Friday, January 28, 2011

The Flag Retreat Ceremony

By far, my favorite part of a day at Disneyland is the Flag Retreat Ceremony. It is held in Town Square at the very front of the park, and if you've never seen really must take the time one day. Right now you can see it at 4:30PM every day.

Why do I love it so much? Well, I love traditions. I love "pomp and circumstance." I just think it's really special that Disneyland honors the military every day in this way.

The ceremony starts out with the Disneyland band. Usually they come down Main Street (right now they come from somewhere else due to construction going on) and end up around the flag. They play several patriotic songs and the Dapper Dans join them. Right before they lower the flag, they play each branch of the military's service song. As each branch's service song is played, any current or past member of that branch is welcome to step forward and stand around the flag and be recognized for their service. Three service members perform the ceremony of lowering the two flags and folding them. Everyone then sings "The Star Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America" along with the Dapper Dans. Inevitably, every time I watch this ceremony, I get teary eyed. It's emotional, and you just can't help it!

There are a few things that make the ceremony extra special to me. One is that there is a veteran who goes to the Park every single day, to watch and take part in the ceremony. He takes great pride in being a part of it, as well he should since he served in both the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard. The other special thing to me is Ernie, a Gunny in the Marine Corps. He is there most days to actually lower the flag, and he goes around the circle of benches around the flag before everything starts to shake everyone's hand. He is just a very exceptional man, and if you have the chance to meet him, you should.

The most special part of this ceremony is that it allowed me to see my husband as a Marine for the first time. He served in the Marine Corps for 9 years before we met so the only time I've seen him as a Marine is in pictures. It meant a lot to me to see him up there and I was very proud of him. I know he did it for me, not for himself, but that doesn't make it any less special. Thank you Disneyland for giving me this rare opportunity.  And for making me cry :)

The Dapper Dans

Hy husband is on the far left, in black
Ernie is on the right, lowering the flag

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Trip Down Memory Lane

May 29, 1983.

It's my 8th birthday, and my parents have dropped off my older brothers, 15 and 13, at Glen Helen in San Bernardino for the US Festival.  And we are on our way to DISNEYLAND!!!

It was my first time at the Park, back in the days when California Adventure was still a parking lot.  I honestly don't remember a whole lot about this day at The Happiest Place on Earth.  But I do still have one vivid memory...

My first roller coaster ride is The Matterhorn, and my dad is taking me on it with him (mom is WAY prone to motion sickness).  Once we get up to the front and are getting into the bobsled, I am now crying and freaking out and want off the's too scary!!  But dad won't let me off, and away we go!  By the time we get to the end of it, I am laughing my head off and want to go again.  Typical kid LOL  Thanks mom and dad for taking me to Disneyland on my 8th birthday, and starting my love affair with this magical place!

Several years later, I spent a memorable day there with my cousin Erin, who lived in Anaheim at the time.  It was just the two of us that day, in our early teens, and we decided to take a ride on the train for a bit.  Well, that little ride turned into about a 4 hour ride, thanks to the super cute Cast Member working on the car we were riding in.  I think we strained a few muscles that day, flirting our butts off with that poor Cast Member.  He probably couldn't wait to finish his shift on that ride, but he never let on.  He was, as they all are, gracious and kind and very tolerant of two giggling teenage girls.

And now, I am making new memories with my husband and friends at a place that continues to make me happy, no matter how many times I visit.  I hope and pray that it will always be this way...

Enjoy the retro pictures!

Can't tell at ALL it's the 80s, can you? :) (Notice my dad's Cal High Grizzlies hat!)

Oh, the outfits!

The first trip with my husband, 2002

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Popcorn Cart Characters

I've become aware lately of just how little attention I have paid to all the awesome little details you can find at the Parks.  Before now, we would only have a day here and there to cram in as many rides, shows, and sights as we could, and didn't feel we had the luxury of slowing down to just take things in.  It's one of the things I love most about being a Passholder...I don't have to be in a rush anymore.  I can take the time to do and find things I've read about.  And one of those things is the popcorn cart..."characters."

I was reading a blog called EPBOT (written by the same person who does one of my FAV blogs, Cake Wrecks) and came across a post that the author wrote about her trip to Disneyland.  In that post, she posted a picture of "Rocketeer popcorn-cart dude" and I was instantly fascinated.  Where was he, and would I be able to find him??  Sure enough, I found him on our next visit (it wasn't too difficult).  And then I started checking out ALL the popcorn carts, and what do you know?  Each one has a character turning the "popcorn wheel" (I'm sure there's a technical name for it, but I don't know what it is!)!!  So I've started taking pictures of each one that I come across.  I'm sure I haven't found them all, and a few have been seasonal so I have to find their replacements.  

It's one of those fun little details that you may never have noticed (or maybe you have and this is so old news), but see if you can find some different ones than I have the next time you're there!  And pay attention to what area of the Park you're in...they are usually themed to that "land." 

Can you guess which one is my favorite so far? :)
"Rocketeer popcorn-cart dude"
Oogie Boogie; a Dapper Dan?; Santa
I'm not sure what *exactly* the first two are; a clown; Yeti

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The New Collection

As much as I do love Disneyland and Disney in general, I'm not obsessed with it like a lot of people out there.  I don't collect every Disney thing I can possibly get my hands on.  I don't have a Disney wardrobe that I wear to the Park every time I go.  But I do really love Tinkerbell and have some Tinkerbell items (mostly gifts from my husband), and I am starting a small collection of Tinkerbell pins that I have on my Passport lanyard.

But this post is about a different collection...pressed pennies.  I had always seen pressed penny machines in touristy places, but never bothered to get one done.  It just wasn't all that appealing to me.  And then last March, while on our "every two years" vacation to Kauai with my family, I decided at the airport on our way home, that I wanted a Kauai pressed penny.  They had a machine in the middle of the terminal, and one of the choices (there are usually three) was a rooster.  If you've ever been to Kauai, you know about the roosters.  Everywhere you go, roosters.  It's a big part of that island's experience, and the idea of a pressed penny with a rooster on it just really appealed to me.  So I got it and brought it home.

And now I have started a Disneyland pressed penny collection to add to that first one.  I hope to have ALL of them eventually, but there are a lot of machines in that park, as well as CA Adventure, and you multiply that by three options in each machine, and well...that's a lot of pennies!  So I started, of course, with the Tinkerbell pennies, and have slowly added to them.  I do a few each visit, as long as I have the change for it already, and I look forward to the day when I (hopefully) have them all.  I even splurged and bought a Tinkerbell pressed penny holder in the Penny Arcade to keep them all in one place.  It's a fun little souvenir of my favorite place in the world!

P.S. You can do quarters and nickels too!

A long way to go...

The Corn Dog

The corn dog that launched a blog.  I have to say that it is, in a word...amazing.  I'm not a person who likes the frozen corn dogs you buy at the store.  The only time I will ever eat a corn dog is at the fair.  And since I haven't been to a fair in a very long time, I hadn't had a corn dog in years.

And now, thanks to my friend M, I am officially addicted to the Disneyland corn dog.  The outside is crispy, the inside is soft, the hot dog is large and delicious!  It really is the perfect corn dog, and the standard by which all others will be measured for the rest of my life.  If you haven't tried one yet and you're into that sort of thing, you really should.

You can find them at the corn dog stand at the end of Main Street, tucked in a corner on the right hand side, next to Plaza Inn.  You can also get one at the Stage Door CafĂ©, or at Award Weiners in California Adventure.

Apparently a lot of people already knew these were the just took me a while to be educated!

The FIRST of many

The Passport

My husband and I have lived in Southern California for about 4 years now.  We’ve never bothered getting an Annual Passport.  He has a friend who works at the park who has generously gotten us in for free on several occasions, especially when we have friends who come to town for a Disneyland vacation.  But lately it’s been more difficult to get in touch with him, and after this blog idea came about, we decided to bite the bullet and pull the trigger on the Passport.  And added bonus: SoCal residents qualify for monthly payments on any annual Passport, interest free.  Score!!  We made it part of our Christmas presents to each other.  And why not take advantage of living only 15 minutes from Disneyland while we have the opportunity?!  It won’t always be this way.

The day we got our Passports, I felt like I had joined an exclusive club.  Which is silly, since there are thousands and thousands of people who have Annual Passports.  But I think it’s all part of that Magic I mentioned, it just made me feel a little more special.  And I didn’t realize that you can get discounts at so many places in the Parks by flashing it.  Another added bonus! 

I’ve officially given my soul to Disney.  And it feels good :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Beginning

I never thought I would be a blogger.  What could I possibly write about?  Everything I’m interested in already has a thousand blogs, authored by far better writers than me.

And then a little idea bloomed at lunch one day.

I was at Carl’s Jr. with two of my coworkers, two-thirds of what I affectionately refer to as my “nerd herd.”  Somehow our conversation turned to the topic of churros, and a debate ensued over which were better: Disneyland or Costco churros?  Um, there is no debate here…Disneyland kicks Costco’s butt in the churro department.  Then my debate partner, “M,” asked me if I’d ever tried the corn dogs at Disneyland?  I had never had the pleasure and he assured me they were in fact, THE BEST.  I looked forward to finding out if I agreed during my next visit.

Then M asked me why I love Disneyland so much?  I’ve been asked this question before, and it’s difficult for me to put into words why I do love it so much.  I usually answer something like this: Because as soon as I walk through the gates of Disneyland, I turn into a little kid again, and it’s ok.  There is something magical that happens at The Happiest Place on Earth.  It’s a feeling that comes over me that is challenging to put into words if you don’t feel it yourself. 

At this point, the other nerd, “C,” had an idea.  I’m not sure exactly how it came about, but he told me that I should buy an annual pass, visit Disneyland every day for an entire year, and blog about it.  My immediate reaction was no way could I ever pull off going every single day for a year, so I shot the idea down.  But the seed had been planted, and other ideas started to take shape in my brain.  I wouldn’t have to go EVERY day, but what if I went as much as possible, and each visit had a “theme”…for example, one day I could see how many characters I could take my picture with in a certain amount of time.  Or take a few hours one day to just sit on a bench and observe people, and write about the interesting/unusual/crazy things I see.  The possibilities were endless.  Well, almost endless.

So that is how “Disneyland After Work” was born.  I have to give credit to C for coming up with the name of this blog, but I take full credit for my tagline :)

As I mentioned, I’ve never blogged before and I may fail at this one.  And I may end up not having any readers.  But for someone who doesn’t have much of a social life outside of work, it’s a great way to fill my time instead of parking in front of the boob tube every night when I get home.  And I don’t mind if I don’t get any readers…I’ll write it anyway, it’s just something I need and want to do for myself.

Programming note: I decided that not every day I go to the Parks is going to have a specific theme.  I will do theme days eventually, but a lot of this blog will be about observations, and new things I discover along the way about The Happiest Place on Earth.

So with that, welcome to Disneyland After Work.  Please keep arms and legs inside the car at all times, and buckle up for safety.  You’re in for a ride!