Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sleeping Beauty Castle Walk Through

The Sleeping Beauty Castle Walk Through has been a Disneyland fixture since 1957, two years before the movie was actually released. Walt Disney asked Eyvind Earle and Ken Anderson to head up the project. Later the two would work on the movie as well. They made a series of dioramas using some special effects such as forced perspective, mirrors and multi-layering to make each scene spectacular. Apparently once the walk-though opened, there had to be some changes. After the movie came out, it was clear that the walk-through varied significantly, but it remained relatively the same until 1977 when the first rennovation took place.

The 1977 renovation took the Earle-Anderson dioramas out and replaced them with scenes incorporating dolls and miniature scenery. Sadly, the dolls and scenery weren't very representative the the movie either. Many of the scenes can be seen at

After Sept. 11, 2001, the castle was closed due to security issues. As the 50th Anniversary of Sleeping Beauty approached, imagineers thought that reopening the Castle Walk-through would be a wonderful and nostalgic way to commemorate it. When they got in to take a look at the castle, years of neglect and the additions of snow machines, fireworks machines, et cetera, had taken up a great deal of much needed space. As demolition got underway, a delightful surprised emerged -- many of the original Earle-Anderson dioramas were still in place!

This gave imagineers a great place to start. They were able to combine some of the wonderful old diorama ideas, with new special effects as well as to add new scenes so that the walk-though actually told the story of Sleeping Beauty as depicted in the movie.

Below are some of the scenes and the manuscripts that help move the story along as you walk through. Be warned - it is still a very tight corridor and if you get a lot of guests in at the same time it can become crowded around some of the dioramas that have animated effects.

The entrance is to the left as you cross the drawbridge and walk unde the castle, just before you get to the new Bibiddi Bobiddi Boutique.

Some of the photos are a bit blurry as there are moving parts and a flash wouldn't have worked.

The last manuscript has her dress turning from blue to pink and back.

One addition to the Castle Walk-through is the wheel-chair access. If a guest is unable to climb the many stairs within Sleeping Beauty's Castle, a virtual tour can be seen in a small room off to the right as you pass under the castle from the drawbridge.

I really liked that they hearkened back to the original feel of the Walk-through, and yet were able to incorporate the scenes and characters from the movie to make it more authentic. Excellent job to Imagineer Tony Baxter and crew! You can read more about the rennovation here.

For those of you too far away to get to see this in person any time soon, you can take a virtual tour through this youtube video:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Big Thunder Ranch Celebration Round-up & Barbeque

This last weekend when we were at Disneyland, we knew that they had re-opened the BBQ at Big Thunder Ranch. It has been at least a decade since it was open and we loved it back then, so we figured we would give it a try this time.

A few things have changed - first, it is a little pricey. $28 per person for all you can eat BBQ and some characters. The food is served family style and you can ask for more at any time. Although we had already done a character breakfast that morning, we really felt like some BBQ, so we decided to splurge and give it a try.

Here is the menu. You get a little of everything on it.

First, you tell the folks in the booth how many in your party and then wait to be called.

There is a stage area in front where various bits of entertainment are provided for the guests as they eat. You can see that tables are covered slightly by canvas. It was overcast, and there are a lot of trees back there so I imagine on a hot day that it would be fairly shady, but don't quote me on that.

As your party is called, you get pictures with a character (or two) before you are seated. We got Chip and Dale in their Western vests. Love those guys!

Sasparilla Sam is the resident piano player and he does a musical show throughout the day. He likes to have his picture taken and doesn't charge for it. (He let me know that after I took his picture) Tumbleweed Tex also performs with his guitar, but I was too busy scarfing to get his picture.

Miss Chris is the proprietess of the Round-up Celebration and BBQ. She called my mom up on stage for her birthday,

and let her ring the celebration dinner bell. As you can see, Mom really got in to it!

Then Miss Chris discovered that Mom was married to a cowboy and had to come over to meet Dad. She wanted to know what was under his hat and when she saw he was bald, she gave him a big kiss on the top of his head.

Bullseye showed up to do a dance number.

Then, out came dinner. As I said, it is served family style. I was so hungry I forgot to take pictures before we started eating, so these are the best I could get of what was left. As previously noted, I also forgot to take pictures of Bullseye and Jessie doing their numbers, missed Woody and also Tumbleweed Tex. I guess if I had eaten my Cowboy Crunchies for breakfast I might not have been so hungry!

Ranch Beans - a little spicy but I could eat them, and I can't eat Taco Bell sauce, so...

Corn Cob Wheels - great way to serve corn on the cob! It was good sweet corn too, not that tough stuff they usually serve at BBQ places.

Cornbread - the slightly sweet kind.

Cookie's Coleslaw - no mayo kind. Mom and Sis LOVED it!! They asked for the recipe. I don't eat slaw, but they said it was soooooo good and it was also a little spicy.

Barbequed Chicken and Ribs - They serve the meat with sauce on the side. The chicken was moist and tasty. I didn't think it needed any sauce. The ribs were a little spicy, but had great flavor. It was a spicy Texas-type rib, not the sweet Kansas City kind of BBQ like they have at the Taste Pilot's Grill in DCA. These were much, much better than Taste Pilot's.

Jessie comes around to visit and take pictures and she also does a few things on stage, like teach yodeling.

Miss Chris's Cupcake Sensation - I love the way they do the presentation for the desserts!! You get your choice of three kinds of cupcake sensations.

This is a chocolate with cherry filling cupcake in a cone.

This one was a vanilla cupcake with strawberries at the bottom.

And this one was chocolate cupcake with raspberry creme filling.

Despite the price, we were able to fill up and make a double meal out of this one. We ate at 3pm and it counted for lunch and dinner and it stayed with us so we didn't really get hungry again!

Great food, fun entertainment and a nice place to get away when those crazy summer crowds are getting to be a little too much for you. This restaurant comes highly recommended by me.