Friday Five: 5 Things You Need to See During Disneyland’s Diamond Celebration

MICKEY AND MINNIE DAZZLE IN NEW COSTUMES FOR DIAMOND CELEBRATION (ANAHEIM, Calif.) Ñ Appearing at Sleeping Beauty Castle, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse look dazzling in their sparkling, new costumes, created especially for the Diamond Celebration at the Disneyland Resort. Mickey and his friends will debut their new costumes when the Diamond Celebration begins on May 22, 2015. (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

MICKEY AND MINNIE DAZZLE IN NEW COSTUMES FOR DIAMOND CELEBRATION

This is a very special edition of Friday Five. Can you believe that our old friend Disneyland is turning 60? In some ways it seems like it has always been here. We can’t imagine Orange County without it, but in others it seems like the memories are just a short time ago.

Disneyland Resort is naturally ready to celebrate with special shows, enhanced attractions and touches of diamond sparkle throughout the park. The Diamond Celebration officially kicked off on May 22 and will last for about 18 months  (through next summer). You will have lots of time to see and do all of the things in my “5 Things You Need To Do During Disneyland’s Diamond Celebration.

1.) “Disneyland Forever!”  fireworks show.

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Every year it seems that Disneyland Resort amps up the magic to new levels. This all-new show is the the most vibrant and immersive show yet! Projection, pyrotechnics, some of Disney’s favorite music and surprises create a spectacular spectacle from almost any vantage point. I have seen the show three times — from Main Street U.S.A, from the front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle and from near “it’s a Small World” — and from every angle the show is simply stunning.

Some surprises are in store if you watch from Main Street U.S.A so I would recommend that position if you just have one shot in the Diamond Celebration to see the show.

2.) “Paint the Night” all-new electrical parade.

One thing I loved about the entire Diamond Celebration is Disneyland’s mixture of fresh ideas and technologies mixed with sentimental nods to the past. The  “Paint the Night” Electrical Parade is reminiscent of the old-school Electrical Parade that we grew up seeing at Disneyland. The new parade has a kinetic creativity that only Disneyland can achieve with over 1.5 million LED lights, vibrant music and lots of activity that happen as the parade makes its way down Main Street U.S.A. Some of my favorite parts were the above reference to the old parade with this drum float. Just like we remember.

 

This Woody float stole my heart with the Lite – Brites studding the floor. I loved it!

My kids loved this float from the movie “Cars” but the star of the show is, of course, Frozen.

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3.) World of Color “Celebrate the Wonderful World of Walt Disney”

I was lucky enough to five years ago to see the premiere of World of Color at the Disneyland Resort (See that video, here). It was like nothing I had ever seen before. The emotion the water show evoked in not just me, but many who saw it was undeniable. It was innovated at the time, but now with the addition of projection and the a couple of hosts — Mickey and Neil Patrick Harris — it feels complete.

When my family and I previewed the new show we found ourselves loudly singing along to the music, dancing in our section and, honestly, soaking wet! But it was fantastic! From top to bottom the show is the best yet. Definitely a must-see this summer.

4.) The new Matterhorn Yeti

The classic Disneyland ride the Matterhorn Bobsleds have a new red-eyed, snarling yeti that is sure to scare the daylights out of your kids — but in a good way. You have to see it the next time you’re in the park. This isn’t something specifically for the Diamond Celebration, but I added it to the list because he showed his angry face at the same time the celebration began.

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Also, don’t miss the new photo spot outside the Matterhorn Bobsleds. So much fun.

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5.) The Enchanted windows on Main Street U.S.A.

Don’t miss the Enchanted Windows that Disneyland has created for the Diamond Celebration. I got to see the first one when I was there. Watch the video below for more details and to see the first window:

(All photos except for Matterhorn postcard are courtesy of Disneyland Resort




Disneyland 60th Diamond Celebration offers special food that you will NOT want to miss

Disneyland kicked off its Diamond Celebration on May 21, 2015. It’s hard to believe it’s been 60 years since Walts vision became a reality and the first visitor entered the park. In true Disney style, they have whipped up some very exclusive food offerings that will only be available during the celebration.

I had the chance to interview Disneyland Chef, Cain, about some of the special food items. Then stay tuned for more coverage from the opening days of Disneyland’s Diamond Celebration.




Halloween is still sweet. Roll with the changes

 It’s finally happened. My kids don’t want me to dress in a costume for Halloween. That would be, to use a direct quote, “Totally embarrassing.” It used to be our thing. When they were little and I could pick out their costumes, I got the chance to show my Winnie-the-Pooh love by dressing us all as characters. When I was pregnant with my son, Ben, my belly rounded out my Pooh Bear costume perfectly. It was a magical year.

Then my kids had their own opinions on what they were for Halloween. We’ve seen Troy from “High School Musical,” Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” and our fair share of pirates and princesses. When this phase hit, I would resurrect my roller-skating waitress costume, year after year.

This year, my daughter is all about the 1950s, since she saw “Grease” a few months ago. So she and her bestie are dressing in vintage clothes from that era for Mickey’s Halloween Party, at Disneyland Resort. At 13, she’s too old to go trick-or-treating – nothing worse than a group of teenagers coming to your door and clearing out your candy stash – so this is her only big Halloween festivity.

 Mickey’s Halloween Party is a special ticketed event at Disneyland Resort that runs 12 nights in October. (Go to [disneyland.com] for ticket prices and a schedule.) They close down the park and transform it into a spooktacular Halloween party. The best part: The kids get to trick-or-treat at DISNEYLAND! It’s an absolutely mind-blowing experience. Also, guests get to experience things that only happen at Mickey’s Party, such as their special Halloween fireworks show and a Costume Party Cavalcade Parade. Adding to the fun: It’s the only time that adults are allowed into the park in full costume. Hooray! But, um, not per my kids. So no dressing up for me… except for … my Minnie Mouseish costume at Mickey's Halloween Party. Check out my photos:

 

IMG_3326Tick or Treat stations throughtout the park.

IMG_3330My son and I on the tram into the park

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Dapper Dans singing Halloween-themed songs at Big Thunder Ranch

Although my daughter will no longer go trick-or-treating, my son, who is 10, is still heading out to collect what always turns out to be too much candy. So this year, we are gong to participate in the Halloween Candy Buy Back Program. It allows kids to sell their candy to a local dentist to earn cash – which I suspect will simply be used to buy candy. The sweetest thing is that this year the program is teaming up with Spry and Operation Gratitude. Together they will work with participating dentists to collect children’s Halloween candy to send to the U.S. troops overseas, along with toothbrushes and other oral care items. Just go to [halloweencandybuyback.com] and enter your zip code. A list of local dentists will be provided.

            I do miss the days of dressing up and hitting the neighborhood with my kids, each year holds sweet memories for us. Anyone need to borrow my roller-skating waitress costume? I’m rolling with the changes but, sadly, not rolling door to door with my kids anymore. 




Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland Resort

 

 

Disney Resort calls it trick-or-treating in the "ultimate neighborhood," Mickey's Halloween Party has returned once again to the resort. The party is a separate ticketed event that happens only 10 nights in October and allows guests to have the park to themselves for an evening of exclusive Halloween-themed activities inside Disneyland. What sets Mickey's Halloween Party apart from a night in the park?

*Adults and children can dress in costume (but nothing scary is allowed).

* Themed dance parties for families. This year Pirate-poliza promises to be hit with the kids.

*Special character experiences. Guest get to mingle with characters like Stormtroopers, the Queen of Hearts and many of the Disney Villains. These are characters not normally seen in the park.

* Halloween Screams Firework Spectacular.  Oh, man! I love this firework show and you can only see it during Mickey's party. (Here is my video of the entire show from a few years ago.) It's a must see at least ONCE!

*Trick-or-Treating for the kids. Lots of candy stations, but they offer healthy treats as well.

You should purchase your tickets in advance, here. Most nights are $49 if you buy them before you arrive at the park. On Oct. 28 and on Halloween night tickets are $64 because everyone wants to be there during the height of the season.

 




Mary Poppins is practically perfect at Segerstrom

(Watch my interview with Mary Poppins herself, plus some clips from the show.)

 

 

Mary Poppins the Musical started its four-week run at The Segerstrom Center for the Arts on Friday night. The hit Broadway musical first premiered in London in 2004 and has swept through the world performing in the most delightful way to over seven million guest.

"It the best of both the book and the movie," Stephanie Leigh, who plays Mary Poppins in the OC run, told me.  With all the classic songs written by the Sherman Brothers for the movie–Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, Spoonful of Sugar, Let's Go Fly a Kite, Chim Chimmery–and fantastic new songs like "Practically Perfect" that fit seamlessly into the story of our favorite flying nanny, Mary Poppins.

If you're a fan of the movie Mary Poppins the stage show will deliver the same toe-tapping, sassy goodness you love from the film, plus stunning sets, colorful costumes and fantastic little surprises–at one point Bert tap dances on the ceiling!

My daughter, Emily, and I enjoyed every magical minute.  It's the kind of show where we kept elbowing each other and smiling.  At one point Emily whispered in my ear "Thank you for brining me to see this, Mom. I love it!"

The Lowdown:

Tickets for Mary Poppins start at $22 and special packages are available.  Head on over to Segerstrom's web site, here, to order.

Showtimes:

Tuesday through Friday, 7:30 pm

Saturdays 2 pm and 7:30 pm

Sundays 1 pm and 6:30 pm

Tuesday through Friday

 




Jodi Benson sings “Part of your world.”

 

Sometimes while I'm out doing my job I take a step back and I think, "Man, I can't believe this is my job!"

That moment happened at a Disneyland Press Conference recently while I was sitting in the front row taking notes on all of the upcoming attractions and changes (Carsland, Star Tours, Ariel's Underwater Adventure) and the Disney host said something like, "…and now for something special."

NOTE: Okay, when you're at a Disneyland press event and they say "time for something special" get out your camera. Seriously, just do it.

Next the music swells up and out comes Jody Benson, who is the "Voice of Ariel" in The Little Mermaid. She then sings "Part of Your World" and, as if that weren't enough, she's joined by Sebastian (not sure if he's the original voice) and they sing "Under The Sea" together.

It was freakin' fantastic….and here's the video.  I've used it on several occasions to impress third-graders.  Feel free to do the same.
http://www.vimeo.com/13843234




Aloha from Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii

When I got the invite to come and cover the opening of the new section of the Aulani Resort in Hawaii, I knew I couldn’t come without my kids. I had covered the opening of Aulani (see the coverage here) and PROMISED my kids I wouldn’t come again without them.

I kept my promise.

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The kids are here with me along with my big brother, Rob. We are having a blast and taking in every Hawaiian moment before we have to head back home tomorrow.

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Sneak Peek at the Destination: Cars Land float before it cruises the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day

Inside a cavernous warehouse 17 miles from Pasadena 2,000 plus volunteers have been working on Disneyland's entry into the 124th Rose Parade — "Destination: Cars Land." Disney has a long tradition with the Tournament of Roses Parade. The first float was in 1938 featured characters from Snow White. This year the theme "Oh, the places you will go!" parlayed perfectly with the opening of Cars Land in Disney's California Adventure this past June. 

Randy Wojcik, Senior Show Director with Creative Entertainment, Walt Disney Company, took blogger Lisa Robertson, me and our kids on a tour of the float.

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"I'm just humbled by the amount of volunteers who come out, the details and effort they give to the float is amazing," Randy told us. All together it will have taken 25,000 man hours to make Destination Cars Land roll down the parade route on New Year's Day. 

Volunteer

Once the float is in full-swing it will be there are over 45 moving parts including, tractors, Luigi, Guido, Sally and Lighting McQueen all constantly in motion, along with live working waterfalls and high-energy dancers grooving to the tune of Route 66 by the Cheetah Girls.   

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When we saw the float it was still in two pieces but once the last details are finished — like adding the license plate to the back and the Cars Land postcard to the front — the California-shaped float will be 125 feet and reach 35 feet at its highest point. 

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I've never seen a Rose Parade float up close before and didn't know what to expect on our tour. It was fascinating to see the detail and creativity involved in the smallest detail.

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The Tournament of Roses Parade begins at 8 am. Disney's Destination: Cars Land float is expected to appear around 9 am and rumor has it, there will be some VERY special guests who will make an apperance on the float. 

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Look for our personal touch. The kids and I got to add our own roses to the side of the float, just below McQueen and Sally. 

Happy New Year! 

 




Inspiration and advice from RunDisney’s Jeff Galloway

I'm not a runner. You know, not a "runner" runner, but I have signed myself up for the 5K during the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend at the Disneyland Resort in January. That's my goal right now, to run in the 5K. Since I'm still recovering from my accident (I was thrown from a horse back in November), I'm taking it very easy by using the run-walk method of Jeff Galloway, the official runDisney training consultantGalloway is a former Olympic runner with over 40 years experience in running, a monthly columnist for Runner's World and an author of over twenty books.

If you've always wanted to run, but the thought of hitting the pavement has been out of the question due to the time it takes or some physical limitation, I encourage you to check out Galloway's methods on how to get yourself out there. A group of 20 runners and a few bloggers got the chance to meet Jeff and ask him a few questions last Friday morning as a kick off to Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend.

His practical, almost comical, advice on how to keep yourself inspired to run will help the experienced runner get motivated and the newbie runner over the psychological hurtle of just getting started. "My job," he said, "is to get you running for the next 100 years, after that, you're on your own." Here are some quick hits from Galloway given on the floor of the Health and Fitness Expo at the Disneyland Hotel:

* Know that at first you will walk more than run, and that's okay. You don't have to "puke" to have a good run. Just getting out there is enough for today.

* Running allows you to get your "executive mind" working. It is a quiet sport that will clear your mind to think.

* Amateur runners who apply the run-walk method in general finish 13 minutes faster than runners who run their entire race.

* On how to motivate yourself to run:

1.) Show up at any race to watch runners cross the finish line. Those with cancer, the elderly and physically challenged are out there                       running. No excuses. So can you

2.) Run with a friend or join a running group. (We have a group called Disneyland Runners if you are looking for a group.)

3.) Mentally rehearse. Picture yourself running, crossing the finish line, getting your medal.

4.) Lie to yourself! Tell yourself you're just going to "put on comfortable clothes" (make sure they're running clothes). Then eat                                  something that will give you energy to run "just as a snack." Then go outside just to "check the weather." Before you know it, you'll be                running through the neighborhood.

If you're liking Galloway's approach to running, you can check out runDisney's video training series at runDisney.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikfRZxlexwk&feature=channel_video_title

This series has been helpful to me as not only inspiration, but also because it answers some basic running questions, like how to set your pace and determine your "finish time" of a race. Without the assistance of these videos and the whole runDisney program, I know I would have dropped out of the January Tinker Bell Weekend 5K (called the Neverland run) a long time ago.

I met up with Galloway later that afternoon as the doors opened and the first expo guests arrived. He stood at his table ready to sign books and chat with his fans. His big smile greeted me as I approached him. I introduced myself and told him all about the stupid horse, my struggle to recover and then thanked him for his work. He listened to every word and then got very serious, looked me straight in the eye and said, "You can do this. You are going to recover and be stronger than ever before."

I'm sure he's heard worse stories than my misadventures as a cowgirl, but he took it very seriously. He was obviously passionate about his work and cares about the people he is guiding. It was inspiring and so yes, I went home and went for a run. I guess I am a runner after after all…

The Lowdown:

The Never Land Family Fun Run (5K) is still open for registration. It is a nighttime run through Disneyland that will kick off The Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend (the half is sold out).  Men are welcome and I personally respect any man who will run during the Tinker Bell Weekend.  Register, here.

The Never Land Fun Run registration includes a ticket for the park for that day only, from 4 pm until the run, which starts at 10:30 pm. You'll also receive a t-shirt, 5K medal, Goofy bag and lots of encouragement along the way.

You can join Disneyland Runners on Facebook, our support group for runners of all skill levels, here.




Comparing Disneyland Resort to Disney World

While at The Social Media Moms conference I got to spend the day at Walt Disney World–my first visit!  I love it, check out my video where I compare it to Disneyland and basically have a blast romping around the park.