Monthly Archives: March 2011

The Pearly Band

So let’s file this one under the “things I never knew existed” category! Theo and I were coming through the castle after the Superman Ad incident, and saw a brightly colored band marching through.

Instruments, bright colors, and the back of some girl's head

They circled and then lined up in formation. I checked my Entertainment Guide and it made no mention of brightly-colored musicians gathering in front of the castle, so of course in the interest of this blog, I stopped to listen.

Also, Theo seemed interested so why not?

I cleverly discerned their name by reading the drum. Because I’m smart like that.

Funny how the drum so often gives away the identity of the performer

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know that 3 minutes on Google is my standard at-home research methodology (if you’re new to the blog, my standard at-home research methodology is 3 minutes on Google), and according to my research, the Pearly band follows the traditions of London’s pearly kings and queens. I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean, since I’ve been to London a couple of times and I have NEVER seen any royalty dressed up like this playing instruments. But, you know, it’s Disneyland, so I’ll go with that. Apparently the “pearly” part refers to the mother-of-pearl buttons on their natty outfits.

When Mary Poppins arrived, it made a LOT more sense. Because there’s a pearly band in Mary Poppins, and apparently Disneyland has had their own Pearly Band since the movie released.

That’s one movie I really should see again, by the way.

Anyway, Mary Poppins immediately came over and started shaking hands with all of the waiting children.

Shaking hands with the kid next to us

Sadly I was so unprepared for this turn of events that I failed to get into a good position to see Mary Poppins shaking hands with my own child. Instead, in my panic, I ended up with this:



Anyway, when Bert came out with his portable chimney sweep vehicle, I knew we were in for a treat.

Sweeping the chimneys of Disneyland in style

After wheeling in his chimney sweeping cart, since apparently 47 Disney years later Bert’s still stuck in an archaic manual labor job, Bert joined with Mary for a jolly holiday.

This Bert looked nothing like Dick Van Dyke, but given Dick's current age, that's probably not a bad thing

They joined with the Pearly Band leader to sing a song, which I can’t remember because I’m writing this entry a week after the visit to Disneyland took place. Blogger fail.

La la la, some song from the Mary Poppins movie

There were more musical numbers, and then Bert revealed that his “trash can” was actually a cleverly-disguised banner holder/retractor, reading Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Super California Surfers, Experts On the Ocean

Mary tried to get everyone to sing along, but she thwarted her own efforts by standing in front of the word we were supposed to be singing. Lucky for her, everyone in the crowd seemed to know it anyway.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious has its own Wikipedia page. Seriously.

Then the fun went into high gear as Mary and Bert selected a few children from the audience and gave them each a chimney sweeper.

Honorary Chimney Sweeps, we will exploit your child labor and pay you nothing, just like Victorian England!

The kids actually did a fabulous job of keeping up with Bert and Mary.

Raise your knees high and crush the upper class! Let them sweep their own chimneys! Or invent forced-air central heating!

Mary led the children around the Pearly Band as a grand finale.

Let us skip and revel in the joy of central heating!

All in all, it was a wonderfully pleasant surprise to happen upon a performance I never even knew existed at Disneyland. I have to say, that’s one thing I’m loving about writing this blog–there’s just so much I never paid attention to!


Main Street Magic Shop

Out of all of the stores at Disneyland, of which there are many, my favorite is the Magic Shop. In fact, I can remember even as a small child loving the Magic Shop best of all. There are real magicians (REAL!!!) who do magic demonstrations all the time, and of course you can buy the tricks yourself.

Or to quote Arrested Development, “They’re illusions, Michael…” If you can finish that quote in your head, I know you’re laughing now. If not, then either watch the show or send me an email because the last part is a little off-color.

The first thing you should know about the Magic Shop is that Steve Martin used to work there. Yep, that Steve Martin–the guy who went on to make significantly more money than a Magic Shop cast member makes–was once an Magic Shop cast member. (Steve Martin also used to play the banjo at the Bird Cage Theater in Knott’s Berry Farm as well, but this is a Disneyland blog, not a Knott’s blog).

But anyway, into the Magic Shop it is. The Magic Shop is easily identified on the right-hand side (East) of Main Street. The entrance looks something like this:

Actually, the entrance looks exactly like this, because this is the entrance

Which brings me to the second thing you should know–the Magic Shop is actually owned by Houdini’s Magic Shop, which is a chain of magic shops primarily in Las Vegas. According to my vast internet searches (once again, about 3 minutes on Google), the shop now carries a wider variety of  tricks illusions for all skill levels.

You can also enter the Magic Shop from the store next door:

I don't remember what this store is called but it's the one on the corner and I'm sure I'll blog about it eventually

As I mentioned before, the fun thing about the Magic Shop (other than the fact that you can buy magic tricks) are the magicians-in-residence. Meet Andy:

I kind of expected Andy to smile when I asked to take his picture, but I think this pose looks more magician-y myself

Andy was already into his patter and  trick illusion when I walked in. I was impressed, but I’m pretty gullible on the whole. This trick had to do with a deck of blank cards. They were blank on both sides but then suddenly would have faces or backs or whatever. Here’s a really vague and indistinct picture:

Andy is shuffling blank cards

It should come as no surprise that the tricks the magicians demonstrate are all available to purchase in the store. However, if you’re me, that comes as a surprise. I always kind of assumed that the magicians did real magic and the store sold, like, whoopee cushions or something.

Then again, I haven’t been into the store since I was approximately 10 years old, so it’s been a while.

And incidentally, when I asked Andy what his favorite trick in the store was, he said it was the blank cards.

That didn’t stop him from ruthlessly stabbing a dollar bill with a pen

What did George Washington ever do to deserve this?

Andy then showed us that George was well and truly dead

George Washington died on Dec. 14, 1799, and also on March 15, 2011, when Andy the magician stabbed him with a pen

Fortunately for both George and the guest who volunteered his dollar bill, it was an illusion and there were no stab marks left in the bill.

I was impressed. Really.

Then Andy took my annual pass (because I was the first person to whip one out) and proceeded to spin it around in midair with no strings or whatever. I thought this one was really cool too.

Look Ma, no hands!

I asked Andy if he was a magician in real life, and he said that he was. He has worked at the Magic Shop for 2 years now, and he said that he auditioned specifically for the shop when applying to be a cast member.

You can buy all kinds of stuff (because hey, it’s Disneyland, and there’s never a shortage of places to spend your money). According to Andy, the “good” tricks are in the $30-$40 range. I was tempted, but that’s kind of a lot of money. Maybe next time.

Rather boring picture of things they sell #1

Rather boring picture of things they sell #2

This man's arm is not for sale

An Ad For Another Theme Park At Disneyland???

Today at the park I witnessed something I have absolutely NEVER seen before. Ever. EVER.

The park was a bit crowded (other people’s spring breaks) so as I was coming around Tomorrowland I couldn’t help but notice pretty much everyone looking at the sky. Being the gullible lemming that I am, I looked at the sky too. There were a bunch of planes doing skywriting.

(Skywriting is, I think, quickly becoming a lost art, but that’s not the point here).

Anyway, it was very difficult to read what they were spelling out. I think their message was too long for one, and also there must have been a bunch of wind up there because the first parts kept smearing before I could get a chance to read them. But here’s what I saw:

This one said RIDE SUPERMAN but the RI got cut off and the DE had already started blowing away

I moved to the Matterhorn to try to get a better picture, but if you’ve been following this blog, you know that my photography skills completely suck, so here’s the view over the Matterhorn:

I honestly can't decipher this at all

The message was repeated a couple of times, so I got a shot of the one over Small World:

Can you read upside-down?

Here, I’ll flip it for you. And it definitely read RIDE SUPERMAN 5D, and that was repeated a couple of times:

Digital photography is so awesome

But here’s the thing–there is no Superman ride at Disneyland. In fact, the only Superman ride I could think of was at Magic Mountain (in Valencia, CA). And while I couldn’t see the rest of the garbled messages, the RIDE SUPERMAN 5D was very, very clear, and repeated 3 times, which can only mean one thing:

Magic Mountain is advertising its ride in the skies above Disneyland.

Now honestly, I have to say that that’s probably the most ballsy thing I’ve ever seen. I mean, it’s not like Disneyland controls the air or something, but they’re not affiliated with Magic Mountain (which is currently owned by Six Flags again) in any way. I mean, I think the only thing that would have demonstrated bigger cojones would be to fly a blimp over and drop hundreds of leaflets onto Disneyland guests.

And then I had to go home and Google Superman 5D, because the Superman ride has been around for a number of years, and what the hell is 5D? It took some digging, but it looks like they revamped Superman, now called Superman: Escape From Krypton, and it’s scheduled to open this weekend, according to the LA Times.

I’m still not sure about what the 5D thing is (because seriously, how many dimensions do we NEED anyway?) and Magic Mountain doesn’t define it on their site for the new and improved Superman. It strikes me as very odd that they’re doing a media blitz over the skies of Disneyland including the 5D but they aren’t really explaining what it is. I suppose I could do some research to figure it out, but I don’t have the time right now.

Anyway, I sincerely have never seen anything like that before–advertising in the sky over Disneyland. Has anyone else?

(And don’t forget to Like me on Facebook and you could win a pair of mouse ears!)

UPDATE! File this one under “well that makes a LOT more sense!” I’ve recently learned that the part after “Superman” was not, in fact, “5D,” but was rather “SDRAWKCAB” or “BACKWARDS” backwards, because the new version of Superman goes both forward and backwards. And actually in the second picture on this post, you can make out “SDRAWKCAB” in the smeary part. Mystery solved!

Disneyland Railroad

Kevin is a huge, huge, huge train fan, and unsurprisingly the train gene was not lost on Theo. This makes the Disneyland Railroad a constant favorite in our household.

The DLRR is a scaled down version of a real railroad. There’s a lot of history to the DLRR, but I’m just going to cut to the chase by summing it up as such: Walt liked trains. He could often be seen in the engine waving to his many fans. When he was alive, of course.

There will likely be other DLRR posts, but I’m going to start you off for now.

The DLRR has four stations: The Main Street station, which is the iconic station right above Flower Mickey’s head when you walk in, the New Orleans Square station, Mickey’s Toontown station, and the Tomorrowland station.You can get on or off the train at any of these locations, or you can ride the whole loop. Most people start at the Main Street station, but am I most people?

Of course not. Most people don’t blog about their quest to do everything there is to do at Disneyland.

We got on at Toontown station.

You'll never guess where the stroller parking is

This happened to be the same visit where we met the Princesses.

Princess Katie is ready for her ride around Disneyland

Leaving the Toontown station, you immediately come across the back of Small World. Be sure to wave–people always wave back.

Hey, guys closer to the train--the other line is actually slightly shorter!

You do pass through a lot of generic back-side-of-water kind of stuff on the DLRR. You don’t actually get glimpses into the backlot where the Magic Happens, but you do get a lot of this:

Welcome to my corrugated steel quonset hut

And this:

Look, a fence! GET THE CAMERA!!!!!

After moving through the Tomorrowland station, which is very forgettable so I didn’t take any pictures of it, but it’s right by Autopia, you get to go through the Grand Canyon/Dinosaur dioramas.

First, you hit the Grand Canyon as it is today.

The actual Grand Canyon is somewhat larger

And then, according to the highly trustworthy Wikipedia, some of the animals in the Grand Canyon diorama are actually taxidermied real animals (the only ones in the park).

So THAT'S what happened to Bambi's mother!

Once you’re all peaceful and one with nature in the Grand Canyon, you get Dinosaur land. It wasn’t a very friendly place.

"You are what you eat!" "Dude, it doesn't matter what we eat--we're going extinct anyway"

This is supposed to be some pterodactyls or something, but through the power of my superior photography skills, it’s just a really badass picture:

This picture looks like it should be the cover art for some post-apocalyptic fantasy novel about giant bats living in the area formerly known as the Grand Canyon

Disneyland even puts you right in the middle of a prehistoric battle:

Are you Team T-Rex or Team Stegosaur?

Sadly, we’ll never know how that turned out. Well, we do. In the end, everyone lost.

Including Bambi’s mother.

Following the dioramas, you end up at Main Street station. Now this is a really cool station so if you’re going to take the DLRR, it’s a great place to start.

This is not the actual guest capacity of Disneyland

I'm not sure if this is the exact elevation of the DLRR either.

There’s a telegraph office on the south side of the train at Main Street station. Sharp-eyed MYWTMouseketeer Marce correctly identified the location of the telegraph office at New Orleans Square. (I meant to do that. No, I’m just kind of lame sometimes) It’s constantly clicking, which makes you wonder how anyone could sit in a chair and decode Morse code all day. My friend Kelli tells me that the message being clicked out is actually Walt Disney’s speech from Disneyland’s opening day. That’s kind of cool.

Click click click click click click click

After Main Street is the New Orleans Square stop. The only thing I found surprising about this is that New Orleans Square is apparently part of Frontierland, which means that Frontierland must actually sweep around and enclose Adventureland.

Okay, it was interesting to ME anyway.

There is really nothing at all interesting in this picture.

From the New Orleans station, you go through the inside of Splash Mountain. It’s actually quite cool and I would have taken a picture for you, but Splash Mountain is currently closed, so you’re going to have to settle for this very boring picture of the Rivers of America instead.

These deer are fake

Following THAT, you end up back in Toontown, which was where we left our stroller.

The DLRR takes approximately 20 minutes to ride the loop. It’s a great way to see the park, get from one side of the park to another without walking your feet off, and just take a break and let your train-obsessed toddler feel special.

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