Performer Spotlight: Yuri @ The Bootstrappers

“I had six pints and then six others…”

My favorite photo I’ve taken of Yuri – just so perfect!

My favorite photo I’ve taken of Yuri – just such a perfect moment!

Yuri is the Prince of Pennywhistles when he plays with The Bootstrappers in Disneyland Park’s New Orleans Square!

He’s really wonderful with his satchel of tin whistles that he carries at his side. I love listening to the lilting tones produced as his dexterous digits fly across the finger holes and I always look forward to his solos (playing or singing). Sometimes he gets to do an entire instrumental number – a pied piper beckoning the crowds to him. And it really does do the trick. People hear the music he plays and simply have to follow the sound to its source!

Yuri looks ready to share a story or a song!

Yuri looks ready to share a story or a song!

At that point, it’s too late for the audience to escape as the merry pirate crew sings tales of their (often drinking) adventures! Yuri seems to specialize in songs extolling the virtues of vodka or whiskey or the results of such libations!

But I always enjoying seeing how he makes a song into a story – it’s just utterly entertaining and endearing! Whether it’s a tale of heartbreak or treasure-hunting, this guy always manages to perform the story, not just sing it, which always makes him so much fun to watch, especially during his solos! Continue reading

Performer Spotlight: Olin @ The Bootstrappers

“Was you ever in N’Orleans Square, ‘cross the bay from Pirate’s Lair? But they ain’t got no pirates there!”

Nothing is funnier than the looks Olin gives at Sockhead Syd’s silliness!

Nothing is funnier than the looks Olin gives at Sockhead Syd’s silliness!

Pirate’s Lair may not currently host any pirates, but you’ll find one of the most diverting (and therefore one who most needs a weather eye kept on!) singing with The Bootstrappers in New Orleans Square – Olin the Merchant!

While you may think he’s stealing your attention with his engaging ways, he’s most likely picking your pocket, too! This pirate is notorious for being quite the expert thief! Keep a very close eye on all belongings around this scoundrel, lest you find your possessions soon become his! (Though you’ll get them back eventually with perhaps a little negotiating!)

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Still, as with all of the Disney pirates, you’ll find he’s mostly harmless but very naughty! Yet that makes him great to interact with during and between songs. Continue reading

Character Spotlight: (Year of the) Monkeys at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts

In this Lunar New Year celebrating the Year of the Monkey, I thought it would be fun to take a look at where we can find some our furry friends around the parks!

Disneyland Resort

Disneyland

Rafiki at Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park.

Rafiki at Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park.

  • Your first morning stop to try for a monkey Meet & Greet should be Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn at the end of Main Street, U.S.A.  No character is ever guaranteed to be here except Minnie herself, but Rafiki, the mandrill baboon from The Lion King can often be found at this location.
  • Your afternoon entertainment should include Mickey’s Soundsational Parade traveling along a route between Main Street and Fantasyland, where you can find dancing monkeys along with King Louie from The Jungle Book preceding The Lion King float.
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King Louie at Mickey and the Magical Map.

  • And if you didn’t get enough of King Louie dancing along the parade route, stroll on over to Mickey and the Magical Map in Fantasyland where he performs his famous song “I Wanna Be Like You” aka “The Monkey Song”!
  • Or if audio-animatronic monkeys are more to your liking, take a trip aboard the Jungle Cruise in Adventureland and you may find a few gorillas causing some trouble along the way!

Walt Disney World Resort

Continue reading

Lunar New Year Celebration 2016 at Disney California Adventure

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Wishing you a prosperous and successful new year!

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At this time of year, several countries including China, Korea and Vietnam celebrate the Lunar New Year and depending on the culture, this can last up to 15 days. (So technically we’re still in time as the 2016 Lunar New Year began on February 8th!)

For the past few years, to commemorate the start of this event, Disney California Adventure has thrown their own Lunar New Year Celebration at the Paradise Garden area and this year I finally got the chance to stop by as it only ran for one weekend!

The festivities included an opportunity to Meet & Greet characters such as Mickey and Minnie or Chip ‘n Dale in traditional costumes.

Chip ‘n Dale Meet & Greet for the Lunar New Year.

Chip ‘n Dale Meet & Greet for the Lunar New Year.

You could write down your New Year’s wish and have it added to the wall of wishes everyone else had contributed.

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You could listen to performances over at the Paradise Garden Bandstand or try special food offerings.

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But my favorite part of the event was the parade/show which ran a few times each day. Continue reading

The Grief Process – The Special Love of a Person with a Pass for Their Parks and Cast Members

Note: As always, the following reflections are my personal opinions and reactions and do not represent anyone else.

“So show me family…”

This week some more changes were announced by Disney about entertainment in the parks. And per the rumor mill, the cutbacks might not be done yet and more may be announced in the coming weeks and months.

The announcements were made in a carrot and stick fashion.

First: Disney California Adventure is getting back their Food & Wine Festival starting April 1st! This news was well received even though the DCA version of this event was always considered a poor cousin to the EPCOT extravaganza.

Second: The Mad T Party is closing March 30th. Umm, WHAT?! Not only was the DIAMOND ANNIVERSARY version of the show supposed to run throughout the Disneyland Diamond Celebration (which does not end until September), but there’s a little movie coming out a few weeks later – namely the sequel to the movie that inspired the Mad T Party! Alice Through the Looking Glass is set to release to theaters in May. WHY WOULD THEY CANCEL A SHOW WITH THE SYNERGY TO PROMOTE A NEW MOVIE A FEW WEEKS BEFORE THE MOVIE COMES OUT?! *smh* Let me run down a few other announcements before I get to the exact impact of this particular decision.

Third: A new show is coming to Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom – “Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire”, which of course features Frozen characters amongst others because there’s clearly not enough Frozen in the parks.

Fourth: It is replacing Dream Along With Mickey, the castle show at Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom featuring many classic princess characters with their princes, along with some great villains. Dream Along With Mickey is closing April 2nd.

While I understand that some may have felt it was time for a refresh of the castle show, I’m sad to lose yet another venue for classic Disney characters who are being replaced by modern ones. Not that I don’t love Tiana and Rapunzel too – and yes, it’s easy to feel spoiled having them both so well represented at the Disneyland Resort these days. But it’s sad to lose one more place to see the older characters.

But here’s what I really want to talk about in all of this – why it means more than just a different attraction in the park from one month to the next…

The reason I started this blog was because a few years ago, I started recognizing the true talent and special magic of the performers at the Disney Parks & Resorts, and seeing the impact they had on my life and the lives of others I’ve come to know. And that comes from having a pass to the parks.

When you’re a tourist visiting the parks for maybe your one and only time in your life, you want the weather to be good, people to be friendly, the parks to be clean, the lines not to be long, the meals to be good and the hotels to be restful and relaxing. And hopefully you can afford everything you want to do and buy.

But when you have a pass to the parks, they become something different. They become your second home. And the Cast Members become your extended family. Continue reading

Performer Spotlight: Spade @ The Mad T Party

“It’s goin’ down for real…”

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Some dancers I love to watch. Some I want to dance WITH – and this guy is one I would want to go clubbing with because it would be so much crazy fun! (Not that I could remotely keep up with him, of course!)

He’s a raw, physically, rhythmically-driven dancer – who looks like he learned as much by simply doing as by training. He can perform every move in the Mad T Party show, but you can sense him fighting himself wanting to do even more, just freestyle and do his own thing to the music as it calls to him. He seems caged at times by the choreography though he always brings his own energy and style to it.

Watching him, the dance just EXPLODES from this guy and the T stage isn’t really big enough to contain him or his incredible hip-hop moves. Continue reading

Performer Spotlight: Diamond @ The Mad T Party

“Shine bright like a diamond…”

In honor of Valentine’s Day this weekend, I thought I’d give a little twist and instead of celebrating Hearts… since I’ve already spotlighted Club, I’m going to celebrate Diamond and Spade! I think in this Diamond Anniversary year, it’s appropriate to start with Diamond!

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I was thrilled when the Diamond Mad T Party at Disney California Adventure moved the dance crew over to the stage closer to the band as it meant I could see them perform far more often than on their former stage at the Mad T Party. And getting to see them recurrently made me gain even more respect for the talented dancers there!

One of them who pretty much immediately captured my attention was this girl.

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I’d seen her on the main stage previously in the various band numbers that included the dancers and I had already noted her as someone special. But getting to watch her do the full several-minute-long Most Dazzling Deck in Town dance crew routines uninterrupted made me an even bigger fan of hers!

This girl is so fierce and intense, and there’s such a strength to her petite frame. She’s like a warrior on that stage – she could dance anyone else down who dared face her! Continue reading