Monday, January 29, 2018

Road Trip to Solvang 

and Pea Soup Andersen’s

 (with a Disney twist)

By Ron King

Although we’re now half way between end of summer 2017 and beginning of summer 2018, that season always brings back fond memories of family vacations and day or weekend drives to one of the many great destinations we have here in Southern California. One of those destinations was, of course, our annual summer trip to Disneyland. But another was Solvang. Many times Solvang was just a few hours pit-stop on the way to or from Morro Bay but often it was the final destination on a drive up the 101 Freeway. For me it was ‘almost’ as fun as Disneyland but without the rides. Maybe, perhaps, a ‘forgotten land’ disconnected from the Hub. Who could resist the quaint Danish style architecture, windmills and storks perched high on the rooftops. All the shops filled with neat souvenirs and European toys. And the food! The food was always a highlight. Danish style sandwiches, Ableskievers, Danish sausage (Medisterpølse) and red cabbage, onion cheese bread, chocolates from Ingeborg’s and pastries! Ja, we ‘went Danish’ while up in Solvang.

A trip to Solvang would also not be complete without a stop at Pea Soup Andersen’s restaurant located in the gateway town of Buellton along the beautiful CA 101 highway. Often we would stop at Andersen’s on the way up AND back! Most of you reading this are probably familiar with Andersen’s but for those who aren’t, it was one of those places you just had to stop at due to all the highway billboards along the way announcing how many miles until you reached the place. At one time there were many of them, 20 -30 miles apart. And all the billboards were adorned with two very cute characters; Hap-pea and Pea-wee. They were certain to catch every kid’s attention and ensure the parents were going to make at least a brief stop at Andersen’s. (Sadly, most of those billboards are now long gone.)

So at this point you’re wondering what this has to do with Disney. Well, there is a Disney connection to Andersen’s. Actually, there is probably a Disney connection to almost everything these days, but this Disney connection takes place back in the 1940’s and you may not know about it.

The original characters used for Andersen’s were from a famous 1920’s cartoonist named Forbell. He drew a comic strip called ‘Little Known Occupations’ that appeared in Judge Magazine (published between 1881 and 1947). One of the ‘occupations’ were pea splitters. Andersen’s became aware of this and eventually obtained permission to use these characters for their restaurant. However in 1944 the Andersen’s commissioned Disney artist Milt Neil to redraw them into the more appealing and jolly characters we see today so they could be used in promotional material. Milt Neil was a Disney Studio animator from 1935 to 1944. Known as ‘The Duck Man’ because he drew Donald Duck, he also worked on such films as Dumbo and Fantasia among others. Andersen’s then held a contest to pick the names for the newly drawn characters and that’s how ‘Hap-pea’ (the jolly pea splitter) and ‘Pea-wee’ (his faithful helper) as we now know them were born. And there you have an interesting Disney connection to Andersen’s and the little town of Buellton.
Two postcards for Andersen's. The older card on the left shows the original two pea splitter characters (lower left) and the newer card on the right shows the same cartoon but with the new characters. Click photo to enlarge.  
One of the famous Andersen's roadside billboards. This is one of the few that still exist.
Hap-Pea and Pea-Wee Salt and Pepper Shaker set.

Over the years Andersen’s tried various ways to attract visitors to Buellton and their restaurant besides just their famous billboards. One of the more interesting was when they opened a small animal park on adjacent property. Andersen’s Animal Park featured a small train and many animals that ‘starred’ in the movies, TV shows and commercials. It was run by the husband and wife team who trained those animals—Pat and Ted Derby. The park was opened in 1969 but only lasted for about two years. It closed to make way for the Andersen’s Motel (which is still in operation though not run by Andersen’s).
1970 Ad for Andersen's Animal Park

This past October 2017 The Studio Chapter took our own road trip up to Solvang with, of course, a stop at Andersen’s. The day started out at The Red Viking restaurant where many of us enjoyed their smorgasbord for lunch. (And we had with us our own ‘Viking’ as you can see from the photos.) Then some of us walked around the town and shopped while another group did some wine tasting. For those of us who opted to shop, a stop at the Jule House (Solvang’s perennial Christmas shop) was a must! Solvang also has a ‘Scarecrow Fest’ this time of year where many of the store vendors put out scarecrows which visitors can vote on (though this year they were mostly skeletons all decked out). This added to the Fall/Halloween ambiance and fun.
Ingeborg's Chocolates has been a Solvang favorite since the early 1960's.

Later we all met up again, did some more Solvang shopping and even got in a drink at an awesome little Tiki ‘wine bar’ with, yes, a few more Disney references. ‘Sort This out Cellars’ is also the place that produces and sells Charles Phoenix wine with the appropriate name ‘I Knowww Merlot’. Their shop in Solvang has wine tasting in the front and the High Roller Tiki Lounge tucked in the back. Very tiki retro in style they were also playing some vintage footage of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room on the TV while a sign saying ‘Cast Members Only’ hung on the door that led to the back room. All the cocktails here are wine based and from what I was told, quite delicious. I opted for one of their hand-crafted Orange Cream sodas which was also very good.

We then left Solvang and stopped at Pea Soup Andersen’s in Buellton for dinner and some fun conversation. And yes, many of us had to get the split pea soup. After a bit more shopping in their gift shop we headed home. All in all it was a long but very enjoyable day and something a bit different we may do again as a DFC chapter.
Below are some photos of our road trip as well as a few Solvang and Pea Soup Andersen’s souvenirs and postcards from my collection. (Click on any image to enlarge.) Enjoy!

References and more information:

Sort This Out Cellars:

A creative Halloween display in one of the Solvang wine tasting rooms.

Studio Chapter members behind the famous red clog at Solvang Shoe Store.
You meet the strangest folks in Solvang during the harvest season.
Oh, and they have pumpkin people too. ;-)
Every Viking needs a solid pair of clogs.

Where we ate for lunch. One of the oldest restaurants in Solvang. 
Old Mission Santa Ines is another interesting place to visit in Solvang. Top left card shows the Mission with the town of Solvang behind it to the west.

Andersen's Souvenirs
More Andersen's Souvenirs.
Solvang Souvenirs. The Little Mermaid was my favorite restaurant in Solvang. Sadly the original owner passed away and the restaurant was sold and reopened with a new menu and it's not the same. This is a menu from the original restaurant. Lot's of great memories going back to the 1960's.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Happy Holidays From The Studio Chapter!

On Saturday December 16th we’ll be meeting for an informal lunch at San Antonio Winery outside of Downtown Los Angeles. Details are at the bottom of this post. We hope you can make it but if you can’t, have a safe and wonderful holiday season!

Also, our chapter member Annick has written a review of the wonderful film ‘Coco’. You can read this and other reviews at her blog here: .

December Holiday Lunch
  • Saturday 12/16 11:30 AM (Try to be there no later than 11:30 so we can get in line together.)
  • Holiday lunch at San Antonio Winery – Maddalena restaurant. 737 Lamar Street Los Angeles. Website:  .
  • They do not take reservations however will do their best to seat us together. At San Antonio Winery you order and pay for your food then they seat you and bring the food to your table.
  • You do not need to RSVP but if you know you are going to make it you can reply so we can get an approximate head count.
  • San Antonio Winery also has wine tasting and a nice gift shop. There are no tours during the month of December unfortunately. Plenty of free parking. We will also have a few ‘door’ prizes and will do a gift exchange for those who want to participate. Since we do not have a separate room and only table space, gifts should be on the smallish size with a value of $10 -$20.
  • Optionally for those who wish to we’ll head down to Knott’s Merry Farm after the lunch. (Time will depend on how long the lunch goes but we’ll meet up by the old school house in Ghost Town between the wood carver and Bird Cage theater.)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Happy Halloween and Updates from The Studio Chapter

Hello Everyone and Happy Halloween!
Apologies for being lite on communication. Following is info on upcoming meetings/outings. We have had a number of necessary changes recently however the Christmas lunch at San Antonio Winery is firm. Hopefully you can join us. If you have any questions please let us know. Thanks!

  • Saturday 10/21
  • Road Trip to Solvang
  • Carpool/supply your own transportation.
  • Meet @ The Red Viking Restaurant for lunch at between 11-11:30 AM. (Allow at least 2 hours for the drive, longer from the OC/IE.) They offer a variety of American and Danish items and also have an all you can eat smorgasbord to choose what you want if you prefer that. 1684 Copenhagen Drive. Website:
  • Spend the rest of the day walking around Solvang, enjoy the shops, bakeries and fall decorations, wineries and visiting Mission Santa Inez with the group.
  • On the way back stop at Andersons to fuel up for dinner, get those last minute goodies and then head home. Plan on getting home between 9-10PM.
  • If you plan on going please let us know so we can look out for you and give you a phone number to text/call.
  • Saturday 12/16 11:30 AM (Try to be there by 11:30 so we can get in line together.)
  • Holiday lunch at San Antonio Winery – Maddalena restaurant. 737 Lamar Street Los Angeles. Website:
  • They do not take reservations however will do their best to seat us together.
  • SAW also has wine tasting and a really nice gift shop. No tours during the month of December unfortunately. Plenty of free parking. We will also have a few ‘door’ prizes and will do a gift exchange for those who want to participate. (Gifts should be on the smallish size with a value of $10 -$20)
  • Optionally, after lunch we’ll either head over to Olvera Street to see La Posada or head down to Knott’s Merry Farm. Details on this will follow. (Parking on opening night of La Posada may be a challenge so we may opt for Knott’s instead for those who want to extend the day.)
  • Saturday 1/20 Departure time will be around 9AM.
  • Another road trip. This time via train to Oceanside to see the Rolly Crump exhibit. We’ll also find a place to eat and use that for our planning meeting. (You can drive or take the train-whichever is easier. We’ll provide details on another email.)
  • Museum website:
  • No meeting – DFC activities this month
  • No date yet confirmed but we are trying to secure David Koenig as guest speaker.
  • Either way the meeting will be at Coco’s in Arcadia.
  • We will attempt to have more actual meetings in 2018 with the Arcadia Coco’s as our meeting location.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

July Meeting - Dinner and a Movie!

Hello Studio Chapter family and friends – following is some detailed information on our next meeting which is this Saturday July 22nd. We will meet a Coco’s Arcadia for a late lunch/early dinner, chat about club and chapter news and try to fit in some D23 discussion plus have a raffle. Then we’ll make our way to the Arcadia Heritage Museum to watch the movie Seabiscuit preceded with a talk about the film and filming location by our own chapter member and movie historian AJ Downhower. Before the talk and movie starts we should have some time to enjoy the museum as well.  Make sure to bring your own lawn chair!! With the craziness of D23 now over and Comic Con coming up we hope you’ll be able to squeeze in some time to join us. Full information is below. See you real soon!

Saturday July 22nd.
Meeting/Meal at Coco’s 3:30 PM. We’ll start making our way to the museum about 6:15 PM. Museum will open around 6:30 PM to enjoy. Talk is at 7:30 PM and Movie will start around 8:30 PM.
Meeting: Coco’s 1150 Colorado St, Arcadia, CA 91007
Movie: Arcadia Heritage Museum 380 W Huntington Drive, Arcadia, CA 91007
For the meeting Coco’s is providing the room for free. You will be required to order from the regular menu at minimum an appetizer and beverage. Separate checks will be provided.
For the Movie Seabiscuit please bring your own folding lawn chair. Movie is on the patio of the museum with very limited bench seats. They provide popcorn but please bring your own drink (or just order a to-go drink from Coco’s.) We’ll have from about 6:30-7:30 to look around the museum. Restroom facilities will remain open until after the movie is over. Museum, parking and movie are free!
Questions – please email

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Update Regarding Our June Meet-up
At Downtown Disney

Hello All – Enjoying the heat yet?? The AMC Downtown Disney finally posted show times for this Saturday, June 24th. For those of you planning on meeting up please see the times below. You are welcome to attend all or part of the fun. Just show up! If you are planning on coming and want a contact phone send and email to and we’ll give you Ron and/or Steve’s number so you can text us should you need to. No need to contact us otherwise. If we don’t see you Saturday then hopefully we’ll see you at our July meeting on Saturday July 22nd. In the meantime—stay cool!

Cars III at AMC Downtown Disney:
Meet at 10 AM in front of the theater. Buy your ticket when you get there or in advance. We don’t believe it’s reserved seating so it shouldn’t be an issue. Showtime is at 11AM. (Reserved seating for this theater appears to only be for the IMAX screen.)

Lunch at Rainforest Café Downtown Disney:
Meet at 1:30 PM in front of Rainforest. If you come for lunch but not the movie please be on time so we have a head count. We’ll be putting our name in at 1:30 so will need to know for how many. Please bring cash to make it easier to pay the bill. Some of us plan on browsing Downtown Disney after lunch.

Trader Sams Disneyland Hotel:
Meet at 6:30 PM at Trader Sams for a tropical drink. To make up the cancelled luau, we’re planning on finding a table (wish us luck) on the patio of Trader Sams to relax and enjoy something refreshing. Time is approximate. (Note: if it’s insanely crowded then we’ll find some place to gather at Tangaroa Terrace.)

For information on the July meeting and our previous blog post please visit:

As always if you want to receive our emails and join the chapter (no fees!) please just email your name and contact information to