13.1 Magical Miles: Disneyland Half Marathon Recap

DisneyHalf1It’s been a week since the big event and I’m still sitting at my desk admiring my new shiny medal, haha. Labor Day weekend was a whirlwind of a vacation filled with all things Disney! In Downtown Disney and throughout the theme park, you could sense the level of excitement from all the participants, staff, and everyone else involved with the race. 

This being my first half marathon, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. Continue reading

A Disney Christmas Story!

Earlier this month I visited the “Happiest Place on Earth” with a few friends. Our main mission was to witness the Candlelight Processional, a long standing tradition at both Disneyland and Disney World. Apparently it is rumored that Walt Disney declared in his will to have the theme parks host this traditional homage to Christmas Day. The Candlelight Processional is held every December, happening only two days at Disneyland and lasting more than a month at Disney World. (I’ll focus my blog entry on the Disneyland performance which occurred twice for those two days.) Choirs from surrounding schools and churches participated in this magical, musical event, featuring some soloists for several numbers.

The processional first started out from the back of the theme park, near Storybook Land. Hundreds of choral singers marched in rows of two from that point, towards the giant Christmas tree, and finally to the stands at the entrance of Main Street.  Each member held a single candle in between their hands and were singing as they walked. It was a very touching processional and reminded me of when I was a choral singer in high school. (We performed a similar candlelight processional as the intro for our holiday concerts.) Once the final member was in place on the stands, the stage was complete, revealing the shape of a Christmas tree formed by some of the singers. Disney’s Christmas Story derives from the scriptures and intermingles music between passages like that of a church mass.

The Christmas Story basically recounts the tail of the virgin Mary giving birth to baby Jesus. The story then proceeds to describe events that took place around that historic birth such as the tale of King Herod and the three Magi, who upon seeing the shining star in the sky, plotted a course to find baby Jesus. Herod saw the baby as a threat and wanted to get rid of it. Once the Magi met baby Jesus, they presented him with their gifts of frankincense, gold, and myrrh, then they departed for their homeland, never returning to the king.

All this was narrated by Gary Sinise, an actor famous for his roles as Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump and as detective Mac Taylor on the popular TV show CSI. Disney chose well when they picked Gary to narrate this year’s Christmas Story; he had a very commanding voice with a rich tambour, perfect for the atmosphere. The musical accompaniment was all very traditional and was an interesting contrast to what I normally see at the park.

Thanks for reading. Best wishes from me to you and your family. Looking forward to a new year with many exciting adventures to come! I’ll leave you with another clip from the event, the show’s finale.

All Aboard!!!

I had the opportunity to ride the Mark Twain Riverboat at Disneyland for the first time!  I don’t normally go early but that day was an exception.  The ride was very calming, a pleasant contrast to all the stimulation and hectics around the theme park.  The ride lasted about 15 minutes or so but I didn’t mind because the view was great.  It’s a really different perspective that you are able to experience when viewing the rest of the theme park from the lake.  We saw all of Frontier Land as we circled around Pirate Island.

The Mark Twain has 3 levels, which passengers can explore while the boat is sailing around the lake.  It’s a classic boat that still operates on a steam engine from the olden days.  Ideally you’d want to grab the seats at the front part of the deck so as to get the best view without any hindrances.  The other two levels have good views as well if you don’t mind standing near the railing but there are benches and other places to sit towards the inner structure. The Mark Twain has a relaxing feel; it’s one of the few rides where you can just sit down and enjoy the view.  I even saw the person next to me whip out a novel to read during the ride.

The Mark Twain riverboat only operates until sunset somake sure to catch it when you’re there during the day.  During the night, this boat is used in the Fantasmic performances that carries all the characters during the end scene.  Another boat, the Columbia pirate ship, operates in conjunction with this one.  Both alternate along the same route but I prefer the Mark Twain because it looks more elegant and has more levels to explore than the one level pirate ship.

Tune in for more places and stories! And I’m open to any places in Southern California you suggest to visit.

~ AJ

Hello World!

My name in Anthony Jr., but I like to go by AJ.  This is my first blog and post!  Sightseeing and venturing off into new places is my passion and I’d like to share my adventures with all of you.  Most of my travelling will be done within Southern California, hence the name of my blog ” SoCaLocal”.  I aim to provide you with travel tips and fun facts about the places I visit and interesting stories that happen along the way.  I also love trying new eateries and will include my reviews about that in this blog too, so if you keep up with my posts you may discover new places that you’ll want to venture off to with your friends as well. 🙂

What better way to start off my travel blog than with the “happiest place on Earth”, Disneyland!  Being a Southern California native, I have an annual pass, more specifically a Deluxe Pass which allows you to visit the theme parks (Disneyland & Disney CA Adventure) virtually any day except for some blackout dates during the holidays and during summer weekends.  If you can afford getting a deluxe pass and are within the area, I highly recommend it. It is pricey, about $330 for the pass without unlimited parking and $428 with unlimited parking.  However if you go at least 4 days, you would have already got your money’s worth since a 2-day one park per day ticket costs about $100!!!  Visit the Disney site for more info.

There are so many fun activities to do at the theme parks, especially watching “World of Color”, one of the newest attractions at Disney CA Adventure.  I took this picture from the front row just a few minutes before the 9:15pm show.  If you want to see this show, you must get the fastpasses distributed near the rapids ride to the right of the theme park.  I suggest get your tickets no later than 6pm because it tends to get crowded with its growing popularity.  The BLUE section is the best out of the three (the other two being YELLOW and RED) because you get to line up first and have the chance of going to the front row if you arrive early enough.  This show is a must see if you get the chance to go.  It lasts longer than the other shows, Fantasmic and the Fireworks, and is very entertaining for all ages.

Thanks and tune in again for more adventures to come!