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 Bean 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.  Bean 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. Bean 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. Bean 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 closed, 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. Bean 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 Bean 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. Bean 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 Bean and I. Then we rode The Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. Admittedly, I creamed Mom and Bean, 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, Bean 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 Bean 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 Bean 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.  Bean 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.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Disneyland trip - California Adventure

As I'm sure you've guessed if you've been following my instagram, I just got back from a short trip to Disneyland.  We've spent the last month and a half fixing up my Mom's house in Arizona, so we decided to go to Disneyland as a reward for all our hard work.  We only stayed for two days, so we visited one park each day.

First, we went to California Adventure. I had never been to Cars Land before,  and I absolutely loved it! It looked just like the movie, which looks just like my hometown. It was especially gorgeous at night with all the neon lit up. Our favorite ride was definitely the Radiator Springs Racers. The cars were fast and the views were awesome. And besides, our car won! We also enjoyed the other Cars Land rides. Mater's Junkyard Jamboree was hilarious! Those little tractors really do whip around. And Luigi's Flying Tires were crazy fun to try to "drive". We had breakfast at Flo's V8 Cafe.  I especially liked the Cars waffles from the kids meal. And the restaurant is so cool. The left side has several of Flo's records from her days as a Motown singer. The right side is Doc Hudson's office and has car replacement parts as well as his trophies from the Piston Cup. They were huge! In the afternoon,  Bean had the mac and cheese meal in a Lightning McQueen car. It wasn't a ton of mac and cheese, but it was more than enough for her. I tried a Chili Con Queso Cone from the Cozy Cone, and it was pretty good. While we were eating, we saw DJ's Dance 'n' Drive. I especially liked the carhop costumes. They were so 50s. My Mom and Bean had chocolate ice cream cones from the Cozy Cone in the evening, and they were huge!

We also got a surprise chance to ride the Grizzly River Run. It wasn't supposed to open back up until Friday, but they got the refurb finished early,  so it opened just as we were walking by. Wow, is that a wet ride! I would say it's at least as wet as Kali River Rapids in Disney World! After we Were soaked,  we wandered down the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail so that Bean could earn her Senior Wilderness Scout Badge. She loved the rock wall and the towers with the netting to climb. She managed to finish just in time for the Wilderness Explorer Ceremony, where we got to meet Russell.

On our way to Paradise Pier, we stopped to watch the Phineas and Ferb Rockin' Rollin' Dance Party Parade. It was really cute, with lots of songs from the TV show. And the dancers were dressed as Fireside Girls; too cute! Bean convinced me to ride California Screamin' for the first time. She loved it, but I'm still not sure I like roller coasters with loops. The other Paradise Pier rides were fun. I really liked the Silly Symphony Swings, which reminded me of the ones I used to ride at Lake Fair as a child. None of us enjoyed Goofy's Sky School, it was way too jerky and rough. The Jumpin' Jellyfish were fun without being fancy. We all liked the Golden Zephyr and King Triton's Carousel. We also rode the Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventure, which is so cute.

Toward the end of the night, we headed toward the front of the park. My Mom rode Soarin' for the first time and loved it. She can't wait to ride it again this fall when we go to Disney World. Then we watched the last Aladdin - A Musical, of the day. It was hilarious! The jokes the genie told were somewhat inappropriate at times,  but they were over most kids heads and actually really funny.  It was one of the best shows I've ever seen at a Disney park. We stopped by the Mad Tea Party for a minute. I loved the costumes and the music,  but it was much too loud. Then we rode Monsters, Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue.

After taking one last peek at Cars Land before we left (I just had to see all the neon lit up), we headed toward Buena Vista Street, where I got the cutest Olaf marshmallow for Bean. (We discovered later that it was dipped in caramel before the white chocolate. Yum!) While I would have liked to see World of Color, the crowds were just too big. Next up, our day at Disneyland.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014 on instagram

Did you know that Disney at Heart is now on instagram? I recently received my first smart phone as a birthday present (thanks, sis!), so I decided to check it out. From what I've seen, instagram seems like a great place to share my ridiculous (and ever growing) collection of Disney photos.  I hope you enjoy seeing them as much as I've enjoyed taking them.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Quote of the Week

Kids these days. 
They just don't get scared like they used to.
- Monsters Inc.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Free Dining is Back

Have you been considering a trip to the World this fall? If so, now is the perfect time to book your journey with Sierra from Destinations in Florida, because free dining is back. This means that you receive a free dining plan on trips during select days at the Walt Disney World resorts. It's a great time to go to Disney World; that's when Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party starts, as well as the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival. I'll be going, and you should, too. For more details about what dates are available, be sure to request a quote. And don't wait too long, because they are selling out quickly.