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.


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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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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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.


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…)

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…)

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…)