The deep bellow of a horn ripples along the gentle churning water. With a wave and a blown kiss towards the pier, you and your sweetheart are swept away, embarking on a gentle journey across the Rivers of America. Welcome aboard the Mark Twain!
The Mark Twain Riverboat is a serene and charming reprieve. A 14-minute scenic drift along the banks of Tom Sawyer's Island and New Orleans Square, the Mark Twain is a Disneyland classic that is not to be missed.
(To inspire a mood of Americana, listen to the audio track below:)
A staple in the park since its opening in 1955, the Mark Twain was first used to host Walt and Lillian's 30th anniversary party mere days before the Magic Kingdom opened its gates.
And its no wonder. From the moment you step on board, you're engulfed in an atmosphere of sweet Southern hospitality: three decks of elegant wood paneling, breezy corridors and comfortable side rails.
Britt's Must Hits:
Find a little slice of railing for you and honey to cuddle near and enjoy the view! Your river adventure will
give you a taste of the American frontier, complete with a settler's cabin and a Native American encampment.
-Swing Baby, Swing
It may sound silly, but as you pass New Orleans Square, take advantage of those jazzy notes drifting through the air and persuade your sweetie to two-step with you. After all, you're in love and life is short; why not dance?
The only seating on board is in the bow of ship (the front). For the chance to rest and stretch out your legs together, try and secure a spot right away.
So with linked arms, climb aboard for some whimsical romance and sweet kisses beneath the billowing steam of the Mark Twain.
Cascading drapery frames the twinkling ambiance of New Orleans Square. The soft clatter of chinaware is accentuated by the murmur of happy conversation. A sip of warming red wine compliments the second course of a lavish meal.
Across the table, my guy raises his own glass in a toast. A toast to our very first time in Club 33. A toast to the excitement of the unfolding year. But most of all, a toast to us. A hearty cheers to that!
Last month, in full glamorous Dapper attire, my sweetheart and I walked up to doorway 33, buzzed the gilded speech box and were ushered into one of the single greatest nights of my life.
Determined to experience, rather than record, we packed our cameras away for the evening (save for a single picture after we had finished dining) and hands interlocked, stepped into the toasty foyer, a sight we had previously only glimpsed through a closing door.
We were expected and our table was ready.
Stairs or lift? Oh, heavens, the lift please. The lift that Walt had absolutely fallen in love with in France. And when his offer to purchase it was denied, he sent a team of Imagineers back to gather all the measurements and information needed to create an exact replica in his club. Yes, definitely the lift.
On the second floor, we were shown to our table in the main dining room. A small, pristine setting for two, cast in candlelight. We'll have the Vintner; five delectable courses with wine pairings. Excellent choice. Each tasty dish is served on china inscribed with the iconic 33. Utensil choice becomes a guessing game; we're frequently wrong.
Our evening ends with a tour. We follow the Maitre d' from room to room, soaking in Pirates of the Caribbean concept art, marveling at Lillian's harpsichord and fawning over set pieces from Mary Poppins. And in the midst of so many precious sights and fascinating tidbits, a single painting catches my eye:
A New Magic Kingdom Morning, by Charles Boyer
Despite the fact Walt missed the opening of his treasured club due to his untimely passing, every inch of its charming sprawl is strewn with his personal sensibilities and influence. It didn't matter that he had never seen Club 33, he had already seen it. That's its appeal. It feels as though you're spending the evening at Walt's.
Linking arms, I'm swept away, down the staircase and out into the chilled February air. I look up at my love's face as he pulls me close by the collar of my coat. And I get it. I'm drawn to him for so many reasons. His talent, vision, passion, dedication ... many of the same qualities I admire so much in Mr.Disney. It sounds silly, but as I lean in for a kiss, I realize I may have snagged myself a modern version of Walt himself.
Walt once said "Disneyland is a work of love." So, its no wonder the parks inspire romance. From grand gestures to small moments, couples are able to create cherished memories and we want to give you a place to share them. So, without further adieu, allow me to introduce our first featured couple: Dathan and Linnea.
It was Dathan's 24th birthday and Linnea wanted to make their day at the park unforgettable. She wanted this so badly, she'd been planning the day for weeks. Now, armed with a bulging Yoda knapsack and a tummy full of butterflies, she waited for the perfect moment to initiate operation "Dead Man's Chest."
When they passed a restroom, Linnea saw her chance. Informing Dathan that birthday festivities were in need of a potty break, she innocently asked him to hold her bag and headed for the girls room. Dathan turned away, preoccupied with his phone, Yoda dangling from his back. Perfect. Linnea turned away from the bathroom and made a mad dash towards Fantasyland.
She needed to get over to New Orleans Square and quick. Passing under the archway of the castle, Linnea whipped out her phone and sent Dathan a quick text:
Open the backpack,
and take out your map.
So Dathan did.
Linnea had hand-crafted a map with flaps opening to a series of short clues. These clues would lead Dathan on a Pirate-themed scavenger hunt.
The front of the map read:
Ahoy matey! On this,
the day of your birth,
when the sun is high,
its limit? The sky!
Your journey will prepare
you for swashbuckling fun,
so here we go,
come and find your lass,
begin with clue one!
So Dathan, unrolled his map and gave it a go. The first flap opened to a small envelope of cash and a blurb about dressing like a pirate. Following the dotted path, Dathan found himself outside Pieces of Eight, a gift shop in New Orleans Square, ready to purchase the prescribed attire.
Leaving with a sword and eye patch, Dathan opened the map to his next clue:
He was looking for a key. A key in a nearby courtyard. And there, dangling from the banister in the Courtyard of Angels, was a two-pronged key Linnea had left for him.
With the final clue, Dathan realized just where he was headed. He needed to find the Chest of Davy Jones, which, of course, was located in dim caves of the Pirates Lair.
Sure enough, Linnea was waiting for him next to the beating heart of Davy Jones. She was clad as he was, eye patch, sword, and an extra sweet treat: churros, Dathan's favorite.
Their afternoon was spent sword fighting along the island's pathways, exploring the dark caverns and running across suspended bridges.
Dathan and Linnea emerged hours later, dusty and giddy. It was an unforgettable birthday for a very twitterpatted couple.
With spring wafting through the warming air, sweethearts are ready to frolic in the romance of the season. The parks offer so much this time of year; a true reprieve for an escape with your very own prince or princess. The magic that is Disney extends far beyond the perimeters of the parks. One of your many options for an afternoon of springtime flirtation has a ticking clock attached:
With the exception of any history-buffs reading, the proposition of spending a weekend afternoon at a museum probably doesn't get the heart pumping. Hang in there.
The Reagan Museum is nestled among the picturesque hills of Simi Valley, California, offering a stunning view as you, hand in hand with your honey, stroll through the blossoming rose garden. Then there's the museum itself. Yes, you can absolutely breeze through and head straight for the Disney exhibition, housed at the end of the permanent Reagan exhibit, but why not enjoy yourselves? Reagan's story is laid out, chronologically, offering a poignant depiction of a historical American figure. It's an unexpected delight.
Britt's Must Hits (For the Reagan-related portion of the museum):
- The interactive teleprompter Stand in front of a camera, delivering lines from Reagan's early films or watch your sweetie get tongue-tied announcing a baseball inning, play-by-play. BE SURE to get a video of the playback for extended chuckles.
- Air Force One
That's right. A glass hanger houses an entire plane ready for your exploration. Board Reagan's retired airliner and reenact scenes Air Force One. Or just walk through and marvel at 80's-style luxury. Just BE SURE to pose right before boarding for a portrait that will have the two of you considering a career in politics.
And now, drum roll please...
Welcome to the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives!
The amazing collection allows you to journey back in time free of a flux-capacitor or decade-skipping island. Beginning at the beginning (of course), displays feature relics from Walt's past, outlining his personal and professional life. His childhood, early failures and record-breaking achievements weave together in insightful story guiding you from room to room.
In an attempt to not give too much away, here are some teaser shots we were able to capture:
My sweetheart and I practically bounced from room to room, calling to one another excitedly with each new discovery. It was an unbelievable thrill to experience so much of our beloved iconography in such an intimate way.
It may sound a little corny (but that's fitting with my personality) but learning together was an absolute pleasure. The tidbits we picked up sparked seemingly endless conversations in which we not only discussed Disney history, but our own experience with it. In short, I learned quite a bit about my boyfriend. And the way his face lit up when he spotted the Mary Poppins display? Worth it.
There is a second half to the exhibit, featuring more contemporary pieces. You descend a flight of stairs. The lighting dims, tinted with blue. The mood shifts. Suddenly, you're surrounded by set pieces from your (or ours, rather) absolute favorite films. Again, in an effort to avoid spoilers, here's a peak:
Britt's Must Hits (for the Archives exhibit):
- Walt's Office
It's untouched, offering detailed glimpse into the man who started it all.
- Flynn's Arcade
BE SURE to pose under the iconic neon sign. Avoid the temptation to hijack a light cycle. (This will be difficult.)
- The Black Pearl
Freedom objectified. Black sails and all. Its there. Ladies, be sure to mimic the unforgettable figurehead and have you honey snap a photo.
As a fond farewell, a last display, this time just of Walt's words:
"It seems to me that we have a lot of story yet to tell."
And looking over at my guy, I couldn't agree more.
Hot curlers set with a sizzle. Lips pucker for a splash of firetruck-red. The pop of a cork signals chilled glasses of mimosa. The deep bellow of "Jolly Holiday" echoes from the running shower.
Early morning Dapper Day preparations are in full swing!
The spring counterpart to the semi-annual event, held this past Sunday, February 24th, had a terrific turnout. Thousands of guests, dressed in their finest, flocked to the gates of Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. My sweetheart and I were among them, outfitted in shades of cream and emerald, proudly sporting lapel pins to identify ourselves to fellow "dappers." (As though the pinned hair, clicking heels and snappy tie weren't indication enough. Sheesh.)
Anyone who has attended a Dapper Day is familiar with this is unavoidable confrontation: the "normal" park guest, confused by dapper attire, approaches to ask, "why?" Most dappers are polite, attempting to explain the event's purpose. Their explanation is often followed by another inquiry. People want to understand the appeal of Dapper Day.
This past Sunday was no exception; time and time again, we were approached and asked the same questions. Which got me to thinking: what, exactly, is the appeal of Dapper Day?
Everyone's reason for participating differs. Even for myself, there is no single answer. I like cheery voices chiming out "Happy Dapper Day!" as I stroll. I love losing myself under the guise of history, as though I'm actually visiting the park in an era long-past. I half expect to see Walt himself turn that corner, walking along the banks of the Rivers of America, envisioning a new addition for his beloved park.
More than anything, I love dressing up. There are fewer and fewer occasions in my life that warrant hairspray, lipstick and stockings. And a day of glamour in Disneyland? Yes, please.
Donning a skirt for the afternoon is enough to make any girl swish her hips a bit more than usual. But its the way my honey looks at me in that skirt, and the romance the day inspires, that makes this unofficial Disney event an absolute must.
Dapper Day is not just an opportunity to dress up; its the chance to dress for your sweetheart. Spend the day sneaking glances of their cute behind. Pull them in by the tie for a lingering kiss. Pose together in locations reminiscent of not just Disney history, but YOUR history.