Sister Sets Sights on Southland for Seasonal Celebrating with Sibling

by Todd Pickering, contributing writer

Todd and Tracey visit with their old pal Dale at Plaza Inn. Photo by Amber Knight.

Disneyland Resort at Christmas time is a great way to spend the holidays with family. This year my sister came down from Oregon to enjoy the resort with me and we tried out a handful of MousePlanet's tips. She was ready to soak in the holiday offerings and also anything new since her last visit in 2012. She carefully pored over the website, reading wonderful articles such as Celebrating the Holidays at the Disneyland Resort by Megan Walker. She wanted to see the hotel decorations, catch "¡Viva Navidad!", get some pictures with holiday characters, and experience the candy cane making.

Todd and Tracey pose with Donald Duck on Buena Vista Street. Photo by Jack Knight.

Candy Canes

After picking up her candy cane, Tracey meets some Citizens of Buena Vista Street. Photo by Todd Pickering.

You can see Tracey proudly sporting her holiday candy cane, which we watched being made at Trolley Treats on Buena Vista street at Disney California Adventure. She found the article that my co-MousePlaneteer Lisa Stiglic wrote on "Holiday Treats" to be very helpful. Candy canes are made both at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, but never on the same day. Since it had been a while since her last visit she decided to not get a park hopper ticket and spend full days in each park. Therefore her only chance to get the candy cane was at Disney California Adventure. She also knew to get a wrist band by doing her research. Tracey proclaimed it a highlight to get to see this amazing process and said it made the candy cane taste better. (Note: The last day of the candy canes is always on Christmas Day, December 25). Tracey also really wanted to try a marshmallow treat by the fireplace at the Grand Californian Hotel.

The classic song, "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" says that "there'll be marshmallows for toasting". Photo by Todd Pickering.

"Frozen - Live at the Hyperion" Update

Tracey was very keen to see the new show "Frozen - Live at the Hyperion" so she read my article, "Uneven 'Frozen-Live at the Hyperion' Still a Hit." She read up carefully about how to go to the show, and we were surprised and quite happy to see that they have got rid of the Fastpass system. This was particularly nice because we wanted to see a late show due to lunch reservations at the Carthay Circle Theatre. This change allows you to do more attractions, then choose your section upon arriving 45 minutes before showtime. They may go back to the Fastpass system during the busier holiday times, so make sure you stop by the theater or ask at the information desk by the fountain at the end of Buena Vista Street. The information desk says that unless something changes this is the new method. That is great news as it works so much better.

The troll number is still in the show, making the rest of the story choppy to get to the one hour mark. Photo by Amber Knight.

Only orchestra and mezzanine seating opens at first, and once those sections are full they open up the balcony, which is smart since the early bird then catches the worm with the best seats. We sat in the mezzanine and they are indeed the best seats for this show. They have cut the opening number with the ice cutting and the show flows much better at the beginning. Tracey didn't read my critique on purpose to make her own judgements. She really disliked the ball on stage prior to the troll scene and did not like the abrupt scenes towards the end to dash to the end of the show. She found them choppy and confusing. She thought the lighting, staging, and singing were all top drawer but she would not need to see it again; I do wonder about the longevity of this show as I have heard this comment more often than not from friends and even strangers. Only time will tell.

Festival of Holidays

Tracey read up on "Festival of Holidays Entertainment at Disney California Adventure" and chose to see the Holiday Toy Drummers, Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party, and Mostly Kosher. I think she chose the latter because I raved so much and she was trying to be nice to her brother. She really loved the drummers, which were probably her favorite of the day. ¡Viva Navidad! was a big thumbs up for sure and she really liked the Brazilian dancing the best. I know that she was appeasing me on Mostly Kosher but was pleasantly surprised with the amazing energy of this talented group and remarked about the lead singer Leeav's vocals and the fantastic fiddling from Janet.

Tracey really got excited about the gigantas or cabezudas in "Disney ¡Viva Navidad!-Street Party". Photo by Todd Pickering.

We truly had to sit down and carefully schedule our four entertainment options around our lunch reservations and "Frozen;" planning informed her to see the drummers first and then ¡Viva Navidad! because after our "Frozen" show these two offerings were done for the day. That left the last set of Mostly Kosher to attend. I have said this all year but I will say it again; if you have a must see you truly must make it a priority with your Disney day and consult your Entertainment Schedules because otherwise you may miss something. She really enjoyed "World of Color – Season of Light" also, but proclaimed she liked the original show better. She hadn't seen it since 2012 so as her big brother I think she's wrong. But that's just me.

A Smokejumper at Smokejumpers and Carthay Circle Restaurant

Tracey at the Sequoia Smokejumpers Training Tower. Photo by Todd Pickering

Tracey works for the National Forest Service, and she was elated with the way that they incorporated Grizzly Airfield into Grizzly Peak. All of the signs that are based off of the real National Forest Service signage and all of the details really show that Disney magic and attention to detail. Soarin' got an enthusiastic thumbs up. She is currently a dispatcher but was originally a smokejumper. We did not eat at Smokejumpers Grill (as she sagely opted for Carthay Circle Restaurant) but she had to get her picture taken in front of it.

Tracey poses in front of the Smokejumpers Grill. Photo by Todd Pickering.

She was stationed at Redmond, Oregon and was excited to see lots of representation of her base in the souvenir cases in the restaurant. Of course she had to get her picture taken in front of the Smokejumper nod at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. (She wants you all to know that swinging on a tire swing is not part of the training process, ha!)

Even Carthay Circle got into the holiday spirit with a beautifully plated and delicious chocolate peppermint mousse. Photo by Tracey Pickering.

Holiday Mouse Ears

One of our brother/sister traditions for years at Disneyland started with buying mouse ears for every trip. It started when they offered the golden ears for the 50th Anniversary. We simply could not pass those up. We went a little nuts after that and bought ears themed with Halloween, Pirates of the Carribean, Star Wars, the classic black ears, and of course holiday ears. You may have noticed us wearing some of these in some of the pictures. Every year at the holiday season they put out one set of ears. So if you don't like the offering Disney has put out you will have to wait a whole year for a different choice. Sometimes they repeat some themes as you can see with my friend Amber wearing this year's ears.

This year's holiday mouse ears worn by Amber Knight are reminiscent of a vintage model worn by Todd Pickering. Photo by Jack Knight.

"Let the Reindeer Go!"

One last holiday tip: make sure to arrive at the airport early and bring your patience and maybe your holiday ears from the Disneyland Resort. About ten years ago my whole family decided to meet in San Francisco, where I lived for Christmas. My sister thought it would be fun for the two of us to fly to Disneyland prior to Mom and Dad arriving in San Francisco. We would spend two days at the resort and fly back up north on December 23, arriving the same time as our parents.

That year we bought the ears with a picture of Pluto on it and reindeer antlers. We knew LAX would be jammed with holiday travelers so we made sure to arrive at the airport two hours prior to our flight. The line snaked all the way out into the parking lot. It seemed to be moving fine though and an hour later we ended up at the very front of security. At this point they stopped us and they announced a particular flight that was leaving soon and let all those people skip to the front of the line. Then they did it again. And again and again.

These little beauties have worked some Disney magic in the depths of LAX security. Photos by Todd and Tracey Pickering.

People started grumbling. Children began screaming. Security was called. At this point we only had 30 minutes to catch our flight. The crowd got ugly. The crowd protested that it should be first come, first serve and if you miss your flight it is your fault. And then out of the din a voice boomed, "The antlers have been here for a long time!" and that call was answered by another loud gentleman proclaiming, "Let the Reindeer Go!" The crowd egged the security guards on and we were quickly ushered through security and just made our flight. We wore the antlers all through the flight. We wore them to meet our parents. We wore them all day as a matter of fact. The moral of the story is to arrive early at this crazy busy holiday season and sometimes by taking the good cheer of the resort with you some magic just might follow you home.. That is what I believed then and it is what I believe now at this joyous holiday time.

"...And to all a good night!"

It's been a great year here at MousePlanet and I couldn't think of a better way to finish my last article of 2016 than by grabbing a cheese plate and a glass of Dry Riesling at the Napa Rose restaurant. Hope to see all of you here in 2017. Have a safe and festive New Year everyone.

One of the best cheese plates ever at the Napa Rose. Photo by Todd Pickering.



  1. By Endlessmajesty

    Very nice way to end the year off indeed

  2. Discuss this article on MousePad.