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Happy Haven: Mandara Spa at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

We all know Disneyland Resort is the Happiest Place on Earth. But did you know that many people call the Mandara Spa the happiest spot inside the Happiest Place on Earth?

Mandara Spa at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel

After a long day walking the parks and riding attractions, you might also want to check out Mandara Spa atDisney’s Grand Californian Hotel. Like most of the magic at Disneyland Resort, it’s the little things at Mandara Spa that make all the difference. The greeters at the front desk are all smiles, and they’re happy to answer questions. The aromatherapy is soft and pleasant, adding to the relaxing atmosphere. Therapists utilize Balinese practices, massaging the left side of the body and then moving to the right to achieve optimal results.

Be sure to ask an attendant which treatment might be best for your sore spots. Attalia Alverdes, the new manager at Mandara, said the hot stone massage is very popular. The smoothly rounded stones are heated to just the right temperature to make knotted-up muscles give a big sigh of relief.

Mandara Spa at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel

Facials also are very popular at Mandara and it offers a wonderful selection. To test it out, I chose the “Visibly Brilliant Facial.” The therapist suggested this one after we had chatted about how I wanted to feel when I went home: relaxed and hydrated. I also recommend the scalp treatment and the seaweed wrap massage. Next time, I want to try the “Thai Poultice Massage.”

One surprise was also one of my favorite things: The therapists are trained to wash a guest’s feet at the beginning of each treatment. It’s not just to soothe feet that may have taken 10,000 steps that day; it’s the theory that clean feet are necessary for the body to fully relax.

I thanked the staff profusely for their service, but I never got to give them the best compliment possible: When I got home that evening, I still felt like I was floating on a cloud and I enjoyed one of the most restful night’s sleep in a long while.

A Look Ahead: The Kinsey Collection Opens at Epcot in 2013

One of my favorite things to do when I’m exploring an international pavilion around World Showcase at Epcot is to check out some of the fun cultural exhibits featured in the area.

Starting in late winter, the American Heritage Gallery in the American Adventure Pavilion will feature a brand new exhibit that tells an American story of determination and inspiration through more than 40 pieces of art, artifacts, books, sculptures and documents.

The Kinsey Collection will showcase personal treasures of African-American art and history

The Kinsey Collection will showcase personal treasures of African-American art and history that were collected from 90 countries and date back to as early as the 17th century.

After previews during African-American Heritage Month in February, the Kinsey Collection will open in March. The collection will be included in Epcot admission.


Disneyland Park Then and Now: Lafitte’s Anchor

One of my favorite things about Disneyland park is its history. As the first in what would become many Disney parks, Disneyland represents years of legacy and tradition. You may be able to name the attractions that still remain in the park since opening day, but what else? Which details, with their quiet stories, are still tucked away in corners of Disneyland park, 57 years later?

 Lafitte’s Anchor

In what was then Frontierland, guests in the summer of 1955 could see Lafitte’s Anchor – a “relic” from the pirate ship commanded by Jean Lafitte in the battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815. But, as the plaque warned, “… don’t believe everything you read.”

Lafitte’s Anchor

The anchor has been moved a bit and has a new plaque, but you can still see this piece of Disneyland history in what is now New Orleans Square, along the banks of the Rivers of America.

What other bits of the past have you found while exploring Disneyland park?