Monthly Archives: June 2011

Watch Shop

Of all of the shops on Main Street, I have to say that my second-favorite is the Watch Shop. My favorite being the Magic Shop, of course.

Anyway, the Watch Shop is located right next to the Carnation Cafe.

Gift and Jewelry, and watches

There is also a bathroom back in here, in case you need to duck out and use one before you get to the end of Main Street.

It's rarely crowded

The watch shop is super-cool because not only does it carry watches, it also carries a watch artist. That is, you can get a hand-drawn watch all for yourself.

Or a ghost artist sometimes

I can’t even tell you how long I’ve been coveting one of those things. A long time.

There’s a big book of designs you can pick out, from the iconic…

If you were just sitting here thinking "Man, I really want to buy Shelby a watch," then this is the one I'd like.

…to the obscure

Pablo the penguin? This has GOT to be one of their best sellers.

There are other watches for sale

I'd probably like any of these too, but Alice would be my first choice

And the custom-drawn ones you can buy in color or black and white.

The black and white ones are more affordable, but seriously? If you're getting an artist watch, go big or go home. Which means that I was my Alice in color.

Now after admiring all of these lovely watches, you look around and find some freakishly scary dog statue guarding some ugly handbags.

Don't worry, he doesn't bite.

There are also some Ed Hardy-esque monstrosities to buy.

No, thank you

And over on another wall, the budget watches.

For when you don't really care about the giftee

The till area is very cool.

I might want this for my bedroom

Rapunzel also makes an appearance. UPDATE! Reader correction: It’s not Rapunzel, it’s Jasmine.

Who is stifling the voices of women here???

The watch shop naturally segues into the jewelry shop next door.

Honestly, why would you buy beaded stuff you can get for 1/4 of the price at home? It's not like they're Disney in any way.

These are the budget rings, to match your cheap-ass watch.

See the comment on the previous picture

There are also some more expensive pieces, like diamond Mickeys

I was totally getting the stink-eye when I was taking this picture. Like I'm casing the joint or something.

Step outside, and here’s the entrance to the jewelry store.

Here ya go.

Once upon a time, the jewelry store used to carry a lot of really classy, high-end jewelry, but it really doesn’t anymore. Oh, and that’s also Theo’s stroller at the bottom of the picture, where I abandoned him to take these pictures.

Hook and Ladder Company

As I said before in my posts about the Pearly Band, the Straw Hatters, and the Bootstrappers, I really was unaware of so much of the roving entertainment. Walt was big on music and it absolutely shows. I was always rather hell-bent on getting to Space Mountain or wherever that I blew past the entertainers, even the ones I knew existed (like the Dapper Dans).

But those days are over. Now I’m paying attention.

I knew the Hook and Ladder company existed but I had never actually stopped to watch them.

They do interrupt the performance if there should be an emergency in the park, like a cat getting stuck in a tree.

Five adorable fire fighters in oldey timey costumes! I particularly loved the drummer, as his instrument looked like it was made from different fire equipment.

I wonder if this drum thing goes all Transformers if they need the equipment back

The Hook and Ladder Company also have an important mascot.

Shockingly, his name is Spot

As far as life-size ratio to the piano, I would put little Spot at about 4 days old. Anyway, just like over with the Straw Hatters, watching the group really pays off, because guess who showed up?

Sing it now, Cruella DeVille, Cruella DeVille...

Cruella did a little round about the audience and I think she was trying to affect  rich-woman-meets-the-crazy, but actually she ended up looking a little bit drunk.

Okay, a lot drunk.

It doesn’t take her long to find Spot. Because obviously if you’re looking for a dalmatian, then a fire house is the place to be.

"I want to buy that dog." "Um, no."

Her dog purchase unsuccessful, Cruella then hit up the audience for a volunteer. The guy next to me, Bill, was totally game. Cruella shared one of her many coats and hats with him.

I don't think Bill realized that dressing in drag was part of the schtick when he volunteered

I have to say, though, that Bill was pretty much all kinds of awesome, as he danced with a drunken Cruella.

Please, Disney, tell me that cloak isn't made of puppies. I know you're all for authenticity and all, but...

They polished off the dance with a kickline like something out of A Chorus Line, if A Chorus Line featured Cruella DeVille and fire men playing instruments. And a guy from the audience in drag.

One singular sensation

Cruella then absconded with Spot, which the children in the audience lost no time in telling the fire chief.

Remember kids, it's not tattling if someone's in trouble

Cruella left empty-handed, thank God. There’s nothing worse than a cloak made from the pelts of stuffed dogs OH MY GOD THAT’S WHERE IT CAME FROM!!!

Next, our favorite firefighters, Chip and Dale, came out. They had their own axes, ready to break down a door if someone gets stuck in a bathroom stall or something. Actually, their dance was so cute I’m just going to post a bunch of pictures in a row.

Was that adorable or WHAT??? I seriously love the way they get kids (and Bill) involved in these little performances. I’ll bet that’s a memory those families will never forget!

Finally, we had one more visitor.

Well hello there

Goofy’s job was to lead us all in a dance.

Shake those hips now

If you didn’t want to dance, Goofy threatened to eat your head in the way that only a Disney costumed character can do.

Yes, I'm talking to YOU! Except I'm not talking.

We were supposed to roll our hands, and it actually took a while for me to catch on that we were supposed to be doing it too. I’d like to say it was because I was holding a camera in one hand, but really it was just because I wasn’t paying attention very closely.

You! With the camera! Roll your hands or I'll bite your head off!

We all ended with a flourish.

It's fun to stay at the YMCA

And with that, the Hook and Ladder Company bid us farewell and went on with their largely ceremonial duties. I have to say, if you come across some performers, find a piece of shade and sit down to watch a bit. It’s totally worth it.

“it’s a small world”

I write “it’s a small world” in quotes and lower case letters because the Disneyland site does. I think maybe the lower case letters are supposed to convey the smallness of the world, or at least the world inside the quotes. I don’t know. Anyway, I really think Small World (I’m bucking convention here) gets a bad rap. Yes, the song is repetitive, but inside the ride they sing it in several different languages. And when they did the refurb they really spruced up all of the dolls. I think the ride is fantastic, and if you have little kids, it’s awesome with them.

I already wrote about the holiday Small World so I’ll just sum up briefly here. Small World opened at Disneyland in 1966, a time when the average Disneyland guest weighed  lot less than they do today. Yes, that’s significant. Because as the guests got heavier, the boats sunk lower in the water, and the “river” was powered only by water current. Your boat would frequently get stuck. They closed the ride for a complete refurb and while it was closed they added some Disney and Pixar characters to the scenes. At first I thought this was going to be a total nightmare, but I actually think they did it well.

The clock face outside of Small World is totally famous.

Totally famous.

Every 15 minutes, it turns into the world’s largest cuckoo clock (not a fact, I’m just speaking off the cuff. I’m sure there’s a larger cuckoo clock somewhere in Germany) and little dolls from different countries come out and circle by.


Now there are two lines for Small World boats. One is physically shorter than the other, and I used to think that one was faster, but in fact that one is the handicap-accessible line so the boats often slow down to help people who need extra time boarding. So the one closest to the clock face is the fastest one usually.

Small World also features a number of topiary animals. I find topiary animals just a little bit creepy since reading The Shining by Stephen King, but mostly they’re awesome.

The Loch Ness Monster exists! At Disneyland!

Here’s a pretty good picture of the boats and loading area.

Good pictures can be a bit few and far between on this blog

You’ll notice in the trough there’s a groove down the middle. The boats are no longer carried entirely by water current anymore. They can get a helping hand every once in a while.

Now I want to make it clear that Theo really likes this ride. He has been on it a number of times and completely enjoyed it. So it was really baffling when we got to the boat loading dock and he completely lost it. We were going to put him and Anderson and Annika together in the row ahead of us, but when I tried to get him in, he started kicking and screaming and going limp and saying “No! No! No!”

It was so unexpected, really. I tried to get him to sit in the row in front but he was throwing such a fit I thought he might pitch himself out of the boat entirely, so I unceremoniously dumped him in our row and then followed him in and pinned him down.

Unsurprisingly, this little incident caught the attention of, well, everyone. I kept saying, “Theo, you love this ride!” and people were looking at me like “Lady, he clearly does not love this ride.” And the people in line were giving me looks like “Are we going to have to stop the whole ride so this crazy lady can get her child off?” I could just feel the Mommy of the Year Award slipping through my very fingers. And Kristin, helpful as always, was saying “Give me your camera–I want to get a picture of this tantrum!”

Then just as quickly as it began, it stopped, so by the time Kristin got ahold of the camera, this is what turned out.

No visible evidence of the trauma sustained mere seconds prior.


Anyway, you float away from the loading dock and enter into the Tunnel of Doom.

Or the Tunnel of Happiness or whatever

One thing I love about Small World is that throughout all of the years and renovations, they have not changed the artwork, so it still maintains its mid-60’s flair. I mean, you’d have to pretty much re-do then ENTIRE RIDE if you wanted to change the artwork, but back in the 80’s everyone thought that kind of thing was a Great Idea so I can say that I’m pleased Disneyland didn’t mess with it.

I think this introductory part is really to help your eyes adjust

Also adding to the retro feel is the fact that Small World is sponsored by Sylvania. I do remember as a child watching Sylvania light bulb commercials, but I very much associate Sylvania with a time when people needed to be sold on a brand-name light bulb. And honestly, when I saw the sponsor, my first reaction was “Does Sylvania even exist anymore?” It does, and apparently it’s gone all LED to compete and stuff. I don’t know how much money they give to Disneyland for Small World, but that’s money they certainly didn’t put into their website, which looks like something I designed in a tech writing class in 1996.


Then you start moving through the various rooms. Sometimes it’s hard to know what country or continent or little chunk o’ the globe you’re supposed to be traveling through, but usually there are clues to orient you somewhere.

That's First Nations artwork over the door, and a Mountie--CANADA!

Some are very straightforward.


In the British Isles room you encounter your first Disney character. Like I said, I was really nervous about how they were going to pull this off, but I think they did a great job fitting it in.

When we were in Oxford in 2009, we visited the Sweet Shop where Alice Liddell used to buy her candy.

Since I’m a huge Alice fan, I like that scene.

And how often do you see Cinderella WITHOUT the blue dress?

This is so charming

It’s refreshing, I tell you. If it weren’t for the mice, you wouldn’t even know it was Cinderella.

This German display goes out to Melinda and her family in Bavaria.


Sorry about the photo quality there, Melinda. It’s the thought that counts.

It’s actually pretty easy to miss Aladdin and Jasmine in the Middle East section.

Hint: a whole new wooooooorrrrrlllllllldddddd

And interestingly, Standard Research Methodology, Aladdin was not originally part of the Arabic versions of the One Thousand and One Nights. Hunh.

Over in China we find my favorite ass-kicking princess, Mulan.

And seriously, who DOESN'T want a talking pet dragon named after my favorite Chinese dish?

Some of the scenes are more fanciful than others, like Africa Dipped In Pink.

It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you...

And some I just couldn’t figure out at all.

Where the hell IS this?

UPDATE: Reader correction–This is the Andes! Which also answers my other question, “where is South America represented?”

And let’s not forget the joyous world under the sea. There was already a mermaid scene, so it was kind of a no-brainer to throw Ariel in there. However, they kept the existing other mermaid dolls, so those don’t quite match with Ariel’s sisters in the movie.

Maybe they're distant cousins or something

Over in the Tahitian-ish room you have one of my favorite scenes from when I was little–the hula dancers. For some reason, those grass skirts shaking all at the same time was utterly fascinating to me.

shake shake shake shake shake shake

Then new after the refurb was the good old U. S. of A. Or maybe it’s not new and I never noticed it before, but I’m pretty sure it’s new.

We're all farmers

I think they needed the room to stick in Woody and Jessie. However, out of all of the additions to Small World, I really hate these. I don’t know why they couldn’t just make them dolls like everyone else. I think they look horrible.


However, if you are avid Woody and Jessie aficionados like Anderson and Annika, you keep looking at them even when your boat has passed them.

Still looking

After America you get to the Grande Finale room, which is where all of the other rooms send representative delegations to hammer out world peace by wearing traditional clothes, dancing their native dances, and singing in English.

I'd like to teach the world to sing...

A giant sun bids you a friendly farewell as your journey comes to an end.

This doorway is actually cooler in the holiday version

Then you can send oversized postcards to your friends reminding them that you’re at Disneyland and they are not.

Weather is here, wish you were beautiful

Then you drift back out into the outside world. Kevin likes this part because it’s the only attraction in the park where the “stay seated please” is repeated in German.

And I have to say, of all of the rides repeated at Walt Disney World, the Small World there left me shocked and speechless, it was so bad. The rooms were jumbled and crowded, nobody was singing in their languages (or singing at all, I think they had the music turned way down), it was impossible to tell where in the world you were at any given time. As far as Small World goes, the original is DEFINITELY the best.

So give Small World a chance. There’s so much to see in there and I think you’ll really like it.

A Very Merry Unbirthday

No, this post isn’t about Alice in Wonderland. I’m actually straying from Disneyland to post about Theo’s half-birthday party. Why? Because it’s my blog and I can. Plus a large amount of time this week was spent preparing for it. Wednesday was my birthday and no, I didn’t go to Disneyland because my pass was blocked out, sadly, but it did give me extra time to prepare for today.

Theo’s actual birthday is Christmas Eve–the best Christmas present I’ve ever gotten! However, it’s not an ideal day for a birthday, so we do a half-birthday party in June and a family-only low-key thing in December. So this year I decided to do a Disneyland storybook theme. That’s right, not Disneyland or Disney or even remotely Disney, just Theo’s favorite books. Why? Because it’s my blog and I can. Also, there’s way too much Disney stuff out there and I’d like to try to avoid Disney-themed parties as long as possible.

Yes, I do get the irony on a Disneyland blog.

Anyway, so Theo’s favorite books are Where the Wild Things Are, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Mouse Paint, and Freight Train. Well he’s got others (like Go Dog Go!) but those are the ones I did for the party. I also had a very special party favor–a friend of mine happens to be the author of another great book, Library Lion, so I bought a bunch of copies of those and had her autograph them for the kids, thus solidifying this as the Coolest Party Favor Ever (or at least until Theo’s 16th birthday, where everyone gets a car).

I started with Where the Wild Things Are party invitations.

I bought this design on Etsy and had them printed by Shutterfly

I had some other vague plans for incorporating more WtWTA aspects, but they didn’t pan out. Oh well.

For food, I went with the Very Hungry Caterpillar, of course. The pièce de résistance of the party was the cupcake caterpillar. Now, I’d seen pictures of this cupcake creation online and thought “how hard can it be?” And as it turns out, not really hard, just very, very time consuming. Here’s the finished product.

but he was STILL hungry!

I have to say, I’m remarkably proud of myself. And this took 4 and a half hours to make (including the baking and cooling time). I really feel like I deserve some kind of special award or extra credit or gold star for that, but unfortunately none was forthcoming, so instead I walked around the party saying incessantly “Did you see my caterpillar? It took me 4 and a half hours!”

Everyone nodded, either with appreciation or appeasement.

I don’t exactly have a background in cake decorating. In fact, before making the cupcakes I decided to go out and buy some real decorating bags and a tip. My college roommate Mary was in town so I dragged her out and we had no idea what we were looking for. I mean, we pretty much randomly just picked a decorating tip. But it turned out okay. The fondant I bought pre-made and I’m particularly proud of the caterpillar’s head.

Did you hear? This took me 4 and a half hours!

As a special added touch, I used the rest of the green fondant and cut out leaf shapes with a cookie cutter, then carved the details with a butter knife. See what I mean about deserving a gold star?

Next year we’re getting an ice cream cake.

I also followed the book for the fruit spread. Because the cake took so long (4 and 1/2 hours!), I didn’t have time to cut the fruit, so my mom and Theo’s honorary grandma did all the fruit cutting for me. Which is basically like, come to my party and do my work for me. And enjoy yourself when you’re done. And here, have a glass of wine, which you brought.

I’m an exemplary hostess.

Apples, pears, plums, strawberries, and oranges, but he was STILL hungry!

(we did provide our own wine, beer, and other unimportant beverages)

I did a little setup for our two games, and by “I” I mean my dad and Theo’s honorary grandpa. Again with the hostessing. Anyway, the guests started arriving. We have a tragic lack of toys in our house, so the children were bored to tears with nothing to play with.

Anderson immediately went for the train. Annika went for the kitchen. I should have had her do the fruit.

That’s Anderson of Jedi Training Academy fame, by the way.

Our porch railing self-destructed at our last party (I know, you are seriously dying to come over now) so Kevin spent the week rebuilding it, only to find at every step that the damage underneath was much more than expected. Much like my fruit cutting, Kevin also ran out of time on the stair rails. And he has a much better excuse than spending 4 and 1/2 hours on a cake–he was actually working and making money. Anyway, we decided to just tell everyone to be careful on the stairs and have them sign a waiver coming in.

Turns out that the stairs were like the highlight of the party.

The half-birthday boy clings to Mommy for his dear life

Phoebe was getting awfully close to the edge, but her parents aren’t the type of people to sue, so I just took a picture instead.

I love tutus, but Theo won't stand for them. Or sit either.

Vivienne really liked the stairs.

Going down

I mean she really, really liked the stairs.

Going up.

No, I didn’t make them sign a waiver. But only because I didn’t think of it until after the whole party was over.

Theo is very lucky to be surrounded by grandparents and great-grandparents. Here’s Kevin’s side.

Grandma Cindy, Great-Grandma Lola, Great-Grandpa Lee, Grandpa Ken

Wesley was our youngest guest, so we had to get a close-up.

Where's the action, man?

It was hotter than expected, but people made due in the shade. Also, more grandparents.

Grandpa Gary, Grandpa Moo, Grandma Z, Grandma Shirley, and Digory (not a grandparent)

We decided to round the kids up for our first game. It was a very cute setup that unfortunately I didn’t really get any pictures of, which kind of bites. This was a very short and straightforward obstacle course based on the book Freight Train. In the book, the train runs across the tracks and goes in and out of tunnels, in darkness and light, etc. I narrowed it down to in and out of tunnels, past a city, and over a trestle. I also scanned pictures from the book and stuck them to the side of the house with masking tape. And believe it or not, I actually did that part MYSELF.

Anyway, we lined the kids up to navigate the course. Both elements.

Viktor, Annika, Anderson, and Theo are ready to be freight trains.

Now at this point, Theo and Phoebe had a toy-hogging thing going on, and by toy-hogging I mean Theo being a toy hog. Usually they play well together, but anyway, when we lined up for  freight train, Phoebe took the opportunity to grab the bug collecting box from Theo and then refused to give it back. Tears were involved.

Phoebe goes for the getaway with the toy

I’m not really sure where Vivienne was. I think she kind of flipped out or something. And I say that in a loving way. Anyway, the kids carefully traversed the course.

Theo with Mommy's help

Anderson was not far behind

Viktor did a great job

We even had Wesley give it a shot in an attempt to entice Phoebe back into playing.

Phoebe was not impressed

After the party I realized I hadn’t taken pictures of the setup. Kevin had already taken them down, so I made him go back to the recycling bin and pull out my city scene for a picture. Unfortunately it had sustained a slight tear, which Kevin fixed with masking tape.

I'm very proud of myself, but not as proud as I am about the cake

Then we got everyone into painting smocks for the next game. These are Daddy’s old t-shirts.

Theo was extremely concerned about his juice box

The next game was based on Mouse Paint. If you haven’t read the book, it’s about these three little mice who find three jars of paint in primary colors and dip themselves in them. Then they do little dances among the other puddles to make secondary colors, like red feet in a yellow puddle make orange!

I scanned and printed out some pages from Mouse Paint, then covered a box in butcher paper and put it in the center of the table.

There are books inside the box to keep it weighted down

This book is so cute, you really have to read it

I decided we would do some general fingerpainting.

Covered the table in plastic and butcher paper and just went for it.

For paint, I used vanilla pudding and food coloring. It actually worked really well, except since the pudding was a bit yellowish, I had to add an inordinate amount of blue dye to the blue bowl.

Some of the kids got the idea better than others.

Annika dug right in

However, Theo, on the end, could not possibly be less interested.

This stuff is weird

Phoebe made some great art

With a little help from her Daddy

And honestly, I think the difference between being 2 and 1/2 and 4 are pretty huge as far as understanding this kind of activity.

That handprint is actually really awesome

And speaking of the difference between a 4 year old and anyone, Vivienne (who is almost exactly 1 year younger than Theo) was a bit confused.

This shirt is way too big for me.

Or maybe age has nothing to do with it, given that Phoebe is  couple months younger than Theo.

Phoebe and Anderson doing the final hand smear

Anderson was proud to show off his handiwork. Get it? HANDiwork? Ha ha ha.

Get out the hose

While waiting for the pizza to be delivered, Carissa took the opportunity to hold an alcoholic beverage in each hand. I think maybe having a baby is more difficult than I remember.


Doesn’t that porch rail look great?

More chitchat with a couple of my favorite teens.

Kristen, Grandma Z, and Chelsea

Theo only had eyes for the cake.

Can we eat it yet?

And here’s a  photo montage of Theo Meets Cupcake.

Viktor, on the other hand, was significantly more civilized.

All in all, I think Theo got 2 and 1/2 cupcakes, which has a nice sort of feel for this party.

After some last minute baby kissing, people headed home.

Chelsea, Kristen, and Wes

And that was our successful party! Everyone seemed to have a good time and it was fun having people over and making them do my party prep for me. But all in all, we were thankful to everyone who came to celebrate with us!

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