Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Magic that Left the Bayou

   We visited The Blue Bayou for the first time in 2006. Every time we were on Pirates of the Caribbean we would look over at the restaurant and wonder what it would be like to eat there. We talked about how neat it would be to get that experience.

     2006 was also the year Dead Man's Chest was released so the restaurant was giving out souvenir menus. We of course got ours. Our first experience at the restaurant was all we imagined it would be. We did not sit next to the water but the atmosphere was amazing. It felt like a part of the attraction. We all got the Gumbo and it was absolutely the best! I had the shrimp Jumbalia and it was a bit hot but very good. They bring out bread with your meal that is some of the best bread I have ever had and their Au
 gratin potatoes were also the very best ever.

     We ate at at The Bayou again in the 2007 only this time we requested a table by the water. It was such a wonderful experience. This time I had the Buccaneer Beef Ribs and they were the best tasting ribs I've ever had. My son tried the Monte Cristo sandwich and it was very good too. We all had the Gumbo and the bread was still as good as ever. 

     The Blue Bayou became a Disney tradition for us. We made sure to go at least once a year, can't afford to go anymore than that. We looked forward to our Gumbo, ribs and sandwich along with the Au gratin potatoes. 

     Every time we got on Pirates of the Caribbean we looked over at The Bayou and relished in the thought we would be eating there sometime during out visit. It was a part of the magic.

    Then in 2013 the bloom fell off the rose, we went to the Bayou and they had raised their prices quite a lot, the Monte Cristo no longer came with potatoes and the food was not quite the same, except for the Gumbo. It was still delicious. However they no longer had our ribs so we tried a new steak which was not that good. They changed the bread and it is now a sweet potato bread or something like that. It was ok but not as good as it was in the past. 

     We decided to try the restaurant again in 2014 when the magic that was The Blue Bayou and the tradition of eating there ended. We tried the Monte Cristo again and it was horrible, the rest of the food was not as good, the prices had elevated even higher than the year before and even though we love the atmosphere, it was not enough to pay for food we did not enjoy. 

     We miss the Blue Bayou atmosphere but at least get to experience it somewhat when we ride Pirates. We miss the ribs we loved so much but they are gone. As for the gumbo and Monte Cristo, well we found a place we can still enjoy those foods for half the price which I will write about later on.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Day Four-July 15, 2014

     Today was our Early Morning Madness entry. We could get into Disneyland at 7:00 AM. Well even though we went to bed early we did not get to the park until 7:40 AM. We headed right to Fantasyland hoping that the wait times would be good to find that there were a lot of people there already. We used to go there at 8 Am when the park opens and it was still great, we got right on the rides in Fantasyland.. That does not work on early entry day though. Early entry for hopper passes is the same day as early entry for people who can afford to stay at the resort Hotels so there are a lot of folks there.

     We did get to ride Peter Pan but the wait was 30 minutes and Alice in Wonderland was a 15 minute wait. Not what we are used to on early entry days but we still enjoyed them. We rode Pinocchio and Storybook Canal Boats with no wait.

     We went over to eat breakfast at River Belle Terrace which is tradition for our early entry days. We are hungry by 11:00 AM and want breakfast. It is also lunch for that day. The food was great as usual. We love the atmosphere too. It is just a part of our magical adventure.

     After breakfast we found the wait at Pirates of the Caribbean to be only 5 minutes and Kyle and I used the Space Mountain Fast Passes we got after Pirates
. A few other rides such as Haunted Mansion and Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh were only 10 minute waits so we took advantage of that.

     We don't usually wait for 50 minutes at Indiana Jones but decided to this day. Much of the wait was after you reach the Fast Pass entrance to the Temple so a fast pass would not have done much anyhow. The wait inside is fun but one thing that was disappointing is that the bamboo where you push on it and the ceiling caves in was not working.

    We ate lunch at Blue Bayou and it was our last time there. The food was not that good and they no longer have our favorite dish, Bucaneer Beef Ribs. The gumbo was still delicious though.  Took our leftovers to the room and chilled for a while.

     We headed over to DCA where we waited in the single rider line for Radiator Springs Racers. That is just the only way to go. We rode Soarin Over California with our Fast Passes, then over to Tower of Terror where the wait said 30 minutes but was only 15. Kyle and I rode Screamin, we all had ice cream at Ghirdelli's which is well, always good. Rode Arial and then watched Mad T Party Band.

    All except Kyle and myself went to the room. We headed to Disneyland to ride Matterhorn which was only a 10 minute wait. Small World and Snow White were only 5 min waits and Big Thunder was 15 minute wait.

     This was yet another great day at the parks. Our 2014 vacation was amazing. We never really had to wait that long for an attraction and things just seemed to go smoothly. Also not a lot of people were cutting which made it very nice.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Farewell Big Thunder Barbecue

    The first time we went to Big Thunder Barbecue was back in 2008. Back then it was a birthday celebration place. I wanted to take my mom somewhere special for her birthday and the cast member I spoke to suggested the barbecue. We ate there and  we fell in love with the food. At that time they had a fun show with Woody and his friends but the food is what drew us in and prompted us to return time and time again.

     That first year the meal at lunch included little corn wheels and talk about delicious, they were the best. Also included in the meal was a dessert. I can't remember exactly what it was but I think it was a cupcake cooked in an ice cream cone with different toppings. I recall strawberries on mine. It came in a neat display which prompts me to recall the ice cream cone. 

     We went to the ranch the next year and found that the corn was no longer included, nor was the dessert or drinks.. However we loved the meal enough to go anyhow. We were not disappointed.  For a few years drinks were not included in your meal but a couple of years ago they included them again. We were happy. 

     We went to the barbecue every year since 2008. It became one of our Disney traditions. January 11, 2016 however will be the last day for Big Thunder Barbecue. We don't get to experience

 their amazing food again. I know it is leaving for Star Wars Land which I am excited to see but, I am sad to see a place we love leave. I wonder why they can't put the barbecue elsewhere or maybe even make it a new Star Wars restaurant. 

     So as I close this post, I just want to say farewell to Big Thunder Barbecue. We will miss your atmosphere but mostly we will miss your delicious food and excellent service. 

The Pizza Press in Anaheim, CA

     I decided I will dedicate this post to one of my favorite places to eat when in California. 

In the summer of 2012, a new place to eat, The Pizza Press, opened its doors just across the street from the Main Gate of Disneyland Resort in Anaheim California. The Pizza Press is located next to the Good Neighbor Hotel, The Carousel Inn and Suites on Harbor Boulevard. The Pizza Press offers a new and unique way to make and serve Pizzas. The food, service, and atmosphere make The Pizza Press a welcome addition to the Disneyland Resort area.

     The food at Pizza Press is beyond delicious. They offer several topping and sauce options.  The menu offers several different pizzas, which are all delicious. The pizzas come with different sauces and toppings that are not seen at a traditional pizza parlor. The Pizza Press offers a different type of Italian sausage that cannot be described, it must be tasted. They also offer many other unique ingredients such as Greek olives and artichoke hearts. For those who are partial to the traditional ingredients, they offer them too.  One of the best and unique ingredients to a Pizza Press pizza is the crust, it is a special crust created by the owner, Dara. Another unique ingredient is the sauces. They offer a red sauce, white sauce, or mix. They also apply an olive oil base to the pizza giving it an extra special taste. The best pizza is the Build Your Own Pizza. The customer can pick his or her favorite ingredients. Customers can watch as their pizza is created. Once the pizza is created, it enters an open oven where customers can watch it bake. This does not take very long and at the other end, the creation awaits.  It is unbelievably delicious and must be experienced. Not only does the Pizza Press offer delicious Pizzas they have fresh baked cookies and handmade ice cream sandwiches that are superbly delicious.

     The price of the pizzas is pretty generalized; the customer does not have to pay extra for each topping. It is simple, each pizza is $10.00, and each pizza will feed one person and in our case, always feeds two.So if you are feeding two people, that is $5.00 per person. Pretty reasonable if you ask me.  The price might seem a bit high for one person, but for the area and the type of pizza, it is very reasonable.

     The service at Pizza Press is beyond spectacular. From the moment the customer enters the restaurant to the time he or she leaves the creators make them feel special and welcome. Those who are frequent guests of The Pizza Press are made to feel like family. The staff greets them by name and even gets to know what kind of pizza they like. The owner, Dara used to be a a regular in the restaurant working alongside his staff and getting to know his customers.I think he is spread very thin now since they have opened other Pizza Press Pizzaria's around the California area.  The service  makes a person want to go back to The Pizza Press repeatedly.

     The atmosphere is another inviting quality to The Pizza Press.  The d├ęcor is the Roaring Twenties with newspapers from yesteryear. It is comfortable and interesting to read all of the papers displayed around the restaurant. The pizzas even come on a newspaper to tie into the whole theme. The restaurant is extremely clean. They also offer a comfortable and beautiful patio where customers can view the Monorail passing by and guests as they head to the parks. At night it is an excellent place to watch the fireworks and avoid the crowds while eating a pizza and sipping something cold to drink.

     The Pizza Press is an excellent addition to the Disneyland Resort area. It offers a unique twist to the Pizza and is simply a delicious and fun place to eat. The food, service and atmosphere make it a must experience for everyone who is visiting the Disneyland Resort area and for those who are just passing by. Since it is located just near the Disneyland Resort entrance, The Pizza Press is an experience all travelers should enjoy.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Disney Attractions Inspired by Movies and Movies Inspired by Attractions

     There are many attractions at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park (DCA)  that are movie themed. Some of the attractions were themed after a movie and some movies were themed after a ride.I thought it would be fun to mention those attractions.

     Pirates of the Caribbean, the movie, was themed after the popular Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Pirates of the Caribbean is a swashbuckling adventure through the world of pirates. Travelers ride in a boat as they venture through the pirate’s world. Pirates of the Caribbean underwent some changes after the movie by adding Jack Sparrow, Captain Barbosa and Davey Jones to the ride. The movie was as we all know a huge success with the 5th installment just beginning production and said to release in 2017.

     The Haunted Mansion is another movie that was themed after the ride. The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland in Anaheim, California was the inspiration for the movie. The Haunted Mansion takes guest through the old mansion in a "doom buggy" as they get to see where the ghouls and haunts live. It is an extremely fun ride that is fun for people of all ages. The movie came along many years after the attraction opened. I was very excited to see it and found it to be a lot of fun. Disney added a new look to the attraction after the movie was released.

     The Twilight Tower of Terror attraction at Disney World in Orlando, Florida and Disneyland in Anaheim, California was inspired by the Tower of Terror movie. The Tower of Terror is a very fun, exciting and scary. Guests enter the hotel, get on the service elevator and take their final journey into...The Twilight Zone.... The theme of the ride is a lot of fun and the trip in the elevator will frighten even the bravest guest. I did not even know about the movie until after I learned about the ride. The attraction and movie are  based on an old Twilight Zone episode of which I really wish I could find. 

     Star Tours at Disneyland was inspired by the Star Wars movie. Travelers on this attraction used to  to take a trip to Endor with Rex as their guide. Rex is a new pilot however so they do take a detour. The attraction has been re-vamped and scenes from the last three Star Wars movies have been added along with the excitement of .3D. Star Tours is exciting and fun. I am sure it will go through more changes with the new Star Wars Land addition to the park.

     Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom at Disneyland was inspired by the Indiana Jones movies. This attraction combines Indy’s different adventures. As adventurers, guests take a Jeep ride through the Temple of Doom. It’s a fun adventure  for all. The movies of course were blockbuster hits.

     Finding Nemo Submarine  at Disneyland is a fun entrance into the world of Nemo. It was inspired by the movie Finding Nemo. Voyagers enter submarines and meet Nemo and his friends. I love the scenery and story but do not like the submarines. I am claustrophobia and it is hard to get up and down the stairs. 

     I think most of the attractions at Disney Parks were inspired by movies, but some movies were inspired by the attractions. Splash Mountain was inspired by Song of the South, Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh by of course Winnie the Pooh shows, Toy Story Maina by Toy Story and all of  the attractions in Fantasyland, with the exception of, Its a Small World and Matterhorn, were all inspired by movies.

     Movies have been a great inspiration for attractions at Disney theme parks. Some of the attractions are in multiple parks. Some are only in one. The movie themed attractions are exciting and a lot of fun. They are also very familiar since the movies that they are inspired by or that inspire them are very popular and well known. Being a part of these attractions makes you feel like you are a part of the movie, well actually like you are a part of the world the movie is created about.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Favorite Places to Eat Outside the Parks

     Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure have some great places to eat. There are restaurants we look forward to inside the parks every year. There are also places we look forward to visiting outside the parks every year, Pizza Press, Wetzels Pretzels and Captain Kidds are the three places we frequent when we are not in the parks. We have also gone to Rain forest Cafe a couple of times and their food is very good.

     Pizza Press is located on Harbor Boulevard right across from the Main Gate next to The Carousel Inn and Suites. We always stay at The Carousel and have gone to Pizza Press when it opened four years ago. We were there the first couple of weeks that it opened and absolutely love their food. You get to build your own pizza with traditional and exotic toppings. We fill up on one pizza because we can put as many toppings on our pizza. The crust is thin and tasty. It does not take away form the topping flavor which makes it even more delicious. Some days we even leave the park to eat at Pizza Press. The "reporters" who build our pizzas at Pizza Press are amazing too, the atmosphere is a lot of fun and well, it is someplace we look forward to and think of all year long.

     Wetzels Pretzels is the first place we experienced outside the parks. It is still in the resort area though, in Downtown Disney District. We always go there our first night in California. It is well, tradition.We get a Wetzel dog and sit right outside the restaurant to eat it. It is counter service so there's no seating inside and really none outside. That is one drawback. They do have benches to sit on but it would be nice if they had tables. We can hear Indiana Jones attraction as we sit and eat our meal though which gets us excited for the parks. We look forward to our Wetzel dog all year long too.

     We tried Captain Kidds a few years ago and were disappointed but decided to give them another chance year before last. We were pleasantly surprised. They have a great buffet at reasonable prices.  We try to eat there once or twice during our visit. It is not someplace we think about all year long but it is a place we go when we are not heading to the parks early or we leave early.

     We've been to Rain forest Cafe twice, the food is great but it is a bit on the expensive side. The first time it was loud and we did not enjoy it at all. This past summer we did enjoy it but won't make it a regular stop just because it is expensive. They have great food though.

     There are not a lot of places we eat outside the parks on a regular basis because we are in the parks most of the time.  But, Pizza Press and Wetzels Pretzels are places we eat at several times because we love their food a lot.

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Magic Walt Gave Us

     Those who are Disney fanatics like myself and my family already know that Walt created his park because he wanted a place where "parents and children could have fun together." In the early 50's there was no such place.So using his imagination he created Disneyland. Of course it was not easy and predictions were that he would fail. The first day actually was a disaster but the magic of Walt prevailed and Disneyland became "The Happiest Place on Earth."

     Disneyland is always growing, Walt believed that it should never stop growing and since the park opened  in 1955, that has not changed. Disneyland went from one  park to a resort with two parks and a shopping district. The magic draws in millions per year who come only for a day or many like us go for several days. Some people are lucky enough to visit more than once a year. Regardless of how many times you get to visit, it is the magic that draws you in. Walt said that he wanted to create a place where people forget the world they live in and feel like they are in a different world. He succeeded, when we are there we leave our worries behind and while there life is magical and the world we are in is a magical world.

     I know that not all people feel that magic. To some people Disneyland is a fun place to go, they go once or twice and then are done. Others do not like it at all because it is crowded and then there are those who go once, feel the magic and Disneyland becomes a part of who they are, it is well...home. Folks who feel that magic understand what I am talking about, those who don't feel it just think we are nuts to go there so often.

     For my family and many close friends though, when we enter the gates of that magical place we are young again and free to let that inner child in us out to play. Just thinking about Disneyland brings us joy, talking about it, writing about it, reading about it are all ways we keep the magic alive during the times we are not able to experience it in person. Our pictures and memories are as much a part of us as the visit itself. We look forward to each visit from the time we leave until we r
eturn again.

     I cannot imagine not being able to visit Disneyland every year. I would be sad and am ever so thankful that I am able to go each year. Yes I am a Disney fanatic, I am a Dis-nerd, I love my resort, and I am thankful for the magic Walt gave us so that I can at least once a year leave my real world behind and enter the land of "yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy."