Monthly Archives: July 2011

Crystal Arts

Among the shops on Main Street you’ll find the Crystal Arts shop. Now I’ll be honest with you–sometimes there are things that just make me say “why would you buy this?” and I’ve gotta say, the entire Crystal Arts shop is like that for me.

A rather plain outside, given how dazzling it is inside

I think perhaps part of the problem is that when I’m faced with that much glass that’s all displayed on glass, I can’t really figure out what I’m looking at.

A bunch of glass things

Of course there are things to drink out of

I think

Another thing I think puzzles me is that a large portion of what they have isn’t Disney-related at all. I mean, I can understand maybe wanting to take home a Mickey Mouse wine glass or something, but a cut glass vase? Why come all the way to Disneyland and pay Disneyland prices for that?

I guess part of it is that I’m cheap, so if I’m going to buy anything at Disneyland, it better be something clearly indicating that it came from Disneyland, know what I mean?

You can buy the castle in glass.

This would make an awesome weapon for intruders

I forgot to check how much that cost.

They also claim to have glass cutters, though I think that’s just window dressing.

Looking at the glass through the glass

I suppose maybe I’m spoiled, because when I think of quality cut glass I think of Waterford, and I have actually taken a tour of the Waterford factory in Ireland not once, but twice. It was very cool.

I guess people do buy these things–Crystal Arts isn’t the only place you can get them. I just can’t help but think gee, I’d hate to be there in an earthquake!

The Plaza Pavilion, Or The Single Most Wasted Space In The Entire Park

Today I’m going to talk to you about the Plaza Pavilion, which is the single most wasted space in the entire park. Now let’s face it–Disneyland does a pretty good job with its space. Sure, there are some major bottleneck areas (I’m looking at you, Adventureland throughway) and some not-so-well-planned viewing arrangements (like they showed Fantasmic for like 15 years before they realized it would be a good idea to come up with some kind of seating plan instead of a free-for-all wherever you were standing), but for the most part the space is well-used. Particularly given the amount of magic they cram into a property that is literally in the middle of a city.

However, there is one sad building whose beautiful potential is completely wasted on its current purpose, and that is the Plaza Pavilion.

What a lovely building!

And what is its current purpose?

Annual Passport Processing? Really?

Yep, they’ve got this beautiful building in a fabulous location, right at the end of Main Street overlooking the hub, and all they do there is process annual passes.

To get a better idea of the complete waste of space, look to your right.

It's a great big bunch of...nothing

Or look to your left.

More nothing

Doesn’t it look like the Plaza Pavilion would be a great restaurant? It was. Well, I don’t know if it was great, but it was a restaurant. A buffeteria, to be exact. Doesn’t the word buffeteria just SCREAM 1950s to you? They were so fond of mashups back then. The word buffeteria also reminds me of the word “cafetorium,” which was something we had in my middle school and high school and translates to “we’re too cheap to build a cafeteria and an auditorium so we’re just going to make it one building and create a cute word for it.”

I was always jealous of schools that had separate auditoriums.

Anyway, outside of the Plaza Pavilion you have the one and only inside-the-park booth for the Disney Vacation Club.

Uh-oh, a couple of people got roped in there

Now this is one major advantage Disneyland has over the Mouse-in-law: Disneyland only has one DVC booth in the entire park.(UPDATE: Reader correction–there are two! The other one is in Tomorrowland and apparently completely ignorable since I forgot about it )At the Mouse-in-law, there’s a DVC booth just about every 3 feet. I mean, in the entire resort there’s like one DVC booth for every 8 guests or something. And its little catchphrase is “Disney’s Best Kept Secret.” Which honestly, it’s not a secret if you can’t even walk a straight line without hitting a DVC booth.

Stay tuned to this blog and I will tell you about Disneyland’s REAL best-kept secret. Later.

Anyway, the DVC is a time share that you buy into where you can then go and stay at Disney properties. It’s a lot more popular in Florida than it is here. So if you want the DVC sales pitch, there is where you can get it inside of Disneyland.

They wouldn’t let me go inside the annual pass processing center, since I wasn’t buying or renewing an annual pass, but here’s a picture of the doorway.

Exciting

And over on the side there’s some seating for The Restaurant That Can’t Decide What It Wants To Be Called.

It's a nice place to sit

There have been a lot of rumors over the years as to what exactly Disneyland intends to do with the Plaza Pavilion. A rumor that sounds credible to me is that they are going to put annual pass processing over in CA Adventure (which I think is wise) and turn the Plaza Pavilion back into some kind of food-oriented venue. I heard speculation that it would be like a Mary Poppins-themed bakery, which I think would be really fun. But who knows.

Pooh Corner (Store)

As I said before, there’s not a lot in Critter Country–two rides, two stores, and a restaurant. As such, I rarely make it all the way back there unless I’m going on Splash Mountain. And to be honest, I don’t go on Splash Mountain very often, mainly because I don’t like walking around all wet unless it’s really hot out, and most of the time it’s hot out my pass is blocked. Plus it was closed for refurb for like the entire winter and just recently reopened.

Anyway, so not being back in Critter Country very often means that I haven’t been back to the Pooh Corner store (oh I forgot–there’s also the Pooh and Friends meet and greet there too). In fact, I didn’t even know it was named the Pooh Corner Store. Because it’s not. It’s just named Pooh Corner, which sounds all friendly and all until you realize that A. A. Milne’s version of Pooh Corner did not involve merchandising.

And the whole thing is all inside a tree!

In true Disneyland fashion, the theming goes all the way to the sky. I like the details above the entrance.

It's a tree house where nobody lives, except maybe Disneyland's stray cats

There are two parts of the store–actually I think it’s two stores, but anyway, I will refer to them by their technical names, “The Right Side” and “The Left Side” based on where they are located as you’re looking at the middle.

The Right Side is extensively Pooh-themed. This is the section I haven’t be in in forever.

Still high from his drug trip, Pooh pushes the limits of safety by engaging in thrill-seeking behavior

Which brings me to another thing I didn’t know existed–Pooh Corner has a candy-making window.

Wow! When did they put this in?

There’s another candy making window on Main Street (which I formerly thought was the only one) and that has always been one of my Top 3 desired Disneyland jobs (the other two being a Jungle Cruise Skipper and a Tour Guide). I don’t know why. In reality, standing there making candy for the entire shift is probably a lot of work. But maybe it’s just something leftover from childhood where wow, making CANDY ALL DAY LONG!!!!! seems really cool.

Anyway, they also sell treats that you can’t get in other parts of the park, like these:

Hunny Pot crispie treats

And Tigger Tails, which are a stick with marshmallows covered in caramel, orange-colored white chocolate, and drizzled with milk chocolate. And crack.

Sorry, no picture. Oops.

Pooh Corner also has a stuffed animal section, and first I need to talk about Theo and his Pooh Bear. This is a man who loves his Pooh Bear. He has three sleeping companions–a stuffed duck named Duckie, a blue blanket named Blanket, and a Pooh Bear. All are an integral part of sleeping.

Theo says good morning with Blanket and Pooh Bear (and also Giant Snoopy, but he doesn't sleep there, he was just visiting)

In fact, when we traveled to the East Coast last week, we brought along Duckie and Blanket but left Pooh Bear behind because he doesn’t really pack well. We thought it wouldn’t be a problem, since those were the 2 out of 3 crib friends we brought to the Mouse-in-law, but something apparently changed between February and June because leaving Pooh Bear behind was a big mistake. The first hotel we were at was a suite so Theo had his own room. After we put him to bed and closed the door, we heard “Pooh Bear? Pooh Bear? Pooh Bear?” for seriously like 15 minutes. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, but set a timer for 15 minutes and then say “Pooh Bear?” over and over in the most heart-wrenching, pathetic voice you can muster, and that was our first night. Pooh Bear was requested again at nap time, and the second night we had another round of “Pooh Bear?”s. By the third night we had finally convinced him that Pooh Bear was safe at home keeping Digory and Nyna company (Digory being the dog and Nyna being my friend Diana, who was house-sitting). He seemed mostly okay with that, but every night for the rest of the trip he said with maximum pathos, “Pooh Bear home. Pooh Bear home. Pooh Bear HOME.”

We’re going to get a travel-sized Pooh Bear before we go anywhere else.

Anyway, Pooh Corner happens to have a big display of exactly the Pooh Bear we have. Theo immediately spotted one. And seriously, I didn’t get a shot of his face, but his expression was like “Oh THERE you are, what are you doing here?”

Pooh Bear! Pooh Bear! Pooh Bear! Pooh Bear!

He insisted on holding one of them.

Hold it? Hold it? Hold it?

And then he made his move.

SHOPLIFTER!!!!!

He wasn’t really trying to steal it. It was like he thought that his own Pooh Bear had been strangely misplaced but it was okay, Theo was going to take him back home again. Which in Toddler Land makes perfect sense.

After the joy and delight that is The Right Side, you move to The Left Side, which is kind of disappointing. It’s really just your standard-issue merchandise without anything particularly interesting.

Except for the occasional toddler trying to make a break with a stolen Pooh Bear

The outside of The Left Side isn’t as cute either.

This is where Pooh picks up his mail though

In between the two sides is a quaint porch area.

Nowhere to sit though

Even if you’re not a Pooh fan, it’s worth your while to go check out Pooh Corner. I’ve only had a Tigger Tail once, but it is delicious. Very sweet, but also very good. I always forget about them though, particularly when I’m stuffing my face with popcorn and churros, but I’ll try to remember next time and take a picture for you.

The Magic, The Memories, and You!

As a part of their year of memories or whatever it’s called, Disneyland created a new nightly show. Disneyland shows never disappoint me, and this one was no exception. In fact, it’s completely stunning. The show is projected on the facade of “it’s a small world,” but unlike the psychedelic ¬†frantic Christmas thing they do, it’s actually really amazing. The feature of the show is photos of guests from that day. So you–YOU–could be a part of this show!

How many photos, you ask?

500.

I’m not kidding. The pictures go by REALLY fast, some much faster than others, and there are lots of them at the same time. Honestly it would be very, very easy to miss yourself in the show. Like “I’ll just look for the cute kid with Goofy!” and realizing that there are 43 cute kids with Goofy and 27 ugly ones in the show. Just kidding about the ugly. Mostly.

The pictures all come from PhotoPass photographers during the day and get digitally entered in at night. I actually found that out after my photo session, which happened to be on my last visit before summer blockout. But when my pass is working again, am I going to spend the day getting my picture taken by every PhotoPass photographer I can find in an attempt to get in the show?

Of course I am. What blog do you think you’re reading?

The show starts like every other–the Magic Voice Of Disneyland’s Version Of God comes booming out of the speakers about 15 minutes beforehand telling you that the show will be happening and they’re going to turn down the lights for it so please don’t trip over anyone. The Voice then provides periodic reminders in a tone just one level below Monster Truck Rallies, and then finally the lights do go down and Small World turns white, which is really weird because it never looks like that.

Oh em gee, what happened to Small World?

It can be tough to find a place to stand. I ended up precariously balanced on the edge of that platform thingie (technical term) sort-of by the churro cart but farther down, but on that side.

You know the one.

Then I used my zoom lens a lot. The disadvantage of my position was a pole in front of me, which will be painfully obvious in all of the photos in this post. Sorry.

The show is technically a projection show, but it’s an animated projection. First a bunch of vines grow up from the ground.

Someone get a weed whacker--it's taking over Small World

At various stages, people’s pictures start appearing. Now honestly, it would really be impossible to try to look at all the pictures to see if one is you, since the facade is pretty big. My advice is that if you know you’re in the show, get there early, get an elevated spot, and video the whole thing. Am I going to be doing that?

Of course I am.

After the vines grow, Tinkerbell flies across leaving a trail of pixie dust

I just missed getting a shot of Tinkerbell herself

Oh wait, maybe it’s bubbles. Kind of looks like bubbles. My memory is so bad. Anyway, two things are definitely true: One, at one point Tinkerbell DOES come out and spread some pixie dust around, and Two, I didn’t get a picture of it.

The Dumbo comes out, and Small World really manages to look not-Small-Worldey.

I also just missed getting a picture of Dumbo

There are times when they focus more on guest pictures than Small World effects

There's like a billion princess pictures

And sometimes when the effects focus more on Small World itself.

These colors are awesome

There are lots of different ways to present the pictures, like in clouds, for example.

The clouds float around

Many of the scenes depicts Disneyland rides. Some of them more than one.

The hitchiking ghosts from Haunted Mansion are over on the left, as well as Minnie in a tea cup

And then one of my most favorite women in the entire universe, Julie Andrews, comes out to sing.

In every task that must be done...

This one was one of my favorites–the effect features what looks like scaffolding and Goofy and his friends start building.

If you wear a Goofy hat, you may get in this scene

There’s a great Pirates of the Caribbean scene.

There's also a cool Haunted Mansion scene with dancing skeletons, but once again, I missed getting a picture of that

This next one was my most favorite of all. They make Small World look like the castle. And seriously, it looks so real I had to go back later and see if the shape of Small World is actually the same as the castle or if it was just that good.

It was just that good

Another cool effect was when they “drew” Small World and then “colored it in.” I’m using the quotation marks appropriately here.

No actual drawing or coloring took place

Then there was more growing things. I think these are rose vines and are supposed to represent Sleeping Beauty, but don’t quote me on that. And don’t “quote” me on that either.

These pictures were flying around

Then the facade got white again and we got several old, sepia-toned pictures and videos. These aren’t actually from that day, but are boilerplate from pictures people submitted over the internet when Disneyland was looking for pictures like this last year to put in this show.

The one in the middle is a video of, I don't know, the tea cups or Autopia or something iconic like that

It was blow out the candles time, again with a guest-submitted video prior to the show.

"My wish is...to go to Knott's Berry Farm!"

Then the pictures totally started flying.

Bam! Bam! Bam!

There were integrated pictures throughout the show, but this last part (we’re near the end, btw), they just started throwing them out there like a rapid-fire machine gun.

This is where you'd need a video to see yourself

Then they made Walt out of pictures.

It is Walt, I promise

Then there were several more pictures, and the whole facade lit up.

WOW!

And just like that, the show is over. The lights come on, and Small World turns back into Small World again. And then depending on the schedule, it becomes the world’s biggest bottleneck as the fireworks come on a short while afterwards and everyone needs to either stay on the side of Small World or get on the other side of Fantasyland because the main part of Fantasyland closes for the fireworks. We headed over to Autopia, where we got to see the fireworks from the ride itself. That was pretty cool.

Expect another post on this one once I get myself into the show, ladies and gentlemice. Count on it ;).

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