Hunting an Easter Eggstravaganza

The hunt was on for these Disney kids. The annual EGGstravaganza, hosted by several of the Disney parks during the spring season, can be a fun family activity that doesn’t have to divert your attention much from a touring plan. You can simply be on the lookout for the sizeable character eggs while moving between attractions. Or, as we did, you can purchase a special map and stickers to mark your progress. Whether or not you choose to complete the hunt, you are entitled to a little prize. We found that our kids, even the big ones, loved scouting for the eggs. Here and there a bit of fierce competition broke through their united front, but for the most part it was a cooperative effort.  It’s also a great activity for younger ones to do while their big sibs are on the thrill rides. (more…)

Smoke Andy’s score in Toy Story Midway Mania!

PicMonkey Collage toy story mmSmoke my own eight-year-old Andy, not Pixar’s! As far as I remember, Andy of the Toy Story series isn’t even featured in the Toy Story Midway Mania! attraction, at least not directly. I believe the idea is that Andy has just gotten a carnival midway playset. We (the riders) assume the role of his toys, set up the carnival and try to run it ourselves. This involves playing five classic midway games in which you use spring-loaded shooters to hit 3-D animated targets. The games are as follows: (more…)

Follow the rainbow to World of Color at Disney California Adventure

World of Color is on the list of those non-negotiable attractions when our family visits Disney California Adventure. It’s a visually stunning show show filled with leaping Technicolor fountains, blasts of flame, and favorite Disney characters projected onto screens of mist. The music and images linger in our ears and thoughts for weeks after we return home from the trip: Pocahontas’s “Colors of the Wind”, a prince and princess montage, the wildebeest stampede from The Lion King, bagpipes from Brave, a magic carpet ride with Aladdin, a grinning Cheshire Cat. (more…)

Swingin’ with the Silly Symphony

Back in 1935, Walt Disney Productions released a little animated feature called The Band Concert. It was the first time audiences got to see Mickey Mouse in color — in this case, he was seething in color as a frustrated conductor, attempting to lead his band through a zany performance in the park.

The Silly Symphony Swings attraction in Disney California Adventure Park is based on this animated short (though, for Disney purists, The Band Concert was not actually part of Disney’s Silly Symphony collection). That aside, the swings are a fun addition to the Paradise Pier boardwalk attractions at the park. The big thrill for the kids is the twisty tornado that rises from the ride’s center column – a nod to the tornado that rips through Mickey’s concert in the film.


Location: Find the Silly Symphony Swings in the Paradise Pier section of Disney California Adventure Park, Disneyland Resort.


Take a drawing lesson at Animation Academy

I have a thick folder dating back many years containing a charming collection of Disney characters my children have drawn me. Secretly, these are my favorite works of art to receive from them. It’s been awesome watching the characters evolve over time from masses of colored scribbles to something (or someONE) I can instantly recognize. No surprise, they thought it was the coolest to be able to take their first drawing lesson at Disney California Adventure’s Animation Academy.

Disney animators are on hand at the attraction to guide families through a crash course in drawing Disney characters. The class is about 20 minutes in length, long enough that adults can pick up some good tips from the rough stage of a drawing to the clean-up, but short enough to work with young attention spans. We had two young artists in the studio that day ages 6 and 8 who came home with impressive sketches of a certain Disney VIP. Be sure to check the Animation Academy schedule board outside the building to find out if your favorite character is featured. (more…)

Hail a ride on the Red Car Trolley

Could there be a more stylish and appropriate way to transport the family down Buena Vista Street? Destination Sunset Boulevard and the Hollywood Tower Hotel! The streetcars that hum through the streets of Disney California Adventure were inspired by Pacific Electric Railway carriages from the 1920s but are powered solely on batteries. The overhead wires are all part of the show.

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Take a free-mounted ride on Mickey’s Fun Wheel

Mickey’s Fun Wheel deviates from traditional Ferris wheels in that most of the gondolas slide inwards and outwards as the wheel rotates. And, if you haven’t yet experienced these swinging gondolas, consider yourself warned! We (and “we” refers to two adults and four children 7 years of age and under) were not prepared for the sudden feeling of coming unhinged from the ride! That first slide brought on shrieks from all of us. Swinging in a stiff breeze while suspended over the rippling waters of Paradise Pier Lagoon made the ride memorable enough to justify waiting in such a slow-loading line. (more…)

Discover your “Disney self” in the Beast’s Library

Hmmm. Now, which Disney character am I most likely to identify with? An occasionally frazzled but fun-loving homemaker with a houseful of kids? (Anita from 101 Dalmatians springs to mind.) A trip to the Beast’s Library in the Sorcerer’s Workshop attraction at Disney California Adventure attempted to provide more insight into who might be my Disney kindred spirit.
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Kid Wish: Jumpin’ Jellyfish

MH jumpin jellyfishIt might look a tad intimidating from the ground (the kelp-y tower rises 60 feet), but Jumpin’ Jellyfish is a gentle parachute ride for kids. Coupled with the height, the docile bouncing might rattle some younger children. Adults can appreciate the vantage point at the top of the tower.


Location: Find Jumpin’ Jellyfish in the Paradise Pier section of Disney California Adventure Park, Disneyland Resort.

Touring Tip: My one recommendation for the ride: clear signage stating that children under 7 must be accompanied by an adult. Fortunately we hadn’t been waiting in a long line when we learned this. This is a crucial piece of information when a family with very young children is planning to split up!