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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Best Character Meet and Greet of Our Summer 2015 Disney Vacation





Each Disney vacation a character interaction stands out and this summer was no different.  During our first day touring California Adventure we happened by the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail located in the Grizzly Peek portion of the park and discovered that Dug, from Disney/Pixar’s UP was greeting guests just inside the entrance. 

We got in line and checked with the character handler to make sure the line wasn’t about to close, readied our autograph supplies (pillow case, fabric markers, and cardboard to steady the fabric), and waited for our turn.
When it was our turn, the first thing the boy said was "squirrel" and Dug turned around to follow the boy's pointing to see a squirrel.  And, in the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail it seemed realistic to see a squirrel.
Some nose to nose interaction was next.  Disney magic does exist if you believe!

Petting and hugs came next but we weren't done yet!
The boy showed Dug that he had a Dug pin on his lanyard, something Dug obviously doesn't see very often.

Poses for the Photopass photographer came next. . . first with the boy and then with all of us.
But just as we were leaving, Dug called us back for more!  Even when there were still other guests waiting!

Dug wanted us to pose like dogs for a photo and then help him look for more squirrels.

We did get Dug's autograph, too!  Ironically, when we met Russell, we were told that he hadn't learned to write his name yet so there would be no autographs.  Disney needs to get their stories straight--the dog can write but the boy who has earned numerous Wilderness Explorer badges can't?
 The only time to meet Russell is at the end of the Wilderness Explorer show/ceremony which is listed in the Times Guide.  The show lasts 7 minutes and guests can greet Russell at the end.  A Photopass photographer is on hand to capture photos.




The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail area is great for kids.  It has trails, climbing, zip-line swings, and lots of information about animals and history.  It's a respite from a busy park and it's mostly in the shade! 

Note that Dug meet and greet times are not published.  Either chance it or ask a handler about specific times.  We have found that the handlers have the best information about character meets and greets.

Want to read about the best character interaction from Summer 2014?  Click here!


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Favorite Photopass Photos From Our Disneyland Summer 2015 Vacation

Special photo for the 60th Anniversary Celebration!

It took 15 file downloads to retrieve 570ish Photopass photos taken during our Disneyland vacation.  After paying $69.95 to pre-order Photopass + (it includes dining and attraction photos along with a Photo CD or download of all your photos) and gaining all of those pic, it was a bargain!

Here are some of our favorite Photopass photos:


 An icon photo in front of Sleeping Beauty's Caste--not Cinderella's!  The photographer was great to work with!
 We waited a bit to meet these guys!  Both the husband and the boy were ecstatic!

 The first time we rode Radiator Springs.  It was the first ride on our first day in California Adventure.  This was the only time we used the Stand-by queue for this attraction.  From then on it was Fastpass or Single Rider line.
This is such a good photo of the husband.  He was posing with Lightning McQueen and the boy but the photographer got a close up of just him.  Great pic and another reason we so enjoy Photopass photographers!
 Olaf and I both like warm hugs!  Meeting him was on my "wish list."

 The second time we rode Radiator Springs that day.  Fastpass!
 So I got to meet Olaf, but the husband wanted to meet Oswald.  He was thrilled.  Note:  This whole Disney thing just isn't me!

These two photos were a surprise when I viewed our Photopass photos. . . a pleasant surprise!


 Sully was greeting guests and the boy took the opportunity to dance with him.  The Photopass photographer captured all of it!

 In Carsland, a Photopass photographer agreed to take photos of us at her desired locations.  She took us to Filmore's and captured these photos. 

That same photographer took shots of us walking in Route 66 in Carsland.  


 In the photo above, the photographer asked us to pose like Wreck-It-Ralph, as he was on our shirts.  The boy immediately took that pose with no direction.  He can be so creative! 
A magic photo feature Pete and the boy with a bit of attitude.


Carsland looks and feels different at night.  We were hitchhiking!  Maybe to get to Radiator Springs!


Paradise Pier is a part of California Adventure and includes many attractions.  This is also where World of Color is performed.


 In Toontown, I headed to the restroom and these were the photos that were taken by the Photopass photograher.  It was evident that we came to play!

Cinderella showed me how to pose like a princess!

Park icons, characters, magic shots, and photos for fun were all capture by Photopass photographers and added to our Photopass account.

If it looks like we had more photos taken at California Adventure than Disneyland, it is because that is true.  For various reasons, there were more photographers in California Adventure--or at least we could find more photographers there.  In Disneyland, the Photopass photographers are assigned to more indoor locations such as Mickey and Minnie's House and Royal Faire where Disney Princesses greet guests.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Maxi Pads Do Not Stick to Wet Underpants

“It’s good to be a girl.” was what I said to the female Disneyland security guard checking my bag bulging with supplies to get me through a day of park touring.  She laughed and said something about getting older and not needing those supplies anymore.  Oh, from her lips. . .

I’ve wanted to write about “lady’s days” while traveling for a while now as I’ve had my fair share.  And according to the women I’ve met in restrooms the same is true for many.  One gal I bumped into in the restrooms located just inside EPCOT asked me if I had change for the machine.  I didn’t have change but I did have supplies—better yet!  She thanked me and told me about how this “always happens” when they go on vacation.  Yeah, you’re not the only one.

I had done the math. . . April, May, June, and all signs pointed to a supply free July vacation.  But as the days kept creeping by prior to our vacation the husband kept checking.  Nope.  And, there were no early symptoms either.  I was symptom free.  So I filled up the toiletry bag.  And, voila, just after passing through airport security.  I was counting days in my head and was at least grateful that our Saturday trip to Legoland and the water park wouldn’t be affected.  Whew!

We toured Disneyland on our first day in the parks and all was well until we rode Splash Mountain in the afternoon.  We all got soaked on the ride!  The good news was that we were headed back to our resort hotel shortly after and I had packed a limited supply of undies, so I hung the wet ones up in the closet to dry while all of us put on dry clothes to enjoy our evening meal at Goofy’s Kitchen.

The next day we were at California Adventure.  The boy wanted to ride Grizzly River Run, a water raft ride similar to Kali River Rapids.  The husband refused based on his previous experience with Splash Mountain.  So, the boy and I ventured off.  Then the unthinkable happened.  The two of us got a raft of our own.  No other guests.  It was due to a Cast Member counting error.  I was going to get soaked as it was all about weight distribution. 

I was right.  I got soaked through, top to bottom.  At this point I was wondering if my “protection” was soaking up what it needed to be capturing or if it was taking on water from Grizzly River Run.  What an unusual feeling! 

Off to the restroom.  That’s when I discovered that maxi pads do not stick to wet underpants.  Those incredible adhesive strips have their limitations.

In true Disney form, I soldiered on, putting the husband to work to be on the look-out for anything unusual. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Sounvenirs From Our Summer 2015 Disneyland/Legoland Family Vacation

One difference that we noticed at Disneyland compared to Walt Disney World is that the attractions do not enter into shops.  That aside, shopping was still plentiful, fun, and easy.  Each of the Disneyland Resort Hotels had shops located near the lobby and Downtown Disney had a large World of Disney Store that guests could wander in and out of at their leisure.  We also found shops in various locations in both parks.

Our souvenir haul included Christmas tree ornaments—one from Disneyland commemorating the 60th Anniversary and one from Legoland, a bulb shaped ornament filled with golden Legos complete with golden ribbon.  I had already put these items away, so no photos.

We also brought back some art.  One piece is to commemorate both parks—Disneyland and California Adventure.  We rode both of the attractions featured in the art work.  The other is a bit of memorabilia from our Walt in Walt’s Footsteps Tour.  Frames will be coming via Amazon.




Accessories spoke my name and I brought home scarves with various images of Mickey and other Disney icons.  I also snagged a new purse and wallet.  We had left the World of Disney Store without me purchasing the wallet.  As time passed, I had that “I will regret this” feeling, so I went back and made the purchase.  Won’t any money I have left after this trip look good in this wallet?

The husband bought several new pins and a new lanyard.  He also got a new hat and a Disney luau shirt.  It’s yellow and red and he’s worn it already since we’ve been home!  (I may have to get one that matches!) 

Speaking of matching shirts, we got a new set of matching t-shirts.  Just couldn’t resist ones from Carsland!

The boy got an Avenger playset, new Disney pins, an Anger stuffed toy—from Inside Out, and an Anger t-shirt.  Anger is his favorite character from the movie.  And, he got Legos!  Ironically, most of his Legos came from the Lego store at Downtown Disney rather than the “Big One’ which is what the store is called at Legoland.  He wanted Jurassic World sets and Legoland was sold out.  We knew the Lego Store at Downtown Disney had them so we just waited until we returned.  He did purchase on set of Legos at Legoland.

We saved money!  At Legoland, having a Lego VIP Card saved us 5% on the Lego purchases.  At the Lego Store at Downtown Disney, using the Lego VIP card allowed us to earn points and we got $5 off our purchase.

We also saved 10% on Disney purchases by using our Disney Rewards Visa card.  Any purchase over $50 was subject to the 10% discount using the card.

Package delivery to the front of the park was available at both Disneyland parks.  Guests could also have their purchases delivered to the Disneyland Resort Hotel.  But different than Walt Disney World, packages went to Bell Services rather than the resort shop.

Monday, July 20, 2015

As Walt Disney World Veterans Visiting Disneyland, We Were Asked Many Questions




The husband wondered why we didn’t get “First Time” buttons to wear around Disneyland.  Two reasons—they weren’t offered to us at our resort upon check-in (and yes, I could have asked for the pins at Guest Services or an Information Stand) and the other was that with our matching shirts, lanyards, command of Fastpass, and park bag full of essentials, who would believe we were “first timers.”  Yes, it was our first time to Disneyland, but it didn’t take us long to get the lay of the land.  And, when other guests and Cast Members realized we were veterans of the park in the East, we were bombarded with questions.

Which do we like better?  This was the question of the week.  And, it is a difficult question to answer.  It is going to be answered in spurts as various parts in each resort are better.  I have already written—planning for a Walt Disney World trip is better/easier.  Click here to read more.  The July weather in California was certainly a plus!

What were our favorite rides?  Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Radiator Springs, and Matterhorn Bobsleds were tops for us.  We lost count of the number of times we rode each of the attractions.  Extra Magic Hours, Fastpass, and Single Rider lines allowed us to get access to these attractions multiple times per day.

What surprised us?  We were surprised by the lack of use of Fastpass.  Guests, new and experienced, have no idea how to use Fastpass.  I’m going to dedicate an entire post to this as two Cast Members—Jessica and Mickey—and I had a 20-25 minute conversation about this at the resort and they are reflecting on how they are going to greet guests to help them understand the use of Fastpass.  And, after visiting with a local gentleman, there are many misperceptions about Fastpass.  Also, we heard Cast Members giving incorrect information to guests about Fastpass.

What irritated you?  There were two “park peeves” that stood out this trip.  One—the backpack oblivious.  This actually started at the airport when someone with a backpack was standing in front of the sink washing their hands with a backpack on their back not realizing that the garbage can was right behind them and therefore the path to the sink on the other side was completely blocked.  Folks wearing backpacks need to realize that they have an additional 12-18 inches sticking out of their backs when they turn, stop, and maneuver. 

Two—how the queue at Indiana Jones at Disneyland is abused.  This is an extremely popular attraction and we witnessed line jumping from the exit row back into the queue, fake injuries in wheelchairs (we saw a young man need a wheelchair to get into the attraction and then walk the entire way out of the attraction while his friend rode in the wheelchair—and yes, when I saw him I told him that I was glad he was “better.”)  We also saw athletic young men carrying in a 7 or 8 year old girl wearing a princess dress with an entire leg in a cast into the attraction.  You’re telling me that this little girl wants to ride this ride?  The attraction requires guests to be in “good health” as it is an intense, jarring attraction.  If my child was in a cast I would question the safety of riding at all.  “Hey, my niece broke her leg.  Let’s take her to Disneyland and use her to get on Indiana Jones!”  We did not see this type of abuse on any other attraction.

What was the best thing you did?  I am going to re-state this question as to what were the smartest things we did.  There were several:
  • Booking dining packages for night time spectaculars was a smart thing.  It made seeing Fantastmic and World of Color easier.  And, using meal vouchers for character dining.
  • Bringing a portable charger.  We watched people searching for plug ins—which were only in the bathroom entrances—to charge their phones.  With the portable charger, I could plug in the phone and charge on the go.  Then, re-charge the charger overnight.
  • Using Fastpass
  • Taking advantage of Extra Magic Hours—which are only in the mornings.
  • A Walk in Walt’s Footsteps Tour—best decision ever!
  • Taking afternoon breaks.  I have resisted this at Walt Disney World because it was a lot of work to take a break—get out of the park, take the bus, walk to the room, etc.  But at Disneyland, it was effortless to take a break.  We were at the pool within minutes of leaving the park, especially when using the resort entrance at the Grand Californian.  The parks are designed to make it difficult for guests to leave, but this entrance/exit was easy to maneuver.

That sums up most of the questions that were posed to us during our trip.  There were some comments that made us smile. 

When I was returning to our resort on the last night, a man said that if we took any more trips we would need bigger shirts (as all of our trips were listed on the back of our shirts).  I replied, “Or smaller font.”  He smiled and made a pitch for Aulani.  Good to recognize another Disney fan!  That same day, a family I saw pushing a stroller and even being escorted by a VIP Tour guide,  when I overheard the mom saying, “Look, there’s Cinderella’s Castle.”  Hmmm. . .. NOPE!  This is Disneyland and that castle is Aurora’s, also known as Sleeping Beauty.  I had a moment with Cinderella shortly after that and I told her the story.   We both laughed and I suggested that she tell Aurora that she was going to make the castle at Disneyland her summer home.  She agreed!  Speaking of Aurora, we never did see her.  Maybe she was sleeping.