It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Yes, that’s right--Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort is upon us. This year, the decorations have expanded to both parks for the first time in years. Sydney (whose text is in purple) and Jessica (orange) spent the last weekend at the parks to see everything new and welcome back our favorite spooky rides. Take a look at some of the new sights as well as some of everyone’s favorite returning sights!
Photo by Sydney Paley.
What better place to start than the entrance to the parks? Since the decorations have expanded to California Adventure, it’s only fitting that the entrance receives a little Halloween flair as well. DCA has gone above and beyond, building a giant Oogie Boogie “tree” that greets guests as they enter the park. At first, I thought the sign was just that--a sign. As I got closer, though, I realized that the sign actually makes what can best be referred to as “spooky wind noises.” The day that I first saw the sign was overcast and a little chilly, which only added to the effect. I realized the next day, however, that Oogie actually talks! I was across the Esplanade going into Disneyland when I heard a deep voice echoing from across the way. I was too shocked to actually register what he was saying, but he really does greet guests!
Photo by Jessica Johnson.
And of course, right across the way are the familiar faces of our Fab Five, Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto depicted out of pumpkins and vines in their classic Halloween entrance gate to Disneyland. I always get ridiculously excited when I see this gate, as it always immediately signifies fall to me!
Disney's California Adventure
Photo by Sydney Paley.
Buena Vista Street looks amazing! Like I mentioned with the churros, purple is my favorite color, and purple has stolen the show over on Buena Vista Street. There are purple banners everywhere, and Carthay Circle looks as classy as ever in white and purple. If you look a little closer at the top of Carthay, you might even see a surprise flying out of the top of it…
Photo by Jessica Johnson.
At the end of Buena Vista Street is a hard-to-miss spooky spectacle indeed, for there, posed and reared up is the Headless Horsemen from the Sleepy Hollow legend. He carries a Jack-o’-lantern in his left hand and reigns in his stallion with his right, whose eyes glow red in the evening. Be sure to get a photo with this master of frights before it’s too late!
DCA’s main focus this Halloween season is very obviously Carsland. Radiator Springs? More like Radiator Spooks! (I’m so sorry. I’ll stop.) Just as Disney paid incredible attention to detail when building Carsland, they’ve done the same with their fall decorations there. Everywhere you look you’ll see Halloween puns, “monster” faces built out of car parts, and more. You might even get a chance to meet some of your favorite characters in their “carstrumes...” (I didn’t make that up! That’s the official pun!) I’m so excited to go back soon and get an even closer look at everything!
Photo by Jessica Johnson.
Every autumn, Disneyland turns into a veritable cornucopia of color, lights, and festivities. This year is no exception. Catch classic sights on Main Street, such as the orange banners strung from every gas lamp, the themed Jack-o’-lanterns at the feet of Walt and Mickey at the Partner’s Statue, the pumpkins adorning every Main Street windowsill, and of course, the giant Mickey Jack-o’-lantern that always proves a must-do photo op!
Photo by Jessica Johnson.
In Frontierland, the decorations continue in the form of the Dia de los Muertos decorations near the Rancho del Zocalo restaurant, and right across the way, the annual Halloween Tree, dedicated to Ray Bradbury. This is always a mesmerizing sight by night, so be sure to take a moment, read the plaque of dedication, and maybe take some amazing pictures beneath it!
Photo by Jessica Johnson.
Downtown Disney went all out this year, with every planter filled to the brim with pumpkins! There are plenty of opportunities for your autumn photo needs!
There is some adorable merchandise this year for Halloween. I love the design of the Fab Five in their Halloween costumes this year. There are also some great themed Mickey and Minnie ears, bags, T-shirts, and honestly too much. My wallet always despises me this time of year, and this season will be no exception! Check out some other Halloween merch on the Disney Store website!
There are almost too many Halloween food options this year. There are Dreamsicle-flavored beignets, an Oogie Boogie popcorn bucket, a special Halloween Cocktail at the Cove Bar, a Bat Wing raspberry sundae at Clarabelle’s, a “Spokey Cone Macaroon” at the Cozy Cones filled with butterscotch and candy corns… Too see them all and make your game plan on which delights to partake in, click here! We’ve highlighted a few of our favorite treats below!
Photo by Sydney Paley.
I’m ashamed to admit that I spent too many years of my life thinking I didn’t like churros. Since discovering earlier this year that I actually do really (REALLY) like churros, I’ve been eating a lot of them to make up for lost time. As soon as I learned that Disney was introducing a purple churro for Halloween this year, I knew that I was about to experience the greatest love connection since Will and Elizabeth. My favorite color and my new favorite food? It was almost too good to be true. On Saturday I set out to find one of these magical purple churros at my usual churro cart--the one in New Orleans Square--only to learn that that cart didn’t stock them. I finally found one the next day in DCA back by Grizzly Peak, so word of caution: not every cart stocks the purple churros. I plan to investigate further, but from what I can tell these violet beauties are only in DCA. They’re not flavored (aside from…”churro” flavor I guess) but they’re festive and oh-so-Instagrammable!
Photo by Jessica Johnson.
[to the tune of “Christmas Waltz”] “Iiiiiitttt’s thaaaaaaat….time of year, when caramel apples abound, every smiling face seems to saaaayy… ‘Oh please eat me, and your wildest dreams will come TRUUUUUE!’” Okay, I might be going a bit overboard/anticipating Christmas already, but honestly, these caramel apples are delightful. And also, let’s not forget the amazing cake pop options this year: Jack Skellington, the poison apple, and a crescent moon with a bat! Goodbye, diet! It was nice knowing ya!
Guardians of the Galaxy: Monsters After Dark!
Concept Art from Disney.
Every night from now until October 31st as soon as the sun goes down, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout will turn into Monsters After Dark, a Halloween overlay with a brand new adventure! A monster (who will also appear in the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok) is released in the Collector’s fortress, and it’s up to ride visitors to save Groot! I haven’t yet had the chance to ride the attraction, but fully intend to be taking part in this sure-to-be thrilling experience soon!
Photo by Sydney Paley.
Y’ALL. I AM SO HAPPY GHOST GALAXY IS BACK. I’ve loved Ghost Galaxy since the first time I rode it years ago, and I can honestly say that it is my favorite version of Space Mountain. I know that none of us really love spending egregious amounts of time in line for a ride, but I could stand outside Ghost Galaxy for hours and not get bored--as long as it’s night, that it. I LOVE the creepy effects projected on the side of the mountain. I’m a sucker for all things scary, so give me weird, distorted space-ghost screams and I’ll be a happy camper. Also, without spoiling anything for those who haven’t been on Ghost Galaxy, there is one part of the ride that STILL makes me jump every time I go on it (for those of you who have been on it, I’m sure you know which part I’m talking about)!
Haunted Mansion Holiday
Exterior of the Mansion. Photo by Jessica Johnson.
YES! My favorite ride in Disneyland is back in full swing...or in swingin’ wake, as it were (I’m undoubtedly worse at these puns than Sydney is. Apologies.). Jack Skellington, Zero, Sally, Oogie Boogie, and other friends from Halloweentown have once again taken over the Haunted Mansion for the 16th year in a row, bringing with them a myriad of festive treats to celebrate both Halloween and Christmas. Looking for new decorations every year is my favorite thing, and of course, smelling the wafting gingerbread scent off of this year’s incredible Oogie Boogie-themed gingerbread house makes my holiday season complete! If you want to get on this ride the quickest, I recommend that you go for Park Opening and make a beeline straight for the ride. You’ll be on in less that ten minutes!
Oogie Boogie's Gingerbread House. Photo by Sydney Paley.
Character Meet and Greets!
No matter how old I get, I will always love seeing and meeting all of my favorite characters throughout the parks. There’s just something so magical about getting a hug from Pluto or a high-five from Chip and Dale! These moments are made even more magical when the characters are dressed for special occasions...and what more special occasion is there than Halloween? All of our friends are showing up dressed in their spooky best, and they all look great. I’ve been keeping a list of who is dressed as what, so here’s your helpful guide!
On Main Street, I saw Mickey as a Halloween Ringleader, Minnie as a witch, Donald as a pumpkin, and Goofy as a skeleton. Pluto has a Halloween collar on, and I haven’t seen Daisy yet. Dale was out by himself and didn’t have a costume, but he and Chip might have something they wear together. You’ll also find a plethora of villains out and about--this weekend alone I saw Jafar, Cruella, and the Red Queen! Meanwhile, on Buena Vista Street, I saw Mickey as a bat, Minnie as a flapper girl, Daisy as a witch, Donald as a little devil, and Goofy as a ghost!
Sally and Jack. Photo by Jessica Johnson.
In New Orleans Square, be sure to visit the Pumpkin King and Queen of Halloween, Jack Skellington and Sally! They are always loads of fun to interact with and a very popular photo op!
Jessica and Sydney (pictured on the left in the foreground of image back to back wearing purple and blue dresses) posed with friends in front of the Main Street Mickey Jack-o'-lantern on Dapper Day Fall 2015, where they became friends.
Mickey’s Halloween Party may be entirely sold out this year, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have an amazingly festive time if you didn’t get a chance to nab a ticket! As this blog has hopefully proven, there is almost too much to experience between the Parks this year, so go out to socialize and have a spook-tacular Halloween season!
You may have seen them wearing frilly colorful dresses at Disneyland. Or have seen the myriad of character look-alike photos popping up your Instagram feed. Whatever way you’ve seen them, you may be a bit confused. What are they doing exactly? Welcome to the wonderful world of DisneyBounding!
DisneyBounding is essentially using a Disney character as an inspiration for an outfit. A person picks out pieces from their wardrobe that have similar colors, styles, etc. to the character, and wears it to a Disney park or venue. They can spend as little or as much money on it as desired, and can modify the outfit to best fit their body type. For example, if someone wanted to do Minnie Mouse, they could use a red shirt and yellow sneakers they already had. For the bottom, they could go out and buy a polka dot skirt. If they didn’t like skirts, they could buy pants instead. While ordinary people may not know it is Minnie, dedicated Disney fans will surely recognize it! Some people are more casual, whereas others are more ornate about their DisneyBounds. Some people sew all of theirs and others buy all of theirs. That’s all ok, and it’s about what makes you feel comfortable. What makes DisneyBounding so fun is having diversity, and seeing everyone’s different interpretation of a character. Let me get this straight: DisneyBounding is NOT cosplay. Disney parks have a strict age limit about wearing costumes to the park. You can get denied entry or asked to leave and change. DisneyBounding is supposed to be a way to still dress as a favorite character, but not be in costume. Many people—including myself—have crossed the lines somewhat, but the overall outfit should not look like you’re attending a convention or a Halloween party.
My DisneyBounding Story
My First DisneyBound at 16!
I’ve always been into arts and crafts since I was a little girl. I took a learn to sew class at age 12, but was never into making clothes. In fact, I wasn’t even that interested in Disney at that age anyways (compared to now). Then when I was 16, I got really, really sick. I had an upcoming college tour trip in which we were going to visit Disneyland after touring Chapman. My parents thought I wasn’t going to be able to make the trip I was so sick, let alone have a day at Disneyland. To try help me get better ASAP, my doctors prescribed sewing as a form of therapy. One day, while researching a DIY pillow project, I stumbled across a DisneyBounding Tumblr page. I spent the next 2 days on the internet and social media, soaking in all of the new information about this secret magical world and community. That’s when I decided my next sewing project would be a DisneyBound, specifically Elsa. I didn’t have anything blue on hand, so I went to Aeropostale and bought a simple blue sundress. Then I sewed some blue ribbon trim on the edges, and attached a silky snowflake-print material on the back for a cape. For shoes, I had some blue Croc flats that were comfy enough to walk all day around in. Lastly, I bought Elsa’s crown from Bibbity Bobbity Boutique. Looking back, the outfit was super simple, but I felt so proud of myself. Meeting Elsa and Anna was worth the 2 hour wait; they loved my outfit and kept complimenting me! In fact, guests were complimenting me all day on it! It was the highlight of the trip, and one of my most special memories to this day. DisneyBounding brought me Disney magic, which in turn made me feel better a lot faster.
Fall Dapper Day ‘16: Pink Cinderella meeting with friends!
That was only the start of a crazy but wonderful lifestyle that I currently live now. Once I got into Chapman, I knew I was going to have many more Disneyland adventures. I created Rapunzel, Snow White, and Aurora DisneyBounds. As freshman year progressed, I expanded to most of the princesses and even branched out to other female characters such as Tinkerbell, Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas, Wendy from Peter Pan, and more. Sophomore year I was fully immersed into the DisneyBounding life. I started venturing into the more unknown outfits, such as Cinderella’s pink dress.
Summer 2017: Moana meeting Moana at Aulani Resort!
This past summer, I’ve probably made around 30 new DisneyBounds! To name a few, I’ve done Judy Hopps, Meg, young Anna and Elsa, Moana, Bo Peep, Boo from Monsters Inc, Pocahontas, and Honey Lemon from Big Hero Six. My poor sewing machine actually broke down in the middle of summer, and had to get it fixed. All of my DisneyBounds took up half of a suitcase, to give you a frame of reference. #NoRegrets. Now, every time I go to the park, I’m DisneyBounding! I go as a different character every time, and love meeting the character I’m dressed up as. Don’t worry if you don’t see me in person, I always post pictures of me Bounding!
Making a DisneyBound
So, how do I get started on a DisneyBound? Well, firstly I get an idea. I never have dedicated “thinking” sessions in which I debate about which character to be next. They just randomly appear in my head. I’ll be at an ESI session or grocery shopping and suddenly, I’m like, hey do I have a XYZ DisneyBound yet? I’m gonna go make one! Other times I get inspired after watching a movie, such as the 2017 Beauty and the Beast.
Formal Aurora DisneyBound with an old prom dress
Next, I take a quick walk through of my closet. Are there any colors or patterns that resemble a character? If so, I take it out and examine the difference between the character’s outfit and my outfit. It may need a sash, a bead necklace, or a shawl—something I can buy. Or, I can alter it all together with my sewing skills. While the ones that need minimal alterations are easier, the ones that I completely change are the most creative. An example of this is my Aurora Bound. I had the pink prom dress from before, but added many layers of sparkly tulle, pink silk, and other trim.
I sewed the green bodice onto the top part and made a Tiana dress!
If it’s too different, I then go do some online or in store research. I look at all sorts of clothing websites and stores to see if I find anything I like. I’ll purchase the outfit and then go through the same steps as above: what else do I need to look like the character? Do I need to buy an accessory, do I need to sew, etc.? An example of this is my Tiana Bound. I found the green prom dress at Ross’s, and then I sewed a bodice onto it.
Original Disney Princess two-piece that functions as a dress!
If I can’t find anything to buy or in my closet, then I resort to making it from scratch. This is usually for characters with intricate and unique outfits, such as the Soundsational Parade court dancer. I’ve also made a few “original” designs with Disney print, such as the princess dress pictured. Making a dress from scratch takes anywhere from 3 days to 3 months. I make all of my own patterns. While it is the most work and sometimes the most expensive, it’s the most rewarding. I spend about an entire day in the fabric store picking out the right colors, textures, and trimmings. Occasionally, I get lazy and want to treat myself, so I just buy the outfit outright from either Hot Topic, a Disney venue, or somewhere else
I get a lot of frequently asked questions about my DisneyBounding life from guests at the park, so I’ll share them!
1. How many Disneybounds do you have total?
I honestly haven’t counted, but I know I have all of the princesses and Frozen. Then I have some of the classical characters like Minnie and Daisy. And then I have other characters like Pinocchio and Giselle. I estimate around a hundred! With my newest additions from the summer, they take up around 4 large plastic storage boxes—and that’s with stuffing the boxes as much as possible!
2. How can you afford to keep making/buying DisneyBounds?
A lot of people have the misconception that you have to be super rich in order to keep buying clothes. But it’s all about being resourceful. For my DisneyBounds, I get my clothes mostly from Amazon, Ross’s, TJ Maxx, and hand-me-downs. I also use inexpensive but durable fabric, or fabric around my household, for sewing. It isn’t a convention cosplay contest or a job interview, so as long as it holds up for Disneyland, it’s all good. Also, I don’t splurge on shoes…I have one pair of shiny silver sneakers that I call my “princess shoes”. I wear them with mostly all of my princess Bounds. Lastly, I try to reuse the same “base” outfit for multiple characters and just change up accessories. For example, my yellow dress works as Jane from Tarzan and Honey Lemon from Big Hero Six! Never feel like you have to spend a ton of money on DisneyBounding, just use what you have or make do with whatever you can afford!
3. How do you not die of heatstroke/frostbite/discomfort at Disneyland when wearing DisneyBounds?
I try to keep my DisneyBounds, especially the dresses, knee length. Firstly, it looks less like a full Disney costume (which is banned for adults). Secondly, it’s also to keep me cool for a hot day! I know I tend to wear leggings/stockings/tights under my costumes, but for me, it’s a personal preference. I can tolerate it, but others may not be able to. I always remember to keep hydrated, stay in the shade, and wear sunscreen when I am DisneyBounding. For winter time, I tend to choose characters that have longer sleeves such as Elsa’s coronation dress, or I wear fleece-lined leggings underneath. To me, all of my DisneyBounds are comfortable, but you know your body best. If you can’t stand to wear something, don’t wear it! I always know my limits in terms of body temperature and how my body feels. Sometimes I’ll bring a change of clothes if the weather is really not suitable.
4. Where do you buy your material and accessories from?
There aren’t many fabric stores in Hawaii near my house, so I mainly get my fabric and ribbons from the Walmart 10 minutes away. When I’m at Chapman, I go to Joann’s for more specialty material. In terms of accessories, I just shop at every day accessory places such as Hot Topic, Target, Forever 21, American Eagle, etc. Amazon also has a great assortment as well. As for my plush props, I get them at Disney Parks or Disney store.
5. Have you ever been made fun of for DisneyBounding?
Occasionally I do see people snickering and pointing fingers at me, and I know that not everyone thinks DisneyBounding is an art. People have ridiculed me for it. But people are going to mean to you for lots of other things anyways in life. This is how I express my creativity and love for Disney, and if they don’t like it, they don’t have to look at me. I’m not bothering them. There are much worse things in the world I could be doing. Sometimes it gets me down, but then I think about how many people truly love my hard work and enjoy seeing my outfits. I also think about how much joy this brings me.
6. Are you ever too old to DisneyBound?
Nope! DisneyBounding is for all ages! People think that it’s for kids because they see all the little ones at the park wearing the kiddie costumes. But there are so many ways you can show your love for a character besides an expensive kiddie costume! Also, you’re never too old for Disney! I’ve seen babies to the elderly with canes DisneyBounding. You pick whatever you usually wear, and match it up to a character. For example, a white sundress and a pink waist belt would be very age appropriate for a college student wanting to be Marie. Wear whatever you want!
7. What is your favorite homemade DisneyBound?
My favorite would definitely have to be my Soundsational Parade court dancer. That took around three months, and I wore it for Spring Dapper Day 2017. The looks on the parade dancers’ faces were priceless, and one of my favorite Disney moments to date.
8. What is your favorite store bought DisneyBound?
Definitely my Cinderella dress from Hot Topic! I love the embroidery, and the way the skirt flares out every time I spin! It’s also extremely comfortable as well.
9. Are you going to pursue a fashion degree?
It’s something that I’ve considered, but I’m going to stick with my bachelors in marketing right now. I’ve looked into the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, and it’s something I may do after graduating from Chapman, or later on in life. I do know that I definitely want to continue in fashion, whether it be a hobby or a career!
10. Can you ever have too many Disneybounds?
Nope! I have around a hundred and still have plans to make more! Have as many DisneyBounds as your wallet and closet can afford!
To follow me on my DisneyBounding life and adventures, check out my Instagram account: Princess_Amanda_Mei. Or come join me on a trip to Disneyland! (I have the nice pass with free parking and free pics so incentive right there!)
In a Disney Park, a nighttime spectacular is a staple end to the day. Walt called it a "kiss goodnight," and over the years, the different international parks have seen quite a few incredible productions.
When it was announced in early February that long-running Magic Kingdom fireworks show "Wishes" would be retired permanently, there was outrage and upset among many fans. The show had its final performance this week, and last night, the new "Happily Ever After" show took its place.
So how does the new show compare, and what are its merits? Let's break it down by its structure! Follow along with the live stream below!
Part One: Introduction
We start with pretty standard, with a narration from some deep-voiced, British man (if anyone has any ideas as to who this is, please let me know. I haven't been able to find who it is anywhere, and I know it's someone famous!)
Our theme, "Happily Ever After." It's sung by Angie Keilhauer and Jordan Fisher, but is relatively generic, sounding very much like the theme for the "Disneyland Forever" show.
The fireworks here are very pretty and shimmery, but there's nothing too terribly memorable about this sequence.
Part Two: Dreams
Here we see memorable Disney characters begin their journeys with a simple dream.
Tiana begins by singing her evening star song, but it's a pretty slow way to begin.
Things start to kick off when an orchestral version of "Part of Your World" begins, and we see projections from The Little Mermaid, Ratatouille, and Tangled.
I Think I Ghost Wrote This Show #1: "Out There" from Hunchback starts playing, one of my favorite songs ever. It's important to note here that this is really when "Happily Ever After" starts to become distinct; This is a projection mapping show first and foremost, and boy does this emphasize this!
Part Three: Chasing Your Dreams
It begins with Brave, which caused me to groan. Nothing against Brave, but I think I am merely triggered by how annoyingly long the Brave sequence from Disney California Adventure's "World of Color" stayed in the show. However, I thought this was the first time the fireworks didn't feel like a sparkly afterthought in the production. I love how Merida fires an arrow that is expertly timed and placed to look like it shoots off the castle as a firework and hits another firework target.
Another merit of this show is how it will begin with one song, and will pair relevant other characters beneath the same score. Here we see imagery of Lightning McQueen, the balloon house from Up, and Finding Nemo.
This chapter ends with Moana, which was SO incredibly awesome. The projections immediately make a marae structure and cover the castle with Polynesian imagery. The concentric spirals of the heart of Te Fiti are shot into the sky as fireworks, and once again, there is a projection-firework integration that gives you chills when Tala's stingray spirit soars up the castle and explodes into the sky as white fireworks.
And can we just take a moment to talk about the sound design? The Moana sequence pairs "How Far I'll Go" with the "How Far I'll Go Reprise" seamlessly, and will continue to work magic with sound and music like this throughout the show.
Part Four: Friendship
These shows always have to have a showstopper, and "Friend Like Me" is a go-to. This sequence stars and ends with different versions of this song, which makes a really fun bookend.
This whole montage is a great: "Trashin' the Camp," from Tarzan, "Hakuna Matata" from The Lion King (with a fun little flavor of, "I've Got No Strings" between bars), "You've Got a Friend in Me," from Toy Story, and "The Bare Necessities" from The Jungle Book. Here we also get to see some awesome, little-appreciated characters like Mike and Sully, Baymax and Hiro, and Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope.
These were my FAVORITE projections: The turret of the castle that takes off like a rocket? The Zootopia donut rolling by? The Inside Out memory balls falling down the castle? Bring it ON.
Part Five: Love
Ehhhh...Frozen. I was cringing as soon as I heard Olaf's voice, but I think what they did with it was very cute. An acoustic cover of "Love is an Open Door" plays with a beautiful projection of a full moon. Very nicely done.
I'm also loving that recently, Disney shows' "love" segments have become less about romantic love and more about familial love. The "You'll Be in My Heart" segment is beautiful and features appearances by Kala and Tarzan, Carl and Russell, Dumbo and his mother, and Dory and her parents.
I Think I Ghost Wrote This Show #2: Silhouettes of the classic Disney couples appear in the different turrets of the castle, while Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi's "I See the Light" plays. Soon the castle is taken over by projected lanterns, and I sob my eyes out.
Part Six: Villains
What a great transition between love and adversity- with a quote about that very thing. Here, we hear Mulan's father give the quote, "The flower that blooms in adversity is the most beautiful of all," then we literally launch into action with an explosion of fireworks!
We see some epic fights, including Ursula vs. Eric, Maleficent vs. Phillip, Jafar vs. Aladdin, and my personal favorite, the battle for Pride Rock between Scar and Simba!
I Think I Ghost Wrote This Show #3: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN! These battle scenes culminate in an epic finale with the "He's a Pirate" theme, and we see fire and silhouettes of swordplay on the castle as fireworks just go absolutely crazy! I think the only figure that we see clearly is Captain Salazar from the new Dead Men Tell No Tales film, which is a little concerning. This may date the show, preventing it from being timeless. It reminds me of the random insertion of a Star Wars Episode VII trailer in the middle of "World of Color: Celebrate" two years ago. It does keep with the "villain" theme, but I'm just worried that if the movie isn't a success, it will severely date the production.
Part Seven: Resolution
After the epicness of that last section, we become grounded once again with an incredible projection of Mufasa reminding us to "remember who you are."
I Think I Ghost Wrote This Show #4: If there's one song I love more than "Out There," it's "Go the Distance" from Hercules. Here we see our heroes appear one after another, including Tarzan, Aladdin, Mulan, Hercules, and Ariel. Then an incredible swell of the song begins, featuring a full orchestra and a choir 90 strong!
The heroes become immortalized one by one in stained glass that appears projected on the castle. Cinderella is front and center, appearing larger than the rest in her rightful spot on her palace.
Our narrator returns with a very beautiful and important message:
“Grab hold of your dreams and make them come true. You are the key to unlocking your own magic. […] Reach out and find your own happily ever after.”
Tinkerbell flies by, a classic fireworks staple, although here it just feels like she was rather haphazardly thrown in. Like, "Oh yeah, we forgot to do that earlier...um...well, let's put her at the end somewhere."
We end with the classic swell of the show's theme, followed by a massive finale of fireworks and chills galore!
Above all else, "Happily Ever After" is a projection show, and its visuals are so stunning. The fireworks seem a little (pardon the pun) lackluster as compared to other shows I've seen, but what it lacks, the projections more than make up for it. Also, it's important to note that I'm watching this on a fifteen inch screen, not in person. I'm sure that the experience is completely different, and I can't wait until the day I can see it for myself!
The show follows a typical structure typical of "World of Color" or "Fantasmic;" dreams, fun, foes, love, and hope, however some of it feels a bit disjointed, and there's no overarching theme that comes through.
While perhaps not surpassing the nostalgia and seamlessness of "Wishes," which will be sorely missed by many, I personally think "Happily Ever After" is a worthy replacement.
If you know me, you know my three favorite things are cats, Disney, and food. Today we’re going to talk about a mix of the latter two, Disney and food! More specifically, we’re going to discuss Disney parks food (AKA the reason I have no money).
When I go to Disney, I eat a lot of food. Like, a LOT. If I’m spending a full day at the parks, I’m getting at least two full meals and snack during the day. I’m here to bring you my tips and opinions (whether you want them or not) on what I like to order from the parks.
(Just to clarify, I will only be including food from the California parks, since those are the only two parks that I’ve visited!)
Snacks What I love: Let me tell you, I am a sucker for the Ghirardelli store. The Tortilla Factory was my FAVORITE place to go in California Adventure before they closed it, and I still miss it, but if I have to trade that in for chocolate??? I think I’ll manage. My favorite thing to order, as a known chocoholic, is the chocolate ice cream with milk chocolate hot fudge. It’s the perfect treat for a summer day (especially if you get a cup instead of a cone to prevent dripping!) because the ice cream cools the hot fudge off really quickly and you’re basically left with a chocolate shell. They’re also very generous with said hot fudge and there’s usually more than enough to scrape off the sides of the cup once you’ve finished the ice cream. The store also sells Ghirardelli chocolate squares in addition to ice cream, so if your sweet tooth is being especially vocal you can buy some extra sweets along with your sundae.
What I want to try: The last time I was in line to meet Captain America and Spiderman, I saw it. The food that will probably change my life, for better or worse. What is this food, you ask? Tater. Tot. Nachos. That’s right, folks, Disney has managed to find a new way to combine my two favorite foods, cheese and potatoes. These bad boys are available in Hollywood Land in the food truck right across from the heroes meet and greet!
Quick Service What I love: BOARDWALK PIZZA & PASTA. Even though I think their flatbread pizzas were far superior to anything else, I’ve forgiven them for discontinuing them. I’m really boring and only like cheese pizza, but I’m also really picky and only like *certain* cheese on my pizza, and Boardwalk delivers. It’s honestly just the same pizza as Pizza Port over in Disneyland (I’ll get to that later), which isn’t a bad thing. Unfortunately I can’t eat most of the pasta they serve at Boardwalk due to various allergies, but I’ve heard good things about it.
What I want to try: I’m interested in trying breakfast at Flo’s V8 Cafe in Cars Land. I’ve seen their lunch/dinner menu before and I wasn’t too excited about anything in particular on it, but sources say the breakfast at Flo’s is good. I’m always down for breakfast at any given moment, though, so I might be a little biased.
Bonus: I couldn’t write an article about Disney parks food without at least mentioning the Pacific Wharf Cafe (and the bakery). Not only do they give free bread samples, their restaurant is great too! Unfortunately their tomato soup in a bread bowl is only seasonal now, but it’s fantastic if you ever get a chance to try it and I think I can safely say that it’s my favorite thing to eat in California Adventure.
Sit-down Service What I love: Okay, confession time. The only sit-down service place I’ve been to in California Adventure is Ariel’s Grotto, and it’s been a LONG time. I don’t remember the food too well, but the atmosphere is so fun! I’ve only ever sat out on the patio at Ariel’s Grotto, which is great because I was visited by lots of Disney characters and lots of Disney ducks. (I have an obsession with the ducks of Disneyland, okay?) Also, and this is really going to show how long it’s been since I’ve eaten there, we sat out there before World of Color was a thing so Paradise Lagoon was still essentially a giant blue wave pool, which made the experience really fun because it felt like I was actually at the beach.
What I want to try: I would love to try Carthay Circle one day! I’ve walked inside briefly and I think the decor is beautiful, so I’m anxious to eat a meal there so I can take more of it in. Like I said, though, I'm a super picky eater and I'm worried that the food here will be a little too...fancy for my tastes. (There's no shame in ordering something off the kids menu though, right? ...right?)
Snacks What I love: There are two treats I love from Disneyland. The first is a chocolate Mickey cake pop, and the second is ice cream from a cart. (I know technically both of these could go on the list for California Adventure as well, but bear with me.) I don’t know what kind of Disney magic they use on the cake for their cake pops, but something keeps that cake super fresh and not dry at all. I don’t get a cake pop every time I go, so when I do get one I’m always amazed as to just how good they are. As for the ice cream, there are two that have my heart: Mickey Premium Bars (of course) and the Nestle Toll House cookie sandwiches. These are perfect on a summer’s day (or any day, really) when they’re so frozen that you can barely bite into them. They’ll last you awhile that way, which just means you have more time to enjoy them!
What I want to try: Okay, this is a bit of a bummer for me. I used to get the nachos from Troubadour Tavern back in Fantasyland (they used warm potato chips instead of tortilla chips), but they don’t have those anymore. Now they sell pretzel bites with cheese dip, which is great! I love pretzels with cheese! BUT I’m super allergic to something in the Mickey pretzels and I’m 99% sure that these pretzel bites are made with the same recipe, meaning no pretzel bites for Sydney. I’d love to try them if I could, though!
Quick service What I love: Bear with me here because I can’t choose just one! I have three favorite quick service restaurants and I want to gush about them all. I love Pizza Port, the Jolly Holiday, and the Hungry Bear. Pizza Port has been my dad’s and my favorite Disney restaurant to go to for as long as I can remember. I even put up with those weird couple years where they changed their pizza recipe and it was terrible. (I can assure you that it’s back to normal now and just as good as it used to be!) I highly recommend the cheese pizza, but you already knew that. I was there recently, though, and I found something new I’d like to try: pasta with chicken and cheese (I don’t know the exact name because I literally saw it on someone’s plate as they walked by and stared shamelessly in awe at it)! Jolly Holiday is a recent favorite for me. I actually just stopped in one night for some hot chocolate and a pastry, and I learned that they serve a tomato soup and grilled cheese combo. The next time I went back to the park, I decided to try it, and the rest, as they say, is history. It’s the perfect meal for a chilly night, especially while the parade is going by or the fireworks are going off. (Don’t let that stop you from trying it when it’s not cold out, though. It’s always good!) As for Hungry Bear, I really like their crispy chicken sandwiches. They used to serve them on a bun with whole grains on top that came with a side of sweet potatoes, but unfortunately they don’t do either of those anymore. The food is still great though, and I definitely recommend it! I’m also excited for the return of the Rivers of America so this restaurant can get some of its old atmosphere back. I love relaxing on the patio on a summer’s day, looking out at Tom Sawyer’s Island while the canoes and ships go by!
What I want to try: I’m excited to try food from the Red Rose Taverne before it switches back to Village Haus. I’m very interested in both the flatbread and the chicken sandwich that’s on the menu (especially considering the sandwich is served with pommes frites). I used to eat at Village Haus all the time as a kid, but they changed the menu awhile ago and I’ve only recently rediscovered the restaurant. I’ve walked through the Red Rose Taverne a couple times and I LOVE the decor they put up, so I can’t wait to eat a meal in there and get a chance to take more of it in! I was able to try the pommes frites and their waffle fries (highly highly HIGHLY recommend both!), but I didn't order a full meal so I'm anxious to go back and try one.
Sit-down Service What I love: I’ve recently fallen in love with Carnation Cafe. I’ve had both breakfast and lunch/dinner there, and both were equally amazing! For breakfast, you can’t go wrong with a Mickey Waffle. I hadn’t had one in about four years and I completely forgot just how good they are. I also HIGHLY recommend the cinnamon hot chocolate! For lunch/dinner, I got the fried chicken and I can safely say that it changed my life. It’s a lot of food--it comes with a few different sides--so I recommend sharing it (that’s what my dad and I did and there was plenty of food for each of us). Also, I mentioned my allergies earlier--Carnation Cafe is very accommodating for allergies (as are the other sit-down restaurants) and will give anyone with any sort of allergy at all a special allergy menu. I've been able to order off the regular menu as well after being given an allergy menu, so I think it kind of works on a case-by-case basis (so if you're nut- and seed-free like I am, you're still good to go on that fried chicken meal).
What I want to try: I want to get breakfast at the Plaza Inn sometime soon! I haven’t done a character breakfast in a lot of years, and what better way to do it than on Main Street? Granted, it would probably be the exact meal I’d get at Carnation, but why should that make a difference? Disney is all about the atmosphere and if I can enjoy a Mickey waffle while taking pictures with my favorite characters, then that’s what I want to do.
Well, friends, there’s my guide to Disney food! I hope this helps you decide where to eat the next time you’re in the parks, or at least informs you of some foods you didn’t know about. Have fun snacking!
None of the images used are mine! All were found on Google.
Hello, class. My name is Professor Johnson and today I will be teaching you a step by step guide in expert celebrity sleuthing (SLEUTHING, not stalking! There’s a fine line in the difference between the two, and we’ll cover that in a later lesson!).
Celebrities—they’re just like us except they have way more money, they need security, they have entourages of people following them around, their appearances are constantly being judged, they live in the public light, every word they say gets documented in video or text form, they have fan clubs dedicated to them...
...okay, comment rescinded. Celebrities—they’re nothing like us.
But one similarity between many celebrities and Club 55 members is that they love going to The Happiest Place on Earth! I myself have encountered a grand total of eleven celebrities in Disneyland. Finding a celebrity in the Park requires a certain skill set: a mastery of social media, crowd scanning abilities, quick pace, a knowledge of park layout and key attraction points, and a great deal of luck. Let’s start with the first lesson!
Lesson 1: How to Find Out about Celebrity Presence in the Parks
"What's the sitch?"
I find out that celebrities are in the park 90% of the time via social media. This is through Twitter @DisneylandStars and Instagram through @DisneylandCelebrities and @DisneylandCelebs. When I was a novice sleuth, I relied on Instagram only, and the two accounts I used were very different. It seems like the latter of these two newer accounts I listed is used and updated far more than the former. If you find a celebrity out of the blue, you can send your photo proof to these accounts and they will post them to let other sleuths out there know!
Furthermore, if you know a celebrity is in the park, search their name on Twitter or Instagram and look at the latest posts about them. Sometimes, you can figure out a star’s location based on other sightings.
Sometimes, there will be a surprise event happening in the parks that celebrities will arrive to, such as the unannounced Tomorrowland red carpet premiere in Downtown Disney where I saw George Clooney and the cast, or a filming for some sort of television special. Other times, you’ll hear about celebrities via word of mouth. But the vast majority of the time, you will simply be in the right place in the right time and will happen upon a celeb entirely by chance! You never know!
Lesson 2: Key Times for Celebrity Visits
Off peak season during the winter months used to be the best time for celebrities to go to Disneyland, simply because of the lack of crowds and therefore the less chance to be recognized. Now with Disneyland’s recently implemented surge pricing, even the off season is still very busy. The more crowded the park is, the less likely celebrities will be there.
For example, only a few days ago, Emma Watson and Dan Stevens from the upcoming Beauty and the Beast live action reboot were seen in the park. Two years ago, if they were coming at this time, a Friday in early March, it would be incredibly likely that I would have found them. However, with surge pricing, the park was at near capacity that day, and therefore it was nearly impossible to find either of them. Every time of the year is pretty fair game now, except I usually see a dip in celebrity presence during in the always busy and always sweltering summer months.
Also look for upcoming important premieres or special events to gauge celebrities who might make a presence in the parks. For example, after Beauty and the Beast made its premiere in Los Angeles, the next day was when Stevens and Watson came to Disneyland. During the D23 Expo every other year during the summer is also a key time that draws a lot of celebrities who attend the convention to walk across the street and go to the parks. I spotted Lily James and Richard Madden from the live action Cinderella took photos in front of the castle during an Annual Passholder night in the park, when the park had significantly lower attendance.
In terms of time of day when celebrities arrive, you will most assuredly find them during the day time. Not only are they easier to spot in the daylight, but more often than not, the celebrity will make a day trip and will be gone by the evening.
Lesson 3: Park Layout
Here’s a few things to keep in mind about the area you’ll be scouring.
Disneyland has an unseen area where Cast Members traverse, go on break, move goods, and load in equipment called, “Backstage.” There are many entrances and exits in these areas, which I’m sure you have seen marked with signs reading, “Cast Members Only.” Backstage areas can also be used to move celebrities. The less lag time between attractions, the less likely it is for a celebrity to be noticed by fans passing by. So the more famous the celeb you’re hunting for is, the more likely that they are going to use the Backstage pathways.
The main entrances and exits that I have seen used by celebrities are By the Rancho del Zocalo, by the New Orleans Square train station, by Coke Corner, and by the Plaza Inn bathrooms bordering Tomorrowland. Don’t spend too much time looking on Main Street, as many times celebrities will bypass it altogether using the Backstage.
Also consider key attractions that your celebrity might flock to. The most popular spots I have noticed that the most popular locations inside Disneyland are the castle, Pirates, and Fantasyland in general. In Downtown Disney, the Grand Californian is the finest hotel in the area, and is the most likely place for celebrities to be staying if they are visiting for several days. Sometimes, you can find one hanging in the Grand Californian lobby. California Adventure is pretty random. There are still Backstage areas, but as the park is more spread out, celebs can really be anywhere at any time.
Lesson 4: Plaids
The easiest way to find a celebrity is by honing what I like to call your “Plaid Radar.” Many celebs will utilize Cast Member guidance around the park from Guest Services. These are the Cast Members (or, as I call them, “Plaids”) you see wearing brightly colored red plaid vests and carrying black satchels. The Plaid is responsible for guiding the celebrity safely throughout the Park, backstage, and make sure that all interactions with other guests are safe and friendly.
Keep your eyes peeled for these guys every time you’re in the park! You never know who they may be leading around!
Lesson 5: Etiquette
Here's how not to be a Bimbette!
Okay, here’s the most important lesson, folks, because I want to keep you, the celebrity, and their family all safe and happy while at the Disneyland Resort; Yes, using a variety of tactics to locate a single person is also the textbook definition of stalking. HOWEVER, Disneyland Celebrity Sleuthing is NOT stalking, and we’re going to make sure that there’s a clear difference between the two based on following a certain etiquette:
Know your celebrity: Do they take pictures with fans? For Emma Watson, the answer is never. Hulk actor Mark Ruffalo will often, but not when he’s with his kids.
A rule of thumb I use: Don’t take a photo with them (meaning a surprise selfie) unless they invite you to do so. For example, the one photo I have with a celebrity a friend and I found at Disneyland, Zachary Levi, the voice of Tangled’s Flynn Rider, invited us to jump in a photo with him. Pirates of the Caribbean’s Orlando Bloom will just straight up stand outside of the Pirates attraction and wait for people to recognize him!
If they said no...
If they refuse to talk with you or take a picture with you, don’t speak ill of them or fight their wishes. 1) It will most likely end in you getting thrown out of the park. 2) They’re not here to gratify you, they’re here to gratify themselves. Put yourself in their shoes. Would you want everyone in Disneyland stopping you from getting to your preferred destination in the park every few steps?
If you do find them...
Don’t continue to follow them once you find them. That really is stalking, and it’s not okay. Also, don’t chase them, draw attention to them, or shriek at them: At the end of the day, celebrities are like us in that they’re human beings. They just want to have a good time. Don’t make a scene and ruin their vacation.
Here’s another rule of thumb I use: I never approach a celebrity if they’re with their kids. That means that the celebrity is there for their kids. I let them have their time together as a family.
Keep it short and sweet. Be ready:
When sleuthing, keep your phone in hand, ready to turn on the camera if need be. Speed is everything, as your celebrity might just keep walking if you interact with them. To make the moment as quick as possible and still be heard by your celebrity, think of one brief sentence that you can quickly say to them that will get your point across.
If I encountered Dan Stevens (the Beast) in the park the other day, I was ready to say, “I’m so sorry to bother you, sir, but I just wanted to say that you’re great at what you do and I appreciate your work. Have a great day!”
A friend of mine saw Once Upon a Time actress Jennifer Morrison in California Adventure while in line for California Screamin’. He knew she was getting bombarded by OUAT fans, so he decided to reference a lesser film role of hers. “I loved you in Star Trek!” he cried. She turned and looked at him and laughed, and later found him in Disneyland, thanking him for the comment.
It doesn’t even need to be a sentence. For the life of me, when I saw Lily James from Cinderella, I could NOT remember her name! All I could think of was her character’s name from Downton Abbey. “LADY ROSE!” I cried. She spun around and looked straight at me and smiled.
It doesn’t even have to be verbal! Sometimes, just a look is enough! James Franco passed by me and a friend and filmed us on his phone camera as he passed by. We didn’t say a word! One time, I was passing over the Pirates bridge and I spotted John Stamos walking in the opposite direction towards me. Me, him and his Plaid were the only people on the bridge, so he turned his head away from me when he saw me see him, as to not be recognized. Finally, when I wouldn’t break my gaze, he turned and looked at me at the last minute before he passed, so I just smiled at him and kept walking. He smiled back! Sometimes, words aren’t even necessary.
Final rule of thumb: Refer to them formally.
A Disneyland Cast Member once told me about a time she was working one of the Pirates of the Caribbean red carpets in Disneyland. She was in the back of the crowd on Main Street to make sure the fans would remain at bay. She was so excited to see Johnny Depp, however, that she couldn’t help but call out, “MR. DEPP!” Her voice rang out over the screams of the other fans, and especially the yells of just, “JOHNNY!” Depp, hearing her, then approached the fence where she stood, reached over the crowd to shake her hand personally. Moral of the story? Being a little formal is never a bad thing.
Finding a celebrity in Disneyland is not easy. The majority of the time, you will not be able to locate them. It’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack, except the needle has legs. You could be in one area of the park while they are in another, they could be on an attraction as you hunt for them, they could be in another park entirely, or maybe they literally passed you and you had no idea (which is what happened with me and Emma Watson the other day. RIP me). I have gone on four sleuthing missions and was successful only once. The remaining nine encounters were by sheer happenstance only, as I was in the right place at the right time. So don’t get discouraged! Celebrity hunting is a difficult task, but it’s just another factor making Disneyland a fun, magical place when you do happen upon someone famous!
Go forth, my pupils! Class dismissed, and happy sleuthing!
Have you had a celebrity encounter at Disneyland before? Tell us about it in the comments below!