Disneyland Explored

Disneyland explored.

Filtering by Category: Disney Parks

Friday Find: Disney Christmas Village Buildings

Over the years, there has been a variety of Disney buildings made for a Christmas village. Department 56 has created several Disney Christmas village collections. My family has never been partial to one particular series or vendor. Our Christmas village is a collection of buildings and accessories that represent what we like. Here are a couple buildings that are in our Christmas village. 

 Disneyland Firehouse and Disneyland Emporium

Disneyland Firehouse and Disneyland Emporium

The first building on the left of this photo is a replica of the Disneyland Firehouse (Department 56) and the other is of the Disneyland Emporium (Disney Parks Merchandise). These two buildings in particular are my favorite because they remind me of the time when I used to work on Main Street USA and I did work in The Emporium during my time as a Disneyland Castmember. We place these two buildings just like you would find them at Disneyland.

Looks like Minnie Mouse has done her Christmas shopping. Only 10 more days until the big day!

Wishing you a great weekend!


Music Monday: Disney EPCOT Soundtrack - Tapestry of Dreams

Yesterday, EPCOT celebrated it's 35th birthday. I remember when this CD made its debut and immediately became a fan favorite. 

EPCOT Illuminations.jpg

This CD, EPCOT, Tapestry of Dreams was released around 1999. Just in time to celebrate the Millennium Celebration that took place at EPCOT. It contains the music from the Tapestry of Dreams parade that occurred at World Showcase. The most famous tune would be"Reflections of Earth" which you would hear at the IllumiNations night time show in the World Showcase area. Also included was "Promise" which is the song that played when you exited Epcot. 

The soundtrack is no longer available at the Parks but you can find copies on the secondary markets. 

Happy 35th, EPCOT!


Friday Find: Disneyland Souvenir Book written by Marty Sklar

I was saddened to hear the passing of Disney Legend, Marty Sklar. He was fresh out of college when he started his career at Disneyland about one month before it opened. He retired after 53 years but he was an active "Disney Ambassador" and fan favorite. He is one of the few who had been present at every Disney Park opening (Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong and Shanghai). I always tried to attend any local event that he spoke at because there is just something about hearing from a person who was an actual witness and participant to Disney history. Marty had a lot of stories to tell and he was always willing to share them. 

Digging through my Disney library, I remembered that I had gotten this old Disneyland book. With a publication year of 1969.

The book is loaded with great vintage photos and stories. According to the inside cover, this Disneyland souvenir book was written by Marty Sklar.

I love that he has his formal name on the book. It makes sense that Marty would have been the one to write such book. Before Marty was hired at Disneyland, he was the student editor for the UCLA Bruins. Then he was the one to create The Disneyland News which was a Main Street tabloid style newspaper. Marty was pretty much Disneyland's first Marketing and Publicity employee. Digital cameras and computers were not a thing yet. There are a lot of words in this book so it has been a really great read. The book is loaded with information about each land with accompanying photos. There is history about how Disneyland came to be and all that it was up against. It tells Disneyland's story in those first 15 years. 

Here is one of my favorite pages from this souvenir book. It is an introduction by Walt Disney.

According the introduction page, the first DIsneyland souvenir book was published in 1964. Walt died in 1966. I have to believe that this particular souvenir book, was not only written by Marty, but also had Walt's input and approval during its creation. 

Luckily, with the technology there are lots of video clips and interviews that you can find on the internet so you can hear Marty's stories and passion for all things Disney. Just as good, grab one of his books, One Little Spark: Mickey's The Commandments and the Road to Imagineering and Dream It! Do It!: My Half Century Creating Disney's Magic Kingdoms. You'll get to read about Marty's personal stories, learn about Disney history and enjoy lots of anecdotes. 

Thanks for the magic, Marty! 


Friday Find: Disney Cookbooks (c. 1990 & 2004)

I was looking for a particular recipe for a weekend dish and came upon these two Disney cookbooks.

Both cookbooks feature signature and most asked for recipes from Disneyland and Walt Disney World. The red spiral book titled "Cooking with Mickey Around Our World" is a book that was available at the Disneyland and Walt Disney World in the 1990s. The way that it is organized reminds of those old school cookbooks that you would buy at church fundraisers or find in you mom or grandmother's cookbook collections. There are no photos of the dishes.

The artwork under each tab is so fun. Very 1980s early 1990s Mickey Mouse look. Here are several examples.

My favorite things about this book is seeing restaurants that are no longer around due to all the changes and growth in the Disney Parks. It's equally fun to see how long some resturant favorites have been around.

The more recent of my Disney cookbook has a 2004 publish date on it. This one is titled "Cooking with Mickey and the Disney Chefs". It includes recipes from the DIsney California Adventure, DIsney Animal Kingdom and Disney Cruise Line. However, there are also no photos of the dishes in this book.

There have been several more current editions since 2004. You can find find them at the Disney Parks, Amazon or other book sellers. With the popularity of cooking, rise of celebrity chefs, and food blogs, there are now a lot of Disney official and unofficial cookbooks out there. There are specific ones, too, that focus on Disney desserts, Disney copycat recipes and more. 

 Page from "Cooking with Mickey Around the World" book (red spiral).

Page from "Cooking with Mickey Around the World" book (red spiral).

Happy Eats!


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

UPDATE Sept 20, 2017: I am sad to report that Express Transportation is no longer offered at Walt Disney World. There is a new service, MINNIE VAN SERVICE, that is offered for people who want alternative transportation to get around the World. It is like their version of Lyft/Uber. 

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,