A Brave New Frontier(land...and all others!)

by Todd Pickering, contributing writer

Todd Pickering mourning and celebrating the Annual Pass at Disneyland Resort. Photo by Todd Pickering.

Just the other day I got a Facebook message from a friend up in the Bay Area who informed me she has her reservation for Disneyland and asked if I have one yet. I have friends in Arizona asking me when the APs are coming back and betting me they will appear in August. I have been reading MousePlanet and answering all of your questions on Instagram live feeds when I pop into Downtown Disney. I have been thinking about writing this article for months now and with Disneyland opening at limited capacity to California residents only on April 30th I am sad/happy to report that I do not have tickets for that date or sadly any date yet. And. And. Wait for it. I am A-OK with that.

The Dapper Dans and Holiday Time at the Disneyland Resort? Yes, please. MousePlanet file photo.

Seeing how sold out Disneyland already is for this first phase of re-opening has me thinking that I can wait for a special event before returning to the parks. I know you are all thinking that we here at MousePlanet get many press opportunities but as of the writing of this article there are no press events scheduled. I feel as of now that my Disneyland Resort experience for the rest of 2021 will be for a special occasion trip.

During the shutdown I have revisited the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I am excited to visit Avengers Campus (debuting on June 4.) I am also hoping that there is an Oogie Boogie Bash at DCA this year as we found that celebration so amazing. Christmas time is always very magical at DLR and that would be a third reason to visit for sure. Without an Annual Pass that is pretty much my budget for the year.

There is nothing like live singers, dancers and musicians as seen here in Mickey and the Magical Map. MousePlanet file photo.

It is still hard to believe that Disneyland Resort has been closed for over a year. The half-dozen trips to Buena Vista Street and two dining experiences at Carthay Circle Restaurant have proved to me how much I have missed the Disney Parks' ambiance.

Having been an Annual Passholder since I moved down to Los Angeles from San Francisco has frankly got me terribly spoiled. The access to jumping in my car on a whim and driving to Disneyland Resort is something that I will always count myself very lucky to have experienced.

My loyal readers know that it is my fervent belief that if you don't listen to a complete set by one of the many, many talented musical groups such as the Dapper Dans and take in at least one show like Mickey and the Magical Map or Frozen! Live at the Hyperion then you truly have not truly experienced a Disney park. I have dragged friends and family to a show kicking and screaming and they have come out thanking me for it.

Leta was very excited to meet and get an autograph from her favorite princess, Ariel. Photo by Todd Pickering.

I would be remiss as to not put my two cents worth into the character interactions that we have now seen at WDW. I absolutely love it. I recall when characters used to only walk about and didn't need a handler. It truly seemed more magical back in the old days. Having Mickey Mouse available at Toontown in his movie barn is a great idea for those that need a picture with the Mouse and truly, who doesn't?

I spent a trip with a seven year old, driven to get all autographs and realized that I wasn't a Disney expert on this front. The queues at the meet and greets really eat up a lot of time. Big Tip: Start your very first morning with a big character breakfast if your little ones want autographs. I found Leta (see photo above) wasn't as concerned about the snapshots with the characters but needed those autographs. The only tiny meltdown that occurred was when Pluto was still nowhere to be found on the last day.

Mary Poppins greeting everyone from the gardens of the United Kingdom Pavilion in WDW is great fun for everyone! MousePlanet file photo.

Seeing Gaston or Merida on a horse is magical for more people and they get to entertain even more. A royal procession of Princesses is so regal and stately. Seeing a character like Joy bouncing around on the grassy knolls of Epcot is just pure…well…joy! I think this is an experience that will be enjoyed by many. But what I am waiting for is to hear the happy harmonies of the Dapper Dans, the música maravillosa of the Mariachi Divas and the cheerful chanties of the Bootstrappers ring though the parks. I don't know when but I will see you in the Disneyland Resort.



  1. By mkelm44

    I'm Orlando based, so most of my experience is here at the World, but I was nodding along with the character meetings. We discovered of all places that Epcot might be the best for character meetings- there's usually a character just inside the gates, another in the gazebo when you walk towards the Mexico pavilion and then a lot of characters in countries- Anna/Elsa in Norway, Alice/Mary Poppins/Pooh in England, Donald at Mexico, Belle in France. The greatest treat though was discovering that there is a path to a backstage gate just to the left of the American pavilion. Apparently Epcot is where they train the characters, so you frequently can find a "pop-up" character meeting with 5 or 6 characters. Throw in my favorite character breakfast at the Garden grill and Epcot may be the hidden gem of character meetings.

    In fact, that was part of the reason we let our annual passes lapse during COVID. After a couple of awkward visits to the park, we realized we missed the character interactions a lot. The impromptu nature led to some really magical moments for my kids- Pooh showed things off in Christopher Robin's bedroom, Stich had a staring contest with my younger son, and on our one Disney cruise trip, my boys got to dig for dinosaur bones with Mickey for 10 minutes (and I'm sure the performer inside was dripping sweat the entire time). I love the rides, the high quality of the parks, but it was just lacking magic. I'm hoping by fall that AP's come back and things are normal enough that we can go back.

  2. By carolinakid

    Lots of characters in World Showcase including my favorites:
    Snow White in Germany
    Belle, Aurora and Marie in France
    Alice, Mary Poppins and Wendy in United Kingdom
    Anastasia, Drizella and Lady Tremaine and Cinderella in International Gateway,

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