Tag Archives: MYWTM

Mickey’s House

Way in the back of the park past Small World is a little land called Toontown. Toontown is the home of the classic Disney characters (Mickey, et al.) as well as the lamest ride in the whole park, Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin.

But that’s not what this is about.

Mickey and Minnie also have their homes there. Did I know this? No I did not. But we met up with my cousin Tracy and her two kids, Addison and Luke, over in Toontown and they wanted to go see Mickey’s house, so there ya go.

Mickey’s house is a walkthrough which culminates in Mickey’s Movie Barn and photo opportunity. Mickey is supposed “filming” in said barn.

I find this rather dubious, given the last time a new Mickey cartoon showed up

Like the rest of Toontown, Mickey’s house is chock-full of massively oversized stuff that is pretty impervious to small children.

Upon entering, you see a staircase, which goes to a closed door and I can only assume Mickey’s bedroom. I let go of Theo’s hand as I took the picture, and then he decided to try to climb the stairs, and I realized…

OMG, I’m one of THOSE parents.

You know the ones. The ones who let their children run all over the place smearing their grubby little peanut-butter-and-jelly hands on Disney property or elsewhere.

(as an aside, we were in the Museum of Modern Art in New York one time and some little kid ran up to Picasso’s Three Musicians and slapped his hand on it. Right on the picture! The docent had stepped away from the picture briefly and there goes that kid. There was this huge collective gasp from everyone in the gallery including us, and what did the parents do? That’s right! Nothing!)

( So I hereby assure you that after the stairs incident, I did not let Theo go anywhere else he wasn’t supposed to. Really.)

(Hey Shelby, can we get back to Disneyland? Okay.)

Mere moments before Theo marched up the stairs and plopped himself down.

Fortunately, he didn’t make it past the Pluto gate. On the wall behind the stairs was a very charming picture of Walt and Mickey.

I wonder how much this would go for on the black market

In the next room, both Tracy and I were trying to take pictures. As anyone with children can tell you, it’s a statistical impossibility to take a picture of multiple children and have them all looking at the camera at the same time. Most of our pictures look like this.

"Theo, look at the camera! Smile Addie! Look over here, Luke! Over here, Theo! Over here! Say Cheeeeeeese!"

So it was pretty much a personal victory to get this shot, despite the fact that two out of the three look rather disgruntled.

Luke and Theo look like they're in time-out

Theo thought he was going to like the oversized chair, but the pattern displeased him.

This is so gauche. Mickey needs a new designer.

He was also mesmerized by the television showing real cartoons.

"They're heeerrreee." "Don't go into the light, Carol Anne!"

Mickey doesn’t do a lot of cooking.

That giant thing is a dishwasher, but where's the oven?

But he does have a garden.

Mickey only eats organic. How else do you think he lived this long?

While we all know that the proper place for a dog is inside the house cuddled up in the human’s bed while they sleep on the couch or floor, Pluto does have some pretty nice digs outside.

If this were my dog, that bone would be gone before it even hit the food bowl

Mickey also has some chickens. They were cooped up when we saw them, but I’m going to assume that they get access to the fresh air and sunlight and plenty of exercise, and are entirely grain-fed.

Mickey would never abuse his chickens, people!

It was somewhere around this point that I left Theo in the care of Tracy so I could take a few more pictures unencumbered. I returned to find her holding Theo’s hand and yelling, “Luke! Addison! Luke! Addison!” She turned to me and said, “Don’t worry–I didn’t lose your child, but I lost both of mine.”

We did find Addie in time to take a picture of some sort of painting accident scene.

I'm not really sure what happened here

Then you are funneled outside, except it isn’t actually outside because it’s all enclosed. It’s like some kind of secret bunker where you can move from room to room while the air raid sirens blare. Except that it’s above ground and it’s Mickey’s house at Disneyland.

You are supposed to go to his barn where he’s “filming a movie.”

Riiiiiiiiiiight.

I'm not sure I entirely believe this.

We peeked into the “barn” but there was no equipment like I saw when I was almost on Oprah. There was a big zig zagging line and a large screen showing Mickey cartoons after which you get to meet Mickey and get a picture. However, at that point the kids were antsy (and we were still missing one of them) so we decided to pass.

So, that’s Mickey’s house and the Mickey meet and greet in Toontown!

The Jungle Cruise

One of my very favorite rides at Disneyland is the Jungle Cruise. The Jungle Cruise is one of the original Disneyland attractions on opening day. In fact, the Jungle Cruise was one of the first built, since Walt wanted the foliage to grow.

The setup is pretty straightforward–you board a boat and float through varying rivers of the world looking at all the animatronic animals. The best part, though, is the running patter of jokes that your skipper tells along with his or her “tour guide” narration.

Meet some new MYWTMouseketeers! Melissa, Tom, Sarah, and Jenna joined Theo and me on our jungle adventure.

It's cruisin' time!

The Jungle Cruise is located in Adventureland next to the Indiana Jones Fastpass machines. In my youth, I remember the queue being very boring and just a lot of zig-zagging. Luckily somewhere along the line they redid it, and now it’s quite cute.  From your beginning line, you can actually see the loading dock, which gives you the illusion that you’re almost there.

Almost there! Not.

Instead you get re-routed to the back of the building. There are nice things to look at though.

If I were going on a safari, I'm pretty sure these are not the things I'd be taking with me.

Then you round a corner and again you see people right at the loading dock and you think woo hoo! I’m almost there! Well that was the case for us on this trip, but when it’s crowded you get another “psych!” and have to go up these stairs and back down again.

So close, yet so far

If you’re lucky, you may see a cast member emptying the trash can!

However, finally you do make it to your boat. Everyone sits in an orderly fashion so it’s not like a Southwest Airlines choose-your-own-seat thing. The thing that’s kind of a bummer is that sometimes it really does matter where you sit.

Here's an awkward angle

This trip we got stuck right next to the engine in the back.

Bummer

This was problematic for a couple of reasons. One was that our skipper’s voice was rather soft. I don’t know if the microphone was a bit anemic or if he wasn’t talking directly into it, but we missed about 75% of the jokes. And since the whole point of the Jungle Cruise is the jokes, that’s disappointing. The other bummer is that there are a couple of things that happen on the attraction that happen in the front of the boat, namely the elephants squirting water at you when you think you’re going to get wet, and the hippos with their wiggling ears. If you’re not near the front, then you can totally miss these events and the jokes that go with them, particularly if you can’t hear the skipper.

Oh well.

Anyway, you pass through different animal scenes, like this guy:

"These tigers are known to jump as far as 20 feet! Good thing we're only 15 feet away."

There’s a very cute elephant bathing pool. It’s like Dumbo without the circus and flying. So basically it’s nothing like Dumbo.

I would love to see an elephant actually do this

The thing that’s kind of funny is that I’ve grown so used to rides like the Jungle Cruise and the quality of animatronic animals that when we went on the safari ride at Animal Kingdom, I had to continually remind myself that we were seeing actual animals.

There’s a short bit of narrative in that there’s this camping party and gorillas have invaded their camp and the party is nowhere to be seen (except like 2 minutes later).

This is what happens when you try to smuggle bananas in your luggage

Now this is one of my favorite scenes in the ride, and our skipper totally blew the best joke for it.

Oh, first I should probably mention the joke script. There’s a long script of jokes for the attraction. Skippers are allowed to choose any of them for the ride, but they have to stay to script-approved jokes. The end result is that (in theory) each cruise is different. If you ride it enough you get to recognize some of the jokes. I personally have my favorites, and our skipper didn’t use most of them.

Anyway, in this scene which is obviously difficult to photograph, there’s a dead zebra lying in a cave and a bunch of lions sitting around it. I mean, there’s no chunks of zebra hanging out of their bloody muzzles or anything, but it’s pretty clear that the lions are having dinner. Check the picture for my favorite joke.

"Awww, look at that--the lions are protecting the sleeping zebra. How sweet!"

Or something like that.

Another prominent feature of the ride is Schweitzer Falls (favorite joke: “And here’s Schweitzer Falls, named after the famous Dr. Albert Falls”). You pass Schweitzer Falls twice, once in front and once in back.

"It's the back side of water!"

And then you pass some more stuff that I didn’t photograph because this is an effect-heavy ride and also Theo was seriously considering taking a swim.

I did see, for the first time, what looked like some deer in some bushes wiggling their ears. I asked on the internet if said deer were new, and got answers with everything from “I’ve never seen them before either!” to “They’re not deer, they’re antelopes.”

Also, they added this pirhana part and it makes a lot of noise and these fish go jumping out of the water and even though I’ve been on this ride a million times, it still startles me.

And then you reach the dock again.

"Here's the most dangerous part of the cruise--the return to civilization"

There are actually a number of closing jokes. I can’t recall what our skipper said since the engine was grinding loudly, but my three favorites are:

“If you enjoyed your cruise, my name is Shelby. If you didn’t, my name is Steve.”

“Watch your step, but don’t step on your watch–it’s a terrible way to kill time.”

“Please lower your head and watch your step as you exit. If you hit your head, please lower your voice and watch your language.”

I have to say, if I could choose any ride in the entire park, I would choose to be a skipper on the Jungle Cruise. I really think I’d be excellent at it. Ah well, a girl can dream.

Carnation Plaza Gardens–Starring the Highlighters

I have a special place in my heart for the Carnation Plaza Gardens. It’s just a little stage with seating set back near the entrance to Frontierland. For amateur performing groups, this is the stage you usually perform on (unless you’re a marching band). Back in my misspent youth, I belongs to a performing group and we sang on this stage as well, so it does hold a great deal of nostalgia for me.

Put your cares away and step into the Carnation Plaza Gardens

You might be wondering why Carnation would sponsor just a little stage. It’s because back in the day, you used to be able to get burgers and stuff there. Not anymore. Now it’s just a peaceful, fun little place tucked away.

There’s a big gazebo that holds the stage, which is very cute.

Shiny!

The day I was trying to get on Oprah, I noticed a youth choir singing on the stage. I was immediately drawn in, partly because I was trying to take an inconspicuous picture of Oprah’s film crew, partly because I needed to refill my water bottle, partly because Theo was in a mood and this was making him happy, but mostly because the group there was really good.

Meet the Highlighters from South Kitsap High School in Port Orchard, Washington!

Because every choral group needs at least one podium

 

No idea where Port Orchard is? Me either, so I looked it up for you:

Welcome to Port Orchard!

Looks like a pretty cool place to live.

I was immediately drawn in by the Highlighters’ stylish jazz numbers. These guys sounded great!

I should probably take a moment to clarify that the group to which I belonged when I was young was not really that good. The Highlighters were significantly better than my old performing group.

They wore really classy outfits–black suits. Unfortunately it was 91.5 degrees that day, so they must have been positively sweltering. It reminded me of our family friend’s wedding in Arizona when it was a billion degrees. All of the groomsmen had ice packs in their pockets. Disneyland is not usually that hot at the end of March, but there ya go.

You're probably really overheated. I'm sorry!

After the Highlighters finished, I took the opportunity to accost two women who looked like they were a part of the group. Lucky for me, they were.

I spoke with Beth Allen, wife of Mike Allen, who is the conductor of the Hightlighters. Beth’s son Jake was also a featured performer. Beth said that there are 20 kids in the Highlighters and this is Mike’s 23rd year as director. Woo hoo!

I have to say, one thing I really love about Disneyland is their willingness to let youth groups like marching bands (that’s me!) and choral groups (me again!) in to perform for guests. It’s a lot of fun for the kids, a lot of fun for the guests, and just in general a lot of fun.

Beth told me that the Highlighters come down about every other year, and the kids fundraise their butts off to make it. Boy, do I remember those fundraising days. That was the worst part of high school. Okay, not the worst part, but it was pretty bad. Apparently, among other things, the Highlighters sang at a madrigal feast–which let me interrupt just a second here and say that I LOVE madrigal feasts. They also sold cookie dough and pizzas and all kind of other stuff.

However, as Beth said, “We stopped doing car washes.” To which I add a hearty “hear hear!” Car wash fundraisers seriously SUCK. If you ever find yourself in a position of having to participate in a car wash fundraiser, then do your best to get out of it. Fall out of a tree and put yourself in the hospital or something. I can assure you that whatever injury you sustain, it won’t be as bad as a  car wash fundraiser.

But I digress.

Here's another shot of the Highlighters in action

They did a fabulous job on the whole, but I have to say that my favorite part was at the end when they launched into the Glee version of “Don’t Stop Believin’.” I couldn’t help but sing along.

I also met Katie, who was a chaperone for the trip and a former Highlighter herself. Katie was so inspired by her experiences that she grew up to become an elementary school music teacher. Katie is on the left in this picture, with Beth on the right.

We need more music education in schools! Seriously, people!!! MUSIC EDUCATION IS SO, SO, SO IMPORTANT!!

Aren’t they fun?

I’d like to say that I was disappointed that I didn’t get to be on Oprah, but really, because of it, I did stumble across the Highlighters and was really glad for that.

And if any of the Highlighters are reading, leave me a comment! You did really well!

 

In Which I Am Almost On Oprah

Today was hot hot hot, and I don’t mean that in a “Hey, that’s a great 80’s song!” kind of way. According to Weather Underground, it was 91.5 degrees. And it felt like 91.5 degrees. Or maybe more.

Oh, and here’s another valuable tip from Shelby–when you bring along your sunscreen to apply when you get there, make sure there’s actually enough in the bottle to do the job. I had to buy a bottle of Coppertone from the little newsstand hut thing in Downtown Disney next to the Wetzels cart, and much to my surprised, they charged exactly what I would have paid at Walgreens. I thought for sure I was going to get stuck with $35 sunscreen, but nope! So that was a bonus at least.

Anyway, walking into the park, I saw this:

Oprah's so lucky to have an acronym-conducive name. If I had my own network, it would be SLRH, and that's just...no.

In case you can’t read miniature print, it says that OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, is filming in the park today, blah blah blah, if you don’t want to be on TV then avoid the cameras.

So of course I immediately went to look for the cameras.

But then I felt like I should ride a ride, so I hopped on Buzz Lightyear (post coming soon), and then Theo became very unhappy when I swung through Fantasyland (he wanted to ride the carrousel and kept saying “horse? horse? horse?” in an extremely pathos-inducing tone of voice) so I figured I would 1) abandon my search, 2) find a nice, shady spot to rest for a second, and 3) refill my water bottle. Did I mention it was hot? Good lord, it’s not even April yet. Even though it will be tomorrow.

Off to my right was a small bridge that leads to the Carnation Plaza Gardens, a little stage tucked away near Frontierland that I absolutely love. I noticed a bunch of official-looking cast members with clipboards, and lots and lots of equipment on carts.

I walked over the bridge and so as not to be conspicuous, having learned my lesson from the Awkward Social Situation, walked to the stage area and turned around to snap a picture.

Lots of equipment, no Oprah

I know that doesn’t look impressive, but there was more there that didn’t make it into the shot.

I thought about hanging around to see if something was going to happen, like maybe a celebrity would show up or something, but they didn’t seem to be setting anything up. A cast member did block off the bridge:

Well let's just hope there's not a riot at the regular entrance, because the emergency exit is now blocked

However, I stopped caring about Oprah when I saw a high school choir performing on the stage. They were just wonderful, and Theo was entranced. And I will blog about them later.

Suffice to say, they never set anything up and I never really got close to being on Oprah. But I think her camera crew is a good second best.

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