Archive for the ‘Adventures of a Lost Boy’ Category

Adventures of a Lost Boy in Disneyland (Part 15): World of Color

I know some of you are saying “but wait, you have already talked about World of Color on the blog before!” (yay, you remembered!) but after actually seeing the show in person, there are so many things I want to say about it that it really necessitated another post. Also, that last post was somewhat asinine.

When we got to the viewing platform to see the show, I knew that I was in for something special, as plenty of videos of the show had been viewed already, but there was definitely not any expectations as to how I reacted to the show. One thing that surprisedme actually happened before World of Color even started. Mickey’s Fun Wheel is oddly entrancing to watch at night. The lights that run all up and down it are constantly moving in different patterns and changing colours, sometimes being all one solid colour, or maybe all warm or cool ones, or just random combinations of everything. It definitely helps set the mood for what is to come, but no matter how much preparation I had or Disney gave me, the show left me completely speechless throughout and I had to constantly remind myself that breathing is something somewhat important to being alive. The sheer beauty and majesty of the show brought a single tear to my eye and honestly, I am not ashamed to admit that. World of Color is that good of a show.

Videos do not do this show justice whatsoever. The show had me taken aback by the sheer size of it, the effect of the show is almost like seeing a real IMAX film, it literally covers your entire field of vision. The viewing platform is right up against Paradise Bay and the fountains cover almost the entirety of said body of water, not only that, but the lights around the Paradise Pier (especially the ones on Mickey’s Fun Wheel) are used as parts of the show. It is almost a 360 degree experience and it can definitely be a sensory overload. The close proximity to the show ends up making the experience supremely personal with mist from the fountains hitting your face (which feels great on some warm California evenings) and forces you to feel the heat of fire (a la Fantasmic across the way) when they erupt (and feels distinctly less awesome on warm California evenings).

Unfortunately for me, the section that I was most excited to see (“Firebird Suite”/”Hellfire” and “Night on Bald Mountain”) was excised from the show in order to extend the Pirates of the Caribbean section to include footage from On Stranger Tides. When this news found it’s way to me (which oddly enough was when I was walking around the San Deigo Zoo), I was crestfallen. The combination of the “Firebird Suite” and “Hellfire” was such a compelling idea, and the music actually worked well together. I thought that the tie-in wasn’t going to work particularly well with the rest of the show and I really wished that they would hav added it to the end of the show like they did for the TRONcore, but as soon as I saw the show, those feelings went away. The expanded segment was very fun to watch and featured one of the best new pieces of music from the film, “Mermaids”, and featured a lot of cool fire effects. Actually, the segment was basically all fire all the time, which was actually rather terrifying. The flames were so incredibly intense that I actually started to sweat a little bit during the show.

There are some rumours floating around the internet that World of Color might be coming to Walt Disney World. When I heard this, my first thought was where would the show go? Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom don’t have bodies of water large enough to hold the show (also Animal Kingdom’s limited hours make having a nighttime show almost impossible except during the winter months) and the only place that the Magic Kingdom could do it would be in the Seven Seas Lagoon outside of the park (which would cause a logistical nightmare). The only park that actually has the necessary elements to run it would be EPCOT on the World Showcase Lagoon, but World of Color doesn’t really fit into the whole theme of World Showcase and would clash with the rest of the park. The answer to where it would be put came with the announcement that Disney was going to rework some of it’s plans for the upcoming redux of Pleasure Island called Hyperion Wharf.

The plans for the area involved new shopping and dining experiences along with an apitheatre-styled park overlooking the water, an area that is conspicuously similar to the Paradise Park viewing area for World of Color at California Adventure. Whether or not this will happen and how it would be implemented remains to be seen, some arm-chair Imagineers have speculated that there might be some sort of additional fee for the show like with the Characters in Flight Balloon that operates off of the body of water, but Disney has done free nighttime shows outside of a park before with the Electrical Water Pageant at the Contemporary.

If you have not seen World of Color and you have the means to get to California Adventure to see it, you definitely should. It is the best nighttime show that Disney has ever put on and is almost guaranteed to be something that is unlike anything you have ever seen before.

There is going to be a hiatus from the weekly Disney related posts until December as I collect data for my next weekly project. This slot will be filled with other content for the rest of the month (probably some posts about the other part of my California trip).

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Adventures of a Lost Boy in Disneyland (Part 14): ElecTRONica

Unfortunately, this is the second to last adventure in Disneyland for my summer trip, but there will be weekly content like this coming after the adventures cease.

I love TRON and TRON: Legacy. Both are fantastic movies, but their park involvement has been exceptionally limited over the years. The original TRON only got a small makeover to a section of the Disneyland PeopleMover when it was released and then it quietly disappeared from the parks and from people’s memories until the sequel was released 28 years later. TRON: Legacy got a bit more shown off with the TRONorail on the EPCOT Monorail line at Walt Disney World and California Adventure got the first full TRON related “attraction” in the form of a nighttime dance party, ElecTRONica.

Glow Fest, the first of these nighttime dance parties, premiered with World of Color on the complete opposite side of the park in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot in order to try to keep portions of guests away from the new nighttime show to make those crowds manageable. The attempt worked, but Glow Fest never really got away from the fact that it essentially was just a psychedelic-themed night club. It wasn’t anything special, but it was a place where people could drink and dance in a Disney park, and the novelty was definitely there and it did keep the entirety of the crowds in California Adventure from descending upon the very small World of Color viewing area every night.

Glow Fest came and went within the same summer as crowds went away during the slow fall season, but it was quickly realized that California Adventure would need something come the busy Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, and there was this new film coming out around that time that was already getting a massive amount of hype and advertising, so why not take the same idea of the surprisingly successful Glow Fest and re-do it with the theme of TRON: Legacy? They ended up doing just that, but turned the idea on it’s head.

Instead of just being a nightclub in the middle of a land, ElecTRONica also involves a lot of extra entertainment. There is still dancing and drinking to be done, but it is broken up with shows by Laserman (which is something that needs to be seen to be believed, it’s sort of like a man fight0-dancing with lasers shooting out of him. It’s really fun to watch), Flynn’s Arcade (with the world’s only operating Space Paranoids game, along with other 80’s arcade games), and a show involving the opening of the Grid for all to enter into the world of TRON. It all adds up for a very entertaining experience.

The biggest thing here is the nightclub section of the party. There is a massive DJ set up that plays mostly electronica and techno (go figure), platforms for Sirens to dance on (which is honestly a sight that I never thought I would have seen at a Disney park), plenty of lasers and lights, and a giant Recognizer that occasionally “scans” everyone on the dance floor. It’s all a very cool idea, and the projections of light cycles running along the buildings are very fun to watch, but I really wish that Disney would have done all of this in one of the empty sound stages in the Backlot area instad of just doing it out in the open. This would have allowed them to have a much larger amount of control over what the area would have looked like rather than just having to assimilate to the structures already there. If this were a permanent attraction, it would have been awesome to see a full replica of the End of Line Club as the dance area rather than a structure that only suggests the club like there is now (it’s where you go to buy your various glowing and absurdly expensive beverages).

ElecTRONica would have been something I would have wanted to see in Pleasure Island at Walt Disney World if it hadn’t closed, it’s a very cool idea, but a more controlled environment would have done the idea more justice. A lot of what I am saying sounds very negative, and it’s not really supposed to be. ElecTRONica was very fun despite the fact that I wasn’t able to spend much time in it, I really don’t want to see it go away in the Spring for the Mad T Party (which is sounding like it’s just going to be another Glow Fest except loosely themed around Alice in Wonderland).

Adventures of a Lost Boy in Disneyland (Part 13): Aladdin: a Musical Spectacular

“Welcome to the Hyperion Theatre, you’re about to embark for the land of the Arabian nights. A land of magic and mystery, a land of no visual lighting, flash photography, cell phones, or pagers, so please do not interrupt our journey with such distractions.”

California Adventure never got the crowds that Disney wanted it to, hence the redoing of the park. When Aladdin: a Musical Spectacular opened in the Hyperion Theatre in 2003, replacing the Blast! show that never really got the audiences to fill the 2000 seat theatre that Disney wanted, it started showing off the future of the park back when the future of the park was completely uncertain. It quickly became the best attraction in the park and developed a substantially large fan base that would see the production every time they went into the park. This fanbase was actually so large that when Disney announced plans to replace the show with Toy Story the Musical from the Disney Cruise Line, there was an overwhelming amount of backlash and Disney put the plans on an indefinite hold.

The show is a 45-minute long Broadway-style retelling of the Aladdin film that manages to cover the story fully in a condensed manner. They did this by shortening the time between major plot points (for instance, Aladdin meets Jasmine and they immediately bump into the palace guards and Aladdin is saved by Jafar in disguise all within a manner of 3 minutes and in one setting). They also removed the character of Abu completely, which was disappointing the first time I saw the show, but it was quickly realized that his character is rather superfluous and it allowed the producers of the show to shorten the story to a manageable point for the actors to perform it 4 times a day.

One of the aspects of the show that makes it very special is the character of the Genie. Most of his lines throughout the show are completely ad-libbed, which makes it so that the consistently pop-culture aware Genie to riff off of current events. Popular topics in the 3 times I saw the show while I was at California Adventure this trip were Lindsay Lohan (“Where’s all my stuff? I had a whole bunch of stuff here and now it’s just rocks. Did Lindsay Lohan take all my stuff too?”), Avatar (“Are you kidding? I’m blue, I have pointy ears! I’m your Avatar!), Pirates of the Caribbean, the Godfather, Star Trek (“There’s no wishing for more wishes, capische? I just can’t do it, captain! I don’t have the power!”), Dr. Phil and the Kardashians (“Just like Dr. Phil, I can’t make someone fall in love with you. I used up all that magic on the Kardashians.”), and the iPhone (“I can’t bring people back from the dead, but if you have an iPhone there’s an app for that!”). Also note that all of these jokes happened between when the Genie first appeared and the beginning of “Friend Like Me.” The actors who play the Genie manage to pull off Robin Williams’ quick-fire machine gun style of comedy perfectly and it really adds a lot to the show. Some of the actors even interact directly with the crow by reacting in humourous ways to their responses.

The best line the Genie got off, though, was “You guys are just like Bella and Edward from Twilight, except you’re not depressing!” There is also a line about Iago being a “Tiki Room reject”, which at this point in time is made even funnier with the Enchanted TIki Room: Under New Management being completely gone.

The music in the show is the music from the film almost to a “t”, with only a few small changes here and there to help the shortened running time flow better. The biggest departure music-wise is the inclusion of a new song written by Alan Menken. The song was written for Jasmine and uses her theme from the movie, “To Be Free” is a surprisingly sad song about how Jasmine has everything in the world at her beck-and-call, but what she really wants is to be free and live her own life. This song really adds to a strengthens the whole theme of being trapped from birth in your life and the desire to become something more.

The sets are the real star of the show here, though. They manage to pull of the over-blown and grand style of old-school Broadway shows perfectly (which will fit perfectly into the 1920’s styling coming to California Adventure in the near future). The sets range from being deceptively simple flat shapes, to exceptionally gaudy light-up stair-cases, to surprisingly convincing giant tiger-headed entrances to certain Cave of Wonders. The sets look very good “up close, but they look even better from Jafar.” The show also uses puppets very well with both Iago, puppets representing different countries in “A Whole New World”, and a giant snake puppet for Jafar’s transformation at the end.

Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular, even with all of the changes going on at California Adventure, continues to be one of the best attractions at the park and is probably in the running with Festival of the Lion King for best stage show at a Disney Park (at least state-side. I can’t say anything about the international parks). Now if you’ll excuse me, “I’m going to go find Nemo.”

Adventures of a Lost Boy in Disneyland (Part 12): Blue Sky Cellar


Part of the ongoing Calfornia Adventure fix-up is the idea of re-appropriating attractions that really never caught on to new roles and experiences. The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure was built in the building that once held Golden Dreams and some bathrooms (the bathrooms were a more popular attraction than Golden Dreams ever was), the Sun Wheel became Mickey’s Fun Wheel, Mullholland Madness became Goofy’s Sky School, the Orange Stinger became the Silly Symphony Swings, and one of the first of these conversions to happen was the Seasons of the VIne show becoming the Blue Sky Cellar.

The idea of the Blue Sky Cellar is not a new one to Disneyland. There was once an exhibit in the Main Street Opera House called Disneyland Presents a Preview of Coming Attractions that ran until the Walt Disney Story opened in the building. The exhibit exists to show people what is coming, and this is something that should be put in at every Disney resort around the world. Sure you can see concept art and models online if you are so inclined to search around the numerous Disney news sites to view them, but actually being able to see models up close and personal and view each tiny detail or being able to look at notes and blurbs about each piece of artwork is something really special and allows you to learn more about the background and making of the attraction or show.

Each attraction that has opened at California Adventure since Mickey’s Fun Wheel has had an exhibit in the Blue Sky Cellar, when I was there, the exhibit was mostly focused on the Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure and Goofy’s Sky School, but since I have been there it was changed over to Cars Land and Buena Vista Street. What would make this attraction so interesting to have at other resorts is the idea that it would change frequently, so if one were to go yearly, it could be a completely different experience every time they visit. There would only need to be one version per resort and it would have to be placed in a central location (for example, it could be put in at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World and could operate for the entire resort).

There really isn’t much to say about the Blue Sky Cellar, so here’s some pictures (and a video of a “living” California Adventure map (I actually filmed the map myself, but I lost the video when I had to blow away the harddrive on my computer over the summer)):

Adventures of a Lost Boy in Disneyland (Part 11): the Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure

Sorry about the lack of posts over the weekend and on Monday, there was a death in the family an that took up all of my time that weekend.

Moving onto happy things now, last week I covered some of the cosmetic changes going on in California Adventure, this week it’s finally time to start talking about some of the attraction changes. I’m starting with one that is one of the most entertaining: The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure.

As you walk towards the building, the first thing you will notice is the massive size of the show building and it’s general opulence, the building is meant to be reminiscent of aquariums from the early 20th century, and they definitely captured that concept. The entire building is covered in nothing but a sandy tan, blues, aquas, and bronze paint and fixtures and features numerous sweeping and arching forms that not only sell the idea of water, but manage to fit in with the rest of Paradise Pier through similar architectural forms and the use of a massive amount of lights at night. It manages to look incredibly regal, but also fit in with the boardwalk theme.

If you look at the roof over the area where the main entrance to the building is, you will see the statue of King Triton that used to reside in Ariel’s Grotto in Disneyland until the Disney faeries forced the mermaids out of their home. One can also view various bas reliefs of mermaids on the arch that holds Triton and even some conch shell/trident weather vanes on various points on the building representing Ursula and Triton and their troubled relationship in the past. Throughout the queue, you can see touches of various aspects of marine life such as bubble designs in support arches with bronze clamshells connecting both ends, the main entrance to the building features a massive window that has beams running across it simulating waves, inside there are chandeliers made to look like bronze seaweed and paintings, murals, and even tile work representing different forms of aquatic life. Of course, the main eye catcher in the inside section of the queue is the massive mural of the characters from the film on the wall of the load area.

When I was going through the queue, I was geeking out and only wondered how the attraction itself would be able to hold up against how beautiful the queue was, and it makes me exceptionally happy to report that the attraction did not let me down in the slightest.

The attraction starts with your clam shell omnimover entering the ship-wreck of Prince Eric’s ship only to find Scuttle sitting amongst the ruins trying to tell Ariel’s story, but not quite knowing where to start. This is actually brilliant from a constantly moving ride perspective, as the Imagineers managed to create an endless loop that doesn’t just say the same thing over and over and over again, but actually manages to get the main information told no matter which section it is. The late Buddy Hacket was not able to reprise his role as Scuttle, but Chris Edgerly (who also voices Timothy Q. Mouse on Dumbo the Flying Elephant and voiced Peter Potamus on Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law) does a fantastic impression of the late comedian. After passing Scuttle, our clamshells submerge and we encounter Ariel, first as a projection, and then in her grotto singing “Part of Your World”.

The Ariel audio-animatronic is absolutely amazing. It moves fluidly and realistically and the Imagineers even managed to animate her hair to make sure to sell the idea that we are under the sea. What is even more astounding is that the Ariel figure is only about 2 or 3 feet away from you. Some taller guests could probably reach out and touch her if they were so inclined and wouldn’t mind being ejected from the park. If you look throughout the scene, you’ll see items that actually populated the area in the film, and you can also see Sebastian popping out of various areas with a condescending look on his face. Jodi Benson actually came back and re-recorded all of her audio for Ariel for the attraction and that woman still has it. She can make herself sound almost exactly like she did almost 25 years ago and because of that the inclusion of Benson really adds some serious credibility to the attraction. Our clamshells then move right into the biggest scene of the attraction, “Under the Sea”. There must be at least a hundred animatronics in this scene, there is just so much going on that it would be impossible to see everything the first time through, and Sebastian is conducting all of it from a raised platform in the centre of the whole party. If there was a character in the “Under the Sea” scene in the movie, then they are in it in the attraction, so even my favourite clam drum playing lobster is present. There is even another Ariel audio-animatronic, but this one is rather weird as she looks like she has a beehive hair-do, I fully understand that this is something direct from the film, but it looks very bizarre when translated to a 3-dimensional attraction.

Unfortunately, the party is ruined with the arrival of Flotsam and Jetsam and the entering of Ursula’s lair, but this isn’t a problem as the Ursula animatronic is easily the most impressive one in the attraction. The Sea Witch stands at around 8 feet tall and is able to squash and stretch exactly like she did in the movie, the programers of her even managed to fully replicate her unique facial expressions and ticks such as the very particular way she smiles. There is even a massive amount of variation throughout her loop that has her arms doing various different movements and her hands making different gestures. This honestly is the best part of the attraction, which makes it so disappointing that it is as short as it is. I unfortunately got stuck on the attraction right as we were transitioning between the “Poor-Unfortunate Souls” scene and the upcoming “Kiss the Girl” one. I really just wish that I could have stopped in front of the Ursula figure so I could watch her movements more.

The attraction just movies downhill from here, but don’t get me wrong it never gets bad, it’s just impossible to follow up the 8-foot-tall Ursula. The “Kiss the Girl” segment is surprisingly static, but I very much enjoyed the fact that Sebastian is using a reed as a microphone, that the fish are creating fountains by spitting water out of their mouths, and that the kiss-y faced frogs and duck drummers are present. Ariel and Eric keep almost kissing, but Eric always pulls away and the Ariel figure actually manages to show visible rejection on her face, which is rather astounding as it was not present when they were about to kiss. After this scene, Ariel gets her voice back and we see a massive Ursula in the background, but no Eric/Ursula fight or even any sight of Ursula being defeated, it just moves right into the marriage scene. This part really isn’t anything special, but it marks the first time we have seen King Triton in the entire attraction and there is another appearance by Scuttle, which is always entertaining.

The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure is a master-work. It managed to knock Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular out of it’s rank as best attraction at California Adventure, which is really saying something. The version coming to the Magic Kingdom is going to be essentially the same attraction, but with a completely different external and internal queue, and this is going to really be something for us East Coasters to look forward to when it opens in late 2012 as part of the New Fantasyland.

Adventures of a Lost Boy in Disneyland (Day 10): A New California Adventure

Or alternatively titled: A Whole New Wooorrrllldddd! (S0rry, I couldn’t resist).

Or the alternative alternative title: Ryan Visits Construction Wall Adventure

In all seriousness, though, walking into California Adventure after a number of years (that combined with the fact that I had only gone into the park 2 or 3 times and only for a few hours) made the entire experience feel new. The first thing that anyone would notice walking in would be the obscene amount of construction walls at the first area of the park. When I was there, the new entrance way based off of the Pan-Pacific Auditorium was uncovered, but it was not open yet. People were still forced to work their way around the new gates and enter from the side of them. That being said, these were easily the best construction walls in the entire park that I saw.

What I find to be the most perplexing about the California Adventure redux is that the new entrance land, Buena Vista Street, is going to be one of the last areas of the park to open. One would have thought that a brand new front would have brought more people into the front, and not having tons of construction walls before you get into the park would have made more people think the park wasn’t closed. The idea of the immensely tacky (and not in any sort of endearing way) Sunshine Plaza going away and making way for a well themed area based on the past is an exciting one, and from some of the artwork seen at the Blue Sky Cellar (which will be a topic for another day), it isn’t just a rehashing of Hollywood Boulevard at Hollywood Studios. It is going to be based more off of the real Los Angeles of the past and less of of the heightened and almost fantastical version of Hollywood presented in Hollywood Boulevard.

Like the area surrounding the new gates, this area was another Construction Wall Land (the most magical land ever found at a Disney park!), but unlike the walls surrounding the gate, these were themed more to advertisements that would have been found in the 1920’s, but with the usual Disney slant. The largest inconvenience that this area presented, though, was the fact that the construction of the Carthay Circle theatre (which is acutally slightly to the left side of the new land) was taking up the entire area and one of the main throughways through the park was completely cut off. While the fixing of California Adventure will be great when it’s done, going while it’s still in process can be very frustrating. (Especially when you’re trying to manuver around the area to get to the Grizzly River Rapids FastPass distribution as so that you can get a FastPass for World of Color because that is totally the reason that you wanted to go to Disneyland in the first place)

Paradise Pier is an area that used to infuriate me, and it still slightly does, but enourmously less than it used to. Paradise Pier still has one of the same problems that it had before, the fact that all of the rides and attractions were just off-the-wall carnival/amusement park faire. There’s the flying swings, the ferris wheel (though Mickey’s Fun Wheel was easily one of the most fun things I did in the park, but only if you ride the swinging gondolas), and various spinning/dropping rides. The area used to have a few more attractions, but thankfully they were destroyed when the area started it’s refurbishment. Some more of these very standard attractions still need to go, but the Silly Symphony Swings, Mickey’s Fun Wheel, and King Triton’s Carousel of the Sea can stay, and need to be replaced with some more “Disney” attractions. They need to make more attractions like Toy Story Midway Mania that take the idea of something from a carnival or amusement park and turn it into something new and interesting. Putting that rant aside, the area is definitely much more aesthetically pleasing to look at, the new look for the land was started when Toy Story Midway Mania opened and everything else just fell into place. The Victorian style buildings and structures are gorgeous to look at and there are numerous little touches around the area that made me smile from ear to ear.

Unfortunately, the new eateries and Goofy’s Sky School were not open by the time I was there (they opened shortly afterwards, which really annoyed me), but the Little Mermaid attraction was open (for part of the day, it broke down for a few hours and actually scared me a little bit with the thought that I wouldn’t be able to experience it). Once again, though, different topic for a different day.

Most of the other areas in the park were just about the same, except for the Hollywood Pictures Backlot which was set up for ElecTRONica (and is rumoured to be in the next wave of improvements to the park). I did get to look in at some of the construction of Cars Land, and I’m pretty excited for that to open.

 

Adventures of a Lost Boy in Disneyland (Part 9): Food Break

Eating at Disney Parks over the years has become a bit of a chore with Disney constantly changing up it’s offerings to usually inferior products, but the opposite seems to be the case at Disneyland, it’s only gotten better over the years (and it was actually pretty good to begin with). In between discussing the two parks, I thought it would be a nice change of pace to talk about what I ate on the trip (and make you all hungry).

Hawaiian Cheeseburger

Where Can I Eat it?: Tangaroa Terrace at the Disneyland Hotel

By the time my family got up to Anaheim from San Diego and got checked into the hotel, it was already around 8:00 at night, so we were looking for something quick so we could have some time to walk around Downtown Disney before going back to the hotel and getting ready for our first day at Disneyland. We looked all through Downtown Disney for a good quick service restaurant, but the odd thing about Downtown Disney at Disneyland is that almost all of the restaurants there are sit down restaurants. As we were getting ready to leave the area hungry and frustrated, I suggested that we try the dining at the Disneyland Hotel; I had heard good things about what was going on at the hotel with it’s renovations, so it was worth a shot. I am very glad that we decided to do this, as the Hawaiian Cheeseburger was one of the best things I ate that weekend.

The Hawaiian Cheeseburger is a 1/3 pound angus beef patty on a multi-grain hamburger roll and the usual fixings, but add some bacon, grilled pineapple, and teriyaki sauce. The burger is served with some coleslaw in a papaya sauce that was surprisingly spicy and incredibly flavourful. All of this is made better if you eat your meal with some of the special flavour of lemonade that they have at the restaurant that I can’t exactly remember what it is, but I remember it being very fruity and tasty.

Steak Gumbo

Where Can I Eat it?: Royal Street Veranda in New Orleans Square at Disneyland

I was hoping that I would be able to get the famous Monte Cristo sandwich for lunch at the Cafe Orleans (as I was pretty sure that my mom would not go for a $25 sandwich at the Blue Bayou) only to find out that Cafe Orleans is a sit down restaurant. I was perfectly fine with eating there, but ultimately, my mom has the final say when we eat at the parks, much to my chagrin. It was time to fall back on my old stand-by of the Steak Gumbo at the Royal Street Veranda.

The Steak Gumbo is not exactly the prettiest dish out there, but it tastes pretty good. It’s kind of spicy and has a surprisingly large amount of steak in it, which is a good thing considering that it’s $9.99 per bowl. It’s served in a bread bowl (the bread isn’t the highest quality out there, actually it’s kind of mediocre. The fact that it absorbs the flavour of the gumbo and sucks up some of the moisture, it’s quality is greatly improved), so combined with the thick and heavy soup, it will fill you up and keep you full for a good while. I honestly do not know why they give you crackers when the gumbo is served in a bread bowl, but to each their own. Just remember that it’s a hot soup, so it’s not the best idea to get it in the middle of the summer on a swelteringly hot Southern California day, but it definitely hits the spot in the middle of February when it’s a bit cooler.

There is also a bit of novelty to the idea of getting gumbo from what is literally a hole in the wall quick service restaurant.

Dole Whip Float

Where Can I Eat it?: Tiki Juice Bar (and you should eat it while watching Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room) in Adventureland at Disneyland (or Walt Disney World)

There seems to be a trend going on here with Hawaiian-inspired foods, and that is definitely not a bad thing considering that pineapples are one of the most awesome fruits out there. But seriously, the Dole Whip Float is pineapple soft serve and pineapple juice with a cherry and one of those awesome little drink umbrellas. You can’t possibly make a better dessert than that, the sheer mouthwatering nature of the float combined with the immensely entertaining Tiki Room makes the experience very special.

You can actually buy the Dole Whip mix from Dole, and as soon as I get my hands on an ice cream maker, this will definitely happen so I can have Dole Whips whenever I please.

Big Al’s Chicken Salad

Where Can I Eat it?: Hungry Bear Restaurant in Critter Country at Disneyland

It’s nice to see that even though the Country Bear Jamboree is gone from Disneyland (and replaced with a sub-par Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh) that there are still some references to the attraction and Bear Country (which became Critter Country with the opening of Splash Mountain) to be found in the Hungry Bear Restaurant. The particular reference that is the topic of this section is the salad named after everyone’s favourite Country Bear, Big Al (why it’s a salad and not a burger swimming in grease is a rather interesting conundrum).

Take some lettuce, smoked chicken, and tomatoes and add some watermelon, candied pecans, dried cherries, and pickled red onions and cover all of that with a honey-lime vinaigrette and you have what is easily one of the best salads on property. It was so good that it made me not care that the Southwestern Chicken Salad with it’s corn and bar-b-que sauce were gone from the restaurant. It’s the kind of salad that is so special because of the varieties of flavours that it fills your mouth with: the smokiness of the chicken, the sweetness of the watermelon and the honey-lime vinaigrette, the slight saltiness of the candied pecans, and the slight kick that the pickled onions provide all work exceptionally well together to make a very pleasing experience. If you are going to eat at the Hungry Bear, definitely get a spot near the water and depending on when you eat there, you may catch a glimpse of the cast members preparing for Fantasmic, which makes for some very entertaining sights during dinner.

Desserts

I didn’t actually eat any desserts (as they are really freaking expensive), but they looked so good that I had to post them here.

Hunny Lemon Cupcakes:

Various Candy Apples: 

(I really wanted to get the white chocolate Jack Skellington one, as it combines some of my favourite things: Nightmare Before Christmas, white chocolate, apples, and WHIMSY; but $9.95 is just too steep of a price for a candy apple)

There hasn’t really been that much at California Adventure that wow-ed me. The chicken sandwich at Taste Pilots’ Grill is pretty good and is made better that it comes plain and you can put whatever you want on it. California Adventure’s food will get better as the park gets better, so I’m hoping that when the park is finished in this current wave of renovations, that there will be a lot more great places to eat. I’ve heard good things about Paradise Garden Grill and Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta, but they opened shortly after I was there, so there’s not much that can be said by me about them.

For a conclusion, I’m just going to leave this here:

Yes, that is a loaf of Mickey Mouse bread.