My Best Day Ever!

To celebrate the debut of “Muppets Now” premiering on Disney+, I wanted to share a memory of my BEST DAY EVER working for Disney. It was a day when my two loves of film making and The Muppets merged into one.

For a brief time during my 22 year career with the Walt Disney Company, I was a puppeteer at Disneyland. A small group of us puppeteers would be sent out by Disney to perform at local Anaheim area elementary schools for their anti-drug education. I performed as Tiva, the rock diva puppet who battled Rock Cocaine. Yes, it’s true, there was a Rock Cocaine puppet.

I went on to being cast as one of the opening cast members of “Playhouse Disney Live on Stage” at Disney California Adventure Park. My role was to puppeteer Tutter, the mouse from Bear in the Big Blue House, as well as Piglet in the Winnie the Pooh’s Hundred Acre Woods sequence. We received amazing direction and training from a Henson Company puppeteer. I enjoyed it so much, that for a very brief moment, I considered going to Puppeteer College, yes, there is such a thing.

I Got Sidetracked.

Hubby and I on contract at the Tokyo Disneyland Resort

I did indeed become sidetracked from puppeteering, because both my husband and I were given an amazing opportunity to perform at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. After many years of working in Japan, we finally bid a fond sayonara and we returned home to the United States and the Disneyland Resort. Except now I was armed with a clear vision that TV and Film making is what I was always meant to do and that became my main career focus.

It was a career that had always been there, a thread that had been interwoven in and out of my life for the longest time, having worked on an eclectic array of production shoots, like ABC TV’s Extreme Makeover, to working on music videos, like Eminem’s “Superman,” with Director Paul Walker, to plethora commercial filmings and special events for the Walt Disney Company. I had already had a long career in film and TV, but I was finally ready to focus on production work and say goodbye to performing.

Now focused and in my dream role as a TV/Film Production Manager, let’s get on to my favorite day, shall we?

I had by this time, worked with Roy Disney Jr., Jon Voight, Carol Burnett, Kurt Russell, Rance Howard, Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, and several other celebrities on many different projects. I was never star struck on set. “Let’s get this shot and done!” was my mentality. That is until ONE shoot. On ONE Day. This would be the day when my two loves of Muppets and Film Making BECAME ONE!

Finally! The Best Day Ever!

This ONE day happened in 2004 for the filming of the Disney Parks Christmas Special. My inner nerdom came out this day. I couldn’t help it! I tried! I really did. I tried so hard to be professional. I was the Key, put in charge to manage the Camera B Unit, which is a small roving unit. There’s only one camera operator, one grip, one PA, two guest control cast members, production manager (me) and the talent, who would happen to be non other than Dave Goelz, who may be better known to some as Gonzo. The object of our Unit B Crew was to move fast, get in and out, with not a lot of set up to our shots, “run and gun” is what is used to describe this method of shooting.


Me, The Great Gonzo and Dave Goelz

For the first half of the day, I worked with my all-time favorite Muppeteer, Dave Goelz and his Muppet, Gonzo! When Dave wasn’t shooting he had Gonzo in an unassuming black case. I insisted that I carry the case when traveling from set locations. Dave said that wasn’t necessary, but I assured him, near forcefully, that it was (of course I had to carry the Great Gonzo). I really hope my geekiness didn’t show this day.

Me holding Gonzo’s case, I’m such a geek!

We shot on stage in Disneyland near the entrance to Tomorrowland.

My photo of Dave Goelz and Gonzo in action

We also shot some green screen scenes in a warehouse at Disney California Adventure Park.

Dave Goelz and Gonzo the Great

In between shots, I asked him silly questions, like if his thumb knuckles cracked a lot. You see, for a puppeteer, it’s very important to keep the puppet’s eyes focused forward. It’s the thumb that is used for most of the mouth’s movements, you don’t want the puppet’s eyes looking up at the ceiling while they’re talking, so the other four fingers are pressed together, with the middle finger’s knuckle elevated slightly, to help bridge the forehead, or nose area, depending on the puppet. In any case, to this day, my thumbs still continue to crack from my brief moment in puppeteering. In case you were wondering, the great Dave Goelz told me that his thumb knuckles did not crack. Aren’t you glad you learned that? After I wrapped Dave, I was on cloud nine.

Me on Cloud Nine!

Could This Day Get Any Better? Yes. Yes It Could!

After Dave and the Great Gonzo were wrapped, I then headed to the next shots of the day, working with Steve Whitmire and Eric Jacobsen, the Muppeteers for Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy.

Their performance stage was near the front of the Plaza Inn, the restaurant at the end of Main Street that’s famous for its fried chicken. Well, Eric and Steve didn’t have to shoot for a while, and they were smelling that famous fried chicken and geeting hungry, so I treated them to a tasty lunch, consisting of fried chicken, green beans and tasty mashed potatoes, all of which they chose to eat beneath the stage, rather than at a table. I thought that odd at the time, but I guess it’s true that Muppeteers are most comfortable in cramped dark spaces.

It’s Jennifer Garner!

While Steve Whitmire and Eric Jacobsen were eating their lunch down below in the belly of the stage, I was standing outside, next to it, keeping watch. While standing there, I was approached by a very nice lady asking if she could take a picture with the Muppets. I looked at her, then looked across the way into Disneyland’s hub, where I noticed Ben Affleck standing looking at me. I then looked back at the beautiful lady who was looking at me with a gorgeous smile and bright eyes opened wide with anticipation. She was staring at me, waiting for me to reply. I finally realized that it was Jennifer Garner, who just so happened to be at the park with her family the day of our filming. Not that she wasn’t immediately recognizable, I had been on set since 4:00 AM, and was still a bit euphoric from my close encounter with Gonzo, that it took me a second to reply.

She had seen Kermit and Miss Piggy rehearsing earlier and was eager to have her picture taken with them. I agreed, I did tell her yes, perhaps a bit too quickly, but like me, I could tell she loved the Muppets, perhaps just as much as I did, so how could I refuse her? And I also enjoyed watching her in the TV series “Alias” at the time (now streaming on Amazon Prime), so I have to be honest, that did help with her request.

Thankfully, Steve and Eric were gracious to oblige. I truly should have asked them before I committed them to taking the photograph. Thankfully, they were so kind about it and happily agreed. PHEW! They then quickly popped Kermit and Miss Piggy up for the photo with Jennifer Garner. Although, thinking about it after the fact, with them having just eaten fried chicken, just moments before, in the belly of the stage with just a few napkins, I’m almost certain the insides of those famous Muppets became a bit greasy. Poor Kermie and Piggy! But, the end result was a beautiful photograph of Jennifer Garner, Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy that ended up making it into PEOPLE magazine that year, which was fun to see.

My photograph, not the photo that was in PEOPLE

Back To Work. Filming Continues…

Kermit and Miss Piggy on set.

The taping the rest of the day went smoothly and when we finally wrapped the day, I was the last person to leave the set. It was a long 18 hour day, but, I think I smiled every second of it. I had many memorable days working for The Mouse, but, I do believe that this…this was my BEST DAY EVER.

Downtown Disney District is Now Open

Open Daily Monday – Thursday 10:00AM to 8:00PM and Friday-Sunday 10:00AM to 9:00 PM

I was so very excited to be able to preview the reopening of Downtown Disney. While it’s not Disneyland nor Disney California Adventure Park, it was nice to visit the shopping center and restaurants that are located so very near to the one and only “Happiest Place on Earth.”

Where to Park Your Noble Steed: AKA Your Transportation

Rideshare and Guest drop-offs are located in two places, one is on Harbor Boulevard at the designated Guest drop-off and pick-up location. The second drop-off location is at the Downtown Disney District, located on Downtown Drive, just past the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure.

Where to Self Park: Parking is currently complimentary at the Simba Parking Lot. This lot is located behind Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel off of Disneyland Drive. 

⚠️Be Aware. Guests are counted and monitored by Disney throughout the day. Based on these counts, both the Simba Lot or the entrance to Downtown Disney may need to temporarily close in order to reduce crowd size.

*If the Simba Lot is closed when you arrive, and you have a dinner reservation, Disney has instructed guests to show that reservation confirmation to the APD for entry.

Are you excited yet? After four months of being closed, a glimmer of Disney hope is on the horizon. You’re nearly there, almost onto the pathway that you can offically call Downtown Disney. To enter such a magical realm, however, you and your clan must first pass a few tests to prove yourself worthy.

As Merida once said, “There are those who say fate is something beyond our command. That destiny is not our own, but I know better. Our fate lives within us, you only have to be brave enough to see it.” Are you brave enough, like Merida, to take your fate into your own hands and pass the tests to gain entry? Continue reading to find out what you must do to gain entry into the realm of the Downtown Disney District.

Your Shield of Armor: Wear a Mask

Everyone must wear a mask, exceptions are children age 2 and younger as well all guests who may have a disability preventing them from wearing a mask.  Disney states that “All face coverings should: Fully cover an individual’s nose and mouth and allow the Guest to remain hands-free. Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face. Be secured with ties or ear loops. Be made of breathable material, either disposable or reusable. Costume masks are not considered appropriate and are prohibited from being worn, in alignment with our existing rules.”  Sorry friends, that means Storm Trooper helmets are not approved.

Updated Mask Requirements Effective Immediately: Neck gaiter tube-style face scarves and open-chin triangle bandanas will no longer be allowed as face coverings at Downtown Disney. Also no longer allowed are face coverings containing valves, mesh material or holes of any kind. Which means, no, you may not insert a straw into the hole in your mask to sip that tasty beverage. No More “Sip and stroll” Loophole.

Visitors may remove their masks only while actively eating and drinking outdoors in a stationary position while maintaining social distancing.  To reiterate, if you want to drink your beverage or lick your ice cream cone, you must do so while sitting or standing in one location. You may not eat and drink as you walk throughout Downtown Disney.

Stay as cool as Elsa: Temperature Checks

First stop is a temperature check. Disney has stated, “Based on guidance from health authorities, anyone displaying a temperature of 100.4 F or above will be directed to an additional location for rescreening. A Guest with a temperature of 100.4 F or above—in addition to everyone in the Guest’s traveling party—will not be allowed entry.”

You are all One Team, One Dream! It’s very important everyone in your group checks their temperatures before leaving their homes and arriving to Downtown Disney.

The Tests of Gallant Chivalry

Don’t Provoke the Noble Beast.
Pass Through the Metal Gate of Good Fortune

You have now donned your shield of armor (mask), your temperature has been checked and is nearly as cold as Elsa’s, and you did not provoke the noble beast (K-9). There is but one final test. Thou must pass through a metal gate of good fortune (metal detector). If you are able to pass through the mighty iron gate without ringing its alarm, you will be proven victorious! Congratulations! Huzzah! Give yourself a pat on the back! You did it! You are on your way to having a most joyous day.

All kidding aside, it did feel great to be home once again on Disney soil. I was impressed with the new health and safety measures that the Disneyland Resort has implemented.

Disney Helping Guests Stay Safe

Plenty of Stores to Peruse

Plenty of Dining to Taste

Only Outdoor Dining is currently allowed at this time throughout Downtown Disney. Bars must also be closed for the next couple of weeks, as Orange County must follow the state mandated guidelines due to the surge in COVID-19 cases in the area.

Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen

Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen‘s is NOW OPEN! BeignetsHERE I COME!

Thank you to Mike and Lori from Arizonalifetothemax on Instagram for allowing me to use their Ralph Brennan’s beignets photo. I never have been able to pause long enough to take a photo. Mike and Lori must have great will power.

Locations Currently Open for Business

Asian Street Eats, Ballast Point Brewery and Kitchen, Black Tap Craft Burgers and Shakes, California Churro, California Sole, Curl Surf, Disney Home, Disney’s Pin Traders, Earl of Sandwich, Jamba, Kayla’s Cakes, La Brea Bakery, Marceline’s Confectionery, Naples Ristorante e Bar, PANDORA jewelry, Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen, Rinse Bath & Body Co., Salt & Straw, Sephora, Starbucks (2 locations), Sugarboo & Co., Sunglass Icon, The Disney Dress Shop, The LEGO Store, Tortilla Jo’s, Uva Bar and Cafe, Wetzel’s Pretzels, WonderGround Gallery, World of Disney.

Should You Choose To Visit Downtown Disney…

Be safe, have fun, remain gallant and be sure to enjoy that California sunshine.

Check back here on my blog for updates.

⚠️COVID-19 Warning⚠️
Disney has done a great job at implementing enhanced health and safety measures for guests when they visit the Disneyland Resort.
But don’t forget that there is an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 when visiting public spaces. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, senior citizens and those with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable.
Disney states, “By visiting the Disneyland Resort, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.”⚠️

The DIY Dole Whip

Disney recently shared on the DisneyParks App a Frozen Pineapple Treat. Which is in all appearances, a nod to the Pineapple Dole Whip sold at the parks. Now, there are a few Disney Foodie enthusiasts who will scoff at the idea that the Disney Parks recipe is in fact a Dole Whip DIY recipe. According to some Disney foodies, it’s not a Dole Whip for one distinct reason; vanilla ice cream is included in Disney’s recipe as an ingredient. That’s right, the current Dole Whip sold in the Disney Parks has been dairy free and vegan certified since 1997. Yet, the original Dole Whip prior to 1997 did in fact contain dairy.

In any case, there are the sceptics, even the Dole company came out with their own vegan friendly version of a DIY Dole Whip, as a friendly counter to Disney’s frozen concoction.

For me, however, I am all in for trying anything that could replicate the tangy and sweet frozen pineapple goodness that is a favorite amongst guests visiting the Disney Parks. So why not try what could be perfection? We’ll get back to the recipes later,  first, let me tell you a little bit about the history of the famous Disney snack and why I now crave this delectable treat.

It was the summer of 1992

Summer of 1992 Main Street Electrical Parade

Can you remember the very first time you tried a Dole Whip? I can. It was the summer of 1992, back when there was dairy in the mix. That was the first summer I was cast in the Main Street Electrical Parade. I remember parking my float and hightailing it one night to meet up with a few other Cast Members who had invited me to come along to try an amazing pineapple soft serve that was sold just outside the Tiki Room.  I remember we were walking as fast as we could, across Main Street USA,  past Carnation Plaza and on into Adventureland.  We were bobbing, weaving, and side stepping around guests in the dimly lit landscape of Disneyland, just to get in line and grab a Dole Whip. 

Parade Cast Members could get away with getting into the parks back then during our shift, just as long as we didn’t go on an attraction. I truly enjoyed those summer nights, going into the park in between parades to enjoy a tasty treat. Ahhh, those were the days. It was on this one fateful summer night that I will never forget the taste of that first Dole Whip. It was cold, sweet, refreshing and yet tarte enough to cause the back of your mouth to tense up as it swallowed that first drop of pineapple. It was so good. So good in fact, that twenty-eight years later, it’s still my favorite Disney Parks treat.


The History

How did the Dole Whip come about anyway?  Well, Dole became the official sponsor of Disneyland’s Enchanted Tiki Room in 1976. The partnership between the two companies consisted specifically of selling Dole’s pineapple which is why all pineapples used throughout the Disney Resorts are Dole grown. For the first ten years, between 1976 and 1986, the fruit stand outside of the Tiki room sold Dole pineapple juice and juicy pineapple spears. It wasn’t until 1986, through a collaboration between both Disney and Dole that produced the now legendary Dole Whip and the Dole Whip float, which is the same Whip served with pineapple juice.

The Tropical Hideaway at Disneyland
My cutie enjoying her Dole Whip at Disneyland

Kent Precision Food Groups took over the license rights to Dole Whip in 1997

Kent Precision Food group’s mission statement reads, “Kent Precision Foods Group specializes in developing, blending and packaging dry mix food products to our customers’ exacting specifications. In addition to our dry blending capabilities, KPFG offers a diverse line of branded products for the foodservice and consumer channels. Kent Precision Foods Group and their parent company Kent Corporation are committed to conducting business with the highest standards of morality, fairness, and integrity and to adhere to the laws of the jurisdictions in which their business takes place.”

The Airy Texture makes the Dole Whip

Since 1997, Dole Whip is now licensed by Kent Precision Foods Group, and describes the Dole Whip as being made with a non-dairy creamer, sugar, natural flavoring and coloring.  The company also states that anyone who licenses Dole Whip must use the company’s soft serve machine, because it’s their machine that creates the air like texture. Without this machine,  you can’t claim the product is a Dole Whip. 

If no one has a patented Kent Precision Soft Serve Machine, can anyone really make a DIY Dole Whip?

And so, when the Disney Parks App shared their Frozen Pineapple Treat recipe with the world,  they did so,  knowing families were staying safe at home.  Also knowing folks weren’t likely to have the patented soft serve machine at home, a Dole Whip like recipe was bestowed upon the Earth to many great cheers, and few grumbles and nay-sayers. But to them I say, “Let them eat Dole Whip!”

The Disney Parks Frozen Pineapple Recipe

The pictures above by Disney, show the simple ingredients needed to make what the Disney Parks call a Frozen Pineapple Treat. It also lists a suggested piping bag to make that famous swirl we have come accustomed to when enjoying a Dole Whip at the Parks.

Let’s Make the Dole Whip, I mean, the Frozen Pineapple Treat

The Ingredients
  • One fresh Dole Pineapple. Cut, remove the core, and freeze 2 cups fresh pineapple, preferably overnight, the harder and more frozen the pineapple, the better.
  • 1/2 cup Dole Pineapple juice; you may need more, depending on how well your blender can cut through the frozen pineapple
  • 1 large scoop of vanilla ice cream.
  • 1 Blender (I used my Ninja blender)
  • If you are Vegan, my suggestion, deviating now from the Disney Parks recipie, is to omit the vanilla ice cream and instead, add 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk, it tastes wonderful, yet not as creamy or sweet as the Dole Whips sold at the Disney Parks.

Add all the ingredients and blend until smooth.

Now that it’s blended, put into a piping bag or bowl and freeze for 15 more minutes.
The Results! My Disney Parks DIY Dole Whip

Dole’s DIY Dole Whip Recipe

Pic by the Dole Company from their website

Dole recently came out with their own version of an at home DIY Dole Whip which I also made.

The Ingredients

As written by Dole, you will need

  • 1 cup ripe DOLE® pineapple, chopped and frozen
  • 1 ripe DOLE® Banana, peeled and frozen
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice.
  • Directions: Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Cover; blend until smooth, about 2-3 minutes.
The Results of My DIY Dole Company’s Dole Whip

To Be a Dole Whip or Not To Be… Is that really the question?

Dole’s recipe was tasty, especially if you want to blend it a bit more and turn it into a smoothie. With the addition of the banana in Dole’s recipe, it helps to create a creamy texture, yet, the flavor of banana is therefore also apparent, and I tend to be a purist of pineapple whenever possible, at least when it comes to a Dole Whip.

After making both the Disney Parks recipe and Dole’s, I am in favor of the Disney Parks Frozen Pineapple Treat that tastes near identical to the Dole Whip. It was so good in fact that my husband now comes home regularly with a pineapple.

The simple and all natural ingredients, depending on the ice cream you choose, for the recipe was so good in fact that I started experimenting more and ended up creating a Dole Whip blended margarita by adding 3 tablespoons Tequila, 2 tablespoons Triple Sec, and 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice to the Disney Parks recipe. Cheers!

My DIY Dole Whip Margarita

Ahhh, the Dole Whip that can also be enjoyed as a float or a fruity libation, is a tangy and sweet frozen pineapple treat and I am so grateful that Disney Parks shared their version so that we too can make a near perfect version. So sit back, click on the and close your eyes while you enjoy the Dole Whip you just made. It tastes honestly,  AMAZING!! But don’t take my word for it. Try it for yourself and let me know what you think.

Baking Jack-Jack’s Cookie Num Nums From Home

Our favorite treat on Pixar Pier

My son and I have a tradition when we visit Disney California Adventure Park. The very first thing we do after we enter through the gate is head to Pixar Pier.

Pic by @magicmadebydisney

As soon as Pixar Pier is in our sights we become excited and our casual walk becomes more brisk in its pace as we head with great anticipation to the Incredicoaster.

My kiddo riding the Incredicoaster

After experiencing the highspeed thrills of the Incredicoaster, we exit the attraction and head to a small food cart located around the corner. This cart sells assorted milk and cookies. But not just any cookies, this cart sells Jack-Jack’s num nums! The cookie we purchase, and perhaps the real reason we head to Pixar Pier in the first place, is the ooey gooey Jack-Jack Chocolate Chip Cookie Num Num.

Now that the Disney Parks are closed, I am truly missing all the Disney snacks and treats, including this very special and delicious cookie.

Thanks to Pixar Pastry Chef Marylou Jaso, we can now bake Jack-Jack Num Num cookies from home!

Pixar has gifted us the recipe.


*1 cup (2 sticks) of butter, 1 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 egg AND 1 egg yolk, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 1/4 cup flour, and 1 cup chocolate chips.

The Ingredients
Thanks to Pixar for sharing the recipe on Instagram and Twitter

First step is to brown your butter

When the directions called for me to brown my butter, I was a bit baffled, I had never browned butter before. Sure, get it to room temperature, maybe even cheat a little and stick it in the microwave, but to take out a pan and cook down the butter was a whole new experience for me. I’m glad I didn’t cheat on this step. It’s so important you don’t either as it truly adds depth to the cookie’s flavor. Once it’s been melted down, let it cool until it begins to solidify.

Next, grab your mixer (or a fork with a strong hand) and a mixing bowl to cream together your butter, sugars and salt. Make sure it’s mixed until light and fluffy.

My children enjoy taking turns mixing the batter.

Next, add one egg PLUS one yolk and the vanilla.

Continue to mix until smooth.

Now add your dry ingredients
(flour, salt and baking soda) to the smooth batter,

Next comes the fun part. Add in the chocolate chips.

Now the difficult part… the waiting

After forming these cookies into round balls, you’ll need to refrigerate for at least an hour, preferably overnight, which is what I chose to do, which was the difficult part for the kids having to wait.

It’s now the next day

Preheat your oven to 350°. Once heated, open up your fridge and take those beautiful round balls of chocolate chip goodness out of your fridge. You might notice, like I did, that a ball or two will not be as round as you had once formed them. In my case, that was due to my two little chef helpers who apparently couldn’t help themselves.

Into the oven they go.

Bake the cookies at 350° for 7 to 10 minutes. You’ll want the cookies to have a golden brown edge, but still soft in the center.

It’s Time!

Once 7 to 10 minutes pass, take out those gorgeous Jack-Jack Chocolate Chip cookie Num Nums! They taste great out of the oven nice and warm. Enjoy!!

I’d love to hear how your cookies turned out.

Lunar New Year Celebration at Disney California Adventure Park

Mickey and Minnie at Disney California Adventure Park

The Lunar New Year Celebration is in full swing at Disney California Adventure Park. Now through February 9, 2020, you too, with paid admission, can welcome the “Year of the Mouse” at this multicultural celebration, which pays tribute to the Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean cultures.

It’s certainly a fun and festive event. As a homeschool parent to a 5th grader, we had a wonderful time learning about the beauty of the three diverse cultures and immersing ourselves with all the sights, sounds, and tastes the Lunar New Year Celebration had to offer.

Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession

We started our day by viewing Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession. It was beautifully performed. A narration could be heard educating the guests about the performers and what they or their prop symbolized.

After, being educated by the beautiful procession, we took it upon ourselves to taste some of the seasonal food that was offered.

Sip and Savor your way through Lunar New Year

Sip and Savor Pass

The Sip & Savor Pass is available for purchase at this event. With it, you’ll be able to explore a variety of Disney inspired Asian-fushion menus highlighting Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese cuisine at a slightly discounted price.
The pass is a commemorative credential keepsake that has 6 coupons attached to it which are redeemable for food and beverage offerings (not including alcohol).

Each Marketplace booth offers two Disney Inspired meal choices, one inventive dessert, as well as alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages.

Paradise Garden Grill is also taking part in the festive food offering. Here I tried my favorite dish, the Pork Belly Banh Mi, and it wasn’t my favorite just because it had a hidden Mickey.

Paradise Gardens at Disney California Adventure Park

Paradise Gardens is decorated beautifully. The bright and vibrant hues of red and gold great guests and welcome you to discover the celebration of Lunar New Year and what is means to the Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese families.

Make a Wish

Lucky Wishing Wall at the Lunar New Year Celebration

Special Character Greetings

My child and I had the most wonderful time celebrating the “Year of the Mouse.” We colored our pearls for the dragon, listened to the beautiful music performed by Melody of China. We made a wish for the New Year, tried new food, and played with Pluto, just to name a few of our highlights. We had such a lovely time. Do you celebrate Lunar New Year? If so, I’d love to hear about your tradition.

It’s Refurbishment time at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park

The end of the holiday season at the Disneyland Resort means only one thing…it’s refurbishment time! Because of this, both Disneyand and Disney California Adventure will have a few closures. Many are routine, like “it’s a small world” Holiday and Haunted Mansion Holiday are being transformed back to their classic state.

There are also unexpected closures like Snow White’s Scary Adventures. But this closure is for such an exciting reason, as this attraction is just one of a few that will turn 65 this year and I couldn’t think anything better than the Snow White attraction receiving a reimagining for its birthday.

Following is a list of attractions at Disneyland that are scheduled to be closed.

“it’s a small world” Holiday

*”it’s a small world” is down just a few more days, it’s set to reopen January 17

*The Mark Twain Riverboat is down now through January 31st.

Haunted Mansion Holiday

*The Haunted Mansion Holiday goes down January 21st until Spring (I was informed it’ll be about a 3 month refurbishment). But good news is that you still have one more week to see Jack Skellington!

*King Arthur’s Carrousel is down beginning January 21st until late May, this 98 year old antique always needs a little extra special care.

*Snow White’s Scary Adventures is down now through summer. “Why so long?” you might ask. As one of the original park’s attractions celebrating its 65 years this year, it will receive a whole new reimagining! Gosh I love that word, don’t you? For this classic attraction, Imagineers are implementing state-of-the-art audio and visual technology throughout the attraction. It will include new music, LED black lighting in some areas, laser projections, brand new scenes, a new ending and a new animation system!! I cannot wait!!! The exterior of the attraction will also receive a new coat of paint to match the nearby Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.

*The Sailing Ship Columbia will go down briefly for its routine maintenance from February 4 to 6, reopening on the 7th.

Following is a list of attractions, stores and restaurants that are scheduled to go down at Disney California Adventure Park.

*The Red Car Trolley is now down, most likely returning late Spring or early summer as construction is underway for the Avengers Campus. The trolley’s gate entrance will be blocked as Imagineers are getting ready to create this new and exciting land.

*Both the Carthay Circle Restaurant and its Lounge are currently down for refurbishments and both are set to return on January 31st.
*The Bakery Tour, located on the Pacific Wharf, is scheduled to close for refurbishments on January 21, returning on Feb 11th.

*Both Grizzly River Run and it’s neighboring store, Rushin’ River Outfitters, are also set to go down for refurbishments on January 21st, returning on February 14, just in time to celebrate getting soaked with a loved one on Valentine’s Day🥰

*Feb 24 Jessie’s Critter Carousel is set to go down briefly for routine maintenance.

*I will continue to update my blog with closures in hopes it’ll help you to enjoy your day at the Disney parks without any surprises. So check back often as I will continue to update my site.

Even though there are a few attractions down right now, it’s still a great time of year to attend the parks. Crowds are fewer, and with Luna New Year beginning this Friday, January 17th at Disney California Adventure, there’s still plenty of magical experiences to be had.

I’d love to know, when’s your favorite time to visit the Disneyland Resort?

Holiday Fun in the OC

There are so many special holiday offerings in Orange County for locals and visitors alike. One of the ways to soak up the spirit of the season, along with a dusting of Disney Magic, is by visiting the Downtown Disney District in Anaheim, California, which is one of my family’s holiday traditions.

No entry ticket to Disneyland or Disney California Adventure is required to enjoy Downtown Disney’s dining, shopping and live entertainment experiences.
Along with top notch eateries like Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen and Catal, there are newer dining locations to experience, like Black Tap Craft Burgers & Shakes. At Black Tap, you’re in for a whole new scensory experience with over the top shakes and award winning burgers.

Let’s also not forget the shopping! According to Disney, their World of Disney store is “the ultimate Disney shopping experience.” I completely agree, as it contains the largest selection of Disney goods anywhere on the West Coast.

Adjacent to Downtown Disney are the Disneyland Resort’s three hotels. Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel and the classic, Disneyland Hotel. The hotels are always fun to visit, even if you’re not a guest, as each have their own unique way to decorate for the Christmas holiday.
Did you know that Santa Claus visits each hotel? So be sure to stop by to see if Santa has made a stop so you can provide him with your wish list.

Downtown Disney brings phenomenal entertainment to its stages. This year my family and I had the best time listening to the live group WestBeat Sing’s “Holiday Harmony.” They are an amazing a cappella group who perform throughout California. I was very excited to hear that they were performing at the Disneyland Resort. They’ll be performing through the Christmas season. Be sure to follow @westbeatsings on Instagram to find out set times and locations, not only at the Disneyland Resort, but throughout SoCal.

Parking costs are quite reasonable at Downtown Disney, as long as you spend at least $20.00 at any store or vendor. Just be sure to show the vendor your parking ticket, which they will validate, and that’ll provide you with 3 hours of free parking. If you dine at a sit down eatery, you’ll receive 5 hours of free parking, when your ticket is validated.

There’s so much fun to be had at the Disneyland Resort, without having to enter the parks. The total cost of our 3 hour adventure for our family of four was less than a one day park hopper ticket for one person. The time we spent together was full of fun and Disney Magic.

We had the most wonderful time at Downtown Disney and look forward to returning soon, how about you?

My First Blog Post

What’s in a Name?

Walt Disney once said, “I hope we never lose sight of one thing—that it was all started by a mouse.”

Those words could not ring more true for me and my family. So why do I call my Blog “MagicMadeByDisney?”

To know that, I’ll have to give you my backstory. You see, my husband and I first started working at Disneyland at the age of 17. I began my career as float driver in the Main Street Electrical Parade, while he began his as a performer in the Very Merry Christmas Parade. Though we were both working in the same department for a few years, we didn’t lock eyes until we were both cast in the Lion King Celebration Parade. For decades we continued our entertainment journey with the Disneyland Resort, we even crossed the Pacific and performed in Japan at the Tokyo Disneyland Resort for several years. After returning to the States, we concentrated on our film and tech careers with Disney and began adding to our little family. We certainly had quite the journey working for the Mouse. I ended my career with Disney after 22 years, in my dream position, as a Film/TV Production Manager.

Grateful for the many opportunities I was presented with over the years at the Walt Disney Company, I am most grateful that it provided me with an opportunity to meet my husband, and now we have two awesome kiddos!!

If it weren’t for Walt, drawing that Mouse 91 years ago, my life would not be as I know it today. MAGIC was certainly MADE BY DISNEY for my family.

-Catherine aka MagicMadeByDisney