Sunday, September 25, 2011

Whirlwind Day at Disneyland

SoCal/Disneyland trip continued...

We finally arrived at our destination, Disneyland Hotel and got checked in on Friday night. Tons of construction going on, but we loved it. Our room was just beautiful and had a special little bit of Disney magic I'll share in a separate post. After getting settled in, we attempted to take William to the awesome swimming pool, but it was closed due to "sanitation issues"...yuck! This would be a recurring nightmare for us. They had a really cool new monorail themed water slide and we would never get to ride it.

So we headed off to Downtown Disney to shop. William got some fun new legos and we got a few souvenirs for family. Then off to dinner with Goofy! We met Chip, Dale, Goofy, Minnie and Aladdin. William had a ball. He's pretty spoiled already having been to WDW twice now, but this was the first time he really seemed to totally get into the characters and even wanted their autographs. The buffet was actually fabulous. I don't have high expectations for buffets, but we were pleasantly surprised.

After dinner, we tried to swim again, but the slide had closed earlier apparently than the rest of the pool, so we skipped it. After a good night's rest, we tackled Disneyland in a Day on Saturday! We arrived at 7am, since on site guests could get in an hour early. We were able to ride all of Fantasyland within the first hour, including a second ride on Peter Pan and Dumbo per William's request. We had a great day!

We had lunch reservations at the famous Blue Bayou restaurant in New Orleans square. It sits overlooking the Pirates of the Carribean ride and boats come past the dining area, which looks like you are sitting outside in the dark. We enjoyed a great meal here- monte cristo for me and Salmon for William and Alan. Alan also got a free birthday dessert, as I told him it was his 40th!

We took a break after lunch back at the hotel and once again attempted to swim. This was our third stike. We got there, climbed up the stairs, in line for the slide, when suddenly we see them closing the pool down yet again. Yep, someone pooped in the pool AGAIN! Come on people! So we had to leave the pool and decided after three attempts, we were done. Nap time instead.

We returned in the afternoon and tackled the rest of the park, including a request to ride the Haunted Mansion twice! By the time the fireworks were about to start, we could tell William was fading fast, so we left. As we walked through Downtown Disney back to the hotel, we could hear and see the fireworks.

We had a great day at Disneyland and rode almost every single ride we wanted to, many twice. It was very hot and crowded by the afternoon though. Apparently Anaheim was having a heat wave that was not typical for their weather. So we all crashed that night, ready for rest.

Sunday morning, we had a quick bite to eat at the hotel and then loaded the car by 10am to head back to San Diego. The plan today was to hit Coronado Island.

Of course, being a Disney nut, I know the Grand Floridian Hotel at WDW is designed in the style of the Coronado. So it was fun to see the real thing. We didn't actually go on property, but could see it from the beach. It took a while to find a parking space once we arrived.

We enjoyed a couple of hours at the beach near the hotel, playing in the water, letting Will run from the waves and building a sandcastle. We spotted tons of live sand dollars in the water and even two dolphins came very close to shore. William absolutely loved the waves. He thought it was so fun to just stand there and let them almost knock him down.

After a few hours in the sun, we decided to grab some lunch, but it was so packed with cars and people on the island, we couldn't find a place to stop or park. So we just drove back across the bridge. We ended up driving around a bit and finally just went to the airport early and ate there.

It was a great little weekend trip and we made some great memories. We definitely want to go back sometime to SoCal and spend more than a few days there.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

So This is Why Everyone Wants to Live Here

My little family and I were lucky enough to take a quick weekend away in Southern California thanks to a work commitment I had in San Diego for a day. I had a full day workshop to manage on a Thursday, so I flew in the day before.

I had two American Airlines tickets that had been burning a hole in my pocket ever since I won them at a company raffle. Unfortunately every time I tried to use them, the dates or location I wanted was blacked out. Note to self: don't enter raffle for tickets again!

I was finally able to use them and fly William and Alan out to San Diego to join me for a long weekend. They came in that Wednesday night. We stayed at the Westin San Diego downtown for 2 nights.
While I had my workshop all day Thursday, the boys headed off the famous San Diego Zoo for the day. Their trip was ended early afternoon when one tired toddler fell asleep on dad's lap on the bus ride around the park and proceeded to have an accident. Both dad and kiddo were soaked.
After my workshop was over, we headed out in search of dinner and ended up at the Seaport Village area where we wandered through some shops and finally found a seafood restaurant on the water to eat at. It was not all that great, but William did enjoy his fish and chips.

Friday, the plan was to possibly do a harbor cruise and the USS Midway tour. After a quick bite at McDonald's, we realized we had missed the first harbor tour and might try it later. We headed to the Midway, arriving right when they opened at 10am. We spent a few hours here doing the tour and enjoying all the history. William, however was not all that interested. Maybe someday he'll understand the history!

By the time we wrapped up, we decided it was too late for a harbor tour if we wanted to beat rush hour (Friday) traffic out of San Diego north to Anaheim. We were booked for two nights at the Disneyland Hotel using our Disney Vacation Club points. Yeah! See, I knew DVC would be a good "investment."

So we loaded in the car and started the 90 minute drive. We stopped for some lunch along the way- Del Taco. Then also stopped at the beach in San Clemente. It was so crowded, but beautiful. So this is why folks live here- awesome weather, beaches, did I mention the awesome weather? It was still triple digits back in Dallas. We let William chase the waves a bit and we all got a little wet.

Part 2- to be continued!

Friday, September 23, 2011

No Flash Pictures Please

Welcome foolish mortals to the Haunted Mansion. I am your host, your ghost host.

So those of you familiar with my Disney insanity might recognize that as part of the script from the ever popular Haunted Mansion attraction at Disney parks.

As we prepare for our upcoming Walt Disney World (WDW) trip (in just 21 days by the way), William is getting more and more excited. We recently did the quick one day trip to Disneyland where he rode the Haunted Mansion. It wasn't his first ride, probably more like his 4th or so, since he rode it a number of times on two prior trips to WDW.

However, I think this was the first time he really got it all and loved it. You might think a three year old would be afraid of the dark and ghosts, but not this kid. He loved the fake thunderstorm as we walked in, adored all of the ghosts and didn't blink an eye at the dark (not that I could see in the dark anyways).

So after loving his ride on the Haunted Mansion, he referred to it simply as "ghosts" and then asked to ride again. Since our day at Disneyland, he has asked to listen to the soundtrack of the ride. Yes, crazy old Disney lady here has the spiel/song of course. I think I have almost all of the ride soundtracks on my phone (thanks to the good old days of free downloading). He almost has the entire spiel memorized.

Imagine our laughter when he comes in the room and tells us, in an ever so slow and dark voice, "No flash pictures please." Just like on the ride. Too funny.

So as our countdown continues, William puts a sticker up each morning so he has a toddler's view of how much longer until our trip. He is so excited to see his ghost friends and is even going to try out another ghost venture...the Hollywood Tower of Terror. While he has been tall enough to ride this for a while, I just wasn't sure it was a good idea to put a two year old on a ride that drops you repeatedly over and over again down 13 stories. But after showing him a YouTube video, he is on board. Why? Well because there are ghosts and lightning involved. That won him over. We will see how this almost four year old does, but given he is pretty good with thrills and not easily scared, he might just love it. We'll keep you posted on how he does, until then, our little ghost host can't wait!

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Perfect Job?

Those that know me, know of my passion for all things Disney, especially anything Disney Parks related. I've helped countless friends and family plan their vacations to Walt Disney World and other Disney destinations. I am crazy enough to even have a running spreadsheet and word document of tips that I can send to a friend or coworker on the fly if they tell me they are taking a trip.

So in that effort, I usually get folks telling me how I should do that for a living-- plan Disney trips! How I would love to do that, but it isn't as easy as it seems to make a living doing that. But there is one way in which I could put all of my passion and knowledge to good use- the 2012 Disney World Moms Panel. While the panel is no longer just aimed at "moms", it is a panel of everyday people like me, who just happen to share a passion for Disney parks.

I've applied the last three years now, never making it to round two. But, in the same vain as Nemo, I just keep swimming. Who knows why I wasn't chosen in past years, so I'll keep applying each and every year.

The Disney World MOMs Panel has changed over the years and they now accept Dads, Aunts, Grandmas and more. They are also segmenting the panel into areas of expertise, including Disney Cruise Line (DCL), Disney Vacation Club (DVC), RunDisney and more. Panelists answer questions on the Disney Moms Panel website and also undergo extensive training in early December at WDW, courtesy of Disney. So there are definitely perks, but the real perk for me would be having an outlet to share my passion and know I am helping others make their trips more magical!

So today was the big day to submit your application, which included a number of questions. There was at least one basic question to test your knowledge of Disney parks, then the rest were open ended questions with a 100 word limit. Who knew expressing yourself in 100 words or less could be so difficult? Well, I did. I am the queen of being long-winded!

So now the application is in and confirmed. Now we wait. Typically they send out notices by e-mail to the second round participants by mid October. Perfect timing- just when I am going to be on my trip at WDW! Last year, round two participants had to submit a 60 second video and a sample planning sheet.

So whether I make it to round two (finally) or not, it is fun to try and participate. So here is some pixie dust and best wishes to all of my fellow Disney "freaks" that applied today!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wednesday Williamisms

"Mommy, I saw Pooh Bear in Peter Pan's bathroom. He was in there because he hit Goofy."

"Put your hands in the air so they don't go anywhere."

"Boys, you stop jumping!" he tattles on two strangers that are goofing off. He loves to tattle on other people, even strangers that might be misbehaving. When I told him he couldn't tattle all the time, he told me he was their teacher. He is very into playing school at home lately, so everyone is his student.

What's your favorite ride at Disneyland? "Ghosts"

As we drive up to the ATM, "Mommy, is that a big piggy bank?"