Category Archives: Disney Parks

Disney California Adventure, the New Progress City

The first time I visited what was then known as Disney’s California Adventure was in the spring of 2001.  I was in high school, and the park was shiny and new.  Having only opened a couple months prior, it was basically untouched.  Part of that was due to a woeful lack of attendance.  My visit took place on a Friday evening in what would have been spring break for some families, and even then I remember looking around and thinking, “Damn, this place is a ghost town.”

Danny and me, on our most recent visit to Disney California Adventure

Danny and me, on our most recent visit to Disney California Adventure

Disney’s California Adventure was not the park that SoCal locals wanted, and it was not the park they were promised by Disney.   In the late ’80s, Disney shopped the idea of another park not just to Anaheim, but to neighboring cities as well.  Long Beach was in heavy consideration for a park called Port Disney.  Eventually, the city of Anaheim won out by offering sweetheart tax breaks and large investments from the city in exchange for what should have been a $3.1B theme park.  In 1995, the company’s plans for a second California theme park called WestCOT, first announced in 1991, finally fell through.  But the idea of a second park remained.    In 1996, Disney struck a deal with the city of Anaheim that would keep them from collecting and paying to the city a “gate tax” on theme park admission for the next 20 years with the promise of a second theme park.  However, the new plans for a $1.4B park called Disney’s California Adventure were lackluster compared to the pie-in-the-sky WestCOT. Continue reading

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To the Cast Members of Disneyland

As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of Walt’s park, we thank the cast members for creating magic every day. Danny Kaye gave a lovely tribute to the “family” that is the Disneyland cast during the 1980 TV special, Kraft Salutes Disneyland’s 25th Anniversary. Today, his parting words still ring true.

A Tribute to the Disneyland Cast Members

Watch the entire special here!

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2014 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Marketplace Menus

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  That is, it’s planning season for the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.  The Festival Marketplace menus were announced yesterday, and we want to take a look at what’s new, what’s returning, and what’s off the menu for 2014.  We’ll also share our opinions, because such things surely must matter.

Culinary Demonstration with Chef Phillip Ponticelli: Pan-Seared Florida Shrimp with Tomato Egg Fettuccini and Tomato Basil Water

Culinary Demonstration with Chef Phillip Ponticelli: Pan-Seared Florida Shrimp with Tomato Egg Fettuccini and Tomato Basil Water

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Filed under Disney Dining, Disney Parks, Food & Wine, News, Opinion, Walt Disney World

Kitschy Spots in Disney Parks: DinoLand U.S.A.

One of the most overlooked lands in all of Walt Disney World has to be DinoLand U.S.A. at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  I love it in all of its roadside attraction glory.  It’s really cool to see something like this in the Florida parks, because it looks like it would be right at home on Paradise Pier in Disney California Adventure.

DinoLand U.S.A. at Disney's Animal Kingdom

DinoLand U.S.A. at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Above is a quick photo I snapped the last time we were in DinoLand.  The garish colors and carnival barkers really give the area a totally different atmosphere than the rest of the serene, subdued park.  I know many guests don’t care for it, but I think DinoLand is a welcome bit of campy fun.

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Dinner at Be Our Guest

The Magic Kingdom’s newest table service restaurant is touted as a can’t-miss experience, and Danny and I have been waiting for nearly a year to check it out.  While reviews on the food tend to vary, everybody is wowed by the massive restaurant’s detailed atmosphere and decor.  I’ll spare you my grainy, low-light photos of the ballroom, where we ate our meal, but will share some blurry shots of the food.

The napkins are folded to look like rosebuds.

The napkins are folded to look like rosebuds.

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Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5k

One of the highlights of our honeymoon visit to Walt Disney World was our first runDisney event!  After doing a couple local races in our hometown this year, we were primed for Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5k.

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Holiday Treats from Promenade Refreshments

The day after this year’s International Food & Wine Festival ended at Epcot, we noticed some new signage up at Promenade Refreshments.  The menu, which boasted some seasonal offerings, piqued our interest.  A manager and a handful of cast members happened to be carting supplies inside while we were passing, so we stopped to ask when the kiosk would be opening.  We were told that some items would be served as early as the next day, while others, like the cider, would be ready by that weekend.  We made a note to stop by again before we left town, and the day before flying home, we returned to view the crooked Christmas tree and try some goodies.

Promenade Refreshments in Epcot

Promenade Refreshments in Epcot

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Filed under Disney Dining, Disney Parks

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

This year we got to experience Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party for the first time.  It’s one of the Magic Kingdom’s most popular ticketed events, and it’s full of great photo opportunities.  I’m not sure this will become a regular “must do” for us, but I’m glad we got to experience it.  I think that Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is more our style, but the Christmas festivities are very cute.  I thought I’d share a couple of our favorite character photos and pictures of Cinderella’s Castle Dream Lights below.  Merry Christmas, everybody!

Dream Lights

Cinderella Castle

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party - Minnie Mouse

Christmas Party - Ducks


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Listen to Melissa on the Disney Weddings Podcast!


Hi everybody!  This week I was a guest on Carrie Hayward’s Disney Weddings Podcast, and we discussed various options for preserving and displaying wedding photos.  This is advice that I think also transfers to other Disney vacation photos and mementos, so be sure to check it out!


Also, for any Disney brides and grooms that may be reading, if you’re not already acquainted with Carrie, be sure to check out her blog, Disney Travel Babble, and her book, PassPorter’s Disney Weddings and Honeymoons.  Carrie possesses a wealth of information on weddings in Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and on the Disney Cruise Line, and her resources were invaluable to Danny and me in planning our own wedding.

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Filed under Disney Media, Disney Parks, Disney Weddings, General

Enjoying Epcot’s China Pavilion

There’s a lot of discussion in the Disney Parks fan community, especially from the hobby photographers among us, about which areas of the parks are the most photogenic.  I had always overlooked the China pavilion in such conversations, but on our most recent visit to Epcot, I found that I kept returning to the area, camera in hand.  Below are some of my favorite photos from China.

Epcot - China Pavilion Detail

Epcot China Pavilion - Clay Warrior Detail

Clay Warriors in Epcot's China Pavilion

Epcot's China Pavilion

Gateway to China

China's Clay Warriors in Epcot

This crane hangs out in Epcot's China Pavilion in Walt Disney World every day

What is your favorite Epcot pavilion?  What areas of the Disney Parks do you think are the most photogenic?

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