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Photos from Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure

Pixar Pier sign

The Disneyland Resort is still trying to figure out what it needs to do to get more people flowing into its second gate: Disney California Adventure. Retheming Pixar Pier is the start of the Disney Company’s ambitious plans. However, it does nothing to change the equation on a higher level. Pixar Pier is laid out the same way. With the only space left to occupy being the place where the old Maliboomer used to be, it’s hard to see anything drawing more than Toy Story Midway Mania does now. The Incredicoaster did have a long wait on a night when there was no “World of Color.” Gone are the days of 20 minutes to get on the only inverted loop in the Disneyland Resort.

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Fantasmic! at the River Belle Terrace

Everyone loves Fantsmic! Water, video projected on water, fire, fireworks, special effects, magic, and a catchy tune make this one of the most popular attractions at Disneyland. Even after more than 25 years, people stake out their seats early and cause traffic problems on the Rivers of America to see Mickey’s imagination run wild as he faces off against some of Disney’s scariest villains.

More colorful than years before, Fantasmic! 2018 features new segments and a tighter script (especially the Jack Sparrow segment). While Mickey and the Sword of Truth no longer face Maleficent in dragon form (instead, he vanquishes her as the sorcerer’s apprentice), the whole show is well-produced and choreographed.

The best seats in the house (of the mouse) aren’t necessarily in the front at the edge of the Rivers of America where spectators are likely to get wet. Instead, the River Belle Terrace offers an elevated view above the crowds and away from the water. This dining package includes a lanyard and a menu full of great food to choose from. Better, you don’t have to stake out your seats because you’ve reserved them far in advance.

The corn chowder is spicy, warm, and tasty. It hits the right spot during a cool winter evening in Frontierland, and it fills the belly and soul with goodness. The tater tots are spiced to be addictive. (As someone who isn’t a huge tater tot fan, I couldn’t get enough of them and found myself popping them in my mouth even after I was full.) The beef brisket was good, too. The showstopper, however, was the Maleficent dessert: chocolate and spice in a raspberry sauce makes it amazing.

The tables may be a little wobbly, and the seating area doesn’t have any heating elements, but the views are positively Fantasmic! And Early show viewers can stay to see the fireworks form the comfort of their table on the River Belle Terrace. Check out my Disneyland page.

From the 2017 show
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Disney Magic: Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean Changes More Than the Red-Head

While everyone has focused on the controversial change to the iconic auction scene on Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean, people have missed a subtler and more astounding addition to the classic attraction. In the cave as guests transfer between the world of the dead into the world of the living pirates, a skeleton holds treasure while hanging from a rope above a living octopus. Barbossa’s assault on the Spanish fort can be heard in the background as the guest’s ship glides by the skeleton.

But wait, it’s no longer a skeleton. The figure has transformed into a full-blooded pirate with flesh and hair! The effect may be simple to create, the result is still astounding. It was so surprising that I had to ride twice to make sure I saw what I did and other members of my party didn’t see it the first time either. So, while Scarlett, who is available as a funny, powerful face character in New Orleans Square, gets all the glamour, this other more low-key addition to Pirates of the Caribbean proves that Disney can still make magic!

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Controversial Disney: Pirates of the Caribbean’s Scarlett

The Pirates of the Caribbean auction scene, as presented in 2018, shows Scarlett going head-to-head with the Auctioneer in a sales pitch of sorts. The Auctioneer is trying to sell off Tiny’s egg-laying hens while Scarlett is trying to sell her rum. The pirates who are bidding want nothing to do with the egg-layers, but the Auctioneer refuses to give way and allow Scarlett to auction off the rum. This scene replaces the infamous “Take a Wench for a Bride” scene where the Auctioneer was attempting to auction off the overweight Tiny while Scarlett showed off her gams and the men in the audience shouted, “We wants the red-head,” as well as other more derogatory comments directed at Tiny.

This isn’t the first change that Pirates of the Caribbean has gone through. In 1997, the pirates stopped chasing women and started chasing food. Captain Jack Sparrow and his friends were added to the attraction in 2006 and beyond.

Those who deride the change in the auction scene as pandering to the political correctness miss the point of Disneyland entirely. Walt Disney, a man who had his fingers on the pulse of American culture for three decades, said that as long as there was imagination left in the world, Disneyland would never be completed. The same holds true for its attractions.

Walt Disney’s first goal was to entertain and make people happy. Pirates of the Caribbean was never about historical accuracy, or even, edutainment. Instead, it was about helping people be happier and allowing them to explore an extremely sanitized version of an historic population – pirates.

Those who wish to teach their children about the realities of pirating and a pirate’s life can use the Pirates of the Caribbean as a starting point. They can address the inaccuracy of pirates as depicted in movies and other forms of entertainment and how media affects the way people view those that came before. Pirates and their lives weren’t clean, friendly or fighting for justice. As the song says, they pillaged and plundered and rifled and looted; they kidnapped and ravaged and never gave a hoot about it.  So, for those who choose to go that route with their children, “properly warned ye be, says I, arrrr.”

Before shouting for the red-head, check out the new version and see if it fits the story line better. There is no slippery slope here. It’s just a chance to keep the ride fresh and accommodate the changes in American society and culture. Keep your ruddy hands inboard and embrace the magic of the new version. (And if you’re still concerned about the sanitized version of the pirates ride, do some research to see what Walt said about scalps in front of the Indian Village in Frontierland.)

Check out our penguins paying tribute to 50 years of Pirates of the Caribbean!

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Photos from the Pacific Aviation Museum at Pearl Harbor

The Pacific Aviation Museum's Disney Connection

Check out this article on Pearl Harbor. Check out these links on Oahu.

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‘Mary Poppins Returns’ with a message the world will needs but will miss.

The original “Mary Poppins” is a ground-breaking cinematic achievement that is as magical today as it was in 1964. There’s no way a sequel could match it, and if this is the reason some people don’t like “Mary Poppins Returns,” they’re missing out on a story that this world, at this time, desperately needs and will probably fail to hear. “Mary Poppins Returns” isn’t about saving the children or saving the father; it’s about saving ourselves.

“Mary Poppins Returns” is similar to the 1964 “Mary Poppins” that it’s a sequel to. There are songs, hand-drawn animation combined with live action, a bunch of working-class men doing dancing in the most preposterous of ways, a female character fighting for a cause, a weird relation who’s facing an impossible affliction and a father whose situation has caused him to forget all of the things he learned as a child when Mary Poppins was his nanny.

From a time before the film was released, it was clear:

  • Emily Blunt is no Julie Andrews.
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda is no Dick Van Dyke.
  • Meryl Streep is no Ed Wynn, but you might not recognize her either.
  • Marc Shaiman is no Sherman Brothers.

I should probably repeat that last statement. There isn’t a tune that I was humming at the end of the movie. “Mary Poppins” gave us “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialadocious,” “Let’s Go Fly a Kite,” “Feed the Birds,” “Step in Time,” and “Chim-Chim-Cheree,” which won the academy award. “Mary Poppins Returns” gives us…

Whatever you’re doing this Christmas, go see “Mary Poppins Returns.” It’s grown up a little while keeping most of its innocence intact. (The “Book by It’s Cover” Sequence is a bawdy vaudeville style song.)

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Scenes from Christmas Time at the Disneyland Resort 2018

Partners statue in Disneyland

For my 50th trip to Disneyland, we celebrated Christmas, my mom’s birthday and my grandma’s 90th birthday. It was a great trip. Disneyland has the ability to bring out the child in all of us. Find out how being childlike can help you be more creative. Get a copy of “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Find links to other Disneyland related articles here. Have a Merry Christmas!

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The Disneyland ‘A Christmas Fantasy Parade’

Opening float for A Christmas Fantasy Parade

As Charles Dickens wrote in ‘A Christmas Carol’:
“It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself.” Creativity requires people to be child-like. Children are insatiably curious. They combine things that no one else would think of; they explore the intersections where concrete meets grass and water meets land.

Enjoy these photos from Disneyland’s ‘A Christmas Fantasy Parade’ and find your inner child. Read more about being childlike and creativity.

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The Princesses Save ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’

If you haven’t seen “Wreck-It Ralph 2,” look away now. This review probably contains spoilers. If you’ve seen “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” continue below the trailer.

When Wi-Fi gets plugged in at the arcade and Ralph’s good intentions mess something up, it’s up to Ralph and Vanellope to visit the World Wide Web and find the part that fixes the problem. The fish out of water find a variety of new experiences that they can’t explain. Some of it is as disconnected and strange as the Internet in real life. You might find yourself wondering what you’re actually watching.

However, it isn’t until the Disney Princesses show up that “Wreck-It Ralph 2” finds its groove. The princesses are fun and redeeming, and Disney continues doing what it’s been doing to its princesses since “Frozen” and before.

Fortunately, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” contains more themes than a typical Internet usage day. Identity, friendship, and dreams all take center stage and provide fodder for the movie goer to think about. Of course, if thinking isn’t your thing, there are plenty of “duty”-type jokes to keep you happy. Though no one says you can’t enjoy both. As always, staying until the end delivers a… reward?

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Go Oahu Card: Pearl Harbor

Arizona Memorial and the Mighty Missouri at Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor is an all-day tour. The greatest tragedy in American naval history, Pearl Harbor exhibits commemorate the soldiers that fell during the Japanese sneak attack on docked battleships. Starting with the Arizona Memorial, the film before you go out on the boat shows what led to the Japanese attack and why it was so successful. The Arizona Memorial dock is currently under repair, so visitors get a tour by the memorial with a guide who explains the story and answers questions. Get your tickets online, or you may not be able to go aboard the boat for this FREE tour.

The Bowfin Submarine and its museum are included on the Go Oahu Card as are the below mentioned attractions. The audio guide explains the life of a submariner. I listened to the family version of the guide and found it much more entertaining than the adult version, but you can choose just by punching in the right number.

The Bowfin Submarine
The Bowfin Submarine

A shuttle takes guests from the arrival center over a bridge to Ford Island. There, you’ll get to stand on the decks of the Missouri that stands watch over the Arizona. The Mighty Mo was where the Japanese formally surrendered to the Allied Forces. It also saw service during the Korean War and Desert Storm.

Under the guns of the Mighty Mo
Under the guns of the Mighty Mo

If you love planes, the Pacific Aviation Museum is for you! A lot of restored aircraft occupy the two hangars. For me, the most interesting was a B-17 Bomber found in the swamps of New Guinea. Dubbed the “Swamp Ghost,” its insignia was drawn by Disney artists and features Donald Duck in the role of the Swamp Ghost.

The Swamp Ghost
The Swamp Ghost

If you get hungry while at Pearl Harbor, your best choices for food are at Ford Island. In the shadow of the Mighty Mo is a food truck,and the Pacific Aviation Museum features a counter service restaurant. Both offer better food to eat than the $7 hot dog and the snack shop at the visitors’center.