Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Be Our Guest: Disney's Grand California (and a Dash of the Disneyland Hotel)

Hello, Readers!

We're going to roll out a new segment today - BE OUR GUEST, reviews of Disney Hotels.
Actually, with the D23 Expo coming up, I'll probably review the hotel we stay at then, as well.
This will be a limited segment since...I don't get to stay at a hotel as often as I'd like (because, y'know.....given the option, I think I'd just move into one...), but we'll also use it whenever we hop into the hotels for a specific event, point of interest, or general perusal...

Over that nice two week period where most Disneyland Annual Passes are blocked out (like we'd want to go be salmon swimming upstream), we stayed to celebrate my mother's birthday, so we were happy to stay out of the crowded parks anyway and actually enjoy the resort.

Now, just a small disclaimer. Don't consider this a demand that you utilize this hotel. This is a report on our trip. I just don't want someone to have a bad time and blame me!

That being said, we have had a consistently fantastic stay at the Grand Californian.  The first time my family stayed here was in 2005 for Disneyland's 50th anniversary weekend (Yes, we're crazy people, we were there). And the last time before this was last July for Disneyland's 60th. Which...is kind of why we wanted to go and just stay to enjoy the resort; we tend to go to because of an event, and you don't get to enjoy all the amenities.

Regarding price, in a more general sense, if you're planning to go and just hit the parks morning 'til night, take the Disneyland Hotel or the Paradise Pier.

So, here's our lovely room and beds.

These headboards are gorgeous and sturdy as heck (ask Fred!).

The rooms have this piece of Snow White art. I have not stolen it, but mostly because it's WELL bolted to the wall. Why must they tempt me?!

We were very kindly upgrade to a pool view room. With the trees, we couldn't really see the pool, but that was fine with us.

See? We could hear the pool!

Not to get personal, but here's my goddaughter, Naomi. Isn't she adorable?! We just loved to sit and listen to the people in the pool. We could also hear a little bit of the ambience from the DCA.

The bathroom.

The toiletries.  Not an ad, but we LOVE the H20 products Disney provides. They also sell some in the hotel shops, FYI.

We personally recommend the mint

The coffee maker is little but adequate, and thankfully also provide tea. Yay!

Disney should be grateful I didn't rip the shower curtain off the rings and run off.
Seriously, Disney, why must you tempt me so much?!

Towels provided.

Nice closet. Sorry I didn't take a picture of the inside.  Personally, I don't use the closet much....

Another good FYI, they've got a blu-ray player in the room.  We made use of it, catching Naomi and my grandmother up on Big Bang Theory.

A night view. Again, you get some noise, but it's still pretty serene.  It's not disruptive at all!

Now, the televisions in the room do have channels for the fireworks and World of Color, if you have those views.  Suddenly, one night, we heard the BOOM BOOMs of the fireworks.  We didn't have a view of them, but we could see some reflections and man, does the light go far! It was enough for us.

It was a nice gloomy, rainy morning when we left.
It always rains on our check-out day. We think Disneyland just doesn't want us to leave.

Seriously, it was blistering hot on the 60th anniversary, and the next day, when we check out, it freaking DRIZZLED!

In the middle of July!

Even if you don't stay, go check out the lobbies of the hotels.  They're always SO well decorated! It's so nice that Disney's magic in the parks extends this far.

In the lobby, during Christmas, you can get hot chocolate and hot cider (both alcoholic and non. The alcoholic versions of each are pictured here) as well as a variety of Christmas treats.  

The Cast members also wore adorable aprons that were available for sale, but sold out fairly quickly. So I would recommend checking early in the Christmas season if that kind of thing is up your alley. 

In the lobby, they had a BEAUTIFUL gingerbread replica of the hotel itself...if you make it to the bottom of the post, we'll have our first contest related to the gingy hotel!

The Christmas Tree was decorated with these GORGEOUS lanterns.

DISNEY MERCHANDISING??? You listening?! THESE!! Get on it for next Christmas! You're welcome! Just gimme a set, no charge and you can have the credit!

 Room Service

Another benefit of staying in the hotel...room service!

We only did breakfast, but hey, why not share with my wonderful readers?

Pancakes and sausage.

You can't get away from a Disney park breakfast or hotel without a Mickey waffle, which I think was literally created by magic.

A little more healthy breakfast....look at that broccoli!
Naomi likes broccoli.

 Disneyland Hotel

We did stop into the Disneyland Hotel for a birthday dinner at Steakhouse 55.  Let me know in the comments (here on the page, not on the Facebook post FOR the blog, please!) if you'd like to see what we ate.  I did review the restaurant last spring during OC Restaurants week, and will again this year, but if you'd like another look, let me know!

The Disneyland Hotel (DH) had it's own cute little .....well, big, gingerbread castle. All with gingerbread scent piped in to enhance it. 

Anything Disney does, you need to look at it from as many angles as you can.

The lobby itself is smaller, but the last remodel, making it more of a mid-century modern hotel. Now,  the theme IS Disneyland. This streamlining of the theme really brings it together.

I did NOT shove this tree in my purse, but don't think I didn't think about it.  Where is a Mary Poppins carpetbag when you need it?

A nice Mary Blair to greet you in the lobby.

I can't remember how much of this is Christmas decor, and how much is the mid-century look....I'll take a peek next time I spend in the parks.

Anyone want me to review Trader Sam's?


Oh, did I mention a contest?

I did!

Here is an aerial shot of the Grand California's gingerbread Hotel. There are hidden Mickeys on it!
Tell me how many, and the first person to give me the answer will win a Doctor Strange key chain from the Halloween Party, an exclusive gift for Annual Passholders!

Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Can I Use That Curse Word Now?: Disney Channel and the Cancellation of Girl Meets World

A couple of years ago, I did something I hadn't done with regularity since about 1995....I watched a show on the Disney Channel.

Disney decided to reboot, or rather continue the story of Cory and Topanga from Boy Meets World This time, the story is about their daughter, Riley, and the show is called Girl Meets World.

Many cast members came back, including Rider Strong not only returning as Shawn Hunter, but (with his brother, Shiloh) also behind the camera.  Will Friedle not only brought back Cory's brother Eric but also wrote an episode. William Daniels, now bordering on his 90s, has shown up to continue to be a mentor to his students, and his student's children...slash students.

However, as of Friday, January 20th (my birthday, by the way.  How rude.), the Disney Channel will broadcast the "series finale" of Girl Meets World after only 3 seasons.

The Disney Channel, as a whole, is bright, garish, LOUD, and ridiculous to a degree I regularly find stunning. As I said, I haven't watched the channel regularly in YEARS, mainly because of this push to original entertainment suitable for the glittery trash bin.  I'm shocked the shows on this network do not induce seizures in children on a regular basis.

And that's just the look of these shows!  The content is always utter garbage. Girl Meets World, as much as the network allowed, tackled issues affecting teens in the here and now; the autism spectrum, cyberbullying, developing one's moral code, believing in yourself, hope, and thriving despite a less than perfect life.

But, sure, Disney, dealing with life with a famous twin is far more important.

The cast is also very different from the rest of the network.  There was a small amount of online protest at Sabrina Carpenter's having a singing career, but it's never impacted the show, with the exception of the theme song (which is fantastic) and allowing her to enrich her character here and there.  Rowan Blanchard is an intelligent young lady so utterly aware of her place as a role model to little girls (Miley Cyrus and Lindsay Lohan could really take a lesson here). And the boys in this show are equally as good.  It's obvious the creators took a LOT of time and trouble to properly cast these parts.

Girl Meets World is a daisy in Times Square.  It was a show that should have heralded a massive change in the network.  A different story pace, a calmer aesthetic, more grounded characters.  Instead, though I can't confirm this, it seems the show and the network must have had a tug of war, trying to make the show match the network, instead of nurturing the show to be more like its predecessor.

And, no, I'm not saying old things are naturally better.  But Boy Meets World wasn't even a show that ran with the pack in the 90's.  It stood alone in the sitcom landscape.  Full House was cute, but rarely, if ever, made a statement.  Family Matters was constantly "a very special episode" until Urkel took over. (No offense to Urkel, I loved Urkel.)  Boy Meets World balanced a gentle, witty, humor that was still of its age, while at the same time did some pretty bold things, such as tackling the concept of an abusive parent, and cults (which you can easily deprogram someone from in a half an hour). Boy Meets World seemed to understand where it was and what it could do to shape its young audience while still never talking down to them.  Walt Disney would have been proud of it....

Eight seasons later, you can still sit back and look at it as a fine piece of television. You can pass it down a generation (through reruns on Freeform and MTV), that's a feat many shows can't do.

Girls Meets World wasn't given the same...luxury? Again, some of GMW's weaker moments, I feel, are more the result of the show trying to adhere to the Disney Channel's aesthetic.

I've gone the long way around, but this is just not right.  In a previous episode, "World Meets Girl", the cast interviewed the audience, and the international audience was encouraged to show the cast what the show means to them. And yet, this episode aired in the middle of the news that the show was being cancelled.  Disney let the cast, bonded through their experience on this wonderful little show, sit in limbo for MONTHS regarding the show's fate.

100%, the Disney Channel powers that be messed this up royally. 

The World needs Girls Meets World. Little girls need Riley, Maya, and Smackle. Little boys need Farkle, Lucas and Zay. And parents need to see that Cory and Topanga, like Allan and Amy Matthews, don't always have the answers, and that's ok. Maya gets to have hope that she can have a childhood like Shawn's, and see that Shawn turns out alright. Representation is a big buzzword right now.  Who is representing the normal (but goofy) teenager?

My goddaughter is 13 now.  Who is her Topanga?

Simple answer... Riley.

Currently, there are campaigns to try to move the show to either Freeform Netflix, or Hulu.  Take a look at the main fan website for more information. http://bmwsequel.com  They've also got a Facebook page to help you keep up to date on the fight to keep this show running.

We Boy Meets World/Girl Meets World fans owe a tremendous debt to creator Michael Jacobs.  And he has stated in an interview with The Wrap the show has the definite possibility of traveling to some place where it can grow a more, which is the best option.  Disney's biggest mistake, besides putting it on the Disney Channel in the first place, was not attaching it to BMW enough.  The show felt like a tightrope walk to let the original characters come in organically (very well played) and letting it stand on its own.  If Disney had known what it was doing, they would have let the show do what it was going to do, and re-run BMW alongside GMW so you could better see the themes dovetail and deepen through time. More than once, an episode of GMW seemed to take an episode of BMW and re-apply it with current needs.

Again, the link to find ways to help is http://bmwsequel.com.

And as payment for your reading and patience...here are the terrible pictures I got of the cast at the 2015 D23 Expo.  I couldn't get in line to meet them, they'd already cut off the line by the time I got there. But, in waiting to meet up with the rest of my party, I was right next to their entrance. So I clicked off these shots quickly.

And here is a shot of the area in which the meet and greet took place.  It was awfully crowded, and while I was sorry I didn't get to see them, I was glad they were so popular. 

Let's all just hope for the best. Hope isn't for suckers.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Holidays Exit (Or do they?): Trip Report

Happy Tuesday, Everyone!

So.....you know... that period between Christmas and New Years....when you still have the Christmas decorations and the tree up....but it all feels kind of awkward? It starts to blend into the background a little because it's been up for three weeks already? It's done its job...it should just bow out?

Or that period after New Years...when it's still up because you can't get the boxes out of the garage because of the rain...and you're almost annoyed with your beloved decor?

OR (yeah, there's more), that sudden VOID when it's all gone? Your house suddenly looks barren. Well, what the heck did you have in here the rest of the year? It's depressing, all of a sudden!

Welcome to the post-holiday period for the Disneyland Resort.  The crazy crowds leave. The decorations come down.  The tree gets pulled backstage for what I'm sure is a fascinating re-packaging.

I went to the parks on Monday, the first days after the official end of the Holidays. Let's see how Disneyland was doing....

I went through the new baggage check. It was a tad slow, but certainly more space. Much nicer. And I'm sure, if you left something in your bag you shouldn't, easier to take your stuff back to the car!

Funny story- my aunt's youngest, Olivia, is quite paranoid about the baggage check. Once, she found an old digital watch in her bag and immediately insisted on throwing it out, for fear it would set something off.  And worse yet, back when they were just picking people at random for the metal detector, my aunt got put through a few visits in a row. We're not sure if Olivia thinks they'll kick her out of the park or what. I'm almost afraid to ask her for fear that a suggestion will take root in her neurotic little mind.

Anyway, it looks so much nicer once you get off the tram and into the park.
I think it's been reported enough.  Sorry, I was blocked out for two weeks.

Now, being the DAY after the end of the Holiday festivities, a lot was still up.

Walt hasn't taken down his tree yet, either.

It was a gloomy day, but a nice one. OK, I admit it, I like it gloomy.  If they did a Disney park in London, I'd be overjoyed at the fog...

The Christmas tree in the Coke Corner.

This Santa isn't Rolly Crump made, is it? I shouldn't think so.

Horticulture didn't come in overnight and rip out my beloved little gaggle of Christmas trees in a hub.
Think I could sneak one out under my jacket?

The castle was still snowy. In California. Magic...!!!!  💫

The Disneyland Ducks were out in full force.  I gather this kind of weather is agreeable to them. Also, a lot of the animals have been displaced with all the construction.

AND...once the holidays are over, rehab season begins...like the swallows returning to Capistrano!
It appears the Snow White Grotto area is getting a little TLC.

Since it keeps mistakenly getting used as a meet and greet area, I'm not surprised. (As I hold up my sarcasm sign.)

Looks more like the path might be getting work than the statues themselves.  Which is kind of a shame.  The last few times I've been to the Grotto, the little fish aren't working. 

Frontierland is fairly quiet without the Rivers of America working.  Silver lining, it was lovely to walk through it early in the morning with hardly a soul there.

I know the Western concept is kind of passé, but it would be nice if they could take what hasn't been used by Star Wars land and kind of....well, I don't know, either enhance it a bit, or at least preserve it a little. Disneyland is, bit by bit, losing its charm, it's nooks and crannies. While Imagineers like Tony Baxter seem to be trying to fight it, Frontierland seems like an idea place to preserve it. Everything doesn't need to be an E-Ticket. Sometimes all you want is a nice themed area to allow your own mind or imagination to create the story. Or allow the story to unfold in front of you. Ive probably said this before but Disney Parks need combat the ADD society we're creating, not bow down to it.

The Pioneer Mercantile is currently closed (though the shops connected to it are open).  I think it's because the Adventureland restrooms are getting some MUCH needed TLC.  The last time I used them, a few stalls were closed in both restrooms (not that I went into the men's room to check!) and the stalls closed shared a common wall.

I kind of wonder if the Pioneer Mercantile's closure is related to that, since it also shares common walls with the restroom.  I suppose we'll see when it opens back up.

Tom Saywer Island is still obviously quiet.  Pirates is down for a six week rehab, and I heard that the auctioneer Pirate will be update for current Audio Animatronic technology.  I'll get on that when it reopens. 

Haunted Manion, obviously went down quickly for it's return to its...unnatural state. (See what I did there?)

Funny, I often yearn to ride the Haunted Mansion just as it gets converted for the Holidays. So I'm looking forward to thing getting back to ABnormal. (ok, I'll stop).

Abby Someone...... (if you get the reference, respond in the comments below!)
OK, now I'm really done. 

The Mark Twain is docked but open for exploring.  I did spy Dr. Facilier, leaving the meet and greet area.

I was happier to meet this little fella.

Over the crowded holiday season, I heard the pathway between Fantasyland and Frontierland opened up for crowds.  Monday, it was closed again.

But who stuck her nosy little nose (and nosy little camera) in between the cracks?

Yeah, I did.  If you see me doing that, feel free to say hi.

But look! Rocks! Buildings! Actual things!!!!

The bridge remains intact, and I could see the branches of a few trees.  Seems like the Nature's Wonderland bridge has a few remnants left, or they haven't really gotten to that spot, yet.

They've got the concept art up there for viewing.

The sad part is the construction has left this little body of water neglected for the wildlife.

Over in Fantasyland, the Heraldry Shoppe was still open.  It's set to close in the next few days, but Disney hasn't revealed what's going in its place.

The announcement didn't exactly cause the kind of stir Disneyland fans are used to stirring up.  It's a tiny shop (or shoppe) with a niche interest.  I'm very interested to see what's going in there (to do with MyMagic+, perhaps?).

But hopefully, not another Princess shop.

I stopped into the Village Haus for lunch.  I didn't cover it as a Kanine Krunchies segment because its faire is...fairly basic.  Burgers, pizzas, not much to sneeze at (and why would you sneeze at something that wasn't a tissue?), but perfectly adequate when you just want a quick bite.

However, the detail in this area is always in a weird way, a comfort to me, so it's nice to explore.  Plus, with Star Wars land construction cutting off the path to Frontierland, it's been a little quieter in this space lately.

These flowers up here are beautiful, but I couldn't tell if they were real or not! Does someone get up there and water them?!

As I was heading in, I noticed this little clock-like balcony.  I wish something actually happened up there on the hour, but that's Imagineering detail for you.

The design inside the restaurant is just as charming.  Again, that intangible quality Disneyland has in spades, but is slowly losing.

On most rainy days, the Mad Tea Party goes down.  It was interesting to actually see Cast Members attempting to clean out the cups!

While Jingle Cruise and Haunted Mansion went down for de-Jollification immediately, Small World tends to stay up another couple of weeks so that SOMETHING remains open.

I'm sure the Jingle Cruise is a fairly easy rehab, and Haunted Mansion is up so long by the time January rolls around, even I'm screaming "TAKE IT DOWN!".  Love Nightmare Before Christmas, though I do....

OK, the stroller parking just...grabs my nerves. For one thing, I'm seeing children frankly too young to be in the parks, also children too old to be in strollers being wheeled around, contributing to the absolute FLOOD of strollers.  It's most obviously a problem in areas built in the 1950s when people made their children WALK, like in Adventureland, where expansion isn't really a possibility.

Seriously, parents, if they can't or don't want to walk, don't bring them and make them earn the day at the parks, or something! You're making the park look ugly with all these darn strollers about.

And DON'T take your double wide strollers into shops! I've seen more of that lately.....

OK....rant over.

Are the colors on this wreath faded? Or is it the light? Is it me? What's going on?
I'm sure they replace all ornaments the next time the overlay goes up, right?

I was lucky to sit in the front row so, here's some MORE holiday pictures!

Alright, I have a story about these Mexican dancing kids here....They never move! As a Mexican-American, I'm offended!

OK, not really....but it's interesting that all the other dolls dancing in a similar formation seem to have more movement than this set. The Mexicans just stand there....well, just recently, I saw some footage from the World's Fair and they did used to move a little more. It was a subtle movement, but certainly looked better than giving the appearance of standing on an eternal airport moving walkway!

Disney, can you fix this?
Also, the European dancers earlier in the attraction haven't been moving all season! Fix them too.

I'll keep an eye on this when the attraction re-opens.

OK, a little bending over...too much cerveza?

Also, all the dolls on the left in the America section weren't moving either. Just blinking loudly.

I love the finale, but for the Holidays, it's somehow 100 times better. It just fills you with the joy of the season. Full to the brim!

I never remember where the Menorah is on Main Street, and I happened onto it. OK, I feel better.
Hope everyone who celebrates had a Happy Hannukah!

A couple final notes.  The House of Blues closed late last year (ok, like a month ago) to make way for Splitsville.  Personally, I was hoping a Wahlburgers was going in there....

But coming into the parks on the tram, you can see demolition is already underway.  It was a little sad to see a banister on its own where I remember well seeing one of my favorite artists. *sniffle*

One final observance, in the rock work underneath the overpass as you make your way to the park, I spied a little blue plush creature wedged into the rocks.  Now, it isn't a pedestrian pathway, and was too carefully placed to have just been thrown in there.  Anyone have any information on this little guy? 

That's it.  I have a few posts coming in fast, so keep your eyes tuned to my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Fred also likes to take over every so often. 

Also, on the front page of the blog, I've opened up a poll, so I can get a little more information about how people are using the blog.  I'd like to be of some use or entertainment to you, so just let me know, and PLEASE feel free to add suggestions in the comments.  I haven't done any film reviews in a while, if you find those helpful, or not, let me know.

Have a great week!