Friday, February 13, 2015

New Disneyland Fantasmic! Set Up at Disneyland ~ FastPass & Dining Options

The Fantasmic! experience at Disneyland has undergone a complete make-over. No longer are guests allowed to park their blankets and bottoms on the grass for hours before show time, or to stand around clogging up the walkways.

There are now three options, and as of this writing they were being firmly implemented

1.) You may get a Fantasmic! FastPass ticket. The distribution point is along Big Thunder Trail by the petting farm, and is quite a hike from the front gate, so if this is needed hustle back there early in the day. Tickets are distributed until 1 hour prior to show time, or until they run out. On a slow day in January, when I was there, the tickets were gone prior to 3:00 pm. You are duly warned.
2.) There is limited standby viewing by River Belle Terrace and you can line up for this by the Mark Twain Riverboat dock up to 60 minutes before show time.

3.) You may book a dining package. This is similar to the World of Color program at California Adventure, where you receive a dining area FastPass by eating from a Fantasmic! menu at select locations.

The most expensive option is at the Blue Bayou, which is where I ate to try out the new experience. There was a varied menu to choose from, and the meal comes with starter, entree and dessert for $61.00 per adult and $23.00 for children (at the time of this writing).
In addition, you receive a themed foam pad to sit on. That's right folks, no more chairs as were offered with the old dessert package.
Next down the price list is River Belle Terrace for $41.99 per adult and $21.99 per child. There is also an option to pick up a to go meal from Aladdin's Oasis, including your choice of 3 hot entrees, dessert and a beverage for $19.99 per adult and $13.99 for children.
There had earlier been a dessert party advertised at Hungry Bear, but I didn't see any signage for this, so it may have gone away already.
We found the line up to be a bit confusing with lots of cast members waving their lights and directing you to go to the blue. The night we were there, the Blue Bayou and River Belle Terrace diners were all in the same section, so the only bonus to eating at the Blue Bayou was the cushion (which was pretty comfy and may make a return trip to the park, although its size is a bit off  to fit well in my suitcase). The next time I go I'll try River Belle Terrace as that is one of my favorite restaurants and I find the Blue Bayou super dark.

The location is dead center and you will feel the water spray. However, it's awkward sitting on the concrete and folks shifting around in an even not terribly crowded space were having to be cautious to not step on hands or elbow other guests. The biggest drawback is that you are viewing the show through fencing. I understand why Disney did this, as that area is always such a colossal mess during show nights, and the crowd situation leaving the area after the show was noticeably less congested than previously.
In conclusion, I will always miss the dessert option, but I can live with the new offerings (since I really have no choice). After all these years, Fantasmic! is still a huge favorite and I'll see it however I need to.
To read about the now defunct dessert package, please go here:








Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Disney Recipe ~ Disneyland Cheesy Enchilada Soup ~ My Take

This is served at the Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Café in Disney California Adventure, and it's also been spotted on the menu at Jolly Holiday Bakery Café at Disneyland. I didn't want to eat it there since it commits the ultimate sin in liquid based dishes by having corn included. I cannot eat corn in a soup or stew or chowder. So, I decided to make this dish at home and skip the corn. The original recipe follows, with my changes noted.

1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
5 yellow corn tortillas, cut into thin strips
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup corn (nope!)
5 cups chicken stock
1 (15 ounce) can tomato puree (stores in my town didn't have this so I used 2-8 ounce cans of tomato sauce)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 1/4 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon Tapatio hot sauce (I used Tabasco)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 teaspoons flour
1/3 cup water
2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed (I used 1 cup to make up for leaving out the corn)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, if desired.

Heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil in a 10" skillet. When oil is hot, add tortilla strips and stir until golden and crisp, 2-3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
Cook onion in remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until translucent. Add garlic, bell pepper and corn (if using). Cook for about 2 minutes.
Stir in chicken stock, tomato puree (sauce), salt, chili powder, pepper, sugar, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce; bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Whisk flour and water in a small bowl and stir into soup. Bring to a boil, them simmer 4 minutes.
Add chicken and bring back to a simmer.
Stir in cream, sour cream, shredded cheese and black beans.
To serve, garnish with fried tortilla strips and cilantro if desired. I live in the southwest and put avocado on anything we get away with, so I added some chopped avocado to top the soup. Delicious!






Thursday, February 5, 2015

Adventures By Disney ~ New York Dreams ~ Part Six

Our last day started early as we met in The Manhattan Club lobby and walked to Ellen's Stardust Diner, where we would have our entertaining breakfast. Food was tasty, with offerings such as steak and eggs, but the real draw here is the entertainment.

The diner takes the singing waiter idea up a notch, and your servers perform throughout your meal, not missing a note while pouring coffee or delivering piled high plates. If you're a fan of the TV show Glee, this concept will look familiar to you, as several characters in the show worked in a diner styled after Ellen's. Performers not only sing while working the floor, but they also walk along a runway of sorts located on the sibacks of the booths. 

Properly prepared for our Broadway day we then headed to the New Amsterdam Theatre for a history filled tour of this magnificent icon.

We were then taken backstage into the prop room. This fairly small space is loaded with set miniatures, props and costumes from all of the Disney Theatrical Productions Broadway shows. We were then allowed to try on the costumes and props (be careful, those Lion King masks cost $8,000!).

Now that we were fully primed to perform we set off to an authentic Broadway rehearsal hall where we tried our hands (and feet) at performing a skit and then learning a dance routine that we would see later performed as it should be. We were troopers, but none of us were invited to join the cast of Aladdin.

Our afternoon was for us to explore and dine on our own, with instructions of when to meet up for our farewell evening.

Allowed in as VIPS (naturally) well before the theatre opened for the evening, we were escorted to a reception area that had a nice assortment of cheese, crackers and fruit laid out for us to enjoy.
I was just starting to wonder if I should have had dinner when I noticed the open bar. Never mind, I didn't really need dinner. But then, here came servers bearing plates of delicacies such as sliders, mini dogs, spring rolls and so much more (cheesecake!). They made their rounds until we all had eaten as much as we possibly could, then we traded in our wineglasses for alcohol sippy cups and were escorted to our perfect center orchestra seats.
The show was magnificent, loaded with familiar aspects as well as entirely new scenes. Cast perfectly, Aladdin deserves all the accolades it is receiving. After the show several cast members came out and talked to us, allowing us to ask as many questions as we liked.
Our trusty bus delivered us safely back to the hotel one more time, and we said our goodbyes to our fellow adventurers.

In true Disney style, our guides greeted us in the morning to make sure we were safely on our way home, giving us one more surprise and farewell hug.

Adventures By Disney is not a run of the mill tour experience. The extra touches, access and quality of all experiences and the care in planning and ensuring the comfort of all guests cannot be overstated. My first choice for a tour group will always be Adventures By Disney. Try it if you can!