A World of Characters Disney Character Central Blog A World of Characters
A World of Characters A World of Characters
A World of Characters A World of Characters
A World of Characters A World of Characters
Special Report by Loren Javier - Fiesta Disneyland and Universal Studios
DisneyDan  Saturday, January 22, 2011 12:43:36 PM

Hi all,

As promised here is Loren’s report from last weekend at the Fiesta Disneyland Family Fun Days.

Loren also discovered the magic of characters at Universal Studios recently, and has been visiting there fairly frequently after deciding to purchase an annual pass. So, within this report he also gives us some of his thoughts on his experiences at Universal.

Over to Loren!

Last weekend was Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. With the weather beautiful (Over 80 degrees in the middle of January), it was a great weekend to go to the theme parks. 

On Saturday, I headed to Disneyland. On top of the agenda was Fiesta Disneyland, the first of a series of Family Fun Weekends at Disneyland. Fiesta Disneyland was a celebration of Latino culture featuring cultural performances and arts as well as favourite characters in what was sometimes described as folklorico costumes and others as fiesta costumes. 

When I first heard about the Family Fun Weekends, I really didn't know what to make of it. It sounded interesting, but, to my knowledge, I've never really seen Disneyland do anything like this before. At least, not in the over two years that I've been an Annual Passholder where I've been able to go to Disneyland practically every weekend.

I got there first thing in the morning and there was hardly anybody there yet. In fact, none of the characters were out and about yet either and I thought, "Is this it?" But, soon, the characters came out and made their way to one of five meet-and-greet areas. Mickey and Minnie were dressed in beautifully colourful folklorico costumes. Donald and Pluto were dressed in ponchos and sombreros. Chip n' Dale in red and blue neckerchiefs. And, Goofy in a toreador outfit. Because it was not so crowded in the morning, I was able to go around and meet them all relatively quickly. It was wonderful getting to meet these characters in such fun costumes. 

The only thing that would have made it even cooler was for them to have had the Three Caballeros. Or at least Panchito as he is of Mexican origin. But perish the thought that Disneyland get too crazy with the rarer characters.

After meeting and greeting the characters, I wandered around and checked out the booths occupied by Mexican artisans and then I grabbed a seat in the front row for the performances.

The stage show consisted of three different parts. The first was a "street party" with dancers in colour costumes and featuring a couple of the characters in their fiesta costumes. I watched the street party twice and saw Mickey and Minnie featured in the first and the Pluto and Goofy in the next. It's a fun little performance that eventually leads to a conga line with guests participating.

The second part featured the Mariachi Divas, the official mariachi group of the Disneyland Resort. The Mariachi Divas usually perform at the Pacific Wharf at Disney California Adventure during the day and have been seen at Tortilla Jo's at Downtown Disney in the evenings. And, what people don't realize is that they are actually a Grammy Award winning group. I absolutely love them and was excited to finally see them at Disneyland itself.

The final part of the show was a local ballet folklorico group performing dances of various regions and states of Mexico. I absolutely love ballet folklorico and seeing the colourful costumes, so I very much enjoyed this section.

These three sections would then cycle again throughout the course of the day. I was actually amazed at the length of the program being a little over an hour, especially for a park that tries to get people in and out quickly. It was nice to be able to leisurely enjoy something and felt like a fiesta.

I'm excited to see how the other Family Fun Weekends are. If anything, it’s something different and worth it to see the characters in different costumes.

After Fiesta Disneyland, I had lunch at the Village Haus where they recently added new items to the menu. Now, for years, the Village Haus has been known as a joke of a restaurant with its bland food. I tried out the BLT Flatbread Pizza and I have to say that it was one of the most delicious things I've eaten at the Disneyland Resort. So, now, instead of avoiding the restaurant, I'll most likely eat there more often than not. Good job, Disneyland!

After lunch, I went over to Disney California Adventure to watch the new Pixar Pals show featuring "The Incredibles: Heroes In Training Squad!" With all the construction going on in the park and the walls pushing the walkways shorter, there is no room for parades. So, Disney California Adventure came up with this shorter pop-up parade which consists of a short parade from the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror to Sunshine Plaza and back. At one point, the parade stops and has a short audience participation show that transforms young guests into superheroes. The kids get trained by Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl and Frozone with a special "appearance" by Dash. I actually enjoyed the Pixar Pals. I think Disney California Adventure did what it could to compensate for a parade, but I think the show itself is a lot of fun. You could tell the kids who participated felt special for a few magical moments. I hope they continue doing something like this when it’s all said and done. I'd rather watch this show than Disney Dance Crew myself.

On Sunday, I headed to Universal Studios Hollywood. I recently got my annual pass there on a whim. It's only 15 minutes from my home and figured it would be something different to do closer to where I live.

I never really thought of Universal Studios as a place known for its characters. I remember meeting Woody Woodpecker and Andy Panda when I was younger, but not much outside of that. But, having been to Universal a few times now since getting my annual pass, I find characters there, at times, even more plentiful than at Disneyland itself.

The one thing I notice is that that the characters are often very random and sometimes jarring to see Frankenstein's Monster wandering around with Dora the Explorer. At Disneyland, you feel like the characters should be there. The Walt Disney Company has done a great deal to make the characters feel like they're from the same universe. But, Universal Studios doesn't quite own a stable of characters like Disney, so they pull from a stable of licenses. Whatever the case might be, it’s still fun to wander around seeing characters abounding at Universal Studios.

On Sunday, I went to check out the Backlot Character Jams show which seems to only play on the weekend in the Lower Lot. When I got down the massive series of escalators and over to the Character Jams stage, I suddenly saw a familiar van drive onto the street. It was the Mystery Machine! And, out of the sunroof was Scooby-Doo. When the Mystery Machine stopped, I saw a man wearing a baggy green shirt with orange cords and a red headed woman in purple - Shaggy and Daphne! I was so excited! The fact these characters were there was a bit random, though, considering that they were created by Hanna-Barbera and now owned by Warner Brothers. So, how did they end up in Universal Studios? Nevertheless, I was like a little kid meeting them. :)

After the Mystery Machine left, it was time for the Backlot Character Jams show to start. The Universal Monsters arrived with Beetlejuice riding atop a hearse. The first part of the show consists of the Universal Monsters (Frankenstein's Monster, the Bride of Frankenstein, the Mummy and the Wolfman) along with Beetlejuice dancing to monsterous tunes. Then, suddenly, a variety of cartoon characters join the show. Woody and Winnie Woodpecker, Fievel, Curious George and Crash Bandicoot join the dancing madness. It's quite a hodge podge, but, for some reason, it works in its own way. I realized that's why character hunting at Universal is so fun - you never really know who you're going to get. :)

The nice thing is that, after the show, the characters go out into the audience and stay for some meet-and-greet opportunities. So, in one fell swoop, you could meet ten characters.

On the way out, I also managed to meet some of the characters of Madagascar. Alex the Lion and Skipper and Kowalski the Penguins were out and about. Apparently, they don't make appearances as much as they used to, so I was excited to meet them.

It was a great weekend in the parks. Next weekend includes Disney's Kickin' Country Weekend as part of Family Fun Weekends at Disneyland and more mischief at Universal Studios!

Ok, that’s all from Loren for now. I have asked him to write us a report for this weekend, so hopefully we’ll see that in the next week – so stay tuned! Loren's pictures from last weekend can be found here on his Flickr.


Next Post Previous Post

Character Central

Register | Lost Password