Monthly Archives: March 2011

It’s Snack Time–Popcorn and Churros!

Disneyland makes more money on food than anything else. Or at least that’s what someone told me once, but I would totally believe it. I’m not going to eat at all of the restaurants for this blog (unless you want to open up a donation fund for me to eat everywhere), but I am addicted to Disneyland snacks. Well, two really–their popcorn and churros.

Popcorn and Churros are sold from carts conveniently labeled “Popcorn” and “Churros.” Your very first introduction to Disneyland snacks are the popcorn and churro carts on Main Street. After that you will find them scattered throughout the park.

Now, all popcorn is made of corn, fat, and salt, so it shouldn’t be any big surprise that Disneyland popcorn is also made from corn, fat, and salt. However, Disneyland has perfected this snack treat without even making you add your own artificial butter flavoring (which I love, but would be messy at Disneyland). The Disneyland popcorn carts have a large receptacle for popcorn:

You will be shocked to hear that this is where the popcorn comes from

And then the second area is the cash register hidden by a cute little miniature popcorn turner thingy. Well, it would be cute if it didn’t have a clown. Clowns freak me out. Fortunately, these little clowns are trapped behind glass cranking away at their popcorn thingies in perpetuity.

Push, little slave clown--PUSH!

The popcorn cart by the Matterhorn has a little Abominable Snowman instead of a clown. Now THAT is cute.

This past trip to the park, I decided to get a churro to show you all. Churros are awesome. First I had to find a churro cart. Fortunately my friend Kelli knew exactly where one was–this was on the way to Small World.

Hi Kelli!!

The various popcorn and churro carts are subtley decorated to blend in with their location. This churro cart, being near Small World, had very Small World-like styling

It's a churro after all, it's a churro after all...

I should probably take a moment to mention that the churro and popcorn carts all have a little annexed cooler with beverages available at the low low price of a million dollars a bottle (or whatever). Here’s a good tip from Shelby–bring your own water bottle.

ANYway, the churros at Disneyland (I was horrified to find that they were different at the Mouse-in-Law) are frozen, and then they stack them up on one of those heater conveyer belts, like when you were in college eating dorm food and they had the toaster death trap that you put your piece of bread on and then waited a bit and hoped it came out on the bottom in some sort of edible condition? Like that. Except there’s no risk with Disneyland churros, since the little piece of heating machinery is pretty much made precisely to heat up frozen Disneyland churros.

So the toaster thingy heats it up, and the outside of the churro gets this nice crisp that can only come from fried foods that aren’t good for you. Once it comes out of the heater, the cast member drops it into a bin of cinnamon sugar and rolls it around. If you’re me, you ask them to give it a second roll before they hand it to you.

Pour some sugar on me

The thing that horrified me at the Mouse-in-Law was that their churros are not heated fresh before your eyes, and they’re not hand-dipped in the cinnamony-sugary goodness. They’re pre-heated and pre-dipped. I was so disappointed I almost cried. Theo ate it though. He’s not as picky as I am.

Anyway, then they wrap your delicious churro in a piece of paper and off you go! Delightfully crunchy on the outside, deliciously chewy in the middle, hot and sugary.  And if you’re with Theo, you will hear an endless litany of “bite? bite? bite? bite?” until you can physically prove that the churro is gone and there are no more bites to be had.

Oh yeah, come to mama

Seriously, if you ever visit Disneyland, you have to try a churro. I will buy you a churro at Disneyland. If I am not with you at Disneyland, I will Paypal you the money to buy a churro for yourself when you are there.

The churro cart cast member was very nice to me so I’m putting her picture here.

Thanks for the churro!

Happy snacking!

 

 

Princess Fantasy Faire

At the back of the park right next to Mickey’s Toontown stands a theater. When I was younger, there were various shows there–I saw Beauty and the Beast one time–but at night it would change into Videopolis.

Videopolis was Disneyland’s version of a night club, where they turned the lights down low and cranked up the pumping bass and surrounded you with “I Want My MTV” videos everywhere. It was seriously the most awesome thing EVAR!

Just kidding. I never went in there. Because really? If I wanted to go clubbing, I’d go to a club. Nobody comes to Disneyland so they can be in a mosh pit or whatever. Despite that, according to the highly reliable Wikipedia, Videopolis survived an entire decade–1985 to 1995.

However, Videopolis did shut down, and now that space has become the Princess Fantasy Faire. The Princess Fantasy Faire is basically a meet-and-greet area for some of the Disney Princesses. You wait in a long line (emphasis on LONG) and then go into a sweet little alcove to meet princesses and take pictures.

Prepare yourself--there's a lot of pink here

You get one-on-one time with them, which is nice for conversation and also very similar to what we found at Epcot. Except with princesses.

Well, in order to check out the Princess Fantasy Faire, I figured I needed to find myself a princess. Fortunately, Princess Katie came to the rescue.

Princess Katie, a dazed Theo, and some other kid wait patiently for the princesses

Before entering the Fantasy Faire, for some reason I thought there would be a number of them. Like maybe all of them. This turned out to be incorrect.

My first clue was when we walked in the front gate and saw Ariel (post-mermaid transformation). Ariel used to sit in this little seashell cove flapping her tail, which was adorable and shaded, but now she walks around like a real person, and it can be difficult to tell that it’s her because she is only shown as the human princess Ariel for like 0.00009 seconds in the movie.

Seriously, the hair is the only giveaway. That and I happened to have Princess Katie and her mom there and they said, “Oh look! It’s Ariel!” As we walked back to Fantasyland, we also came across Cinderella and Snow White.

Disney has a firm policy about characters. It’s the classic Disneyland trivia question: How many Mickeys are there in the park? One. You will never find a character in one part of the park and then stumble across them seconds later in another part. So once we passed Ariel, Cinderella, and Snow White, I truly began to wonder what the Fantasy Faire had in store for us.

The wait was relatively long–about 45 minutes. Bless my friend Kelli and Princess Katie, who waited in line and let Theo and me go knock ourselves out at Toontown only to join them at the last minute. Which was good because he definitely would not have waited that long. But typically the wait is about 60-90 minutes, sometimes more.

Once we were ushered in by a cast member whose costume was best described as “velvet carriage footman chic,” I realized that the whole Princess Fantasy Faire was really just three princesses.

THREE???

Seriously–if I’d waited 90 minutes only to find three princesses, I’d probably throw a fit and ask for Viedopolis to come back.

The upside is that the princesses really do spend some time with the kids chatting with them and being very princess-y. First we saw Sleeping Beauty:

Both Aurora and Katie are doing the hold-the-dress-out thing. Perhaps this is proper princess etiquette I wasn't aware of.

Theo was pretty skeptical. I couldn’t blame him, given all of that pink. At this point we were packing some serious baggage. We had Kelli’s camera, Princess Katie’s autograph book + pen, my camera, Theo’s autograph book + pen, a photo pass card, and probably some other crap I can’t remember. Seizing this perfect opportunity, I completely unloaded everything I was carrying into Kelli’s arms and asked her take a picture of us. The angle is a result of juggling too many items at the same time, not a deliberate artisic choice.

This angle reminds me of those wedding pictures that people take where it's at an angle and is supposed to be all artsy and stuff

After Aurora we moved to Mulan. Mulan happens to be my favorite princess for two reasons: 1) She’s not white, and lord knows we could use a little more diversity in our Disney entertainment, 2) She’s the one princess who, well, actually does sh*t. Mulan is not going to wait for fate to take over her life. Mulan is going to take her fate into her own hands and kick some ass in it.

I can totally get behind that.

Mulan admits Katie into the Royal Order of Ass Kicking Princesses

Once again, despite the princesses going out of their way to be nice and gentle and welcoming, Theo was still not having any of it.

Mom, I got my autograph. Now lemme go.

Finally we got to meet Belle, who is probably my second favorite princess. One of the reasons why I like Belle is because she doesn’t wear pink. Another reason is because she likes reading books. I can relate to that. And when the furniture starts talking to her, she is startled for a moment but then a catchy song happens and she just goes with the flow. I would like to think that if my furniture and dinnerware started a musical kick-line inviting me to be their guest, I’d just go with it myself.

Plus I love French food.

By the time we got to Belle, Theo seemed to understand that the princesses were not, in fact, there to put braids and ribbons in his hair or make him wear the ball gown that inevitably gets duplicated at costume parties because there really is only one way to dress as Sleeping Beauty and that’s it.

For that reason, Theo was more willing to go up and get his book signed.

You're less threatening than the other two. Maybe it's the lack of pink.

And then we got one final group shot. Katie really has the princess thing down.

Theo is a bit confused but Katie is all set to go

Coming out of the Fantasy Faire, there’s the Troubadour Tavern. I was excited up until I realized that they didn’t serve beer. What kind of tavern doesn’t sell beer? They shouldn’t even call it a tavern if they’re not going to sell beer.

Where's the beer???

So, the Princess Fantasy Faire. I think if you have a little girl who is into princesses, this is likely unavoidable unless you can somehow talk them out of wanting to be there. But if we’d waited a really long time, it would have been a massive letdown.

And don’t forget about my GIVEAWAY!!!!! Become my friend on Facebook and enter to win a free pair of mouse ears! I may even buy you pink princess mouse ears if you ask nicely! If you don’t friend me, I shall be forced to use more exclamation points!!!!!! And nobody wants that!!!!!!!!!!!

Just Goofing Around

So you’re probably tired of hearing how awesome the characters are, but you’re going to hear it again.

Today we stumbled upon Goofy over in Toon Town. I sent Theo up on his own and he seemed willing enough, but kind of froze when he reached Goofy. Goofy, of course, was completely unfazed. He just started doing what Theo was doing.

Theo is showing Goofy where Pluto is standing

I got Theo to look at me, but not turn toward me. Goofy had no problem with that one either, even though I accidentally cut off part of his head.

Hi Mom!

And then a really, really sweet picture.

Aww

The North(ish) Side of Frontierland

First, let’s talk about my sense of direction. Or lack thereof. I am not one of those people with a strong internal compass. Fortunately, Disneyland happens to be located with the front and back of the parks pretty much on a straight North-South axis. How convenient for me.

And rather than add a map of the park, I’m just going to point you to the official one. To orient you, the Main Gate is on the South side of the park. Main Street goes due North (more or less) ending in the Plaza ending at the castle. I will tend to give my directions based on the Plaza facing the castle.

Which is all just elaborate set up to say that today I’m going to talk about Frontierland, particularly one side at the entrance to Frontierland. From the Plaza facing the castle, Frontierland is on the left, and I’ll be talking about the right-hand side, so basically the North side.

Oh my god Shelby, can we just GET to the interesting part already???

The entrance to Frontierland is meant to look like a fort.

Welcome to Frontierland! Here there be cowboys.

Frontierland has a nice little touch on the ground–horseshoe and wagon marks in the concrete. Theo found this endlessly fascinating.

A horse has been here, or something

The first thing you come across is an informational sign on the door of the fort.

Translation below

For those lacking in acute visual skills, I’ll provide the text at the end of this post. Suffice to say it’s about the flags of the Revolutionary War, and supposedly all 13 of them fly above the fort. I was honestly only able to find, like, four.

There's a few--upper middle

There’s a different informational plaque on the other door into Frontierland, which I suppose I will talk about when I review the South side.

Once inside the gates, the first thing you come across is a pin store. Pin trading is really big at all of the Disney parks. I’m just going to have to make a whole separate post for pin trading. Let’s just leave it at there’s a pin store. Also, there are barrels outside so guests can do their own trading. Which I will cover later. Sometime.

Past the pin store, there’s the shooting gallery, or the Frontierland Shootin’ Exposition.

Rootin' Tootin' Shootin'

Disneyland really lacks in arcade-style games and there are only a handful. The Shootin’ Exposition is one of them. It only costs 50 cents too, which quite frankly is seriously cheap for Disneyland.

50 cents??? Yee-haw! I'm gonna shoot me some miniature fake tombstones!

And if you’re worried that you’re just throwing away your money on the guns (as opposed to generally throwing away your money in Disneyland), Disney does their best to help you be successful.

Look folks, the guns shoot straight, so if you're not hitting anything, don't blame us

You know, it just occurred to me right this very second (I think as I type) that I have never actually paid the money to shoot these rifles, and I didn’t do it this time either. I’d like to say it was because I didn’t want to leave Theo stranded in his stroller while I went on a shooting spree, but it’s actually just because I didn’t think about it.

Hey, I never claimed to be, like, thorough and organized, okay?

Anyway, if you don’t have a couple of quarters on you, you can use those old-fashioned change machines you never see these days anymore.

Disney aims for authenticity. If there were change machines in the Old West, this is probably what they would have looked like.

Like any shooting gallery, you aim at your standard Wild West scene. This one has large tombstones in the foreground and small houses in the back. I know that’s to visually create a sense of depth, but honestly it just kind of looks like the tombstones are freakishly large in proportion to the rest of this little town.

Apparently it's okay to shoot at people at Disneyland, as long as they are already dead and buried

And the rifles to indeed appear to be straight.

They're attached to the counter so you don't steal them

And then once you leave the shooting gallery, you get to the Rancho del Zocalo restaurant. This is (shockingly) a Mexican restaurant and is Kevin’s favorite restaurant in the park. The entrance is kind of tucked away and there are tables inside and outside. It’s a pretty good place to eat.

The restaurant entrance

Seating area

After that you are on your way to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which is another post. And that’s pretty much what you see on the North(ish) side of the entrance to Frontierland!

I'm pretty sure this is no longer politically correct

———————————–

The text of the sign on the fort (the capital letters are theirs, not mine):

FLAGS OF THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR

The 13 Flags displayed along the top of the log stockade are like those carried by American troops in the REVOLUTIONARY WAR. These standards represent the home counties, colonies, divisions and regiments of the soldiers.

One of the first flags to be unfurled bore the motto “LIBERTY AND UNION.” The famous rattlesnake flag with the motto “DON’T TREAD ON ME” was carried by the Minutemen in 1775.

For nearly a year after the founding of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, the country was without an official national flag. So on JUNE 14, 1777, Congress approved a flag with thirteen stripes, alternating red and white, and thirteen stars in a blue field, representing a new constellation.

And thus, the STARS AND STRIPES became our official national flag, and has since been a symbol of freedom, courage, hope and unity of America and her people.

 

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