A place for family and friends to see what I'm up to. Visitors welcome here.

Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Sunday, January 29, 2012

How do you spell...


That was my day at Disneyland yesterday.  Took my mom and - while we agreed we both dislike change in general - the changes in our day worked out splendidly.

We already knew that a half-block of Main Street, including our favorite breakfast place, would be boarded up and under renovation, but we left at our usual time anyway.  When we arrived we were directed to park in a space that wasn't even a real parking space, very much out in a Neverland within the Mickey and Friends parking structure up on the Donald level.  I was a little disgruntled as a handful of cars ahead of us had been allowed to park in the front of the first row in the second section and another whole row behind us was directed to the back part of the spaces in the front of the first row.  (If you know how the parking structure is arranged at DL, that might make sense.)  But we were directed to a non-space right by the exit.  Anyway, I was whining in my mind as I got Mom's wheelchair out as a young castmember approached me and offered me a "1st Visit" pin for being such a good sport about being parked so far out there.  I was trying not to be insulted (being a 57-year veteran and all) when he offered me a different pin from his bag.  I spied a "Happily Every After" pin and asked for one of those instead, which he gave to me.  I pinned it to my shirt and pushed Mom to the elevator which was - shockingly - empty.

At the tram station we parked as usual at the top of the wheelchair ramp, expecting to wait for the next tram.  A young family with a stroller was waiting to be allowed to board in the wheelchair seat, but the young mother motioned to us and told the tram operator that they would wait since he had a wheelchair waiting.  He misunderstood her and kept all of us waiting until the next tram.  The young family was confused and disgruntled and said something polite but questioning to him (he had allowed two other families to move ahead of them into the handicapped seat).  It turned out that he thought we were all together and since we all wouldn't fit in the area (there was already another family in the seat), he had us wait.  I commented that the young woman was just being kind to suggest we go first, but that we were not together.  It occurred to me then to give her the pin I'd just been given.  She was thrilled; couldn't stop thanking me and asking "Are you sure?"

Oh, yeah, I'm sure.  It was a kick to help such a nice young woman get her day off to a happy start.

It was a stunningly beautiful day at the Park yesterday.  Santa Ana winds are the pits in Southern California and we'd had a couple of days of them, but the growth around Disneyland does a pretty good job as a windbreak so the result for us was a crystal clear day and mild temperatures.  In fact, I was a little uncomfortable in my sweatshirt for a few hours in the afternoon.

After a breakfast at the Riverbelle Terrace (a painless experience) we started our day with the Disneyland Band at the front gate.

Usually when we're there to enjoy the band we also get to enjoy the antics of the Mad Hatter and Alice, but they weren't there yesterday.  Not disappointed, though, for the extra time that the band wasn't playing into the Hatter Show, they played some numbers we had never heard before.

After this performance, we moved to Town Square to wait for their next concert.  The flower beds in Town Square were full of Iceland Poppies, one of my favorite flowers.  Bees were busily collecting pollen.  Sometimes the oddest things pop into my head.  When  I saw these bees I was first grateful to be seeing bees at all (new data suggests we've been killing them off in the billions with pesticides and are on the verge of a food production disaster).  Then I remembered when one of my colleagues was preparing to take a few dozen eighth graders on the annual Washington, DC trip and was approached by a parent insisting that my colleague contact the airline used for the trip to inform them that they could not have peanuts on board the flight because her son was allergic.  I wondered for a moment if anyone had ever insisted that Disneyland make sure there were no bees in the park because their child was allergic.


While we waited we enjoyed the antics of Dale as he played with children wanting autographs and photo.

The DL Band did one of my favorite shows of Disney movie themes.

Disneyland, where even the poppies dance.

After this concert we made our way up Main Street.  Change - improvement - is coming to the Carnation Cafe, ice cream parlor and Candy Palace.  I don't know what is planned for the Penny Arcade but with all I've read about the renovations to the others I fear the Penny Arcade might implode.  The Refreshment Corner (aka Coke Corner) is also boarded up which means...


The Coke Corner piano corner has been a favorite hang-out for Mom and me since 2005 when I "discovered" Johnny Hodges there.  Well, seems we had work to do.

And we did it.

I love the Mark Twain trip along the Rivers of America and Mom and I enjoyed the "new" addition of the piano. 

Thank you, Ragtime Patrick.

I'm nuts about water wheels and manage to photo this one every day that I ride this boat.  Never get tired of it.

Well, here was something new.  I'm quite used to the ducks and coots that live on the river, but this is the first time I've seen one of these.  Double-crested cormorant, I believe.

After our trip around the island we headed for a break at the Golden Horseshoe Saloon and the fabulous Billy Hill and the Hillbillies.  We were early enough to get a great table, and by the time of the show the room was packed and everyone in high spirits.  Nothing like audience energy to guarantee an exceptional (rather than merely terrific as usual) show.

After the Billies we decided we wanted to hear some more piano, and the challenge was raised.  How do we figure out when this piano player was going to be on the Mark Twain?  We took three rides in a row then finally connected up with him on the fourth.

It was worth the effort.

This was my favorite number of the selection on the program yesterday.  Having fun with discord.

I have to say, though, that one of the things I love about this riverboat ride is the quiet among the chaos that can be Disneyland.  On a glorious winter day like yesterday the park can get very crowded - and it was - and this 15-minute voyage is a calming break.  I was grateful for the three quiet tours we took, and won't be sorry when the Main Street renovations are complete and the piano returns to Coke Corner.

By then it was nearly 3:00 and time to eat.  Our favorite lunch/dinner place is the Pizza Porte which I'd read was also closed for renovations, so we decided to try the new Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe (former Blue Ribbon Bakery).  Adorable Mary Poppins theme.  I had the Caprese sandwich and it was delish.

The restaurant is themed on the penguin waiters from Mary Poppins.  Aren't the windows adorable?

During the 2005 50th Happiest Homecoming I really enjoyed finding the Mickey icons throughout the park and, in the process of finding them, noticed for the first time the use of clever weathervanes throughout the park.  So I got a big kick out of this one on the new bakery cafe.
The yellow and white section of tables in front of the cafe is one of the best people-watching spots in Disneyland and we always enjoy the show.  As we lingered I noticed the scaffolding to facilitate the changes to the Matterhorn.  I've read they're installing new bobsleds to this old favorite of mine.  I've also read that they will be a new style, one, it seems, that will give a little more security to the rider.  I know some will grieve the loss of the cuddle factor on this ride, but the last time I rode this I nearly ruptured a disc in my back and I haven't been on it since.  It makes me smile to think I may be able to ride it again.

I am often dissatisfied with my job as a middle school teacher.  8th graders can be a challenge.  But when I consider what I might do instead, I guarantee anything that involves functional thinking on scaffolding like this is off the list.

It turned out that our table was also a decent place to enjoy the Soundsational parade, although we agreed we would return to our favorite spot on the sidewalk in Town Square in front of the railroad station in the future.

After the parade we did return to Town Square for the retiring of the flag.  Disney does a brilliantly inspiring job of this every day, but Saturdays are special.  Disneyland Band playing patriotic marches and tunes, Dapper Dans joining them.  A "real" color guard to bring down the colors.

My favorite part of the program, though, is the honoring of vets and military guests.  As the theme for their branch of service is played, they are invited to come to the flag pole to stand and let us applaud to thank them for their service and sacrifice.  I admit to getting goose bumps every time when one of the Dapper Dans joins them when the Army song is played.  I enjoy singing the National Anthem when the flag is lowered.  Everyone needs to take a half-hour from their Disneyland day at least once to experience this thrilling ceremony.

The poppies were especially pretty in the twilight.

After the ceremony we made the trip up Main Street one more time to do something we'd been promising ourselves for a couple of years now.

It was time to enjoy some SWING at the Carnation Plaza Gardens.

Sets were scheduled for 7, 8, 9 and 10, so the sun set while we were there.  By seven the floor had been cleared, swept, mopped, inspected and hand dried. 

Time to swing!

Here's a surprise for my older son.

I gotta learn this one.

And yes, I know I'm only showing their feet.  I don't want to violate the dancers' privacy too much by showing more than their feet without permission.

I can't believe how much fun this was!  I thought we would stay for one, maybe two, sets, but we couldn't make ourselves leave.  This is a "small" community of about a hundred people (as many as 40 couples on the floor at one time) dancing and watching and applauding and mostly just enjoying fantastic music and the closeness that comes when a community of people with a shared passion collects.  Just before the last set the fireworks played and it was my all-time favorite show, "Remember, Dreams Come True."

Our time spent here made our day complete.  We usually like to end our day tucked in with the piano at Coke Corner, but on Saturdays that became awkward for us.  Now we have a new and - frankly - much more fun hang-out for our Saturday evening visits.

I'd been wearing my pedometer all day.  Including the trek back to the Neverland parking space I logged five miles (and earned 5 WW points).  Once in the car I noticed the advantage to that space - a quick right turn and I was heading down the exit ramp.  Traffic was light, not too many drunks and we were home about 12:30 am.

Grateful for another terrific day with my mom at our favorite place.

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