October 31, 2012

Strange Things: Great Offbeat Disney Music

In case yesterday's Big Lucasfilm Purchase News made you wanna dance, we're featuring some of the more oddball, unusual, but ultimately engaging tracks of Disney Music to be found on iTunes and Amazon. 

Seriously, no one needs another straightforward elevator music version of Whole New World...no, we're having more fun than that...

Disney Themes Flamenco Style music Beauty Beast iTunes
Album: Disney Themes: Flamenco Style

Imagine Beast circling Belle with a rose stem between his teeth. I don't think I need to say another word.

Disney House Mouse Humphrey Hop In Bag soundtrack iTunes
Track:  HUMPHREY HOP (In the Bag)
Album: House of Mouse

Some official Disney releases are off-the-rails enough to make this list, like Ranger Woodlore's litter-picking song that tricks Humphrey Bear & co. into performing unpaid labor. It's impossible not to dance while listening. Actually, every Disney Music fan should have this entire soundtrack in their library, even though it's a wee bit overpriced on iTunes.

Box Banjo Movies Disney Hi Ho music iTunes accordiion
Album: The Box and Banjo Band at the Movies

An accordion/banjo combo swings their way through I Wanna Be Like You, Hi-Ho and  Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah. Pure happiness. Careful: this band's addictive. Also check out their amazing Hans Christian Andersen medley.

Disney Dance Jive Dalby Elephant Fly music iTunes swing
Album: Let's Dance the Jive

Graham Dalby is an English Bandleader focusing on keeping Jazz Age Swing Music alive, and for that reason alone, he should be made King of Planet Earth.

That'll do it for this dose of great Disney music...OH, WAIT...in light of the recent news, I can't resist one more track that's not really very obscure....

Disney Star Wars Meco disco music theme iTunes
Album: The Best of Meco

HAPPY STAR WARS, EVERYONE!!! If you want to party to the full 16 minute long version of this 70's smash, you'll have to buy the whole album, but -- hey -- Disco Close Encounters and Disco Oz are included... 

October 30, 2012

WDW 1993: More Wonders of Life

Epcot Wonders Life Sensory Fun House box touch objects Disney
No, this isn't Universal's latest Halloween Haunt, it's another look back at 1993 Walt Disney World. Today we've returned once more to Wonders of Life. The eclectic, wonderful pavilion had something for everyone, and everyone seemed to love the Sensory Fun House.

The game seen above, where you reached into a hole and tried to identify an object by touch alone, was the sort of exhibit you can find in many museums and zoos, but Disney had the brilliant idea to make the back of the box open to spectators, turning it into a true "What the --" moment for guests who didn't know what they were looking at. This kind of simple, well-executed fun (also seen in the Forced Perspective Room) never gets old.

October 28, 2012

The Original Character Breakfast (plus Fish Heads & Crumbs)

Disneyland Bird River Belle Terrace Restaurant birds crumbs food mooch
Time between sitting down and bird arrival: three seconds
Long before anyone dreamed up the concept of meeting Disney characters while wolfing down flapjacks, Disneyland's bold-as-blazes bird population has been entertaining and bemusing generations of outdoor diners.

Our favorite avian meet n' greet is River Belle Terrace in Frontierland. It boasts a great view of the river and pancakes cooked in front of you while you wait. Its proximity to Big Thunder, Indy, Pirates and Haunted Mansion makes it a perfect morning meal stop.

Then, of course, there are the birds. They're friendly and cute as can be, but make no mistake -- if you need to leave your table (even for a few seconds) to grab an extra straw or napkin, be sure to take your food with you, or you might return to find some new friends square-dancing on your pancakes.

Yet, breakfast at River Belle Terrace is always time well spent. I don't step away from my food, and the birds wait politely -- sometimes perched on a chair two feet away, but always politely. I can honestly say I've never had a bad experience with the little guys.

In an alternate comic strip world, however, A.W. just can't catch a break...
Fish Heads Crumbs birds breakfast comic strip Disneyland walrus
Click to Enlarge

Ghosts of the Past: The Disney Villains Shop

Disneyland Villains Shop Fantasyland store Maleficent Cheshire Chernabog
This quaint little shop in Disneyland's castle courtyard has seen many changes over the decades. It's been a magic shop, a Christmas store, and it currently sells swords and family crests. In the early 90's, however, it housed the Disney Villains shop.

One of the most fun stores in the park, The Villains Shop sold a colorful variety of shirts, hats, license plate frames and coffee mugs, all featuring characters such as Maleficent, Chernabog, the Evil Queen, Captain Hook, Ursula, Cruella and the Cheshire Cat.

The Cheshire Cat?!?

October 27, 2012

Autopia: Treasured Classic or Waste of Space?

Autopia Disneyland Tomorrowland ride car space tear down drive
Autopia takes up soooooo much room, yet it shares the real estate with the Monorail above and the Submarine show building beneath. One casual glance around while riding, however, says it all; this is prime future E-ticket space.

Truth is, I'd hate to see Autopia demolished. It's one of the best miniature car rides on Earth. To youngsters, it's a real adventure and a family tradition. I'm sure many present-day adults experienced this familiar chain of events:

October 26, 2012

Paradise Pier Needs a Clear Backstory

Paradise Pier Disney California Adventure Screamin Disneyland night
Paradise Pier has come a long way since its dodging-rotten-tomatoes opening. It's actually become a lovely place, especially at night. Image problems, however, continue to dog the land.

It cries out for an easy-to-grasp backstory to lock down its identity. To this day, reporters and well-meaning writers occasionally refer to Paradise Pier as a "carnival." It's not. It's an Amusement Park. There's a big difference in theme, there.

October 25, 2012

Riding the Skyway in 1975

Matterhorn Skyway Tomorrland Terrace Disneyland original 1970's
Here we are in 1975. Tomorrowland looks great, even in this crummy weather. My teenage self, on his first independent road trip to the park (with best friend), has camera in hand. Ready for a ride on the Skyway?

One problem: the line on the Tomorrowland side is ridiculously long. Being Disneyland pros, however, we know there's never a long line at the Fantasyland station. So, we'll just dash over to the Chalet and start there. By the way, the above shot captures a great little detail for die-hard Disneyland fans. Can you spot it? I'll reveal it at the end of our ride.

Teacups Skyway Mad Tea Party original teacups 1970's Disneyland
Gliding out from the Fantasyland Skyway station, we see the Mad Tea Party in its original location before it got moved -- lock, stock & saucers -- to a new home by the Alice dark ride in 1983.
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride original Fantasyland Skyway 1970's Disneyland
The original Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Even before the remodel that turned the front into a detailed replica of Toad Hall (and mixed in ideas from the WDW version), this attraction's always drawn a crowd. In pre-home video days, very few guests had ever seen the film Ichabod and Mr. Toad, but the ride stood on its own. Still does!

Please click below to continue the flight!

October 24, 2012

Rides That Spark Dreams & Nightmares

Disneyland elephant Jungle Cruise river ride
A family takes their youngest adventurer on Jungle Cruise back in June. Another fan is born!

I remember the fun/scary thrill of visiting Disneyland when I was a small child (a bit older than our friend in the photo) believing in everything the park threw my way. I wondered how Rocket to the Moon blasted skyward without being seen by everyone outside the building. And I was certain the submarines really were diving hundreds of feet into unexplored depths.

And then there was Jungle Cruise...

October 23, 2012

The Cars Look Like the Rocks -- Not the Other Way 'Round

Cars Land Carsland signs information rock formations identify
Cars Land bursts with hidden little attractions like the Doc Hudson Museum, Mater's Petting Zoo, and these wonderful little Geological Info-stations placed along Cross Street. Just like the kind you find at many of our nation's scenic viewpoints, these displays identify what you're looking at.
Cars Land Carsland signs information rock formations identify
Please Click to Enlarge
And -- in Cars Land -- the more you look, the more whimsical they get, presenting their mockumentary Ornament Valley geology lessons as straight-faced as can be.
Cars Land Carsland signs information rock formations identify
Please Click to Enlarge
The best part, and a key to the Cars universe, is learning that -- in this alternate world -- the Cars modeled themselves after their surroundings. The rocks don't look like the cars, the cars look like the rocks.

October 22, 2012

Dole Whips in the Tiki Room (with Fish Heads & Crumbs)

Enchanted Tiki Room Disneyland Dole Whip Whips pineapple
Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room delights children and adults on both coasts (teenagers tend to flee its awesomely corny jokes and Jose's Bing Crosby tribute, but they'll come around eventually). The Disneyland version has one great bonus feature: the popular Dole Whip frozen treat is for sale in the pre-show area (along with other Dole pineapple selections) and you are encouraged to bring your snack into the attraction to eat during the show!

Don't worry: the birds won't try to mooch a taste. As for the other inhabitants of this place of joyous songs and wondrous miracles, well...cue today's comic strip...
Fish Heads Crumbs Enchanted Tiki Room Disneyland Dole Whips Whip
Click to Enlarge

October 21, 2012

The Things Cars Eat at Flo's V8 Cafe

Flo's V8 Cafe Cars Land Carsland DCA Disney California Adventure Mater
Mater cruises happily past Flo's V8 Cafe in Cars Land while commenting on the great food. Flo's, naturally, offers two separate menus -- one for humans and one for Cars. Humans get delicious pork loin, citrus turkey, milk shakes and apple cheddar pie. The citizens of Radiator Springs, on the other hand, might go for the items advertised on the cafe's exterior:
Flo's V8 Cafe Cars Land Carsland DCA Disney California Adventure
The ever-popular Lugnuts...
Flo's V8 Cafe Cars Land Carsland DCA Disney California Adventure
 Grease (one of their 4 basic food groups)...
Flo's V8 Cafe Cars Land Carsland DCA Disney California Adventure
And maybe Dip Sticks for dessert.

I think I'll stick with the Citrus Turkey and Mashed Potatoes. By the way, the photos above reveal the way the central order area of Flo's keeps smoothly changing color at night. It's a charming effect that adds even more magic to the 60's-themed restaurant, our choice for Best Night-Time Relaxation Spot at Disney California Adventure.

October 20, 2012

Monsters, Inc. at DCA

Monsters Inc. dark ride DCA Disney California Adventure Pixar
Monsters Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue is an odd duck of a ride, but a fun experience. Its arrival at Disney California Adventure transformed the site of a short-lived, terrible, embarrassing opening day attraction (Superstar Limo) into a likable retelling of the Pixar film, Monster's, Inc.

As much a patch-job as an original attraction, the Monsters, Inc. dark ride inherited Superstar Limo's vehicles, track layout and flat cutout-style entry facade. Although the stylized front succeeds in helping guests find the ride in its tucked-back corner of DCA's Hollywood Land, I'm not a fan of the "temporary" vibe it creates. If future plans for this area of the park include keeping Monsters, Inc., I hope the Imagineers come up with a different approach for the exterior.

The logical transformation of the old limousines into Monstropolis taxi cabs resulted in a unique quirk for the resort: DCA and Disneyland each now have their own taxi-themed dark ride. Unlike Roger Rabbit's spinning, crazy whirl through a blacklight Toontown noir, however, the Monsters, Inc. dark ride is a slower, gentler journey through a fairly straightfoward narrative, following blue collar monsters Mike and Sulley as they try to return human toddler Boo to her bedroom closet's door. The on-ride "dangers" are very mild, and the film's scariest-looking character, Mr. Waternoose, isn't included at all.

As far as I know, it's also the only Disney dark ride that takes you through a factory restroom, resulting in a true "What the..." moment.

October 19, 2012

Great Food plus a Runaway Mine Train: Rancho del Zocalo

Rancho Zocalo Disneyland restaurant, mexican, food, Frontierland
It's no secret that the overall food quality at Disneyland has improved by leaps and bounds in the last few years. Our favorite Frontierland dining option, Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante, offers more than just excellent Mexican food; you can watch the trains of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad rumble right past your table...if you know where to sit.

October 18, 2012

WDW 1993: Dreamfinder & Figment

Journey Imagination Epcot Dreamfinder Spark 1993 WDW Disney World
Epcot's original Journey Into Imagination quickly became one of my top three favorite attractions in all of Walt Disney World when my family visited the resort in 1993 (it tied with Horizons and Cranium Command). I couldn't get enough of Dreamfinder and Figment, and took several trips through the ride during our stay.

Journey Into Imagination astonished me with its ingenious little vehicle trains as they swiveled sideways to follow the revolving stage for the song One Little Spark -- what a brilliant way to stage a full-length musical number on a ride!
Journey Imagination Epcot Figment Spark 1993 WDW Disney World
The musical and dramatic interplay between Dreamfinder and his newly-created friend Figment throughout the remainder of the ride made the adventure a warm-hearted, unforgettable experience. I'm very glad Figment still exists on the reworked version of the ride, and I hope someday Dreamfinder returns to the park as well. They're too good as a team to keep apart forever!

October 17, 2012

Small World Topiaries Standing Guard

Disneyland Topiary topiaries Small Word rhino bird
The topiary garden of It's a Small World remains one of Disneyland's most perfect, unforgettable creations. This whimsical realm of living sculptures has been a park treasure since 1966.
Disneyland Topiaries topiary Small World garden lion
Disney is apparently developing a movie about an alternate fantasy version of Disneyland. If some of these guys don't come to life in the film, I'll be ticked.
Disneyland Topiaries topiary Small World garden moose
I've posted about this fellow before, and I can't help sneaking another shot in. He's one of my very favorite things in all of the resort. My family's unofficially dubbed him Small World's Security Moose.

October 15, 2012

Elliott the Park-Hopping Dragon

Pete's Dragon Main Electrical Parade Disney Elliott Eliott Elliot
Dreamworks may have the wonderful How to Train Your Dragon franchise, but Disney has no shortage of its own fantasy reptiles. There's the Maleficent dragon, of course, joined by the Reluctant Dragon, Figment, Mushu, the Jabberwock, Vermithrax Pejorative and that fellow under the castle in Paris....

Disneyland's Mysterious Feral Cats (and Fish Heads & Crumbs)

They're elusive, they're quick, and they know a good home when they see it! They're the Feral Cats of Disneyland.

It's always a nice surprise to spot one of the park's uninvited-but-tolerated feline residents. The lower level of the Hungry Bear restaurant, near the river, is one of the more reliable places to see one of Figaro's wild relatives. Remember, though; look, don't touch. 'Cause, y'know, they're feral.

As it turns out, today's comic strip is -- for once -- in tune with the post. It's Feral Cat Day! 
Fish Heads Crumbs Disneyland Feral Cat comic strip walrus
Click to Enlarge

October 14, 2012

Grizzly River's Bear With No Name

Grizzly River Run statue bear DCA Disney California Adventure
This gigantic bear, all geared up for white water escapades, silently guards the entry to Grizzly River Run at Disney California Adventure.

It's an impressive sculpture, and a puzzling one; considering all the time, effort and talent that went into its creation, it's odd that the bear has no name, no backstory (beyond his gear), no merchandising presence, and -- as a result -- little impact on guests' memories of DCA.

Then again, when DCA first opened, the 2001 powers-that-be aimed for the park to be as unlike Disneyland as possible, and that extended to a lack of Disney characters or traditional storytelling. Our grizzly friend here might have fallen victim to that somewhat pixie-dust-free approach to park design.

Today's DCA bursts with charm, personality and Disney/Pixar characters. I say it's time to give this wonderful statue a name, a backstory, and some more visibility as a character on the ride itself and on the park merchandise. He's a white-water-rafting grizzly bear in a Disney park! Someone in charge needs to let the Imagineers and product designers go wild with the concept.

October 13, 2012

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride Before & After

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride Original Disneyland 1960's dark ride old
One night at Disneyland back in the late 1960's, my parents let me borrow their camera to use up the last shot on whatever I wanted. My nine-year-old-mind knew exactly what to do: take a photo of random people bursting out of hell at the end of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride!

I have no idea who those folks are in the picture, but I love their attitude. And look -- that plucky kid didn't take his hands off the steering wheel -- not even while being taunted by cackling demons with pitchforks!

Jumping ahead to this past summer...
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride remodel new Fantasyland Disneyland dark ride
...we can see that I took better photos when I was nine. We can also see that the newer unload zone -- now inside Toad's mansion -- isn't nearly as gothic-looking. It's more difficult to photograph the final "crash" doors now without being a nuisance, but way back on the right you can see how those once hellish-looking doors are now painted to look like they lead from a wine cellar or pantry.

Inside, however, the ride is just as loud, chaotic and crazy as ever. Long live Mr. Toad's Wild Ride -- May its dynamite kegs never stop exploding.

October 12, 2012

Lightning Greets Fans at the Cozy Cone

Cozy Cone Motel Cars Land Carsland Disney Lightning McQueen
Lightning McQueen welcomes his fans outside Sally's office at the Cozy Cone Motel in Cars Land. The combination of fun food, chatty automobiles, the town's music and terrific Cast Members make this one of the best character meet n' greet set-ups at the resort.

October 11, 2012

1994: Disneyland's Amazing Lion King Celebration

Lion King Celebration Disneyland Simba float parade
1994 saw the debut of the greatest daytime parade Disneyland has ever presented: The Lion King Celebration. This amazing production combined music, dance, puppetry, audioanimatronics, acrobatics, radio-controlled creatures, live percussion and audience interaction into a joyful fusion of Disney animation and African art that was unlike any previous park attraction.
Lion King Celebration rhinos parade Disneyland
More of these two awesome hams after the break
Employing nearly 100 performers and operators, the production became an instant smash-hit for the park, prompting many return visits and repeat viewings.

October 10, 2012

Classic Ride Review: Dumbo the Flying Elephant

Dumbo Flying Elephant Disneyland Fantasyland
Just look at those awesome elephants. Their wonderfully sculpted expressions of joy and exhilaration carry the whole experience. When you lift off, you instantly plug into the moment at the film's finale when Dumbo spreads his ears and  a miracle happens. That why the Dumbo ride is magical and rip-off clones are not.

Some folks don't "get" Dumbo. They dismiss it as a mere children's ride or a mundane carnival-style attraction not worth a second look. My theory about those folks: either they never rode Dumbo as a child, or else they commute to work every day on a flying elephant and find nothing unusual about the experience.

All I know is, I climb aboard, the ride starts, I push up on the controls, I hear that familiar hydraulic hiss...there's that little bounce as we get airborne...and suddenly I'm seven years old again, with the wind in my face and all of Fantasyland whirling about below me.

Sometimes you don't need the latest technology to create pure and powerful magic.

October 9, 2012

Too Early For New Disney Christmas Music? Nah!

Disney Jingle Bell Fun Christmas Holiday Music 2012 Mickey Goofy
It's not even Halloween yet, and I'm posting about Christmas; what am I, Target? Okay, I'm fairly certain I'm not the only Disney fan who starts updating their Holiday playlists early as the new Christmas albums start appearing, right?  Anyone?

Disney Christmas albums are often hit & miss. This one's good -- Really, really good. Starting with the best cover art I've ever seen on a Disney Christmas release, Disney Jingle Bell Fun hits all the right...er....notes by balancing sentiment, humor and great performances into one satisfying album.

Keeping the pattern of past Disney Christmas albums, this one's half character-performed songs and half more "mainstream" contributions -- this time by Randy Crenshaw and Hailey Markman. Crenshaw and Markman's tracks are top-notch, but -- let's be honest -- we wanna hear the characters sing.

This time, around, the Fab Five Plus Daisy are in fine form, bringing comic charm to:

Santa Claus is Coming to Town (Goofy does a guitar solo & Donald forgot to buy Daisy anything)
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Goofy & Donald doing the call-and-response version)
Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! (Donald & Daisy)
It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas (Mickey & Minnie)

But the surprise, awesome shocker of this collection is the piano-lounge crooner version of "Toyland" sung by Goofy, completely in character, completely serious, and so touching and perfect that his "shooby-dooby-doos" halfway through don't sound ridiculous. Bill Farmer deserves a standing ovation and a Grammy Award for this one.

I definitely recommend Disney Jingle Bell Fun -- Possibly the best Disney Christmas album yet.

It's available on iTunes (http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/disney-jingle-bell-fun/id562275405?uo=4),  Amazon Mp3 and CD.

WDW 1993: Epcot's Wide Open Spaces

Epcot 1993 Future World Monorail Journey Imagination
The vast skies and stunning vistas of 1993 Walt Disney World formed the biggest ongoing "Wow" factor during our first-ever visit. We particularly loved the surreal and wonderful landscapes of Epcot. The weather was a real character, too, and we experienced more than one of the awesome 2:00 P.M. cloudbursts which lasted just long enough to sucker us into buying ponchos. We learned our lesson; the next time, we just shopped 'till it ended.
Epcot Monorail Future World Journey Imagination benches
Different view, same day. I think I rode Journey Into Imagination eight hundred times. Okay, maybe more like six...(It tied with Cranium Command and Horizons as my favorite thing in Epcot).
Epcot World Showcase Lagoon Friendship boat garden Disney
WDW folks say it a lot, and it's true: pictures don't do World Showcase Lagoon justice (especially mine). In person, I could just stare out across the water for an hour. And I would've, but I really wanted to get to Maelstrom.

More WDW 1993 soon!

October 8, 2012

Fish Heads & Crumbs #7: Cabbages and Kings

Happy Monday! As fans are well aware, many classic Disney films contain little tragedies and minor character deaths that adults just brush off but children never...ever...forget...
Fish Heads Crumbs Walrus Jabba 7 Oysters Alice comic strip Troop
Click to Enlarge

Memorabilia at Flo's V8 Cafe: Jeep Date

Flo's V8 Cafe album art Jeep Date Cars Land Carsland
Before opening a diner in Radiator Springs, Flo performed as the lead singer of the Motorama Girls. The group's album covers can be found in Flo's V8 Cafe in Cars Land, in a music-themed room facing Radiator Springs Racers. Every single one of these back-story albums features wonderful art and car puns galore. It's tough to pick a favorite, but "Jeep Date" is definitely up there.

October 7, 2012

Sunday in the Park With Casey

Casey Jr. Circus Train Disneyland station Story Book Land
One Casey Jr. circus train takes on passengers at the station while, in the distance, its twin has just crested the "I think I can" chain-lift hill.

That's another Disneyland first; I can't think of any other non-coaster miniature railroads that include a chain-lift hill. Naturally, Casey chants, "I think I can" as he climbs.

I love the patchwork quilt made of succulent plants back there. Trivia time: What Disney cartoon does that patchwork garden represent?

October 6, 2012

Time Machine Day: Space Mountain 1977

Space Mountain Disneyland 1977 boarding loading station
Space Mountain opened at Disneyland on May 27, 1977. I got to the park a few weeks later to take my initial trip into "superspace." I'd heard opinions of the ride from friends who'd gotten there first. One fellow actually swore the tracks were invisible because they were made of transparent fiberglass. Another claimed the ride ended by circling a small planet and then crashing into it.

Remember, there was no interenet. All you had for new-attraction reference were rumors, commercials, and a few paragraphs of PR in the latest issue of Disney News. I'd read everything I could find about Florida's Space Mountain (there sure wasn't much to be found in those days), and I could not wait to finally ride Disney's dark indoor coaster.

I finally arrived on a June afternoon to find a two-hour wait, with the line starting back on Main Street. Star Wars (before it was known as "Episode IV") had also opened that May, so Darth Vader t-shirts were everywhere. We inched forward past Adventure Thru Inner Space and the People Mover entry, up the speed ramp, through the upper-level switchbacks, and into the mountain itself. Immediately, things got more exciting as the air around us echoed with rumbles and distant screams.

October 5, 2012

The Pooh Effect: Why Disneyland Needs a New Audioanimatronic Show

Winnie Pooh ride Disneyland entry sign entrance covered bridge
Critter Country's dark ride, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, features one of Disneyland's best attraction entries. To long-time fans, the structure's also a bit heartbreaking, for this lovely covered bridge once led to the Country Bear Jamboree.

Walt Disney World lost its Mr. Toad ride to Pooh. Disneyland lost the Country Bears.

For many Disneyland fans, the decision to gut two technologically miraculous audioanimatronic theaters (Disneyland had two identical Country Bear theaters for double capacity) to build a C-ticket dark ride seemed -- to put it nicely -- short-sighted. And, no, hiding Max, Buff and Melvin in the ride as an Easter egg for fans didn't help things...well, okay, maybe it helped a little.

That's all DL history now, and nothing's going to bring the Country Bears back to Disneyland. Pooh's a cute dark ride with a (usually) very short line and a lovely inherited covered bridge.

Looking forward, however, I hope the powers-that-be at Disneyland address a certain issue: since the Bear's departure, the park completely lacks the magic of a large-scale audioanimatronic stage show. The Bears, Carousel of Progress and the later America Sings used to be a huge part of the Disneyland experience -- a special layer of wonderment that now only exists on a smaller scale in the excellent Enchanted Tiki Room and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.

Disneyland Resort could use a big new audioanimatronic show; it's the type of attraction that only Disney can pull off at that level of excellence, and younger west coast fans have never seen one.

And now I'm suddenly looking across the Esplanade toward Cars Land, and picturing how awesome it would be to have a musical automobile review with the Radiator Springs crew performing hits from the 50's and 60's....I'd be first in line.