Saturday, August 30, 2014

The 2015 Disney Parks Moms Panel Search Begins Sept. 2



September is just around the corner, and that means an exciting time of year is on the horizon for the Disney Parks Moms Panel. The search for a brand new group of people who are passionate about planning Disney Parks vacations will begin next week. The panel, founded in 2008, is made up of everyday moms and dads from around the world who use their first-hand knowledge and sharp researching skills to answer questions from thousands of guests at DisneyParksMomsPanel.com about traveling to the Walt Disney World Resort or the Disneyland Resort.There are also moms and dads with tons of Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club, ESPN Wide World of Sports and runDisney experience on hand to offer their expertise.

It can be a long and rigorous process with multiple application rounds before the panelists are selected.  Many will apply and only a small number will be chosen, but if you are everyone’s go-to person when it comes to Disney Parks vacation planning and have a knack for communicating in writing with top-notch grammar, spelling and punctuation, please consider applying. I was first selected to join the panel as a Disneyland Resort Specialist for 2013, but I had also thrown my (ear) hat in the ring for the 2012 panel. I didn’t advance to the final round of the application process that year, but I didn’t give up on my dream of helping families via the panel. Now I have nearly two magical years as a panelist under my belt and have answered over 1,000 guest questions!

Round One of the Disney Parks Moms Panel Search begins at 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday, September 2, 2014, and will remain open until noon ET on Friday, September 5, 2014. Although the name of the panel may suggest otherwise, you don’t have to be a mom to apply—it has included several dads and grandparents over the years, too!

So, do your ears perk up whenever you hear the word “Disney?” Are you well-known in your circle as the person to talk to before going on a Disney Parks vacation? Have you ever wished you could make the Disney vacation magic last a little longer by helping a friend create their own pixie-dusted theme park itinerary?


Could you be one of the lucky few to join the 2015 Disney Parks Moms Panel? 

In addition to being a Babes In Disneyland contributor, Courtney is a member of the Disney Parks Moms Panel. You can also find her on Instagram and Twitter (@2Courtney).


Friday, August 29, 2014

The Babes in Disneyland Ultimate Guide to Mickey's Halloween Party






Beginning September 26th Disneyland will once again be open after hours for a night of frightful and delightful family fun.  During Mickey's Halloween Party guests of all ages can dress in costume, visit a number of trick-or-treat stations, as well as a number of dance parties and special events held throughout the park.  


Mickey's Halloween Party is a separate-ticket event with prices ranging from $56-$77.  This year's dates are:  


Friday, September 26th- SOLD OUT
Tuesday, September 30th
Friday, October 3rd- SOLD OUT
Monday, October 6th
Wednesday, October 8th
Friday, October 10th
Tuesday, October 14th
Friday, October 17th
Monday, October 20th
Wednesday, October 22nd
Friday, October 24th
Monday, October 27th
Wednesday, October 29th
Friday, October 31st

In years past many, if not all, of the party nights sell out so we highly recommend that you visit the Disneyland website to purchase tickets ASAP and for sure well in advance of the night you are planning to attend.

Whether you've already purchased your tickets or are considering purchasing tickets we at the Babes in Disneyland Blog have created the ultimate guide to Mickey's Halloween Party. 


When to Arrive
  • Guests with tickets to Mickey's Halloween Party can enter Disneyland up to 3 hours before the party starts.  We highly recommend making the best of the extra time by doing things that you might not want to do once the party starts (e.g. eat dinner, ride a few rides, take photos with characters, etc).

What to Wear
  • Costumes- this is the only time of the year that adults can wear costumes, children are welcome to wear costumes year round.   Mickey's Halloween Party is the perfect time to live out your (secret) dream of dressing up and walking around Disneyland.
    • Costumes should be child- friendly, non-violent, and not contain sharp objects or weapons that may be mistaken for an actual weapon.
    • Masks are permitted, however, they cannot obstruct your/ your child's vision and eyes must be visible at all times.
  • Themed Shirts- I love ordering/ making themed shirts for our family trips.  Not only do they make for great pictures, but they also help us get into the spirit of whichever holiday we are at the park celebrating.
  • Comfortable shoes- make sure to wear and/ or bring extra comfortable shoes for you and your kiddos.
  • Layers- it often gets cold in the evenings so be sure to pack a jacket or sweater.


What to Ride


Photo Courtesy of the Disney Parks Blog
  • Haunted Mansion Holiday- during Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort the Haunted Mansion gets a Christmas makeover and is transformed into Halloween Town and features Jack Skellington, Oogie Boogie, and several other characters from Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas movie.
    Photo and Description Courtesy of the Disneyland Resort Website
  • Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy- Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy is best described on the Disneyland website as "a ride into an uncharted and haunted section of the universe.  Out of the darkness and swirling galaxies of Space Mountain, ghosts try to pluck riders from their seats as they speed through space.  The drops and curves of the journey are even scarier with piercing screams and haunting music."  It's a must do for all of the thrill- seeking ride enthusiasts out there.

What to Do/See
  • Special trick-or-treat stations are located throughout the park and feature both candy and healthy goodies for trick-or-treaters of all ages to enjoy.

  • The “Halloween Screams” fireworks spectacular, hosted by “Master of Scare-omonies” Jack Skellington. This display is exclusive to Mickey's Halloween Party and by far the very best fireworks presentation ever at the Disneyland Resort- a definite must see!!

  •  ”Mickey’s Costume Party” cavalcade (small parade), performed twice nightly.  This year Elsa, Anna, and Olaf will also be joining in the fun and greeting guests as they come down the parade route just before the cavalcade begins.


  • Dance parties, where guests will “boo-gie” to lively music. Last year there was a fabulous pirate-themed dance party that the Babes in Disneyland kids loved!


  • Big Thunder Ranch is also a great place to relax a bit- have a snack, take photos with some of your favorite Disney characters dressed in their Halloween costumes, and check out the Disneyland's Incredible Pumpkin Carvers.


  • Photo locations with popular Disney and Pixar Pals, Princesses and Disney Villains. Last year guests also had the opportunity to strike a pose with real Storm Troopers!


Lisa and I, along with our babes, will be attending the first night of Mickey's Halloween Party on September 26th, and will continue to share more tips and photos from now through October.  In the meantime we'd love to hear your tips and suggestions as well as see your Mickey's Halloween Party photos. Feel free to comment below or post to the Babes in Disneyland Blog Facebook page.

Be sure to follow Kendra on Twitter and on Instagram @kendrakuske for more updates and photos.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Do you Disney Bound?



If you Disney Bound, have wanted to Disney Bound or have no idea what the heck it is and want a little more info, I suggest checking out this video I put together and clicking here to read more.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Disney Bounding Ideas with Pinup Girl Clothing



When I first heard about Disney Bounding, I couldn't really wrap my brain around it. Dress up like Disney characters, attractions and the like to go to the parks? And then, I did a quick search on Pinterest (check out my Disney Bound board so far) and low and behold, I totally got it. (Basically, Disney Bounding is the act of color blocking or theming your clothes to match Disney characters, park attractions and the like.) Then... I actually Disney Bounded... and I was hooked. (You can learn more about the origin of Disney Bounding by clicking here.)

And then Pinup Girl Clothing came into my life and when you combine their clothes with Disney Bounding, it's perfection. The company has been around (and making women gorgeous) for 15 years and two years ago opened a boutique walking distance from my house, and immediately there was a lot about this company that caught my eye. First and foremost, it is very clear that Pinup Girl is a company FOR women... all women. The models on the site (and the manequins in the windows) showcase clothes in sizes ranging from extra small to 2XL and the site and store feature glamorous clothing (dresses, skirts, blouses and more) up to size 4XL. At Pinup Girl, all women are their curves are celebrated and made beautiful--even moms who work from home in their pajamas like me. Plus, it doesn't matter what size you are because the clothes look amazing on all women of all sizes.

Here is one of my favorite examples of this in the Aurora dress in Dancing Horses print: This is my friend Mindy from the blogs Budget Fairy Tale and Inspired by Dis and me in the dress. We have different body types, but I think the dress looks really great on both of us. Plus, the dresses don't just look good, but they are comfortable and made incredibly well (in the United States, I might add).

Beyond the facts that the dresses look on all curves and that they are made in America, what I seriously adore about Pinup Girl is their new Fairytale Fantasy line of dresses (and skirts) inspired by their love of all things Disney. Yes, now even those of us who have graduated out of the children's section can get something princess-inspired for those days when we want a some subtle Disney references in our wardrobe. And, what's even better, these styles are PERFECT for Disney Bounding, especially those of us (like me) who just aren't that creative. Here are some of my favorites. 

The first in the line was this Neverland Sateen dress. It is the perfect dress for Disney Bounding as the attraction Peter Pan's Flight.



The Aurora dress is a hot number flying off the wracks and off the Pinup Girl website. It comes in three color (two patterns) and has a truly amazing fit. And if you lack the time to be creative in your Disney Bounding outfits, you cannot go wrong with these because the theming is all right there in the dresses! You can dress as Aurora in pink or blue or as King Arthur's Carousel in the black dress pictured below and above.



Love Snow White's Scary Adventures? Yep! The Snow White print Jenny dress fits the bill for that attraction. There's also a dress to quench your love for all things Ariel.


And... to prove that even gals who aren't super creative can come up with fantastic Disney Bound ideas using the beautiful dresses at Pinup Girl, I came up with these numbers:

The Harley dress is a great halter-style dress and perfect to Disney Bound as Winnie the Pooh, Snow White, Belle or... if you add an umbrella to your hair... a Dole Whip Float!

This is one of my favorite dresses made by Pinup Girl. I thought it made a perfect Belle Disney Bound--the colors are just like Belle's blue and white dress and apron and with the added red rose just like the Beast's, it's just perfect. The fit is amazing and it is really hard to not feel like a princess while wearing it. You can see it here on the Pinup Girl website.

The great thing about Disney Bounding is that you can be creative and jump out of your normal day-to-day attire. And while, it doesn't have to be dressy like the outfits here, it's is a whole lot of fun to get gussied up every once in a while. And... if you need an excuse to dress up and go to Disneyland, there's always Dapper Day held at the Disneyland Resort twice per year. I will be posting about that very soon!


If you are loving all of the amazing dresses in this post, there are two ways you can get them. First, you can head over to Pinup Girl Clothing's website and check out their incredible clothing that goes way beyond getting dressed up for a day in the parks. 



Second, if you live in or will be visiting Southern California, I
cannot encourage you enough to plan a visit to the Pinup Girl Boutique in the Magnolia Park district of historic Burbank. The store is like stepping back in time and a true one-of-a-kind experience. Plus, it is in an incredible shopping district filled with other one-of-a-kind shopping experiences, antique and vintage stores and wonderful restaurants. You can make a full day of it, and I promise you will NOT be disappointed.

 This post was sponsored by Pinup Girl Clothing. I was provided clothing in order to complete the review. All opinions are my own.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Remembering Robin Williams (at Disneyland)



I will admit that as a tour guide, I didn't get a lot of the really high-profile tours. Early on, I was deemed "great with kids and dignitaries," and while that may seem like a compliment, that means I got tours with a lot of kid and teen actors and singers and heads of state. That meant not the "big" tours I wanted as an early twenty-something, with folks like Tom Hanks or Steven Spielberg. So when I was told that I was going to be taking Robin Williams on tour with his family and friends (along with my friend and fellow guide Jacqueline), I was needless to say, thrilled. I was a long-time fan of Mr. Williams and couldn't believe that I was going to meet someone who had brought so much laughter and joy to people.

I'm not sure who I was expecting to meet on the first day of the three-day tour. I think I was expecting him to walk into the Disneyland Hotel yelling "Goooood Morning, Disneyland!" ala the movie "Good Morning, Vietnam." My friend Dave recently reminded me that I was worried before the tour that Mr. Williams would turn everything I said into punchlines. I was totally wrong on both assumptions.

I am not going to begin to act like I knew Robin Williams, because three days of walking around Disneyland with a man and his friends does not even an acquaintance make, and to make any sort of firm judgement of who this amazing man was would be nothing short of an insult to the people who knew him well. Moreover, time does cruel things to the mind and I regretfully don't remember a lot from those three days back in May of 1996, but what I do remember will stay with me forever.

Jacequeline and I waited for hours for the Williams family to show up at the Concierge Level of the Disneyland Hotel. Their flight had been delayed and it felt as if they would never show up. As Mr. Williams walked through the doors he wasn't Mork... or loud... or anything like what I had built up in my brain. He was just a dad, with his family... exhausted from a flight from Northern California that took entirely too long. He walked by us, almost shyly, barely making eye contact. My heart beat so fast and loud, I swore he could hear it. 

I consider myself a good (make that great) judge of character. When my gut tells me something about a person, it's almost always right. As our time together in the park lingered a few things about Mr. Williams became very clear. He was a very deep, soulful person--so much more than his jokes. He was insightful and kind and loved making people laugh. He could turn "it" on in an instant and seemed to love it when children in Toontown called him "Peter Pan" or "that lady" (from Mrs. Doubtfire). I remember him going on a riff in front of some guests in New Orleans Square just as we were walking into the Blue Bayou for lunch and then sitting down and only minutes later having an incredible meal in which we all talked about politics and his relationship with the Clintons. I hung on his every word. I was completely in awe of his complexity and ability to be so publicly funny and zany one minute and incredibly deep, passionate and articulate on current affairs and politics the next. To my 21-year-old brain, he was the most fascinating person I had ever met.

Perhaps the one moment that truly stands out for me was when we visited Goofy's Kitchen for breakfast. During the meal, the Genie character visited our table. The Genie! What a sight to behold! The Genie and Robin Williams side by side. And if you think this was a treat for the rest of us, you are right, but what transpired between Mr. Williams and his beautiful daughter Zelda was pure magic. She couldn't wrap her mind around how the Genie and her dad were standing side by side. It was so beautiful and so special as he did the voice and she looked on--partially puzzled, partially amazed and totally in love with her daddy. I hope she remembers that moment, because it has been forever seared in my brain.

On Monday, I was back-to-school shopping with my children when I looked down at my phone while paying for new clothes at the Gap. There was a text from my husband that read, "Robin Williams committed suicide." I stopped in my tracks. My heart sank. I looked at my own children and felt a lump in my throat. He was a dad. I had seen the way he loved his kids. I had seen the way he loved making people laugh. I had seen that he was more than the laughs. Just from those three short days, I had become more than a fan of his work, I was a fan of Robin Williams the person.

During this time, my heart is with Mr. Williams' children, especially his daughter Zelda who has experienced negativity in social media and has decided to suspend the use of her social media accounts. I can't blame her, but hope that one day she returns to social media and knows that those trolls are worthless and don't matter because they are only there to be hurtful to fragile targets. I hope she sees this post and knows that there are millions of people who feel sadness over the loss of her father, including me.

One of my most treasured possessions: After the tour
with the Williams family, I was sent a bound copy of the
script from the movie "Toys" autographed with the inscription:
"To Lisa:
You give great tour.
Robin Williams"

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Last Laugh at Disneyland's Haunted Mansion



Photo courtesy of the Disneyland Resort
After you've enjoyed your trip "into the boundless realms of the supernatural" on the Haunted Mansion, you exit your Doom Buggy and escape to the land of the living. 
Haunted Mansion exit area

The Ghost Hostess (affectionately known as "Little Leota") reminds you to "Hurry back! Hurry back! Be sure to bring your death certificate, if you decide to join us. Make final arrangements now! We've been dying... to have you...".

That's the final scene of the Haunted Mansion, right? Not quite. As you pass through the turnstiles to exit the crypt (shown in the picture above), pause for a moment. As it turns out, the house gets the last laugh. "Listen... [click the video below]"



That laughter really belongs to Candy Candido, radio performer, voice actor, and bass player. 



The Ghost Host warns that "a ghost will follow you home", and you see them with you in the mirror as your Doom Buggy passes by. Just when you think you're safe, the house itself has the last (ominous) laugh. Maybe you haven't really escaped after all?


For you to discoverCandido also provides the voice for one of the ghosts in the Graveyard scene. Which one?



You can read more from Randy on his blog, Faith and the Magic Kingdom and listen to his unofficial Disney podcast, Stories of the Magic. Find him on Twitter (@Belgarion42) and on Facebook


Friday, August 8, 2014

Want to read a post about the Walt Disney Animation Studios?



You know you want to see inside the Walt Disney Animation Studio, right? I know we do and my son Aidan is one of three finalists in a contest that will allows two winners to tour the Disney Animation Studio and meet animators. Voting for the winners is taking place right now (through Monday, August 11 at 10pm PST) on the Education Through Music - Los Angeles website, the nonprofit organization putting on the contest. Simply click here and you will be taken to the photo of his art on the Facebook page and all you have to do is "like" it. 

With your help, we will be able to tour the studio and bring you some great pictures from where the magic comes to life!


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Look Inside Disneyland's Newly Revamped Club 33





Overlooking the hustle and bustle of Disneyland's New Orleans Square, the exclusive (and somewhat elusive) members-only Disney club Club 33 has undergone a major renovation and expansion.  The Club reopened this past month to members and their guests and the internet has already been stirring with excitement with all the changes. 

The original sign for Club 33

Disney fans around the world, including myself, were surprised at the news of the renovation and expansion, which moved the entrance of Club 33 from the nondescript door on Royal Street (designated only with a 33 outside - see pic on the left) to the Court des Anges; expanded the kitchen into what used to be Walt's "Trophy Room" (you can see images of what that room used to look like in Kendra's Club 33 post); and added a jazz lounge that would rival Disney California Adventure's 1901 Lounge. I got the esteemed opportunity to accompany a friend into the newly expanded Club 33 for lunch service and experience the new jazz lounge firsthand. 

I'm here to take you on a photo tour of some of the things that remained, the things that changed, and what you can expect if you get the chance to visit this somewhat secret spot at The Disneyland Resort - I'll try to retain some of the mystery because that's what makes Disney so magical. Let's get started!

When you walk past the original 33 door, you'll gaze upon these large Art Deco gates....


Club 33 Courtyard doors
New courtyard doors closing off the Court of Angels
Keep walking and find yourself at the new Club 33 door and entrance...


The Club 33 entrance doors
To gain access into the Club, push the new Club 33 buzzer, which will change color:

The new Club buzzer - changes color!
A hostess greeted us at the door and checked our reservation.  Our lunch wasn't scheduled until 12:30 pm, but the new jazz lounge, Le Salon Nouveau, opens at 11 am and can be visited without a reservation.  We were ushered into a small lobby which housed two familiar pieces from the original Club lobby, the jazz musicians of New Orleans Square and the bust of Marie Antoinette


Familiar art pieces from the original Club 33 Lobby
The hostess room opens up to the familiar Court des Anges (Court of Angels), which has had several additions made to the staircase.  Our hostess asked us to wait in the courtyard before we were escorted upstairs to Le Salon Nouveau.


New glass flower fixtures have been added to the courtyard staircase
The view of the Court des Anges staircase from the top
My friend and I were escorted to the new lobby and entrance of Club 33.  The restrooms have been moved to the exterior of the Club, as has a familiar telephone booth from the film, "The Happiest Millionaire":


The telephone booth - outside of the lobby

Restroom and telephone booth
Then the moment awaited us - we entered the new lobby space for Club 33!
Club 33 Mosaic at the entrance to the lobby
The Club 33 Lobby
The Lobby Chandelier, brandished with the new Club 33 logo
Perched in a corner, the Trophy Room vulture is still here!
The harpsichord is still at the Club!
If you continue straight through the lobby, you will enter the Grand Salon, the original dining area of Club 33. Since it wasn't quite lunch time, we made a left turn at the host's counter down to Le Salon Nouveau. We passed by the wine cabinets and four beautiful booths, themed to four different scenes: Mark Twain, the Haunted Mansion, Mardi Gras (New Orleans), and the sailing ships.  The beautiful French lift that the Club was known for has also found a new home in the lounge.


Le Salon Nouveau - view from the entrance
The French Lift has now become a salon table
A view of Le Salon Nouveau's full bar
My friend and I decided to sit in one of the four themed booths outside of Le Salon Nouveau. To retain a bit of the mystery of the Club, I will only share the photo of the booth we sat in, which was the Mark Twain booth featuring a wonderful portrait of the Mark Twain Riverboat.  Look long enough and the portrait might actually come to life!


Close-up of the Mark Twain booth - notice the books in the right and the wonderful portrait
We couldn't visit the lounge without trying one of the specialty drinks on the newly created menu for the Club.  My friend opted for the non-alcoholic Apple Lemonade, which is served with a baked straw.  Our wonderful server Justin suggested The French Martini for me as a fruity, fun, and refreshing option.  Both items did not disappoint and the menu is extensive and impressive!


The French martini and the leather bound Club 33 drink  menu
The delicious and refreshing Apple Lemonade  that's an apple straw!
I also couldn't wait for dessert, so we opted for the "Trio of Petit Choux" - with a coffee cream flavor, banana cream, and raspberry rose.


Beautiful petit choux - so delicious!
Then it was time to see the Grand Salon and enjoy a wonderful lunch.  The noticeable changes in the Club included the paint color, which no longer is a rich, deep red color but seemed to be brightened up with creams and light blues.  The Trophy Room is noticeably absent with this long wall featuring beautiful murals.


The walkway down to the Grand Salon
These beautiful murals take the place of the original Club bar
Complete table setting in the Grand Salon
Table setting with Club 33 logo
Me with the new Club 33 menu
The new bar in the Grand Salon
New window treatments - the Club feels brighter
We had the opportunity to choose between a three-course or four-course lunch, overseen by Executive Chef Andrew Sutton (who is known for The Napa Rose in the Grand Californian and The Carthay Circle Restaurant in Disney California Adventure).  Since we had dessert earlier, we opted for the 3-course meal and I decided to have a Mint Julep - very different than the ones served downstairs.  Here's a collage of both our selections!  The bread was absolutely moist and delicious and all of our selections were amazing  

All the delicious dishes that we shared!

Of course you're wondering, "Do the restrooms look the same? Have they changed from their "royal" reception?"  I hate to break it to fans of the throne toilets - the women's bathroom has transformed into a delicate powder room adorned with swans and beautiful light fixture. (Per Club policy, we have removed the images of the restrooms because at Babes In Disneyland we always play by the rules.)

After lunch, we decided to return back to the Salon and enjoy a cup of coffee and listen to the "self-playing" piano in the jazz lounge!


The self-playing piano in Le Salon Nouveau
Check out the beautiful stained glass ceiling!
Close-up of the Salon's bar

The Club blend of coffee from Club 33
Posing inside Le Salon Nouveau
I hope this photo tour was a feast for your eyes!  Both the Grand Salon for Club 33 and Le Nouveau Salon have beautiful details - and familiar pieces from the original Club are scattered throughout the Club (you'll have to keep your eyes peeled for them!)  There are still so many amazing details that I didn't want to reveal here or that I didn't get a chance to capture with my camera.  Here's hoping everyone gets a chance to see it firsthand.