Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Disney rides that adults love (and are sometimes a little scared of)

As mentioned in a previous post, a lot of people think Disneyland is a place that only has rides for kids. As someone who pretty much goes on any roller coaster and isn't really afraid of heights, I would have to disagree. I know folks who go on a lot and have felt sick coming off a Disney park ride. So I thought I'd share a few of these more stomach turning, adventurous or thrilling rides.

1. Space Mountain (Disneyland CA & Magic Kingdom FL)
One of my personal favourites, though there are many folks who can't handle it since it is completely in the dark. You don't get launched or go upside down, but you don't really have a great idea of what direction you are going. It should be noted that the tracks at Disneyland and Magic Kingdom are slightly different.

2. Aerosmiths Rockin RollerCoaster (Disney Hollywood Studios FL)
Both hubby and I came off this one feeling nauseated. That being said, I did have the flu at the time. This coaster takes a rollercoaster in the dark to another level as it launches you from 0-57 miles an hour in about 3 seconds and takes you upside down and through corkscrews a few times. I find it a benefit that the ride is very very short, so you won't feel queasy for long.

3. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (California Adventure CA & Hollywood Studios FL)
Oh boy... this is one I'm not sure I will ever do again. You are riding a broken elevator that drops you over and over in the dark. Its unpredictable as it changes every time. I was informed after a terrifying ride that there are indeed handles, somewhere. That may have made my experience a little less frightful. Seriously, I shook for 10 minutes after.

4. Expedition Everest (Animal Kingdom FL)
This is another personal favourite for me. I rode it three times in a row when we were there. It's just plain fun. You are exploring Everest when you realize that the track in front of you is no more, because it has been broken up by a Yeti. Then you are basically trying to get away from the creature that keeps showing up everywhere. It has some great drops and you go both forwards and backwards.

5.  California Screamin (California Adventure CA)
So good! This is Disneys lengthiest coaster and another where you are launched from 0 to FAST in no time. Lots of ups, downs and you even go upside down all while enjoying a beautiful view of Paradise Pier. I don't know any coaster enthusiast who doesn't enjoy this one.

6. Splash Mountain (Disneyland CA & Magic Kingdom FL)
Bring your ponchos, cause you are gonna get wet! A fantastic log ride with a series of drops (or waterfalls) ending with one really big drop. I don't consider this one scary and considered leaving it out of this post, but I do know people who go on this ride simply because they enjoy the scenery inside the mountain and 'deal with' the drops. So I guess some find it intimidating.

7. Indiana Jones Temple of Doom (Disneyland CA)
My absolute favourite ride out of any of the Disney parks - and fairly tame. This is not a roller coaster, but it is a rather aggressive dark ride that throws you from side to side in your jeep. I'd explain what you see, but I don't want to ruin it. I actually convinced my brothers and mother to go on it once, telling them it's not a coaster so they'd be fine. I was so wrong... and they were not happy with me. So apparently it's a bad one for motion sickness and over stimulation of the senses.

8. Big Thunder Mountain (Disneyland CA & Magic Kingdom FL)
You are a passenger on a train gone wild! It has got some great tight turns and quick drops and I highly suggest not eating lunch before going on it. Again, wouldn't call this one all that scary but it is fun. It was my first coaster in Disneyland and I felt it was a good break in for me.

So there you have it; the most popular rides with the adult crowd. Please remember to get fast passes for these attractions because they tend to have the longest lines. If you don't know what a fast pass is or how to get them, read my blog on them here. Oh, and there are height and health restrictions for all of them.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

An afternoon at Aulani

First of all, apologies for taking two months to write this post. We are expecting our second child and I have been far too exhausted and nauseated to blog much. But I am now into my second trimester and have been feeling significantly better this past week.

You may remember that I had high hopes of taking our toddler son to Auntys character breakfast at Aulani resort and was told I couldn't reserve until the day before as a non resort guest. So, very early the day before (like 7:00am!) I called eager to get our name down. Keep in mind we were in Hawaii very much off season. Much to our dismay, we were told it was totally full and that we basically had no hope of getting in. What a bummer. It was the one thing I was really hoping to do during our trip.
My mother and I still wanted to check out the resort as it is a place we can use our timeshare points at if we so desire (a lot of points may I just add, but do able.)

Aulani is located in the resort town of Ko'Olina and it is a gorgeous area. I am not a fan of the island of Oahu and I can honestly say the only way I would have interest of returning to it is if I was staying in this area, far away from the craziness of Waikiki. Still a ways away we could see the towering resort looking grand and beautiful and oh so welcoming. Upon pulling up to the valet we were instantly greeted with the wonderful and well known Disney friendliness. They pointed us to the parking lot and explained where everything was.

After parking we walked through the main entrance where we were greeted with friendly smiles from a staff member and a glass of refreshing lemon cucumber water. I talked to a few employees about what we could see and do as visiting guests and then we began to wander. Again, I have to comment on the quality and friendliness of the staff members here. It really did remind me of being in Disneyland in that people were so helpful and happy everywhere we went. Absolutely wonderful.

The decor of the resort was beautiful. We have never seen a resort that looked more 'Hawaiian' which I know is exactly the feel they were going for. It was elegant yet comfortable, and all the art work and designs on the walls were interesting and fun to look at. Great job by Disney!

We checked out the pools, including the long lazy river and kids play area. I can't even explain how badly we wanted to dive in there! Something else we noticed were the lifeguards located literally every 10 feet. Safety is obviously top priority at Aulani. There were plenty of chairs to lounge in around the pools, and they weren't those cheap plastic ones. They were thick, padded and had pillows on them. No joke. There were water filters with cups located everywhere, as well as ice cream stands, burger joints and full restaurants.

They also had a private beach with a sheltered lagoon for calm waters and more chairs scattered everywhere.

After wandering a bit we stopped by the resort gift shop to pick up a few souvenirs. This is the only point in which I was disappointed as the shop was way tiny then I would have expected. They really weren't offering much. Lots of t-shirts, towels and bags, a few magnets and shelf displays, but not a whole lot else. I actually found myself not buying anything, which was shocking (even for my husband.) We settled on a Squirt stuffy (from Nemo) for Noah as we figured that was kind of Hawaiian like.

We took one last glance at the balcony overlooking the resort and talked about whether we'd like to stay there in the future. The general consensus of our group of seven people was yes, if we were to return to Oahu we'd probably stay there. But we weren't sure if we'd prefer that or heading back to our nice quiet city of Kona on the Big Island. Were small town Hawaii people.

Friday, September 21, 2012

No one does entertainment like Disney

There is a misconception that Disneyland is a place with just 'a bunch of kids rides.' Of course anyone who has actually been to a Disney park knows this is completely untrue. There is so much more to do then simply go from ride to ride.

Take my mother and brothers for instance. They don't do rides, except for the occasional slow moving dark ride, but they still love visiting Disney. Why? Because of the constant entertainment! Sit down shows, parades, street performers, there is pretty much something going on all the time at the parks. So I thought I would give you a brief run down of some of the things you can do at Disney if you aren't into rides or meeting characters.

1. Billy Hill & the Hillbillies.
I've talked about these guys before, and they are a do not miss in our books! In Disneyland Park at the Golden Horseshoe this hilarious group of fiddlers will entertain you with music and jokes while you enjoy your lunch. The highlight? One of the performers wears over the top false teeth. You'll just have to see it to understand why it's so funny.

2. Fantasmic!
Certain evenings of the week, the rivers of America transforms into a full stage/water show complete with water screens, boats, characters and special effects. This show is our personal favourite of any of the evening shows the parks have to offer. Be sure stake out a spot early as the ground seating is first come first serve.

3. World of Colour
Showing select nights at Disney's California Adventure, this show is all water screen based and full of spectacular colours and classic Disney music. There is a special viewing area on the lagoon and you will need to get a fast pass to go in (fast passes can be obtained by the Grizzly River ride first thing in the morning.) You can view this show from other areas, but you will have angled views of the water screens.

4. Parades
These change yearly and seasonally but they are always well done. The two best locations (in my humble opinion) to view the parades are over by Its a Small World or else at the end of Main street so you get the full view with the castle.

5. Aladdin
Disney California Adventure has its own theater just for Aladdin, which is basically a full scale Broadway show compacted to 45 minutes long. This is another do not miss show in my books! The Genie is always played by a comedian who is very up on the latest pop culture references and jokes and hands down steals the show. We honestly go just to see what he comes up with, because it changes all the time.

This is only the tip of the iceberg for entertainment. To find out more about what is going on when you are visiting, be sure to grab the parks daily schedule with times and locations.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Fast Pass system

I must apologize. I have several friends who recently visited the Disney parks and asked me what those fast pass tickets were and how much they cost. I felt so bad for not having filled them in before hand! I think fast passes are such a common topic that I assumed I already blogged about them; apparently not.
So here you go...

What is a fast pass?
A fast pass is a free ticket available to anyone in the park to bypass a large portion of a popular rides line.

Which rides offer them?
Rides such as Indiana Jones, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain at Disneyland have these, as do Radiator Springs Racers, Soarin, Grizzly River Run and Tower of Terror at California Adventure. There are more, but I don't think I need to list them all...
It is easy to see if they are available for a ride, because next to the current walk on wait time you will see a fast pass return time posted.

Where can I get one?
You can get a fast pass for a ride at a ticket machine usually near the rides main entrance, or else close by the ride itself. If you can't seem to locate it, simply as a cast member and they will point you in the right direction.
You will need your park ticket to get the pass. Simply walk up to an available machine and put your card in. It will be scanned and out of the bottom of the machine will pop a fast pass ticket with a time of return listed on it. Do not lose this (of your park ticket for that matter...)

How do they work?
When the time listed on your fast pass arrives, simply return to your ride and enter the 'fast pass' line. A cast member will ask to see your ticket and let you through. The fast pass line usually runs right along side the main line but will be relatively empty. On a busy day you may still end up waiting 10 minutes or so to get on your ride, but it is nothing compared to the poor folks who have been waiting for 45. At the end of the line a cast member will take your fast pass ticket from you and you can then proceed onto the ride.

Do I have to use my fast pass during the listed time?
That's a tricky question. I have never been let on a ride earlier then my fast pass time, however I have heard of many people using their fast passes long after their time has expired. Disney World has recently stated that they will be enforcing their ticket times, where as Disneyland has not said anything about it. I think this is one of those times where it just depends on the cast member you get. That being said, we always just use our fast passes when it is the right time as we have a system.

Are the fast passes ride specific?
Yes! You can not use the same fast pass ticket for Indiana Jones as you would on Space Mountain. They will each require a separate fast pass.

How many fast passes can I hold at a time?
You cannot simply run all over the past grabbing fast passes for every ride first thing in the morning. There is an actual time limit on your ticket. You can get a new one every few hours or once your current ticket expires.

Does each ride have an unending supply of fast passes?
No! When you go to get a fast pass at a ride you will see a current 'return time' listed above. For popular rides at popular times of travel, fast passes can be gone for the whole day within an hour or two of park opening. So if you are travelling during a peak season and have a ride that makes the top of your list, I suggest heading there straight away and securing your pass.

Our system is to get a fast pass for one ride and then head to another close by while we wait. For example, we will get a fast pass first thing in the morning for Indiana Jones and then go on Pirates of the Caribbean and Tarzans Tree House. Or we will get a pass for Space Mountain and then proceed to ride Buzz Light Year and Astro Blasters in the meantime.

I will add that fast passes are not worth your time unless the ride you desire to go on has more then a 20 minutes wait. Our general rule is that if the rides line is under 20 minutes we will simply do walk on, but if it's 25 minutes or more, we get the pass for it.
And may I just add what a wonderful feeling it is to join the fast pass line and walk past all the other guests who have been not so patiently waiting forever... Sorry, was that a little mean?

Hope I've helped! If you have any more questions please feel free to send them my way!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Aulani visit?

The family and I are taking off for a Hawaiian vacation in a few shorts weeks. We are greatly looking forward to soaking up some sun on the shores of the pacific and spending time splashing around in a few gorgeous swimming pools at our resort.

Sadly, we wont be staying Disneys Aulani resort - which is fully my fault. When my parents decided to book a trip to Hawaii we thought there was no way we'd be able to join them. And I just may have said I would be heartbroken if they chose to go to the Disney resort without us... So they went with the Hilton Hawaiian Village instead. Yet here we are, tagging along after all and hoping to get the chance to visit one of the newest resorts on Oahu.

Hubby is planning a few excursions to keep himself entertained. Jet skiing, surf lessons and possibly renting a scooter. The only thing I want to do besides relax is take a day trip over to Aulani and do a character breakfast. And I'm not just thinking of me here - honest! I know Noah would love another hug from Mickey Mouse and the chance to visit with a few of his other Disney pals. Rumor has it, the elusive Stitch even makes an appearance! There is also the added 'cool' factor of seeing our favourite characters dressed up Hawaiian style. Where else can we see that?

The trouble is getting in. Non resort guests have to wait until the day before to make reservations. Hoping that most kids will be busy in school and not travelling to Hawaii when we are so that there will be enough space for myself, my son, hubby and my mother to get it.

Besides the character breakfast itself, I'd like to walk the grounds and see if this is really a place we'd like to stay in the future. Oh, and visit the store of course. Disney Hawaiian themed merchandise? Yes please!

Anyone ever stayed there or visited for a day? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

No more Disney Cruises to Alaska?

Oh rumor, please do not be true!

Over the past week or so I have been hearing talk about Disney pulling out of their Alaska cruise sailing for good. As you can guess based on my last post, this would make me very sad.

Our tentative plan was to book our first Disney cruise in May/June 2014 for this exact itinerary. We loved the idea of getting a family vacation that wouldn't require us to fly anywhere, hence the Alaska trip from Vancouver. If they no longer offer this, we probably wont be cruising that year as we aren't enthusiastic about flying all the way to Florida to do a Disney cruise and aren't really into the idea of doing a non Disney cruise to Alaska.

I sent an email to a Disney travel specialist asking him about this and he told me that so far he had no information one way or the other. He did mention however that there had been alot of talk about moving the Wonder (currently the Alaska ship) elsewhere, and that whether or not another boat would take over had not been mentioned.
That doesn't sound too positive to me.

I wonder (ha, no pun intended...) if Disney is struggling to do business up their in Alaska. That is a sailing that tends to attract an older more mature crowd. And because they are the 'new kids on the block' they haven't been given high priority for things like port times and sailing routes. Perhaps Disney does not like being second (or fourth, fifth) in line for things. They certainly aren't use to it.

So, what would we do if they pulled out of Alaska? Oh you know, probably go to Disneyland. And that my friends, is never a bad thing.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Disney Cruise?

Hubby and I (well, mostly me) are planning our next family vacation for 2014. That's two whole years away, you may say. Yes, but that gives us time to save for it and plan it.

(For those of you who are not cruisers - the best prices are usually when the dates first become availible for purchase - about a year in advance. So you'd put down a deposit in 2013. This also gives you best choice of cabin location and dinner time slot.)

We are strongly leaning towards doing a Disney Alaskan cruise, for several reasons. Here they are.

1. We won't have to fly anywhere.
This is the easiest vacation we can take considering we live in Vancouver. No flying anywhere, no extra day of travel. We simply drive down to the dock (or take a cab) and are on our trip in a matter of 45 minutes. How's that for stress free?

2. Disney caters to young children.
We looked into cruising before with a young child and shot down the idea straight away thinking about our son potentially screaming during dinner or trying to find a place to change his bottom. But with Disney, everyone has young children. They deal with these things all the time and are prepared for it via entertainment, diaper genies and 'dinner in your room' options.

3. Family friendly entertainment.
We have done a few cruises and entertainment on board has been better at some then others. But alot of cruise ships have a very 'Vegas style' form of entertainment. Fine when you are just a couple, but not appropriate for children. Disney cruises have musicals based on their movies, game show nights, Disney movies showing in their theaters and cooking/crafting activities that are meant for families. You just don't have to worry about what your kids will be exposed to, which is a real seller for us.

4. They offer the largest staterooms with seperate bathrooms.
Anyone who has ever been on a cruise knows, the rooms are teeny tiny. Disney gives you more space for your money compared to the other cruise lines and also gives you a seperate tub/shower from your toilet/sink area. Oh, and they are the only cruise line I know of that gives you a tub to bathe your children.

5. They offer discounted rates for kids.
Sometime you'll be lucky and can hit a 'kids sail free' deal (we are really crossing our fingers for the May/June 2014 one) Almost all cruise lines charge full childrens fares for kids 2 and under, which is just ridiculous to me. Why would I pay $600 to bring my 1 year old on a cruise when they don't eat the same food, take up any space, or enjoy any of the entertainmet? You will pay approx. $250-350 for your toddler, depending on the length of the cruise. Much more reasonable.

6. They are the only cruise line offering entertainment for toddlers.
Yep, not only do toddlers get a huge discount on Disney, but they also have things just for them. Cribs, diaper genies and strollers are all availible free of charge during your trip. If your kid doesn't eat solids yet? No problem, they will puree up their chicken dinner. If you want a night out alone with your spouse? No problem, they offer babysitting. Want to take your child in the pool and they aren't potty trained? They have a specific pool just for them! They also have a whole nursery room full of toys and other activities that you can go to with your young child.

I could really go on and on, but those are just a few of the points that have sold me during my research. And yes, they have plenty of entertainment for adults too, like adult only pools, hot tubs, spas and clubs.

If you are interested in joining us on our cruise, shoot me a message. I'd be more then happy to fill you in on our plans :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Magical Moments

A magical Disney moment

My little brother meets Captain Jack Sparrow for the first time. He seems to be slightely hesitant about asking for his autograph - but really, can you blame him?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Disney Broadways Mary Poppins

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing Disney's Mary Poppins Broadway show here in Vancouver. It was my delayed Mothers Day gift from my hubby and son and I went with my mother, who shares my strong love of musical theater.

The story is the same for the most part, with a few added songs and changes of scenery for a few scenes. My mother actually found the the stage show flowed better then the movie and felt it was less 'choppy'.The cast was as great as you can expect from any Broadway show, and the woman playing Mary Poppins was fantastic! We had the understudy playing Bert and he blew us away! This guy definitely deserves his own lead role in the future.

I think hands down the best part of the production was the set designs. I have seen 10+ Broadway shows in my life and this is probably number 1 or 2 in my books for sets. The Banks house was incredible, opening and closing right in front of you like a doll house. Everything in the house was magical when Mary Poppins was around. Things would pop up out of suitcases, furniture would break and go back together without being touched and paintings would somehow turn into a bouquet of flowers. I honestly don't know how they did it. Mary Poppins flew with her umbrella several times, and Bert does a tap dance on the ceiling. So entertaining!

The costumes were wonderful and fit the mood of every scene. They reminded me of  the ones from Wicked with the constant flashy brightness. Mary Poppins coats were gorgeous!
If I could describe the show in one word it'd probably be FUN. It's just plain fun! It is a show for all ages and one I'd probably see again if I had the opportunity. And that's high praise.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Magical Moments

A magical Disney Moment

These moments come from Toni, who was 9 years of age in the photos.

Toni is lucky enough to have a trip booked to visit Disneyland & California Adventure this coming fall. Can't wait to hear all about her experiences as she checks out the new Cars Land!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Disney Pixars BRAVE

Tonight I went out and saw Brave with pretty much my entire family. Parents, brothers, grandmother... but not my husband. He stayed home with our little one so I could go enjoy (and to be honest... he was perfectly fine with that.)

Overall I really liked the film and would definitely recommend it; especially to those who are Disney lovers to begin with. I'll do a little break down of what I did and didn't like and you can take from it what you will.

- The scenery! It is an absolutely beautiful movie and seeing it in 3D is a MUST.
- The music. Totally fit the movie and got me in the mood. Of course, being of Scottish decent myself I may be biast.
- The 'whisps' Can't really describe what they are to you without you seeing them, but they were really cool.
- Meridas little brothers. They were comical and adorable at the same time.
- Merida herself (of course.) I mean come on, that is one awesome Princess! I found myself thinking how cool it'll be to get a picture with her in Disneyland next trip :)

Didn't like:
- I heard this before and I understand where it comes from now. It almost felt like two different stories in a way. The first half is all about Scotland and how things are done and a tournament to win the princesses hand and then all of a sudden the story totally changes gears. Not necessarily a bad thing, just different.
- The mother 'bear' thing. Yes, I realize this is one of the whole main plots but it just through me for a loop as I hadn't read up on the full story ahead of time. I wish I had known about that so I could have been more prepared. It was all very heartwarming in the end though. I cried!

And I have one thing that fits on both the liked and disliked side and that is that I wanted the story to keep going! I wanted to know what was going to happen to Merida next. Is there a BRAVE 2 in our future?

Guess I'll just have to ask her next time I visit Disney...

Monday, July 2, 2012

My favourite Disney snacks

Whenever I go to a Disney park there are a few 'must have' treats that I enjoy participating in. These are the items that I would highly encourage you to try for yourself.
And yes, these are all junkfood that we probably shouldnt be eating in the first place...

At the top of my list - Disney gummies! I know what you are thinking. Arent they just overpriced gummy bears? No! Not only are they in the shape of multitple Disney characters, but the flavors are better then most gummies I have ever tasted. My mouth is watering just thinking about them.

Next? Mmm Mickey Ice cream sandwhich. Chocolatey crust and cookies n cream flavor inside. All around tasty goodness.

Also - the Mickey Mouse Lollipops. Yes, they are kind of hard to properly suck on until those giant ears shrink down a bit. But there is just something so fun about walking around the park with one of these.

A Mouse Planet photo

Another recently found love is the Disneyland hot chocolate bought from a street kiosk. Nice sweet chocolate flavor and perfect for sipping during a parade during the colder days at the park.

These are my favourites - what are yours?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Halloween at DisneyWorld - Guest Blog

I recently wrote about how I have never been to a Disney park during the holiday times of Christmas or Halloween. Fortunitly, I have a friend who has! I decided to open up my blog to others who have some expertise in other areas or may just have a picture or memory to share. The whole point of this blog is to help others plan trips, get ideas or just talk about their love of the Disney Parks. So if you are interested or willing in sharing something about a trip you took please get in touch with me. I'd love to have you be a part of this too!

Chantal has a great perspective on the DisneyWorld parks aswell as on travelling with a very young child. I asked her if she would be willing to share a few things about her trips on here and she graciously agreed. Here is her first write up on a Halloween trip she took with her family last fall.

"We have been very fortunate to go to Disney during different times of the year. I would say one of my favourite times was October, where we attended the Halloween Party! Yes, you pay extra (between $50-$60) but in my opinion if you are going to go during that time of year it is so worth it. Our family dressed up as Pirates and it was alot of fun. We were given bags and we went trick or treating from station to station collecting candies. There was also a parade, which was amazing! Disney does great parades but the Halloween parade is fantastic! My son Cade loved it!

By far my favourite thing at the party was that Woody and Jessie were in the dance hall and since Cade loves dancing, he had a great time with them. It was so cute to watch as Jessie kept wanting to go dance with him but this time around Cade wasn't sure about these characters!

We have made so many great memories at Disney!"

- Chantal

Thanks for sharing Chantal!

A few extra notes on Mickey Not So Scary Halloween Party:
- Tickets must be purchased in advance
- If you do not have tickets to this event, you will not be allowed to remain in the park while it goes on (something to note if you are planning to go at this time of year - youll be out of the park early on these nights without a ticket!)
- The parties run throughout the months of September and October.
- This is the only time non cast member adults are allowed to dress up in costumes at the parks
- along with the trick or treating there is also a special firework show, parade and character meet n greets

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

For the love of a mouse

I was making my morning cup of coffee while my husband held our 10 month old Noah. I pulled my Mickey Mouse mug from the cupboard and placed it on the counter. My son spotted it immediatly and started to point and smile. As my husband walked into the living room Noah turned around to keep the mug in his line of vision, pointed and said 'ickey!' Both Matt and I stopped and looked at eachother completely stunned. We both heard it, clear as anything. He was saying Mickey!

When I started telling people that we were going to be taking our then 7 month old son Noah on his first trip to Disneyland people couldnt understand it. I got a few comments like, 'But he wont even remember it' and 'he is going to cry as soon as he sees those characters!' To be honest, the trip wasn't even so much about him as it was about our family as a whole enjoying some time together. But it turned out to be probably my favorite family vacation ever; even with a baby in tow.
The first time I went to Disney I was in grade 2, and I hardly remember it. But to literally see Disney through my own childs eyes? It was beyond magical.

We prepped him a bit before the trip in hopes to calm his potential fears. My mother had a large Mickey Mouse doll aswell as a Winnie the Pooh and we took them out for him to play with. He immediatly latched onto the Mickey and began showering the stuffy with kisses whenever he saw him. By the time we left on the trip we could even ask, "Where is Mickey Mouse?" and he would turn to wherever he was. A good enough start we thought.

Then the opportunity arrived. On our first day in the park Mickey Mouse was just beyond the entrance. We immediatly ran over (sorry - walked fast, there is no running in Disneyland!) and lined up for our turn. As soon as Mickey came into my sons line of vision he began leaning over from my hip trying to get a closer look. When it was our turn to meet him, Noah immediatly dove for Mickeys arms and began planting kisses on his nose. I nearly cried! It was the sweetest moment ever.

Ever since that day he has had a big love for Mickey. He points to any image of him in a picture frame, he gets excited when the home video of our trip comes on, he smiles whenever he sees him on an article of clothing, and he sleeps with his Mickey stuffy every single night. He is even having a Mickey Mouse themed birthday party.

'You brainwashed him,' you may be thinking. Not true. Sure, we did expose him to Disneyland, but the love of the mouse came to him all on his own.

To learn more about travelling to Disney with a baby, you can check out my post Doing Disney with a baby

Friday, June 22, 2012

Magical Moments

A magical Disney Moment.

Now this picture comes with a funny story.
Matt and I were on a 'date' night while the grandparents took care of our 7 month old son back at the hotel. It was the end of the evening and we were heading out of the park. While walking we spotted Chip n Dale hanging out with not many around so we decided to get a picture with them. They  immediately started goofing off and moving us into strange positions trying to get us to do something. We could not figure out what it was they wanted us to do until they pushed us together and started blowing kisses. "Oh, you want us to kiss?" we asked. They nodded their heads and got the now building audience to clap and cheer us on. So we kissed, and when we looked back at the picture we saw that they had covered their ears and eyes so that they couldn't see or hear it. TOO CUTE!

Chip and Dale are always a blast to be around.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Finding Nemo in 3D

Have you heard the news? Finding Nemo is coming back to theaters, in 3D! Its all happening September 14th!

Considering Finding Nemo is in my top 5 Disney movies of all time, I absolutely plan to see it. I remember seeing it when it originally came out in theaters and it was beautiful to watch all the ocean scenes on the big screen. I know it wasn't even that long ago, but technology has come a long way over the last few years and I imagine it will look even better now.

I was very disappointed when I wasn't able to see Beauty and the Beast last year (due to just having a baby) so I will be sure not to miss this one.

What about you? Will you go see it?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Disney Dining - Disneyland

Another question I have been getting lately is where to eat in the parks. I am far from an expert when it comes to this topic as we aren't huge on spending money on dining, but I will share with you my experiences. I have compiled a list of where we've eaten at both Disneyland & California Adventure and will split the posts for each park. I will also add a few places I hope to check out on future trips.

Let me start by explaining that there are different types of dining at Disney. There is sit down dining, typical order from a menu and have a waiter service. Counter service, where you will order at a window, receive your food then sit at one of the many tables available. Or there are kiosks, where you will pick what you want from a shelf or tray, pay for it and then find a bench close by to eat at.

So, lets start with Disneyland.

Bengal BBQ - Adventureland
Oh my mouth is watering just thinking about it...
Bengal BBQ is a counter service offering beef, chicken and veggies skewers. They are about $4.00 each and as tasty as they are, you wont be filled up on just one. I suggest ordering a Mickey Pretzel at $3.50 to go with and making it a lunch meal.

Golden Horseshoe - Frontierland
This is a do not miss for us. Not just for the food, but because of the entertainment (Billy Hill & the Hillbillies) that goes with it. I have heard rumour that they may be relocating to another location in the park, so be sure to check out the daily entertainment schedule when you are there.
Golden Horseshoe is a counter service. They serve Chicken strips and fries, fish and chips and chicken salads all for around $9.00 They also have a wonderful dessert menu. My family has tried all three of the main entrees here and they have all been fantastic! Let me just add that the favorite is probably the chicken strips.

Hungry Bear Restaurant - Critter Country
We ate at this counter service twice on our last visit. We love that it is situated on a deck overlooking Rivers of America and Tom Sawyers island. You can eat your meal while you watch the Mark Twain Riverboat or Sailing Ship Columbia pass by. Or sit on the bottom level and watch the ducks swimming ride by you.
The menu offers sandwiches, burgers and salads for around $10.00 Meals come with yam fries instead of regular. Personally I love their Crispy Chicken Sandwich and Big Al's Chicken Salad.

Redd Rockett's Pizza Port - Tomorrowland
This counter service was closed on my last trip, which was a shame because I sure love their Spaghetti (or shall I say, Mars-inara with Meteoric Meatballs.)
Its my go to place for pasta (around $9.00), pizza (around $7.00) or salads (around $9.00) The foods nothing special, but its tasty if you want to get away from burgers and chicken.

What I still want to check out...

Blue Bayou - New Orleans Square
Sit down dining, reservations suggested. The coolest thing about this restaurant is that it is actually inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. From your table in a dimly lit area, you can watch as passengers float off into the darkness on their adventure. I also here the food is wonderful. They serve chicken, steak, ribs, salmon and jambalaya serves mostly with potatoes and veggies at around $30.00-$35.00 a person. Personally, I see this as a 'date' location and not somewhere I would take my kids (kids are however, quite welcome.)

Big Thunder Ranch BBQ - Frontierland
Sit down dining, reservations suggested. I hear very good things about this place, but again have never experienced it. As the name suggests, its BBQ style food, chicken and ribs with all the fixins! Its priced at $25.00 per adult and $10.00 per child. I heard there is often live music during your dinner as well.

I will try to do another blog with the California Adventure dining in the next week or two.
Thats all I got folks, hope I've helped.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Park hoppers no longer worth the cost?

As long as I can remember, my family has always bought a park hopper pass when going to Disneyland. It cost a few bucks more but it gave you the option to decide on the fly what you want to do at which park.

For those of you have never been, Disneyland Resort has two parks (Disneyland and California Adventure) which are only a 1 minute walk from gate to gate. So with a park hopper you could easily go to both parks in one day.

But with the recent changes, would you want to?

Disneyland Map

California Adventure use to be a smaller park with less to see then Disneyland, and it was open for less hours. So it was common sense to 'hop' over to go on certain rides or see a certain show. But this isn't really the case anymore. California Adventure has been working for years on a makeover and an expansion and it will all be officially open as of this weekend. They have totally re done the entrance, now called Buena Vista Street. They have an evening show called World of Color and they have just finished Cars Land, an entire new section to the park. Combine that with some of the already big ticket attractions like Soarin, Tower of Terror and California Screamin and you now have alot to see and do! So much so that I believe you could easily dedicate an entire day (or two...) to this park.

California Adventure Map - with recent changes.

I should mention too that Disneyland has raised their ticket prices. Mostly it'll affect pass holders, but it has also slightly increased for regular ticket buyers like us. So if you want to save a few dollars (like $100 or more depending on the length of your stay and size of your group) skipping the park hopper could be a good route to go.

If you are like us and want a week long vacation id suggest buying a 3 day Disneyland pass and 2 day California Adventure. That will give you lots of time to enjoy both parks without rushing, especially if you go off season.

The flexibility of going wherever you want whenever you want with a Park Hopper is certainly nice to have, but I am just not sure its worth the extra money anymore. I think next time we will skip the park hopper.

Hope I've helped.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Radiator Springs Racers ride through

This week Disney California Adventure has been doing previews for their Cars Land that opens on the 15th. A few lucky passholders have been given early admittance and a chance to ride the rides and explore Radiator Springs.

The big hoopla is over the main attraction, a ride called Radiator Springs Racers. If you have been to DisneyWorld, It is based off of the Test Track ride at Epcot. By the looks of it, this one looks better! But I am probably partial due to loving the movie.

Heres the video if you are interested.

I have to say, I am pretty darn excited to experience it myself. Too bad I have to wait 2 years.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Magical Moments

A Disney Magical Moment

(forgive my day late entry - I have got a sick 10 month old!)

Me, in 1997 with Minnie Mouse.
I think the rest of my body had yet to catch up with my growing legs...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hotel suggestion- Staybridge Suites

I was asked to post some hotel suggestions for those who are planning Disney trips in the future. As I tend to stay at the same places over and over, I will try to get in touch with others who could also recommend places based on their experiences.

One place we have stayed at several times now when visiting the Anaheim area (Disneyland in California) is Staybridge Suites on Manchester Avenue.

Entrance to Staybridge

The Goods:
- Really reasonable rates! You get alot for your money at this place which is why we have always chosen to stay there.
- Most (if not all) the rooms come with a kitchen. This really comes in handy when travelling with a group. If you are like us and don't like to eat out three meals a day it gives you the option of cooking in your own room. Helps the wallet too.
- If you get a two bedroom you have a living room. Its nice not to feel super squished in a tiny hotel room all week long. Its especially nice to have space for the little ones to play.
- They have a complimentary breakfast every morning and it was more then enough to fill everyone in our family (including my very hungry husband.) Eggs, bacon, bagels, yogurt, fruit... the list goes on and on. Fantastic way to kick off your morning!
- Several nights a week they offered complimentary 'appetizers' around dinner time. I would hardly call hot dogs, hamburgers and chips an appetizer! That did us for the evening! Again - helps the wallet by not needing to go out for dinner.
- Wonderful large heated pool and hot tub. Really nice layout outside with greenery and lots of seating.
- Free Internet throughout the hotel including an Internet station in the lobby. Awesome for checking in for your flights.

The pool

Common room/Eating area

The Bads:
- It is not within walking distance to the parks. I know for some this is an automatic shutdown. For us, its never been a problem. You are close enough to see the parks in the distance and we enjoyed watching the fireworks from the window in the hallway one night. To get to the park you will need to rely on the ART (Anaheim resort transit) system. They stop at the hotel approximately every 20-40 minutes and cost a few dollars a day.
- The hotel is getting a little outdated in decor. Everything works and is quite comfortable, but it could use a little bit of sprucing up.

Living room area of the suites. Kitchen behind and two bedrooms on either side (each with own bathroom)
Over all, I would recommend the Staybridge to those looking for a comfortable reasonably priced stay. Its not flashy, but its comfortable and great for families.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Magical Moments

A Magical Disney Moment.

My son, at 7 month old meeting Eeyore for the first time. He immediately started to stroke his face and it was beyond adorable. He loved him so much that we couldn't leave the park without buying him an Eeyore stuffy of his very own to cuddle at home.

PS - Friends who I have talked to about contributing... would love to get something from one of you for next week! Can any of you come up with something for me for next week? Pretty please? :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Halloween or Christmas in the park?

Sorry guys... no advice from me today. I am asking for your help this time!

Every time my family does Disney it is usually during one of three times of the year; February, March/April during spring break or else September. I have never been fortunate to go when Disney is all decorated for a holiday.

We have been tentatively talking about our next Disney trip for 2014. Its far off still, but the planning and anticipation is half the fun in my books so I enjoy the wait. We want to go off season so that the lines are low and are leaning towards the end of the year so that we can:
(A.) Stay at the Grand Californian with our club points and
(B) Hopefully have warm but not hot weather.

So the question is, do we time it and go when the Halloween/Fall decorations are up, or wait for the Christmas decor?

I am not a huge fan of Halloween. I will be going with very young children and so I wouldn't be taking them to the special Scream themed firework show, onto the Haunted Mansion, etc. However, I do love pumpkins, fall decorations and treats. The trick or treating party would also be pretty cool with toddlers.


We go in November/ Early December when the Christmas decorations are going up. Anyone who knows me at all knows I am obsessed with two things; Disneyland and Christmas. So the idea of sticking the two together blows my mind. But my concern is that the weather would be really cold. Would mid November see much decorations up or a parade yet? Or would we need to wait until early December after American Thanksgiving?

So I have a few questions for any of you who have experienced either or both of these two holidays at the Parks to give me some insight.

* When did you go?
* What was the weather like?
* What were the crowds like?
* What what it extra magical compared to the rest of the year? (events, decor, food, parades)


Friday, May 25, 2012

Magical Moments

A Magical Disney Moment

This photo was taken in 1997 on my little brother Matthews first trip to Disneyland at 6 months old. I am happily enjoying our trip on the rivers of America on board the Mark Twain while we wear our matching yellow shirts and Mickey Mouse ears.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sophia Grace & Rosie go to Cars Land

As promised, Ellen sent Sophia Grace and Rosie to check out the new section of Disney's California Adventure. The segment wasn't nearly long enough for my liking, but it gives you an idea of what you'll see when you get a chance to visit.

Photo credt: 

You can watch the clip Here (the Cars bit is about half way through the interview)