Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happiest Blog On Earth...Are You BRAVE Enough?

So lads and lasses, are YE BRAVE start a brand new Holiday tradition at YOUR table? Well, it's pretty easy...if you know where to get your inspiration! And Disney/Pixar's Brave has just the tips to help you make your holiday table one that all the Clans will envy!

In Disney/Pixar's Brave, our heroine Merida sets out on a perilous journey to set her own path in life, to be her own person. Set in Scotland, in a rugged and mythical time, Brave is a beautiful and inspirational movie that introduces viewers to the wonderful world of Gaelic lore, family traditions and KILTS! What's better than that? How about starting your VERY OWN Holiday Traditions based on Disney/Pixar's Brave?

Disney/Pixar is sharing a myriad of ways to bring the beautiful world of Scotland to YOUR holidays with some Brave inspired tips. Everything from how to host and plan a family dinner complete with printable and fun name cards, napkin holders and authentic Scottish recipes (alas, no Haggis recipe! Trust me, Haggis IS good...I'm I know!). 

And while you're at it, no Scottish Clan Gathering is complete without a traditional Scottish Jig! What's that? You don't know how? No worries, the link below also includes a step by step (yes, pun intended) guide on how to dance the Highland Scottische that will have EVERYONE leaping to their feet for a twirl, even your grumpy old uncle Jed! 

Just click on the link below and download your very own Scottish Holiday Tradition NOW! And, be sure to pick up YOUR copy of the new Disney/Pixar movie Brave, available on Blu-Ray/3D Blu-Ray/DVD and Digital Download combo pack! Thanks and Slainte! ~~Al 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Happiest Blog On Earth...Ayres Hotel Anaheim

A GREAT Off-Property Alternative...     

By now, most of you know that Joyce and I love staying at the On-Property Hotels at the Disneyland Resort. Our favorite of course is the Grand Californian. I don't like using this word often, but I do use it to describe this hotel - elegant! How else would you describe this place? Don't get me wrong, the Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier are awesome as well, just in different ways. I could go on, but this isn't about the Resort's about the next best thing: Ayres Hotels of Southern California -   Anaheim. 

Ayres Hotel Anaheim
Ok, truthfully, it IS kind of spendy to stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel. I won't lie. If you can afford to do it all the time, awesome! If not, then you're like most of us. So, on our most recent visit to the Disneyland Resort, Joyce and I had a serious talk about where to stay. We WANTED to stay at a Resort Hotel, but it just wasn't in the budget this trip. So, we began looking at the "Good Neighbor" hotels, and found a lot of nice places...but they still carried that spendy price tag. So, we decided to expand our search a little. Of course, the farther away from the Parks you go, the less expensive, that's pretty logical. But the farther you go, the less convenient it is. Again...pretty logical. We wanted to save some money, but at the same time wanted to be close to the Resort. So Joyce remembered this chain of hotels she came across when we were looking for a place to stay when we visited Coronado. The Ayres Hotels of Southern California. She found that there was one only two miles from Disneyland! And, right off the interstate! Two BIG pluses. She got on their website, showed me the photos - very nice - and of course, read the reviews. And let me tell you, we were hard pressed to find ANYTHING negative. Oh there were a few things: room was too loud (uh, right off the interstate dude), and the room was too hot (I'll reply to that comment in a moment). So we decided to book our room. 

The reservation process was super easy. We reserved a King Room, nothing special. About a week before our vacation, they sent us an email confirming everything. First, let me tell you, getting there was almost too easy! The hotel is located literally right off the interstate, across the street from the Honda Center on Katella Avenue in Anaheim. As we pulled into the drive-way, we were both blown away by how beautiful the place is. The exterior of the Hotel is truly beautiful, the grounds are well kept, clean. As we walked in to the lobby, once again, blown away! Beautifully ornate fireplace going; comfy regal looking chairs around it; inviting seating areas. The whole package. Check-in was one of the best experiences we've ever had. Second only to the Grand Californian. Seriously. The girl who processed our check-in was extremely friendly, welcomed us to the Hotel and to California, answered all questions we had, then gave us a detailed map of the grounds and where our room was located. Ok, on to the room.
King Bed Room - VERY comfortable bed

Or room was located on the third floor. And although we booked a standard king, the room we walked in to was far from that. Our king sized bed was THE most comfortable bed I've experienced (made it difficult to get up in the morning!), very comfy leather easy chair, awesome sofa, small table and chairs for dining, business desk and comfortable chair, 32" flat screen TV (yeah!) and honestly, the bath area was beautiful too. There was also a kind of wet-bar area, with a microwave, refrigerator, coffee maker and a small sink. Oh, and one of the coolest things: next to the bed, an iHome MP3 alarm clock/radio where you could plug your iPhone or iPod into! And of course, free Wi-Fi, which came in handy because our AT&T Mi-Fi's (personal wi-fi devices), couldn't find a signal! Our room had an awesome view as well. We faced the direction of Disneyland (and the interstate), and didn't really realize how wonderful this was until Monday night, when Disneyland launched the Halloween Fireworks Show. We could see it from our room! BONUS!!
Sitting/Dining/Wet Bar Area

The hotel offered free parking and a daily free buffet style breakfast. Now, the parking was great. Convenient and safe, well lit. The breakfast, well, although I'm sure it's very good, Joyce and I are a little picky about our dining experiences, I don't know, maybe we've watched too many of those Mystery Diner shows on the Food Network! So, since we weren't even aware of the free breakfast, we just skipped that perk and ate at the Park. So, on to the negative comments we've read about the Ayres. One of the comments was that the hotel was too loud, too much traffic noise. Uh...right off the interstate! Yes, we could hear some traffic noise, but honestly, it wasn't bad at all. On a scale of 1-5 for loudness, I'd say our room was about a 1.75. Believe me, because we record podcasts I'm VERY sensitive to external noise! The second complaint was that the room was too hot. Uh, nope! Now maybe something has changed since that reviewer stayed, but if anything, our A/C worked TOO WELL!! It was at times, COLD. We had to bundle up in bed...but that's not necessarily a bad thing!  Now, the rooms are eco-friendly, there's a device on the wall as you enter where you have to put one of your room key cards in, in order to have the power in the room active. This is so if you're gone for a long time, you're not wasting electricity. So, it's obvious that if you remove the card, the power goes out, as does the A/C. So maybe that contributed to the heat in the room? For our visit, neither of these negative comments were validated at all.  
Cozy Dining Area

The whole place, including the rooms, is decorated in a European inspired look, and it kind of gives you the feeling you're in a cross between a Disneyland Resort Hotel and the Bellagio in Las Vegas!  The entire place was very comfortable, very clean, very inviting, very convenient. One thing that did kind of strike me as odd: the Ayres Hotel IS a Disney Good Neighbor Hotel, however, it's not advertised in any Disney media as such. Why? In my opinion, Ayres is much nicer, cleaner and affordable than MANY of the Good Neighbor Hotels within walking distance to the Resort. This hotel certainly aligns with that wonderful Disney Customer Service Magic. 

Nice, Clean Bath Area
Joyce and I will certainly be returning to the Ayres Hotel Anaheim in the future. The price is perfect for anyone, especially those going to the Disneyland Resort on a budget. But the great thing is, IF you ARE on a budget, staying here you won't have to give up comfort, convenience and elegance (there's that word again!) in favor of money. You get the best of all worlds here. And they usually have awesome package deals, or discounts available. Joyce and I took advantage of their Autumn Special when we went, and currently they're running similar specials. Just check out their website for complete details ( Since hotel reviews are new for me, I'm going to create a new rating scale: instead of 1-4 stars, I'm giving 1-4 E-Tickets (with one being STAY AWAY and four being STAY HERE!). So, Ayres Hotels of Southern California - Anaheim receives 4 E-Tickets from Tales From The Mouse House! ~~ Al 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tales From The Mouse House...Episode 58

Welcome to episode 58 of Tales From The Mouse House Disneyland Podcast! On this episode, we have our awesome friend and sponsor Randy Crane join us to discuss his brand new book - Once Upon YOUR Time, 7 Strategies For Gaining Control Of Your Time Through A Tour Of The Magic Kingdom. In Randy's new book, he reinforces his effective strategies by using real-world examples from Disneyland to illustrate key strategies to help you gain, or re-gain control of your most precious possession: your TIME! 

In our Disneyland Resort News, we update you on all the interesting things making news at the Resort, including Thanksgiving at Disneyland, BIG changes to the Candlelight Ceremony and some very important news about Multi-Day Park Tickets you're going to want to know about.

We also cover some pretty cool places in our Review segments. In Attraction Reviews, we introduce you all to one of the brand new attractions in Cars Land - Mater's Junkyard Jamboree! This toe-tapping, downright fun attraction is a great time for the whole family! And we're sure by now most of you have heard that the FIRST EVER Starbucks inside a Disney Park is NOW OPEN in Disney California Adventure! YEAH...well, we give you our take on this long-awaited icon of caffeinated delight and if it's a great addition to the Disneyland Resort or...if it's a bust (right, guess which way WE went on that one!) 

AND...big news...we announce the winner of our totally awesome Secret Of The Wings 3D/Blu Ray/DVD/Digital Download Combo Pack trivia contest! YEAH!!

As always, If you’d like to send in comments for the show, you can send us an email to, leave us voicemail on the Hotline at 304-TALES23, leave us feedback in iTunes or leave comments for us on our Twitter account @talespodcast. Heck, you can even find us on FaceBook, just search for Tales From The House House - Disneyland podcast! If you'd like to listen to the show, you can find it on iTunes, on our podcast site at, the direct episode link: Episode 58, or on Stitcher Radio now! Just visit and search for Tales From The Mouse House - Disneyland Podcast!

Thanks for making us part of your Disney experience and remember…
"Make It A Mickey Day!" ~~ Al & Joyce

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Happiest Blog On Earth...Wreck It Ralph

"I'm Gonna Wreck It!" ~~ Wreck-It Ralph

It really takes a lot for me to go out to a movie. They cost a lot more than they used to and BOY, if you want popcorn and a soda...well, prepare to sell a vital organ! But, every now and then, a movie comes along that really catches my attention. And at the D23 Expo in August, 2011, just such a movie did just that. 

When Joyce and I visited the Expo last year, one of the panels we enjoyed was the Inside The Walt Disney Studio panel. In this unbelievably incredible event, representatives from Disney talked about many of their upcoming movies, many of which were completed and just awaiting release. We were also shown a clip of an animated movie that wasn't completed at the time, some of the rendering was "glitchy", and some of the animation kind of flat. But, what we saw really grabbed us. The story line felt familiar. Not in the, Oh I've seen THIS plot before, way, but in more of a, familiar surroundings sort of way. Comfortable. That movie of course was Wreck It Ralph. Familiar because this film is set in the imaginative world of arcade games! A world I was completely immersed in during my youth...and unfortunately for Joyce, still am to this day!

Wreck It Ralph, as you may have guessed, brings to life the world of video games, where, after the arcade closes for the day, "Game Central Station" comes alive with characters from our favorite video games, including cameos from Sonic The Hedgehog, Q-Bert and more. Ralph is the villain in 30 year old (but still fairly popular) arcade game called Fix It Felix. It's Ralph's job to wreck the apartment building the good citizens all live in, and of course, it's up to Felix to repair all Ralph's damage with his magic hammer. For 30 long years, Ralph has lived in Felix's shadow. Every night after the arcade closes, the good citizens celebrate Felix's heroism, while poor Ralph is banished to his rubble-pile home. Then, for the 30th anniversary of Fix It Felix, Ralph sees that the citizens have thrown a huge party for Felix, complete with CAKE, but have neglected to include Ralph - without whom there would be NO game. As Ralph attempts to crash the party, he's informed that he's the bad guy, only the bad guy and will be nothing more. Of course, this does not sit well with our hero...err, I mean villain. 

So, Ralph decides he's tired of playing the role of bad-guy and takes matters into his own hands and sets out to prove everyone wrong. And that's where things get interesting! Now, I'd go into deeper detail, but I'd rather YOU go see this movie yourselves. spoilers here!

Wreck It Ralph is without doubt one of the best movies we've seen in a long time. The animation is fantastic and the 3D version is amazing. As is usual, Disney paid so much attention to detail in this film that you almost forget it's animation - until Ralph knocks down a building! This film appeals to all ages really, and it's truly appropriate for everyone. The story is terrific, but beyond that, there is a touching and heartwarming message. See, Ralph is frustrated with his "lot in life", of not being appreciated. So he sets out to find the one thing that he feels will make others view him in a better light, but what he ends up finding is much, much more. As silly as it may sound, this movie actually has a deep personal and social meaning for me. In life, we tend to type-cast those around us as WE feel they are, not as they ARE. Just because someone plays the role of villain in life does not necessarily make them a villain. We all must look past what we see on the surface and look INSIDE of others, if we truly want to know them. What's that old saying..."Judge not lest YE be judged...". 

Wreck It Ralph offers a great escape from the real world, if only for a short time (something Disney is absolutely perfect at giving us). Yet it also serves up some valuable lessons, not just for the young ones but for adults as well. Without realizing we've just been schooled, Disney has created a great portal to teach everyone the value of others, to look past what we see, and see others as they are deep down. And when a movie can make me feel good about learning something, AND entertain me...well, full endorsement from me!  And you thought it was just another cute cartoon!  I highly recommend Disney's Wreck It Ralph to everyone. If I had a movie rating scale, of, oh, say 1-5 "Disneyland E-Tickets", I'd give Wreck It Ralph 5!  ~~ Al 

Pixie Tales...Story Telling, Through Music

The lyrics to a song can often tell a story or convey the message that one could not put in words.  When I listen to Disney Movie Soundtracks or Disneyland Resort Music it brings back some memories. 

Today I was listening to Pandora and Phil Collins’ you’ll be in my heart, from the Tarzan soundtrack was playing and I thought of the story Tim O’Day told at the D23 Expo.  The story took place shortly after 9/11 attack and he was walking through the Park and saw a crying women sitting in Town Square.  He stopped to talk to her and she shared that the world was in such turmoil, there was so much sadness because of what happened, that she felt she had to be here in Disneyland, had to be in a place that was built for HAPPINESS. Walt will always be with us and bring his magic to the Park.

I'll be with you
I'll be there for you always
Always and always
Just look over your shoulder
Just look over your shoulder
Just look over your shoulder
I'll be there always

Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite Disney movies and the Chorus of “Be Our Guest” always reminds me of how I feel when I hear the “chirp” as my entry to the Happiest Place on Earth is granted.  “Be our guest! Be our guest! get your worries off your chest....How could anyone be gloomy or depressed?  This describes how I feel when I see the Disneyland Train Depot, the berm and the plaque that reads, “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy.”  Walt built Disneyland so children and parents could have fun together.

At the young age of 4, I had my first Disneyland experience and from that moment on my life was immersed in everything Disney.  I loved Mickey Mouse, the Mickey Mouse Club, and could not wait for our next trip to Disneyland. Growing up in Indiana, we traveled as often as we could; however, when Disney World opened in 1971 we visited and due to the close proximity it was more affordable for a family of 6 to visit.  Either way, as Ariel from the Little Mermaid Movie sings, Disneyland and Disney World are most definitely “Part of My World” and I visited often until I graduated from HIgh school.  

I wanna be where the people are
I wanna see, wanna see them dancin'
Walking around on those - what do you call 'em?
Oh - feet!
Flippin' your fins, you don't get too far
Legs are required for jumping, dancing
Strolling along down a - what's that word again?
Up where they walk, up where they run
Up where they stay all day in the sun
Wanderin' free - wish I could be
Part of that world

Even after high school, Disney was a huge part of my life even though I was not able to visit the Park. Believe it or not, I spent a quarter of a century away from any Disney Resort Park. I kept dreaming that one day I would be able to return and share the magic of the Park with my Husband, Al. In 2007, that dream came true and I share my Happy Place with the love of my life to makes me the Happiest person in the world.  

A dream is a wish your heart makes
When you're fast asleep
In dreams you lose your heartaches
Whatever you wish for, you keep
Have faith in your dreams and someday
Your rainbow will come smiling thru
No matter how your heart is grieving
If you keep on believing
the dream that you wish will come true

No matter how old I get, I will always be a child at heart and when I visit the place Walt built for you and me, I will always respect and honor him.  His Dedication Day speech has been etched in my memory and Disneyland will always be a source of joy and inspiration to me. I want to share my love for Disney with everyone so they can experience the magic and happiness that I cannot express in words alone.  I hope you enjoyed this story through music. I will leave you with one last thing..Disney, you will always have a friend in me.

And as the years go by
Boys, our friendship will never die
You're gonna see
It's our destiny
You've got a friend in me
You've got a friend in me
You've got a friend in me