is getting quite tiresome but yes, we had yet even more time to kill before the flight. Really, what else is there to do but have a drink? We spotted the alluring signage for Malibu Al’s Beach Bar. Sounds like a fun mini-vacation right in the middle of the airport doesn’t it?
Well, it wasn’t. I believe the waitstaff at Malibu Al’s must be doing community service hours, they were so dour. I could go on about how terrible this place was, but I will instead call upon some comrades in disappointment that left evidence of their ire on the often hilarious Yelp.com.
“This is not Malibu. There is no Al. There sure as hell is no beach. There is a bar. A very limited bar. A bar with utterly absurd prices and not a local beer in sight. The food is plucked freshly from the refrigerator case, a great example of farm to warehouse to processing plant to freezer to shipping to freezer to refrigerator to table cuisine.” - Jason R. East Point, Georgia
“Just because you work in an airport bar doesn’t mean you have to be incredibly douchey.” -Terrence M. San Diego, CA
“Airport food, airport service, airport prices. The worst part is the lack of tequila in a margarita. How the f**k else am I supposed to get sh*t faced pre-flight when I’m paying $15 for a margarita smoothie labeled as a margarita loaded with my old friend Jose? Ugh.” -Erika V. Topanga, CA
No need for the potty talk, Erika, but I concur. We finished our over priced shots of Rye and moved on to greener pastures.
At this point we were genuinely hungry. Thankfully, there literal King of Sausages had set up shop right at LAX.
It's Jody Maroni's Sausage Kingdom. We're just living in it.
Jody Maroni, you have indeed earned your title!
So that’s it. It was finally time to get on that plane and head home. I believe that we made the very most of our four days in California. At least Jeff’s face says we did.
We had a few hours to kill (okay, about twelve) before our flight home. Having seen all we cared to in Hollywood, we decided to navigate our way to Beverly Hills. Now, we all know about Beverly Hills and it’s über-rich connotations. One might even think that an area like this would be inaccessible to the hoi polloi, such as we are. However, I’m here to tell you that this reputation is a bit unfair. Beverly Hills is really not so different from many other charming downtown destinations. Let’s take a look around shall we?
Jewel encrusted street sign. Sure, as you do.
When you arrive on Rodeo Drive, you’ll find that there is plenty of on street parking…
His good Bugatti must be in the shop.
But do remember to slide your American Express Black Card through the parking meter or you might end up getting a ticket from a Beverly Hills cop.
Now have Axel F. stuck my head!
Like any other touristy center, there are plenty of shops where you can purchase a special souvenir for yourself or a loved one.
So many choices!
Perhaps you’d enjoy a colorful print to hang on your wall as remembrance of your visit?
Yes, I had look up the definition of Atelier.
Forgot your jacket? No worries! If it gets chilly, you can just pick one up at the shops.
Something for the gents...
...and the ladies!
One can get weary from all the walking about. You can always take a coffee break at one of the outdoor cafés…
…or take a nap on the green grass of the local park.
We decided to try and help the local economy by having a glass of wine in this cozy bar.
A quick freshening up in the powder room and we’re good to go do some more exploring!
Now I will remove my tongue from cheek and just say WOW! that was super fancy. These people are not merely rich, but most sincerely rich. My few forays onto Newbury Street had not prepared me for the super luxuriousness of Beverly Hills. That being said, we did feel perfectly comfortable walking around, despite the fact that we probably stood out a wee bit in our Crocs
Oh, how bourgeoisie!
Beverly Hills knocked a couple hours off the day, but we still had much time before we needed to head for the airport. We had gotten some suggestions about what we could do, like go to the beach, but we weren’t prepared to be half naked among the beautiful people. We decide to just drive in the general direction of our dinner destination and see just what we found. We were driving though the Los Feliz neighborhood of none other than Walt Disney himself when we noticed some signs for Griffith Park. It sounded familiar. “Did somebody famous get murdered there?” was my first thought (I was partially right about that). We turned up the drive just for the heck of it.
The tunnel running through the mountain looked like entering N.O.R.A.D.
As we started to climb up what turned out to be the Santa Monica Mountains, every few hundred feet I’d think that the view couldn’t get any better.
We finally reached the top to find this:
Why did nobody tell us about this! The views of Los Angeles were absolutely breathtaking.
This guy...always blocking the shot!
Can you see the Hollywood sign waaaaay back there?
Looking down from the observatory.
Every single one of those tourists- Japanese.
Not only were the views from the observatory gorgeous, the building itself was beautiful with exquisite Art deco details.
Just a few more pictures of the view…
…and the building
The Astronomers Monument sculpture on the front lawn that pays homage to six of the greatest astronomers of all time: Hipparchus, Nicholas Copernicus, Galileo, Johannes Kepler, Isaac Newton, and William Herschel.
One last look on the way back down
When we decided to turn up the street that led to this amazing place we had no idea what we would find. We had just enough time to take it all in before the park was closed to the public for a private event (attended by a lot of people who drove Bentleys). As the person who plans out our all of our trips meticulously, it was for me a lesson in spontaneity…but, if I had known how great it was up here, I would have planned it !
Our time at Disneyland was officially over. If there weren’t risk of extreme judgement about my geekdom, I just may have sprung for passes for one more day, but even I know that there are other things of value to see in Southern California besides Disney- I guess. The plan was to spend the day taking in the glamorous sights of Hollywood. Truth be told, there are several Disney adjacent attractions in the area as well.
Driving down the 101.
We found a sketchy cash only parking lot (hey, it was a rental) and stepped right onto the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I only took photos of the very biggest, most important stars.
I guess corporations really are people!
Then, onto Grauman’s Chinese Theatre…
The architecture of the theater itself was impressive, but the area surrounding this major attraction was really quite disappointing. I would have figured that with all the tourism dollars flooding the city, it would have been cleaner and more slick. I know that my opinion is probably a result of my close association with the Disneyfied version of Grauman’s at Hollywood Studios in Orlando.
Plus a ride!
Back to real Hollywood… The place was teaming with tourists milling about, laying their hands onto the impressions of stars past and present. I hope they brought hand sanitizer.
One huge difference between the real Grauman’s and the Disney version is the characters that reside in front of the theater.
A very impressive Iron man
Looks like someone is getting a dressing down.
Though they have no official affiliation with Grauman’s (numerous signs tell us that this is the case), the tradition of taking pictures with the characters is well established. The actors are only allowed on the public side walk, and may not solicit payment. They do however stronglysuggest that you may tip them. I know this because the Darth Vader caught me snapping a photo and proceeded to flash his wad of cash at me while sternly telling me as much- in his Darth Vader voice. It was a wee bit intimidating. The police do monitor the situation and have made arrests at times.
Super heroes on the wrong side of the law. File Photo
Oddly enough, they also have characters like these in Amsterdam. These actors however, are made to be perched on what seem to be apple boxes, therefore insuring that the people are not intimidated by their presence wandering around. Please, take note Hollywood!
Darth Vader safely on his perch.
As it turns out, Grauman’s Chinese Theater is actually a movie theater. Who knew? We took a quick look about before they had a chance to check for tickets.
There was a hallway of fame of sorts with terrific black and whites of notable inductees to the Walk of Fame.
There's something Freudian going on here, I just know it!
Jack Nicholson when he was just regular scary, not old scary.
A couple of great dames.
While we were there, workers were preparing for a movie premier happening later that evening.
This is sort of Disney related in my mind because Cirque du Soleil also has a production Downtown Disney in Orlando, which we saw several years ago. A stretch, I know. What’s interesting about having Cirque in the Kodak theater is that for several months surrounding the Oscars, the show shuts down and the stage is completely reconfigured for the event. Seems like a huge burden, but apparently the facility doesn’t have much use the rest of the year, so it must be lucrative despite all the extra effort.
The Oscar Stairs
Surrounding the theater is a shopping center containing a whole array of high faultin’ stores.
This is where I could have gotten a full set of matching luggage, but I got mine a Ocean State Job Lot instead.
The upper floors have a series of observation walkways that offer some primo views.
Hollywood Boulevard View
The view through the archway looks out to the Hollywood Hills.
Can you see it?
Yep, it's the Hollywood Sign!
The whole area had a very Las Vegas feel.
The Jimmy Kimmel Live show shoots here.
Another Disney related sight I was very much looking forward to seeing was the El Capitan Theater. This is an eighty six year old piece of architectural history that was bought and restored by Disney in 1991. Since then, it’s been the venue for all the Disney and Pixar movie premiers.
What I was really excited about was that it also served as a major set piece for the 2011 film, The Muppets. You have seen this, of course! Right?
Fake Muppet theater!
El Cap- street level
I was hoping to get to nose around the theater and take some pictures but they actually require you to buy tickets to enter. The Nerve! The foyer itself is impressive enough though. It’s designed in the elaborate Spanish Baroque style. The detail is mind boggling.
So many creepy faces...
The newest premier
Right next door is the Disney Soda Fountain. No tenuous connection here, it’s straight up Disney. The facade was under construction, so no exterior signage shots.
Disney Soda Fountain
Lots of pictures of famous people eating ice cream
Jodi Benson, the voice of Ariel
Kelsey Grammer, the voice of Stinky Pete...and he was Frasier too.
Cool art work in the restroom.
More opportunities to buy merchandise.
The tools of the trade. Note the waffle cone machine!
The Soda Fountain was really charming, the staff however were not. The farther away from the real parks you get, the looser the Traditions training seems to be.
Joyless "cast member" making a sundae.
This napkin did not get sullied. I saved it.
We only got a wee snack, just to say we did. It was the perfect size to share.
Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich. Perfect!
We wandered around for a bit more, but honestly there just wasn’t much else to do. I had mapped out the whole day to explore Hollywood and it was now barely noon! We decided to duck into a bar, have a beer and regroup, when we found this!
This place describes itself as “Burger meet Bordello”. Spot on!
The bar was lined with workers from the aforementioned move premier.
Flocked wallpaper and garish lights! Awesome!!!
A porter for the lady, an IPA for the gent.
We really did not have designs to eat here, but we were intrigued. The name 25 Degrees refers to the temperature difference between a medium rare and well-done burger, and burgers are all they do here. I just love a restaurant that chooses something to focus on and then proceeds to do it well. Whether it’s burgers or fancy French food, be good at the thing you do, restaurant!
All my favorite things!
We decided to share a burger and one side. I got to choose, he’s such a gentleman.
Enormous and delicious Onion Rings.
And the Burger…
Crispy Proscuitto, Fresh made mozzarella, and Pesto.
This burger was without a doubt the BEST I’ve ever had! As they boasted, it was cooked perfectly, but the beef itself was also sooo flavorful. Even down to the Brioche bread, everything about it was perfection. Keep in mind that just the previous evening we had experienced the luxury of the Chef’s tasting menu at the Napa Rose Restaurant. If I were pressed between choosing a dish from that evening or a burger from 25 Degrees…it would be a difficult choice. It was that darn-tootin’ good!
Our enjoyment somewhat resembled this:
The burger bar was located in the (now I know) Famous Roosevelt Hotel.
Looks as if that lady in the mirror just ate an enormous burger.
Water feature in the lobby
Gorgeous Floral arrangements
Art work / light fixture
Just plain art
Pre-liability risk tiled staircase
This hotel is the haunt of many a celebrity, including Angelina Jolie who keeps insisting inserting herself in my blog posts!
Stop following me, Angie!
Okay, Ms. Jolie was not actually there when we visited, but we did have a star sighting. The problem is, we are so out of touch with popular culture, we didn’t know who it was. People were making a fuss though, so we snapped a pic. Turns out it was Chase Crawford, who was starring in the “What to Expect” movie.
Yeah, we didn't' know him either.
We didn’t get to explore the entire hotel because Fox Entertainment was hosting a programming presentation. This is when the network reveals the fall schedule to the press and assures everyone that all their new shows are going to be totally awesome!
We had seemingly exhausted all there was to do on Hollywood Boulevard, and it was now only about one o’clock. Seeing that our flight home wasn’t until midnight, we had to come up with a new plan: Gawking at incredibly rich people in Beverly Hills!
This would be the penultimate day of our California vacation, but sadly, our last day in Disneyland. We spent the morning getting in a couple more attractions at Disney California Adventure, then doing some souvenir shopping for the kids. Nothing makes up for not taking your children with you to Disneyland like tchotchke! We walked on over to Downtown Disney and headed straight for the sweets.
Nerdy factiod: Marceline is Walt Disney’s Boyhood Hometown in Missouri and was the model for what would eventually become Main Street U.S.A.
Cute, but I can't imagine these tasting any good.
They do a good job cleaning the face prints off the glass.
Chocolate dipped marshmallows
Turkey Leg Crisped Rice Treat. Very Meta.
I Love you,Toffee. Call me!
Wait, $4.95 for a Strawberry? Oh, Disney!
All the hand dipped confections looked absolutely amazing, but they wouldn’t have survived being stuffed into our carry-on luggage. We instead went the pre-packaged route. Plus, these had cute old timey characters on the labels
A variety of flavored Popcorn for Matt.
A variety of cocoa for Meghan. You know I saved these adorable cans for myself.
For non-food items, we hit World of Disney where one can get every Disney related item imaginable from pot holders to iPhone cases. If Mickey and his pals are on it, it’s here.
World of Disney Store
Wall O' Plushes
The kids are definitely not into the Mickey Ears and Tee-Shirts thing, so we wanted to get less conspicuous items as souvenirs. I was thrilled to find something for each of them that they actually really loved!
For Matt, a Mickey watch. Try as I might, any picture I took made the mouse read as black, but it’s actually a very subtle silver-on-white.
Oh Mickey, you're so fine!
And for Meghan, a Hidden Mickey pendant. In my joy of finding such a cool gift, I neglected to calculate how much I would also want one of these!
Why didn't I get one for myself?!
All this shopping and futzing around were serving as a pleasant distraction because what I was really doing was silently counting down the hours and minutes until our dinner at Napa Rose at the Grand Californian Hotel.
Can you see the beams of joy shooting from my soul?
Once we checked in, we sat in the lounge and had a cold beverage. Then I did what I usually do, which is to abandon Jeff and go around taking pictures.
Very expensive booze behind glass
Wines from John Lasseter's Vineyard. Yup, I had some of that!
But not from these signed bottles.
Outdoor lounge area
More indoor seating
After just a few minutes we were escorted into the dining room to this table, which would have been fine, except that I had reserved a spot at the Chef’s Counter. There are just fourteen chairs and two seating per night so if we weren’t on the list this would have been a problem. I had confirmed just before we left so I thought we’d be okay, but I was still preparing myself to possibly to make a fuss. Thankfully we were ushered right over to the counter. Hissy fit avoided.
A lovely table for some other couple
The Napa Rose Rose
Murals Surrounding the dining area
For some, sitting at the chef’s counter may seem like staring into the engine room of a cruise ship instead of hanging out on deck. But to me, seeing the finely choreographed ballet of meticulous food preparation is absolutely riveting. I don’t know how I would feel if I were one of the chefs, however.
I always feel like... somebody's watchin' meeeee!
If you dine at the chef’s counter you can certainly order from the menu. However, for a fixed price, the chef will create a custom, multi-course journey of epicurean delights. This certainly was not cheap, I believe my first car cost less than our meal, but as you know by now, we can’t have come all the way to California and not experience the chef’s tasting menu at Napa Rose!
Once you have selected this menu, the chef comes over to discuss any allergies or aversions that he may need to consider. We have neither. I do find a few things objectionable, but I refused to put any limitations on this meal.
*On a side note, the gentleman sitting next to us also chose the chef’s menu. He had a dairy allergy. What was weirdly annoying was how he framed it. He, in quite an impish manner, said he couldn’t have anything that came out of a cow. What are you, four? You’re lactose intolerant! That’s all you need to say. The kicker was that his wife sat next to him the whole time and ate nothing but a child’s pizza. Strange…
Super serious chef working out our menu.
The experience began with a glass of champagne!
Look, I've trapped two chefs in my glass!
Next, the chef presented us with an amuse bouche, which is French for “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”.
A mild pepper stuffed with cheese and chorizo
We were also presented with a variety of gorgeous breads from which I abstained. I certainly didn’t want to get filled up before we even started. They sure looked good, though.
You never have a ziplock bag when you need one.
From this point on, Jeff and I were served different dishes for each course. Because this was a custom menu, I don’t have official descriptions. Our server would present each dish and then the chef would come over and give an explanation of it. I will do my best to recount them for you.
My First Course: A salad of mixed greens, carrots and jicama with pulled chicken, dehydrated strawberries, oranges and a buttermilk dressing
Jeff's First Course: Fried shrimp with greens, buttermilk dressing and a lemon sauce
When you choose the chef’s menu, you also have the option of adding a wine pairing. I won’t keep you in suspense… we got the wine pairing. At Napa Rose, each of the servers is also a certified sommelier. Our server chose and presented a wine for each course for each of us individually. I’m a person who likes wine yet knows nothing about it so I’m easily impressed, but it was really astounding how well each selection paired with the dishes.
I have no recollection of what this was.
Next was the fish course:
Jeff's: Seared Halibut with purple potatoes, lemon and basil aioli
For me, a perfectly seared diver scallop with lobster sauce and fried potato.
Our server enjoyed showing us this bottle of wine with a quirky label. It had a lot of ponderings about life and existence and stuff.
This wine is too philosophically heavy for the first course.
Ours was the first seating of the night, so we got to witness the kitchen going from zero to sixty. There were a couple of tense moments between the chefs, but for the most part it was just a frenzy of focused activity. Here is a video of the team putting out an order for a huge table:
We were seated right next to the pass, as Gordon Ramsay would say, so we got to see how important the expediter is for keeping things organized.
I’ll call this the savory deliciousness course.
Jeff's: Venison meatballs with with yellow tomato and shaved parmigiano reggiano.
I loved my dish because at it’s face it looks like it would be vegetarian, but the squash blossom is stuffed with duck confit, which is duck cooked in it’s own fat. A lovely carnivorous surprise.
For me: a variety of cherry tomatoes with zucchini and yellow squash pureé and a stuffed squash blossom.
We cleansed our palates with coconut sorbet, as you do.
The dessert station was just to our right. This chef did two things…
Scooped ice cream...
...and set things on fire.
The Main Course:
Jeff's: Rolled flank steak with mushroom, red peppers artichoke hearts and capers
My main course was so well balanced between savory and sweet, plus more duck confit!
Duck Breast with apricot cashew sauce, cashew pureé and duck confit cake.
Time to visit the ladies. I just wanted to show you that they had real towels, not paper.
We are almost at dessert. Our wine pairing for this course really showed the skill of the sommelier. Jeff had a very rich chocolate dessert which was served with this very sweet, almost raspberry wine. Alone, this wine was so treacly sweet I truthfully wouldn’t drink it. However, a sip after a bite of dense chocolate was absolutely perfect.
Dessert wine. Notice the slightly different shaped glass.
Jeff's dessert: A dense chocolate ganache.
My dessert wine, slightly drier.
My dessert was all about cherries.
We finished with a perfectly foamed cappuccino and shared one Grand Marnier. We did just have five glasses of wine already.
A fine finish.
What a superb evening! Certainly an event for a special occasion, but oh my, what a way to celebrate.
A picture with our server. I don't remember his name. Shame on me!
I mentioned in a previous post that Disneyland is small, but charming (I’m not just blowing smoke, Disneyland. I think I’ve fallen for you!) and it certainly is, but the biggest advantage of the squished together layout of the parks is that you can just skip right around from place to place without using any sort of transportation. This is a HUGE advantage. In WDW, if you want to hop over to any other park, you’re in for about a thirty minute car/monorail/bus ride and you certainly can’t walk anywhere.
Here are some maps for your consideration:
Disneyland Park Map
Walt Disney World Resort Map- the scale seems a wee bit off!
Tonight we would be taking advantage of this close proximity by walking on over to the Disneyland Hotel for dinner. As we passed through Downtown Disney, we came across a cool surprise. I had read about, but never had seen, a water artist. These cast members create character art by using only water and a broom.
This is one of those “Disney Magic” occurrences that exists purely to delight guests. This piece of art will not bring one more dime into the parks and will disappear in a matter of minutes, but yet, they create it any way.
On to the hotel…
Topiaries welcoming us back. Hi!!!!
We had visited the Disneyland Hotel on our first night when we had drinks and appetizers at Trader Sam’s. This time we were trying the lounge at Steakhouse 55, which is right in the lobby of the hotel’s Magic Tower.
Tea Cup Seating in the Lobby. They don't spin.
My goal this trip was to save money by having appetizers and drinks in the different Hotel lounges, thus being able to experience the cuisine and atmosphere without laying out as much cash. In pictures, the lounge at Steakhouse 55 seemed super posh. It was well appointed with lots of silks and shiny silver accents. What the pictures didn’t show was that it was also completely open to the lobby. This, unfortunately, gave it a bit of an airport bar sort of vibe.
Steakhouse 55 Lounge, laid bare to the lobby
Cushy lounge area.
Maybe a little too comfortable?
Seating area outside the REAL restaurant.
My Uncle Walt
Cool button details on the bar stools.
We bellied up for a tipple and asked to see the bar menu.
Our bartender was...adequate.
Jeff ordered scotch. Surprise!
I went with a Manhattan.
We were looking over the bar menu when Jeff proclaimed ”We can’t have come all the way to Disneyland to not have a steak at a place called Steakhouse 55!” Man, do I love him!
The full monty menu.
We did exhibit some temperance by sharing only one appetizer, one salad and one steak.
Cancel my order, I'll just have the bread.
Steakhouse Salad: Bacon, Cucumber, Tomato, Red Onion and Tillamook Cheddar
Dungeness Crab Cake with Saffron Sauce
Bone-in Rib Eye with our Signature “Steakhouse 55” Rub
There was one other item that I had read about (and drooled over in pictures) that I was anxiously waiting to try, the Chef’s Potato Stack Au Gratin. It’s been said that this side dish has made prudish men blush from its cheesy decadence.
Look at those layers! Look at them!!!
Our dinner was absolutely superb; fresh ingredients skillfully prepared and elegantly presented. Perfect!
After dinner we strolled back over to Disney California Adventure for World of Color. This nighttime spectacular was added in summer of 2010 and has received nothing but the highest of accolades. What makes it soooo much more convenient than other shows is that you can get Fastpasses early in the day and be assured a spot to view the spectacle. I’ve never seen Fantasmic because I refuse to queue up for hours on end. For me, the enjoyment of any show or event is conversely affected by the length of the wait to see it. I heard a “tip” from a Disney expert that to get the best view of the fireworks, choose your spot three hours ahead of time. THREE HOURS! There is nothing that can deliver enough of a return to warrant squatting on a curb for that long.
Now, back to the show!
Paradise Pier in it's lighted glory- but that's not the show!
World of Color, without a doubt lived up to it’s hyped reputation. The water effects, the stirring music, the amazing lights were just mesmerizing. I must confess that, because I wanted to truly experience the show and not view it through a lens, I didn’t take any pictures. I really want you to get a taste of this though, so through the power of the internets I give you some absconded photos:
Here is a video containing some brief segments for the show. It’s only about three minutes; the entire show is around twenty minutes.
Did you watch it? Really, watch it! It’s incredible.
Up Next: The most unbelievably splendid, incredibly decadent meal I’ve ever eaten, or ever will eat. Ever.
The timing of our trip was bittersweet. When we arrived in Disneyland, Disney California Adventure was mere weeks away from the Grand Opening of Cars Land. I told myself that it would be great, because the crowds would be extremely low. I mean, everyone (except us) would be putting off their trips until after the big premier. This turned out to be true, but once we got there I was seriously bummed. What solidified my disappointment was when we visited the Blue Sky Cellar exhibit in the Golden State area of the park. This was set up at the beginning of the renovations to display all the plans, mock-ups and models of the new additions.
The term “Blue Sky” refers to the first step in the process of the Imagineers. The sky is the limit and everything goes on the table no matter how outlandish the idea may seem.
I shoulda just shown you the picture
Cars Land is designed to make you feel as if you are walking right in Radiator Springs. Now, Cars was not my absolute favorite Pixar movie (I don’t even want to talk about Cars 2), but that doesn’t matter. The realism of the theming is so out-of-this-world spectacular, it’s absolutely jaw dropping!
Model of Cars Land
Poster for the E-Ticket attraction, Radiator Springs Racers.
Mater's Junkyard Jamboree
Oh, the neon!
Signs and details
Also at the Blue Sky Cellar was a video presentation from the Imagineers who created Cars Land. I was bopping around looking at cute posters of Lightening McQueen when I noticed Jeff sitting in front of the screen, riveted. It was at this moment when I felt a glimmer of hope that we just might be coming back to Disneyland. I’m not saying that the man shed a tear, but Jeff was clearly moved by the passion of this particular Imagineer.
* Note: If you would like to see a spectacular photo tour of Cars Land and the new Buena Vista Street area, check out my friend Carrie’s blog (and by friend I mean I posted a couple comments and she politely replied) at Disney Travel Babble. Be prepared to book your flight to California.
From the patio outside the Blue Sky Cellar, you could peek over the wall to see all the way down Route 66. You could see even better if you stood on the benches, but then you would get scolded by a cast member. Not me though, I didn’t do that, nooooo.
Look, It's Flo's V8 Café!
The area where Blue Sky Cellar is located represents Napa Valley, which of course equals vineyards. We took the opportunity to have a little sit down and do some people watching whilst enjoying a glass of wine.
Wine Country Trattoria
Wine Grapes on display.
A glass of Sauvignon Blanc in the fanciest plastic glass ever.
It’s a known fact that things in Disney are expensive, but you usually get a good value for your dollar. You may pay nine bucks for a burger, but you could take a nap on the roll, it’s so big. Not this time. That skimpy glass of white wine cost twelve dollars! Yikes!
This is the face of a man who just spent $24.00 on two glasses of wine.
Also in the Golden State area is the Grizzly River Run. This is a white water raft type of ride where you get jostled around and inevitably soaked. In our case we also got ear damage due to the fact that we were seated on a raft full of screaming teenage girls.
Grizzly Rock; It's supposed to look like a growling bear. I'm seeing a howling wolf. Sorry, Disney.
If you don’t necessarily want to walk around in squishy shoes for the rest of the day, it is still worth venturing over to this attraction. Surrounding the ride are the most gorgeous waterfalls and lush, dense woods!
My favorite areas of any of the Disney Parks continue to be the quiet spaces where there aren’t any rides or attractions that people are clamoring to get to. They are so rich with detail and charm, and usually empty.
I did say it was quiet back here…
I just noticed that she's wearing Playboy sneakers.
The "Painted Lady" homes of San Francisco.
The ad in the window of the purple building is for Alcatraz "Cell" phones. Very Clever, Disney.
San Francisco Sour Dough
M-I-C...K-E-Y...I'm gonna eat your face!
Next Up: Dinner and the best, most colorful night time spectacular, ever!
Today we are headed to Disney California Adventure. Unlike Disneyland, which is somewhat weirdly familiar, this park would be totally new territory for us. Now DCA, as it will henceforth be referred to, has had it’s fans and it’s detractors and has suffered a bit of an identity crisis over the years. At it’s opening in 2001, the park’s Californian theme was criticized as being redundant, seeing as the park itself is located in the same state it represents. Why would people want to go to a re-creation of Hollywood or the rugged Mountains when the real thing is located less than an hour away from the park? Well I, for one, can attest to the fact that Disney’s version of Hollywood is MUCH better than the real thing, but that’s for a later discussion. Since then, the park has had a couple major facelifts and seems to be coming into it’s own.
Newly Refurbished Entrance
Modeled after Disney Hollywood Studios...
Which was modeled after the Pan Pacific Auditorium.
Once you enter, what YOU will see is Buena Vista Street, a meticulously detailed plaza representing 1920s Los Angeles. What WE saw unfortunately, were construction walls.
So close to being finished!
"Sorry folks, Buena Vista Street's closed. Moose out front shoulda told ya."
The finished product, courtesy of the internet.
We started our exploration at Paradise Pier, a romantic Victorian-style boardwalk.
Look how big my hair is, good grief!
Entering the Boardwalk area
First order of business was lunch of course. I had heard good things about Boardwalk Pasta and Pizza-plus they had beer.
This elaborate pizza oven is just for show. They only had those pre-made flat breads you just heat up. They actually put them on a conveyer belt that comes out through the fake oven. I can’t decide if this is clever or simply ridiculous.
I'm on to you!
Victorian architectural details
We split a heaping plate pasta along with a nutty, fruity salad. Plenty of food for two.
Chicken Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta - Campanelle Pasta lightly tossed with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce
Boardwalk Field Greens - Fresh Greens, Topped with Tomatoes, Blue Cheese, Cucumbers, Craisins® Dried Cranberries, Caramelized Pecans, Golden Raisins with a Basil Vinaigrette.
Outdoor Seating Area
As we were enjoying our lunch we were treated with some real Disney Magic. We noticed a small stage with some instruments lying about it, most notably a stand up bass. The band showed up and proceeded to play the most sunshiney, happy 1920s jazz music! The smiles on our faces were about a mile wide. We grabbed another beer and spent the next hour relaxing and marveling at the enormous talent of these musicians.
Ladies and gentleman, I bring you the Ellis Island Boys:
Ellis Island Boys is the group’s “Disney Name”, they actually play outside the park under the moniker of The Reynolds Brothers. They are not supposed to tell guests this information because they are “on stage” when they are in the parks, but Jeff managed get it out of them. Their pedigree is quite impressive. The guitarist has played for Cab Calloway and Julie Andrews. Although Orlando has it’s share of talented musicians and singers, the proximity to Los Angeles gives Disneyland the clear advantage in the talent department.
You may have noticed that there is a huge, daunting roller coaster in this area of the park. I’m not a fan of the several stories high, outdoor coasters. I’m absolutely sure that my restraints will let go and I’ll be flung into the atmosphere. Give me a dark, disorienting indoor coaster any day. Consequently, this attraction did not make it onto my touring plan, but Jeff pulled the “You can’t travel ALL the way to Disneyland California and not go on the roller coaster” argument on me. Dang it!
Check out the girl sitting behind me.
He also made me go on Mickey’s Fun Wheel (a misnomer if I’ve ever heard one) with the cars that swing perilously back and forth. They had sick bags in the seats!
Keen observers will noticed the extreme angles of the swinging cars.
View from Mickey's Crazy Insane Wheel of Death.
I think we can do with a more serene ride about now. New to DCA is Ariel’s Under Sea Adventure. This is in the tradition of the “Dark Ride,” meaning you sit in a moving vehicle which takes through a series of animated vignettes. This attraction showed some big improvements in the genre, but it’s not the most exciting of rides. I can see kids really digging it though.
There is a huge facade and queue area.
Seaweed themed queue area.
This Ariel animatronic has recently been changed. Apparently her previous hairdo was supposed to look like it was swirling up in the water, but ended up resembling a Soft Serve Ice Cream Cone. Fans made such a fuss that they changed it. I thought she looked just like a Hon from Baltimore.
New and improved Ariel
Dairy Queen Ariel
"Welcome to Baldimore, Murland!"
She changed her hair and they lived happily ever after.
Another dark ride we checked out was Monster’s Inc. Mike and Sully to the Rescue. The concept is the same, but the cool factor was ratcheted way up for me. They had me from the start when played the Ragtime Music (surprisingly scored by Randy Newman) from the movie as we wound through the queue. It was the cat’s pajamas!
Plus, the posters that hung on the walls of the queue were so super cool!
An ad for HarryHausen!
Harryhausens Sushi restaurant is straight out of the movie. It’s a tip of the hat to Ray Harryhausen, a pioneer in stop-motion animation and special effects.
I would totally redecorate my living room around this poster!
if only you were for sale...
LOVED the vending machine!!! Blort must be a big seller.
Finally, some truth in advertising!
When you climb into your taxi cab the onboard TV screen announces a city-wide calamity. A toxic tot is on the loose! The Child Detection Agency is dispatched to keep her from infecting the entire city with her humanity. On the TV, multi-eyed-witnesses tell reporters the horrors of the child thing running amok! I’m not sure how we could be of assistance though.
I love the little song Boo sings...
Whatever you do, don't forget to fill out your paperwork!
Next we made our way through A Bug’s Land. In this area you are made to feel like you are shrunk down to the size of a little ant (Heimlich reference). The theme is so adorable and filled with detail. There’s a problem though. It’s lousy with children! I know, can you believe it? I would have loved to have nosed around some more to enjoy the theming, but it was over-run with screechy toddlers.
Look at all the details on this little ride. So cute!
Ok, the giant Band Aid is kinda gross.
Even the restrooms are cuteness overload!
The lights are Firefly tushies!
Next up: Carsland-A study in poor timing or the perfect scheme to ensure a second visit?