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

Tuesday, July 03, 2012



My mom and I were super excited for this trip.  New season for the All American College Band.  New DCA renovations completed.  Renovated Main Street completed.  New venue for Billy Hill and the Hillbillies.

Let's get this show in the road!

The new view of Disney California Adventure from across the Esplanade.  I had read that the new styling was to reflect Hollywood/Los Angeles in 1923 when Walt Disney arrived from MO.  The new park's "castle" (finally) is the reproduction of the Carthay Theater, which was the venue for the opening of Snow White.  It definitely has that "castle" feel from outside the gates.  We didn't plan to spend much time at DCA on this day, however.  I'm looking forward to going back by myself so that I can wander at will.

Our first stop in Disneyland Park was our favorite breakfast place, the Carnation Cafe.  It's been closed, well, forever, it seems but the changes are worth it.   This used to be a bistro with outdoor seating only.  On rainy days we were out of luck.  Now there is indoor seating, although we prefer the outdoors on beautiful days like Saturday.

I don't have photos of them, but there are now awnings on either side of this patio seating area that shade two full seating sections meaning there are only a small handful of umbrellas. This gazebo is where we used to check in, but now the check-in is inside the restaurant.  There used to be a waiting line of diners, but now they are using a pager system so that people waiting to be seated can browse Main Street while they wait.

Chef Oscar wasn't there, but Traci, one of our favorite servers over the years was working inside.  She saw Mom and I outside and came out to welcome us back and to chat for a while.  The menu has changed, too.  I never had the Eggs Benedict but I know my BIL and nephew will be disappointed that they are missing now.  I normally order the Oscar's Scramble, which is now called something like Oscar's Favorite I think, because they now cook eggs to order.  The sausage has been changed from pork breakfast links to chicken-apple sausage which I'm sure my WW leader would approve of, but I found too sweet.  Will try the bacon next time.  And instead of a croissant with this breakfast, which I found easy to resist on my diet, they now have a biscuit, which I could not resist.  As always, a delicious, satisfying, high-protein breakfast to start our day.

After breakfast we headed to newly renovated Candy Palace.  Breathtaking changes here.  Delightful!

Everything is a confection.

 Even the chandeliers, whose glass drops replicate candy in its molten state.

The Penny Arcade, which sits between the Candy Palace and the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor, is a shadow of it's former self, but it works.  They've kept all the old antiques here, restored and displayed in places of honor.  I don't know where the penny presses went, but it's no great loss.  What I didn't notice, though, was if Esmeralda is still here.  Will have to check again next time.


The gorgeous Orchestron, beautifully restored and presented.

 At the Candy Palace we were on a quest for our favorite confection, the elusive Pecan Nuttle.  Not available for all the months of the renovation and not ready yet that morning.  We  were encouraged to come back around 1:30-2:00.  Encouraged, we headed back to the front gate for the first Disneyland Band concert of the day.


Art, the conductor.  So charming and kind to my mom.  She thinks they are nice to her because she is in a wheelchair, but I assure her that they recognize her and appreciate that she is such a loyal fan.

Hatter was there, as always.  He tried to get her to join this stroller drill team, but - as always - she declined.  So he made sure she knew that she was in his way...

...every time he walked by.  Which was often.

"You're still in my way."  He's mad.

This was the first time I've seen Mulan at the front gate.

When the concert was over we headed back to the Mark Twain because SOMETHING NEW HAS BEEN ADDED.   The band now plays a set on the Mark Twain.  We didn't know if they would be on the boat or near the boat, so we didn't board but next time we for sure will.  How fun!

Next on our schedule (and yes, we had a tight schedule 'cause we had so much we wanted to see and hear) we headed to the new Jamboree in the theater behind Big Thunder Mountain BBQ.

Just in case we got lost...

 ...they weren't taking any chances.  This sign was next to BTMRR.

We got a kick out of the stage decor.  Clearly, hillbilly musicians on the move.

While we waited for the show we watched the lasso lessons...

 ...and Cowboy Donald.  Note:  this is probably the only character meet-and-greet area where the characters aren't mobbed and where you can get your picture without a long wait in line.

At least for now.

See?  No line for Minnie.

Yee Haw!  Now HERE is a treat for me.  Big Al was a favorite from the Country Bears Jamboreee and this was the first time I had ever seen this character at Disneyland.  I sure miss that attraction.

We were very impressed with this venue for Billy Hill and the Hillbillies.  The sound is terrific!  I'm sure there will be some issues later in the season if the heat moves in, but this was a lovely mild morning set (11:15 am) and there was plenty of room to sit.  I parked Mom at the head of the center aisle and I sat on a bench next to her.  Probably the best view of the boys she's ever had.  But it got better...

...when lead Kirk Wall came down into the audience.



Always a hoot!

See what I mean about the characters?    Dale could come down and have a seat in the audience for a while...

...and though Big Al sat next to us for a while, he later got up to go dance.  So did Minnie.

Sure did enjoy our time at the Jamboree, and it will be a "fer sher" visit every time from now on.

After the Billies we hightailed it back to Town Square for our favorite DL Band set.  It's during this concert-in-the-park set that you really understand the talent and virtuosity of these musicians.

And then we were back up to the Coke Corner (my pedometer recorded 6.5 miles that day and I only went on one ride - Space Mountain with a fastpass.  Proud that I can do that, now.)

As always, we enjoyed the Mad Hatter and Alice conducting Musical Chairs with Ragtime Patrick while we had something to drink.

I went down to check on the Pecan Nuttles.  Almost ready.

Long-time candymaker.

Our heroine of the day.  We had been by about four times at this point, and were anxious to get up to the castle for another musical performance, but didn't want to miss our chance for the Nuttles that were not quite on the shelves yet.  They don't make very many and we didn't want them to sell out on us so...

...she went into the candymaking area and got us some!  :)

Candy safely stowed for later, we went to the castle to wait for the All American College Band.  While we waited we noticed that the red and white canopy is gone from the old Plaza Gardens.

And the mountain climbers are back on the Matterhorn after many years.

And then...

We heard drums in the distance.

And then the signature "Hey!" that is part of the All American College Band's cadence.  Man, are they good this year.  Only a couple of weeks into the season and they are already tighter than last year's at the end of the summer.  And last year's was plenty tight.

Led by director Ron McCurdy (USC)

Lower! Lower!

Watch out for this kid.  What a horn!

I love brass.

This is always a fun set with lots of jazzed up arrangements of Disney music.  Great energy in the group makes it doubly entertaining.

Once upon a time the AACB did their next set - jazz - under the canopy at Plaza Gardens (said canopy is now that frame behind walls in a previous picture.)  So, we all - band and audience - charged over to California Adventure where they would do their jazz set on the Hollywood Backlot Stage (where my nephew played with his band just a month before, so it felt a little surreal).

These pictures of the new Buena Vista Street entrance are one-handed, on the fly, but give a glimpse at the changes, anyway.  I. CANNOT. WAIT. TO. GO. BACK. TO. EXPLORE.

"New" Glendale-Hyperion Bridge replaces the old Golden Gate Bridge.

The historian in me couldn't stand it.  I had to track down pictures of the original bridge.  This thing is a monster!  Now I want to go track it down and drive it.  And under it.

It was built in the late 1920's and dedicated in 1930.  Perfect choice for the Buena Vista Street of Walt's arrival in the 1920s.

Photo dated 1928.
Glendale-Hyperion Bridge, more recent picture.

 Reminiscent of Farmer's Market in LA.

Electric lines for the Redline Trolley that makes its way up and down the street.  On board is an entertaining group called The Newsboys.  They do a song and dance routine about Walt and Mickey coming to LA (yeah, Mickey's on the trolley, too) that I'll try to video for y'all on my next trip.  Buena Vista is popping with energy and - I'll say it, WALT MAGIC, now.  There are even castmembers dressed and made up like police, messenger girls on bikes...  Great move, Disney.

 Every Disney park has to have a castle, right?  DCA's is the Carthay Theater where Walt debuted Snow White.  Restaurant on the second floor but I didn't get in there to see what's on the first.

Shop named after Walt's dad.  Very elegant.  Carpet was so thick that I had a hard time pushing Mom's wheelchair through it.

Jazz venue for the All American College Band 2012.  Trumpet player Wayne Bergeron had been their clinician that week and directed this set.  Amazing.  Best jazz set I've heard from any AACB.  Unfortunately, I had my small memory card in the camera and had been taking pics and video in high-def so didn't have enough memory to record this.  I will get my bigger card from my son before my next trip.

After this set we were more than ready for a break and our dinner, so we went back into Disneyland and ALL THE WAY back to the Pizza Port for our favorite pizza salad for dinner.  Good food and a very pleasant place to eat.

On our way there I was stopped by a pleasant voice saying, "Excuse me."  A castmember from the Buzz Lightyear ride asked me how many were in my party, and when I said "Just two," she gave me this fastpass.  I'd never seen one before.  Any ride except the Matterhorn.  Score!  I had planned to leave Mom at the Coke Corner and go on Space Mountain or Star Tours.  How to decide?

We spent the next hour resting and waiting for the parade.  My family still jokes about my collection of photos from the Happiest [50th] Homecoming parade, "The Parade of Dreams."  I loved that parade and have hundreds of pictures of it.

This one may catch it.  Full on fun from beginning to end.

I'll never get tired of it.

Finally!  A decent photo of Aladdin...
...y dos de los tres caballeros.

Aqui esta el tercer.

Yay.  Aurora is my favorite princess and I have a hard time getting a good picture of her.

Leaping Lion King monkeys.

My favorite.

Another that I have a hard time catching mid-routine.  Lion King stiltwalkers.

My sweeps!  Love my chimney sweeps!

Hi, Bert!

Very shortly after the parade came the All American College Band for their last (and our favorite) set of the day.

Fabulous trombone player.  Watch for him in the video.

I managed to clear just enough memory to catch the final two minutes of my favorite piece, a medley honoring Earth, Wind and Fire.

Our day seemed to be drawing to a close.  I took Mom back to the Coke Corner, then went into the Gibson Girl Ice Cream shop to get Mom a sundae.  I heart art nouveau.

New design, new queue and the ice cream is flying out of the place now.  It's all good.  I gave Mom her sundae, then headed back into the Candy Palace for one more picture before using that fastpass on Space Mountain. 

When I got back, Mom was ready to head up to the end of Downtown Disney for the Swing Dancers.  We had gotten used to watching them dance at the Plaza Gardens (remember the canopy frame?) but they got moved out for the renovations to that area (which will take who-knows-how-long but probably years).  We enjoyed watching them, but decided that until they come back we would return to finishing our evenings at Coke Corner with the Ragtime piano.  Just too crowded, dance floor too small and no seating for the audience.

Still, a wonderful day.  It's 57 years, now, that I've been enjoying this park.  I still get that heart-jump of excitement when I reach the offramp, then come through the gates.  When I hear the train release steam.  When I hear the music track on Main Street, or the horns of the Main Street cars.  When I see Sleeping Beauty's Castle for the first time each visit, and hear Jiminy Cricket promise that my dreams will come true as long as I keep love in my heart.

Already excited for my next visit.

Thanks, Walt.

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