Monthly Archives: May 2012

Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree

Yee-haw! It’s time to mosey on over to the back of the park–no, not Toon Town, the other back of the park–for a round-up Jamboree (speaking of which, I haven’t done a Search Engine Roundup in a while, have I?).


So back behind Big Thunder Ranch there’s a big space with a stage. There used to be a Hunchback of Notre Dame stage thing there at one point, but I never saw it.  Well, it’s got a new thing now, and that new thing is the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree!

You know, you would think it would occur to me to take pictures of the entrances to things instead of just the things inside of the things, but I forgot, so…

[insert picture of Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree sign here]

The Jamboree consists of three different things: character meet and greet, interesting booths and stuff for kids to do, and performances. The character meet and greet is what initially drew me back there.

Theo was not in the least bit interested in taking this picture

Actually I say “initially drew me back there” because I had heard of this Jamboree thing but hadn’t been over to check it out or anything, and then I get this Facebook message from my friend Kristin, who was like “OMG DID YOU KNOW THERE ARE CHARACTERS ALL OVER THE PLACE FOR PICTURES WITH NO LINES AND IT’S SOMEWHERE BACK BEHIND THE COWS AND STUFF???” Not a direct quote, but that was the gist. And I thought oh yeah, that’s what the Jamboree is!

Theo was so uninterested in taking a picture with Goofy that he wouldn’t even let me put the stroller up next to him, so here’s someone else’s kid interacting with Goofy.

There were a bunch of characters there, all dressed in Western outfits–even Clarabelle the cow and Horace the horse.

While Theo couldn’t be bothered to post for a picture with the characters, he was completely enchanted by this stationary fake cow in the bushes.

He found it so fascinating I felt obliged to take a picture of it.

There were booths of traditional Western-type crafts and such. For example, quiltmaking.

A brief explanation of quilt making, which is to say, making quilts

And demonstrations.

They were kind of cheating by using machines. They should be sitting their spinning their own wool into thread, then thread into fabric, then fabric into quilts, if they really want authenticity

My mother in law is a fabulous quilter, by the way.

Theo really liked the wood carver.

Explanation of wood carving, which is to say, carving wood

They had a Real Live Woodcarver there, and he was really a nice guy.

Unlike another prominent Disney woodcarver, this one was not carving a wooden boy because he wanted a real son and it was the next best thing

His table of carvings was impressive. Unfortunately, none were for sale.

The Disney characters were awesome!

And look! There’s a Pinocchio! Heh.

For the kids, you could try out twirling a lasso

It was kind of a cheater lasso, really

But Theo’s favorite part was the low-tech one


You could just pick up your free coloring sheet and the little tables had baskets of crayons.

Finally, Theo’s having a good time

The best part was the performance.

Howdy Y’all!

Naturally, the music featured…

Farley the Fiddler!

Farley’s awesome, y’all.

The dancers grabbed willing audience participants to do a little country dancing.

A little country dancing

And they had some helpers

It’s Mickey and Minnie, y’all!

Right now the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree is on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and I believe in the summer season you’ll find it every day. Check your daily entertainment guide!


Musical Chairs with the Mad Hatter (and Giveaway!)

Yep, time for the second Fantasmic! popcorn bucket giveaway! Details below…

Today we’re going to chat about playing musical chairs with the Mad Hatter. I had heard of this but had never actually witnessed it myself until one day when I was enjoying the amazing hot angus beef sandwich at the Jolly Holiday Bakery (highly recommend) and I glanced over into the Coke Corner (also known as The Restaurant That Can’t Decide What It Wants To Be Called) to see Alice and the Mad Hatter come over and start arranging chairs in a circle.

This happened at about 2:30, by the way.

Participants: Alice, Mad Hatter, Piano Player, Children, and Chairs

My understanding is that Alice is not always present at this event.

The Mad Hatter selected children from the surrounding tables to play, and went into a lengthy speech that made little sense

In the way that speeches by the Mad Hatter never make sense

Thankfully, Alice was there to translate. Musical chairs then commenced, but the Mad Hatter couldn’t abide by a regular old game of musical chairs.

Oh no, he could not.

The children had to do a number of things while circling the chairs.

First they merely had to skip.

Pretty straightforward

But then, they had to pretend to be pirates with a peg leg, and hop on one foot, cover one eye with a hand to simulate an eye patch, and make the other hand into a hook.

Easier said than done

The Mad Hatter enjoyed waxing rhapsodically, but Alice did not approve.

Blah Blah Blah…

Get. To. The. Point.

A pair of sisters were responsible for the first “cheek check.”

Mine! No, mine! No, mine! No, mine!

The Cheek Check involved the pair having a dance-off.

This little girl spun in circles and also did an impressive cartwheel

This little girl did a seriously awesome Running Man.

The game continued until, predictably, there were only two children left.

And ZOMG only one chair!!!

The pianist struck up a tune and Alice led the finalists around the courtyard, through the quick service window, and basically around a lot of stuff while the Mad Hatter added a bunch of chairs to the stack.


The finalists were understandably confused about where they should sit when the music stopped. However, the Mad Hatter declared them both winners.

And the prize?

They got to put the chairs away. HA!

The musical chairs performance was such a fabulously fun performance, I highly recommend anyone hanging out near the Coke Corner at around 2 or 2:30 to see if you can catch it!

And oh yeah, the giveaway? Popcorn bucket number 2!!! Pictures are over on this entry right here. Enter by leaving a comment HERE saying…oh, I don’t care what you say. Just leave a comment, okay? 😉

Disneyland Fire Department Firehouse

You’re doing a little shopping on Main Street, U.S.A., and suddenly…there’s a cat in a tree! Who do you call? The fire department!

Save the kitty!

Okay, just kidding. There are no cats in trees on Main Street in Disneyland.

During the day.

There are feral cats that roam the park mostly at night, but I’ve only ever spotted one once, and that was by the Hungry Bear back in Critter Country.

Today I’m talking about the Disneyland Fire Department. Located next to City Hall, the firehouse has a very special feature.

Of course you know what this is…

Yep, Walt’s apartment! Walt himself kept a very small apartment in the park above the fire station. There’s a lamp in the window, and when he was alive he’d turn it on whenever he was in the park. Now it’s kept on continuously in memory.

Here’s the firehouse from another angle.

I’m not really sure why I took this picture

The main feature of the firehouse is, of course, the fire engine.

Pulled by horses, since it’s the turn of the century and all. The last turn of the century, not the most recent one.

There’s rooms for the horses

The stalls are small, and for some reason, empty

And important supplies for the horses

There’s also a fold-out table with a checkerboard here


There’s also a decorative fire pole.

Walt used the stairs

The firehouse is charming–stop in and ring the bell! And stick around to see if you can catch the Hook and Ladder Company (check your entertainment guide!).

Walk in Walt’s Footsteps

Did you know Disneyland has guided tours? I did. I always wanted to be one of the tour guides, in their plaid skirts and natty vests holding their riding crops like a flag.

I also thought guided tours were just for rich people who didn’t feel like reading a map.

Turns out there’s a variety of tours you can take, including the one I took called “Walk in Walt’s Footsteps.” This tour goes around the parts of Disneyland that Walt himself walked and includes both the tour guide’s telling of history and trivia and Walt’s actual words on recording.

I should also add that I took this tour with my friend Kristin and her mom, Sara. So Kristin has been bugging me to do a tour for MYWTM, and she also has a tradition with her mom where she takes her mom on a mystery trip for mother’s day. Kristin decided that we should all do the Walt’s Footsteps tour for said trip.

Oh, did I mention the part where Kristin’s brother owns a limo, so I drove Theo to preschool early, hopped into the limo there, went to Disneyland on our guided tour, then took the limo back to preschool and picked Theo up again? Dude, it was surreal.

This picture was actually taken after the tour, but you get what I mean

Kristin had also thoughtfully brought mimosas to sip on the way to Disneyland. Everyone needs a friend like her.

We were a tad late for the tour (note: they start pretty much on time), but we quickly grabbed our headsets and got caught up.

There are earphones that plug into a receiver you wear around your neck

Which lemme tell you, this type of electronic system is miles better than trying to shout to everyone.

Our tour guide, Sandi

Our tour guide, Sandi, was very cute. We started in Town Square where I assume she pointed out Walt’s apartment over the fire station. I’ll blog about that later. At any rate, we caught up with the group and followed Sandi down Main Street.

Seriously, I would totally love this job

We stopped at the Hub for some Disneyland history and trivia. Walt wanted his park to be easy to navigate, so he designed the Hub with entrances to each of the lands. You can see directly into each land (Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, and Frontierland) except for Adventureland. That’s because Walt wanted Adventureland to be an adventure, so you have to walk around the corner to get there.

This I did not know.

I took a moment to get a shot of Kristin and Sara.

This is just about as close as we got to Tomorrowland

We headed into Adventureland and stopped in front of Aladdin’s Oasis, which was definitely not Aladdin’s Oasis when Walt was there, but it was a good place to look at Adventureland.

Happiest Tour Group On Earth!

After that we went on the Jungle Cruise, and it was nice because we got right on. Being in a tour has its advantages. Plus our skipper was totally awesome.

Then we headed to Frontierland where we learned about the Golden Horseshoe, where Walt celebrated an anniversary with his wife, Lillian, and the fact that Walt really like Zorro, so he added some Zorro features.

Go figure.

The Rivers of America

Next we headed to New Orleans Square. Sandi explained to us that New Orleans was a huge interest of Walt’s. He wanted this area to be densely themed, and I have to agree that it really is.

It looks like we’re getting ready to buy something here, or maybe watch some entertainment, but we’re actually just a stop on the tour.

One of the big draws of the Walt’s Footsteps tour is getting to see the lobby of Club 33. So Club 33 is an exclusive, members-only club at Disneyland, and the only way to get in is to know someone with a membership.

Which I don’t.


Anyway, so with this tour, we did get to see the lobby, and by lobby I mean entrance.

Club 33 is located right next to the Blue Bayou restaurant

Perhaps the most interesting thing in the lobby of Club 33 is the elevator

Right here!

As the story goes, Walt came across this gorgeous tiny elevator in France somewhere and wanted it for his private club (oh, I should probably mention that Walt died before Club 33 opened, so he never got to enjoy it. Anyway…). Walt asked if he could dismantle the elevator and take it to California, at which point the French said, “Non!” So Walt brought his imagineers over to measure it and such so they could reproduce it. And here it is!

There are stairs leading up to the main level of Club 33.

So the riff-raff don’t spoil the atmosphere

Over the front door there’s a beautiful stained glass window.

It looks much better from this side

There’s an unmanned desk and some art on the walls

That’s not a Disney property in the big picture there

And more art on the stairwell

Walt loved musicians!

We were told we were only allowed on the first stair, so I faked out making a step to the next level for the sole purpose of getting a totally cheesy picture for the blog.


We also got to take pictures in the tiny elevator, which shows you how tiny it is

Quite cramped

After Club 33, we headed over to the train.

Sandi barely made it on

We rode the train around to the next stop, Toon Town, or Fantasyland as it was known in Walt’s time. There we got a “comfort break,” which was badly needed. Also we took a picture.

Small World in the background

We chatted about Walt’s fascination with flumes, leading to both Pirates of the Caribbean and It’s A Small World, and then headed down into Fantasyland by the Matterhorn. There we learned about the Matterhorn being built to hide the big pole from the Skyway (a ride I sorely miss). The Matterhorn is behind walls right now, but reopening on June 15th. It has new cars, which we saw being tested. Pretty cool.

We also saw ducklings

We swung around the side of the castle to Snow White’s Grotto, where we surprisingly ran into Ariel doing a meet and greet with only a handful of people there. Gotta watch those castle passages, I’m telling you!

Ariel is at the bottom

We then chatted about the castle and a little about Fantasyland and the big Fantasyland refurb in 1983. Our guide did tell an interesting story about Peter Pan’s Flight. Unfortunately, the story she told was actually about Snow White’s Scary Adventure, not Peter Pan. But she got the other details right.

Behind Sandi is the Sleeping Beauty Castle “alternate experience,” a great place to sit and rest on a hot day.

While looking at the castle from the front, I got a quick shot of the construction walls around the Carnation Plaza Gardens, which will become the new Princess Fantasy Faire.

I think this is going to be awesome

Then we headed to one of Walt’s favorite attractions, the Enchanted Tiki Room. We all got to sit and watch the show, and then afterwards Sandi had a special surprise for us!

This is Ophelia, one of the original Tiki Room flowers

Sandi explained how the audio-animatronics worked, via a relay switch on the back

and gave me quite a weird look when I said I wanted to take a picture of it

We concluded our tour in the Disney Gallery looking at some of the original concept art of Disneyland

It never ceases to surprise me how big the Jungle Cruise river is

Sandi made a slight error in which she described 1966 as “the best year of Walt’s life”

Right up until December 15, 1966, when he died

And the tour part was complete! We got a lovely sandwich lunch with our names on our boxes.

This made me feel all fancy and stuff

Lucky Kristin has two i’s in her name.


And I took one final shot of Kristin and Sara before we left the park


The Walk in Walt’s Footsteps tour was very fun! You do have to pay separately for it, so it’s not something everyone might want to do, but it really was very immersive and informative, even if I am kind of a know-it-all. I did learn several things, though!

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