Monthly Archives: February 2011

More About Character Pictures at the Mouse-In-Law

Character pictures are awesome. I have long loved them. They can be tough to get at times, like this time at Disneyland, but the characters are so great. And right off the bat, one big difference we noticed between Disneyland and the Mouse-In-Law is that at WDW, the characters are everywhere and are always out. At Disneyland, probably because it’s smaller, the characters generally appear and disappear on a schedule I am too lazy to figure out. At the Mouse-In-Law, you can’t swing a cat without hitting a character. Which was pretty cool.

Not that you should be swinging at cat at any theme park. Disney does have a kennel for that.

One thing I particularly love about the Disney characters is how good they are with scared children. I mean, I kinda get where the kids are coming from, meeting a mute giant anthropomorphic animal-type thing with an oversized head in an exaggerated expression of joy. When you’re like 2 feet tall, I get it. And there certainly are kids who burst out in tears at the approach of a character, which can be almost as frustrating as getting that ever-elusive Santa picture.

But the characters are great at approaching in a non-threatening way. I’ve got some wonderful pictures of Theo’s first meeting with Mickey last year along those lines. If the kids don’t want a hug or to get close, the character will offer a high-five, or sometimes just hold out their hand for the kid to touch or look at or sniff if the kid happens to be a dog. We had a fantastic experience with Donald Duck along those lines that I will show you in just a second.

First I want to say that pictures at Epcot were perfect because Mickey and friends were in a single room and there was an inside line with tv’s showing cartoons. Awesome. This was where we took our character pictures.

So for Donald, we sent Theo on his own and he was kind of freaked out. Upon approaching Donald, Theo decided that clearly the next logical move would be to give Donald a huggive Donald a high five, get near Donald in any way,   sit down on the ground somewhat near Donald. Rather than going over to Theo and looming over him like some kind of freakishly large oddly-attired duck, Donald simply sat down on the ground too.

Have a seat on the ground? Don't mind if I do!

Theo was a fan, and thus willing to entertain the idea of the giant-thing-on-tv-that-just-came-to-life-OMG-is-it-a-zombie? sitting near him.

The ground's pretty comfortable, isn't it?

And then we got a simply darling picture.

Donald is my friend! And he likes to sit on the ground just like me!

We then coaxed Theo into actually making contact with Donald and giving him a high-five. Actually, Theo learned from his swimming teacher that a “high-five” is a two-step procedure with an open-handed slap following by a fist bump accompanied by a “BOOYAH!” He is now very confused when he gives someone a high-five and then sticks out his fist and they don’t pound it. He’s not quite sure why most people aren’t familiar with proper high-five technique.

Theo is trying to give Donald a fist bump. Donald continues with the "slap me five" completely unawares

Following the positive Donald experience, Theo was ready for the Ultimate Cute with Minnie.

MINNIEEEEEEEE!!!!!

Prior to both Minnie and Donald, we attempted to take the family picture thing. The lighting was a little odd with Pluto here.

It's technicolor Pluto

And there’s also the unfortunate timing shots. Despite what it looks like, I can assure you that Kevin is not stoned in this picture.

Say Nope to Dope and Ugh to Drugs!

Once again, we didn’t have an autograph book, so I’ll have to do that here at home.

Character Meal at the Mouse-in-Law

Hey, how about the new look? Swanky, hunh? I love it! Thanks Steve!

So character dining has always kind of fascinated me. We never did it as a kid. The closest we came to character dining that I remember was we had breakfast with Santa this one time. I don’t know if it was near Christmas or in the off-season or what, but I do remember eating breakfast and Santa walking around taking pictures. Or something.

Character dining options in Disneyland are a bit limited. You can do the dining inside Disneyland with “Minnie and Friends” (sans Mickey? I don’t know), in  California Adventure with the princesses, or outside of the park at breakfast with Mickey and Friends at the Paradise Pier hotel (the sort of bastard stepchild of the Disneyland resort), Storytellers Breakfast at the Grand Californian, or Goofy’s kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel with…well, whatever characters happen to stop by.

I will admit that the only character meals I knew of before writing this post were the princess one in CA Adventure and Goofy’s Kitchen, but I digress.

At any rate, my BFF came down from northern California with her kindergarten-aged daughter and we went to Goofy’s Kitchen. It was actually quite fun with good food, and we saw Goofy, Pluto, Chip and Dale, and so on. We saw the “minor” princess–Mulan, and an Aladdin strangely missing Jasmine. Because they want you to spend the big bucks to go into CA Adventure and meet the heavy-hitter princesses.

ANYway, so in my Mouse-in-Law planning, I asked around for a character meal, and several people recommended the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom, which starred the Winnie the Pooh characters. Theo sleeps with a Winnie the Pooh and likes those characters, so I signed us up.

Theo loved it. Many of the meals at the Mouse-in-Law are buffets, so Theo got to enjoy a wide variety of food. That was a plus.

Incidentally, the following pictures were taken with my point and shoot. We also have other pictures with the DSLR and a video of meeting Piglet, but these will have to do for now.

We met Pooh first, and Theo leaned in for the hug:

Yes, I will give you a hug now

He was a big fan of drinking out of a cup with a straw, which he really doesn’t get to do at home. He does love his food and was having trouble being patient.

Gimme some more food, lady!

The other characters met us while we were eating. Theo kept trying to give Eeyore and Tigger his food (usually his roll). Both Eeyore and Tigger made exaggerated tummy-rubbing, hand to mouth motions that were clearly supposed to convey that they had already eaten, but they were going to pass on Theo’s roll. Theo would not be deterred. Offering food is his ultimate expression of love, and he loves the Pooh characters.

Take my roll, Eeyore. No, seriously, TAKE THE ROLL!

And then after supper was ended (so they say), Pooh came back around to our table. We expected Theo to be a little more welcoming, but he seemed put out that both Eeyore and Tigger turned down his food generosity, so he was a bit less inclined to be all lovey with Pooh again. That said, Pooh and the other characters had clearly been coached on taking pictures. Here’s Pooh all ready to go. Wish Theo was looking in the right direction and maybe even smiling too.

You can pose for the camera, but I won't

Oh well, what can you do with a two-year-old. Theo sure loves the characters though.

Theo’s First Haircut

Yes Mouse Fans, it’s the post all of you have been waiting for (and by “all of you” I mean my mother): Theo’s First Haircut! Which was, as you may recall, our raison d’être for Disney World in the first place.

So let’s get on with the show. While the Harmony Barber Shop on Main Street does take walk-ins, there are only three chairs and I was advised to make an appointment. FYI: you make a haircut appointment through the WDW dining reservation number.

Theo’s hair was getting pretty shaggy, so we snapped a picture outside of the shop for posterity.

All dressed up and ready to go

Our barber was ready to get started. She set up the booster seat on the chair and we hefted him up. She pulled out a long strip of Mickey stickers and stuck them all over Theo’s tummy, shorts, and legs. He was immediately enchanted.

Will someone cut that kid's hair already? It's getting embarrassing.

So enchanted, in fact, that he didn’t even realize his hair was being cut.

First he moved all of the stickers to his right leg

He didn’t even notice when she wet his whole head down with the spray bottle. Those must have been some magical stickers because seriously, who doesn’t notice their head getting wet?

Moving beyond mere clothing, the stickers now belong directly on skin

She was nearly finished by the time he showed an inkling of interest.

Wait, is something happening? Like, to my head?

The haircut made him look like an entirely different kid.

Almost done! What a big boy!

And once it was all done, he received his First Haircut mouse ears and a Certificate of Bravery!

Ridiculously cute

Also ridiculously cute

It was worth the entire trip.

The Emporium

The Emporium is the largest store in Disneyland and is strategically located at the entrance of Main Street from Town Square. I say strategic because it’s the first big store when you walk into the park and the last big store walking out of the park. It’s also on a corner. I mean basically if you don’t see the Emporium it’s because you’re blind. And actually, I’m pretty sure blind people run into it as well.

There it is, hidden away where nobody can find it

Incidentally, the Emporium was the scene of my Awkward Social Situation. If you want to see what the Emporium looks like with a big green wall around it, check out this post.

But I digress.

The Emporium is sort of the Wal-Mart of Disneyland–you can find just about everything there.

Clothes

More clothes

Clearly clothes are a biggie. In general, Disneyland clothes fall into three categories:

1) Things You Wear On the Upper Half Of Your Body (roughly 98%)

2) Things You Wear On The Lower Half Of Your Body When You’re Laying Around The House Eating Ice Cream (roughly 0.5%)

3) Things You Sleep In (roughly 1.5%)

Disneyland really shoots for comfort. Also I didn’t include hats because they’re probably going to be their own post. Actually you could probably do an entire blog on Disneyland hats, but that would be even more boring than this post and nobody wants that.

The Emporium also features:

Things To Drink Out Of

and

Things Made Out Of Paper

If you want to go around collecting character autographs, here’s a good place to buy yourself a book.  OMG, I just realized that’s something I’ve never done–now I’m going to have to buy an autograph book and stalk the characters.

At the center of the store, the checkout counter has a jumbo-sized snow globe, sans snow.

Shiny!

And remember my Awkward Social Situation? It was all to get this picture of shot glasses (with extra cast members thrown in for added authenticity):

I'd like a shot of Mickey, straight up, yo

And here’s the most anticlimactic thing in the history of MYWTM (which isn’t very long, but still). Walt wasn’t a fan of alcohol, so rather than labeling these as shot glasses, they rang up as “toothpick holders.”

Yes, I got into a massively Awkward Social Situation just so I could tell you that shot glasses were known as toothpick holders.

I told you it was anticlimactic.

The Emporium also opens facing Main Street.

Oh, hello Main Street! I may look like any old store, but if you turn the corner, I'm a monstrosity

Also, there is a line of stores and such that span part of Main Street that are connected inside. The Emporium is the end of that line. It can be a good thing to keep in mind if you’re trying to navigate around 134,132,542,653 people waiting for the parade. I don’t always recommend cutting through stores, especially with a stroller, but if you’re on your own and you’ve got somewhere to be, well…

The last thing you need to know about the Emporium is that it seems like it would be a great place to pick up that gift on the way out of the store. That way you won’t have to carry it with you all day and risk getting it stolen, right? So you think you’ll just swing by on your way out.

Well, everybody else in the park has the same idea. So if you’re going to shop the Emporium, don’t wait until park closing to do it. And if you want to just do some casual browsing, REALLY don’t wait until park closing to do it.

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