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…)

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…)

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.

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.


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.

Kids Wish: King Triton’s Carousel of the Sea

Further capitalizing on the adoration of Ariel by preschool girls everywhere, rides on her father’s Carousel are offered on Paradise Pier. Prancing horses have been swapped out for a variety of colorful sea creatures to ride.

Location: King Triton’s Carousel of the Sea is located in the Paradise Pier section of Disney California Adventure Park, Disneyland Resort.

Spot: Toy Story Zoetrope

After we did the background check and understood what a zoetrope is, we were really looking forward to finding this exhibit in Disneyland’s Animation building. Pixar’s John Lassetter created this zoetrope to better teach how the illusion of animation actually works. Instead of flat drawings spinning, Pixar used 18 3-D sculptures of each Toy Story 2 character. A strobe light flashing on them as they spin creates the impression that Woody, Jessie, Buzz and Bullseye have come to life!

Location: Find the Toy Story Zoetrope in the Disney Animation Building in Disney California Adventure Park, Disneyland Resort.

Character Series: Meet Snow White

MH snow white germany pavilionWhere can you meet the Fairest in the Land? (Let me quick consult my Magic Mirror…) Mirror reports back: Perhaps the easiest spot to meet this princess is at her wishing well in the Germany Pavilion of World Showcase at Epcot. Nestled on the outskirts of the pavilion as you enter going clockwise, Snow White (occasionally with the Prince, and/or Dopey) greets guests at the well several times daily between 11:30am and 6pm. Our photo, taken when our son wasn’t quite three, remains one of my favorite Disney snapshots of all time. Check out the way he’s gazing at Snow White! (more…)

Festival of the Flying Tires with Luigi

MH luigi's flying tiresYou’ve got a job to do on this attraction! These tires float on a cushion of air and require audience participation to get gliding. This airy dance is referred to in Cars Land circles as the Festival of the Flying Tires!

Update: Though the smart choice would have been to skip this molasses-slow loader and ride Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree instead. We made a mad dash for Cars Land (and specifically Radiator Springs Racers) during an early Extra Magic Hour at California Adventure. We hopped in what was advertised to be a 5-minute line but turned out to be 25 – worth a 3-minute ride spent coaching your preschoolers how to “drive” the giant tire? Debatable. (more…)