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11/14/14 - My thoughts and observations from Fridays visit to the Disneyland Resort and the kickoff of the Christmas season.
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11/14/14 - My thoughts and observations from Fridays visit to the Disneyland Resort and the kickoff of the Christmas season.

Hello everyone,

Disneyland has become the Merriest Place on Earth until the new year now. Friday was a long day for me. I left for Disneyland around 6am and did not get home until just before midnight. I spent about 14 of those hours in the parks, the rest in transit. The crowds were fairly typical for a Friday, maybe slightly on the mild side. Wait times throughout the morning and early afternoon were well under an hour for just about everything and most under 30 minutes. As the sun set the crowds grew and so did the wait times. Weather started off with a light drizzle driving down and threatening skies but nothing else the rest of the day. It was cool, in the 60s most of the time topping out around 70.


Trip logs and mileage reports are in the Park Miles section.

Thoughts and Observations:

  • I was in Disney California Adventure before the rope drop Friday, first time in a long time. It was nice and peaceful to walk around Buena Vista Street and Condor Flats. They still open Soarin early for those that were interested. I was in the park to grab a FastPass for World of Color - Winter Dreams, which was no challenge at all. There were some guests heading that way but no more than a dozen groups. Most of the crowd looked to be heading toward Cars Land and Radiator Springs Racers FastPasses.

  • After securing my FastPass for this evening, made my way over to Disneyland, which is now fully decorated. The tree and garland are up on Main Street USA. Nothing too different jumped out at me this year. The decorations and festivities all seem on par with last year (except for a new show at the Jamboree which I will comment on in a couple bullets).

  • The hope was to visit some of the dark rides in Fantasyland. Walking through the castle was greeted with a 40 min wait already for Peter Pan. We did visit Alice in Wonderland, about a 10 minute wait, then walked onto Snow White and Pinocchio. I skipped Mr. Toad too which was 15-20 minutes. The other Fantasyland waits did not look too bad but I wanted to pay a visit to the Jingle Cruise so headed for Adventureland.

  • The Jingle Cruise has returned for a second season. This year the skippers went a bit further than last year with more props and a tighter integration of the lost shipment story line. The decorations are more in line with what I had expected to see last year and did not. There were a fair amount scattered throughout the attraction and looking tacky as expected. The added scent near the camp was a nice touch too. The experience boils down to the skipper as usual and the first time through we had a good skipper (featured in my video). I stopped by for a second run after dark and the skipper was not nearly as good. He was getting his lines crossed between the regular show and Jingle Cruise plus he went quickly through the scenes. If you were curious most of the Christmas decorations are not lit up at night and a little hard to see. Only one the village has lights on, and that is because the natives found a generator in addition to the decorations. As we disembarked there were guest research cast members asking if you had ridden last year and your thoughts on the changes. Overall I thought the changes worked for the story line.

  • I walked by the Big Hero 6 Meet and Greet near its opening at 10:30 and the wait was already pushing 45 minutes according the cast member at the entrance. They have removed some of the curtains so you can get a glimpse of the characters from outside the Starcade. The location of the meet and greet and lack of signage seems a bit odd to me, but it still managed to draw a healthy line so guess it is not an issue. The poor Starcade though. Almost half of it is closed off for the photo area and the rest is a store. There are very few games and the upper level is closed still.

  • The Jingle Jangle Jamboree has returned to the Big Thunder Ranch. It is more or less the same as last year with Santa, Disney Characters, Arts & Crafts, Reindeer Games, and a treat station. The big change is the Billies and Country Bears are gone and in their place a stage show called the Plight Before Christmas. I caught the last 15 minutes of the show, it ran nearly half an hour if it started on time. What I saw was mildly entertaining. It had some ok jokes but much of the dialog seemed a bit watered down for me. I would put it somewhere between the Laughing Stock Co and the shows in the Royal Theatre. I kept comparing it in my mind to the Holiday Hillbillies which I really enjoyed so the show had that hurdle to overcome for me. I plan to see it again on a future trip in full to really give it a fair shake.

  • I grabbed a corn dog from the Stage Door Cafe for lunch along the Rivers of America. A couple notes. First they had shoe string fries, so looks like that change is resort wide. Secondly the corn dog was substantially better than the two I have had in recent months from Corn Dog Castle. It was much fresher and had more corn bread. Both the Stage Door and the Corn Dog Wagon at Disneyland seem to be more consistent and just better for the corn dogs to me in recent years.

  • Walked through Downtown Disney and the Winter Village is up and running. This year they spread out the houses and made them easier to access. I think this makes sense and should increase traffic at them. Last year being so close and right up next to the rink made for a tight squeeze. Two of the houses feature Frozen merchandise, so if you miss it at any of the other 100 stores on property you can find it there. The other houses seem in line with last year with some food and other holiday merchandise offerings. The ice rink has returned, it was not open yet when I arrived, sessions do not start until 3pm.

  • This weekend was a runDisney race weekend, the Avengers Super Heroes half marathon. So that meant an expo was going on at the Disneyland Hotel. I stopped by to check it out and it was about the same as the previous ones. I walked through the merchandise area to get some pictures and see the offerings for this first Marvel race. The crowds at the Expo were not bad but it was early afternoon when I went through. The merchandise area they were restricting entry which made the store a lot less crowded to walk around than at previous races.

  • Most of the Holiday festivities have made the times guides for the two parks. A couple items remain unlisted. One being the show times out at the Jingle Jangle Jamboree. The other being the Sleeping Beauty Wintertime Enchantment moments/events. It appeared the enchantment moments were the same as last year 7:30 and 8:30.

  • Disney California Adventure has the same offerings as last year. Highlights include the Buena Vista Street Community Bell Ringers, Viva Navidad!, World of Color Winter Dreams, and snow at the Mad T Party in addition to the decorations around the park. The Bell Ringers and Viva Navidad! are both exceptional again with no noticeable changes this year. The Buena Vista Street Tree Lighting is back and is a nice event to catch too.

  • World of Color - Winter Dreams has been re-worked for its second year. You can almost call it World of Color - Frozen Edition. Most of the songs from the Frozen sound track have found their way in this year. This includes Do You Want to Build a Snow Man, Love is an Open Door and back from last year In Summer and Let It Go. Other changes I noticed were a shortening of the Toy Story segment, less Olaf, and a re-arrangement of the sequencing. The honor choir has also been cut, but Glow does return as the exit music. Overall I thought the pace of the show was quicker and it felt tighter. The Frozen section near the end seemed a bit awkward in terms of a transition but the audience reaction explains why it is there.. there was definitely a buzz and excitement when the Frozen songs were being played. The impressive lighting package and even the 3D/foam snow flakes have returned. All in all it is still a great show and I would highly recommend getting a FastPass so you can fully enjoy the show. Winter Dreams relies on film/projections and laser effects which are best viewed from Paradise Park.

  • The 9:45pm start time and only a single showing of World of Color Friday seemed poor to me. Given the fact that the Winter Dreams show relies quite heavily on projections that meant very few guests really had an opportunity to experience the full impact of the show.

  • With the Disneyland Fireworks at 9:25 and World of Color at 9:45 it meant we were greeted by a very backed up Mickey and Friends tram stop after the show. After 14 hours in the park the walk back to the garage was a long way to end the day but it beat standing in the mass of guests waiting two or three trams.

  • Do you visit our pictorial updates using a mobile device? If so we would like your feedback. I have created a beta of a more mobile version of our Disneyland Picture sets at https://disneygeek.com/mobile Please give it a try and share your thoughts.

  • Video featuring my pictures:

Interesting Web Finds/Notes:

Be sure to check out the picture update that goes with this Geekspeak column, it can be found in our Disneyland Resort Pictorial Update section

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