Disneyland Explored

Disneyland explored.

Friday Find: Disney Garden Spinners

A couple week ago I was at at the 2017 Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival. Besides some beautiful Disney themed topiary and food kiosks, there are also an assortment of third-party vendors that have been invited to sell their flower and garden related products. One of the booths I discovered offered these fun garden spinners.

As you can see from the photo, these are items are popular as there had already been a lot sold through the day and this is what they had left by late afternoon. The vendor booth was hosted by a company named, EYCATCHERS. There were lots of different sizes, colors, and designs. I bought these large spinners (about $45) for my garden and one is a gift.

I also found this small one that I am going to hang somewhere in my house. I am trying out different places and seeing what it looks like during different parts of the day. When i have the windows open or the house fan, it does spin indoors.

I actually had them shipped to my house after I bought them. They arrived in great condition as they ship flat. So, if you have a chance to visit the festival, check out this particular booth. They make great presents for you favorite Disney fan. They are perfect Disney home decor and it will be hard to decide which one. You can have more than one, or two, or three, right? I kind of wish I had had time to go back to get a couple more. 

They are not available on the Shop Parks App. I did notice that on the vendor website, EYCATCHER, you can see some options and contact them about purchasing your own Disney spinner. They also do have an actual location at DISNEY SPRINGS so you can get yours there if visit. 

Happy Shopping!


Express Transportation: The Best $29 I Spent on My Walt Disney World Trip

Last week while at Walt Disney World I visited four parks in six hours and went through security just once. But more on that later.

If you are going to be at Walt Disney World for more than 3 days and plan on Park Hopping, Express Transportation is a premium worth considering. For $29, you get access to a separate WDW bus that will allow you to Park Hop faster and also bypass security.

Where to Buy
You must purchase a Park Hopper in order to eligible to purchase this premium. There is a Single-Day ($19) option but does this really makes sense with the $29 Multi-Day option. I had already purchased my tickets, so all I did was visit a Guest Relations window to add Express Transportation. It was seamless and they added it to my Magic Band. 

How It Works
Once you get on the figurative bus for Express Transportation, Disney puts you on the literal bus. There is one specific Express Transportation area in each of the 4 parks. The designated areas are easy to find. You check in, tell them which Park you want to go to, and they give you an ETA about when your bus will arrive. There is a designated Express Transportation bus for each of the Parks and they each have a schedule. Buses arrive and depart about every 30 minutes.

Express Transportation Check-In at Magic Kingdom

Express Transportation Check-In at Magic Kingdom

If you miss your bus, they tell when the next one is picking up guests. You can change your destination depending on what bus is scheduled to arrive next. I never waited for more than 20 minutes. I never saw a queue of people waiting for different buses, either. This is all during Easter weekend, one of the busiest times at the Parks.

Check-In area at Epcot

Check-In area at Epcot

Once your bus arrives, everyone who has been checked in for a specific Park bus are escorted to a backstage area. Guest Relations escorts one group to the bus loading area. This is a very controlled process since you are being brought to areas that the public is usually not allowed in. There are signs politely asking that no photographs are allowed in this area. 

Express Transportation Check-In at Hollywood Studios

Express Transportation Check-In at Hollywood Studios

You might wait another 5 minutes for any last minute stragglers but they are pretty efficient about boarding the group at one time and departing in a timely manner. I never saw more than 2 busses in the loading area so it never seemed that there was a back up.

Why Express Transportation is a Good Value
One of the troubles with Walt Disney World is how spread out everything is. Moving from one park to another takes a long time. Express transportation speeds that up … significantly. The bus goes directly from the backstage of one Park to the other backstage area of your Park destination. Once you get off the bus and are escorted in, you bypass the regular entrance so you are pretty much in the middle of whatever Park you chose. 

You also bypass security since you are not going through the front entrance of each Park. Waiting and going through security takes a lot of time, but not with Express Transportation.

If you've park-hopped in the past, you've probably sat at bus stops hoping they have room for you on the next bus. I hate the way everyone jockeys for a seat and then piles on in a mad dash. With Express Transportation, there is no fighting for a seat on the bus. Since they check you in, they know how many people need rides for each of the Parks. There was never more than a dozen people on the bus rides I took. There was one trip, from Epcot to Magic Kingdom, where it was just the driver, another person, and me on the bus. 

Time on a bus that is not crowded and air-conditioned provided some good down time. You could really get a break from the crowds and heat on an Express Transportation bus. If you are traveling with a group or kids, the Express Transportation bus makes it easy to stay together and ease the anxiety of getting everyone to another place within a time constraint.

"I visited all 4 Parks in 6 Hours & only went through Security 1 time."

Here is an example of how I used Express Transportation during one of the days I visited. I should disclose that I was by myself, it was day 3 of my trip, and I wasn't planning on doing many rides during the first part of my day. My last stop was going to be Magic Kingdom where I was going to end my day and close out the Park.

On the Saturday before Easter, I made it to all four Parks in six hours, and only went through Security once. The first Park that I visited would be the only place that I had to go through Security since I would have to go through its main entrance.

I started my day at around 900 at Animal Kingdom. I wanted to walk through some of the trails in the morning and take some photos of the Tree of Life. It was a really quick trip so I was ready to leave by about 10. Before I checked in, I had gotten a cup of coffee and a pastry that I could munch on while I waited to be escorted to the Express Transportation bus. 

This particular bus trip had the most people that I had ridden with while trying out this service. There were probably about a little over dozen people that boarded a bus to go to Hollywood Studios but it was still easy to get a seat. Plenty of room for those families who had strollers, too. 

My second stop was Hollywood Studios. I managed to squeeze in a visit to see the new BB8 Meet & Greet, watch One's Man's Dream, and watch the Stormtroopers March, twice.  I even waited to see the Star Wars stage show and had some time to shop. My next stop and third Park hop was Epcot. 

I got to Epcot with the intention seeing the rest the Flower & Garden Festival that I had missed on my first day. When I got to Epcot, I had time to go through stand-by for Spaceship Earth. I also waited in line for a photo-op with Baymax. Than I made way to World Showcase to take more photos of the character topiaries and try a out a couple more of the yummy food booths. 

After a couple hours, I made way back to the Express Transportation to catch a bus to the Magic Kingdom. I had dinner reservations for 530 pm at the Skipper Catina. I was meeting a friend so I didn't want to be late. This was my fourth and final Park visit for the day. I spent the evening at Magic Kingdom since it was open until midnight. 

Here is a summary of my Park Hopping timeline:

Entry to Animal Kingdom main entrance & Security, 9am

1st Park Hop, 10:10 am - Animal Kingdom to Hollywood Studios (20 minute ride)

2nd Park Hop, 1::30 pm - Hollywood Studios to EPCOT (less than 15 minutes)

3rd Park Hop, 4:10 pm - EPCOT to Magic Kingdom (about 10 minutes)


Express Transportation is a premium service and worth it if 1) you have a multi-day pass and 2) you are planning to park hop. It will save you time as you won't have to wait long for a bus and you get picked up and dropped off in central park locations. It really beats walking all the way to the main entrance, walking to the bus areas, and hoping you'll get a seat on the bus you want to be on. It makes it much easier to park hop, even if you are only two parks in a day. Knowing you have access and that there is schedule to Express Transportation helps you to manage any advance dining reservation you may have. I didn't feel pressed to allow for extra time to get from one place to another. I actually had a little more time to shop, eat, and enjoy whatever the Park offered. 

There is a one day option so that if you knew a day where you were going to park hop, you could purchase it just for that day. The multi-day option is simply a great value. Again, not having to walk all the way to the front entrance plus the bus loading and then waiting and hoping to get on a bus in a timely manner makes this premium service worth it. Oh, and I didn't have to go through Security every time I used the service. I only went through Security once... when I entered my first park visit of the day and had to go through the main entrance. 

With pixie dust,


Music Monday: In a World of My Own (Alice in Wonderland, 1951)

Sometimes, it would be nice, to be a little like Alice and be "In a World of My Own."

Music and Lyrics by Sammy Fain and Bob Hilliard, this song is sung by the main character, Alice. It captures her spirit and her constant of state of daydreaming. Nothing wrong with dreaming. Imagining your own world can lead to hope, new adventures, and unlimited possibilities. 

Happy Music Monday!


Friday Find: Mickey Street Art at Disney's Animal Kingdom

I am currently visiting Walt Disney World this weekend and today I was at Disney's Animal Kingdom (DAK). I had some time to just wander through all the nooks and crannies of this park. One of my favorite things to do is to look at all the signs, posters, and art that is at every land. This includes looking at the decor and style of the restaurants, shops, and buildings of a particular land. There is so much detail at DAK.

I loved these two things that I spotted in the buildings located within the Harambe Market Place in the Africa section of DAK. All the walls have signs, posters, graffiti-like words/phrases to make it look like an authentic market place. Looking at the details of what the things on the walls say is always an interesting way to pass time and appreciate these minor touches.

Here are two Mickey Mouse related wall art that I saw in the Harambe Market Place area. 

Located in exterior wall. 

Located in exterior wall. 

Located on an interior wall.

Located on an interior wall.

I will write up a couple more things about my Walt Disney World trip soon. 

Happy Friday!


Music Monday: Santa Fe (Newsies)

Today marks the 25th anniversary of when Newsies made its debut on the big screen. Directed by Kenny Ortega (High School Musical, Hocus Pocus and Dirty Dancing) and music by Disney Legend Alan Menken, the movie had mixed reviews back in 1992. Somehow, it found a pretty big fan following with its release on VHS and then DVD. After it was made into a musical production with new songs and a some minor character adjustments, Newsies is now a very popular with several generations and crossing lines with Disney and Broadway fans. 

One of the songs that are both in the movie and musical version is, "Santa Fe," which is a sung by the main character, Jack Kelly. It's his "I want" song about his desire to leave New York and go west to somewhere totally different to start a new life adventure. Everyone needs a dream to keep them going from day to day. 

Don't forget that this movie is 25 years old. It's still a fun if not surprising to know that it is a very young Christian Bale (Batman Begins and American Hustle) who plays the lead Newsies character of Jack Kelly. 

Disney announced today that Newsies: The Broadway Musical will be available on DVD next month. It features Jeremy Jordan who originated Jack Kelly in the Broadway production. There are also another 8 original Broadway cast members in this particular version. It was filmed in front of a live audience at The Pantages in Los Angeles. It is now available for pre-order. Can't wait to see all the extras on the DVD, too. 

Seize the Day!


Friday Find: WDW Resort Hotel Buttons

I found a box of my Disney buttons and came upon these three. I think I got these in the early 1990s when I made my first trip to Walt Disney World.

I love the Polynesian Resort button with Mickey Mouse. The way Mickey Mouse is depicted on a Disney item can give you an indication of how old or era it is. This Mickey Mouse has some defined eyebrows and nose. The way Mickey Mouse is drawn in 2017 if definitely different than the one in my photo. Mickey has undergone many changes throughout the history of the Walt Disney Company. If you can figure out what Mickey Mouse looked like during certain decades, than you can make a guess as to how old the item is or when it may have been made. 

Of course my favorite is the button with Daisy Duck on it. It's always fun to see how logos and artwork change throughout the years. 

Happy Friday!



Music Monday: STRUT (Cheetah Girls 2)

My oldest kid is currently in Spain to visit her friend. Her trip reminded me of how much my kids loved Disney Channel's Cheetah Girls series back in the mid-2000s. Cheetah Girls 2 featured the characters visiting Spain for a music festival. There is this one song where the Cheetah Girls "strut" through Barcelona, Spain.

The Cheetah Girls sing "Strut" throughout Barcelona

This song, "Strut", was written for the movie by Jamie Houston. "Strut" premiered on Radio Disney and also made its way to the Billboard charts

Don't discount the movie. Kenny Ortega is credited as the director for this movie. Prior to Cheetah Girls, Ortega had great success with the Disney Channel franchise of High School Musical. 

Happy Music Monday!


Music Monday: Wind in My Hair (Tangled: The Series)

The Disney Channel premiered a new series last Friday, Tangled: The Series. According to this recent D23 post, "Rapunzel’s story picks up “between the kisses” that come at the end of Tangled and the 2012 short Tangled Ever After, which saw the happy couple say their “I do’s,” and follows the princess as she reacquaints herself with her parents and the kingdom of Corona." 

There is a new song in the Tangled: The Series called, "Wind in My Hair." Disney tapped original Tangled composer, Alan Menken, to write this music for this new Tangled production. Glenn Slater also returned to provide the lyrics. It's fun to hear Mandy Moore voice the character of Rapunzel. 

Before Tangled: The Series, there was actually a made for TV movie, Tangled: Before Ever After. It helped to set up the story in preparation for the TV series. Here's a short clip. 

At the end of the movie, Tangled, we see Rapunzel with short brown hair. In the new series, she has her golden locks again. You'll have to watch the new tv series to find out how this happens.

Happy Music Monday!


Friday Find: Pirates of the Caribbean Cast Member Watch (1992)

Last week, Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland celebrated its 50th anniversary. It reminded me that I had this particular Disney watch.

I bought this watch for the 25th anniversary of the attraction back in 1992. It was available to Disneyland Cast Members at the employee store, Company D. They were very limited in quantity. 

Limited edition: #158 out of 500

Limited edition: #158 out of 500

I love the face of this watch as it features the iconic talking pirate skull that you see at the beginning of the ride.

ARRGHH! Wishing ye a happy friday!


Friday Find: "Belle Tames the The Beast" Lithograph

One of my Disney art pieces that hangs on hallway gallery is this lithograph called, "Belle Tames the Beast."  You might remember this scene from the 1991 animated version of Beauty and the Beast

I can't quite remember where I bought it but on the back of the frame is the following information about this piece. I came matted and framed when I bought back in the 1990s. There were a lot of this lithograph distributed and I have #21247 out of 30000.

I hope you either have seen or planning to go see the new Live Action Beauty and the Beast movies that opened in theaters today. I just came from seeing and it was fabulous! I love that a Disney story/movie can continue to grow, evolve and create more Disney magic for many. 

Happy Friday!


Disney Event: Disney Parks Blog Main Street Electrical Parade Meet-up

The other night, my daughter and I had an opportunity to attend a special event hosted by Disney Park Blog. It was billed as "Disney Parks Blog Main Street Electrical Parade Meet-Up." It was a very intimate and small event for Disneyland fans. The highlights included a chance to hear a panel of Cast Members who were responsible for bringing back the parade to Disneyland and getting a chance to see it.

First, I should mention that you you had to register for this event. Disney Parks announced the event and registration last week via their Facebook page and Twitter. I just happened to receive the notification and looked at it right away so I immediately clicked through and was lucky to have gotten in. (Hint: turn on all your notifications for these accounts so you don't miss posts like this. Then you have to act very fast.)

The event started at 6 but I just couldn't get there in time due to my schedule. We arrived around 7-ish and looked for the signs to check-in for the event. We received tickets to enter the park and some the itinerary for the night.

We were directed to another table and were given a Disney Parks Blog t-shirt and some Main Street Electrical Parade swag. It was a really fun surprise and very special gift bag.

Then we were escorted through Main Entrance by a couple Cast Members who helped us make our way to the Fantasyland Theater. Because we were late, we missed the reception and some photo ops. You can go to this Disney Parks Blog post to some of the things we missed. They let us quickly grab some dessert offerings and led us into the theater so we can hear the panel that was already in progress. 

Photo from Disney Parks Blog

Photo from Disney Parks Blog

The panel was hosted by Disney Parks Blog (Erin Glover) and consisted of the following Disneyland Cast Members: Robyn Vossen, General Manager, Disneyland Entertainment Operations; John Addis, Show Director, Disneyland Creative Entertainment; and Bruce Healey, Principal Music Producer, Disneyland Creative Entertainment.

I kind of wished the panel discussion was after the parade and a little longer. I would have liked to heard some more behind the magic stories from each panelists. They briefly covered the history of the parade. There are more lights on each float than ever before. They agreed that since the patriotic float at the end is the largest, that it probably has the most lights. No one has ever documented exactly how many lights each float has. As technology evolves, the light bulbs change in number or configuration, too. 

There was a brief conversation about its iconic music. Its origins can be traced to Baroque Hoedown that you can read HERE. It starts the parade music and looped in front of the music of the themed segments of the parade. Each of the floats has its own music arranged in counterpoint with the Baroque Hoedown riff. This method became the template as to how Disney now creates music for all their parades. 

The one thing they did point out was that when the Electrical Parade was at different parks, the big drum in the beginning of the parade said "Disney's Electrical Parade". So with the parade back at its home, they did change it out to read as it originally read to "Main Street Electrical Parade."

After the panel has concluded, they raffled off some really wonderful Disneyland art. Then it was off to see the parade. 

It was a very intimate affair with no more than 200 Disney Parks Blog readers who were lucky enough to get registered. I appreciated all the Cast Members who made it a fun event. We are appreciative of the treats that we received. My daughter and I had a great evening!

With much pixie dust,


Disney Book Review: Belle's Library

I bought this book, Belle's Library, for my daughter for Valentine's Day. Beauty and the Beast holds a special place in her heart as it is one of the first productions that she was a part of at our local theater (SCR).  She enjoyed her experience as part of this particular production due to her fellow cast mates and the material. So, I thought she would enjoy this newly released book.

I borrowed it the other week and was thrilled to find out what a treasure it is. The foreword is written by Linda Woolverton who wrote the original script to the animated movie. She has continued to write for a number of Disney movies including the live action Alice in Wonderland and Maleficient. I really enjoyed reading Woolverton's foreward to read some "behind the story" -story of Beauty and the Beast. You really need to read it and you'll appreciate Beauty and the Beast so much more. 

What got me excited was to learn about the contents of this book, Belle's Library, are stories that Belle herself would have read. They are excerpts from books that would be in Belle's library. For example, there are passages from The Odyssey, Don Quixote, and Aesop's Fables. Accompanying every excerpt are "thoughts" from Belle. As you read the book, the opposite page includes Belle's journaling/thoughts about the passage you just read. 

As a bonus, the artwork in this book is so pretty and compliments the contents of the book. The drawings are simple and has a watercolor look. There are also some blank pages in the back so you also have a journal or draw about the musings you jstu read. 

It is really a good read. It's like stepping into Belle's library with her and having her tell you her favorite stories and authors. It would be a great gift for Mother's Day and a very thoughtful graduation gift or birthday gift.

Belle's Library is written by Brittany Rubiano and art by Jenna Huerta. It is published by Disney Press. It is available through many online and box store retailers. You'll want one for yourself, especially if you love Beauty and the Beast

Happy Reading!