If you look closely at the shirt I wore to Disneyland, it says “Chasing the Fun.” Turkey and Bunny said it should have read “Chasing the Characters,” because apparently that’s what I do best when we go to theme parks!
Here’s a round-up of the characters we met or saw up close at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure (plus Goofy’s Kitchen)….my personal highlights were meeting Donald Duck, and also getting to see Goofy in his snazzy green suit! Also, since I was wearing a birthday celebration pin, many of the characters either said “Happy Birthday!” to me (like Lightning McQueen), or pantomimed it in some way (like Minnie Mouse).
Not pictured, but also seen by us include Peter Pan and Wendy, Captain Hook, the other chipmunk, Mirabel, Pinocchio and Geppetto, Sadness and Joy, Snow White, the Evil Queen, Ant-Man, Thor, Merida, Mr. and Mrs. Incredible, the Dora Milaje, Mary and Bert, Chewbacca, Rey, Mulan, and Clarabelle Cow. I think that’s pretty impressive for just two days in the parks!
I love the two Walt and Mickey statues at the two California Disney parks! The Partners statue in front of the castle is obviously the most well-known (and is replicated at other Disney Parks), but the statue at Disney California Adventure, featuring a much-younger Walt, is also charming!
I am so glad that our trip to Disneyland was this year, while they’re celebrating “100 Years of Wonder” (100 years since the founding of the Disney Brothers Studio, which we know today as The Walt Disney Company)…like the “World’s Most Magical Celebration” that celebrated 50 years of Walt Disney World last year, there are special touches all around the park marking this illustrious occasion. And like the Cinderella Castle at Disney World, one of the best places to see the decorations is on the Sleeping Beauty castle, where they’ve added not just a banner and the signature medallion, but also Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather, plus a beautiful star:
Here’s a look at some of the other embellishments, from displays in the shops to a redecorated monorail, characters in special costumes, and even limited-edition souvenirs:
The Disneyland entrance outside of the train station has also been upgraded for the occasion, where the famous floral Mickey Mouse head has been redone in the color scheme for 100 Years of Wonder:
I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to attend this celebration, and so soon after I was at Disney World for their anniversary, too! It is more than I ever imagined I’d be able to do!
We saved Disneyland for our second (and final) theme park…seeing the train station for the first time was just as much of a thrill as it was at Disney World!
We got to watch the welcome show that is held on the steps leading up to the station when the park opens. The characters (minus Donald and Daisy, sadly), were all were their beautiful Disney 100 costumes!
We decided to take care of two things at once, and rode the Disneyland Railroad (something I really wanted to do since its Disney World counterpart was closed last summer) to the back of the park (where we wanted to get coffee).
What I didn’t realize is that station was practically on top of “It’s a Small World!” So we rode that first thing, and I loved it (of course)!
We then made our way to the Alice in Wonderland area, where not only do they have the teacups (a different experience because in California, they’re fully out in the open), but a second Alice-themed ride as well. And we ran into Alice herself, plus, the Mad Hatter!
We also visited New Orleans, home of the Haunted Mansion and beignets, and also Princess Tiana!
We wanted to make sure we saw the Sword in the Stone and the Wishing Well, since we missed both of those things at Disney World. Sadly, none of us was worthy to remove the sword, but we did all get to make a wish!
We were lucky that the “Star Wars Month” events were still going on while we were, and Turkey and Bunny got to ride “Hyperspace Mountain.” While they did that, I walked around and took some pictures of the castle (and let a Disney photographer take a photo of me!). Not as grand as the Cinderella Castle, but still lovely!
We walked back to the castle when they were done, and I found someone to take our picture:
The Disney photographers also got some nice pictures of the three of us:
And then we headed over to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. I’m pretty sure there are some minor differences, but it felt pretty much the same as the Disney World version! We got to have ronto wraps for lunch, and do some shopping and sightseeing.
One of the things Turkey and Bunny were most looking forward to, though, was having another lightsaber building experience at Savi’s Workshop (especially since they updated the parts since last summer). It was pretty cool to just get to be an observer this time, and watch other people do the work!
We didn’t see the Mandalorian and The Child, but we did get to meet Boba Fett!
We didn’t get to go on Rise of the Resistance because it was either shut down or the line was two hours long or it closed early (that was probably the biggest regret of the whole trip), but we did go on Smuggler’s Run…I got to blow things up!
After that, we walked through Downtown Disney on our way to dinner. Of course we had to stop at the Lego Store and admire their creations:
I really like this beautiful floral display:
And then we went to the Disneyland hotel to have dinner at Goofy’s Kitchen…it was so much fun! (Full details to come…)
After our meal, we hopped on the monorail to get back to the park:
We rode Star Tours (always a fun experience), and then went in search of Dole Whips:
We were barely able to find a place to view the fireworks…the crowd was massive!
The park is open for a couple of hours after the fireworks, so we had time for a few more things. We were three minutes late for Rise of the Resistance, so we headed toward Runaway Railway, instead. I love how the line is set up like a museum dedicated to Mickey Mouse!
After that, Turkey and Bunny decided to ride the Matterhorn while I took care of what was left of our shopping, and took some more pictures:
We rode the teacups one more time, and even managed to get on Dumbo the Flying Elephant.
We shut the park down (which I would somewhat regret the next day), and didn’t get back to our hotel until about 12:30. It was really hard to get to sleep after all that excitement and knowing we had a full day of travel ahead of us!
The real fun began on the second day of our trip, when we walked from our hotel to Disney California Adventure!
We stopped by Radiator Springs first thing, only to find out that our number one ride opens late. We did get to see some characters, though, and Lightning McQueen wished me a happy birthday! (Since we were also celebrating my birthday on the trip, I got one of the park’s “Happy Birthday” buttons…you would not believe how many cast members notice and congratulate you!)
After that, we headed over to Pixar Pier, where we got to ride an eccentric ferris wheel (I think there are only two like it in the country!), a carousel, and a roller coaster (OK, only Turkey went on that). We also met some characters from Up!
After Turkey got off the roller coaster, we headed over to Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats, where we go the “Pixar Parfait.” The combination of soft serve and slushy was surprisingly good!
Then we headed back to Radiator Springs, were we got in line for Radiator Springs Racers, a ride we all wanted to go on. The line was long, but you really felt like you were in the movie, so we didn’t mind, because there was a lot to see (and a lot of back story explained). The ride itself started off very calm and relaxing, just like when Lightning and Sally went for the same drive in Cars, but then it turned into a race (we won!).
We also went on Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters, which was just plain fun!
We stopped by Flo’s to share a traditional diner meal of a burger, fries, and a milkshake:
Then we headed back to Pixar Pier. We went on the Little Mermaid ride (but sadly not Goofy’s Sky School, because it was closed all day), but more importantly, we found someone nice enough to take a great picture of us!
Buena Vista Street is a great place to find characters (sadly for me, no Daisy Duck), and we took full advantage:
We spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to do after that. The Monsters, Inc. ride broke down while we were in line. A few of the other rides we were considering going on were closed, too. We did finally make it on Soarin’, which is a fantastic ride, and makes amazing use of scent, and that was a lot of fun. We also visited the Avengers Campus and the Shawarma Palace, and lived out our superhero dreams…we even got to pose as various characters!
By that time, it was starting to get late, so we headed back to Radiator Springs to see the neon and grab a snack at the Cozy Cone Motel, where you can get ice cream cones, chili “cone” queso, frozen cone-coctions, a popcone, and…churros. We picked the churros, partly just because the ridiculousness of trying to make churros fit a cone theme amused us!
And then we went back to the pier for the light show, which was really beautiful…it’s amazing what they can create with light and water!
We stayed pretty much until the park closed. The walk back to the hotel felt much longer than it had in the morning, and we were exhausted, but we still had a full day at Disneyland to look forward to!
While Bunny did add some pillar type things to the Lego Disney Castle this morning (you can see some of them in the background), the most important addition to our Lego project for Advent was none other than Mickey Mouse himself!
For our final Disney Dinner of the summer, I didn’t use any of my cookbooks…instead I turned to the internet, where I first found a copycat recipe for violet lemonade like they serve at the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival, something we were able to attend on our trip. The drink had a lovely floral quality, and was such a pretty color!
The Disney Parks Blog had a recipe for Totchos as served at Woody’s Lunch Box in Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The recipe included a simple, thick chili as a topper, and while it wasn’t my famous three-meat chili, it is perfect for things like totchos, hot dogs, and baked potatoes, so I’ll probably make it again!
For dessert, we had classic but simple Mickey Mouse cupcakes with Oreo ears! I know I saw a picture of this idea online somewhere, but it’s not like you need a recipe to make it happen.
While we’ll continue making recipes from our Disney cookbooks (we’re already looking forward to getting The Official Disney Parks Cookbook, a companion volume to Delicious Disney, when it comes out next year!), there was something really special about this summer of Disney Dinners that I’m really going to miss!
The first time we had just Disney drinks and dessert, it was because the dinner I had made to go with them was a failure. This time, I made just drinks and dessert just for fun! The Lava Smoothie from Leaping Horse Libations at Disney’s BoardWalk Villas tasted like the tropics in a glass!
And because we just haven’t had enough Mickey Mouse-shaped food, I made Mickey Mouse Rick Krispie treats that were extra special because they were topped with white chocolate and m&ms!
This was a fun way to sneak a few more Disney-themed items into our summer!
Our tenth Disney Dinner was all about taking a second chance on the rib recipe that didn’t turn out earlier in the summer, but before we get to that, a drink I put a lot of effort into coming up with, the Frozen Sunshine from Disney’s Beach Club Resort. The more Disney Dinners we had, the harder it was to find drink recipes that didn’t include alcohol, or that could at least have the alcohol substituted out. I went through pretty much all of the recipes in our cookbooks, so I turned to the internet for copycat recipes, which is where I found this Creamsicle in a cup!
I was still upset about the “Disney Disaster” we had previously, so I gave the hoisin chili sticky ribs from Delicious Disney based on Chef Morimoto’s recipe from his restaurant at Disney Springs, Morimoto Asia, another shot, substituting baby back ribs for spare ribs. They were perfect…definitely the best ribs I’ve ever made!
For dessert, we had Mickey Mouse-shaped beignets with lavender sugar. Can you have too many Mickey-shaped treats?!?
This was a fun meal, and I really enjoyed the redemption when making the ribs!
I’m not sure that I’ve ever purchased an accessory inspired by architecture before, but this Loungefly Disney Contemporary Resort handbag certainly is!
I love that the bag has the a-line shape of the main building of the resort, plus a whimsical print that combines Mickey and Minnie with mid-century details (the perfect reflection of the resort, which is also celebrating an anniversary this year!). And if you look closely, you’ll notice that the handle is in the shape of the monorail that travels through the building!