Monday, October 20, 2014

If you haven't visited Disneyland at #HalloweenTime, here's what you're missing!

If you haven't visited the Disneyland Resort at Halloween Time, you are definitely missing out on a one-of-a-kind Halloween experience. During this special time of year, the Disney folks pull-out all the stops and offer re-themed attractions, special events and experiences and even special foods. 


The Disneyland Resort redresses Space Mountain and the Haunted Mansion, especially for the Halloween season each year. Space Mountain becomes Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy--a spooky, scary trip through space. Haunted Mansion is taken over by Jack Skellington, Sally and all of their friends to become Haunted Mansion Holiday. (There is much more on this attraction in the video above and more about all of the spooky attractions below, including the spookiest of all attractions, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.)

Special Events, Experiences and Entertainment

It is impossible to talk about Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort and not talk about Mickey's Halloween Party. This is a separate-ticket event that takes place after Disneyland's regular operating hours in which guests can trick-or-treat and enjoy special Halloween entertainment. Although tickets sell out very quickly for this event, there are still some left for this year. Click here to learn more about Mickey's Halloween Party and here to learn my go-to, must-do tips for families heading to the party.

The Halloween Carnival at Disneyland is a must-do for families, as it provides kids of all ages unique opportunities to interact with characters, make crafts and play games, see a magic show and much more. Two of the most notable things going on at the carnival are the famous Disneyland pumpkin carvers and Pirates League--a makeover experience for children who love pirates. Learn much, much more about the Halloween Carnival and see our exclusive video by clicking here. You can see more of this year's pumpkin creations by the Disneyland pumpkin carvers by clicking here.

Food, Merchandise and Food Merchandise

Ask your foodie friends who frequent the Disneyland Resort their favorite time of year, and they will likely tell you it's Halloween Time. The Resort goes to great lengths to develop innovative and delicious food offerings for this time of year and they can be found virtually everywhere... and they aren't just sweets.

The "Muenster" Chicken Sausage Sandwich at Carnation Cafe have been a big hit with park guests this year.

Even the cotton candy gets a Halloween makeover. It becomes candy corn cotton candy and I am here to tell you that it is DELICIOUS!

When it comes to special merchandise, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are both LOADED with special offerings ranging from pins to coffee mugs to clothing and more. The best places to shop for Halloween-themed merchandise in Disneyland Park include the Emporium and Disney Showcase on Main Street.

A unique area of Disney theming comes by way of food merchandise--the special containers and purchases available with the purchase of certain food items throughout the year. At Halloween Time there is certainly no shortage of special purchase opportunities. I always recommend the travel mugs and popcorn buckets. The mugs are cheaper than the "real" travel mugs Disney sells in the shops and unlike many of those, they are dishwasher safe AND fit under my Keurig. The popcorn buckets are great for storing Legos and other small toys and perfect for taking toys in the car, etc.

Have a question about Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort? Leave it in the comments or head over to our Facebook page and leave a message on our wall!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Merchandise Monday: October 2014

There's not as much to share this month as I would've thought after seeing loads of fantastic new items in stores at the Disneyland Resort lately (I think they're just waiting to share all of the good stuff with us at Christmas! ) - here we go!


Mickey's Halloween Party Merchandise - Right now, you can find Mickey's Halloween Party t-shirts, fleece jackets, and lots and lots of pins! Look for merchandise at Disney Showcase, Emporium, Pieces of Eight, Pioneer Mercantile, and The Star Trader.

Featured Treat: Dirt and Worms Caramel Apple - With an appropriately creepy theme, this month you can find this unique caramel apple - covered in caramel, dark chocolate, chocolate cookie crumbs, then topped with white and dark chocolate "webs" and gummy worms. There are also many other special, holiday themed treats around the resort. 

Artist Sketch of the Month The October 2014 Disneyland Resort sketch is "Hercules and Meg" which is available at Disneyana and Off the Page at the Disneyland Resort.

October Merchandise Events - 

  • Artist in Residence - Miss Mindy at WonderGround Gallery in Downtown Disney. Oct. 17, 18, 24-26, from 6:30-9:30 p.m.
  • Precious Moments Dolls with Linda Rick at China Closet in the Disneyland Park. Oct. 17-19 & 24-26, from noon-10 p.m.
  • Marc Davis: Walt Disney's Renaissance Man book signing at Disneyana in the Disneyland Park. Oct. 18, from 9-11 a.m.
  • Noah at WonderGround Gallery in Downtown Disney. Oct. 25  from 11 a.m -1 p.m.
  • Haunted Memories (Eddie Allen) at WonderGround Gallery in Downtown Disney. Oct. 25 & 26, from 1-4 p.m.
Miss Mindy

Friday, October 10, 2014

Fun Fact Friday: Fowler's Harbor in Disneyland

Fowler's Harbor is one of my favorite spots inside Disneyland.  Located just across the walkway from the Haunted Mansion along the Rivers of America, it is home to the Harbor Galley restaurant and dry dock for the Sailing Ship Columbia.

I love Fowler's Harbor because of its history and great quiet space away from the hustle and bustle of Disneyland.  Back when Disneyland was being built, Walt Disney hired a retired Navy Admiral, Joe Fowler to be his construction boss.  Mr. Fowler must have done something right considering Disneyland opened a year and a day after they broke ground to construct Walt's dream park.  In honor of Joe Fowler's hard work, the dry dock area where the Columbia parks when not in use was name Fowler's Harbor.

Joe Fowler led a pretty amazing life.  Born 1894, he graduated second in his class at the U.S. Naval Academy in 1917.  A veteran of both world wars, Joe designed and supervised the building of gunboats, built naval aircraft carriers, and was in charge of all U.S. Navy work conducted in the West Coast shipyards during WWII.  During his military career, he rubbed shoulders with the likes of Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and Lyndon Johnson.

Fowler met Walt Disney shortly after his 60th birthday and soon began is 25-year career with the Disney.  He not only oversaw Disneyland's construction, but was a technical advisor on the movie "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea."  In the '60s and '70s, Fowler took on the massive project of building Walt Disney World and at one point held the posts senior vice president for engineering and construction for Walt Disney Productions, chairman of the board of WED (Walter Elias Disney) Enterprises, and director of construction for Disney's Buena Vista Construction Company.  Fowler retired from Disney in 1978 and was named a Disney Legend in 1990, three years before he passed away at the age of 99.  What an amazing life.
This street sign is taken from Joe Fowler's actual address.

Joe Fowler with Walt Disney

While enjoying this historical area of Disneyland, guests can enjoy a quick bite from the Harbor Galley restaurant which rarely has long lines and provides guests with a peaceful place to rest and eat.  It's one of our favorite spots to stop down with the family, get a snack (chowder in a bread bowl!) or... better yet... a shrimp po' boy or delicious stuffed baked potato. The unique menu and this tiny restaurant may just be the best kept secret at the Disneyland Resort. Keep in mind that seating can be scarce, so if there isn't enough room to eat, you can take your food to the dining area of the French Market (next to the Haunted Mansion).

Thank you to the blog Stuff From the Park (Matterhorn1959) for the picture of Joe Fowler and Walt Disney.  This is a great blog with amazing vintage Disneyland photography!

The post has been updated since it was originally published.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

6 reasons to walk in the CHOC "Walk in the Park" at the Disneyland Resort

The CHOC "Walk in the Park" is a very special event happening at the Disneyland Resort this Sunday. This annual event has become an Orange County institution that brings more than 12,000 CHOC Walkers to the Disneyland Resort as the sunrises to participate in a 5K walk through Disneyland, Disney California Adventure and Downtown Disney. It is a one-of-a-kind event and I have five great reasons why you should sign up to walk.

1. It feels good to help kids. 
All Walkers raise $50 or more to participate in the Walk. That money goes to fund the amazing treatment programs and research at CHOC Children's--a hospital that has been ranked among the nation's very best children's hospitals in seven specialties and leads the way in pioneering the future of pediatric care. Among the hospitals notable programs including the very first use of radiation-free electrophysiology to cure heart rhythm disturbances. This video shows this incredible breakthrough. 

Monies raised by Walkers go to fund the hospital's greatest needs, including the care of patients who cannot afford treatment AND it is a tax write-off!

2. Go "backstage"at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.
For Disney fans, going "backstage" is can be a dream come true. The CHOC Walk route gives Walkers a rare glimpse into what goes on behind the fun and fantasy of the Disneyland Resort.

3. Earn prizes!
Walkers who raise money for the CHOC Walk are eligible to earn prizes for their fundraising efforts. The more they raise, the more prizes they earn! Prizes vary from milkshakes at Chik-fil-a to Disneyland tickets and Vera Bradley bags! Learn more about the prizes by clicking here.

4. Get photos with characters and see parade floats up-close.
One of the great things about the CHOC Walk is that even though it takes place before Disneyland and Disney California Adventure open (the Walk starts at 6:30a.m. and does not include regular park admission for when the parks open), Walkers still get an authentic Disneyland Resort experience complete with characters and parade floats on the parade route! 

5. You can purchase discounted Disneyland tickets.
For many people, one of the most attractive parts of the CHOC Walk is the ability to purchase discounted admission tickets. If you are considering going to Disneyland, this is a great way to get discounted tickets--even if it means you are making a tax deductible donation to CHOC in order to be eligible to purchase the tickets!

Sunday only Walker can present their CHOC "Walk In the Park" wristbands at a Disneyland Ticket Booth to purchase a special CHOC-Tober Disneyland Resort 1-Day Park Hopper ticket for $78 or a 1-Day 1-Park Ticket for $50 for use on Sunday or another trip to the Resort. A maximum of five tickets may be purchased per wristband and the tickets must be used by 11/7/2014.

6. You'll never experience anything like it anywhere else.
I have walked as a Walker in the CHOC Walk twice and I can honestly tell you it is a life-changing experience. To see all of the grateful families--some who have triumphed over illness and some who walk in remembrance is truly one of the most moving experiences I have ever had. I created this video back at my first CHOC Walk and I think it really captures the essence of the Walk and how people feel about the amazing care provided at CHOC Children's. Plus, it is the ONLY charity walk that goes through the Disneyland Resort!

If you are thinking about walking this year, you can walk on your own, with your family and friends or join a team. Although we won't have a Babes In Disneyland team this year, if you are looking for a Disneyland-fan team to join (and have a great morning with), I highly recommend Team DAPs Magic or Team MousePlanet.

Can't participate in the Walk, but want to contribute to CHOC? My husband Will is walking in the Walk for the first time and you can sponsor him! Click here to donate! Every dollar helps.

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday- Disneyland's Incredible Pumpkin Carvers 2014

Emma and Jack Skellington
For me one of the highlights of the Halloween Time festivities at the Disneyland Resort is the Halloween Carnival at Big Thunder Ranch

Seeing Disneyland's Incredible Pumpkin Carvers create their one of a kind masterpieces is truly the highlight of my annual Mickey's Halloween Party trip.

Using tools such as carving knives, wood gouges, skewers, scrapers, ribbon, and paint the Disneyland pumpkin carvers spend hours and hours transforming pumpkins of all shapes, sizes, and colors into amazing works of Disney art.

We thoroughly enjoyed walking around and seeing all of the wonderful pumpkins and I'm so excited to share them with you.

it's a small world themed pumpkin

Haunted Mansion Traveling Ghost

Jack Skellington


Mickey Mouse- this one could probably be easily duplicated at home!

Elsa and Anna

The Doorknob from Alice in Wonderland

Alice in the White Rabbit's House 

Flik and Dot from A Bug's Life

Mary Poppins Pearly Band themed pumpkin-
painted and adorned with pearls

This year Pumpkin Carvers Bob and Bridget were hard at work on Oswald and Nightmare Before Christmas pumpkins. It just so happened that Bridget's pumpkin was a celebration of Jeff Reitz's 1000th consecutive visit to Disneyland- an incredible feat in and of itself.  

Click here to my post featuring last year's incredible pumpkin creations.

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

Sunday, October 5, 2014

What to expect at the Disneyland Halloween Carnival in Frontierland

Halloween Time has become one of the most popular times to visit the Disneyland Resort and with good reason. Between the decor and the food offerings, the parks are totally transformed, allowing guests to experience the Disney magic in a fresh way. For families with children, this is especially the case when it comes to all of the family friendly fun to be had a the Halloween Carnival located at Big Thunder Ranch inside Disneyland Park.

Want to see exactly what happens at the Halloween Carnival? Check out the video below! I asked the Halloween Carnival fortune teller what my boys and I could expect and here's what she had to say! (Spoiler alert: My head is inside a crystal ball!)

The Halloween Carnival is a great place to let little ones have away from the regular hustle and bustle of the park. Because Disneyland can be busier than normal this time of year, the Halloween Carnival is an ideal place for toddlers to get the wiggles out. 

Located at the Festival Arena at Big Thunder Ranch, guests who visit the Carnival can:

  • Visit the goats in the petting zoo.
  • Watch incredible pumpkin carvers at work and see their artful creations. Read more about the 2014 pumpkin creations by clicking here. Check out the 2013 pumpkins by clicking here.
  • Attend a magic show.
  • Participate in a Halloween parade with Mickey and his friends.
  • Make crafts and play games.
  • Take photos with characters. (This is a particularly great place to get photos with the characters because the lines are usually quite short.)
  • Learn your fortune from a fortune teller.
  • See a villain appear before your eyes in the "Conjure A Villain" tent. (This is a great place to get up close and personal with some of the most infamous Disney villains.)
For an additional fee, guests can also:
  • Purchase delicious Halloween-themed snacks and drinks.
  • Get a pirate makeover at the Pirates' League. (You can read about our experience at Pirates' League last year by clicking here.)
The Carnival is going on now through October 31. It is free with park admission. Hours can vary so be sure to check the entertainment schedule.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

5 tips you must read before going to Mickey's Halloween Party at Disneyland #HalloweenTime

Last week the family and I made the trek to Disneyland for the first night of Mickey's Halloween Party. Just as in years gone by, the kids had a blast trick-or-treating and seeing all of the other guests in their costumes. 

Kendra recently wrote a list of tips and information for families going to Mickey's Halloween Party and if you are thinking about going, I definitely recommend reading her post as a primer on what to know. (The post will be updated yearly with the most updated information. Click here to go to her post.) Building upon her post, I thought I would put together a list of 5 things you may not know about Mickey's Halloween Party that I have discovered during my many years going.

1. Trick-or-treat requests.
Our little guy quickly learned how to nicely
request "no peanuts" at each trick-or-treat
Trick-or-treat locations are located throughout the park. Each "location" is actually a "trail" of several stations. Each station has regular Halloween candy--fun-size Milky Ways, Twix, Snickers, etc. If you have a child with a peanut allergy like we do, you can have your children nicely request, "No peanuts, please" at each location and Cast Members will happily dig through the treats to provide the children with peanut-free candy. Be forewarned that if you do not ask, you will get A LOT of candy with peanuts because those bins are filled with a lot of Snickers, Peanut Chews, Peanut M&Ms and Reece's Peanut Butter Cups.

You can also request sugar-free candy. My husband asked for it at two stations and they gave him a hard sugar-free candy. Healthier treat options are also available at each station. Those options vary but can include Cheese-Its, apple chips, Goldfish, carrots, apples and chocolate-covered Craisins (my husband's FAVORITE treat of the night).

2. Character photos.
Pirate Donald at Rancho Del Zocalo during Mickey's Halloween Party.
Usually, my family isn't big on waiting in (long) lines for character photos, but this year, we went for it and got some great shots with the characters in some very unique locations. Some of the lines can be crazy long, while others, like the photo location inside Rancho Del Zocalo was very short and getting pics with Goofy and Donald dressed as pirates was priceless. Because the characters at the party are so unique, be sure to ask at each location which other characters will be available, so that you don't miss your favorite. For example, we also took photos at the Mark Twain/Columbia dock with Peter Pan, Wendy and Captain Hook and the Host at the dock told us that later in the evening Jack Sparrow would come out to take photos as well.

3. Short waits for a lot of attractions.
In my opinion, the short lines at a lot of the attractions is one of the best things about Mickey's Halloween Party. Most people (as you can see in this photo of New Orleans Square) are trick-or-treating or out enjoying the Halloween parade or fireworks, and not a lot of people are riding the rides. 

Guests in New Orleans Square during Mickey's Halloween Party. 
My family went on Splash Mountain TWICE without having to get off and there was NO line at all. The same could be said for a lot of the attractions (except for the newly reopened Alice in Wonderland and special Halloween attractions Haunted Mansion Holiday and Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy). If your family is looking for an opportunity to go to Disneyland and just ride attractions, this is a pretty good time to go. Just be forewarned that around parade and firework time we found it impossible (literally) to go from the west side of the park (New Orleans Square, Frontierland, etc.) to the east side of the park (Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, etc.), so it is important to plan accordingly.
There was NO line for Splash Mountain during Mickey's Halloween Party,
and my family got to go on TWICE!

You haven't lived until you've tried the fried
pickles at Carnation Cafe on Main Street.

4. Eat dinner before the party. 
Admission to Mickey's Halloween Party allows guests to enter Disneyland before the party actually starts. If you will be eating dinner at the park, be certain to do so before the party starts, as all restaurants are not open during the party and your time for the Halloween festivities is so limited, you don't want to be eating during the party. All that being said, it is important to note that the restaurants are VERY busy at dinner time with the day guests grabbing a meal before leaving the park and the Mickey's Halloween Party guests trying to have dinner before the party starts, so you may want to plan accordingly with extra snacks or a really early dinner.

5. Don't forget your annual pass (if you have one).
This year, Disneyland stepped it up a notch and offered a special trick-or-treat surprise for annual passholders attending Mickey's Halloween Party. The trick-or-treat station located at the Opera House on Main Street hands out YUMMY rice crispy treats. And just for passholders! So, since you don't NEED your pass to get into Mickey's Halloween Party because it is a separate-ticket event, definitely still bring it to get your rice crispy treat and continue getting your discounts at the stores and restaurants.

Disclaimer: I received complimentary admission to Mickey's Halloween Party, as I do from time to time, in order to provide readers with the most current Disneyland Resort coverage. (We also buy annual passes, as well.) All opinions stated in this blog post are my own and were not influenced by the Disneyland Resort. They never are.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

6 tips for getting picked for the Jedi Training Academy at Disneyland

The Jedi Training Academy, held at the Tomorrowland Terrace stage, is the ultimate Star Wars fantasy come true for little boys who are yearning to become one with the force.  Selected children get to learn the ways of the Jedi Knights and then test those skills against Darth Maul or Darth Vader.  (Disneyland supplies the robes and lightsabers.) 

Sorry dads. Jedi Training Academy is only for kiddos ages 4 to 12.
If you have a potential Padawan who really wants to train to be a Jedi Knight, it's important to know that there's a few tricks and tips you can use to get selected for the Jedi Training Academy.  Here's the Babes in Disneyland "How to get selected for the Jedi Training Academy" Guide.
  • Wear a Star Wars-themed shirt Kids in Star Wars shirts stand out to the Jedi selecting the participants.  If your child doesn't have a Star Wars-themed shirt, wear a Disney one.
  • Make a sign
    Now, I'm not positive, but I don't think Disneyland really wants you to bring in big obnoxious signs.  In fact, I saw them confiscate a poster board sign that said, "I love Tiffany" at the security check point this last weekend.  With that in mind, I would recommend making a sign on a huge sheet of paper so that you can discretely bring it in in your bag, backpack, etc.  Put something on your sign like, "Please pick Alex!" or "Jake is the ultimate Jedi!".  Folks with signs often get picked.

  • Encourage your child to be enthusiastic!
    I know this goes without saying, but for some shy kids,
    this isn't always easy.    When the Jedi are looking for children to select, they are keeping an eye out for kids who are jumping up and down and excited to participate in the academy.  My son was really enthusiastic to participate but isn't a natural born cheerleader.  It would have been helpful if I had coached him a bit beforehand.
  • Encourage everyone else in the family to be enthusiastic!
    When our youngest son became old enough to go through Jedi training, we brought lightsabers from home and my other two sons stood next to him, pointing at him with their lightsabers as our little guy jumped out and down. It worked.
  • Get to the show early.
    Families start waiting for the show at least 30 minutes before show time.  On really busy days, you may need to get there 45 minutes to an hour before show time.  Encourage your child to sit close to the front of the selection area. (The sections are marked by tape on the ground.)

  • Prepare your child for what to expect.
    If you have never taken your child to see the show, it's a good idea that they see the show ahead of time so they know what to expect. Guests can watch the show from the Tomorrowland Terrace dining area. We love eating lunch and watching the show; it's really great family time.  If you want your child to see the show before your visit, you can check out my son below.
    If your kiddos hit it really lucky, they may even get selected to Force Push the Storm Troopers.  As luck would have it, TWO of my three kids have gotten to Force Push. What luck! Watch Darth Vader in the video below very carefully. If you are a Star Wars fan, you will definitely laugh.

    Kids who participate in the Jedi Training Academy feel a huge sense of accomplishment afterward. It is truly an amazing opportunity.

    Do you have an additional tip for getting selected at the Jedi Training Academy? Share it below or on our Facebook page!