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? :)