Tag Archives: usa 2016

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

USA 2016 – 02 Disneyland Park – Main Street, U.S.A. (2016-07-13) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 11 NOV 2017

Having arrived in Anaheim a day before the NACUFS expo was due to kick off, I did what any first time visitor to the United States of America who finds themselves in Anaheim, California does – I immediately purchased a (VERY expensive) ticket to the legendary Disneyland, the only theme park to have been designed and built under the direct supervision of Walt Disney himself!

Disneyland, or rather Disneyland Park as it is known these days (because of all the other attractions on the Disneyland lot nowadays), is of course absurdly massive, and in fact I literally spent the entire day wandering about the theme park – so much so that I have had to split the day’s cache of photos into 10 separate blog posts!

(The fact that Disneyland is naturally split into separate themed lands also kind of facilitates this anyway).

Given that the first area you enter after passing through the gates is good old Main Street, U.S.A., it makes perfect sense then to kick off my Disneyland series here.

Patterned after a typical Midwest town of the early 20th century, Main Street, U.S.A. is reminiscent of the Victorian period of America with the train station, town square, movie theater, city hall, firehouse complete with a steam-powered pump engine, emporium, shops, arcades, double-decker bus, horse-drawn streetcar, jitneys and other bits of memorabilia.

Disneyland is of course always filled with people, but seeing as this is technically the hub of the theme park, there are a LOT more people milling about, shopping at the various specialty stores, grabbing something to eat from the themed eateries or food snack vendors, and generally just resting their feet up for a bit.

Main Street is also home to the Disney Art Gallery and the Opera House which showcases Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, not to mention the important City Hall that has all the answers for any question that you might think of.

Also, pro tip, if you are a first time visitor to Disneyland Park you really should pay a visit to City Hall and lay claim to your special 1st visit badge!

On the far end of the street is the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle as well as the famous Partners statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse holding hands. (Fun fact, this statue now appears in five different locations, namely Disneyland Park, Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland, Walt Disney Studios, and Disneyland Paris).

That’s also the location of the Hub, otherwise known as the Central Plaza, which gives you direct access to Fantasyland, Adventureland, Frontierland, and Tomorrowland.

As you can see from all the photos, this is section of Disneyland doesn’t actually feature any theme park rides, but nevertheless there is plenty for the eye to take in.

Also, and rather satisfyingly at that, because there aren’t any rides in Main Street, U.S.A. there aren’t any of those scarily long queues that you will soon encounter (and become VERY familiar with) as you enter the rest of the lands!

I did of course not stay in Main Street, U.S.A. for too long – after all, I had arrived early morning and was on a mission to take in every facet of this iconic theme park that I possibly could given that I only had one day to explore.

(That said, I did return to this area a further three times over the course of the day – the first to tuck into a delicious ice cream snack, the second to experience Mickey’s Soundsational Parade, and then later that evening to experience the Paint the Night Parade and obviously the massive Disneyland Forever fireworks display!)

Going through all these photos a year later – man I wish that I can take my kids here when they are still small enough to properly enjoy the magic of this incredible fantasyland experience!

So, if you have kids or you yourself grew up during the classic feel good period that defined Disney for the early parts of its existence, then a visit to “The Happiest Place on Earth” is definitely a must!

Related Link: Disneyland Park | Wikipedia

USA 2016 – 01 Checking in to Holiday Inn Anaheim Resort Area (2016-07-11) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 24 NOV 2016

So the 11th of July saw me very excitedly hop on to Emirates’ Boeing 777-300ER airliner at Cape Town International Airport and tackle the start of the VERY long journey to LAX in Los Angeles.

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As per usual when you fly with Emirates, the trip gets split into two segments, the first being the 9 hour long flight from Cape Town to their massive home base hub at Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates.

Apart from the length of the flight, the first leg went well for me. Loads of in-flight entertainment to pick and choose from on Emirates’ ICE system, food as always was decent enough, and thanks to my strategy of picking aisle seats in order to give me the most leg space with my still not 100% leg, I sat pretty comfortably for the most part.

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Happily, I wasn’t completely out of my element once in Dubai International Airport, having learnt a lesson or two from the last time that Ryan and I had found ourselves there.

For starters, I didn’t get lost and successfully navigated my way around the massive complex (Ryan would be amazed), secondly, I didn’t have anything in my luggage that would set off flags during the security check (again, Ryan would be amazed), and most important of all, I was in my designated boarding area with plenty of time to spare!

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Of course though, the real test of the journey was now here. That 16 hour long flight from Dubai to Los Angeles.

Yes, the Airbus A380-800 is certainly a comfortable plane to be flying in, but 16 hours? Now there’s a long time to be stuck in a confined space! (Incidentally, this route is currently the longest distance commercial A380 route in operation).

Nevertheless, similar to the first leg, this second half of the trip went pretty smoothly for me as well, and as an added bonus, the fact that we flew over the North Pole region to get there was a pretty cool thing too!

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Touchdown. I was in the United States of America.

Naturally, it didn’t take long for the first Stars and Stripes flag to make its appearance, and a relatively quick and painless trip through security and customs had me collecting my bag and stepping out of the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX and into Los Angeles.

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Well not really, no.

My SuperShuttle bus arrived right outside the terminal, meaning that I didn’t technically step out into Los Angeles. Still, I got to see the dreary grey concrete that makes up most of Los Angeles from the shuttle’s front seat (I lucked out in getting that), so that counts, right?

(Hint, Los Angeles is not particularly pretty. Large swathes of it is in essence a slab of concrete, which you’ll see as you head out down the highways.)

Nevertheless, I was in full on tourist mode, my mouth wide open as I took in all the sights of the area as our bus whizzed on down towards Anaheim, the real destination for the actual business part of my being here in the first place.

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Eventually we turned into South Manchester Avenue in Anaheim (early evening if I remember correctly) where I hopped out the bus, thanked the driver for his wealth of local information, and headed into the Holiday Inn Anaheim Resort Area , my home base for this first leg of my trip.

(In case you are wondering about the unwieldy name, it’s because we’re in Anaheim which houses both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park. In other words, prime hotel estate, and thus multiple Holiday Inn establishments in the area!)

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Greeted by a entrance wall decked out in original Disney artwork, I checked in, unpacked my bag, took a quick peek around the hotel and its amenities (nice pool, small gym, cool adjacent sports bar/restaurant called Burger Theory) and then hit the road, eager to properly stretch my legs and take in some American sights before the darkness descended!

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So I took a leisurely stroll down Katella Avenue, one of the main roads leading up to Disneyland and also the Anaheim Convention Centre (where the expo was to be held), enjoying the beautifully maintained sidewalks and taking in all the interesting… Americanisms around me.

I turned around at the giant Moreton Bay Fig outside the convention centre, and because at this stage I was still walking around blindly (i.e. I hadn’t yet checked out any maps), headed straight back down the same way that I had come.

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For some reason I decided that my first meal in America should be a fast food item, and as things turned out (i.e the restaurant was slap bang at the end of my route), this then would be a burrito from Del Taco – for which I was mercilessly teased for the rest of the trip by Johann and Carl.

Following that, and now eager to sample a selection of commercial beers and snacks in the comfort of my room before turning in for the night, I then hopped into this dodgy little Chinese-run shop (called Satellite Market), which ended up being a place that I would visit more than once whenever my snack supply started running low!

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And of course, as expected following that 5 km walkabout after all those hours upon hours of travelling… I slept like a log. #USA2016

(This is where the hotel is in case you’re interested)

Related Link: Holiday Inn Anaheim Resort Area

USA 2016: An Expo under the Hot Californian Sun My Life 22 NOV 2016

I lucked out a bit this year. Touchwork does a lot of its business in the United States in the University realm, and as such, tends to be quite visible on the relevant expo circuits. Occasionally the boss sends a team member up to join our American team for at least one of these expo appearances a year – basically whenever we get the funding from the DTI to do so.

Now normally this perk falls to our COO and customer liaison Rory Florence, but this year  (much to his chagrin) he couldn’t go – which then meant that as the next longest standing member of current Touchwork SA team, I got asked if I wanted to go.

Hell yes, USA here I come! :)

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So this all happened in July this year. I left for the USA on the 11th and arrived back in South Africa on the 22nd of July, making for a whirlwind trip of around 10 days.

Of course, technically this was a business trip, but in essence it was only business for about 2 of the days (and even those two days were peppered with touristy things) – the rest were all proper sightseeing days, made all the more enjoyable thanks to my brilliant Touchwork USA hosts Johann Leitner and Carl Mostert, who literally went out of their way to show off their part of the magnificent piece of paradise that is California to this USA (and travel for that matter) newbie!

The expo that we were exhibiting at was NACUFS Idea ’16, the 2016 national conference for NACUFS (National Association of College & University Food Services), held at the the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California.

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Anaheim, other than being the base of the Mighty Ducks, is of course most famous for being the home of Disneyland, Disney’s landmark first ever theme park that opened way back in 1955! Following that, I would then travel with Johann to his home base of San Diego (home of Comic Con and of the world famous San Diego Zoo!), for a couple of tourist days there, before heading back out the same way I came in – i.e. via Emirates through the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX, Los Angeles!

So, not a bad destination for only my second ever trip overseas eh? (The first being of course that amazing trip to Japan that my brother Ryan and I embarked on in 2014. At this rate, Chantelle is just about ready to murder me with jealousy! :P)

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Right. I’ve got an amazing 23 or so photo galleries to sort through, post and write about, so plenty of USA 2016 content coming up in the pages of An Exploring South African over the next little while then!