Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Film About the Life and Work of Walt Disney to Air in 2015

Walt Disney unveils his plans for Disneyland in 1954.
A four-hour TV movie exploring the life and legacy of Walt Disney, to this day one of America’s most significant storytellers and a long-lasting figure in American popular culture, will air next year on PBS. 

The film, titled “Walt Disney,” will span two nights in the fall of 2015 and touch on his work as a film producer and business mogul. It will showcase archival footage and interviews with those who worked side-by-side Mr. Disney on films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (the first feature for Walt Disney Productions in the 1930s) and Imagineers who assisted with the design of Disneyland Park.

When Walt Disney died in 1966, 240 million people saw a Disney movie, 100 million tuned in weekly to a Disney television program, and nearly seven million visited Disneyland. Almost 50 years later, his reach remains vast. 

“For many Americans — and for me — the twinkle and swish of the Sunday night Disney logo was pure magic. It was an invitation to a special event,” said Beth Hoppe, chief programming officer and general manager, general audience programming for PBS. “For my kids, introducing them to animated Disney movies from Beauty and the Beast to The Lion King brought us great joy and taught them life lessons. Now viewers of all ages can learn about the life and legacy of the man behind the magic and his continuing impact on our lives and culture.”

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).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ask the Disney Expert: Favorite Kid-Free Activity at the Disneyland Resort

This week, we were asked what our favorite thing to do in the Disneyland Resort without the kids was...

When my husband and I find ourselves kid-free at the Disneyland Resort, we like to have a “date night” in the parks. This might include enjoying a rare quiet meal (sans sippy cups) at Carthay Circle Restaurant before hitting the more thrilling attractions that our son isn’t tall enough to ride yet. Even relaxing at the pool with a cold drink, taking a leisurely stroll through the shops and galleries (without hitting the toy section!), or relaxing on a bench while enjoying a favorite Disneyland Resort snack can be great ways to experience the resort through an adult’s eyes.

This is such a rarity for me, when I get to have time in Disneyland without the kids I'm with my husband and we treat it like a date! There's nothing in particular we make sure you do, we pretty much just do the normal stuff just without kids. We take advantage of being able to ride anything without baby swap, get from point A to B super quickly - no potty breaks, enjoy a leisurely meal or cotton candy (without having to share it)! We let ourselves be silly, relaxed,  enjoy not having any responsibilities for the moment, and just being with each other in our favorite place!

I really enjoy being able to take an hour or more if possible to enjoy a massage or pedicure at Mandara Spa.  Mandara Spa is located in the Grand Californian Hotel and is an excellent place to relax and unwind after a long day in the parks. (Pedicure at Mandara is $ 65
Basic Massage is $ 130)

My favorite kid-free activity at the Disneyland Resort is definitely enjoying the fine dining available at the Resort, with my favorite restaurant being the Carthay Circle Restaurant. My husband was blown away with the quality of the food and the ambiance, and he's a tough guy to impress. I also took my dad a couple of years ago for a daddy daughter outing for the Candlelight Procession. It was a really great way to to treat my dad and he never expected such a beautiful restaurant with such exceptional food to be in the middle of a theme park.

When I'm not entertaining my nephew at Disneyland (as I do not have children of my own yet), I'd have to say my favorite kid-free activity I've experienced at the Disneyland Resort was doing the Chef's Counter dinner at the Napa Rose in the Grand Californian hotel.   Dining in full view of the kitchen staff as they work their magic creating dishes from Chef Andrew Sutton's seasonal menu is an amazing experience.  For reference, the cost of the Chef's Counter is the same price  as the Vintner's Menu from the regular dinner menu.  If you find you and your significant other find yourself kid-free for an evening and want to dine in style, the Chef's Counter is a great option!

Those are our favorites. Now... share yours! We'd love to hear what you have to say!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Good bye sappy and hello happy! (How I celebrated Disneyland's birthday)

I have to make an admission. It has been more than a decade since I have visited Disneyland on the park's actual birthday. Typically, I spend the day a bit weepy, thinking about (and writing about) my years as a Cast Member and how grateful I am for the many friendships and magical memories those five years have brought me.

This year, however, was a bit different for me. This year on July 17, I got out of bed and headed over to Disneyland to participate in the 59th birthday celebration and spend the day with my family (my parents and three boys). Instead of spending the day with my heart aching for days gone by, I spent the day living in the moment having fun with those I love.

(Read more about the 59th birthday ceremony and celebration and about the 60th birthday photo contest by clicking here.)

We played in Toontown. The kids rode Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin and Gadget's Go Coaster before I met up with them and then we toured Mickey's house (where my littlest got upset that people wouldn't get out so he could just sit and watch Mickey cartoons) and played on Donald's boat.

We went on "it's a small world" with the younger boys while my oldest and dad went on Matterhorn.

We ate some yummy food at the French Market while listening to great music. You seriously cannot beat the kids' mac and cheese meal, the jambalya, French dip and the N'awlins salad. Everything was so incredibly delicious--full of flavor and definitely on par with the cost and quality of any restaurant outside the Disneyland Resort. They were very, very generous with the premium ingredients in the salad and the beef in the French dip was melt-in-your-mouth tender with not an ounce of fat.

We had a blast on Splash Mountain and picked up the souvenir 25th anniversary poster available to annual passholders. My parents hadn't been on Splash Mountain since I worked at Disneyland almost 16 years ago! (My dad was just a little excited...)

We headed over to Disney California Adventure to ride Toy Story Midway Mania (Connor's first time on the attraction) and then ended the day with lots of play time for the boys at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail and coffee and people watching at Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Cafe on Buena Vista Street.

So there you have it. Bye, bye sappy Disneyland birthday post (for this year anyway) and hello happy memories that I can be sappy about in years to come. I have a feeling that there are going to be a lot of great ways to create incredible memories as Disneyland rolls out fun ways to celebrate the park's 60th birthday and I promise to post all of them here on the blog as they are announced.

Disneyland 59th Birthday Celebration + Details on the 60th Anniversary Photo Contest

On Thursday, Disneyland celebrated 59 years of magical memories. The day began with a fun and touching ceremony complete with a performance by the Dapper Dans, 59 characters dancing along to the song "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes," and of course, a recording of Walt Disney's opening day speech played over the loudspeakers with a microphone set up in Town Square in his honor.

To cap off the excitement, Disney unveiled the 60th anniversary logo and a new photo contest that will celebrate the six decades Disneyland has been providing families with magical memories. 

Here is how the photo contest works:

• Each week, through August 27, 2014, the Disneyland Resort will ask fans to submit special photo memories from a specific decade. (Fans may also submit photo memories from experiences outside the weekly decade-focused inspiration prompts.) This week, Disneyland islooking for photos from the 1950s. 

• To enter, just fans can post their photos on Twitter or Instagram, using the hashtag #Disneyland60Contest by August 27, 2014 with a notation to which decade the photo was taken in the description of the photo (on Instagram or in the Tweet). 

When the submission period is complete, Disney will select the top five photos from each decade and let Disney Parks Blog readers vote on which photo from each Disney Decade is the best. Each decade winner will receive a special Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration prize. Then, Disney Parks Blog readers will have the chance to vote for one Grand Prize winner from among the winners of each decade. That lucky fan will win a trip to the start of the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration in spring 2015!
Stay tuned to Babes In Disneyland for more on Disneyland's 60th Birthday celebration, events and more!

On Wednesday of next week, I will be featuring a "Wordless Wednesday post with lots of up-close photos of those 59 characters, so be sure to come check back!

Friday, July 18, 2014

FROZEN Friday- Your Guide to All Things Frozen at the Disneyland Resort

Planning a trip to the Disneyland Resort this summer?  If so, you're in luck, as we here at the Babes in Disneyland Team has put together a comprehensive guide of all things Frozen at the Disneyland Resort.    

If you've got a Frozen fan in your life, as I do, you know first hand how difficult it can be not only to find the merchandise, but also to meet or at least see Princess Anna and Queen Elsa.  The Disneyland Resort is expanding their Frozen experiences and we'll update this page accordingly- but for now here's our guide to all things Elsa, Anna, and Olaf too. 


Meet Elsa & Anna:

Olaf greets Guests outside of the Frozen Royal Reception
Emma singing "Let it Go" for Elsa and Anna
The ultimate for Frozen fans of all ages is the opportunity to meet Elsa and Anna, take photos, and even get an autograph.  At the Frozen Royal Reception you can do just that!  While the wait time can be quite long, it's a must do and we've got some great tips and tricks to help.  Click here for more information as well as meet-and-greet photos.

Frozen Pre-Parade:

The pre-parade offers guests an up close view of Elsa, Anna, and Olaf without the long meet-and-greet wait.  Every day at 3:50, just prior to the first Mickey's Soundsational Parade the Frozen float makes its way from "it's a small world" to the end of Main Street U.S.A.  There are generally two parade times each day- one at 4:00 p.m. and one at 6:30 p.m., however, the pre-parade only takes place before the 4:00 time.  There is something truly magical about seeing your child's face light up when seeing their favorite characters and at being able to sing along to "Let It Go" as the float goes by. Be sure to check the Entertainment Guide or with a Cast Member for specific parade times, as the pre-parade is subject to change.


The Frozen merchandise section has gotten much larger, with many more products than I've previously seen.  Here are photos of the many products I came across while at the Disneyland Resort earlier this week.  Keep in mind that some of these items may not be available or new items may be offered when you next visit, but this gives you a general idea of what you might expect to find.

Adult Frozen T-Shirt

Chiffon Tank Tops for Girls

Elsa and Anna Tulle Skirts
Frozen Lanyard and Pin Starter Kit

Anna Inspired Shoe Ornament
Elsa Inspired Shoe Ornament
Frozen Cell Phone Case
Elsa and Anna Krispie Treat
Musical Elsa and Anna Dolls and Sweatshirts

Olaf Plush

Emma with Frozen Toys, Shirts, Posters,
and Magnets
Emma with Her New Frozen Tea Set
Frozen Inspired Transformations:  

If your little one would like to be transformed into Elsa or Anna for the day the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique has the Elsa and Anna gowns available for purchase (sizes and gown styles are subject to availability, with the Elsa being hardest to find).  If you are on a budget or are worried about size and style availability you are free to bring your own costume for use in the makeover.  Click here to learn more about the amazing experience that is Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.

Disney 365 in the Downtown Disney District is also offering Frozen inspired transformations. 

Photo Courtesy of Disney Parks Blog
Photo Courtesy of Disney Parks Blog
Elsa fans will love the twist given to this coronation-inspired braided style, which includes a ‘cool’ blue streak, a tiara and a light applique of makeup and nail polish.

Anna fans will be swept away by the stylish braids which are elegantly pulled back into a bun with green color streak. Finish the look with a tiara and a light applique of makeup and nail polish.

For the Olaf fan in your house a new Olaf transformation is available, complete with frosted hair tips and an Olaf T-shirt.

Reservations for any of the transformations listed above are highly recommended and can be made by calling 714-781-STYLE (714-781-7895).

We'd love to see photos of your favorite Disneyland Resort Frozen experiences so please share them on the Babes in Disneyland Blog Facebook Page or by using #babesindisneyland when uploading photos to Instagram.

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

Monday, July 14, 2014

Tips for keeping kids safe at Disneyland and Walt Disney World

It was recently reported that numerous employees at theme parks in Florida, including Walt Disney World, have been arrested in stings aiming to take down child predators. Apparently the news is a little old and just trickled over to Southern California news outlets today. (Read the story by clicking here.) The charges range from possession of child pornography to soliciting a minor. While none of these cases involved children or teenagers visiting the various parks, it is a reminder that wherever there are children, there is a the possibility of child predators being close by.

When a friend sent me a message tonight about the story, I was immediately sick to my stomach. I will admit that when I visit Disneyland, I let my guard down; I have a false sense of security and always tell people that “Disneyland is like home to me.” But when you strip away the emotion, fantasy and joy of Disneyland, we have to remember that it is a public place, and while I have never heard of anything sinister happening there, that doesn’t mean that as a parents we can let our guards down even for a second. We want to believe that Disneyland is a fantasy, but we always have to be careful.

I am by no means a child safety expert, but I have talked with experts in the past for projects I have done in my professional life away from the blog. I have put together some of the most interesting and noteworthy experts I have worked with or encountered as they relate to theme park safety. Please take some time to read these over and I encourage you to share your child safety tips in the blog comments below.

Throw out the term “stranger danger.”
Pattie Fitzgerald is a child safety advocate and founder of Safely Ever After, Inc. She has been working with parents and communities across the country to educate children about safety by developing kid-friendly approaches using words and phrases children can better understand and conceptualize, including eliminating the long-used term “stranger danger.”

“More than 90% of sexual and physical abuse happens to children by someone they know, and in circumstances when a stranger does intend to victimize a child, they will typically present themselves in a very friendly, alluring manner. In other words, their ‘stranger-danger radar’ doesn't necessarily kick in," says Fitzgerald. "Stranger danger actually does a disservice to kids. It's more effective to teach children about ‘tricky people.’ By removing the word "stranger" and replacing it with "tricky people," we’re encouraging kids to be alert to any and all people who try to break the family’s safety rules. ‘Tricky people’ helps kids to be mindful around people they know, don't know or know just a little.”

Teach kids your family rules at an early age.
According to Fitzgerald, parents should be teaching their children the following concepts beginning at a very early age. These can be considered “family rules” so that kids know that mom and dad are part of a team to keep them safe.

• The child is the boss of his or her own body and everything that is covered by a bathing suit is private.

• Safe grown-ups never need a child’s help.

• Children should never go anywhere or do anything with another adult without asking their immediate caregiver (mom, dad, daycare provider) first.

• The family doesn’t keep any secrets –good or bad. It is very easy for adults intending to do a child harm to convince the child a bad thing is a “good” secret.

• Children should be encouraged to listen to their special inner voice, especially when they get an “uh-oh” feeling that something isn’t right.

Play it safe at theme parks and beyond.
According to Fitzgerald and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there are a few things all guardians should do while they are with children theme parks.

• Parents should always pay attention to who is paying attention to their child by being active, visible parents and looking for red flags, including inappropriate talk around children or someone who appears preoccupied with their child. Parental awareness and involvement can serve as a deterrent to those who may want to cause harm. This means parents need to be on the look out for who is paying close attention to their child in every public place, including theme parks.

• Parents should explain to children that they must stay with a member of their party at all time and should never be left alone or become isolated with anyone, even an employee. Children should not to accept any prizes, offers or gifts from anyone until they have checked with their parents first.

• Children should be taught that if anyone approaches them or makes them feel sad, scared or confused that they must tell you immediately, because there are never any secrets that they cannot tell the trusted adults in their lives. Children should also be taught that if anyone grabs them to loudly yell, “This person is trying to take me” or “This person is not my father/mother.”

• At the Disneyland Resort, children should be instructed to go to the nearest Cast Member if they become separated from the family. A Cast Member will take the child directly to Lost Children, which is located in the Baby Care Centers at both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park. The child should never be alone with the Cast Member or go into a backstage area, unless the child is injured, in which case a medical team will come out to the child and take the child backstage to First Aid. In the case of older children, families should establish a central place to meet that is out in the open, like Central Plaza at Disneyland or the entrance of Cars Land or “bugs’ land” in Disney California Adventure Park. It is extremely important that parents explain to children that they should never go looking for their parents and should never go “backstage” with any Cast Member (employee) or park guest, and never go outside of the parks in an effort to find the family. (The same policies are in place for Lost Children and First Aid at the Walt Disney World parks.)

Other tips:
• Children should know their parents’ cell phone numbers and if they don’t, numbers can be written on a piece of tape inside the child’s jacket or shirt collar or on special write-on tattoos. The Cast Members in Lost Children will ask the child if they know the number in order to reunite the family and child as quickly as possible. If you forget to arm the child with the phone number before your visit,  stickers for this type of information are also found at the Lost Children/Baby Care Centers in the parks. (This information also pertains to Walt Disney World parks.)

• When children think they are “too old” to use the restroom with their parents (sons won’t go with mommies into the women’s room, etc.), seek out the family restrooms in the parks so that the family does not need to be separated.

• Many parents like the idea of taking a rest in Toontown, at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail or on Tom Sawyer’s Island while the kids play. Instead of telling children to only play where mommy or daddy can see them, tell children that they must play where they can still see mommy and daddy, as this concept is easier for children to understand.

Want to read more on child safety?
Here are some great books on the subject that you can read with your kids:

The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers by Stan and Jan Berenstain is a classic book for children ages 3 to 7 that teaches kids to be cautious of strangers with common sense advice that only Mama Bear can dole out.

NO Trespassing– This Is MY Body! by Pattie Fitzgerald teaches kids how to keep their bodies safe and provides useful tips for parents.

I Said No! by Zack and Kimberly King is a kid-to-kid guide for children ages 4 and older that teaches how to keep private parts private in kid-friendly language.

Again, please leave your best strategies on keeping kids safe while traveling in our comments. The more information, the better!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Show Your Disney Side this Summer with Disneyland Resort Alex and Ani Bangle Bracelets

Photo Courtesy of the Disney Parks Blog
This summer show off your Disney Side with a bangle or two (or ten if you're like me) :) from the Alex and Ani Disney Collection of bangles.  Alex and Ani bangles are by far and away my favorite souvenir from the Disneyland Resort- I love adding to my collection and don't believe that one can ever have too many.  

Photo Courtesy of the Disney Parks Blog
Alex and Ani bangles are hand-crafted in the U.S.A., eco-conscious, and extremely well made.  They are also lightweight, adjustable, adorable, and reasonably priced at $39.95 each.     

There are many different designs to choose from and new designs are being released every few months- the newest release being July 14th.  Designs include: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Sleeping Beauty's Castle, Mickey's Fun Wheel, Ariel from "The Little Mermaid", Rapunzel from "Tangled," and even scrolled letters. It is rumored that the next release will feature designs from the Nightmare Before Christmas. 

Photo Courtesy of the Disney Parks Blog
The bangles are available at several locations at the following Disneyland Resort locations as well as on online:

Disneyland Resort

  • Disney California Adventure Park- Elias & Co.
  • Disneyland Park- New Century Jewelry (Main Street U.S.A.)
  • Downtown Disney District- Disney Vault 28 and World of Disney

Show off your Disney Side by sharing photos of your Alex and Ani "charmed arms" with your favorite Disney characters, rides, and photo spots.  Simply upload your photos to Twitter, Vine, Google+, Facebook, Snapchat and Pinterest using the #Disneyside and #charmedarms tags.  Your photos may be featured on the @Disneyland, @WaltDisneyWorld or @AlexandAni Instagram feeds.

Showing off my #charmedarms and #disneyside on
Main Street U.S.A.

Which Disney Collection Alex and Ani bracelet most represents you and shows off your Disney Side?

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


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Top 5: Souvenirs to Purchase at the Disneyland Resort (Every time!)

We've written before about the Top 5 Souvenirs for a Child's First Trip... but what about the second, third, fourth, and so-on, trips? You want to get souvenirs then right? This Top 5 list shares the Top 5 souvenirs I get every time I visit (keep in mind I visit only once or twice a year, so I can justify it!) AND encompasses souvenirs for all ages - because I'm pretty sure I like Disney souvenirs as much as, if not more than, my kids do! 

1. Trading Pin - Trading pins started out for us as what they were intended for - trading. But they quickly became a little piece of memorabilia. Now every time we go we pick out a new pin for our (my husband and my) lanyards, and one for each kid, that signifies something special about that visit. For example, the time we stayed at the Grand Californian, we purchased a GC pin; when we first saw the World of Color show, our pin that year represented that experience; and so on. This is a souvenir I also mentioned in the "Child's First Trip" post.

2. Coffee Mug - Whether you drink coffee, tea, or - you know - water - you use a cup to drink from! And something about sipping my morning coffee... or tea or water... from a Disneyland mug just brightens up my morning... or afternoon or evening. And really, can you ever have enough mugs?! (I don't think so.)

True story: Key rings like this
are quite helpful when you
lose your keys!
3. Key Ring - Key rings are relatively inexpensive souvenirs, and truth be told they wear out or break quickly because they are constantly in use, so it seems like one of us is always needing a new one! And yet again, every time I see my keys - which is quite often - I am reminded of my last vacation to Disney  - and that makes me happy!

4. Christmas Ornament - This is one souvenir I only purchase once a year, so I technically don't get one every time I go to the Disneyland Resort if I go more than once that year. I just want to make sure I have an ornament for my tree for every year I've gone - that's a lot of cute Mickey ornaments, I'll tell ya! Christmas ornaments make a great souvenir for kids too - by the time they are grown and ready for their own tree, they'll have a good start on memorable ornaments of their own.
Vinylmation Theme Park Favorites Series 3'' Figure - American Flag
image via

5. Vinylmation - I love Vinylmations, I think they are so cute, but this is one souvenir my husband insists on purchasing at every visit (sometimes he gets two). He has them cheering up his desk at work, and displayed in the media room at home. This is a great collection souvenir for kids too - since they are made out of vinyl they are fairly unbreakable!

Honorable Mentions: T-Shirt or Sweatshirt, Disneyland Art or Picture Book, Theme Park Music CD (which changes from time to time)

So, tell us, what is a souvenir from your visits to the Disneyland Resort that you tend to buy again and again?