Monthly Archives: January 2011

Character Pictures

Character pictures can be tough. I am sure there is some kind of schedule involved in character appearances, but I have never really cared enough to figure it out and as such, I tend to just take a picture when the opportunity presents itself. I don’t know that I would recommend that for the time-pressed tourist.

But I’m not a time-pressed tourist, as we have well established.

Town Square is a great place to get pictures with the Mickey crowd. They also show up in Toon Town but again, I don’t know what the schedule is. This time I was in Town Square and thought I’d grab some pictures with Goofy, Pluto, and either Chip or Dale (whichever one has the black nose–I don’t know why they travel separately). I thought about Mickey, but the line was too long.

This isn't even the whole line to see Mickey

I hate waiting.

However, I did realize that while you usually see the characters on the right-hand side of Town Square (on the right if you’re looking up Main Street) by Mr. Lincoln, they also cross the square sometimes and do some more photo shoots on the other side by Town Hall. Interesting.

Right on the benches below the train station, there was no line for Chip (I checked, it’s Chip and not Dale). Well, there was one person, but that’s not a line. For the first time Theo actually went up to a character on his own for a picture. Big step there, buddy! It also enabled me to get a better picture on my own. That said, you might want to review my post on taking family pictures at Disneyland.

Chip tickled Theo on his tummy. Theo loved it.

This is a picture of Theo loving being tickled by Chip

We then headed over (and by “headed over” I mean took about 5 steps) to Pluto for our shot with him. He was a little more wary of Pluto.

You say he's a doggie but he doesn't look like our doggie at home

At this point Theo had been pretty much done for the day and we were on our way out anyway, but hey! Characters! Let’s take a picture! Sometimes this backfires. We did have to wait a few people to get to Goofy. I’d already nixed the Mickey shot because the line was too long but Goofy only had like 4 people in it. Unfortunately each person had like 36 cameras and wanted a dozen permutations of Goofy and the kids, Goofy and the one kid, Goofy and the other kid, Goofy and the kids and mom and dad, Goofy and the kids and mom, Goofy and the kids and dad, Goofy and just mom and dad, and so on and so forth.

It got old very quickly.

And while we were waiting, someone had parked their stroller right there. They had a sticker on its backing on the seat–one of the stickers they give out if you fill out their survey or listen to their Disney Vacation Club spiel. I turned away for a few seconds and when I looked back, Theo had taken the sticker from the stroller, peeled it off the paper, and stuck it to his tummy. He was extremely proud of himself. Heh. I had to admire his chutzpah, but did remove the sticker (now with t-shirt fuzz!) and attempt to put it back on the paper, which yeah, right. So, I did my best, and when the stroller’s owner came over I put on my “Sticker? What sticker?” face.

Anyway, so by the time we got to Goofy, Theo was done. He was totally being all Clingy McClingster and even though he’s seen Goofy before (and taken a picture with him) he wasn’t a fan this time around. But, I was there and I had waited, so I was determined to get my flippin’ picture. I handed the camera over to the cast member handler and she did her best, but we ended up with 4 or 5 of these:

I will look at you, but I don't trust you

I reject you, Goofy! Begone!

Oh well, better luck next time.

The Disneyland Band

When you walk in the front gate, you can get a map of the park as well as a daily entertainment schedule. I usually completely ignore the entertainment schedule, which is why this blog exists.

Last time I was at the park I did pick up an entertainment schedule and looked for some kind of event that was going to happen within about 15-20 minutes of my arrival time. What can I say–I’m impatient. The first event that fit the bill was a performance of the Disneyland Band.

The Disneyland Band is basically just like it sounds–a small group of musicians performing on Town Square on Main Street. The band marches in from the backlot dressed and playing instruments like a marching band, although their actual performance is seated.

The Disneyland Band has just marched in

Apparently Walt really liked music (Fantasia, go figure), and wanted to bring music to the people or something, so he created the Disneyland Band when the park first opened and they’ve been there ever since.

Talk about something I didn’t even know existed! Thank you, My Year With The Mouse!

As the conductor explained to us, the Disneyland Band plays a series of songs based on a theme which changes every day. The day I was there, the theme was Dixieland and the music was all Dixieland-like. There were also tambourines around the flagpole and at a certain point in the performance you were invited to grab a tambourine and play along.

I really wanted to do that, but Theo was getting grumpy and I also wanted to get some character pictures in, since the characters were also right there. So sorry, Disneyland Band–I ditched you in favor of Goofy and Chip.

And now, the Disneyland Band sits

Yeah, I know this wasn’t very exciting, but I am determined to do everything here, so there ya go.

Main Street Musings

I went to the park to take the missing pictures of the Emporium and was a bit alarmed to find this:

The Emporium is the building behind the green walls

Which reminds me to say that the disadvantage of visiting Disneyland in the off-season is that it’s also park improvement time. Like those states that get a ton of snow and their four seasons are Winter, Winter, Winter, and Construction. It’s like that.

However, even though it’s not the most scenic thing in the world, it’s still worth it to come in the off-season if you can to avoid the crowds.

Anyway, so the giant green walls were a bit disconcerting. There were also two giant green walled boxes next to the two snack stands in Town Square (which is what this entry was originally going to be about–the snack stands).

A bit alarmed and confused, I sought out the nearest cast member to ask what was going on. I spoke with Jackie, who in addition to being super-sweet and helpful, is also quite adorable.

Meet Jackie, and admire my advanced photography skills

Regarding the construction, they are re-paving the street in front of the Emporium and Jackie said that they should be finished with that around the 5th (of February). Additionally, the two green boxes will soon become sinks for hand washing for the two snack carts.

Which brings to me to the carts.

There are two carts in the Town Square: a popcorn cart and a churro cart. Jackie is at the churro cart. You may have noticed the “churros” on the side of her cart–a dead giveaway.

So what is a churro? Well, this snack is described as a “Mexican donut” which I have always found kind of odd given that it’s very little like a donut in my opinion. It’s basically dough that is extruded to be long and thin, which is then deep-fried and rolled in cinnamon sugar. I should have taken a picture but I didn’t buy one on that visit. They’re pretty much all kinds of awesome. The best churros can be found on Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles, but the Disneyland ones are nothing to scoff at. In fact, I often buy them. The next time I buy one, I shall photograph it for you all.

The other snack cart is a popcorn cart. I have an odd weakness for Disneyland popcorn. I don’t know what they cook it in or whatever, but there’s just the right proportion of saltiness and artificial butter flavor to make it very yummy. You can pretty much buy an entire 6-pack box of microwave popcorn for the price of a small Dland popcorn, but that wouldn’t be any fun, would it?

The popcorn cart, and by popcorn cart I mean light pole

So those are your two immediate snack options when you enter the park. I do recommend both.

I have no idea why I took this picture of Town Square:

What is this a picture of? Why did I take it?

It seemed like a good idea at the time *shrug*.

Shelby’s Guide To…When Is The Best Time To Visit Disneyland?

It’s Shelby’s Quick and Dirty Guide to When Is the Best Time to Visit Disneyland! How’s that for an atrocious sentence? Please don’t tell my esteemed writing colleagues.

Anyway, so last night I got an email from a friend in the Midwest who is thinking about coming to our happy place and wanted to know when the best time was to come. I actually get this question a lot and have devised a quick and dirty way to answer it, so I thought I’d blog it.

Also I’ve been gone for a while and I probably only have like 3 readers left. Hi Dad!

Before I get to the answer I need to explain a little bit about annual passes. Disneyland offers 4 annual passes. The two cheapest are for Southern California residents only, and in exchange for being cheap, you get fewer amenities. The handy little chart on the website demonstrates using colored dots all the fun things you’re missing out on by being a cheapskate.

Oh! A discount on guided tours!

There are, of course, only two things that matter: the number at the bottom, which is the price, and the number at the top, which are the blockout days.

Unless you really want that discount on guided tours.

At any rate, the secret to determining the best time to visit Disneyland is the calendar under the “Southern California” pass (the purple one). Disneyland has scientifically determined which days they anticipate being the most crowded through the coming year, and they’ve blocked out those days on the less expensive passes, particularly the locals. The Southern California Select pass doesn’t include any weekends so I think the only people who buy those are the unemployed and the elderly, but the Southern California pass, which is what I have, includes Sundays. Not Saturdays, since I think that’s a stick-it-to-you to try to get you to buy the most expensive pass, but it’s got a pretty good overview of when the park is likely to be more crowded. The calendar can be found here.

This is just a screen shot. Don't break your eyes trying to read it.

Those last two weeks in April are Spring Break. I know what you non-Californians are saying–“Spring Break happens much earlier!” Not in California. And since a huge number of Disneyland guests are Californians, that’s when we’re blocked out. Lucky for you out-of-towners with earlier Spring Breaks! Come on down!

There are probably much better and more accurate ways to determine the best time to come to Disneyland, but if you’re looking for a quick and dirty guide, use the calendar.

Happy travels, and remember–if you’re in town and want to be an honorary MYWTMouseketeer, shoot me an email and we’ll see if we can hook up!

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