If you missed Part I, A Magic Morning, no worries, its still there.
When last we parted, we had just completed a magic morning together. Thanks for returning to keep the magic rolling! And now – its lunchtime! There are lots of choices for lunch, but today we’re going for a favorite, the Lobster Roll at the Harbor Galley. The Lobster Roll is delicious, inexpensive, and light while still filling. Let’s take that over by the wharf, sit down and enjoy the expansive view of the riverfront and revel in the feeling that we’re in a seaside village long ago.
Some good old fashioned entertainment and a touch of dessert would be just about right now, so c’mon, let’s mosey over to Frontierland, stomp down the boardwalk, stride into the Golden Horseshoe, belly up to the bar like old time gun slingers, and say with authority, “gimme a sasparilla and one o’ them cookie sundaes”. That’s cowboy talk for the House-Made Chocolate Chunk Cookie Sundae, another fave. We’ll share it – its so rich that an entire family could share it. The Golden Horseshoe is a re-creation of an 1800s frontier saloon, and was so dear to Walt that he held his anniversary soiree here before the park opened. We’re heading upstairs to the right, to Walt’s private box, where we’ll watch the Golden Horseshoe Review from the best seat in the house. This is the longest running stage show in the country, and the good ole fashioned slapstick comedy reminds us of Saturday afternoon westerns. Next time we’ll sit down front and volunteer to join the actors on stage – this is an audience participation show!
Time to walk off that lunch, so let’s duck around the corner to Adventureland and check out Tarzan’s Treehouse. If I were to build a treehouse (and had unlimited funds) this would be it. This tree is artificial but looks very lifelike, and is so unique that it has its own scientific name: Disneyendron semperflorens grandis, or large ever-blooming Disney tree. Cool. It was built to resemble the treehouse in the 1960 Disney adventure film Swiss Family Robinson, but has been re-themed for Disney’s Tarzan feature film. With its jungle vines, rope bridges, and several levels of treehouse forts, this is every kid’s (adult’s) fantasy playground. Its a bit of a climb to the top, but we take our time and look around the park as we get higher. This is also fun to do at night when Adventureland takes on a mysterious dark jungle feel, with lights dimmed and torches blazing.
We’ve been stopping and looking at trading pins all day, I just haven’t mentioned it. By now we’ve made some sweet trades. Most of the cast members wear vests or lanyards with trading pins, and most of the stores have a pin trading board behind the counter. Just walk up and ask to trade, no problema. The middle of the day is prime pin-trading time. And the Westward Ho Trading Co in Frontierland is the best place to buy, sell, and trade pins in the park. Many times you’ll find serious traders at tables outside the shop. So, we pop in, buy a pin or two, chat with the traders who are there, and make some more sweet trades. Here’s an excellent source for learning more about pin trading history, etiquette, and more. This day is flying by!
Back to Main Street USA now, where we walk down the boardwalk to the old-fashioned Silhouette Studio. Here the Disney artists create old time silhouettes of visitors in black and white. This is one of the original stores on Main Street, and although the art has evolved, the finished product is much like you would’ve received nearly 65 years ago. We stop in for a quick sitting, and literally in the blink of an eye we have a professionally done Silhouette keepsake from Disneyland. I’ll grab you a frame for that so it doesn’t get bent.
Continuing down the boardwalk we come to the Disney Gallery. This contains contemporary and vintage Disney artwork in a nicely decorated gallery setting. The art is done in many different styles, some fun, and is all by recognized artists. We’re gonna do two special things here. First, let’s watch the professional Disney artist who is drawing characters a the desk in the back, and chat with her about her work. We have her draw our favorite character, put it on a mat, and we buy it for a couple of bucks. Dude, we just bought an original Disney drawing by a Disney artist done just for us! Did that really happen? Now we move over to watch the artist hard at work in the ink and paint booth. This guy is inking and painting Disney scenes on celluloid and he’s doing it free hand, with no mistakes. Amazing. Drawing, ink, and paint have been the essential parts of the creative process at Disney since the early days, so this gives us a small insight into the workings of the Disney studio.
When people ask me about avoiding crowds and getting out of the sun at Disneyland, Great Moments with Mr Lincoln is one of my go-tos. This show has been playing at the theater of the Main Street Opera House since the park’s 10th anniversary in 1965. This show features an audioanimatronic (robotic) version of president Abraham Lincoln, one of Walt’s heros. Its produced using the latest in robotics, and wears a rubberized face that was cast from the president’s actual death mask. When the show first opened, the animatronics created by the Disney imagineers made Mr Lincoln appear so real that there were audible gasps from the audience. The show runs frequently throughout the day, and is not too long. We’re a little early, so we enjoy the scale model of the nation’s capital, the Spirit of America statues that depict various aspects of our unique national culture, and other displays. The show is short but very well done, with excellent visuals and narration, and rousing patriotic music. There is plenty of comfortable seating, and the theater is air conditioned and handicap accessible.
Exiting onto Town Square, we cross to the other side to spend a few minutes in the old Disneyland Fire Dept. The displays here depict turn-of-the-century firefighters, their equipment, their horses, and include a real horse-drawn fire engine. It doesn’t take long to see the many interesting things here. Stepping outside, we look up at the second story window, which belongs to Uncle Walt’s apartment. Walt built this apartment to use during construction and the early days of the park. Workers and park employees would know that Walt was on property when there was a light in the window. Since Walt’s death, park employees have maintained a light in that window every day in Walt’s memory.
I see that folks are starting to stake out places along Main Street USA to watch the parade, so we hurry down to Coke Corner, grab a soda, and from there over to my favorite stoop on Main Street to stake out our own spot. When I have people with me who are in wheelchairs, I take them over by the Train Depot where there is a reserved viewing area for handicapped. No day at the park would be complete without a parade, and this one does not disappoint. The Soundsational Parade starts down Main Street at 3:30, and serves up 20 minutes of sheer delight, with colorful floats, all of our favorite Disney characters, and fabulous music. We keep an eye on the youngsters whose eyes are as big as saucers, and who are all pushing to the edge of the street to catch a glimpse of their favorite characters. Right now, we’re all kids at heart.
After the parade, as others are sprinting back to the thrill rides, we hang around and do some shopping at the Emporium. This store has been here since the park opened. It is handsomely appointed inside, and has just about every Disney gift you could want. Today is special, so I’m gonna buy you a Mickey Mouse watch. They’re surprisingly affordable and come in
several handsome styles. And you need a piece of the magic that you can wear every day if you like. You’re welcome 🙂
Do you hear that? Its the Dapper Dans warming up outside! This world-famous barbershop quartet fills the air with their golden tones several times per day, and its not to be missed. This experience is a real treat, so we get right in front! They perform several well-loved tunes, tell jokes, and involve the crowd. By the end of the show we’re wearing permanent smiles.
Its nearly time for the end-of-day Flag Ceremony at the flag pole in Town Square, so we walk over. The Disneyland Band conducts this flag ceremony in full uniform, and its possibly the best one you’ll ever attend. They play a medley of patriotic tunes, honor the members of the armed forces and first responders by calling them up and playing their anthems, then the flag is lowered and the band plays a moving medley of patriotic tunes. I’ve seen people cry at this one.
We’re not hungry yet, so we head to the Disneyana Store, also on the square. This building was the Disneyland branch of the Bank of America from opening day to 1993. It contains the original bank vault and an old teller window, now integrated into the store. This is my favorite store because it contains a wide variety of collectibles – from coins to models to statues to artwork – something for collectors and non-collectors alike. We check out the vault last – it always has a rare piece of Disney memorabilia. Today it has a check signed by Walt. An authentic Walt signature commands several thousand dollars these days. Its the only signature that’s also a corporate logo.
Ok, we’re starving – time for dinner! I’m going to take you a short distance to the Carnation Cafe. This place is handsomely decorated, you can eat inside or out, and the service is usually excellent. Tonight we order two big hunks of Walt’s favorite meatloaf, a hearty and delectable treat, made according to Walt’s own specifications. This is the only place in the park where you can get it. We eat outside so we can take in the ambience and continue our people watching.
We haven’t ridden the train yet, and like Walt, we love trains. So we walk up to the Main Street Station for a “grand circle tour” of Disneyland aboard one of the locomotives that Walt had built especially for the Disneyland Railroad. Riding in the caboose is fun, and its available, but we choose to ride in one of the open-air passenger cars for a better view. The ride takes us thru each land of Disneyland – we can even see the tops of the buildings of the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which opens May 31st. Can’t wait! Tonight we get off at Tomorrowland Station and head over to Star Wars Launch Bay, a walkthru immersive Star Wars experience that has movie artifacts, previews of upcoming movies, and other cool stuff. A small preview of Galaxy’s Edge.
Hop back on the train and ride it over to Adventureland, thru the tunnel that contains the dioramas of the Grand Canyon and Primeval World – Land of the Dinosaurs. These are always a crowd pleaser, and the little ones sometimes get scared. But they’re not to be missed. Getting off at Adventureland station, we trip over to Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. We grab a Dole Whip from the inside counter of the refreshment kiosk – where the line is shorter. This is a scrumptious pineapple flavored frozen treat. We sit and enjoy the pre-show in the terrace courtyard, then head inside and enjoy the main attraction, where the flowers and birds sing, and the Tikis play their drums. Not to spoil it, but the thunderstorm at the end is especially effective at night.
The night is in full swing now, with colorful lights everywhere we look, and the hubbub of parents taking children back to the hotel and teens returning from dinner to score more thrill rides while the lines are shorter. We’re going over to the Rivers of America to watch the 9:00 showing of the all new multimedia Fantasmic show. We get there early for a front-row seat, and are mesmerized by Mickey and his crew entertaining us from land and sea, with lasers, fire, and effects shown on water curtains from the river.
In recent years, this show has been partly overshadowed by the newer World of Color show at Disney’s California Adventure park, but it has made an impressive comeback, with updated effects that absolutely wow us. This really is the pinnacle of outdoor entertainment.
Gotta hustle now. We jog over to the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe on Main Street, grab a Matterhorn Macaroon, and score a table on the veranda next to the street. Why the hurry? We wanna reserve some prime real estate for watching the new immersive multimedia fireworks show, Mickey’s Mix Magic, and we’re just in time. We sit down and enjoy our moist macaroons (oh man, these are so good) and our final hoorah for the day. This show is energized by an upbeat Disney soundtrack and a multitude of special effects, all perfectly in sync with some of the best fireworks to be found anywhere. A magical end to our day in the Magic Kingdom.
We walk slowly toward the turnstiles, feet tired, and heads trying to process all of the amazing experiences we’ve shared today. Words just can’t capture it. That’s ok, we’re just glad we got to share in the magic. We did a full day in Disney without stepping foot on a thrill ride, and we don’t feel like we missed a thing! In fact, we experienced more of the magic by not riding the rides than we would have if we’d spent our time running from ride to ride. And there’s more magic waiting for us next time.
Wanna know what we did before lunch? Check out Part I, A Magic Morning