Monday, September 29, 2014

Dad review of the new Disney XD series Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars Rebels in the "Ghost."
Premieres this week on DisneyXD & Disney Channel.
Image used with permission.
Last weekend we were treated to a sneak peak of two episodes of the new Disney XD series, “Star Wars Rebels”. I took my three boys who not only love ALL of the Star Wars films, (yes even the Jar Jar scenes) they, along with me, were huge fans of the old series “Star Wars Clone Wars.”

"Clone Wars was amazing because it showed us everything we did not see in the films. The Clone Wars were always mentioned, and we got to see a few minutes of them in “Attack of the Clones,” but the films only left us wanting more. The series and the animation were great and clearly done by a team of fans of the source material. The only thing we didn’t know about after that series was how the Rebellion started. Well now we will.

Star Wars Rebels pilot Hera. Image used with permission.
The new series, "Star Wars Rebels," continues on with the same quality of "Star Wars Clone Wars," and will finally answer all of the questions on how Luke, Leia and the rest of the Rebels came to be. The animation is slightly more refined, and you cannot tell the difference between this series and the other. The new characters hit all of the key groups to make kids able to identify with someone on the show, while covering the basics of Star Wars lore. You have the orphan loner that is more than he appears, the frustrated Jedi mixed with Han Solo, the big crazy Chewbacca-like monster who is menacing only to the Empire and the droid who takes the silliness and attitude of R2D2 to the next level. There are also two female characters on the team, a pilot and weapons expert which is great to see since we got a glimpse of that direction in "Star Wars Clone Wars" with Ahsoka Tano.

Images used with permission of the Walt Disney Company.

Jedi Kana and the Inquisitor from Star Wars Rebels.
Image used with permission.
The story unfolds during a dark time when the evil Galactic Empire is tightening its grip of power on the galaxy. Imperial forces have occupied a remote planet and are ruining the lives of its people. The crew of the starship Ghost -- cowboy Jedi Kanan, ace pilot Hera, street-smart teenager Ezra, the "muscle" Zeb, warrior Sabine, and cantankerous old astromech droid Chopper -- are among a select few who are brave enough to stand against the Empire. Together, they will face threatening new villains, encounter colorful adversaries, embark on thrilling adventures and become heroes with the power to ignite a rebellion. Although none of the characters are familiar to us yet, they are all familiar in what they do and say. 

Behind the scenes:
"Star Wars Rebels" concept art. Images used
with permission of the Walt Disney Company.

  • "Star Wars Rebels" was created by Dave Filoni (Star Wars: The Clone Wars), Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days of Future Past, Sherlock Holmes), and Carrie Beck. The Lucasfilm Animation production is also executive-produced by Filoni and Kinberg as well as Greg Weisman (Gargoyles).
  • The talented voice cast includes Freddie Prinze Jr. as Kanan, Vanessa Marshall as Hera, Steve Blum as Zeb, Tiya Sircar as Sabine, Taylor Gray as Ezra, David Oyelowo as Agent Kallus and Jason Isaacs as the Inquisitor.
Concept art for Zeb. Images used with permission of the Walt Disney Company.

Concept art for Jedi Kanan. Images used with permission of the Walt Disney Company.

What we love most (so far):
The Ghost from Star Wars Rebels. Image used
with permission.

  • We love seeing the beginning of the Rebellion, glimpses of spacecraft, and hints of people that we are familiar with from "A New Hope" and the rest of the original trilogy.
  • I also really like that any adult fan of Star Wars can get "into" this show with their kids and know that the quality from the "Clone Wars" and expanded universe is still intact. 

Don't miss out on the first episodes:
Sabine from Star Wars Rebels. Image used with
After the screening, we all agreed that we could not wait to continue on with this journey. The Clone Wars are a great memory, but now we have something new to look forward to. From what we saw, we will be upgrading to Disney XD, buying the merchandise, and gathered on the couch for seasons to come to see it all end just where Episode 4 takes off. 

Star Wars Rebels pilot Hera. Image used with permission.
The series premiere one-hour movie "Star  Wars  Rebels: Spark of the Rebellion"  will begin airing on television  Monday, October 13 (9:00 p.m., ET/PT) on Disney XD. In case you miss it, the premiere movie will run Saturday, October 4 (9:00 p.m., ET/PT) on Disney Channel and will be  available on Disney XD VOD and for purchase through Apple iTunes, Amazon Instant Video and Google Play starting Monday, October 6. The regular season episode premiere will take place on Monday, October 13 on Disney XD.

The Inquisitor and Storm Troopers from Star Wars Rebels. Image used with permission. 

As a family of three Star Wars-loving boys (and a dad who has read almost everything there is to know about the movies), we are pretty excited about this series. Leave us a comment below or on Facebook page and tell us who is excited to watch the show at your house!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

"Frozen: The Songs" CD Review and Giveaway #disneymusic

There are a lot of Disney moments that I frequently recall in my mind's eye, and I can honestly say that one such moment is when the credits started to roll at the end of the movie Frozen. It had been quite some time since I had become totally engaged and engrossed in an animated film, but as the lights started to come back up in the Frank G. Wells Theater on the Walt Disney Studios Lot that night, I couldn't help but think I had just witnessed something very special. And then came the boys' reactions. They loved it and couldn't stop talking about it. The long (five-minute) drive home was constant chatter and they were quoting the movie and trying to sing the songs from that moment on.

It's almost been a year since we saw Frozen and it's hard to remember life before it came out. My kids watch the movie all the time. We've downloaded the incredible Frozen karaoke app, which gets used... a lot. (If you don't have it, you can download it here.) The DVD is in heavy rotation at our house. It comes along with us on long car trips, frequently gets chosen as the Friday night movie and is a go-to flick when the kids visit my parents.
And starting on September 30, there will be one more piece of Frozen media to add to the mix:  Frozen:The Songs.  This CD features all 10 songs from the Oscar-winning movie, and if your kids are anything like mine they will want it on a loop in the car. In addition to Frozen: The Songs CD, Disney Records is also releasing a vinyl edition and a Spanish language version Frozen Canciones de Una Aventura Congelada, plus the digital score album from composer Christophe Beck. 

The specially priced Songs CD also includes a fold-out poster and stickers and includes these songs:

1. Frozen Heart 

Performed by the cast
2. Do You Want to Build a Snowman?
Performed by Kristen Bell, Agatha Lee Monnand and Katie Lopez
3. For the First Time in Forever
Performed by Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel
4. Love Is an Open Door
Performed by Kristen Bell and Santino Fontana
5. Let It Go
Performed by Idina Menzel
6. Reindeer(s) Are Better Than People
Performed by Jonathan Groff
7. In Summer
Performed by Josh Gad
8. For the First Time in Forever (Reprise)
Performed by Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel
9. Fixer Upper
Performed by Maia Wilson and Cast
10. Let It Go (Demi Lovato Version)

Performed by Demi Lovato

You can preorder all three versions on Amazon now! You can also try your luck at winning one of two I am giving away! It's super easy to win using the Rafflecopter entry form below. It is perfect for birthday and a great stocking stuffer if you are already thinking ahead to the holidays!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fall 2014 Dapper Day at the Disneyland Resort through the eyes of a family

Two weeks ago, my family spent one of the hottest weekends on record (or, at least it felt like one of
the hottest weekends on record) at the Disneyland Resort for Dapper Day. Let me tell you that it was so HOT I really thought we were going to melt. But, since we had booked a hotel ahead of time and had invested so much time and effort into our Dapper Day attire, we made our way into the parks, as planned... sort of.

In my head, I had grand plans for Dapper Day. I imagined Thursday hanging out in the parks in on of our outfits--just a little "dapper warm up," if you will. Followed by the fashion parade of Dapper Day on Friday and then heading to the Dapper Day Expo on Saturday in a third outfit after a day at the pool. Give the heat, I really bit off/planned way more than I could handle and never even made it to that third outfit on Sunday before packing up and heading home a bit earlier than I had planned.

I will admit, this Dapper Day was a little different than the one I attended in the spring a couple of years ago. It wasn't as friendly of a crowd and I didn't feel that same happy vibe. Again, it was a million degrees out, and I am guessing that everyone else felt just as hot and sticky as we did. Anyway, without further ado... here are some photos from our Dapper Day experience.

Even though it technically wasn't Dapper Day on Thursday, we went into Disney California Adventure all dressed up anyway.
My dad, Aidan, Brandon and I stopped for a photo right outside the Chamber of Commerce

Aidan looked is really into the whole "dapper" movement. 
And Brandon couldn't get enough of his new driving cap.
I went for a Minnie Mouse DisneyBound, complete with yellow flats and vintage bag.
My mom with Minnie
Connor was such a Dapper
Day cutie!

Friday was THE day to be seen for Dapper Day. I chose to wear a tiki-inspired dress from Pinup Girl Boutique. The boys all wore white shirts, bow ties and hats from Target. (The bow ties I ended up getting from a children's second-hand store. They were still new, in the box for $5 each!)

My beautiful family in one of my favorite photo spots. You never have to fight the crowds if you take pics on the east side of Sleeping Beauty Castle.

My bow tie guys--my dad and my three boys.

In the evening, Dapper Day attendees flocked to King Arthur's Carousel for the Dapper Day Derby and to "be seen."

My parents got a kick out of the Dapper Day Derby.

Like I said, by the time Saturday rolled around, we were EXHAUSTED and headed home before I could get to my third outfit and head to the Dapper Day Expo.

If you are a family with little ones thinking about doing the next Dapper Day with your family, I highly recommend it. Getting dressed up is a really fun and unique way to experience Disneyland and the kids really got a kick out of it. And personally, I LOVE getting photos of my boys in their bow ties. If the cost of getting the kids (or yourself) dressed for the occasion is holding you back, there are a lot of really inexpensive options when it comes to going dapper, and I will share some of my Dapper Day on a Budget ideas in an upcoming post. Until then, mark Sunday, March 1 on your calendar. If enough Babes In Disneyland readers are interested, we can even do a meet-up and get a photo of all of the Babes families and kiddos together!

Oh, and one last thing: if you are thinking about getting a hotel room at the Disneyland Resort the weekend of the next Dapper Day, I highly recommend checking out the Dapper Day website. Their discounts on on-property hotel rooms (and tickets) CANNOT BE BEAT!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ask the Disney Experts: Favorite Sweet Treat in the Disneyland Resort

Everyone loves the sweet treats at the Disneyland Resort, but sometimes it can be so hard to choose which one with so many wonderful choices. This week, we expanded our panel of experts to other Disney bloggers in order to get to the bottom of which sweet treats are the best at the Disneyland Resort. 

We love getting the marshmallow wands as a sweet Disneyland treat. Not only are they a perfect blend of chocolate, marshmallow, caramel, sugar sprinkles and candies, they also come in a wide variety of sugary sweet designs. My favorite wand design is the classic Minnie marshmallow wand with red sugar coating and white M&M polka dots. My son's favorite design is the new Olaf design complete with a specially decorated candy corn nose. You can buy marshmallow wands the Candy Palace, Trolley Treats, Pooh Corner and Marceline's Confectionery in Downtown Disney. $4.99 Beth is the owner of the blog My Adventures in Disneyland. Read her blog by clicking here.

My favorite sweet treat at the Disneyland Resort is an order of Mickey-shaped beignets at the Mint Julep Bar in New Orleans Square. Nothing goes better with these powdered sugar-covered, doughnut-like delights than a Mint Julep, the signature drink of New Orleans Square!

I'm a sucker for cake pops, especially the themed ones AND churros... I also love Matterhorn Macaroons, and Mickey Beignets, and Chocolate/Caramel Covered Pretzel Wands!  Too many good things; it's way too hard to choose just one! Heather is a Disney food experts and blogs for The Disney Food Blog.

Churros, Dole Whips, cookies, pretzels, they are all SO good. But - if I could only pick one thing, it would be a big ol' bag of cotton candy - the blue and white kind they sell at Mickey and the Magical Map. I know it's not unique or particularly special - but I grew up for the most part only eating cotton candy at Disney and to me it's just synonymous with the Happiest Place on Earth!

This cotton candy looks like a cloud!

Hands down my favorite sweet treat at the Disneyland Resort is the churro.  The Disneyland Resort's churros are warm, crispy, and cinnamon-sugary sweet.  Churros are a great on the go snack and lately we've also been enjoying them as a light breakfast during Extra Magic Hours.  

Kids + churros = smiles

There are few things in life better than a Dole Whip or Dole Whip Float. Depending on the day (and the heat), I would choose one of these two as my favorite sweet treats at the Disneyland Resort. They are unique, refreshing, and complete the Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room experience. Mr. Daps is the publisher of DAPS Magic, Geeks' Corner and much, much more. Check him out by clicking here.

My go-to sweet treat is actually a combination of sweet and savory - the Cream Cheese Pretzel.  I love the balance of sweet cream cheese inside the doughy pretzel.  You can find this pretzel at a cart outside Star Traders in Tomorrowland, Refreshment Corner on Main Street, or at multiple locations in Disney California Adventure.  However, on an extremely hot day - Dole Whip Floats win, hands down!

What is your go-to favorite sweet treat? Is it one of our favorites? Please leave us a comment below and let us know.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Terrific Tip Tuesday: Which shows and attractions are best when it's crowded?

Visiting the Disneyland Resort when it's busy doesn't have to be a bummer. Throughout the years, my family and I have developed a list of low-wait and no-wait attractions and shows that we frequent when the lines are long.
  • The Main Street Vehicles
  • The Enchanted Tiki Room
  • The Jungle Cruise
  • The Mark Twain Riverboat / Columbia Sailing Ship
  • King Arthur's Carousel
  • The rafts to Tom Sawyer Island and then play on the island
  • Playing in Mickey's Toontown at Goofy's, Donald's and the area with the mailboxes.
  • Big Thunder Ranch to see the animals (varies depending upon the time of year). During the holidays, the kiddos can visit Santa.
  • The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Innoventions
  • Disneyland Railroad
  • Parades (vary depending upon the time of year). The best viewing spot on crowded days is in front of the Disneyland Opera House at Town Square.

Disney California Adventure Park:
  • Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
  • King Triton's Carousel
  • All of the attractions in the Animation building: Turtle Talk with Crush, Sorcerer's Workshop, and the Animation Academy
  • Boardwalk Games
  • Disney's Aladdin - A Musical Spectacular
  • Disney Junior - Live on Stage!
  • Blue Sky Cellar (when available)
  • Muppet Vision 3D 
  • Princess Dot Puddle Park (during the summer)
  • Mad T Party (if the kids are actually up that late!)
Also don't forget to utilize FASTPASS and Rider Swap. If you are looking for characters, head over to Disney California Adventure Park where the wait to take a picture with your favorite star isn't quite as long.

What are your go-to activities when the Resort is busy?

Disney at Home: Disney's Grand Californian Apple Crisp Recipe

Question: How long has it been since we (yes, you and me) tried a new Disneyland recipe?

Answer: TOO LONG! Right?!
Hope that's not too cheesy for you, but seriously it's been months and months since my last foray into Disney baking! I had used up all of the recipes I had got from City Hall on Main Street in Disneyland, but thanks to the Disney Parks Blog I'm back with another phenomenal tested recipe to share. This one is technically from the Grand Californian, but Disney is Disney, right? Their apple crisp is a simple, yet quite impressive dessert that is perfect for celebrating fall! 

Disney's Grand Californian Apple Crisp

Ingredients: serves 6 (small portions)

    Apple Filling-
  • 1 1/2 lbs. -approx. 5- crisp apples (such as Fuji or Braeburn)
  • 3 tbl. unsalted butter
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. fresh lemon juice -approx 2.5 lemons- 
  • 2 tbl. Calvados (apple brandy)
  • I had way more apples and lemons than necessary
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch

    Crumble Topping-
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. oats
  • 1/4 c. chopped pecans
  • 1/4 c. shredded coconut
  • 3 tbl. unsalted butter, melted


    For crumble topping-
Perfectly golden brown
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, oats, pecans, and coconut in a large bowl; stir until well combined. 
  • Slowly add melted butter to the bowl, stirring to incorporate.
  • Pour mixture onto an un-greased cookie sheet, breaking up large clumps with your fingers. 
  • Bake 10-14 minutes, or until golden brown. 
  • Set aside to cool slightly; break up any remaining big pieces to achieve a crumbly consistency.
    For apple filling- (while crumble is baking) 
  • Peel apples and cut into 1/4 inch dice. Set aside.
  • Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium heat; add sugar, and stir about 2 minutes or until sugar melts.
  • Add diced apples and cook about 3 minutes or until apples just begin to soften. 
  • Combine lemon juice, Calvados, and cornstarch in a small bowl; stir until cornstarch is dissolved.
  • Add lemon juice mixture to the pan, and cook about 4 minutes, stirring until juice thickens. 
  • Spoon warm apple filling into serving dish and sprinkle with crumble topping.
  • Serve with a scoop of ice cream on the side.   

Baking Notes
  • I added a little more butter to the crumble topping as well as the filling because neither were quite wet enough.
  • I did not have/use any Calvados, so I added a little vanilla (maybe a 1/2 tsp.) in it's place.
  • My husband can't stand coconut, so I did not use that either (but I love coconut, and can only imagine how good it would've been) - instead I replaced it with an extra 1/4 cup of pecans. 
  • In my opinion, the crumble topping is not proportional to the amount of apple filling. I think you could double the filling and it would be about right. 
  • I wonder what a little cinnamon would do this... I bet it would be good (not that I missed it)!

Outcome & Opinion
I wanted to stick with the "easy" in this recipe, so I skipped making the manchego cheese ice cream (but it sounds crazy good!) and just topped my apple crisp with some regular vanilla. We almost didn't use any ice cream at all, but the crisp is so sweet and the apples so warm and slightly tart that the cool, fresh ice cream was almost necessary. Friends - I must admit, I don't even like desserts with cooked apples (yes, that includes apple pie, and no I'm not un-American). But this was just so, so, sooooo good - I loved it! It's quite rich, and even with lunch or dinner that day I couldn't eat my full serving (shown in the pictures). So although I was dubious that the recipe would produce 6 servings, I now understand that they are small servings because that's really all you need! I would whole-heartedly recommend this recipe to anyone! It's a little time-consuming with preparing the apples, but very simple to do. Happy fall ya'll!

Here is the link to the full recipe and video on Disney Parks Blog. If you try the ice cream, let me know how it turns out!

Read more from Jessica on her blog, Idahome. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, or on Instagram.