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Holiday Fun at Disneyland

Christmas Tree on Main StreetHolidays mean time with family and friends and I can’t think of a better place to spend time than Disneyland. I had the fun opportunity to attend a press preview of the Disneyland Holiday events and with a full line-up of cross-cultural activities there was lots of holiday cheer to go around. Beyond my regular delight with being at Disneyland, it was great to experience holiday surprises in many of the attractions, yummy holiday treats and decorations that sparkled beyond belief. Here are details, including my favorite events and tidbits from the press releases and a video made with my partner in “video” Kimberley Clayton Blaine, TheGoToMom:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disney ¡Viva Navidad!

 

Disneyland Holiday Disney ¡Viva Navidad!The newest celebration at the Disneyland Resort is “Disney ¡Viva Navidad!” -Nov. 15 2013 through Jan. 6, 2014 in Disney California Adventure Park. I had the chance to see the beautiful parade with music that made me want to get up and dance (I was wishing I had one of those amazing skirts to dance in). Then I learned more details from the press release: Disney ¡Viva Navidad! is a merry celebration inspired by the warmth and joyous spirit of the Latino culture, filled with holiday traditions, jubilant dancing and exciting music. Based in and around the Paradise Garden area of Disney California Adventure, the special activities include crafts and face-painting for children, live Latino music, dance lessons, holiday foods, the “Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party” and, of course, appearances by some popular Disney characters“.

 

 

Disney ¡Viva Navidad!

 

 

“Micky Mouse, Minni Mouse and  Goofy will have festive costumes along with the Three Caballeros: Donald Duck, Panchito from Mexico and José Carioca from Brazil.  It takes place at Paradise Garden several times a day (check the daily schedule for timing). You can watch a great performance at the Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party that includes “Mexican folklorico dancers, samba dancers and drummers, plus giant “Mojiganga” puppets, including Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus” Jan. 3 Through Jan. 6 2014 will be the grand finale of “Disney ¡Viva Navidad!” with a special celebration of Three Kings Day (Dia de los Reyes).

 

If you are hungry, you can also head out to dining locations in Paradise Garden to try popular Mexican dishes such as “such as pozole (hearty stew), chicken mole drumettes, pescado (fish) Veracruzano, champurrado (Mexican-style hot chocolate), sweet tamales, torta al pastor (pork sandwich), buñuelos (deep-fried sweet treat) and choco flan”.

 

 

World of Color Holiday Winter Dreams:

 

The new version of the after-dark Paradise Bay (Disney California Adventure) experience called  “World of Color − Winter Dreams” features a new story including new characters from the Walt Disney Pictures animated motion picture “Frozen” hosted by Olaf the snowman. There are also new special effects, advanced technology, music and methods for utilizing the “massive “stage” of water, color and light on which “World of Color” is presented”.

 

World of Color Holiday Winter Dreams

 

 

The new World of Color – Winter Dreams has seven sequences that was explained in the press release:

 

 

1. “The Pre-Show: Glow Honor Choir Wonder – Season’s Greetings:  features the “World of Color” Honor Choir singing “Glow,” written especially for this new show. Then Tinker Bell’s traditional greeting from “Wonderful World of Color” summons Old Man Winter and the skating Frost Fairies. more than 500 singers representing all 50 United States appear in the pre show! Disneyland Resort teamed with Grammy®-winning composer Eric Whitacre, who has joined hundreds of voices online in similar “virtual choirs.” More than 1,400 submissions from around the country were received for the “World of Color” Honor Choir.  Other Disney fans designed holiday cards and submitted them online to appear in the “Glow-A Season of Light” sequence.

2. Snow – A Winter Wonderland: Olaf takes guests on a breathtaking winter sleigh ride, encountering Bambi, Thumper and, from “Frozen,” sisters Anna and Elsa.

3. Glow – A Season of Light: The holidays are celebrated with images of holiday cards created by Disneyland Resort guests and cast members.

4. Enchantment – The Toy Story Nutcracker:  This familiar ballet is danced in some delightful, offbeat renditions by favorite “Toy Story” characters.

5. Spirit-Holiday Sing-Along: Snowman Olaf has always loved the idea of a warm summer. He innocently imagines himself enjoying the sunshine, then leads the audience in a holiday sing-along.

6. Finale – Merry & Bright Holiday Lights”: Olaf welcomes a surprising Santa as 700 newly installed lights blaze to life for a colorful finale around the lagoon.

7. After Glow: Finale (Honor Choir): “World of Color – Winter Dreams” features more than a dozen songs, ranging from familiar holiday tunes such as “Jingle Bells,” “Feliz Navidad” and “The Dreidel Song” to musical numbers from “Frozen” and original compositions such as “Glow.

 

 

 

Olaf World of Color Holiday Winter Dreams

World of Color Holiday Winter Dreams World of Color Holiday Winter Dreams

World of Color Holiday Winter Dreams World of Color Holiday Winter Dreams

 

Those interested in the “behind the scenes” will be excited to know that the programming for the new “Winter Dreams” show took three months to create the 17 million pixels in the “World of Color – Winter Dreams” screen.  The surrounding area was enhanced with “700 high-power, color, LED strobe lights were installed along the side of the California Screamin’ roller coaster, 16 narrow-beam moving lights within the sun-ray sculpture on Mickey’s Fun Wheel, plus 21 narrow-beam movie lights within the viewing area. To add to the Winter Dream theme were six snowflake generators within the viewing area produce giant snowflakes in six different shapes. The beautiful sparkle effects were created with ten mirror balls installed on the speaker and lighting towers.”·

 

The existing “World of Color” technology (already amazing in itself) includes “a platform composed of nearly 1 full acre of engineered superstructure, longer than a football field and capable of settling on three levels – one for the performance, one under the water surface and one for maintenance. There are nearly 1,200 powerful and programmable fountains, and a vast underwater grid with more than 18,000 points of control.  Each fountain has multiple points of control for lighting, color intensity, water angle and height”.

 

Steve Davison, creative director of the original “World of Color” show in Disney California Adventure, also staged “World of Color − Winter Dreams.” Davison, parades and spectaculars, executive for Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Entertainment, said: “I’m thrilled and amazed to see ‘World of Color – Winter Dreams’ come to life on the Paradise Bay. Each night as we worked on the programming, it was fun to see the magic happen as we blended the new music, animation, lasers and special effects into a dazzling holiday show.”

 

 

 

Disneyland Park – Here is information from the press release about the other Holiday fun at Disneyland and California Adventure Parks:

 

* Fantasyland, guests meet the enchanting sisters from “Frozen” – the fearless and optimistic Anna, and Elsa, who has the power to control snow and ice.

 

 

* Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle – A sensational holiday lighting and special-effects show carries the magic of the holidays from the castle all the way to the 60-foot tall Disneyland Christmas tree in Town Square. The finale of the show includes the legendary “Believe … in Holiday Magic” fireworks show, ending with a touching rendition of “White Christmas,” along with a climactic snowfall swirling upon Main Street, U.S.A., “it’s a small world” Mall and New Orleans Square.

 

Sleeping Beauty Castle Disneyland Holiday

 

* Tomorrowland, Thor: Treasures of Asgard invites guests into a column of light and color which magically transports them from Disneyland to the home world of Thor, the Mighty Avenger.

 

 

A Christmas Fantasy parade Disneyland* A Christmas Fantasy” Parade - On Main Street, U.S.A., Disney characters celebrate the magic of the season, wrapping gifts, baking holiday treats and preparing for the arrival of Santa Claus, who shouts a jolly greeting to spectators along the parade route. New for 2013, winter skiers (on roller skis) glide around a frost-covered pine tree, Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen from “The Princess and the Frog” join the Candlelight Costume Ball, and a corps of Finale Dancers in gorgeous Dickens-era costumes lead  the way for Santa and his reindeer.

 

 

Its Small World Holiday Disneyland

 

*“it’s a small world” Holiday becomes  a worldwide celebration of the season, boasting more than 300,000 glittering lights on its façade and, inside, the children of many nations in their holiday attire. New for 2013, the smiling clock at the front of “it’s a small world” reveals a sparkling, new projection show. After dark, on every quarter hour, the façade of the attraction is transformed into an enormous clockwork mechanism with advanced 3D-projection technology. The gears and springs pull back to reveal a world of holiday wonders hidden behind the clock.

 

Haunted Mansion Holiday Disneyland

 

* Haunted Mansion Holiday presents a madcap celebration as the traditions of Halloween and Christmas collide.  The ghoulish but well-meaning Jack Skellington from the film “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas” has come to Haunted Mansion to transform it with his skewed vision of the holidays.

 

Mickey and Minnie Holiday

 

* Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus greet Disneyland guests at Jingle Jangle Jamboree in Big Thunder Ranch, in Frontierland.  Children and families can chat with St. Nick, meet Disney characters, and enjoy games, music, crafts and seasonal entertainment.

 

California Adventure:

 

Disneyland holiday Carsland

 

* Carsland: Adventure A whimsical “snowcar” (the Radiator Springs version of a snowman) stands at the entrance to Cars Land, and each address along Route 66 – Flo’s V-8 Café, Fillmore’s, Cozy Cone Motel, Luigi’s Casa della Tires and more – features holiday décor that reflects the personality of the “Cars” character who lives there.

 

* Disneyland HolidaysBuena Vista Street: A dazzling, 50-foot Christmas tree adorns Carthay Circle along Buena Vista Street. The tree and surrounding buildings, inspired by Los Angeles as it appeared when Walt Disney arrived in the 1920s, are decorated with vintage-style ornaments. Children of all ages may visit a classic department store Santa at Elias & Co., the main department store along Buena Vista Street.

 

I enjoyed the treats at Trolley Candy Treats on Buena Vista Street:

 

 

Trolley Candy Treats, Buena Vista Treat Disneyland

 

* Mad T Party: Wintertime fun rocks the night at “Mad T Party” as Alice and the Mad Hatter add their own brand of off-kilter holiday spirit to the nighttime celebration in Hollywood Land.

 

* “a bug’s land” transforms as Flik and his bug buddies spread giant Christmas lights and oversized ornaments throughout their realm.

 

* A Holiday edition of the street show, “Phineas and Ferb’s Rockin’ Rollin’ Dance Party,” includes festive décor, costumes and holiday tunes. The show invites guests of all ages to “seize the day,” dancing and singing on Paradise Pier with the Disney Channel’s inventive animated boy geniuses.

 

 

*We found Hanukkah Decorations at a store on Buena Vista Street which I promptly purchased to celebrate Hanukkah in Mickey style. The stores at Disneyland have a wide assortment of holiday décor.

Disney Hanukkah Wall Hanging

 

 

*Guests in the Downtown Disney district get into the holiday spirit at the Downtown Disney Winter Village, visiting the quaint cottages, browsing for gifts in the “shopping chalets” and enjoying a 30-foot Christmas tree. Guests also lace up their skates to make spirits bright along the newly themed Olaf’s Frozen Ice Rink. The rink hours are scheduled for 3 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 3 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

 

Olaf's Frozen Ice Rink

 

 
I was thrilled to bring a new TechMamas.com writer, Jennifer. She is not only my friend but also one of the most knowledgeable people I know about all things Disney with great tips about the park and rides. Here are some of her tips from the Disneyland Holiday 2013 press event:

 

Disneyland:

 

The Haunted Mansion has been transformed into Nightmare Before Christmas in the most entertaining, eye-catching way.  I found this attraction so amazing that it alone was worth the trip to Disneyland!  The creativity and artistry was truly impressive, and I became attached to Zero, the darling ghost dog who appears throughout the ride. If you are traveling with a child who can handle just a little spookiness in the not-so-dark amidst a ton of visual delights, then I would label this attraction kid-friendly. If a fast pass is offered when you are visiting the park, I suggest grabbing one and making the Haunted Mansion a priority.  Check in at the information booth on Main Street to ask about the fast pass option or wait time.

 

It’s a Small World is another must-see on your holiday to-do list at Disneyland.  How could you not just relax and enjoy with a big smile as you sit back and tap your feet to the musical beat on this boat ride through a wide assortment of singing dolls?  I loved singing along to the usual “It’s a Small World” tune perfectly mixed with Jingle Bells to give it that holiday spark.  Disney went all out with the holiday decor for this attraction, both inside and out.  Even with its popularity, this ride handles large crowds. Rarely is there much of a wait. But, if you want to avoid a line, consider visiting in the morning or later in the evening for your best chance of walking right on. For Hidden Mickey fans, keep your eye out on the ride for extra Mickeys this holiday season.

 

California Adventure:

 

World of Color: I’ve seen the World of Color show many times, and it’s always a delight.  Without a doubt, the new World of Color show, “Winter Dreams”, is my all time favorite!  Olaf, the Snowman in Disney’s movie, “Frozen”, is the host of this spectacular. Now, I cannot wait to take my family to see the movie Frozen.  A couple of things to keep in mind…you can pick up a free Fast Pass for this show earlier in the day to reduce your time in line for a great standing spot.  Alternatively, you can purchase a dinner package, which is a great way to enjoy a delicious sit-down dinner followed by a short wait for this fabulous show!  Just call Disney’s dining for more information on this.

 

Of course, you’re not required to do either of these and can just show up an hour or so prior to show time.  Ask a Disney employee when people start lining up. Once you arrive, choose to stand in the front section if you enjoy a good spray of water.  Alternatively, there are plenty of good viewing spots slightly back which allow you to stay dry. When planning out your souvenir purchases, keep in mind that it’s fun to pick up a pair of Mickey Ears for this show because the ears light up and change colors in sync with the show.  I was impressed with the comfort and (light) weight of my set of ears.

 

Buena Vista Street:

 

I just loved experiencing the festive holiday cheer from every direction, both in sight and sound. Many times, I heard the music of a quartet singing holiday songs or discovered a gorgeous array of wreaths loaded with attractive colors.

 

I have to admit…I’m a shopper.  I couldn’t help but recognize this as an opportunity to pick up holiday gifts of adorable plush characters decked out in cute holiday outfits!  And, who can resist the yummy sweet treats in the candy shops?  I certainly couldn’t.  A little chocolate is a great way to end a fabulous day!  It always tastes better when in the shape of a favorite character, of course.

 

For more information about the Disneyland Resort, visit www.disneyland.com/holidays.  For ticket and hotel offers, visit www.disneyland.com/offers.

 

Disclosure: This was a press event.

 

 

 

Dent The Future Conference 2013 Press Trip: Sun Valley

I was lucky to be invited many years ago on a magic bus ride to CES, which was the first time I had a fun adventure with the team from Parnassus Group (Steve Broback, Jason Preston and more). Over the years they always had the pulse of social media,  organizing events such as Tweethouse and It Won’t Stay In Vegas at CES.   So when I was invited to join the (pre) Dent The Future 2013 press trip in February (to check out the location) organized by none other then the Parnassus Group, of course I said yes!

 

Dent The Future (March 24-27 in Sun Valley Idaho) is a new conference that “explores the magic and science of visionary leadership and groundbreaking success. They aim to translate the success of great leaders in business, politics, or charity into a set of lessons for those who would “put a dent” in the future.”

 

While I had some scheduling challenges (including Spring Break for my kids) so I won’t be able to attend Dent this year, I already put it on the schedule for next year. I will look forward to bringing my whole family with me to enjoy Sun Valley while I experience Dent 2014.  Those who will be following the conference from afar like me can do so by following Dent on Twitter (hashtag #Dent2013).
 

 
Listed below are some of the details from the “Pre” Dent 2013 press trip in February. We had an amazing trip that was not only filled with fascinating discussions on social media, but also with the beauty and fun of the fabulous Sun Valley Resort. I will be writing another post with more details (and sharing my pictures) about Sun Valley Resort (which was a highlight of the trip!).

 

 

This is a picture I tweeted from Sun Valley on our last night of the trip – enjoying a great dinner at a local restaurant.
 


 

#dent2013  @sbroback @bikehugger @pop17 @scobleizer  @svalleysunshine  @techmama @visitsunvalley  @shaunacausey  @jasonp
 


 

Our group lunch on Bald Mountain included yummy food, beautiful location and lots of social media talk!
 

#sunvalley @sbroback @jasonp @scobleizer @chasejarvis @pop17 @shaunacausey ..@techmama @neilblecherman #dent2013 pic.twitter.com/qyOkry58

 

Here is a summary of some of the locations we visited (post with full details will be published soon):

 

  • Yummy places we ate during our trip included: Knob Hill Inn, Della Mano Restaurant, The Kneadery and the Konditorei for breakfast. But there are many other places to eat.
  • Zenergy Health Club is a great location for a workout and spa treatments! http://zenergyts.com/
  • Here are the two websites to find out more information about Sun Valley Resort: www.visitsunvalley.com  and www.sunvalley.com. We stayed at the Sun Valley Resort Inn and it was beautiful. There is a great transportation system to go to the mountains, it is not crowded and the weather is usually sunny (per the name “Sun Valley”).  The resort is very family friendly – and even has a mountain that is perfect for beginners or family skiing called Dollar Mountain. The other mountain (Bald Mountain) is great for Intermediate to advanced skiers.  The Sun Valley Snowsports School has lessons for all levels (and even family lessons). I was excited that they have a “fundamentals” day program for kids (8:30 – 3:30) that includes lunch. There are also programs for Intermediate or Advanced kids as well. There are other winter activities such as ice skating and sleigh rides.

 

**My next post will share more details about the beautiful and family friendly Sun Valley Resort.

 

Disclosure: Travel related expenses were provided to the press covering this event.

 

New Family Fun at Disneyland: Cars Land and Buena Vista Street Now Open

Buena Vista Street Disney California Adventure

Photo Credit: Disney

Recently, friends asked me about my summer and one of the highlights I mentioned was being invited as part of the media to cover Disney’s California Adventure Park Grand Re-opening , including two new themed lands: Cars Land and Buena Vista Street.  You just have to see it to believe it.

 

 

When visiting Disneyland Park, with Cinderella’s Castle and rides from Pirates of the Caribbean to Star Wars, it’s very clear that the park was created so that Main Street USA is the grand entrance and centerpiece that sets the stage for a great park experience. Similarly, with the recent Disneyland Resort expansion, guests enter California Adventure Park on Buena Vista Street, the striking anchor of this new park.  The shops, period costumes and architecture of Buena Vista Street were inspired by the history and experiences of “ Los Angeles in the 1920’s similar to what Walt Disney experienced when he came to America”.

 

 

Continue reading

 

Heading to Family Fun With The Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship

Tomorrow I am heading to Florida to join in the fun on the newest Disney cruise ship called Disney Fantasy. This is a media trip for me (and other media) to find out details about the ship to pass on to my readers.  I am braving the trip with my twin 9 year old sons (hubby and my tween are staying home). I consider myself a savvy traveler after traveling the world for business – but traveling with kids is something completely different. Honestly – traveling with kids simply makes me nervous. Which is why I love going on Disney adventures that are not only made for families and put also put nervous mother’s like myself at ease.

 

 

So check back next week where I will share my adventures and all the family fun the Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship has to offer!

 

Disclosure: My travel expenses for this media trip are covered by Disney. This is not a paid post, my words are my own.

 

New Release: “Double Fine Happy Action Theater” – A New Kinect for Xbox 360 experience for families

Our family loves our Kinect for XBox 360 as family entertainment with a gesture tech slant. We always enjoy trying out the new activities and games that come out for the Kinect, especially ones for all ages. I just received a press release today of a new activity for the Kinect called Double Fine Happy Action Theater. The 18 new family friendly “arcade” like experiences include jumping in a ball house, hot lava, build an ice cave out of your furniture and wait out a blizzard, become a giant monster and stomp buildings and more. Up to six players at once can play with the experiences that ” intuitively respond to their body movements and react in interesting and unexpected ways”. I can’t wait to try them out.

 

PRESS RELEASE/FACT SHEET:
Double Fine Happy Action Theater Fact Sheet – January 2012
Continue reading

 

RockSmith Video Game: Finally A Game That Uses Real Guitars!

When Clever Girls Collective/Ubisoft asked if I was interested in trying out Rocksmith with my tween son and his rocker friends (who are in a band), I jumped at the chance. Rocksmith is the first video game where you can connect real electric guitars with a standard 1/4” input jack with a Microsoft Xbox 360 or Sony PlayStation 3 entertainment system. There is also a Rocksmith bundle that includes a guitar.

 

The game has a helpful tuning process and difficulty settings that automatically adapt to your experience level. Experts can play songs from memory, experiened guitar players can play from notes on the screen and a beginner like me can follow easy color-coded strings on the screen.

 

Feel like a real rockstar with different backgrounds including a concert theme.

 

 

There are also mini-games and what the Rocksmith website explains as the ability to: “Turn your console into an amplifier and play with loads of in-game effects pedals, amplifiers, and cabinets. String pedals together with nearly infinite combinations and tweak your sound until you’re satisfied.”

 

Some of the tracks include  David Bowie – Rebel Rebel, Eric Clapton – Run Back To Your Side, Lenny Kravitz – Are You Gonna Go My Way, Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama, Radiohead – High And Dry, The Cure – Boys Don’t Cry and The Rolling Stones – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.

 

Here are some details from the press release:

SAN FRANCISCO – October 18, 2011 – Today, Ubisoft® announces that Rocksmith™ is now available at retail throughout North America.  The standard edition of the game, available for $79.99, will include the Rocksmith Real Tone Cable™, a unique 1/4” to USB cable that is the first of its kind, developed exclusively for Rocksmith.  This revolutionary cable turns the guitar’s signal from analog to digital, allowing it to be recognized and played through video game consoles for the first time.  The guitar bundle will provide a quality entry-level option for people that have always wanted to play but don’t own a guitar. The bundle, available for $199.99, includes an Epiphone Les Paul Jr guitar, along with the Rocksmith Real Tone Cable.  Rocksmith is rated “T” for Teen.  

For more information on Rocksmith, please visit www.rocksmith.com, and follow Rocksmith on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rocksmithgame

But what did my tween son’s friends – who happen to play in a band – think about Rocksmith?

 

Not only did they say Rocksmith was enthusiastically “awesome” – but they also had been waiting for the game and were so excited it finally launched. Here are some of their comments after playing the game at our Rocksmith party:

 

  • The game is not only fun but also teaches you how to play notes & chords by showing you where to press and even how to hold the guitar pick.
  • Let’s you choose whether you play chords or notes.
  • Really enjoyed the freestyle mode.
  • Unlike other games, you can play actual notes.
  • As you learn, the game gives you more notes to play.
  • Yeah! I finally get to play Rocksmith!

 

As a mom, it was exciting to watch video game play that had learning involved and was very “cool” (hard to find that combo). Rocksmith is the type of game that either one, two or big groups of kids at a party can take turns playing and is also fun to watch and listen to for the partygoers not playing the game.

 

At the same time, it is a welcome addition to our family video game library, whether for my tween son to play during his allowed “screen” time or for the family to play together. Rocksmith was also a great fit for my 8 year old twins who are taking guitar lessons. The teen rating was not an issue for our family because it was mainly related to lyrics in the songs (which I have been listening to for years so why can’t my kids!).

 

Disclosure: Thank you to Ubisoft for sponsoring this blog post. Please click here to learn more about Ubisoft. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions are my own.