‘Hocus Pocus Spell Book’ Retains Fabulous, Funny, Evil of Sanderson Sisters

While watching the highly entertaining, over-the-top, comedic, delicious portrayal of the Sanderson Sisters in the cult classic Hocus Pocus and its newly released sequel, the audience often forgets that the sisters are evil. They talk about eating children, they terrorize teenagers, including keeping two of them in a cage, and the audience sees them kill a child by sucking in her essence to become young and beautiful, or at least, younger and more beautiful.

Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy are amazing, charismatic, and can sing a tune in a beguiling, amusing manner. They have individual and unique senses of style. Their portrayal of the Salem witches is truly something to behold. Still, no matter how much we like the characters and the actors, who make them, the Sanderson Sisters are evil. If you need a better reminder of their evil ways, look no further than the Disney “Hocus Pocus Spell Book.”

The hardbound tome is “A Guide to Spells, Potions, and Hexes for the Aspiring Salem Witch,” and Disney doesn’t soften it up. Inside, the book’s graphic novel style presents beautiful, intricate drawings along side what could be real spells and potions based on their ingredients. The infamous dead-man’s toe is there along with oil of boil, cockroaches, tarantula hair. The sharp-eyed Disney enthusiast will recognize a couple of spells, potions, and magical items from other evil Disney warlocks and witches. A scream of fright, anyone?

Interspersed among the pages are words from Winnie, Mary and Sarah as they navigate the books spells, and ready themselves to face the elders coming to burn them at the stake. Their personalities shine through the brief missives.

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How to Make Disney California Adventure a Two-Day Park

When you go on vacation, you probably want to relax. You don’t want the stress of having to do things within a short amount of time. By scheduling two days at Disney California Adventure, you’ll be giving yourself more than enough time to get all of the attractions in during your trip. You could likely do all of the attractions in one day without much of a push, but if you get sick for some reason, the extra day gives you the opportunity to go back to your hotel room to rest up and recover your strength. You don’t have to worry about pushing through tiredness or other issues. Still, by midmorning of the second day, you might be wondering what there is left to do. If you don’t want to pay for a park hopper, here are ways to fill out the rest of your day.

A Typical One-Day California Adventure

You should always start your morning with a good breakfast. If you eat outside the park, don’t settle for one of those “Breakfast Included” meals from your hotel. Grab something filling and relatively healthy from a nearby restaurant. Otherwise, you can start in Disney California Adventure with a decent meal from Pym Test Kitchen. The breakfast food from the Shawarma Palace court was also pretty good. The only other choices, at least in September 2022, was the Starbucks Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Café on Buena Vista Street and the cappuccino cart at the intersection of the Pacific Wharf and the Pixar Pier Bridge. (Rumor has it that the Corn Dog Palace also served an interesting breakfast item, but we didn’t make it to that side of the park to find out.)

Once you have a good breakfast on board, you should head to one of the E-ticket attractions. If you have Lightning Lane, I suggest hitting up the Guardians of the Galaxy there, and going to Radiator Springs Racers if your stomach can handle it. Standby wait times for this attraction can reach up to two hours or more, so be sure to have your sunscreen and water on board before you get into line. (If you’re one person or a group that doesn’t mind being split up, try the single rider line.) The Lightning Lane for Radiator Springs Racers cost extra, so while it would be good for my Disney stock value for you to purchase it, finding a lower wait time is likely better for you and your budget. Do not expect wait times to get lower throughout the day; they remain pretty high.

The next attractions you want to look at are Toy Story Midway Mania, which had a Lightning Lane available, and WEB Slingers, which had a pay lane available. Grab the Midway Mania Lightning Lane when it’s available, and head over to WEB Slingers. The wait their can get to be pretty long, but while we were there, it was between 40 and 60 minutes.

Soarin’ is the last attraction where the wait times can get to be horrendous. It has a Lightning Lane, so you’ll be able to get on board at least once. Along with Goofy’s Sky School, which also has Lightning Lane, the standby lines were about 45 minutes. Monster’s, Inc.: Mike and Sulley to the Rescue often have longer wait times of about 40 minutes.

After that, it’s really a matter of what you want to do and what’s available as far as attractions go. Finish off Cars Land with Mater’s Jamboree and Luigi’s Honkin’ Halloween, and take a stroll through Pixar Pier, and Paradise Gardens Park to catch up with Pix Pal-A-Round, Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind, and the Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. You could also squeeze in the barely themed Silly Symphony Swings and the unthemed, leftovers of Jumpin’ Jellyfish and Golden Zephyr. If getting wet is your thing, Grizzly River Run is usually less crowded during the cooler times of the day.

During our trip, attraction breakdowns were common. Radiator Springs Racers was shut down the first time we tried to go on it. The Incredicoaster was also closed when we decided to try to ride it. We ended up missing out on the Incredicoaster.

One more thing to include in your day is the World of Color. If you have the Disneyland app, you can join a virtual queue, but I always suggest heading over to Wine Country Trattoria and choosing something from their World of Color menu. You just need to make reservations ahead of time.

Midway Mania and WEB Slingers

Both Toy Story Midway Mania and WEB Slingers use your arms to make the attraction more enjoyable. They are far enough apart, that your first rides can be consecutive. However, after that, you may want to wait until your arms have recovered to go again. It’s an unexpected and fun workout. (Start getting those fast twitch arm muscles in shape before you go. I’d put a link here, but I don’t know anyone who is doing those types of workout routines, especially for Disney Park attractions. If you do, let me know.)

What to Do Day 2

We finished our first day with only the Incredicoaster and Radiator Springs Racers left to do, and we didn’t have a plan for our second day. However, there are a lot of things that we could have done to fill our day rather than wondering what we should do while wandering around.

Ride ‘Em Again

Obviously, a lot of the appeal of a second day is the ability to get on the E-ticket attractions again, especially if you have Lightning Lane access. WEB Slingers and Toy Story Midway Mania are big draws because of their playability. You can try to improve on your previous scores, you are part of the show, and there is something to be said for the endorphins that come from the extra fast twitch muscle use. Guardians of the Galaxy is geared to provide a different ride each time due to its randomness. During Halloween, you get the added bonus of having Monsters After Dark in addition to the BREAKOUT! Version. Radiator Springs Racers has two tracks: one you get a paint job, the other gives you new tires. Mater and Luigi offer different songs to ride to though you’re likely to hear all of them while waiting for your turn to experience the attraction. You won’t find this specific Ariel Undersea Adventure anywhere else in the U.S.; the Walt Disney World Version is slightly different. But what should you do while you’re on your way to riding these attractions again?

Pictures with Characters

Decide to make it a day with character(s). If you have Genie+, all of the photos you take with the Photopass people are yours! That makes standing in line for characters, so much the better. If you don’t have Genie+, cast members are usually happy to take photos with your camera. Or you can opt for selfies.

Characters can be found on Buena Vista Street, at Avengers Campus, and in other areas of the park. Those who have a Disney Visa can take advantage of a special, time-limited photo opportunity. (Don’t have a Disney Visa? You can apply for one here where you can earn up to a $300 Statement Credit after qualifying purchases, and I can get a bonus.  Learn more. https://www.referyourchasecard.com/200a/N8NY3U2R9A!)

Animation Academy

Anyone who says Disney never gives anything away for free has never visited the Animation Academy. When you visit the Academy, you get to learn how to draw a Disney character from a Disney artist. It’s a hands-on experience, so you get to practice what you are learning, and you get to keep the paper you drew on. Sometimes, the Disney artist will also give away their drawing. It’s free, and it’s something that only the most knowledgeable Disney guests take advantage of. If you don’t have any money left for souvenirs, this drawing makes for a good take home memory. Even if you think you can’t draw, you should give this activity a try.

Other Attractions

Mickey’s PhilharMagic and Disney Junior Dance Party are two ongoing attractions where you can sit and enjoy something indoors. Coco has a party with his family in the Paradise Gardens Park. Spider-Man leaps through the air in his product testing show. Doctor Strange uses the mystic arts to protect the Avengers Campus from an other-dimensional threat. During other times of the year, parades may also be offered. These pleasant, and in the case of Spider-Man, amazing, shows provide a pleasant diversion that will help you appreciate Disney California Adventure all the more.

The World of Color

If you’re going to Disney California Adventure for two days, make sure you see World of Color both of them. The first time, you get a sense of where to stand for the performance. The second time, you can get there early enough to get where you want to stand. Jenya and I did World of Color twice, and the first time we stood behind a stroller. By the time the show started, we had two tall men in front of us on the left side, and a man who put his child on his shoulders on the right side. No one can be faulted for their height or for wanting to give their child a better view of the show.

When we went the second time, we were there early enough to get in front of our viewing section for preferred dining. Being ale to see the whole show without having to look through people made such a huge difference. There were even portions of the show that I didn’t see in the first performance because they were blocked by the taller people in front of us.

The Lowdown on Disneyland Resort’s Genie+

You have to have a smartphone to access Disneyland Resort’s Genie+ in the parks. I suppose you could probably carry around a laptop or tablet, but neither of those is convenient. If you don’t own a smartphone, you can do what I did. There are several companies that offer pay as you go smartphones. $23 for the phone and $30 for the plan was more than enough to get me through five days in the Disneyland Resorts. I didn’t use the phone for anything but the Genie+ app, and the park Wi-Fi was generally strong enough outside the attractions to update with little to no lag. If you don’t have a smartphone in your party, Genie+ isn’t for you unless you’re just going for photos. So, what does Genie+ bring to the experience, and is it worth your while?

Genie+ and Photos

If you purchase Disney’s Genie+ service for your Disneyland Resorts trip, you get access to all of the photos taken of you by Disney photographers. This is called “PhotoPass,” and back in the day, it was a good way to include everyone in the photo. Fewer people were willing to take advantage of the photographers in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, so it was relatively easy to get your money’s worth with photos. Now, there are lines in front of the iconic photo spaces, like Sleeping Beauty Castle and the big pumpkin at the beginning of Main Street, U.S.A. during Halloween. Still, it’s nice to be able to run into an unoccupied photographer and get a couple of photos, especially when they throw in a little pixie dust. It can be a good way to extend your day if you’re running out of things to do in Disney California Adventure.

Lightning Lane

Photos aren’t the only benefit of Genie+. Lightning Lane is the replacement for Disney’s formerly free service – FastPass. Because Genie+ is set at a specific amount per ticket per day ($20 as of Sep. 23, 2022), PhotoPass wasn’t enough to offer guests, even with the touted app “benefits.” Lightning Lane allows you to reserve a time at an attraction and to board that attraction with little to no waiting. Even the longest line we got in at the Haunted Mansion Holiday went relatively quickly as cast members herded Lightning Lane users through the phone scanners with phenomenal efficiency. You only get one Lightning Lane use per attraction per day – I guess lightning never strikes twice. Still, if you’re on a limited time schedule and you want to get through all the attractions in Disneyland, Lightning is well worth using.

However, there is a caveat. Some attractions that offer Lightning Lane, do so at an extra cost. Radiator Springs Racers, Web Slingers: a Spider-Man Adventure, and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance would allow you to pay to go to the head of the line. The prices differed by attraction and by day. At up to $20 a person, it might just be better to plan your trip to hit those attractions early in the day, avoiding both the crowds and the additional fees. Web Slingers had the lowest wait time of the two throughout the day while we were there, even getting down to 40 minutes, so that is the one I would least likely spend additional money on, even if it was the most fun.

Plus, seriously, think about what you can do with the fee before spending it on a three- or four-minute attraction. If it makes your vacation better because you hate standing in line, go for it. (It’ll help improve the value of my Disney stock.) But even at $7 a person, that’s a churro with change left over.

Other App Benefits

The app features quite a few IRL experiences. In Peter Pan’s Flight, you can find hidden objects in line that lead to Tinkerbell, and for a 45-minute wait, that’s something to do. Esmeralda and Fortune Red offer up tales of adventure – one card a day is free. (You can continue the adventure with additional coins if you don’t have the time to complete it.) And there are a series of Imagineer talks available to listen to. (I didn’t use those because I was with my wife and thought I should spend my time with her. We didn’t have headphones, either.)

While the app will plan your day for you, telling you which attraction you should hit next, the biggest benefit is knowing the wait times for attractions before you get to them. It was especially useful for knowing when attractions had broken down. If the stand-by line is unavailable, you know not to go there.

Mobile ordering for your meal is also available.

Disneyland Resort’s Genie+ Conclusion

Getting into the parks is expensive, the Disneyland Resort’s Genie+ allows you to maximize your time with its Lightning Lane and can bring more enjoyment through its games and IRL freebies if you are inclined to collect or use them.

Jolly Holiday Bakery Café for Surprise Breakfast

Jenya and I decided to eat at the Jolly Holiday Café for breakfast on our final day in Disneyland. We stood in the standby line and tried to glance through the bodies of the people in front of to see what they had for breakfast. There was a croissant with egg, cheese and bacon, but we opted for something sweeter. We shared a cinnamon roll and a yogurt parfait. To drink, Jenya ordered a tea, and I ordered a caramel macchiato. Jenya found a place outside, and I gathered our drinks and food from the counter.

When I sat down to breakfast, I raised my caramel macchiato to my lips, tilting the cup as I did so. There was coffee on the top of the lid, and it spilled on my shorts. It didn’t seem to stain my shorts, and there wasn’t much anyway, so I didn’t think much of it. I wiped at the spot with a napkin and started eating. With every sip of macchiato, caramel was coming up through the straw in delicious waves of sweetness.

About half way through the meal, Jenya points out a yellow spot on my t-shirt near my shoulder.

I look at it and say, “What? Did I spill caramel on my shirt? How did that get there?” I swiped it away with my finger and put my finger in my mouth. “That’s not caramel…”

This will likely bring back memories for my sister when we were eating a meal at the Big Thunder Ranch many years ago. The birds were active back then, too.

Disney California Adventure Faces Change in Light of Failure: A Prediction

In 2001 when Michael Eisner opened Disney’s California Adventure, people questioned the wisdom of building a park based on California in the state of California. Who would want to pay to see a fake Golden Gate Bridge or visit a fake beach side boardwalk when the real things were so close at hand? What was the point of having a mock-up of California when people could readily see the real thing? Park attendance was poor, and the project was chalked up as a failure. Still, Disney tinkered with the theme and the lands in an attempt to draw more guests over to Disneyland’s sister park. After all, part of the success of Florida’s Walt Disney World has to do with its ability to capture guests for long term stays, rather than just a couple of nights.

Marvel Takes Over

When Guardians of the Galaxy replaced the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Disney was starting to retheme a part of the park that had been aimed at children – “a bug’s land.” At the time, the casual guest may not have thought of it as such, but the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction, which was original placed in Hollywood Land, is now one of two attractions in Avenger’s Campus. The themed land appeals to fans of Marvel at any age.

But there’s more than a subtle switch from one land to another in this move. Hollywood Land is also being taken over by Marvel. Photo ops on the backlot feature Marvel character cutouts. Stores feature Marvel products. With no musical in the theater and the Art of Animation Building mostly closed (in September 2022), there’s every reason t believe that Disney will begin to retheme this space to something better. Currently, only the Animation Academy is worth visiting with Monsters, Inc.: Mike and Sulley to the Rescue being only slightly entertaining. Mickey’s Philharmagic no longer draws people (if it ever did), and Disney Junior Dance Party is strictly for the little ones.

So as Hollywood Land, with no stunt shows, no backstage magic, and only a tenuous grasp on the term “Hollywood,” is slowly consumed by superheroes, other Disney California Adventure lands are facing their own park identity crisis.

Cars Land and Pixar Pier

Cars Land is the easiest of the lands to show that it doesn’t belong in California. The fabled Route 66 did go from Chicago to Los Angeles, but Radiator Springs is located in a version of Monument Valley – a place in Arizona. It is clearly lacking in California character.

Pixar Pier has completely taken over Paradise Pier. All of its attractions, including the rethemed Flik’s Flyers, now called Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind, are themed to various Pixar movies.

Remaining California Lands

Grizzly Peak maintains its California feel, largely due to the Redwood Creek Challenge and Grizzly River Run. The idea of a California adventure has suffered here through the loss of Soarin’ over California. Now, simply called Soarin’ the attraction takes guests hang gliding through famous places of the world. The queue still features a history of California aviation.

Pacific Wharf is still largely California in flavor. The dining area features Ghirardelli, Boudin, and the Wine Country Trattoria.

Buena Vista Street is trying hard to hold onto its 1920 – 1930s vibe. The Red Car Trolley, still rolls down the street. The Carthay Circle Restaurant still serves food, and Walt and Mickey are still on hand with their suitcase and a dream.

Paradise Gardens Park

The last land is the most problematic. It’s a mishmash of characters and experiences that have no unifying theme. Paradise Gardens Park features Coco as a show attraction. “Coco” is based in Mexico, and while the roots of California are undeniably linked to Mexico; the state is no longer located in Mexico.

The Silly Symphony Swings are a somewhat clever retheme of a giant swing ride more fitting for a cheap thrill than a Disney style attraction; it’s a good example of Disney imagineers doing the most they can with the least amount of work possible. California averages about 11 tornadoes a year, so it’s possible that this Silly Symphony could take place in the state. Goofy’s Sky School is a mouse-style rollercoaster that is fun and cheaply rethemed, though brilliantly done assuming the budget for the attraction was small. The rollercoaster is a nod to California’s aviation history, in case you missed it at Soarin’.

Jumpin’ Jellyfish and Golden Zephyr were lifted straight from a seaside boardwalk or a carnival with no retheming. These two rides, they certainly don’t embody the term “attraction,” have nothing to do with anything Disney. It’s possible the Zephyr tips its hat to the Rocketeer, which takes place in California, but the mention is so haphazard, that it seems more like a coincidence than something intentional.

The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure was out of place when it opened in 2011. At the time, it had nothing to do with the theme of the park or the area. Within the first few months of its opening, lines were as short as five minutes. It’s not that the attraction is bad; it’s just not good enough to anchor an entire section of the park. This area’s lack of cohesive theme is something Darth Vader would find disturbing, and Disney should, too.

What’s in a Name?

The original theme park name was Disney’s California Adventure. The apostrophe gave ownership to Walt as the park did its best to create the atmosphere of California when Walt arrived with $40 in his packet and an Alice reel under his arm. Hollywood Land, Buena Vista Street, Paradise Pier were all set in Hollywood’s heydays.

Simply by losing an apostrophe and an ‘s,’ Disney California Adventure has become generic. When guests come to the park, they’ll have a Disney California Adventure. The park is in California. It’s run by the Disney company and has a lot of Disney intellectual property, and it’s an adventure. Still, there is likely a plan hidden somewhere deep in the Disney offices with a new name. Something that will create a better sense of identity for the park and what it offers. What do you think it will be called?

Disney Magic Kingdoms Happiness Changes for the Better

When I started playing Disney Magic Kingdoms for the second time, it still had the old “happiness” model. A child would get a thought balloon over their head. The balloon featured a character or the attraction icon. The player would click on the thought balloon and allow the child to go to the attraction or find out what action the child wanted to see a character do. If the character was free, the player could assign the character to fulfill the child’s wish. When the character was done with the action, the child’s though balloon would become a smiley face icon representing happiness. For attractions, the child had to merely board the attraction to receive the happiness icon.

The player would have to click on the happiness icon, which would disappear into the happiness meter. This meter was used to show how happy the park was overall. It granted more visitors (which has no value in the game as of yet), and it made tokens drop at a higher rate.

The fact that the child’s happiness was siphoned off, sometimes, even before an attraction had started, seemed like an unintended commentary on the parks in real life. The happiness they generate is fleeting. Players were using the happiness to increase their parks wealth; this left the children unhappy, or at least without happiness. What kind of person would take a child’s happiness for their own gain? And this wasn’t like laughter in “Monsters, Inc.” Laughter is contagious, it generates energy, and it continues beyond the life of the joke told or the energy taken from it. This happiness degraded overtime; it did not generate more happiness.

I always felt a little bad about it, but it’s only a game, so I clicked away the Disney Magic Kingdoms Happiness with the best of them.

New Disney Magic Kingdoms Happiness

A 2022 update to Disney Magic Kingdoms Happiness has the players colect9ing the happiness from the children as before. Only now, the game counts the happiness in a total that does not dissipate. The wish fulfilled goes on a scoreboard and somehow feels less predatory. It’s not like the players are taking the happiness away. It’s more like they are counting the number of wishes fulfilled. Of course, fulfilling wishes generates more kingdom token wealth, but it doesn’t increase the chances of getting something.

In terms of actual game play, this form of happiness makes it easier to understand the tangible benefits of fulfilling wishes. Instead of some vague promise that token drops are 10 percent better when players siphoned away happiness, players now know exactly what they are getting for their happiness numbers.

What is Disney Magic Kingdoms?

Disney Magic Kingdoms is a time-based, park building simulator with a story line. Players can build attractions from the parks and newly imagineered for game play. They can also collect over 300 classic Disney and Star Wars characters. Currently, the only Marvel characters in the game are from Big Hero 6. Read my first post on Disney Magic Kingdoms.

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Planning for Disneyland in 2022

After COVID shutdown the Happiest Place on Earth, the Disney Company had to make some changes to how people visited in order to reopen. Gone are the days when you could show up to the park like Captain EO – uninvited and unannounced. When planning for Disneyland in 2022, reservations are required along with a valid entry ticket.

Planning for Disneyland 2022

As much as I like planning things (sarcasm), I probably should have left the chore to my friend Lynn Barron at ConciEARS. Lynn is the co-host of The Sweep Spot and he worked as a custodian at Disneyland for a number of years. His co-authored book “Cleaning the Kingdom” explores the way the Disney clean-up crew worked and played at Disneyland. Lynn likely would’ve made the whole thing so much easier. He even says that using him to plan your vacation doesn’t cost you anything extra.

However, if I had gone that route, I would’ve written a different blog post and not experienced the new way of doing things at the park.

A Ticket and a Reservation

Walt may have come to Southern California with a suitcase and a dream, but that won’t get you into Disneyland. You need to purchase a ticket and then make a reservation to the park you want to visit. This takes all the spontaneity out of a trip because you have to know what park you want to visit on what day. The choice during the holiday season may seem pretty obvious if you can’t get into the night party. If Disney California Adventure closes early because of an Oogie Boogie Bash Halloween Party on Wednesday, you probably should reserve your space at Disneyland, so you can go for the entire time the park should be open, instead of having to leave at 6pm.

On the positive side, it does allow Disney to limit the number of people coming into the park, which should provide smaller crowds and better customer service. We can always wish upon a star, that it holds true.

Restaurants and Reservations

If you want to have a special dining experience, you need to reserve your spot in advance. We were unable to get into the Blue Bayou, the Carthay Circle, or the Plaza Inn for a character breakfast. I suppose something could open up on the morning of our arrival, but I’m not sure we’re going to try to get there. Other experiences that require reservations were also booked full.

Bring the Smartphone

Most people have a smartphone. It’s just assumed that everyone does. I do not. I don’t want one. I don’t like them. And you can get off my lawn! That means that I’m going to miss out on a number of things in the park. I’m decently certain you need a smartphone to take advantage of Genie Service and Lightning Lane. I also think there are games to play in the park using a smartphone. I’d like to keep my flip phone, but this trip has me rethinking my stance on technological cra(p)ck.

A Package Deal

It used to be you could find a cheap hotel and get tickets separately to make the vacation less expensive. That no longer seems to be the case. Five days at the parks is $380 per person. Two people are $760. That made the Good Neighbor Hotel a bargain to stay at.

We’ll have updates as we get closer and after our trip. (Lynn Barron and ConciEARS are not responsible for the content herein. The endorsement is based on my knowledge of him and his past work. No funds or trade was remitted for this article. The link to Sweeping the Kingdom is an Amazon affiliate link.)

What I Would Do at D23 Expo 2022 if I Could Go?

By the time I shuttered Lincoln City Archery, D23 Expo 2022 tickets were sold out, which is probably just as well because at the time I didn’t think I could afford much of anything. Still, now that I know what I am doing with my finances, I could have made it to D23. (We’ll just have to settle for a trip to Disneyland.) So, what would I do if I had a ticket to D23? Here is my suggested itinerary. (Note: This was written on August 10, 2022. My ideas about what to do could change based on new announcements or flights of fancy.)

Day One

Most people will gravitate toward the Disney Legends Induction Ceremony, which is understandable. The Legends ceremony features some of the most iconic people involved with the creation of the Disney Company. Personally, I would likely head over to the Archives Stage. At 10, the panel is “Sounds Delightful.” It will focus on vintage recordings with LPs at the heart of the conversation. Music is an underrated part of the Disney experience. This is the panel I would want to be at.

If, for some reason, I couldn’t make that panel, I would head over to the Backlot Stage for an “Inside Look at the Society of Explorers and Adventurers.” I don’t even know what this is, but the description mentions books, and that’s good enough for me. (I should probably do some research; there’s a wiki for everything.)

At 11:45, the Hyperion stage features “traceback,” a look at the women and people of color that worked at the Disney studios. I suspect Floyd Norman would make an appearance, but that’s not guaranteed. This panel seems like a nice way to learn about Disney history from another point of view.

If I couldn’t make that presentation, I would hit up the “Who Has a Window on Main Street, U.S.A.?” panel back on the Archives Stage.

The next panel on the Archives Stage is about the Mickey Mouse Club from 1989. This is the version that launched the careers of Keri Russell, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling, and Britney Spears. I wasn’t a big fan of this reboot, but the star power is undeniable. It’s also not likely many of them will show up. Still, it would be a good time, especially if everyone came in mouse ears.

There is a very good chance that I would go ahead and skip anything structured at this time. Instead, I would get something to eat and spend an hour or so walking the exhibition hall. It’d be a good time to look at what the Indie Authors and other artists are selling as well as what exhibits have come from the Disney Archives themselves.

It might also give me an edge to get into the next panel at the Archives Stage: Disney Legends in Conversation. We don’t know for sure yet who is going to be inducted as a Disney Legend, but this is the panel, everyone should want to get into. There are few people left with a connection to Walt, and some of them should be on this panel. This would be the one panel of the day I wouldn’t want to miss.

The last panel of the day is a toss up between “Walt’s Plane” on the Archive Stage and “Here for the Laughs” on the Backlot Stage. I would probably opt for Walt’s Plane unless the line seemed overly long. Then I would take my time, adventure through the hall and get to “Here for the Laughs.”

Day Two

People will likely flock to the Studio Showcase in the morning. I don’t know why people like sneak previews of upcoming movies and shows; I’d rather be surprised. Opposite the Studio Showcase will be “the Making of Disney100: The Exhibition” on the Backlot Stage and “A Peek Behind the Curtain at Walt Disney Imagineering’s Illusions and Special Effects Development Lab” with a mention of Yale Gracey and the Haunted Mansion. Since I wrote “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity,” I’d headed over to the Archives Stage, and if I could, I’d likely stay all day there.

The next presentation at the Archives Stage will be “Uncovering Treasures from the Marty Sklar Collection.” Marty Sklar was an integral part of early Disneyland development and an amazing author in his own right.

After that, the Archives Stage will host “A Century of Storytelling at Walt Disney Animation Studios.” Storytelling is one of the things Disney does best; this panel is one to see to glean pointers on what it takes to be a better storyteller.

At 3:45, the Hyperion Stage will have “ABC’s On The Red Carpet’s Storytellers Spotlight,” and at 4pm, the Archives Stage will have Author Ridley Pearson. Maybe this is the time I try to grab something to eat and check out the floor for today. Either of those presentations would be good, but we got to eat at some point.

The last panel of the day will either be the Premiere Stage’s “The Santa Clauses” or the Archives Stage’s “Building Walt’s Florida Project: Walt Disney World from Dream to Reality.” I’m leaning toward the Santa Clauses, even with Tim Allen’s conservative politics. Allen might not even show up, but it’s a tough call.

Day Three

Hall of D23 is where almost everyone is going to be on Sunday – myself included – for “A Boundless Future: Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.” Disney magic isn’t just about entertainment; it’s also about moving forward. Imagineers have created more than one world changing invention. We could see a whole new world open up during this presentation. It starts at 10:30, but in all likelihood, you’re going to want to be in line early. I would miss out on the Hyperion Stage’s “Revisiting Yesterday’s Tomorrow: Disney’s Magical Mid-Century” and the Backlot Stage’s “Back to the Grid: 40 Years of Tron Presented by Enterprise.” Still, “A Boundless Future” is the place to be.

Since the preceding panel ends at noon, it may be difficult to get to the next panel, which starts at 1pm, on the Premiere Stage – “Walt Disney Imagineering: 70 Years of Making the Impossible, Possible.” This is another show stopping panel that I would love to see. Since this panel goes until 2:30, I would miss out on “100 Years of Treasures from the Walt Disney Animation Research Library” on the Backlot Stage.

At 4pm, the Archives Stage will feature “The Disney Parks Through the Decades: A Disney Ambassador Perspective.” I may end with that depending on how I felt. Three days of convention life can be pretty tiring. But there are two other presentations that could convince me to stay to the very end.

The Archives Stage has “Memories of Walt Disney World: Framing A Portrait of 50 Magical Years.” The Premiere Stage hosts “Conversations with Disney Character Voices.”

The Best Things

One of the best things about D23 Expos is the people who attend. There are amazing cosplayers, incredible Disney fans, and if you’re lucky, your family. Standing in line is amazing because you’ll meet people who have the exact same interests as you, who know more about Disney than you, and who love talking about Disney just as much as you. When you’re with your family, you can enjoy the atmosphere and the happiness of everyone who attends. It’s palpable.

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Word Game for Disney Fans: Kuzco and Mickeyrdle

Every once in a while, I’ll head over to Mickeyvisit.com to play their Wordle-inspired Mickeyrdle game. Like the original Wordle, you have six moves to guess the five-letter word. The twist here is that this is a word game for Disney fans, so it uses Disney characters and other related vocabulary. There is only one puzzle released every day, so it makes it a little difficult to get excited about getting one word right, especially if you get it in two or three tries. My idea was to use the Mickeyrdle as a mine for writing ideas. Sometimes, the word revealed is a little obscure.

A couple of days ago, when I wanted to try this new idea out, I started with an “o” in the second place being a right letter wrong place. No other letters were in the word. I tried “Manor,” and the “o” was still in the wrong place. In the three guesses, I had eliminated “e” and “i” leaving only the “u.” Sometimes, they get tricky and like to use double letters; still when I put the “o” in the third place, it was still wrong, and I hadn’t found any other letters. That meant the “O” was likely in the last place. “Baloo” wouldn’t work because I had already eliminated the “a.” I tried to think of some words where the “O” was the first letter, but couldn’t come up with anything. Then it hit me: “Kuzco.”

That took the wind out of my sails because I didn’t want to write about The Emperor’s New Groove. Sure, the movie has arguably one of the best casts, from a star power perspective, of any Disney animated film. David Spade, John Goodman, Patrick Warburton and the iconic Eartha Kitt are pretty amazing. Tom Jones puts in an appearance singing the theme song at the beginning of the film, and well-known voice actors, Rob Paulsen and Jess Harnell took small parts. Eartha Kitt by herself has to be considered a coup for the casting director.

But New Groove is my least favorite Disney animated feature, even counting the disaster that is “The Black Cauldron.” It might be funny, but Spade is annoying, and it’s not warm at all. Maybe, that’s how it’s supposed to be, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

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If you’d like more articles about Disneyland and the Disney Company, check out www.penguinate.weebly.com. I have also written books available at Amazon and on this website.

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A New Princess Ride-Through, TBA, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure

In their press release touting the change from Snow White’s Scary Adventure to Snow White’s Enchanted Wish, one of the items noted that the attraction, which has been around since 1955, was the only one at Disneyland to feature a princess ride-through. In 2024, that will no longer be the case. Splash Mountain’s makeover will feature Tiana and her crew making her attraction the second princess ride-through at Walt’s original park. Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, or TBA (Are the imagineers trolling us?), will take guests on a water-soaked tour replacing the Song of the South theme.

Disney celebrated the announcement of the new theme with “a $50,000 donation “to the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), a regional, pre-professional arts training center that offers students intensive instruction in culinary arts, dance, media arts, classical instrumental music, jazz instrumental music, classical vocal music, drama, musical theatre, theatre design, visual arts and creative writing.”

TBA follows a recent naming convention that is a little tiresome. The Indiana Jones’ Adventure, The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, and Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure all have someone’s name followed by “adventure.” (We’re giving a pass to the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” because it took its name form the movie.)

Because Disney is no stranger to synergy, Tiana fans can look forward to a series featuring the princess in 2023. The Disney+ offering will feature Tiana in her princess role but assures fans that New Orleans will also be involved.

By removing the stigma of “Song of the South” and replacing it with Disney’s first African-American princess in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, Disney has the ability to continue to use its developed intellectual property to form bonds between its television, streaming, movie, and theme park offerings. This will increase the company’s sales revenue for an IP that people have been supportive of.

Support and Disclaimers

We use affiliate links. When a link takes you to Amazon and you buy a product, we get a finder’s fee. It doesn’t cost you anything, and it helps us write more great articles.

If you’d like more articles about Disneyland and the Disney Company, check out www.penguinate.weebly.com. On Medium, I wrote about why Disney should reimagine Splash Mountain. I have also written books available at Amazon and on this website.

If you’d like to support us directly, my wife and I have a Patreon page. Thanks.