Who Does it Better? Disney’s Haunted Mansion

How does the venerable, classic Haunted Mansion attraction stack up on each coast? As this is one of our absolute must-dos of any visit to the theme parks, we are reluctant to label either version inferior. Instead, we’ll discuss the exciting exclusives to each Mansion and then reveal which, in our opinion, has got the edge: (more…)

Paddling our own Davy Crockett Explorer Canoe

We hail from the state of the voyageurs, the land of ten thousand lakes and the headwaters of the Mississippi. Canoes are not a novelty in our neck of the woods. That doesn’t stop us from thinking of how extraordinary it is, however, to ply the Rivers of America alongside the Mark Twain Riverboat and the Sailing Ship Columbia. Certainly not in Minnesota are you going to circle Tom Sawyer’s Island with its pirate trappings and treetop secret hideouts. Not likely that you’ll encounter a Native American village along the banks, either, or all manner of wildlife conveniently hanging out at the river’s edge for easy viewing. (more…)

A very merry unbirthday on Mad Tea Party

My stomach just isn’t what it used to be. I stopped deliberately spinning those teacups half a lifetime ago. When the kids were toddlers they were pretty content to ride without the extra rotations but each year they get a little bolder and want to move a little faster. Thus, my two main Mad Tea Party rules are as follows: Make sure to ride before lunch. And please, go easy on Mom. (more…)

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. (more…)

Disney Classic: Matterhorn Bobsleds

How refreshing it is to slide down, around and through this landmark Disney coaster. Pocked with caves, ice crystals and Yetis to give it that Alpine feel, you can almost forget you’re in a sunny Southern California theme park. Listen for the howling of the wind on the mountain and the sounds of yodeling in the queue before you embark on your “thrilling bobsled ride!”

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Listen to the Voices of Liberty harmonize

Many an exhausted mid-afternoon have we found ourselves halfway around Epcot’s World Showcase seeking air conditioning and a peaceful respite. For our family, nothing recharges the touring batteries better than a break on one of the benches tucked under the soaring dome of the American Adventure Rotunda. If we’re lucky, while waiting for the titular attraction to begin, we’ll be treated to a magnificent performance of “Shenandoah” by the a capella ensemble Voices of Liberty. The acoustics in the Rotunda are incredible. (more…)

Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland Park

When the holidays descend upon the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland Park, something very bizarre happens inside those gates. Jack Skellington and his crew of comrades from Halloween Town have taken up temporary residence in the classic attraction and given it a Nightmare Before Christmas makeover. From the jack-o-lanterns and candelabras trimming the exterior of the mansion to the pumpkin-bedecked Christmas tree, gingerbready ballroom, and ghostly white snow in the graveyard beyond, it’s a darkly enchanting collision of the two holidays.

PicMonkey Collage HM holiday - Copy

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Head back in time with the Disneyland Railroad Dioramas

Attention all those who have yet to experience this time warp! Please disregard any web references you may have seen to the Disneyland Railroad Dioramas as being “dated”. In my book, “unheralded treasure” would be more a more appropriate term for them. Allow me to explain.

For one thing, both dioramas on the Disneyland Railroad circle tour were pet projects of Walt Disney – as was the Railroad itself. Walt had a famous passion for steam trains. He also had a deep appreciation for stunning landscapes. Creating the dioramas along the railway in Disneyland was an ideal way for Disney to fuse his hobbies.

As you’re puffing along, keep your eyes peeled for Primeval World. This diorama, featuring 46 Audio-Animatronic dinos, originated from a 1964 World’s Fair attraction. Do not, under any circumstances, let the kids miss the baby Triceratops emerging from its shell. The attraction made a big splash when it opened in 1958 and again in 1966 when it was joined by a second exhibit.

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Learn some new jokes on the Jungle Cruise

I remember being an 11-year-old riding the Magic Kingdom’s “world famous” Jungle Cruise for the first time: was the skipper for real? What possessed him to spout off corny jokes the entire trip down the great rivers of the world? By age 17 I’d wizened up. No way was it coincidental that all the Jungle Cruise guides had a penchant for comedy. And, by the time I was a honeymooner, finally had a soft spot for the witty spiels and classic commentary. Indeed, the jokes and puns are likely why we ride it. (more…)