Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Patriotic Movies

Are you looking for a good patriotic movie to watch this weekend? Be sure to check out my posts on great movies to watch on the fourth and even more patriotic movies. My favorite holiday movie is Stars and Stripes Forever, which is finally available on DVD and Blu-ray. If you like musicals and the marches of John Phillips Sousa, be sure to check it out.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Movie Candy

My niece loves to have candy at the movies.  Her favorite is plain M&Ms, either regular size or minis. Unfortunately,  she inevitably manages to drop some or all of them. We've tried several different things to keep her from dropping her M&Ms. First we just put them in a sandwich baggie, but she still dropped it.  Next,  we brought an empty M&M minis tube, but it tipped over. Finally,  while getting ready to see Monster's University, I had a scathingly brilliant idea - why not bring a cup that would fit into the cup holder in the arm of the seat? I don't know why it took me so long to figure it out,  but it worked like a charm.

We have several of those inexpensive,  plastic,  reusable party cups that Hallmark makes, so I thought that would be the perfect solution. My niece especially likes the Disney and Marvel cups,  so we have Brave, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Avengers, Sofia the First, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and a new Monster's University one that we used during the movie.  We also have a few Tink and Captain Hook Minute Maid cups that we got from restaurants at Disneyworld. We try to be eco friendly,  so we tend to reuse whenever we can. Consider trying it the next time you take your kids to the movies.  I think you'll be happy with the results.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Disneyland Trip - Day 2, Disneyland

Alright, so I've shared a bit of the fun we had at California Adventure.  On our second day, we went to the Disneyland park. I have to say I was both looking forward to it and dreading it. The last time I was in Disneyland (in 2007), the crowds were horrendous.  It was fairly crowded this trip as well, but wasn't nearly as bad.

The first ride that we just had to ride was the Indiana Jones Adventure.  Both my Mom and niece had really been looking forward to it because they had never ridden before. They both loved it! Next, we walked over to New Orleans Square and rode Pirates of the Caribbean.  My niece especially enjoyed comparing the Disneyland version to the one in Disney World. After the ride, we wandered past a bit of construction to the Mint Julep Bar. It's kind of hidden around the back corner of the French Market Restaurant.  We got a bag of 6 Mickey beignets, which were absolutely delicious, just like the ones I make at home. (I use a recipe I got from Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. Don't worry, I'll share it soon.)

Next, we headed back to Indiana Jones to use our fast passes.  Then, we wandered over to the Haunted Mansion. At this point, the lines were starting to get a bit longer and the sunburn I'd acquired the day before was starting to hurt, so we decided to stop for lunch. We couldn't find any place that suited all of us, so Mom and I decided to try the skewers at Bengal Barbecue. The chicken skewers and veggie skewers were fantastic and very affordable. My niece decided on pizza for lunch, so we headed for Fantasyland and the Village Haus Restaurant. I don't know if it was just too busy or if they just lost my order, but the service was terrible and I had to wait over 20 minutes for my food. I was very disappointed, but at least the pizza was good. Next up was the first of several trips through "it's a small world". This was the first time I'd ridden since they added the additional Disney characters like Ariel, Woody, and Peter Pan.  They were so cute! I just loved them.

Next, we went to Mickey's Toontown, where we played in Chip and Dale's Treehouse and Donald's Boat. My niece really enjoyed all of the little interactive touches in Toontown. (I remembered several of them from a visit with my cousin in 1998. She used to work at the Gag Factory, so she pointed out all the good stuff!) We grabbed fast passes for Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, but it broke down just as we were heading in and was closed for at least an hour, so we ended up skipping it.

At this point, I remembered that I wanted to go to Innoventions before it closedx so we grabbed some Mickey Ice Cream Bars and made our way to Tomorrowland. Innoventions was actually very uncrowded,  which was great, and very air conditioned as well, which was a wonderful break from the heat.  I had three goals in Innoventions and we managed to meet all three. First, we got the chance to check out all of the Iron Man Tech in the Stark Industries exhibition. My niece especially liked the armor with battle damage. Then we viewed the Treasures of Asgard before being transported via the Bifrost to meet Thor in Odin's throne room. Thor was fantastic, and very good with kids (and grown up kids, too. Every woman in the group in front of us had to have an autograph and photo. It was hilarious!) Finally, we waited about 20 minutes to meet Captain America: The Living Legend and Symbol of Courage. He was absolutely amazing. The family in front of us had three little boys who all wanted separate photos.  He was very accommodating and even suggested a different pose for each kid. He was great with my niece and even told her to be sure to come back and tell him if she noticed any trouble in the park. She talked about meeting superheroes the rest of the day! While in Tomorrowland, we got fast passes for Star Tours, then headed back across the hub to Adventureland again.

We were just starting to get hot and tired again, so we headed for the Enchanted Tiki  Room. I don't know why, but I love the Tiki Room. The Disneyland version has a great pre-show that introduces several of the tiki gods that was quite cool. I would have liked to get a Dole Whip, but the line was seriously long, so I had to skip it. After leaving the Tiki Room, we stopped in one of the shops in Frontierland.  It had the most hilarious shirts, including one that used mustaches to define emotional states. I loved it!

Then it was on to New Orleans Square in search of dinner. I wanted soup from the Royal Street Veranda. It took me a while to decide between the clam chowder (which I'd had before) and the steak gumbo, but I eventually chose the gumbo. It was good, but man was it spicy! Thank heavens the sourdough bread bowl toned it down. My niece had the pasta and marinara sauce from the French Market Restaurant, so we sat outside and listened to the Royal Street Bachelors, who were quite good.

After dinner, we headed over to Fantasyland to ride Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. It was finally time for our fast passes, so we walked back to Star Tours, which is always a favorite for my niece and I. Then we rode The Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. Admittedly, I creamed Mom and my niece, but we all had fun. While waiting in line for the Astro Blasters, we noticed a tiny Periwinkle fairy behind us, so our next stop was Pixie Hollow. It was so sweet with all of the tiny fairies in their elements, and although Tink had gone for the evening, my niece loved having her photo taken in front of Tinker Bell's giant teapot house.

By now, it was getting dark, but we headed back to New Orleans Square to ride Pirates one more time. The second time we'd ridden, we'd gotten ridiculously wet, but my niece convinced us to give it another go.  So of course we got sopped again! We decided to avoid the crowds watching Fantasmic! and catch a few more rides before heading out for the night.  As we walked past the Haunted Mansion, we noticed there was no one there, so we decided to check it out. We walked straight in, boarded the elevator with just four other people, and each rode in our own Doombuggy. (I got number 13!) This was the first time my niece had ridden alone and she thought it was awesome! After the Mansion, we headed along the Rivers of America to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. It's obviously a little kid ride, but so cute to ride in the beehives. On our way out, we stopped to rid the Jungle Cruise, because it's one of my Mom's favorites. It was ridiculous, as usual, but a great way to end the day. That was our last ride at Disneyland.  My niece kept wanting to ride the Matterhorn, but every time we checked, the line was clear around the mountain, no joke. So, we didn't make it on, but that just gives us a reason to go back, right? After grabbing some popcorn and cocoa for the walk back, our trip to Disneyland was over.

We had a great time in California,  and I'm really glad we went. California Adventure was definitely my favorite park, but I love some of the rides that can only be found in Disneyland. Honestly, the strangest part for me was how compact Disneyland is. I'm so used to the Magic Kingdom in Florida that I had forgotten you can stand in line for Indiana Jones and listen to the Jungle Cruise on one side and Tarzan's Treehouse on the other. We crossed the entire park half a dozen times, but didn't feel like we'd walked that far because everything is so small. It was crazy, but fun nonetheless.