Tag Archives: disneyland

USA 2016 – 11 Paint the Night Parade and Disneyland Forever Fireworks (2016-07-13) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 12 JAN 2018

Having now pretty much spent the entire day exploring Disneyland on foot, I found myself gravitating back towards my original starting point of Main Street U.S.A., somehow eager to stake out a good spot among what was quite clearly a rapidly growing crowd lining the edges of the street.

Turns out, the reason for this sudden change of focus for the hordes of people milling about the theme park was actually pretty simple – the time for the big finale pieces had finally arrived, kicking things off with probably the most amazing electric light parade that I’ll probably ever see: the Paint the Night Parade!

The Paint the Night Parade actually premiered in Hong Kong Disneyland back in 2014, but did eventually arrive at Disneyland Park on May 22, 2015 as part of the original theme park’s big 60th anniversary “Diamond Celebration” season.

A spiritual successor to the long-running Main Street Electrical Parade, Paint the Night is Disneyland’s first all-LED parade, utilizing over 1.5 million LED lights to bring to life the special affects of the 8 units and their 76 performers that make up the show.

Lasting for approximately 20 minutes, this spectacle of light is accompanied by a mix of arrangements of Jean-Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley’s “Baroque Hoedown” and Owl City’s “When Can I See You Again?”.

The parade is led by the Peter Pan unit, featuring Rosetta, Silvermist, Iridessa, Tinkerbell, and Peter Pan. Following closely behind is the Monsters, Inc. unit (Sully and Mike), and the Cars unit (Lightning McQueen, Mack and DJ), before making way for the spectacular Little Mermain electric watercolors float (featuring Ariel, Sebastian, Flounder, King Triton, and Marlin and Nemo from Finding Nemo).

After that comes Toy Story (Jessie, Slinky Dog, Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the Aliens), followed by Candlelight Dreams (Belle, Rapunzel, and Cinderella), and then the hugely popular (based on the crowd’s roar) Frozen Fractals float (featuring of course Anna, Elsa, and Olaf).

The last unit to come rumbling through is Mickey’s Lightastic Finale, featuring Goofy, Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse, and Sorcerer Mickey Mouse!

The parade is a wonderful, musical, and colourful assault on the senses, and was most definitely a highlight of the  day for me.

Not that you have a chance to catch your breath mind you. No sooner had the closing notes of the Paint the Night Parade rung out, when the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle sparked to life with all its bedazzling lights, causing the crowd to quickly shuffle further down Main Street (towards the hub) in order to jostle for a better view.

The reason for this move was of course to catch a glimpse of Disneyland Forever, the nighttime spectacular at Disneyland that premiered on May 21, 2015 (again as part of the theme park’s 60th anniversary celebration).

Weaving a 15 minute long narrative while depicting iconic scenes from many of Disney’s classic films, Disneyland Forever incorporates an incredible mix of fireworks, projection mapping, fire, lasers and searchlights to bring a truly spectacular closing show to life.

Now I’m already a huge fan of projection mapping and the incredible tricks it can play on your senses, but when you combine this technology with fireworks and story at the scale that Disney does – the end result is simply just “wow”.

Honestly, what an incredible experience, and quite probably the best way that you could ever cap a day out and about in a theme park off with! The music was rousing, the visuals and narrative inspiring, and the fireworks simply put, astounding.

There really isn’t any more to say than that.

Anyway, the smoke cleared, the crowd started leaving, and I found myself exiting the gates and trundling down the road to grab a bite to eat from my very first American McDonalds – purely because this is something that we have in SA and thus I wanted to compare.

As it turns out, the American McDonalds experience (especially in terms of flavour) is actually a lot better than what we get back home – which came as a bit of a surprise really, considering how little I think of McDonalds at the best of times!

A short bus trip back to the hotel and given the long day I had just got under the belt, I was soon fast asleep in my surprisingly comfy Holiday Inn bed.

Of course, I did take a few photos of the night, purely as a reminder for myself, but obviously they’re not great given the fact that I used my phone for the photography – nevertheless, here they are in all their fuzzy glory:

So, with the first day fun now well and truly over and done with, next up was the real meat and potatoes of why I found myself in the USA in the first place – NACUFS Idea ’16.

Related Link: Paint the Night | Disneyland Park | Wikipedia | #USA2016

USA 2016 – 10 Downtown Disney in Anaheim (2016-07-13) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 06 JAN 2018

Having now had my fill of the many, many lands of Disneyland, I decided to escape Disneyland Park (more specifically its crowds) by hopping on to the Disneyland Monorail and catching a ride over to the Downtown Disney District, an outdoor shopping center and promenade that lies nestled between Disneyland Resort’s two theme parks and all its hotels.

With no admission ticket required to access the area, Downtown Disney was apparently designed to attract local residents and to encourage extended stays in the resort district, so despite carrying one or two Disney dedicated stores and a bit of branding here and there, the promenade is refreshingly home to a lot of businesses not featuring a princess or mouse ears in their logo!

Hungry and with feet reasonably tired following such a long day of walking about, I ambled down the promenade, browsed through a couple of the retails stores (the art in the WonderGround Gallery was amazing, the World of Disney pretty cool, and the Lego Store of course interesting as always), and grabbed what turned out to be a particularly tasty sandwich from the Earl of Sandwich – right next to the AMC movie theaters and across the street from the ESPN Zone sports bar.

(Bad choice, I know, but I really liked the idea of sitting outside and watching people go by).

Anyway, bottomless sodas are so much fun when you’re not used to having them around back in SA.

Refreshed and refueled, I hopped back on the monorail and headed back to Disneyland, eager to catch the late afternoon and evening parades!

Related Link: Downtown Disney | Wikipedia | #USA2016

USA 2016 – 09 Disneyland Park – Tomorrowland (2016-07-13) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 05 DEC 2017

After many hours of aimlessly strolling about, I had finally entered Tomorrowland, the last themed “land” still left to visit on my once in a lifetime, one day only, exploration of the original Disneyland theme park.

Tomorrowland has always been about the future, as envisioned around a time when the original frenzy of space travel began to grip hold of America’s psyche.

Of course, as we all know these visions of a future quickly become outdated and as such Tomorrowland has had to change a lot over time, far more than any other land situated out there on the sprawling Disneyland complex.

When it originally opened in 1955, Tomorrowland was devoid of several of its planned attractions thanks to budget cuts. Construction had been rushed, and Tomorrowland ended up being the last land to be finished, arriving as somewhat of a corporate showcase with much of its space occupied by company showcase pieces from the likes of Monsanto Company, American Motors, Richfield Oil, and Dutch Boy Paint.

Over time, following numerous changes to the configuration and attractions, the showcases were slowly left by the wayside one by one as Disney took proper ownership of the themed land and made it their own.

These days, the current incarnation of Tomorrowland (still sporting its classic 1950s pulp sci-fi look – though now tinged with a heavy slather of Star Wars theme) is home to the iconic Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Autopia, and Star Tours: The Adventures Continue attractions.

Also, despite not being a particularly big Star Wars fan, it was hard not to be impressed with the very cool display set up in the Star Wars: Launch Bay area, not to mention the jaw-droppingly huge range of Star Wars merchandise on sale in all the official shops. (I suspect that a LOT of my friends would return with empty pockets and most likely a second mortgage on the house).

Given the Star Wars theme, the Matterhorn Mountain Bobsleds and Space Mountain, this was by far the most popular land that I travelled through on the day – and I suspect that this holds true pretty much every day, or will at least until the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land comes online in 2019!

And yes, as you may suspect, I absolutely LOVED the monorail ride.

Related Link: Disneyland Park | Wikipedia

USA 2016 – 08 Disneyland Park – Critter Country (2016-07-13) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 04 DEC 2017

Having already ambled through Main Street USA, Fantasyland, Mickey’s Toontown, Frontierland, New Orleans Square, and Adventureland, I was rapidly running out of themed lands to visit on this warm, crowded, windless Disneyland day – so I decided to cool down with a visit to Critter Country, or more specifically, its famous Splash Mountain!

Originally known as Indian Village and then later Bear Country, Critter Country is situated on an area that was split off from Frontierland and is themed to resemble the great American Northwoods – with its towering pines, waterfalls, and rustic buildings.

With the Indian and Bear motifs now quite diminished, Critter Country is very much inhabited by the Winnie the Pooh franchise, much of it centered around the super kid friendly The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh attraction.

However, if you aren’t really little enough to appreciate the wonderful world of Pooh, you could always hop on the big 20 person canoe and go for a paddle along the Rivers of America as part of the Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes attraction.  (Sadly, along with the Hungry Bear Restaurant, closed on the day of my visit.)

That said, if you really want to get wet then you should probably join the queue for Splash Mountain, Disneyland’s iconic log flume ride.

As with most rides, making use of the FastPass system or being a single rider allows you to progress much quicker to the front of the seriously long queues, and given that I was traipsing along Disneyland all by myself, I found myself stuffed into the back of a hollow plastic log in a relatively short amount of time.

It was, as advertised, a great way to cool down on such a hot day! ;)

Next up, a squelchy amble to the last remaining themed land for the day – Tomorrowland!

Related Link: Disneyland Park | Wikipedia

USA 2016 – 07 Disneyland Park – Adventureland (2016-07-13) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 03 DEC 2017

Having happily traipsed through Frontierland and New Orleans Square, the next themed Disneyland area that I entered happened to be Adventureland, home to the iconic Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room attraction.

Styled on that idea of 1930’s colonial exploration into the jungles of Africa or South America, Adventureland is all about the leafy exotic, with attractions including the likes of the Jungle Cruise, the Indiana Adventure and Tarzan’s Treehouse.

(And of course shops. Lots and lots of merchandise selling shops.)

Interesting fact – originally this themed land (based on Walt Disney’s award winning nature documentaries on Africa and Asia) was intended to have real animals from Africa inhabit the jungle river, but after zoologists told Walt that the real animals would either lie around or hide, the imagineers built mechanical animals instead!

By this stage of the day though, Disneyland was already packed full of people, which of course then means lots and lots of queuing. So pro tip – investigate the lands and their attractions before you visit the park, i.e. know what you want to see and which rides you want to ride before you enter, instead of just aimlessly wandering about like I did!

Honestly, other than the Tiki Room (which I just had to see for myself in person), I didn’t spend too long strolling through Adventureland – at this point I was hot and bothered, there were too many people, and the jungle atmosphere made everything feel quite drippy humid.

So instead of climbing up Tarzan’s Treehouse, I grabbed some photos on foot and continued my one day only tour of Disneyland…

Next up for me – Critter Country and a wet encounter on Splash Mountain!

Related Link: Disneyland Park | Wikipedia

USA 2016 – 06 Disneyland Park – New Orleans Square (2016-07-13) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 01 DEC 2017

Seeing as Frontierland basically bleeds into New Orleans Square, that then was organically the next part of Disneyland that I found myself wandering through, though to be fair, thanks to the massive crowd now queuing around the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, a lack of interest in Haunted Mansions from my side, and a not running Disneyland Railroad attraction, it was a pretty quick stroll through this particular themed land more than anything else.

Based on 19th century New Orleans Louisiana, this small 3 acre area was in fact the first land to be added to Disneyland Park after its opening. (Costing Disney a neat $18 million in the process).

The name New Orleans Square is also a bit of a misnomer in that the layout doesn’t actually resemble a traditional urban piazza whatsoever – rather it consists of an intricate number of “streets” that weave around the shops, restaurants and the Pirates of the Caribbean show building that call this themed land home.

That said, it is pretty cool to walk through (the French Quarter looks lovely), though you do get the feeling that this space is more about the shopping and eating than the actual attractions – meaning that unless you are there for maybe the vibe and probably a taste of Captain Jack Sparrow lore, you probably won’t linger here in New Orleans Square for all that long.

As I mentioned at the start, I didn’t gain access to either of the dark rides on offer (seriously, that Pirates of Caribbean queue was immense!), and unfortunately for me, the one thing that I did actually want to ride on (i.e. the heritage narrow-gauge railroad train of course!) turned out not to be running on the day – so a bit of a pity that.

Still, the vibe and live music – well worth the amble I thought.

Anyway, next up for my first ever wander about Disneyland Park (which I’m only writing about here more than a year later), Adventureland – and thus of course, Walt Disney’s legendary Enchanted Tiki Room!

Related Link: Disneyland Park | Wikipedia

USA 2016 – 05 Disneyland Park – Frontierland (2016-07-13) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 29 NOV 2017

Moving on from the small kid orientated lands of Fantasyland and Mickey’s Toontown, I next found myself wandering into Frontierland, another of Disneyland’s famous eight themed lands, this one styled to match the aesthetic of the 19th century American Wild West.

Conceived by Walt Disney as one of the five original themed lands in Disneyland, Frontierland did not initially contain many attractions – but rather centered on open expanses of wilderness which could be travelled across via stagecoach, pack mules, wagon, hiking and even a sedate train ride.

That has of course long since changed and these days every instance of Frontierland across all the Disney theme parks include a Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride and a stretch of riverfront.

In this park’s case, the Rivers of America is home to the Mark Twain Riverboat as well as the Sailing Ship Columbia (a replica of American explorer Robert Gray’s 18th century ship that circumnavigated the globe), with the Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer Island sitting in its middle.

If you feel like food with a show, step into the Golden Horseshoe Saloon, or sharpen up your shooting skills at the Frontierland Shootin’ Exposition, situated just as you enter through the fort style gate.

(Neither of which I actually tackled mind you, primarily because I was far more interested in standing in a queue for what looked like it was going to be pretty decent roller coaster ride!)

As fun as a ride on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster was, I was actually a bit unfortunate on the day in that a large number of Frontierland’s attractions were currently either shuttered or closed to the public – all in an effort to make way for the new Star Wars themed land currently under construction (which you could peek at if you found a high enough vantage point like I did), slated for a 2019 grand opening.

Not that it mattered all that much though – there was still a lot of crowds left to work my way through and PLENTY of Disneyland still left to see!

Next up in my first ever (and realistically, only) exploration of Disneyland – New Orleans Square!

Related Link: Disneyland Park | Wikipedia

USA 2016 – 04 Disneyland Park – Mickey’s Toontown (2016-07-13) My Life | Travel Attractions 23 NOV 2017

So having now ambled through Main Street U.S.A. and then wandered about the whimsical Fantasyland, I continued my Disneyland day by stepping through under a bridge and dropping straight into a place right out of Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Mickey’s Toontown is another of Disneyland’s themed lands and based on a 1930s cartoon aesthetic, this one is very much a small scale recreation of the Mickey Mouse universe.

All the main Mickey Mouse characters (like Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck) have their houses situated in this colourful and very quirky little town setting, and as you might imagine (being specifically aimed at the smaller visitors to the park), character interactions and meet and greets are very much the norm here.

Everything is themed, so if you want a bite to eat, grab a pizza from Daisy’s Diner, or maybe some hotdogs from Pluto’s Dog House, perhaps finishing it all off with some ice cream from Clarabelle Cow’s.

There are loads of goofy props littered about to match the look and feel of the crazy little place, and the few rides dotted about this land very much follow this aesthetic.

(For reference, the two rides available in this small section of the park is Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin and Gadget’s Go Coaster.)

It’s a lot of silly fun and popular with the little kids, but that said, I did rather enjoy my little spin on the crazy Roger Rabbit ride! ;)

Next up: the slightly more adult themed Frontierland, and with it, a ride on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad!

Related Link: Disneyland Park | Wikipedia

USA 2016 – 03 Disneyland Park – Fantasyland (2016-07-13) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 13 NOV 2017

Having now gotten over the initial incredulous feeling of “Oh wow, I’m in the actual Disneyland!” while moving through Main Street, U.S.A., I crossed over the bridge, marveled at the effective forced perspective trick, and then entered through the gates of Sleeping Beauty Castle, thereby entering the grounds of Fantasyland!

One of the original themed lands of Disneyland, Fantasyland is dedicated to the classic stories of Disney, with the initial area clothed in Renaissance and Bavarian Village motifs and sporting attractions dedicated to the likes of Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Alice in Wonderland, and even Dumbo of all elephants.

The first part of Fantasyland feature a lot of the older style “dark rides“, which are essentially rail cart rides that have you following a tunneled track with lots of twists and turns while a variety of lights, sounds, and puppets tell you a story.

I went on a couple of these, but of course, I’m far too old to be riding kids rides without bring any actual kids of my own along! (For those of you who missed the previous entries, I was in Anaheim for a business expo).

From there I ambled towards the leisurely Storybook Land Canal Boats ride, which as the name would suggest, takes you on a lazy little boat ride past a lot of miniature locations, many of which are plucked directly from big Disney movie locations.

So not exactly a thrilling ride then, but definitely one where the queue was short enough to make joining it a worthwhile endeavor.

It was also in this area that I got to experience the famous Disneyland Band doing their thing, a classic marching band decked in white uniforms performing some fantastic musical pieces on their assortment of brass instruments.

(Interestingly enough, given that this was during the 60th anniversary celebrations at Disneyland, the version of the marching band that I got to experience featured a lot of young, energetic faces – something which apparently caused a bit of a stir when Disney first announced it was going to be swapping out its old guard members).

The final big set piece I stumbled upon in Fantasyland was of course the classic “It’s a Small World” ride, which for those of you not familiar with it, is essentially a water-based dark ride that features over 300 singing and dancing audio-animatronic children, all in traditional costumes showcasing cultures from around the world, with the theme of global peace running strongly throughout the trip.

With that done and dusted, I next strolled over to the Royal Theatre, but sadly for me (I was hoping to take a video for Jess and Emily), there was no Frozen being performed just then.

Oh well, onward to the next magical land then!

So, in summary: Purportedly Walt Disney’s favourite land in Disneyland Park, Fantasyland is great for the smaller kids with its more gentle rides, as well as for those of you old enough to have grown up with the proper Disney classics of old.

Related Link: Disneyland Park | Wikipedia