Thursday, December 18, 2014

Big changes coming to Babes In Disneyland!

Babes In Disneyland is one of the oldest Disney blogs on the internet and it's due time for some changes. In order to make our site more user friendly (and pretty), we are transitioning away from Blogger to Wordpress within the next week or two.

What does the new blog platform mean for readers?
The new blog will be much easier to navigate with cool drop down menus and the like. We will have a fancy new slider with featured posts at the top and, quite frankly, it's so cheerful that you won't be able to read it without smiling.

Perhaps the biggest change is for those of you who subscribe to our blog via email. Once we move over we will be using a new service for email subscriptions, which means you will need to sign up again if you would like to continue having the blog sent to your inbox daily.

Our URL will stay the same and our RSS feed will also stay the same.

A slow down in posts
Once the transition begins within the next week or so, we will stop posting for a few days in order to let our incredible designer work her magic. During that time, we will continue to post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. We have some fun videos coming your way, so be sure to follow us so that you learn about them as they publish.

All of us at Babes In Disneyland are super excited for this big change and appreciate your patience during the transition process and while we are working out any bugs after we've moved to our new home.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2014 Holiday Season Guide for the Disneyland Resort: Everything families need to know!

Is there anything more lovely than holiday time at the Disneyland Resort? If you will be heading to the resort for the 2014 holiday season or are thinking about planning a trip, here's what you need to know! 

We all love the rides at the Disneyland Resort and during holiday time, three rides get a major makeover to make them extra festive! The Jungle Cruise becomes the Jingle Cruise, "it's a small world" transforms into "it's a small world" Holiday and Haunted Mansion becomes Haunted Mansion Holiday--themed after the Nightmare Before Christmas.

Experience the Jingle Cruise below! If you went on it last year, rest assured they did WAY more theming this year! It is so much fun... and there is so much fruit cake!

Experience the merriest cruise that has ever sailed, "it's a small world" Holiday below! This is my favorite attraction at holiday time. I simply adore it... and yes, I love the music too!

One of the most popular attractions at Christmas and Halloween is the transformed Haunted Mansion. It is truly incredible and Nightmare Before Christmas fans flock to it year after year. Learn more about the attraction by clicking here.

The holiday entertainment at the Disneyland Resort cannot be missed. My favorite is "A Christmas Fantasy" parade, while pther guests love Believe in Holiday Magic Fireworks, the twinkling transformation of Sleeping Beauty's Winter Castle and World of Color Winter Dreams. Any way you slice it, there is something for everyone--even carolers and characters dressed in their holiday best! Learn more about all of the holiday entertainment fun below:

Our friends over at DAPS Magic have put together these beautiful videos of World of Color Winter Dreams. 

Learn "A Christmas Fantasy" parade viewing tips and see photos of this year's parade by clicking here!

YUM! The incredible food offered at the Disneyland Resort this time of year is absolutely amazing. My favorite are the gingerbread "shingles." My mouth waters just thinking about them! While I could tell you about all of the sweet treats, this videos shows you in a way I can't in words. I only wish it was in "smell-o-vision!"

One of the most popular food items during the holiday season are the handmade candy canes. Guests line up first thing in the morning to become eligible to by them! Learn more about the candy canes and when and where you can purchase them by clicking here.

Yes! You and your kiddos can meet Santa at the Disneyland Resort through December 24! I had the distinct honor of interviewing the big guy! Daily he can be found a the Jingle Jangle Jamboree in Disneyland Park, on Buena Vista Street at Elias and Company in Disney California Adventure Park, in "A Christmas Fantasy" parade at Disneyland and he can even sometimes be found at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa!

Do you like to shop 'til you drop at the Disneyland Resort? I do! If you are looking for the best stores to shop for holiday gifts and treasures, in Disneyland I recommend the China Closet and Emporium. Click here for some of the notable items that hit store shelves in December.

Other Great Guest Experiences
There are other incredible guest experiences that are not to be missed.
  • Want to learn about what goes into preparing the Disneyland Resort for holiday and to learn more about the specially-themed attractions (without waiting in line for them)? The Holiday Time guided tour might just be the perfect addition to your vacation. In addition to FASTPASS entry to several attraction, the tour includes special treats and reserved parade viewing. Click here to get all of the details on the tour!
  • Held at Big Thunder Ranch in Disneyland Park, the Jingle Jangle Jamboree is fun for the entire family! Guests of all ages can enjoy a holiday-themed show, meet Santa and classic Disney characters dressed in their holiday best, make crafts, decorate gingerbread cookies and much more! The Jamboree is usually only open during the day, so be sure to refer to the show schedule available at the main entrance the day of your visit.
  • In Disney California Adventure Park, “Disney ¡Viva Navidad!” at Paradise Gardens is the place to be for great food and lots of fun. It is a daily celebration inspired by the warmth and joyous spirit of Latino culture and holiday traditions, with festive music and dancing, vibrant colors, delicious food, Disney character appearances and the lively “Disney Viva Navidad! Street Party.”  Learn 4 great reasons why you MUST visit ¡Viva Navidad! by clicking here.
Disney chefs creating the gingerbread replica of the Disney's Grand Californian in the hotel's lobby.
  • Downtown Disney and Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa offer a lot of really wonderful holiday experiences for guests looking to add a little magic to their Disneyland trip outside of the parks for those who want a little Disney magic without the cost of theme park admission. 

Do you have a question about holiday time at the Disneyland Resort? Ask us on our Facebook page and we will answer it in an upcoming blog post!

Disneyland hosted my family for a special media weekend so that I could write in more detail about all of the wonderful holiday experiences at the Resort. All opinions are honest and my own and may differ from those of others.

Disneyland Resort Holiday Guided Tour Review

When my friend Mindy asked if she could do a guest post on Babes In Disneyland on her recent experience taking the Holiday Time guided tour at Disneyland, I was thrilled! Thank you, Mindy!

Hi, my name is Mindy from Budget Fairy Tale, and I'm so excited to be here on Babes In Disneyland to give you all a glimpse of what you can expect from the Holiday Time Tour at Disneyland! I had the great pleasure of experiencing this tour a couple weeks ago and I really enjoyed it. If you're on the fence about taking the tour, I hope my recap helps you!

The Holiday Time at Disneyland Tour begins at the Disneyland Tour Gardens area between City Hall and the west park entrance. It is recommended to check in 30 minutes before your tour starts, as there will likely be a lot of people to check in! We had 15 guests in our group, but there were 2 or 3 more groups also taking the tour (each tour with a different guide). 

After getting situated with our name buttons and personal audio system, our guide Michelle gave us a brief introduction before leading us out of Disneyland and into Disney California Adventure. We spent some time admiring the holiday decor on Buena Vista Street, learning about the gorgeous Christmas tree near Carthay Circle, and stopping at Trolley Treats for a yummy snack! 

Next we headed back into Disneyland and we learned how the massive Christmas tree on Main Street, USA is constructed each year. After heading down Main Street and stopping to admire the decor and snow on Sleeping Beauty's Castle, we went on our first ride - Jingle Cruise! In my opinion, the best part of the tour was being able to walk right on the rides! So V.I.P.! I remember being a little let down by the Jungle/Jingle Cruise transformation last year (the first year for this overlay) but they certainly stepped it up this year! There is a lot more decor now, and even more holiday themed jokes and puns. I loved it! Right after Jingle Cruise we experienced our second attraction - Haunted Mansion Holiday. While we walked between attractions, we listened to trivia and "fun facts" from Michelle, as well as faint holiday music. We were never short on information or entertainment! 

From here we walked around behind Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and had a 10-minute "comfort break" by the restrooms next to Village Haus in Fantasyland. You can probably guess where we were headed next... the merriest cruise on earth! After a brief introduction by Michelle, we were led to the front of the line for "it's a small world" Holiday! Personally this is my favorite holiday attraction at Disneyland and it was so cool to walk right on. As an added bonus, as soon as we got off the ride, we heard the announcement that the lights were about to turn on! We had the perfect viewing spot. Seeing the facade of "it's a small world" light up never fails to bring a tear to my eye. It's so stunning!  

Right after exiting from "it's a small world" Holiday, Michelle led us to our preferred parade viewing section (with chairs!) adjacent from the attraction. You usually have

to wait 
two or three hours for a spot like this! We waited about 30 minutes before the parade finally reached us, and while we waited we received a special Holiday Time Tour pin, a yummy Mickey Mouse gingerbread cookie, and some hot chocolate in a Holiday Time tumbler, which we got to keep! Michelle also offered to take photos of us with "it's a small world" in the background, and she also showed us some pictures from a book highlighting the holidays at Disneyland throughout the years. The wait flew by and soon the parade was rounding the corner! The "A Christmas Fantasy" parade is my favorite Disneyland parade. I have always loved the ballerina at the beginning because I had a ballerina jewelry box as a little girl and seeing the ballerina instantly takes me back. And of course, who can resist Santa? I'm not sure if it was because we were in the "preferred" seating or simply because we were in the front row, but we received a lot of attention from the performers. It was really wonderful!

Overall I really enjoyed the Holiday Time at Disneyland tour and would recommend it for anyone who wants to get a little behind-the-scenes info about all the effort that goes into transforming the parks for the Christmas season. I will say I think very young children would be a little bored during certain parts of this tour. We had a 6- or 7-year-old adorable girl in our group and while she was well behaved, she was clearly bored out of her mind whenever we stopped to listen to Michelle. But for older kids, teens, and adults, the tour is a great way to see all of the spectacular holiday attractions without waiting in queues! 

 The Holiday Time at Disneyland Tour is offered up to six times per day, on select days, through January 6, 2015. The price is $80 for adults and Annual Passholders can save 20% off the regular price for up to six guests per pass. Keep in mind this tour price is in addition to the cost of regular theme park admission. The tour also involves a lot of walking and spending time on your feet, so plan ahead if anyone in your group has mobility issues. You may visit the official Holiday Time at Disneyland Tour website for additional information and tour availability. Call (714) 781-TOUR (8687) to make reservations. 

I want to thank Lisa and everyone at Babes In Disneyland for having me visit today! I would love if you also stopped by my blog and said "hi!" Budget Fairy Tale features musings about my life as a regular girl trying to live the fairy tale lifestyle. Budget Fairy Tale also features Disneyland weddings (including our own!), Disneyland news, DIY projects, style posts, pictures of my cat Vela, and whatever else I think is interesting at the moment.

4 Great Reasons to Visit ¡Viva Navidad! at Disney California Adventure

Today I am thrilled to feature a guest post by one of our long-time readers, Caryn Burroughs. When I saw all of her personal posts about her love for ¡Viva Navidad!, I knew we just had to ask her to write a guest post about it! Thank you, Caryn!!!

One of my favorite holiday attractions at Disneyland during this time of year is the ¡Viva Navidad! celebration. My family has spent significant time taking in this special event already this season and will certainly make sure to stop by again before it goes away after January 6th. If you haven’t had a chance to head over to the Paradise Garden area of Disney California Adventure to check it out, here are four great reasons to go.

1. The ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party - For me, this show is one of my absolute favorites at the Disney Parks. The Three Caballeros are the stars of this show full of dancing and live music with from both Mexico and Brazil. On one visit recently my three year old got to play alongside one of the samba drummers. The costumes are colorful, the music is festive and you can’t help but dance as you watch. Mickey and Minnie are a part of this show too!

A tip for a great viewing spot: Try to stand near Bayside Brews facing the Paradise Garden Grill and you’ll be right up front in the middle of the show. Dancers and musicians face both directions but the float faces Bayside Brews. The party stretches from approximately Silly Symphony Swings to the end of the Paradise Garden area.

2. The food! - There is a special menu for ¡Viva Navidad! over at the Paradise Garden Grill. Our family favorites include the Sopes De Barbacoa and the Street Style Tacos. Both are served with rice and chips. My husband would make a special trip over to this area just for the ceviche too. Our picky eater loves grabbing a Kids Power Pack over this way though they also serve a cheese quesadilla.
Street-style tacos at Paradise Garden Grill.

3. Character Meet and Greet –
For me, it’s so fun having a 
chance to see Mickey and the gang dress up in different outfits and what they wear for the ¡Viva Navidad! Meet and Greet is so fun. Over in the Paradise Garden Grill area there is a gazebo all decked out for Christmas where you can see Mickey and Minnie together, The Three Caballeros plus Goofy whose shoes are decorated with real maracas!

4. Live Bands – While you’re enjoying a meal or snack over at the Paradise Garden Grill you are also treated to more live music. Several groups come in and play at the bandstand. We’ve heard a couple different Latin groups so far. Jack loves to dance alongside of them and shake his maracas. 

We still need to go back and check out the crafts and do some more shopping. My husband picked up a great ¡Viva Navidad t-shirt and Jack got a new pair of maracas. I have my eye on a couple Christmas ornaments that I think I need to pick up before Christmas. 

Someone asked me recently what it was overall that I loved about this event so much. “Feliz Navidad” is my all-time favorite Christmas song. The Disneyland Resort brought this song to life in vivid, festive color with my favorite Disney characters leading the party. How could I resist?

You can celebrate the holidays with ¡Viva Navidad! at California Adventure daily from 11:00am to 7:00pm through January 6th. January 2nd through the 6th additional treats, activities and displays to celebrate Three Kings Day (Día de los Reyes) will also be available. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pictopia Disney Edition: A must for every Disney family!

As a game-loving family we were thrilled when Wonder Forge asked us to review their game Pictopica Disney Edition. We had a blast playing as a family and recommend this game for ages 7 and older. That being said, although game play may be too difficult for younger children, our 4-year-old was able to answer a lot of the questions and worked with me to play and got really wrapped up in the fun.

In this trivia games, players take turns being the host and asking the questions. Other
players "wager" coins valued 1 to 5 (spaces on the board) based on how well they think they know the images on the card shown to them. Those images depict possible answers to the question that may be asked. Sometimes players answer questions on their own and other times they work as a team. Players who answer correctly advance their game token toward the finish.

Here's what I love about the game:
  • The questions were fun and encompassed a wide variety of Disney entertainment properties. They weren't too difficult for my kids but not so easy that there wasn't a bit of drama.
  • I love how Wonder Forge's games include team work. Their Star Wars Rebel Missions game is all about team work and I think games like this are a lot of fun for families--especially siblings who can often be competitive with one another.
  • The game is very well constructed with durable pieces, cards and game tokens.
  • The game didn't take us that long to play--and with little kids, long games like Monopoly and Life can be a bit much for family game night.
  • There are more questions than I can count and I can't imagine ever repeating a question during the times we will be playing in the future!
Pictopia-Family Trivia Game: Disney Edition is available on Amazon and a variety of other retailers like Target, Toys R Us and Walmart! If you are trying to figure out what to get the Disney trivia buff in your family for the holidays, this is the gift to grab now!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Holiday Gift Picks 2014: Star Wars Force Grab and Star Wars Rebel Missions Games by Wonder Forge (video reviews and how-to)

To say we are a game family would be an understatement. In fact, my husband creates games and challenges for television shows, which I suppose makes him an expert. When we were contacted by the company Wonder Forge to try out some of their games, we jumped at the chance.

My kids and I recently tried out two of their Star Wars games: Star Wars Force Grab Game and Star Wars Rebel Missions. We had a lot of fun playing them and I think you and your kids will too.

My son Aidan explains Star Wars Force Grab is a super simple game my kids (ages 4, 7 and 9) have been playing together and having a blast. Because of its simplicity, they are able to play without an adult and even have made their own variations. While I could post tons of photos and descriptions of the game, I thought it would be best to shoot a video explaining how it works and why my 9-year-old loves it.

The other game we reviewed is Star Wars Rebel Missions. This game is quite a bit more complex and really requires an adult to sit down and read over the instructions very carefully. It isn't like a tradition game in that everyone playing is working together to complete "a mission" before the time is up. It is really great for team building and teaching kids who to strategize and prioritize as they play. After we got the hang of it, my 9-year-old and I had a BLAST playing it. We got really wrapped up in it.

Here's how to play and my 9-year-old's thoughts on the game.

If you have kids who love Star Wars, these games are a blast and should be put on Santa's list. They can be purchased at a variety of retailers, including Amazon.

These games were supplied to me for free so that I can review them. The opinions expressed here are those belong to me and my family. They may differ from the opinions of others.

Fun Fact Friday: Walt Disney and the Sport of Kings

Walt Disney playing polo (on the right).
Photo credit:
Walt Disney was many things--an artist, a shrewd business man, a train enthusiast. What you may be surprised to learn is that Walt was also a polo fan. In the 1920s and 1930s, polo was a very popular sport in America, and Walt Disney was known to play polo with Hollywood's elite, including the likes of Spencer Tracy, Will Rogers, and Clark Gable. Although said to not be the most coordinated athlete, Walt was highly competitive and indulged in his love of the game until he sustained a neck injury.

The Disney animated short, Mickey's Polo Team (1936) was inspired by Walt's love of polo. Watch for his celebrity friends in the cartoon!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

2014 "A Christmas Fantasy" parade viewing tips and photos of additions and changes

It isn't the Christmas season for me until I see "A Christmas Fantasy" parade at Disneyland. Seeing those familiar floats make their way down the Magic Kingdom's parade route really gets me motivated to start celebrating the magic of the season.

The opening music box float is back
for 2014.
One of the most frequent questions I get about the parade is where to sit. Typically, parade seating on Main Street and Central Plaza is typically most crowded and last minute seats can often be found in Town Square or near "it's a small world." If you want a "front row seat" (i.e. no heads in front of you), you definitely need to get there at least 30 minutes before parade time. I know 30 minutes seems like a long time, but I like to think of it as time to recharge our batteries by resting our feet and nibbling on a snack, like the soups in to-go cups now served at Jolly Holiday Bakery, a churro from one of the many outdoor vending carts along the parade route or, if you are really starving, a dinner-to-go from the Corn Dog Cart or Stage Door Cafe.

If you are a shutterbug, be very mindful of where you sit for the parade. I almost always forget to take the lighting into consideration and end up dealing with spotted shade, back light or flood lights shining right into my lens at night.

Anyway, back to the action. This year's parade has some big changes and old favorites. First for the old favorites.

It wouldn't be "A Christmas Fantasy" parade without the toy soldiers, and of course Woody and Buzz are back this year on their toy-themed floats, as are all Pinocchio, Gheppeto and Jiminy Cricket.

 The princess unit is always a show stopper and so incredibly beautiful.

Santa is, as always, preceded by his dancing reindeer.

There aren't too many "A Christmas Fantasy" changes, and to the casual guest, they shouldn't be too noticeable. If you are a mega fan like me, however, who sings the parade theme song year round... well... you'll notice.

Mickey and Minnie no longer skate in the parade. Instead, they share a toy-covered float with Duffy and Donald and Daisy. Their snow-capped float from years passed now belongs to Elsa, Anna and Olaf. With this change, also gone are the rollerskating snowflake girls, one of my favorites in years gone by. While I love all of the changes, this change is very disappointing. There are still gals dressed in white on roller-skates leading the float--just no big snowflakes on their backs.

This is just a sampling of what you'll see in this year's parade! Do you have a question about holiday time at the Disneyland Resort? Leave your question below or over on our Facebook page and we will answer it in an upcoming Holiday Q&A post!