Sunday, November 27, 2016

Holiday Express Train - The Sugar Cane Train on the Island of Maui

A beloved attraction on the west side of the island of Maui has returned!  The Sugar Cane Train in its first incarnation was open from 1969 to 2014.  Using both steam and diesel engines to transport tourists and locals from the Kaanapali area to Lahaina Town, the train was a gentle ride originally taking guests through the sugarcane fields.  Times change, the sugarcane fields have vanished, new housing and resorts have sprung up in their place and the Sugar Cane Train became less and less popular.

New owners vowed to bring the beloved Sugar Cane Train back from the mists of history. The special Holiday Express Train launches that effort.  Guests board the Holiday Express at the Puukolii Station.

The train sparkles with lights and decorations. Friendly elves hand out booklets that contain a special Sugar Cane Train Christmas Carol set to the tune of Winter Wonderland.  The conductor punches your commemorative ticket and the diesel engine heads to North Pole Maui, better known as the Kaanapali Station. There Santa Claus joins the train. The elves serve milk and nut-free chocolate chip cookies. Santa gives all the children a special present. Santa and the elves lead everyone in singing carols as the train continues its journey through the starlit night.

While the train cannot yet traverse the entire original track due to maintenance and right-of-way issues, the Holiday Express provides a jolly way to celebrate the holiday season. Tickets are $30 per person. Children 2 and under sitting on an adult's lap ride for free. Trains run Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through December 25, 2016. There are two trains per night at 6:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. with check-in recommended for 30 minutes before your train to get a good parking space at Puukolii Station.

For tickets please visit

Friday, November 25, 2016

Festival of Holidays at the Disneyland Resort

I know, I know, it's not December.

The Accidental Thespian ran the Avengers Superheroes Half Marathon on November 13th. That weekend was also the beginning of all things Christmas and winter holidays at the Disneyland Resort. No one does Christmas quite like the Disney theme parks and resorts. If you have ever attended the Christmas season at Walt Disney World which begins one week after Halloween you know what I mean. At Walt Disney World you can attend Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party a hard ticket special event at the Magic Kingdom that includes hot cocoa and cookies, special character meet and greets and have a chance to view both the Once Upon A Time Christmas Parade and the Holiday Wishes fireworks without the massive Christmas week crowds. Walt Disney World decorates the resort hotels to the hilt featuring massive Christmas trees and in the Contemporary Resort and Beach Club Resort spectacular gingerbread creations.

The Disneyland Resort starts its Christmas season with the Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay that overlaps both the Halloween and Christmas seasons. Much more than adding a few decorations here and there the decorations completely transforms the Haunted Mansion into Jack Skellington's playground, or as the Ghost Host says showing what happens "when two holidays collide." The highlight each year is the monstrous gingerbread house displayed in the mansion's ballroom. New this year a winsome Sally animatronic in the graveyard.

Disneyland also features It's A Small World Holiday a celebration of world-wide holiday celebrations that will make you rue the day that Disney mashed up that classic earworm It's A Small World After All with Jingle Bells and Deck the Halls.  Make sure to ride after sunset when the facade lights up and a projection show is performed on the facade several times each night.

Wanna visit Santa in the Magic Kingdom? He meets guests daily at Pooh's Thotful Spot in Critter Country.

The Magic Kingdom's last magical holiday ride transformation is the Jingle Cruise. While both Walt Disney World and Disneyland include this attraction the Disneyland version goes ho-ho hog saturating the ride with decorations throughout the ride to match the Jingle Cruise skippers holiday puns (don't miss that classic holiday Piranhanukah -- the eight day festival of bites).

Of course the Magic Kingdom has its own Holiday Magic fireworks, but for a real night-time spectacle head to Disney California Adventure.  Do not miss the amazing brand new World of Color - Season of Light.  A beautiful mix of Christmas tunes, Disney characters, the dancing fountains sour to the heavens and a new special effect, bubble hearts fill the sky during a performance of Let There Be Peace on Earth.

Disney California Adventure is the host for Disney Festival of Holidays. The entire park is decorated with period appropriate decorations on Buena Vista Street, Seasons Speeding decorations in Cars Land and Viva Navidad in the Paradise Gardens area of Paradise Pier.  The Three Caballeros host a street party featuring folklorico and samba dancers, musicians and Mickey and Minnie several times a day. When they aren't hosting the party the Caballeros meet guests in rotation with Goofy. New Disney tv star Princess Elena of Avalor has a musical grand arrival and also meets guests throughout the day. 

The Festival includes special food kiosks, visits with Santa Claus at the Redwood Creek Challenge trail, and special performances.  Mostly Kosher regales guests with jazzy Hanukkah music. Blue 13 Dance Company celebrates the Hindu festival of lights Diwali. There are Holiday Toy Drummers at the Boudin Bakery and Mariachi Divas in Pacific Wharf. Raise brings gospel joy to Paradise Pier.

Disneyland's holiday events run through January 8, 2017. For more information on events please visit

The Accidental Thespian Returns First Up All Things Christmas and Other Holidays

So it's been almost a two year break. I have been researching, writing, running half marathons, traveling and seeing a lot of terrific theater in the past two years. (Yes, Hamilton is worth the hype)
I've decided to resume writing The Accidental Thespian blog. I will not write as many reviews as I did in its first incarnation. I want to reclaim some of the fun of blogging that started me on this quirky project back in the fall of 2010.

To that end I am about to embark on a rather silly project. The Accidental Thespian will see just how much Christmas and other winter holiday events she can tolerate in the month of December. As I write this I sit on the island of Maui and will be boarding the Holiday Express Sugar Cane Train tonight. A beloved Maui attraction that is also being resurrected after ending its original run from 1969-2014.

So for my few followers on social media I sincerely hope you will be entertained.



Mele Kalikimaka

Hau'oli Makahiki Hou