Saddle up “Jingles” on King Arthur Carrousel

She was Walt’s favorite horse. Christened “Jingles” for the ornate carvings of jingle bells on her saddle and cantle, she’s the plum ride on King Arthur’s Carrousel for those in the know. Lovely touches on Jingles include tributes to Julie Andrews and her famous role in Mary Poppins: a quartered crest of images special to the film on the saddle and an umbrella on the blanket. Other bits of glitz on the horse are the beautifully-painted rosettes on her head, a jeweled Hidden Mickey on her rump, and a breastband embossed with a Disney “D”. Jingles was dedicated to Julie Andrews in 2008.


Location: Jingles is located among the steeds on King Arthur Carrousel in the Fantasyland section of Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort.


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.

Celebrate your own unbirthday aboard a twirling teacup on both coasts.  Our favorite way to spin is beneath the colorful lanterns in Disneyland Park.


Location: Find the Mad Tea Party attraction in the Fantasyland sections of both Magic Kingdom Park, Walt Disney World Resort, and Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort.


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…)

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.

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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…)

“it’s a small world holiday” at Disneyland Park

Need a bit of a reprieve from one of the most infectious, yet overplayed songs in the world? Note to self, schedule your next trip to Disneyland Park during the holiday season when the famous peace-promoting theme song is interspersed with a perky version of “Jingle Bells” (sung, of course, in a perky variety of languages and beats). Bonus: “Deck the Halls” is also thrown in for good measure.

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Uncover secrets at Smugglers’ Cove on Tom Sawyer Island

MH tom sawyer island dlpOne thing I clearly remember thinking about Disney when I was a child: they sure did love themselves some skeletons. There seemed to be bones lying around all over the place – Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, and Big Thunder Mountain to name a few. Well, the relatively-new Smuggler’s Cove on Disneyland’s Tom Sawyer Island definitely doesn’t buck the trend. Before touring, I had a hunch my kids would be both intrigued and wary of what they might find should they give that capstan wheel a spin. (more…)