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A Disneyland Holiday Tour

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Sharing the magic of the holidays like only Disney can, parks’ new and old attractions are decked out for visitors’ enjoyment

Disneyland is a magical place for adults and children alike, but there’s no more magical time to visit than during the holidays when both Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure are transformed into a magical wonderland with special attractions and treats just for the holidays. (for a album of photos from the trip, visit ParentClick’s Facebook Page)

We recently visited the parks for my son’s birthday and to enjoy some of the new attractions and old favorites made over for the holidays.

We didn’t tell the boys where we were going, only that we were going somewhere special. The secret surprise was half the fun, and they really didn’t realize where we were headed until we turned off at the Disneyland exit, at which there was much rejoicing!

When we checked into the Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel, they were even more surprised by the vastness of the entryway and all the little details that Disney does so well like the child-size rockers in front of a TV playing Disney movies and the desk clerk asking if we were celebrating anything special, engaging my son in a lengthy discussion about birthdays. I can’t say enough about the helpfulness of the cast members at the hotel and their pleasant, helpful answers to our many questions as well as their patience with an excited 7-year-old full of stories.

Once we were settled in the hotel, it was off to the Disney’s California Adventure via the private hotel entrance, which proved to be convenient on many levels. A fact we weren’t aware of until this trip was that any purchases made in either park can be charged and delivered directly to your room at the resort, relieving you of the burden of your purchases while exploring the parks.

DISNEY’S CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE

Our first stop was the newly opened Cars Land, which was a delight and much more than expected.

Although my boys have somewhat outgrown the movie, seeing Radiator Springs come to life brought a sparkle to their eyes as they rode Luigi’s Flying Tires and The Radiator Springs Racers. We were especially impressed with the Radiator Springs Racers, which takes you on a ride full of speed and surprises. I would definitely recommend a Fast Pass for this attraction.

We also enjoyed the Cars Land holiday decorations and made a game of finding all the Christmas trees made of auto parts and paraphernalia. There were trees decorated with hubcaps, one made of tires, one made of road signs and license plates, stacked motor oil and more.

We stopped off at Flo’s V-8 Café for a breather, dining among the gas pumps and watching Mater traverse the park wishing everyone a happy holiday.

The Cozy Cone offered a variety of snacks and treats – all served in cones. There were several photo spots set up throughout Cars Land. In front of the Cozy Cone it was Mater and Lightning McQueen and near town hall was a Christmas tree and Red, the fire engine. And at the entrance was the holiday “Snowcar” all set for magical holiday photo opportunities.

Paradise Pier also was a hit as my 7-year-old went on his first roller coaster ride on California Screamin’. Although he had second thoughts after shooting up the track, he thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

That’s what Disney does best – making the little, special memories that will last a lifetime, and they do it every minute of every day for every guest.

Toy Story was a better option for me, my 10-year-old and our queasy tummies, and I’m proud to say I came out the winner – at least in that round. This ride is always a big hit with me and my family.

The boys indulged me on Ariel’s Underwater Adventure, and they were glad they did. It’s not often that I get to do the little princess things with three boys (hubby included) in the house. I also was able to sneak in a ride on the carousel as well.

We did a few things this time around that we’d never gotten to before, such as Soarin’ over California, took in a holiday showing of “Prep & Landing” in 3D and attended the Mad Tea Party, a dance party featuring lights, color, music and that Disney Magic.

Morgan really enjoyed the music and the lights. We had purchased the “Glow With the Show” Mouse Ears for him earlier in the day, and these were fabulous, changing colors to complement the show. This worked throughout both parks, with other shows and the fireworks as well. The magic here is created with a receiver in the hat that gets a signal in various areas of the parks, changing the colors and complementing the shows.

New this year:
Buena Vista Street: this thoroughfare experiences the holidays for the first time and brings back the look and feel of Los Angeles circa 1930s. Carthay Circle features a huge Christmas tree with vintage ornaments and retro toys. Children can visit the classic department store Santa at Eias & Co. as well, whispering their holiday wishes and having their photos taken.

World of Color water show on Paradise Bay: Unfortunately, we missed this nighttime wonder while we were visiting attractions at Disneyland, but it features special holiday guests Lanny & Wayne from “Prep & Landing” in a Bellagio-style fountain show with spectacular light displays. From what we hear, this is a great place to show off those glowing Mickey ears as well.

Phineas & Ferb’s Rockin’ Rollin’ Dance Party: This show is dressed up for the holidays as well, and guests are invited to dance and sing on Paradise Pier with these endearing characters.

DISNEYLAND

Our visit to Disneyland was a return to some of our favorite attractions as we took in the Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion Holiday and our old favorite Jack Skellington, and It’s a Small World all dressed in holiday splendor.

A park feature we were introduced to this time around was the Birthday Button, which can be obtained at City Hall. This wearable button alerts all park cast members that your birthday boy (or girl) is celebrating. Each cast member will stop and wish him a happy birthday, making a very special day for those attention-loving little ones. Characters will greet them with a, “Happy Birthday,” as well.

It was our first time enjoying the revamped Star Tours attraction, and it’s never been better with its 54 new scenarios. The boys also were able to have their picture taken Wreck-It Ralph at Starcade. a real treat since they had just seen the movie.

A Disneyland holiday tradition, the Christmas Fantasy Parade has never been more enchanting. We enjoyed watching our favorite characters decked out in their holiday finery greeting spectators along the parade route. This is one of my favorite times to people watch, especially the little ones whose faces glow with delight as they are greeted by cartoon characters, Disney royalty and their favorite storytime friends.

We also enjoyed our holiday trek through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, which in the evenings transforms for the holidays covered in icicles. The theme culminates with the “Believe … In Holiday Magic” fireworks show each evening. This show is magical in ways only Disney knows how to present, with holiday music, light and snowfall on Main Street, It’s a Small World and New Orleans Square.

Other holiday highlights:

Jingle Jangle Jamboree: Big Thunder Ranch in Frontierland puts on the Jingle Jangle Jamboree, where children can play games, decorate cookies, make crafts, meet St. Nick and enjoy the holiday music of Billy Hill and the Holiday Hillbillies.

Three Kings Day: Disney will be celebrating Dia de los Reyes Magos Jan. 4-6 with special entertainment and décor for this Latin American holiday celebration.

HOLIDAY SWEET TREATS
During our trip, we were treated to a behind the scenes look, courtesy of the marketing department, where we met one of the Disney candy makers, who introduced us to all the special treats that are available at the theme parks only for the holidays, including the famous handmade Candy Canes, Mickey and Minnie Candy Apples, Snowman Candy Apples, Peppermint Bark, Gourmet Marshmallows in Peppermint and Egg Nog, Gingerbread Mickey Cookies, Marshmallow Snowmen and more.

One of the special treats for us was learning how they make the Marshmallow Snowmen, which would make a great party favor for your own holiday party.

The recipe goes something like this: Place three different sized marshmallows on a Popsicle stick in descending order. Cover in melted caramel, let dry. Cover in white chocolate, let dry. Add decorations like mini M&Ms for buttons, sour strips for scarves, and mini chocolate chips for eyes and nose, all fastened with a light coating of white icing. You’re on your own for the hats, as only Disney can make those.

UPCOMING LIMITED TIME MAGIC
We also learned a little of what’s in store at Disneyland in 2013 when we met Disney’s new character, The Time Keeper, who looked into the future and predicted 52 new wonderful experiences for park visitors in 2013, including weekly surprises and weeklong celebrations that create those special, unique and memorable moments when friends, families and loved ones get together.

A look at the Limited Time Magic:

True Love: A weeklong Valentine celebration featuring special menus, photo opportunities, casltes bathed in red and pink and special collectibles.

Independence Day: A 4th of July Fireworks Party, with Mickey decked out in red, white and blue. Guests will find USA shirts, special ear hats and limited-edition souvenirs.

Long Lost Friends Week: Guests will get a chance to meet with characters not usually appearing in the parks.

Pirate Week: Jack Sparrow’s world comes to life with what Disney terms Pirate-palooza, featuring meetn-and-greets, pirate bands and more.

Dapper Dans Sing Boy Bands: The Dapper Dans will feature music from One Direction, NSUNC and the Backstreet Boys

Unleash the Villains: During this Friday the 13th celebration, Disney Hollywood Studios will remain open until the 13th hour (1 a.m.), where the Disney villains will host a dance party with limited-edition collectibles mischief.

Golden Horseshoe Revue: the Frontierland show will return for one month, bringing back jokes and songs enjoyed by Walt Disney himself.

For additional weekly surprises in 2013, keep an eye out on Disneyland.com, the Disney Parks Blog, Facebook and Twitter

[AUHTOR: Alicia Hoffman, Community Editor]

May 30, 2013

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