December 31, 2012

A Farewell to the Original Big Thunder (with Fish Heads & Crumbs)

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Disneyland closing refurbishment
We all have one week left to ride the original Big Thunder trains through the little mining town of Rainbow Ridge. As we mentioned earlier this month, Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad closes its gates on January 7th in order to undergo a massive refurbishment and track replacement. Rides on a new fleet of runaway mine trains will begin when the attraction reopens this Fall.

I'll miss the old bench-style seats and the original Rainbow Ridge (it's getting rebuilt), but I can't wait to see what new surprises might wait along that wild run through Coyote Canyon, Big Thunder Mine and Dinosaur Gap.

Goodbye for now, Big Thunder. Can't wait to see the new you. Before I get too emotional about this, here's Fish Heads & Crumbs...
Disneyland comic Fish Crumbs Disney dynamite goat understudy

December 30, 2012

Time Machine Day: Magic Mountain 1975

El Bumpo Magic Mountain Theme Park Valencia California 1975
El Bumpo!
Way back before Six Flags took ownership...back when the Goldrusher mine train was the park's biggest coaster...when not one, but two of the world's tallest skyrides soared above its landscape..back when pay-one-price admission was about eight bucks...Southern California's Magic Mountain had a completely different character from what customers find there today; it offered a much more mellow, easygoing type of park experience.

Today, I've got seven photos from my 1975 visit. Sadly, most of the rides seen in these shots are long gone. All but the first and last pictures were taken from the long-departed Metro Monorail.
Goldrusher coaster Magic Mountain1975 Valencia Eagle's Flight
Goldrusher, thankfully, still exists, and here you can see most of its layout. The first drop/turn and a second lift hill are hidden on the other side of"mountain." Goldrusher is mostly notable for its neat terrain-hugging route and a dynamite high-speed helix finale. In the background, one of the park's two Eagle's Flight skyrides gave amazing views; look how high up that thing went!

December 29, 2012

Indiana Jones Fastpass

Disneyland Indiana Jones Adventure Temple Fastpass sign ride
Today we take a look at the Fastpass waiting time display tower for the Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye -- and what a wild, goofball, ramshackle-looking construction it is. Disneyland's Adventureland is more or less themed around the idea of Western civilization sticking its nose into places and situations where it doesn't belong, and that goes double for the Indy ride's entry area.

What a gloriously intentional mess this thing is. By all rights, it should look awful, but its crazy angles and mismatched materials make it all the more fun to look at. It's also a great foreshadowing of the chaos that awaits ahead, and a clue that the archeological camp you're about to enter is not run by the best-funded or most well-organized explorers on Earth. Call me paranoid, but if you put your trust in those guys, there's a very good chance something is going to go horribly wrong...

December 28, 2012

The Lost Carousel Horses

Disneyland Horse heads gift cart kiosk Fantasyland carousel
Somehow, it seems easier to appreciate the beauty of carousel horses when they're separated from the herd. The faces on these two Fantasyland steeds project noble grace and dignity -- so much, in fact, that I'm a bit reluctant to post the next photo...

Ah, well, here goes...

December 27, 2012

Adventureland After Park Closing

Disneyland Adventureland After Hours Closed night Jungle Cruise
When Disneyland's open late, it's always fun to be one of the last riders admitted to Pirates of the Caribbean. When it's over, your park exit route leads through an Adventureland that's been closed for nearly twenty minutes.

December 26, 2012

A Disney Nut Reviews The Hobbit

Hobbit Freeman Unexpected Journey pipe Shire Bilbo Baggins
I'll get straight to the point: if you loved Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films, you'll love The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. If you didn't like the former, you won't like the latter -- because,  above all else, Jackson has crafted this new film to be an exact stylistic match to the trilogy in dialogue, design, music, pacing, tone and even the gore-level.
Hobbit Unexpected Journey Bilbo Baggins dwarves party
In other words, Jackson has taken J.R.R. Tolkien's charming, amazing children's novel prelude to his later epic Rings saga and -- much as he did with the trilogy films -- turned it into a huge, sprawling action movie full of visual wonderment. Rather than skew the film towards the younger audience the book was written for, Jackson has made a movie for older fans of the Rings films.

Personally, I loved the heck out of this movie -- all nearly-three-hours of it. Is it perfect? No. Does it seem a bit padded-out to make it merely the first third of a new trilogy? A bit. Is it full of enough magic, heart, great acting and jaw-dropping spectacle to make it worth seeing? Absolutely -- unless, as mentioned above -- you didn't like The Lord of the Rings.

December 24, 2012

A Feral Cat Christmas (with Fish Heads & Crumbs)

Hungry Bear restaurant Fish Heads Crumbs Disneyland comic
The Hungry Bear Restaurant marks the farthest point of guest access along Disneyland's riverbank. From there on, it's pure Anaheim wilderness, full of mecha-moose, electric elk, and some for-real wildlife, such as the park's hidden feral cat colony, which we've visited before.

If you spot feral cats in the park in real life, it's best to leave the cute critters alone. In a comic strip world, however...well...Happy Holidays, and here's Fish Heads & Crumbs...
Christmas Comic Fish Heads Crumbs Disneyland feral cats

December 23, 2012

Stopping By Booths on a Magic Morning

Disneyland Ticket Booths early morning resort Frost
Whose booths these are I think I know.
It's too early for most folks, though;
The sleepyheads will show up late
To find the queues have filled up -- D'OH!

December 22, 2012

The Lovably Anachronistic Monorail

Monorail Disney California Adventure Disneyland Condor Flats
It's a busy morning at Disney California Adventure, and we're enjoying a stroll through the little backwater airstrip of Condor Flats. There's a faint rumbling. In a flash, Monorail Blue (Mandy) zips in and out of sight -- gone in a blink. You can almost hear the futuristic train saying, "'Scuse me -- pretend I'm not here -- Sorry!"

The clash of themes isn't a bad thing; it's just part of Disneyland Resort's unique character as the world's most amazing concentration of creativity in a small space.
Mandy Monorail Disneyland resort esplanade Downtown Disney
Mandy heads from Downtown Disney to Tomorrowland.

Sometimes you have completely coherent zones like Cars Land and New Orleans Square...and sometimes you have a monorail zipping past Alice in Wonderland, a steam train, real-world Harbor Blvd., 1930's Hollywood and Condor Flats -- right before it burrows through the Grand Californian and stops in Downtown Disney near the pyramid entry to Rainforest Cafe.

Walt Disney World's Monorail passes through Epcot's Future World because it was designed that way from the beginning. Disneyland's Monorail crosses Condor Flats because it has to. Completely different atmospheres and experiences spring from that acreage-based distinction between the resorts. I love both results.

December 21, 2012

Three Classic Disneyland Experiences Many Guests Overlook

When touring Disneyland, it's important -- between E-ticket adventures -- to take in the calmer, more beautiful aspects of the park. Rushing through is like fast-forwarding through a movie to catch only the action scenes; the big picture gets lost in the shuffle. Our recommendation? If time permits, always try to work these three classic experiences into a visit:

1) Spend Time On the River
Disneyland Columbia Canoes Rivers America Frontierland
Whether you hop aboard the Mark Twain, set sail on the Columbia, or give your arms a workout on the Davy Crockett Canoes, make sure to take a lap around the Rivers of America. You'll enjoy several minutes of pure relaxation (unless you're in the canoes) while voyaging through some of the park's most beautiful environments, seemingly miles away from the crowds.

December 20, 2012

Four Wonderful, Offbeat Netflix Holiday Specials

Although Netflix streams holiday feature films such as White Christmas and The Polar Express, they seem a bit sparse on familiar Christmas specials. No Rudolph, no Frosty -- and no Yuletide Disney offerings, except for the feature One Magic Christmas. In light of the recent  Disney/Netflix deal, I hope we'll soon see Prep & Landing and Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas on the service.
Dragons Gift Night Fury Berk Village snow Netflix Christmas Holiday
Yet, there's no need to get Grinchy; Netflix actually streams four of the best holiday specials I've ever seen (and I am a holiday video fanatic) -- four amazing productions that haven't been rerun to death, and they all share one thing in common: they're all aimed at adults as well as children. Get ready for Vikings, Dragons, Crocodiles, the Radio City Rockettes and the original 1962 Christmas TV Special that started it all! These four shows can truly be enjoyed by the whole family.

Here are Mouse Troop's picks for the Four Best Holiday Specials on Netflix:

Gift Night Fury Stoick Gobber Netflix Christmas Holiday specials
Nothing says Holidays like Vikings and giant reptiles! This crazy, heartwarming follow-up to How to Train Your Dragon returns us to the wondrous Island of Berk as the Vikings prep for their winter holiday, Snoggletog (in Berk, it's considered good luck to give things awful names).
Dragons Gift Night Fury Astrid Netflix Christmas Holiday specials
Before it's all over, we'll have exploding decorations, a flying Viking ship, a mystery solved and the true spirit of the Holidays brought forth in a tear-jerking finale.
Dragons Gift Night Fury Toothless Netflix Christmas Holiday specials
It's all done with feature-quality production values, amazing character animation and the original film's cast (including Gerard Butler, Jay Baruchel, Craig Ferguson and America Ferrera).

December 19, 2012

Hands Up for Radiator Springs Racers

Radiator Springs Racers Cars Land Carsland DCA Disney
That woman in green has the right idea; no place else at Disneyland Resort is as suited to arm-raising and joyful cheering as Radiator Springs Racers.
Radiator Springs Racers Cars Land Carsland DCA Disney
It's good for camera-raising, too! In fact, that's one factor the resort previously lacked: a good hands-in-the-air ride. California Screamin' would be perfect, but the shoulder harnesses limit your range. Space Mountain? Too dark. Big Thunder? Too smooshy. Splash Mountain's final drop is good, but brief. Small World? That just gets you funny looks.

No, what Radiator Springs Racers finally brought to the equation is a good, solid run of multiple dips, gentle air-time, and a chance to throw your digits skyward and yell like crazy -- and it's contagious!
Radiator Springs Racers Cars Land Carsland DCA Disney
 Sometimes, without saying a word, you can get the whole carload to join in before the finish line!

December 18, 2012

Strange Things 8: Thurl Ravenscroft Holiday Special

Welcome back to Strange Things, a roundup of offbeat Disney tunes that are obscure or performed in an unusual manner. All are available on iTunes and Amazon MP3. In honor of the Holidays, we're starting off with a Disney Legend often associated with Dr. Seuss and Christmas: the great Thurl Ravenscroft.

Thurl Ravenscroft DIsney Strange Things Christmas Santa Claus
ALBUM: Thurl Ravenscroft - Christmas Cocktails Part Three

In addition to making the famous Grinch song his own,  the amazing bass singer is beloved for his performances in the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Tiki Room, Country Bear Jamboree, and many, many more Disney attractions, films and records.

In light of his Disney legacy, I don't think anyone will mind that today's first pick is not a Disney song, but a wonderful, light-hearted Christmas tune sung by Mr. Ravenscroft as Santa Claus. It's another fantasy classic from one of the most memorable voices in entertainment history.

All right, regarding our next pick...I really didn't plan to start a lounge theme here...

December 17, 2012

Blue Sky Dreams (with Fish Heads & Crumbs)

Blue Sky Cellar sign DCA Disney California Adventure Cars Land
For years, Disneyland hosted a Previews of Coming Attractions exhibit on Main Street, featuring such wonders as the models of Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain back when those attractions were under construction.

Today, the Blue Sky Cellar at Disney California Adventure provides the latest peeks at the Imagineering process. A new generation of future world-builders can spend hours there among the blueprints, models and concept art behind the latest park marvels.

Today's crayon doodlers could end up designing tomorrow's parks! Time for Fish Heads & Crumbs...
Disneyland comic Fish Heads Crumbs walrus Imagineering ride

December 16, 2012

Mad Tea Party Magic

I was sorting through my Disneyland photos while listening to Christmas music, and the classic 1903 Victor Herbert song "Toyland" played as I came across this shot. I smiled at the line, "...once you pass its borders, you can never return again."
Disneyland Mad Tea party teacups families Fantasyland Alice
Victor Herbert never saw Disneyland, a place where adults eagerly hop into giant teacups to take a spin with their families and friends. No one feels ridiculous; Disneyland exists for moments like this. Sometimes you can return to Toyland, if only for brief, wonderful, fleeting moments.

December 15, 2012

Real World PeopleMovers: SFO's Airtrain

SFO Airtrain San Francisco Aiport Airtrain Air Train peoplemover
Theme park fans do things most people don't -- like staying an extra hour at an airport just to ride its people mover a few more times.

December 14, 2012

Rare Characters: Governor Ratcliffe

Governor John Ratcliffe still appears in the Walt Disney World version of Fantasmic, but out West in Disneyland, Pocahontas's arch-foe hasn't been seen in quite a while. He's not the most memorable of Disney's animated villains, but he certainly made an impression as a walk-around character.
Disneyland Ratcliffe Pocahontas character breakfast meet greet
My encounter with Ratcliffe at a 1995 Disneyland Hotel Character Breakfast was definitely not like a meet n' greet with Mickey or Goofy. When the Governor reached our table, he halted and pointed an accusing finger at my Pocahontas button (handed to every patron at the door). He unfastened it, examined it, then dropped it into my scrambled eggs. With gestures, he asked to borrow my napkin. He blew his nose in it, then rubbed it into my hair, much to the delight of every guest around us. Then he posed for a picture and shook my hand for being a good sport. As he turned toward the next table, the waiting family braced themselves, laughing nervously.

I suddenly realized how much fun playing a walk-around villain in the Disney parks must be. What other cast members get to be rude and surly -- and leave happy guests in their wake? Timing and an instinct for reading the audience are essential to pulling it off, and the cast member bringing Ratcliffe to life that day managed to turn a relatively minor Disney villain into the most popular character of the morning.

December 13, 2012

The Last Weeks For Big Thunder 1.0

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Disneyland river Frontierland
Big Thunder Mountain viewed from the Mark Twain
The recent Disney Parks Blog confirmation that Big Thunder Mountain Railroad will close on January 7th for the most extensive refurbishment in its 33 year history has me itching to get to the park for one last ride on its original rolling stock...and one last brake run through the little town of Rainbow Ridge.

December 12, 2012

Splash Mountain's True Laughing Place

Splash Mountain Disneyland log riders turnaround wet soaked
The way we see it, Splash Mountain has two different "Laughing Places." The first one, deep inside the mountain, is full of music, bees and singing animals. The second one -- the "true" Laughing Place for humans -- is the turnaround point, right where the logs burst back into daylight after the big drop.

If you watch from the viewpoint above the tunnel, you can see log after log of guests make the turn, and you'll hear similar reactions from every set of passengers as they laugh, shriek and glance at one another to find who got the biggest soaking. It's got to be one of the happiest spots in the park.

December 11, 2012

Strange Things 7: Swiss Family Gummi Bears Edition

Welcome to another round of Strange Things; Disney tunes that are offbeat, obscure or performed in unexpected ways. All these tracks (except our video pick) are available on iTunes and Amazon MP3. Today we've got Lions in Norway, Kim Possible in Germany, Swiss Family Ostriches and rocking Gummi Bears. But first...Tikis!

Tiki Room Strange Things offbeat Disney tunes Hawaiian Chant
ALBUM: Hugo Winter - Tiki Room!

This is not the soundtrack to a certain famous Disney attraction. It does, however, contain a terrific, jazzy rendition of "Hawaiian War Chant," which is used in the Enchanted Tiki Room's finale. A bit of a stretch, but I love this album cover. Now I have a craving for pineapple...and Orange Crush...

Next, we have two very different takes on the Gummi Bears theme...

December 10, 2012

Vinylmation Negotiation (with Fish Heads & Crumbs)

Disney Vinylmation Vinylmations Lion Green Space Leprechaun
Disney Parks don't need Casinos. They've got Vinylmation. So far, I've been able to restrict my collecting to a few wonderful examples provided by family generosity and chance. Don't, however, ask me how many die-cast Pixar Cars I've purchased -- but, with Cars, you know what you're getting. Of course, the thrill of opening a mystery box is what makes a Vinylmation purchase so much fun -- and so potentially addictive.

Presenting a Vinylmation as a gift can lead to...complications. Time for Fish Heads & Crumbs...
Vinylmation Disney comic Fish Crumbs walrus Christmas

December 9, 2012

Duck, Duck, Elephant

Jungle Cruise Elephant bathing pool ducks duck Disneyland waterfall
Ducks don't care about "story" or "theme." They just want a safe place to wash, drink and hunt for bugs -- and this feathered couple seems to have found a good protector, to boot.

Anyone who grew up with the classic children's book Make Way For Ducklings can find a whole new reason to love Jungle Cruise at moments like this. One can only hope Mr. and Mrs. Mallard someday bring their future ducklings back to this very spot!

December 8, 2012

DIsney On Netflix: A List of the Available Films

Disney Netflix Film List Movie Available added streaming
As you probably know by now, Disney has signed a deal with Netflix to stream classic Disney films directly into homes. The first wave of titles has arrived on the service.

Update: More titles have appeared on the service, and we've added them to the list below, as well as to our Disney-on-Netflix page.

UPDATE NOTE: 02/23/14 - Added Brother Bear.

As of this writing, Netflix has no "Disney" category set up, nor any way to easily see a complete list of Disney films they've made available for streaming. Hopefully, this will be remedied in the near future.

In the meantime, I've dug around through the company's search engine and various categories to bring you this list of Disney titles that have recently made Netflix their home:


The Aristocats
Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Brother Bear
The Emperor's New Groove
The Fox and the Hound
The Great Mouse Detective
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
James and the Giant Peach
Lilo and Stitch
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Mater's Tall Tales
Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas
The Nightmare Before Christmas
The Reluctant Dragon
The Rescuers
The Rescuers Down Under
Robin Hood
The Sword in the Stone
Treasure PlanetWho Framed Roger Rabbit

More animated classics, such as Mr. Toad, Mickey and the Beanstalk and Paul Bunyan have recently been added as part of the Disney Animation series:


Vol 1: Mickey and the Beanstalk

     Mickey and the Beanstalk
     Brave Little Tailor
     Gulliver Mickey
     Thru the Mirror
     Mr. Mouse takes a trip

 Vol 2: The Three Little Pigs

     Three Little Pigs
     The Big Bad Wolf
     Three Little Wolves
     Lambert the Sheepish Lion
     Chicken little
     Three Blind Mouseketeers
     Elmer Elephant

Vol. 3:  The Prince and the Pauper

     The Prince and the Pauper
     The Pied Piper
     Old King Cole
     Knight for a Day (Goofy)
     Ye Olden Days (Mickey)

Vol. 4: The Tortoise and the Hare

     The Tortoise and the Hare
     Babes in the Woods
     The Saga of Windwagon Smith (A fantastic, rarely seen gem!)
     The Goddess of spring
     Toby Tortoise Returns
     Paul Bunyan (One of Disney's all-time best short films!)

Vol. 5: The Wind in the Willows

     The Wind in the Willows (also known as The Adventures of Mr. Toad)
     The Ugly Duckling
     The Robber Kitten
     The Grasshopper and the Ants
     The Wise Little Hen (Donald Duck's first appearance)
     The Golden Touch
DisneyToon and Direct-toVideo Animated Films

An Extremely Goofy MovieSnowed in at the House of Mouse
Mickey's House of Villains
Pocahontas II
Brother Bear 2
The Fox and the Hound 2
The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2
Kronk's New Groove
Leroy and Stitch
Lilo and Stitch 2
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Road Rally
Mulan II
Stitch the Movie
Tarzan and Jane
The Three Musketeers
The Tigger Movie
Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure
Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Rescue
Tinkerbell: Secret of the Wings
Phineas and Ferb: The Movie

Non-Disney Animation Released by Disney

The Brave Little Toaster to the Rescue
The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars

Major Live Action Films

The Avengers
Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
Escape to Witch Mountain
101 Dalmatians (live-action)
Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves
The Big Green
The Jungle Book: Mowgli's Story (live action sequel)
I'll Be Home For Christmas
One Magic Christmas
Disney Nature: The Crimson Wing
Disney Nature: Wings of Life

Television Series

Phineas and Ferb
Tron Uprising
Schoolhouse Rock: Earth
Jake and the Never Land Pirates
Handy Manny
Jo Jo's Circus
Special Agent Oso

Non-Disney Films of Particular Interest to Disney Fans:

The Croods
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Dr. Dolittle (Rex Harrison version)
I haven't included some recent Disney Channel Films and "Buddy" talking puppy adventures. Please check out our dedicated and continually-updated Disney-On-Netflix page, which includes some Disney titles which were on the service (and remain there) before this recent deal.

Netflix has just made the best move in the company's history. Let's see where they take it from here.

December 7, 2012

The Netflix Disney Streaming Has Begun

DIsney Netflix streaming available now deal contract classics
Attention Netflix subscribers: check out the "Recently Added" section for a very welcome sight.

As mentioned earlier, Netflix and Disney have made a deal, and the result has begun just in time for the weekend. The first wave of selections contains enough gems to make any Disney (and Muppet!) fans happy. I hope this is just the beginning of a huge online library!

Lovin' California Screamin'

California Screamin' Disney California Adventure coaster review
Eleven years after Disney California Adventure opened, California Screamin' remains one of the most popular attractions at Disneyland Resort. People tend to fall in love with this ride, for it accomplishes its goal so well, transplanting classic big coaster thrills into the friendly, beautiful, well-run environment of a Disney theme park.

December 6, 2012

Pooh's Pots Perfectly Posed

It's a bright afternoon in Critter Country, a land where frontier legends, southern folklore and British literature share the same bit of real estate. It's also a place where little creek-dwelling critters probably step out through their tiny front doors to pick up the morning paper, glance across the creek, and curse about a certain bear who never cleans up after himself.
Winnie Pooh Disneyland honey posts hunny Critter Country creek
The creek in 2012
Speaking of the creek, if we compare the above photo with a shot I took in 1975...
Bear Country Disneyland creek 1975 Bears Jamboree trees
The creek in 1975 during the Bear Country era
...we can see two very different approaches to theming. When the land was called Bear Country, guests entered a naturalistic, rustic setting. Fantasy existed there, but folks had to seek it out by crossing a covered bridge to enter the Country Bears' domain.

Both approaches have their advantages. Although I loved the Pre-Pooh days when the area felt like an outpost village with a backstory, I have to admit that A.A. Milne's little bear certainly makes a lot of families very, very happy.

I do miss the Country Bears a lot, but at least I can still grab a peaceful riverside table at the Hungry Bear Restaurant (where the food's better than ever). And, before I leave the area, I can still visit that little steadfast creek that's flowed past so many changes...

December 5, 2012

Disney's Netflix Deal: Good News for Fans

 Disney Netflix deal bargin arrangement contract exclusive streaming
Disney's new agreement with Netflix marks a bright spot in both companies' attempts to get Disney classics streaming into homes. As the first big studio to choose Netflix over cable television, Disney's breaking new ground.

The World Behind World of Color: Dark Paradise Pier

World Color Disney California Adventure fountains Disneyland
If you've already seen the terrific World of Color at Disney California Adventure, you might want to consider an alternate plan during the next performance: Dark Paradise Pier. It's one of the park's most atmospheric and unexpectedly pleasant surprises. It's also one of the very best times to visit Toy Story Midway Mania.

December 4, 2012

Strange Things 6: The "Yikes, It's December" Edition

It's the season for that strange annual occurrence when time seems to accelerate and the Holidays arrive before we have time to blink! Slow down and relax by loading your music player with Strange Things -- Disney tunes that are just a bit (or a lot) off the beaten track and out of the mainstream! All these picks are available on iTunes and Amazon MP3.

Violinists Wonderland Takashima Alice Fantasy Disney
ALBUM: Chisako Takashima & 12 Violinists - Violinists in Wonderland

I dish out lots of praise in this column, but this really is the most joyful and best-arranged Alice in Wonderland medley I've ever heard. It's beautifully performed and includes the under-appreciated "Painting the Roses Red." The entire album, full of great Disney selections, is well worth considering.

Our next pick improbably links together Norway and a small American dog pound...

December 3, 2012

Waiting For Fantasmic (with Fish Heads & Crumbs)

Once it was Harper's Mill and now it's Lafitte's Tavern, but in both guises the rustic structure on Tom Sawyer Island has harbored Fantasmic's main stage.
Harper's Mill Disneyland Fantasmic Stage Mark Twain River day
It's hard to believe the gigantic Maleficent Dragon waits below, ready to rise up and set the Rivers of America afire...only to be fried by a dreaming mouse.  The thing I love most about the Disneyland version of Fantasmic is the way the show elements leap forth to take over the whole area -- and then when it's over and the lights go up, the old river has returned to normal in the blink of an eye.

It's a good thing the stage is so pleasant to look at, because a lot of die hard Fantasmic fans camp out for hours to secure a good spot for the show...and I believe that's a cue for Fish Heads & Crumbs...

Fish Heads Crumbs Disneyland comic walrus rabbit Fantasmic

December 2, 2012

Best Non-Disney Dark Ride Ever: Lost Dutchman Mine

Disney's Fantasyland dark rides invented a new language of storytelling, where the motions of the ride vehicle became as important to the story as the sights and sounds. Of all the non-Disney dark rides I experienced growing up, only one told a story as creatively as Disneyland's adventures.
Frontier Village Lost Dutchman Mine Dark Ride San Jose
Back before Sally Corporation started creating quality dark rides (such as their popluar Ghost-Blaster series), most indoor adventures off Disney property didn't seek to go beyond random collections of haunted house "scare" gags. But, back in the 60's and 70's, a wonderful park near San Jose, California, operated the finest non-Disney dark ride on the planet.

December 1, 2012

Junkyard Jamboree Spins Its Tale in Book Form

While Christmas shopping the other day, the last thing I expected to find hundreds of miles from Disneyland Resort was a souvenir of Disney California Adventure.
Mater's Junkyard Jamboree Cars Land Carsland Disney Adventure
But there it was in the book section of the local Target store. At first glance, Mater and the Little Tractors looks like any other Cars-themed beginning reader book, but it soon becomes clear that the book tells the backstory of Mater's Junkyard Jamboree in Cars Land.