Disneyland Explored

Disneyland explored.

A Disney Day - coming soon

Yesterday was a special day as I had a fabulous Disney kind of birthday. A dear friend gave me and my family a private tour of the Walt Disney Studios. We had a lunch at a special place and spent the rest of the time learning all things Walt Disney and of the Studio that he lovinging built. More photos and memories to share with you next week. 


Happy Saturday! 


My thoughts on #Disneyland60 Announcements

If you were online last night, you might have seen that #disneyland60 was trending on Twitter and Instagram. The internet exploded last night after a much-hyped special Disneyland Annual Passholder event. The was the medium that Disney chose to reveal details about the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration.

First, the Diamond Celebration will begin May 22nd which is Memorial Day weekend. The official birthday is July 17th. There was no mention of how long the celebration/promotion will last. The event itself was short, not quite 30 minutes. To recap, a new fireworks show (Disneyland Forever), new night time parade (Paint the Night), and a new World of Color (World of Color – Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney) were the announcement highlights. They also shared some beautiful concept art of the Sleeping Beauty Castle and Carthay Circle diamond overlay. 

Sleeping Beauty Castle (Disneyland) and Carthay Circle (Disney California Adventure)

Sleeping Beauty Castle (Disneyland) and Carthay Circle (Disney California Adventure)

Let's talk about this night time parade news. This one interested me the most. This was not a big surprise but one of the things that I am looking forward to the most. It's interesting that "Paint the Night" parade is billed as "A New Electrical Parade". 

Photo from

Photo from

The Main Street Electrical Parade made its way down Disneyland's Main Street U.S.A. from 1972 to 1996. The parade music, "Baroque Hoedown", is a classic Disney tune. The main draw of these floats were the designs highlighted with light bulbs....lots of them. When this parade was retired, they actually auctioned off the light bulbs for charity. 

What could replace a very successful and beloved 24 year old parade? EXACTLY NONE. 

Any parade following the Main Street Electrical Parade had big shoes to fill and had too high of expectations to fulfill. Unluckily, Light Magic followed. It was a spectacular fail as it is forever referred to by many as "Light Tragic"

Light Magic had a catchy tune and made use of fiber optic technology. There was actually some infrastructure work done to some of the the buildings along the parade route so that twinkling lights provided by fiber optics could enhance the show stops that the this parade had. Personally, I think the parade theme of fairies was a little before its time. People also confused it with River Dance which was popular at that time. The Disney characters in their pajamas kinda was a little too creepy for many.  Light Magic lasted 4 months. It's "the parade that shall not be named" and simply forgotten by many. 

Since then, there has not been a night time only, lighted spectacular parade at Disneyland. There have been several parades that occurred at night with new themes, grand floats and new music but not new technology.

Last October, Disney Paint the Night parade premiered at Hong Kong Disneyland. It is the first fully LED night time parade. New technology enabled new costumes that change color and react with the music. Guest can purchase a "Mickey Magic Paint Brush" to help illuminate the parade. It is a very interactive parade. 

Photo from Hong Kong Disneyland - Disney Paint the Night parade.

Photo from Hong Kong Disneyland - Disney Paint the Night parade.

I did have high hopes for the new Disneyland night time parade announcement. I really wanted something totally brand new. As much as people love the Main Street Electrical Parade, it had a great run at Disneyland. According to this clip, it was the inspiration for Paint the Night. I am happy to see that they took advantage of how much technology has grown and figured out a way to harness it to create a spectacular, brand new night time parade. 

Strictly my personal opinion but I don't think Paint the Night: A New Electrical Parade is completely a new parade. It's version 2.0 from Hong Kong Disneyland. That Disney Park really got it first. I wish they would have left off the reference to the Electrical Parade in the sign. It sets up some high expectations. Why did it need that reference anyways? They could have added something like "a magical parade" to compliment with the Made with Magic merchandise that is already available at Disneyland shops. I guess I am a purist. Leave the classic Electrical Parade alone and let Paint the Night stand on its own. Let it create its own legacy.

The announcement last night pointed out that Paint the Night will also use digital projections as seen in this new video upload by Parks and Cons. It is similar to what is already used at Walt Disney World when they project Disney images on their castle. This effect will help the Guests feel completely immersed in the parade. 

It is a new parade for Disneyland so I am looking forward to that. It's been a long time since a brand new night time parade made it's way down Main Street U.S.A. Disneyland knows how to deliver a fireworks show so I know that Disneyland Forever will rule the skies. I love how they can quickly adapt new themes to World of Color. Incorporating a celebration of Walt Disney totally fits into the story of Disney California Adventure

I am confident that more #Disneyland60 announcements and events are still yet to be revealed. It's gonna be a great celebration this year as Disneyland turns 60. 

Your friend in Pixie Dust,


PS: If you want to see some video of last night's event, visit to Inside the Magic.

Disneyland 60th Logo Concept Art

There is so much buzz and excitement about Disneyland revealing the details of it's 60th Anniversary celebration later today. DisneyParks Blog will be live blogging the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration at 8 pm (PST) tonight. Use #Disneyland60 on social media platforms to see all angles and news from lucky Disneyland Annual Passholders who will be at the announcement event, too. 

Yesterday when I went to Disneyland, they had this huge jumbo screen. I was told that it is a temporary installment and just for the event tonight. It doesn't really fit into the theme of Main Street U.S.A. so I'm happy that it is not a permanent fixture for the Diamond Celebration.

I found this interesting page that had some concept art of the Diamond Celebration logo. I like how you can see some of the progression of what was presented and what came to be the 60th logo. The designs come from Designer and 3G CGI Artist, John Harwood

Designs from John Harwood 

Designs from John Harwood 

I never really noticed the hidden Mickey under the diamond until I watched this video. Some really cool computer graphics at the end of the short video.

The Disneyland castle, known as Sleeping Beauty Castle, will take a little more time to get ready for its big party. The moat's been drained plus there are scaffolds and canvas drops in preparation for its 60th birthday dressing. We'll know more details by tonight and hope we also hear about a new parade, fireworks show and lots of Disneyland moments.

Sleeping Beauty Castle - Jan 27, 2015

Sleeping Beauty Castle - Jan 27, 2015

The Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration is supposed to begin in May. Disneyland's official birthday is July 17th. 

Let the celebration begin!



Music Mondays: Beauty & the Beast (Best Original Song)

Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia 

Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia 

It's awards season. There is some kind of awards show every week. I love the movies and all the Hollywood showbiz stuff. I watch all the award shows and am excited about this year's Oscars show with NPH (Neil Patrick Harris) as the host. So this Music Monday brings the Academy Award winning Disney song, Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast was released in 1991. It became the first full-length animated feature film to receive a Best Picture Oscar nomination. The music was written by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman. Menken and Ashman were actually working on Aladdin when Disney approached them to help rework and make Beauty and the Beast into a musical film. This would be Ashman's final project as he died of AIDS just 8 months before the movie was released. Beauty and the Beast is dedicated to him: "To our friend Howard, who gave a mermaid her voice and a beast his soul, we will be forever grateful."

The song, Beauty and the Beast, was sung by Mrs. Potts (voiced by Angela Lansbury) during the moment when Belle and Beast are all dressed up to make their way to the ballroom for the famous dance sequence. It's a turning point in the movie and the song helps to enhance the hope you have that Beast can reverse a spell with true love. I found this video where Angela Lansbury explains how she found "the voice" for Mrs. Potts to sing this theme song. 

There were actually three songs from the movie that received Best Song nominations: Belle, Be Our Guest and Beauty and the Beast. Producer Don Hahn was concerned about that this would be confusing to voters so Disney decided to release Beauty and The Beast as a single on the pop charts. A new arrangement created a pop balled duet that featured American R&B singer, Peabo Bryson and a relatively less known Canadian singer at the time, Celine Dion. Billboard wrote, "it was her duet with Peabo Bryson on the theme song of Disney's Beauty and the Beast that was her true breakthrough."

This pop version would go on to dominate the charts and earn more awards the following year. Beauty and the Beast received 1992 Grammy nominations for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. It won Best Song Written for Visual Media and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.  

So do you have a favorite version of the Beauty and the Beast song? There have been a lot of covers of this song and it's a favorite Karaoke pick for many. Some people refer to it as "Tale as Old as Time." It's truly a Disney classic song that really speaks to a moment in the movie. 

Happy Music Monday!


On Board John Wayne's Yacht, Wild Goose

A couple weeks ago, MacSparky and I were invited to a dinner event on board the Wild Goose. This is the yacht that used to belong to legendary actor, John Wayne

Photo taken just before sunset - Jan 2015

Photo taken just before sunset - Jan 2015

First, we had to explain to my kids that John Wayne was a real person who was famous actor known mostly for his cowboy movies and famous drawl. He's not just a statue that you see at the John Wayne Airport in Orange County. That is how they know him. Then we had to explain how John Wayne made his home in Newport Beach and that he had a well known yacht that he loved named Wild Goose. Kids can make you feel old pretty fast. 

All guests had access to walk through the yacht and see the various rooms. I remember reading how tall John Wayne was so, all I could think of was how he must have had to duck... a lot, to get through the doors and just walk around some of the rooms. The ceilings were pretty low. He must have spent a lot of time on decks. There was also a table where he used to play a lot of cards with his fellow actor friends. There must have been some pretty crazy bets around the card table in addition to their interesting conversations. 

There was not a tour guide to show us around but there was plenty of time to explore before we set sail on a harbor cruise. The captain and some crew members were available to ask questions about the Wild Goose. Some of the guests had done their homework or were familiar with the yacht so they provided a lot of historical information. I did learn that it was a US Navy mine sweeper in WWII before it was converted into a personal yacht. The Wild Goose is actually on the National Register of Historic Places.

Hornblower Cruises purchased the Wild Goose and now offers dinner cruises for weddings and corporate events. There's a full bar on the bottom level and the top level has been converted for a seated dining area. It was fun to have dinner and sail through the Newport Harbor on a rainy January evening. The food was your average catered event food. Knowing the history and stories of the Wild Goose made for a fun evening. 

If you want to know more about John Wayne and his yacht, here was a good article that speaks to the tough guy image and his love for the sea. Huell Howser also featured the Wild Goose in a California's Gold episode (#10009) about Newport Boats. 

Living in Southern California means access to many places and things to do. So from time to time, I may write about some of the things I get to do besides going to Disneyland. 

Sharing some virtual sunshine with you this weekend!


Starbucks + Disneyland = A Magical 'You Are Here' Collection

My cousin and I share a love for Disney & Starbucks so he sent me this article the other day. I was excited to read that co-branded Starbucks and Disney Parks merchandise was finally arriving. It was even better knowing that I wouldn't have to wait months for it as the news and the actual arrival of the products happened within days of each other. 

I can confirm that you have to visit each of the respective Disneyland Parks and go to their Starbucks locations to purchase the 'You Are Here' collectible mug. 

You Are Here mugs - Disneyland Parks (Anaheim, CA)

You Are Here mugs - Disneyland Parks (Anaheim, CA)

Both mugs have iconic landmarks that make up the Starbucks You Are Here collection scene scape.  I love how the Disneyland mug is that classic blue color that is so vintage Disneyland. Co-branded Starbucks/Disney Parks makes my coffee giddy.

There is a Starbucks Reserve location at Downtown Disney. It is a beautiful and big store. You can purchase an Orange County You Are Here mug to complete your collection. Sometimes they have San Diego, San Francisco mugs, too. I've even seen a Las Vegas You Are Here mug there. If you collect these, make sure to see what this particular location offers.

They actually have an exclusive acrylic tumbler only available at this Starbucks. There were also these recycled glass tumblers that my daughter and I purchased. That style is pretty popular right now. 



So I am so happy and grateful that co-branded Starbucks - Disneyland merchandise is now available. It is the two of the most successful brands coming together to create something special to commemorate a visit and/or celebrate two things people love, Disney and Starbucks. Up next on my wish list is that Starbucks comes out with the collectible ornament mugs for the holidays for Disney Parks. They only created 10 of them last year for the You Are Here collection. That means that 10 styles were only available as ornaments and could only be purchased at designated locations. My Starbucks tree could use a little Disney pixie dust.

Cheers to coffee with a little dose of Disney!





May the Course Be With You! Star Wars 5K

Last Friday, my kids and I got up at o-dark hundred to get to Disneyland and run in the Inaugural Star Wars 5K. I was just happy that they both wanted to join me in such a fun event. I had participated in the Inaugural Avenger 5K run back in November so I knew this one was going to be pretty high energy and full of die-hard Star Wars fans. We weren't disappointed. 

Image from runDisney

Image from runDisney

The 5K is often referred to as the "fun run." Most everyone had some kind of Star Wars clothing or costume of their creation. There were Stormtroppers in full gear, lots of Jedi's with their light sabers, and we even spotted a Jawa in a full hooded mask. At 530 in the morning, the piercing lighted-eyes of the Jawa was a little creepy but made for great atmosphere. 

Here's a short video I made to capture some sounds and flavor of the race. 

A 5K is pretty manageable. When the course takes you through the Disneyland Parks, it is even more exciting. You get a glimpse of the park before any Guest arrive and sometimes you get to walk through some of the backstage areas. There are themed mile markers where you can take photos. There were also lots of Star Wars characters along the course so you could take your photos with them, too. 

I had several friends who participated in all the race offerings over the weekend. There was a 10K on Saturday and the Half Marathon on Sunday. If you ran both those races, you qualified to receive a Rebel Challenge Medal in addition to the event medals. I went to the Half Marathon to cheer my cousin and some other friends who I knew were running the Half Marathon. Here are some photos from that morning. There were still some elaborate running attire.

The FORCE was STRONG all weekend. My daughter and and I think that we'll have to take on the Rebel Challenge next year. Need to start that training. 

Just in case you love some numbers facts, I came across this post for statistical information about this Star Wars Weekend event. Disney always puts on great events. runDisney is no exception and they put on a run with all the Disney magic with every mile. 

May the Course Be With You!







Music Mondays: Catina Band (Star Wars)

My kids and I participated in the Inaugural Star Wars 5K run the other day. It's also known as a "fun run" and we sure had a lot of fun. Running through Disneyland Parks with all kinds of Star Wars music blasting from the speakers made for a great morning run.

One of the songs we heard during the route was Cantina Band. Next to the Star Wars theme and Imperial March (Darth Vadar theme), the Cantina Band is probably one of other most recognizable tunes from the Star Wars movie. 

The song appears in Star Wars IV: A New Hope. You hear the song in the background when Luke Skywalker and C3P0 enter the Mos Eisley Catina. It was written by world re-known music composer John Williams

I learned a couple things while I was reading through much written material about this song. First, there is a whole back story about the band itself that you can read here. Second, this song shows you the jazz-side of John Williams. His father was a jazz musician and Williams himself is an accomplished jazz pianist as evidence of this recording. You can hear more of Williams' jazz influence in the movie Catch Me If You Can

If you can't get enough of Catina Band, there is a disco mash-up of the song that was made popular by Meco from the Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk album. There is also the Catina Band #2, which my 13-year-old daughter proudly pointed out was the song we were hearing when we ran through Main Street U.S.A. at Disneyland the other morning.

May the Force Be With You!




Troy Bolton is so FROZEN

A Friday funny that I had to share. My kids were raised on High School Musical. They watched it over and over and played the music ... a lot! I think both MacSparky and I can recite lines, do some of the dance moves, and hum the HSM songs. We joke with our kids about how in each HSM movie, there is one "Troy Bolton - I'm tortured" song. 

A friend of mine shared this video. For lots of reasons it just it just made me laugh. It's pretty spot on. So if you love Frozen or have Frozen fatigue, you'll enjoy it either way. Apparently, Frozen tortures Troy Bolton, too. 



Music Mondays: Baby Mine (Dumbo)

In 1941, Walt Disney Productions released their 4th full-length animated picture, DUMBO. The baby elephant was originally named "Jumbo" by his mother, Mrs. Jumbo.  After his large ears are revealed, the other circus animals rename him "Dumbo" since they feel that the baby elephant will not be able to walk without stepping over his ginormous ears. They taunt and make fun of Dumbo. It becomes too much to bear one day that Dumbo's mother angrily lashes out at the other animals. The circus then locks up Dumbo's mother. Separated, Dumbo can only cry and sit outside Mrs. Jumbo's cage. 

To comfort her baby elephant, Mrs. Jumbo sings a lullaby to Dumbo, Baby Mine. The scene with this particular song can bring tears. It touches your heart to hear a mother sing a haunting lullaby to her baby. Dumbo has to leave his mom after she sings this song.

"From your head down to your toes,
You're not much, goodness knows.
But, you're so precious to me,
Sweet as can be, baby of mine."

Baby Mine was written by Frank Churchill (music) and Ned Washington (Lyrics). The original song in the movie was sung by Betty Noyes. It actually received a Best Original Song nomination for the 1941 Academy Awards. There have been many artists who have covered the song including Bette Middler, as part of the movie soundtrack for Beaches

Happy Music Monday!


4 Things I Hope to Experience at Disneyland in 2015

There are 4 things that I am most looking forward to experience at Disneyland in 2015.

1. Disneyland's 60th Birthday 

On July 17, 2015, Disneyland will officially turn 60 years old. As a fan of Disneyland heritage, I am in awe of how the Park has grown up. I remember the 35th (Pardi Gras), 40th (40 years of Adventures, and the golden 50th anniversaries. I feel like the 60th is a big milestone when you look at how big and worldwide Disney Parks has become. All the other Disney Parks imitate and take their inspiration from Disneyland, The Original. It has taken 60 years for Disneyland to mature and be the magical place for all ages. It's the only Disney Park that Walt Disney ever walked on and saw to some of the day to day operations. 

According to MiceChat, official 60th anniversary plans will be unveiled later this month. I have low expectations since anything planned for Disneyland always feels like an afterthought. Disneyland Parks is like the senior citizen of Disney Parks. This 60th birthday plans seem like it may be last minute and short. It doesn't seem right in the scheme of how important Disneyland Park is in the scheme of Disney heritage.

Image from Disney Parks Blog

Image from Disney Parks Blog

I AM excited for the big Diamond Celebration. I am sure it will be filled with all things Disney. I am happy to see some attention to Disneyland Parks. Anything not already leaked will be a good surprise. 


2. Star Wars Inaugural Run

Image fron runDisney

Image fron runDisney

Star Wars + Disneyland = so much fun!

Next week is the first ever Star Wars Run at Disneyland. My kids and I are running the inaugural 5K at 0-dark-hundred. We've got our costumed running gear and lots of spirit. I just want to high five an Ewok. I am looking forward to the seeing all the creative running gear that runners will show up in.


3. A New Parade at Disneyland

Disneyland's current parade, Mickey's Soundsational, has been around since May 2011. It is pretty lively. It is filled with lots of Disney characters and cool parade floats. In the past, a big anniversary has dictated a new parade and fireworks show. Rumor has it that Disneyland has been working on some kind of version of Hong Kong Disneyland's Paint the Night parade. This parade employs some innovative technology that would so fun to see. Disneyland is overdue for some kind of fabulous night time parade so I am hopeful. 


4. Take a Disneyland Guided Tour

One of the things that I have never done at Disneyland is to sign up for Guided Tours. Over the years there have been a variety of tours offered at both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. I am hoping to cross this off my list in 2015. I just really want to learn more about Disneyland Parks through this experience. 


There are many new things and events planned at Disneyland 2015. These 4 things are on my personal list that I hope to experience at Disneyland in 2015.

Sending some pixie dust your way!




Wednesday Words: Walt Disney on Doing It Well

Yesterday I read this article in Business Insider titled "How Disneyland is like Apple." I would argue the opposite and say that Apple is like Disneyland.

Walt Disney was a an inspiration and business model for many leaders like Steve Jobs. Walt was always exploring and pushing the envelope when it came to movie making and building a family theme park. There are books and classes about The Disney Way that teach this management style. Delivering a seamless guest experience has always been the blueprint of Disneyland's world-class customer service. 

Google Images

Google Images

Walt was an innovator in business. He developed his brand and products to support it. He was always thinking about his next idea. I am not writing to compare two business leaders. You can read a great article about the Steve Jobs-Walt Disney connections HERE. A the end his life, Steve Jobs was the biggest stockholder in Disney. 

In response to the article mentioned, I think that Disney lead the way for companies such as Apple to do what they do. Brand and product quality are important for both companies. Apple was not the first to create an exclusive and seamless customer environment at their store fronts. Both Disneyland and Apple are proof that people are willing to pay the premium for a great product and customer experience.

Disneyland is celebrating 60 years this July. They've been delivering their product and customer experience for a long time. They continue to practice and innovate new customer experiences so people return. The Disneyland experience is one that is shared among families and across generations. Disneyland, it's The Original!

Music Monday: A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes

As holidays come to an end and we practice writing a new year, we all have much hope and enthusiasm as 2015 begins. As the new year begins, it makes me think of the classic Disney song, "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes":

Have faith in your dreams and someday
Your rainbow will come smiling through
No matter how your heart is grieving
If you keep on believing
The dream that you wish will come true

Written and composed by Mack David, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston for the 1950 Walt Disney film Cinderella. It has been recorded by a variety of artists like Perry Como, Johnny Mathias, Cher and sung in many styles (R & B, swing, waltz).  One of my favorite recordings of this song was done by Disney Channel stars in 2003. I got exposed to this version due through my kids and we all enjoyed this upbeat and modern version of a Disney classic tune.

This song is a personal favorite of mine since I am a dreamer. With dreams you can create goals and make wishes come true. We actually had live big band play at our wedding reception. My husband took this song and made a waltz arrangement for them. There was a singer who sang the song, too. So our first dance was to "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes". This song brings back many memories for me. 

A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes remains a classic Disney tune that will continue to be shared across generations. 

Happy Music Monday,


Dear Apple, Family Sharing was Painful.

My decal (Etsy) on my laptop.

My decal (Etsy) on my laptop.

My husband, MacSparky, recently wrote about why we are quitting Family Sharing. For the last several months, Family Sharing has been a hassle. I felt like there were extra hoops to jump through to create and update my playlist. It not a seamless experience. Updating my Apps that I had purchased myself or Apps that were shared by family members were not successful. I haven't been able to update Apps such as Instagram for months. Personally, Family Sharing was simply PAINFUL.

So we are giving up on Family Sharing. It's just not the right fit for my family. Relief is in sight soon. We've all negotiated which devices we have chosen to link to one family account. One of the things I am simply looking forward to is being able to access the entire Sparks eclectic family music library. I missed my Christmas playlists. It's fun being able to browse the thousands of songs we all share. Music is a big part of our family life.

Hoping for some extra pixie dust,



My 2014 Disneyland Visits in Weight

I have never counted how many times I visit Disneyland in a year. I finally decided to keep track by saving my parking tickets. 

My first & last tickets of 2014 + everything in between.

My first & last tickets of 2014 + everything in between.

2014 Disneyland parking tickets in weight. 

2014 Disneyland parking tickets in weight. 

I usually try to go once a week if my schedule permits. One of my kids attends a school near Disneyland so sometimes I go to "the park" before I pickup carpool. Disneyland is also a great place to meet up with several of my friends who also have passes. 

I ended up with 63 of these tickets so that means 63 Disneyland visits in 2014. The one week that I was unable to go was the week I was on Walt Disney World. My husband thought it would be fun to see how much my Disneyland visits weighed.

I did end up going to Disneyland yesterday, New Year's Day. The weather was fabulous, cool and sunny. We had a fantastic family lunch at the French Market in New Orleans Square. Then we made our way to Tomorrowland and had a crazy adventure on board Star Tours. It was a great way to spend the first day of 2015 with my family.

Happy Friday!