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Wednesday, December 22, 2010


The presents are almost all wrapped - I'm short a few t-shirt boxes - and the stocking stuff is all stashed, waiting for Santa Friday night. Friday morning, I'll be up at 3AM, waiting in line for masa to make tamales later that day. For Jim Hill Media, I did a standup at Disneyland a few mornings back with Jay Garcia, who went from Club 33 to DCA a while back. Yes, he's responsible for the Asian bowls that actually taste like they're Asian food. Here, he shows me how he assembled tamales (we wrap ours in paper before steaming, and we put some of the pork sauce into the masa to "show it a little love" and give it some color, not the tomatillo sauce - but you get the picture).

There's some other great stuff on the Jim Hill Media channel at YouTube - check it out.

If you read JHM daily, you'd have seen this a good week or so ago.  This is why you should go read Jim Hill Media every day.  Then Noe's blog.  Then me, because I don't usually manage to get a post up until after noon.

Today, I will be making gingerbread cookies, and possibly sugar cookies as well  Maybe even butter cookies, which really are different.  Then, I will decorate them.  I was going to do Prep & Landing gingerbread men, but beat me to it.  I might anyway, if I'm feeling particularly adventurous.

Noe started his "green" Epic Mickey game this morning, as opposed to the "blue" version.  Have you read his writings about Disney video games and how they led up to Epic Mickey?  I would not be exaggerating to say that I am married to the world's foremost expert on Disney video games.  It's like Jim Hill with Disney retiree stories...his knowledge is encyclopaedic!  Again, here's his blog.

I played the NES game  Adventures in the Magic Kingdom (which was like having several games in one, racing, platforming, first-person shooting) and watched Alice play Kingdom Hearts, but I like sim/puzzles more, like Harvest Moon.  Here's a peek at the old NES game: (2 parts)

Not many of my hardcore Disney friends are that interested in gaming.  Or if they are, they give Disney's efforts a polite nod and go back to Black Ops.  It's a shame, because, amongst the raging turkeys released  by Disney Interactive, there truly have been, as you see by reading Noe's blogs about them, a few genuine gems.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I just got this from David Gill at Disney.  It's a good thing for people who think Disney's nothing but corporate greed.  Yeah, it's corporate greed, as much as any other corporation.  But they do a hell of a lot more than most others, you must admit. 

T’was the Season of Giving at Disneyland Resort
ANAHEIM, Calif. – December 21, 2010 –
T’were the months before Christmas and all through our house,
Disneyland spread goodwill, compliments of the Mouse.
Packages were delivered to troops with care,
bringing joy like St. Nicholas truly was there.
At CHOC patients were nestled all snug in their beds,
Disney’s holiday party danced in their heads.
Five grand each to 10 students caused quite a clatter,
college-bound seniors whose good deeds really matter.
VoluntEARS packed a half million meals for those in need,
National Family Volunteer Day was a success indeed.
Cheering ill kids and seniors, Disney characters they came,
and fans whistled and shouted and called them by name.
Now Mickey! Now Minnie! Now Donald and Goofy!
On Pluto! On Tigger! On Woody and Dopey!
With food drop locations, cast donations came quick,
the 2,200 pounds brought a smile to St. Nick.
Toys-for-Tots garnered almost 9,000 toys,
bringing happiness to countless girls and boys.
Supporting the needy through toy and food drives,
all said and done touched 25,000 lives.
The CHOC Walk at Disney raised $2 million this year,
cause for Orange County families served there to cheer.
Cast volunteered at over 100 events,
about 50,000 hours is the time that they lent.
Nearly $12 million, Disney supported the community,
providing residents with hope and opportunity.
As we celebrate 2010, one thing is clear,
the joy and the magic we delivered all year.
And we heard Mickey say, before he drove out of sight
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”
I finished the Christmas shopping; wrapping and cleaning is next, then baking and decorating.  
Remember when DCA was the "special event" park?  ABC Weekends, SuperSoap Weekends, Food and Wine Festival, Fiesta was fun to go to these events.  

All photos by me. 

Would you like to see more special events at DCA?  I know I would.  Disneyland's too crowded, really, to do special events during park hours. 

I hope your holiday preparations are going smoothly. 



Monday, December 20, 2010

Disneyland in the rain

I can't remember if it's actually in The Nickel Tour or not, but David Mumford did like to joke about the best thing about Disneyland in the rain was getting to see Main Street flood.  I haven't seen it flood since the 90s, so maybe they fixed it. 

Yesterday, they canceled the parades, canceled the fireworks, and the projector for it's a small world Holiday got so wet, the projections jumped and stopped.  But it was wonderful.  Noe and I were bundled up and had Alice's Mary Poppins umbrella.  There were still Snowman Mickey popcorn holders available.  Main Street was wet, with gray skies above, but the decorations were beautiful and the crowds, while unusually stupid even for Disneyland last night, were pretty sparse, considering the time of year and park hours.

Unfortunately, they didn't have the Mayan Mickey and Aztec Donald big figs I wanted to get for Noe; the lady at Off the Page said that some of them were damaged, and the fella at Disneyana said that a bunch of them were still in China and would get to the Parks sometime in the future.  So, my hubby's getting a couple books and shirts, pretty lame for our first Christmas. 

 The folder these photos were in says "February 18".  I'm not sure of the exact year, but I'm guessing it's 2002. 

I found some more old photos of Disneyland in the rain - rather, the entrance plaza, mostly, right after they added the bag checks. What year did Space Mountain go back to white?

One of my favorite pastimes is reading about Disneyland history.  A good blog for research is the Disneyland Tickets Blog - this page links to the "rainy day" card given out in the olden days. 

One thing I can't do in the rain is decorate cookies, like I want to, because the Royal icing tends to fall apart in the moist air.  Maybe I'll do fudge and lemon bars; it IS that time of year. 

We kept our promise to Bruce Boxleitner and saw TRON: Legacy on opening weekend, albeit Sunday morning.  It was great!  Truly!  Parts of it were like being on Star Tours, but with a better story.

Tomorrow:  a look back at a special event or two, at what was, for a while, the "special event" Park.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


The cake's done and halfway eaten (the Mayan Chocolate layer was a little too moist, almost like an English pudding) and the equipment's going in the bin til next semester.  The next class is taught by a little old lady who hates butter and uses Crisco in everything.  Should be interesting.

If I'd had my druthers, I would have not had any gumpaste flowers on the cake - I think it clashed.  But it was a requirement of the final, so I made lotus flowers, which Tiffany mistakenly called "pond lilies". 

 First, I colored some gumpaste with a little rose pink, bent some floral wire, and made buds, which I stuck to the gumpaste wire.  Gumpaste shrinks a little as it dries, so the bent wire kept the bud on the stem.

Using a tulip cutter, I cut the lotus shapes out of rolled gumpaste, then trimmed the petal ends to tips by hand with scissors. 

My messy setup at school.  Once the petal is trimmed and shaped, I'd put it on a cell pad and shape it with a round clay shaping tool, putting more pressure on the ends to get that "petal" look.  The petals would double in size after being shaped.  I'd then wet the petals with just a little water (sometimes I put rose or lavender essence in the water to make the flowers smell flowery; I didn't this time) and stick them onto the bud.  Usually, I did this three times, waiting until one flower was dry before adding the additional petals.  I bent a few petals as well, for a more natural look. 

Finally, using a little petal dust, I hand-brushed the tips of the flowers for just a blush of color.  I'm very pleased with the way they turned out in the end. 

Back in my days, I put up, like everyone else did back then, what was then considered to be hi-res photos of Disneyland for people to use as desktop backgrounds.  One reader wrote in to compliment me on them, but, she complained, her boss would only let her use generic pretty backgrounds; he considered Disneyland too childish for the office.  Co-workers were allowed to use personal photos (not of Disneyland) of pets and things, so she considered this a little unfair.  I came up with a solution: Flowers of Disneyland background pictures.  Do you remember these?

 Even with the trash can visible in that one, she totally got away with it.  There were about 40 different ones.  The quality of the photography isn't so great; I never took a class, just point and shoot and hope.  But it got the job done.

I am still sick, sipping lo-han tea and taking it easy today, frustrated because there are a million things I need to do.  Well, I have a little time before school starts again in January.  There's the rest of the Christmas shopping including Noe, the thank you notes, finishing the lavender cake for Mom L., laundry, housework, packing up the class stuff, and writing a book about theme park history.  I think I'll lie down now.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Finished - almost.

All of my final tests and projects for school are finished, save helping Chef Pierre with the yule logs for the Foundation Banquet tonight.  I was going to do sugar cubes, but I'm really pooped. 

Today, I am working on thank you notes from the wedding.  A-G will get a different design than G-Z.  I'm not going to rewrite A-G because it's hard to duplicate heartfelt and I'd rather the people who were so kind to us get something with genuine feelings, if that makes any sense at all.

Yesterday, I bitched out a writer for the Orlando Sentinel.  I thought the Lights of Winter were great, too, and I'm sad they're gone, but you know what?  You get to go to Walt Disney World.  Many, many people, including me and my family, do not.  When I was a teenager, there were decorations and a parade.  That's it.  Things started changing at the same time they added the Country Bear Christmas show.  Be grateful that you're able to go to theme parks at all.  The holidays are about being grateful and spending time with your loved ones, not whinging about how tough you have it because Once Upon a Christmas is only shown to the general public for a week.  May I direct you to the location of a nearby unemployment office or soup kitchen if you want something to be sad about?

There are so many other things at Walt Disney World to be petty about, anyway.  Soarin' (Over California, because we're too cheap to make a new movie and the rubes won't care anyway) for example.  The thing about people who label themselves Disney fans and then do little else than constantly complain about how awful Disney is ... it's a phenomenon found in all fandoms, yet it still puzzles me.  Jim Hill explained "loyalty erosion" to me a few years ago; it's a test, really.  A company will cut services and raise prices until it begins to affect sales, and that's where they stop.  If you keep buying their goods and/or services, your dollar says that you approve of what they are doing, no matter how ranty you get on your blog.  Something to think about.

I'm lucky that I have my family and friends, generally good health, a smokin' new husband and fantastic daughter, and, hey, Disneyland's a half-hour away!  (So is Character Warehouse).  I'm almost finished with Christmas shopping and I haven't even hit CW yet.  One place I'm considering getting a few shirts/bags for certain people (Oh, you KNOW who you are!) is the Passholes shop.  I would find that Stretching Room shirt very useful, especially if it glowed in the dark.

Since I am a broke college student, I will be baking presents for many people, or making them out of chocolate.  If I can get the other things done soon, I'll start in on that Haunted Mansion gingerbread house I've had in the back of my head for a few years.  We'll see.

 To those of you who checked in for days and found no updates, I apologize.  School has to come before blogging.  I'm off til January 10, so you'll see a lot more of me between now and then.


Monday, December 13, 2010


Sorry, no "real" posts til I'm finished with Finals (Wednesday).  Tonight, I bask in the afterglow of my Cake Decorating final - the stained glass cake.  I think I carried it off pretty well.  My fingers ache.

I didn't have time to finish the whole cake, so Chef Pierre said just do the front.  As you can see, I really hurried with the top two layers, doing them completely freehand.  Even with being incomplete and with all the flaws, I got a perfect score.

The top Charles Rennie Mackintosh Rose layer is Mayan Tradition chocolate (from ChocoVivo - fair trade cocoa nibs from Tabasco, MX, cane sugar, cinnamon, almonds and three types of chile), the middle Louis Comfort Tiffany "Cyclamen" layer is grapefruit, and the bottom Louis Comfort Tiffany "Pond Lilies" layer is lavender...fresh from my garden!  Under the Godiva White Chocolate liqueur-laden fondant is cream cheese icing, which matches nicely with all three. The cyclamen buds, which do look like chiles and the lotus blossoms, which Tiffany mistakenly called "pond lilies" are made from gumpaste and colored with petal dust.

After grading, I broke up the layers into three separate cakes.  I'm sure they'll find good homes tomorrow.  As for this exhausted Disney Babe, I'm going to sleep.  Sweet dreams!

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Yesterday, we went to see Disney's 50th animated film, Rapunzel.  Sorry..."Tangled." (why?) It was great.  If Glenn Keane draws his characters' eyes any bigger, it's gonna be "The Kewpie Movie".  The song at the end will date it terribly, but it was probably part of Mandy Moore's contract.  Afterwards, we went to the Japanese bookstore and got this month's issue of Disney News, (Yes, they still have one, PLUS, it's gorgeous) whtich Fab likes to call "Japan's got better stuff than we do."  Seriously, the links will make you cry.  Their parades, their shows, their characters' costumes, their adorable, adorable food!  It's on the "someday" list.

The Tiki Den is still in planning stages for the most part.  We ripped up the smelly old carpet, moved furniture out of the way, and had the cable installed.  Perhaps if we have time later this week we can move some of the furniture to the garage and get the couch and a nice rug out there.  May could be up by Christmas!

Thinking more about history brought me back to my old class and textbook project.  I was thinking about the first Snow White-themed dark ride, actually just the Gold Mine ride rethemed by painting a Snow White mural on the front of the dark ride - with Disney's permission.  It was on Surf Avenue, according to renowned Amusement Park historian Jeffrey Stanton (who also penned a couple of game design textbooks back in the 80s).  We've come so far, but, then again, we haven't.  The Little Mermaid dark ride is an Omnimover, Garner Holt did an amazing job on the animatronics (Disney says Imagineering did it.  No, they didn't.) - they're colorful and full of personality.  It's going to be a fun attraction.

Disney's dark rides are unlike any other - those that Disney did for Disneyland and such.  I love to go to sites like Laff in the Dark so that I can experience what I was born too late for - those seaside wonderlands with garish Pretzel rides and walk-throughs.  Next weekend, we'll be visiting Santa Monica Pier - near the former home to what arguably was Disneyland's strongest competition, Pacific Ocean Park.  All that's left now is some machinery in the water, and they've popped up a lot of generic, off-the-shelf rides on the Santa Monica Pier to try to capture the spirit of the old days (and the tourist dollars); but Pacific Ocean Park was a hoot!  I love this very enthusiastic and loving (and low-tech) fan site:  ... is a loving tribute to the site as well.  There was a Peter Pan-esque flying carpet dark ride!  There was a jungle-themed dark ride where they gave little boys rifles to shoot!  The skyway was clear flying balls!

I'll have fun there in the present, and think fondly and appreciatively of the past.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Here is the finished cake:

You can't really see it, but there's a little starfish inside one of the "lobster traps" on either side of the hut.