Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Disneyland II

Okay, if I don't do this it's just not going to happen, so here we go with the recap, the epic recap.

First the quick version:

We visited Disneyland the first week of May 2014!  I planned this trip to be super efficient and focused, so on Monday we hopped on a plane from SLC to Long Beach (JetBlue is great!), then had Zippy Shuttle service drive us to the Marriott across the street from the park.  We then spent the next four days straight (Tue-Fri) at the park.  We zipped back to Long Beach on Saturday afternoon and flew home, arriving at a reasonable hour.  A perfect Disney trip!

Here's the more exciting, graphic (as in picture-filled) version:

Unlike our first trip to Disneyland, this was a well-planned, much anticipated trip that was our Christmas present to ourselves.  You see, after the first trip, we just couldn't stop thinking about the magic of Disney, so we just had to experience it again!

THE FIRST DAY (Pre-Disney Park Day):

We had a later morning flight to CA and got in to Anaheim some time in the early afternoon.  We grabbed a quick bite and went to meet up with my brother and his family at Downtown Disney. We were so glad we got to see them (and can you believe they have lived in SoCal for the past 10 years and have never been to Disney?)  

 We walked around the endless Disney shops and just enjoyed each other's company.



We ate at The Rainforest Cafe (which took FOREVER--so long they at least comped the kids' food).  I think we were overall disappointed by the food and the service.  It would have been a cool ambiance except we sat right by the entrance...and had a cranky toddler.  That combined with the 40 minute wait to be seated and then the 60 minute wait for our food...I mean, yeah.  But at least we were together.  ;)


This is everyone being patient cranky.  HA HA!



Oh, but at least I got this awesome pic of Lego Hulk, Daddy Hulk, and Nomie.  :)

After the Downtown Disney fun, thankfully, my brother was willing to drive us to Target so we could get some needed supplies for the week.  Then we parted ways.

DAY 2 (First Day at the Park):

We I really wanted to do character dining, to enhance our Disney experience.  So, our first day agenda was breakfast at Goofy's Kitchen!  Here are just a few pics from that occasion.


 

The food was way overpriced, and okay, but not $60.00 great, but all the characters really were fun.  We kind of felt like we wouldn't do it again, but honestly, we probably will because Naomi will only like meeting the characters more the next time.  And we at least made sure to fill up for a long day of walking!

My second agenda for this day was to meet Minnie Mouse in her house!  So as soon as Toontown opened, you better believe we got in line to see Minnie.  SO ADORABLE.


She is a Minnie fan through and through.  


Minnie's house was cutesy too.  We especially liked the kichen area where funny things happened in the oven and dishwasher.



No way the 15 month old would have kept that headband on for any length of time beyond this snapshot, but I mean...c'mon!


I don't remember that we did a lot of rides this day, but I'm sure we did a few.  I do remember hopping over to California Adventure and discovering the Animation Building and the Sorcerer's Workshop.  Such a fun place.  Here we were inside different parts of Beast's castle. Notice the rose shedding it's last petal!



We caught Flik during our ventures. I'm the goof ball trying to pose like him.  Nomie is loving it.


I'm pretty sure we rode Radiator Springs Racers this day because how can you not?  It's definitely one of my fave rides.  I rode it a total of three times and Hylan rode it twice over the course of our time there.

Day 3 (Day 2 in the park)

I'm pretty sure this was the day we thought we were going to get in the park at 8:00 when the doors really opened at 9:00 am.  So, yeah, lots of waiting in lines just to get into the park.  The perk was that when we finally got in, we knocked out most of the rides in Fantasyland without much waiting at all, though Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and the Snow White ride are kind of weird and not really that fun, but hey, we could take Naomi on them and didn't have to wait--they are just not rides you'd actually want to wait 45 minutes for, ya know?

Family picture on the Dumbo ride.  I don't know how much Naomi liked this one, but we got to do it as a family, so it was worth it!


Our agenda for this day, though, was lunch in Ariel's Grotto.  Now, this one I would definitely do again, especially with Naomi!  We didn't realize it was organized so that every time the trumpet blew, a new princess came around (we took turns taking bathroom breaks, oops).

Anyway, the food was SOOOO good.  We both felt like we would have paid the premium price for the meal we ate, so getting to meet the princesses was a bonus!  Naomi's meal was free too and it was good. We had outdoor seats looking over the water. 


I think I've always wanted to be Sleeping Beauty!


I think Naomi might have soaked through her diaper at this point (oh my gosh, I am so sorry Snow White--Costco/Kirkland size 3 diapers are not the same quality as Huggies size 3 or even Kirkland's smaller sized diapers, FYI. We had major leakage problems, but only with that size.)   


We were given buttons and also crowns to decorate.  As you can see, I have more fun than my daughter with these kinds of things.  And yes, that sourdough bread is delicious!  On this or another day, we toured the Boudin bakery and got more samples of it.  We are big sourdough bread fans in this house.  (I'm pretty sure we got Ghiradelli chocolate samples every day too--and had the most delicious sundae there as well!)

We also failed to get a picture with Ariel though, because even though we had reservations, you still have to wait what feels like forever to be seated and then there was this huge line for pictures, we just decided to skip it, thinking we could go back later (like at Goofy's) and get our pic.  Oops.  Oh well.  I don't think Naomi minded.

So, I'm sure we walked around both parks and rode lots of rides this day, but the details are hazy.

By the way, we had the most fantastic weather ever!  On day 1 in the park, it was a little chilly and overcast, but not so bad you were freezing the whole time.  On day 2 in the park, it was a little bit warmer and off and on overcast (I sometimes wore a light sweater in the morning or evening or when it was windy), but overall not bad.  The next day was a little warmer and sunnier (no sweater needed).  And our last day in the park was even warmer and sunnier (maybe at the hottest point it reached 80) but totally bearable and not uncomfortable at all.  We couldn't have asked for better weather!

I don't remember much else, but this picture says a lot!  It was near the end of this day and Hylan decided to go on Splash Mountain (because there was NO WAIT in the single ride line!).  He said it was his favorite and he barely got splashed, so I decided to do it too, you know, because I could walk right on to the ride.   Except, I sat in the front seat (he sat in the back).  OOPS.  Bad move.  I got totally soaked.  I would have liked the ride better in the back seat or on a super hot day, but yeah.... HA HA!


So, that definitely did it for that day.  All I wanted to do was go home and take a hot shower and put some warm clothes on.  I was pretty uncomfortable on our walk back to the hotel.

Speaking of the hotel.  We stayed at the Fairfield Inn Marriott right next to the park (which was about the only thing we liked about the hotel).  I mean, it wasn't terrible, but I have to admit, we were a little disappointed with the accommodations.  We were expecting nicer and better perks for the price we paid (we paid a lot less for the Crowne Plaza, which was nicer, but we had to shuttle in to the park).  So, oh well. But it was nice to just be able to walk to and from the park.  The thing is, our routine seems to be: go in the morning, spend all day, and then come home at night and crash.  We only went back at night on our last day (because I BEGGED Hylan--and I'm so glad we did--more on that later).  

Now, on to DAY 4 (Day 3 in the park):   

This must have been a day filled with lots of ride riding, because I couldn't find many pics.  I'm pretty sure this was also a day that we decided to buy everything we had talked about buying, so we didn't forget to do it on the last day.  

Like, for example, those fuzzy clip-on Minnie ears.  We've gotten lots of mileage out of those!  :)  We also bought some of that famous Toffee from one of the candy stores.  Yummy!  Not to brag or anything, but I actually make a darn good toffee myself, so it probably wasn't as special to me as it was for the people we brought it back to Utah for.  



So, I included the picture below because it reminds me of a fortuitous circumstance.  We happened to walk by the Indiana Jones ride at the very moment they reopened it (it wasn't scheduled to be open at all when we were there), so I hopped right on!  And wow!  I loved that ride.  It took longer to walk all the way to the ride than it did for me to actually get on it and ride it!  HA HA. But such a great ride and one that I didn't get to do on our previous trip.

I told Hylan he HAD to ride it.  Like, really had to do it!  And I even got him a rider switch pass, because by the time I was done, the ride had a 30-45 minute wait.  So, while he went to ride Indiana Jones, Naomi and I went to play in Tarzan's Treehouse.  


The above pic is me trying to capture a moment, but since this attraction required a lot of climbing and supervision, I didn't really get any pictures out of it, but we both really enjoyed our experience.  I thought it was going to be kind of lame, and then it wasn't.  I mean, Disney is just magical and I've learned that if I just submit to the experience and picture it through the eyes of a child (which sometimes isn't hard because I'm basically a little kid), it's just so much more fun!  It makes any of the waiting in lines more bearable too.  I'm pretty sure I have a higher patience threshold when I'm traipsing around a Disney park!


Oh yeah, and after riding Monster's Inc. we were like, omigosh, our daughter is BOO.  HA HA HA! Hylan is still mad we didn't buy that doll.

And I have to admit something here.  After day 2 in the park, I was kind of like this is fun but I think I'll be done with Disney for awhile. HA.  And then Day 4 in the park came and I was like what the heck was I thinking?  I don't want to leave ever.  Let's come back soon!

Day 5 (Day 4 in the park)

I had to take a picture of one of these awesome purple trees (can anyone verify that it's a Jacaranda?). These trees were so abundant and quite breathtaking from the sky (since we missed our first landing into Long Beach, I got a bird's eye view twice!  They have such a beautiful dark purple color!  It was quite striking so I demanded Hylan take a pic with me in front of one (luckily, Disney had a few!)  I should have tried to take a picture from the airplane, but I was too busy admiring them.  Okay, enough about the purple trees.



There is a bunch of randomness from this day because obviously you have to pack in even more fun on the last day since you know it could be awhile until you get to come back!


I kind of think this picture is funny.  Hylan was like, hold this doll--you look like Cinderella (or maybe that's his fantasy!), so I was trying to mimic her doll-face big eyed expression, but I couldn't make my eyes bigger or my hair lighter, so yeah. whatever, Hylan.  But actually, I love Cinderella.  If you watch the movies, she is such a sweet and kind, beautiful, duty-bound, never complaining kind of gal.  I admire her style and think I could definitely be more like her!  (And I just read this description under "personality" and I love her even more.)

Anyway, the best and pretty much only perk of having a Chase Disney card is the private meet and greet over in California Adventure.  Last Fall, we got to have a pic with Stitch (I still think that movie is weird), so this time we made sure it was a photo op with Minnie!  And it was again probably the best moment of them all. Naomi was a little hesitant at first, but then she just loved it.  I took a lot of pictures and can't help but liking them all!  I tried to narrow it down to just a few for this post because I know to everyone else it's basically the same pic, but each one is adorable to us. We got some good video too. 


  





We got a decent professional family pic out of this experience (not featured). Oh, the perk with the Disney Chase card is that you get a free 5x7 print, so you know we took advantage of that.  And yes, it is hard to let those photo pass pictures expire, but oh well, we captured enough moments on our own, is what I figure.

Okay, so you guys TOWER OF TERROR is my most favorite ride ever.  I rode it twice and made sure to get a snapshot of the pic on the second ride.  Yup, that's me waving and smiling right before they drop you down the elevator.  I just love the stomach-in-your-throat-free-fall feeling.  Spinning, not so much. Loopdeeloops, not so much.  But free falls and tall rides, YES PLEASE!  I love the build up and anticipation of the ride.  It really does kind of spook you.  But that view from the top of the hotel when those doors open up, I LOVE that.  Ahhh, I kind of want this ride to be a Rapunzel Tower instead of a haunted hotel, but I love it nonetheless.


Okay, I think this was another highlight for Naomi.  She spent a lot of time just admiring storm drains or shells in the concrete (this was right by Ariel's ride).  

Honestly, it was kind of fun just finding wide open spaces (like the area by the water in CA Adventure where you view World of Color) and letting her run around.  By the way, one night we waited to see World of Color but had a terrible view because we didn't want to sit and wait 2 hours.  From what we could see, it was awesome though, so maybe another time it will be worth waiting for (or paying for) good seats.
  
We also had to make sure we got a Mickey Ice Cream.  I'm slightly obsessed with babies and ice cream. I think Naomi was just tired, because she did enjoy the treat. 


See?

Hylan was just done and our feet were tired, so we left the park a little early to go swim in the pool (our last chance!).  So, that's what we did.  I wasn't going to join them and went down fully clothed, but then I got jealous and went all the way back to our room so I could change and swim with them.



 


You wouldn't know it from these pics, but she really does love a swimming pool!

After a quick swim, we changed and ate dinner.  During dinner, I begged Hylan to go back to the park.  I'm pretty sure he would have been happy just to relax, but I didn't feel my experience was complete.  And I'm so glad we did go back, because we got some of our best pictures that night.


Like, Pixie Hollow!  We had never gone to Pixie Hollow because it was always such a long line and we didn't need to meet Tinker Bell, but it's actually a cute little spot and it's all lit up at night.  And actually, I'm pretty sure next time we do need to meet Tinker Bell!  :)


We made sure to wear our Mickey/Minnie hoodies that we purchased on our last trip!


And these cute family pics in front of the striking at night Sleeping Beauty Castle!  I love these so much. 




And that's about all the memories I have from pictures, but some other highlights include: California Soarin' (I could do that one 10 times), Disney Jr show, Aladdin show, Big Thunder Mountain ride and BBQ, Pixar Parade, Space Mountain, hanging out in the Animation building multiple times, and so on and so forth!

Day 6

Travel Day:  Breakfast at Mimi's Cafe, shuttle ride to the airport, delayed flight, but still home by about 6:00 pm on Saturday night.  Ahh, our own beds!  And ahhh, Naomi in her own room.  Ha ha!
__

We did so much!  And yet, we still didn't do it all.  We still haven't seen Fantasmic (or a good view of World of Color, for that matter).  I got to see some fireworks from our hotel balcony, but Hylan and Naomi were resting in the room.  I feel like I've done almost every ride, but we still haven't done a few like the Toy Story ride in CA Adventure, a few in Tomorrowland, a bunch in Cars Land (since we only did single rider Radiator Springs Racers because the other ones feel weird to do without a kid and our kid isn't big enough yet), etc.

I'll tell you that one ride I won't be doing again is the Matterhorn Bobsled.  Oh my, will they just refurbish that ride and turn it into a Frozen ride, now?  I wouldn't have minded it as much if it wouldn't have rattled my brain. That ride is rickety and jarring and gave me a headache.  Oh, and speaking of Frozen, a 90 minute wait to meet the characters. L.O.L.  No way, jose! Maybe, next time.

Ahh, but I can't end on a sour note.  Really, I can't wait until our next Disney trip, be it Disneyland, Disney World, or a Disney Cruise.  We don't have anything planned yet but hopefully some time in 2015!

And we lived happily ever after!  

The End.

Friday, August 8, 2014

18 Months

This little munchkin is officially a nursery-bound 18 month old with growing feet!  So, maybe we celebrated with a little retail therapy.    


I have been wanting to buy her pink cowboy boots for a long time and found the perfect pair at Target, but then when we went, I found this pair which were also totes adorbs.  You can see we went with the more sophisticated pair.  We also bought the little Nome some sneakers.  Hylan quickly discovered that she loves them because they increase her speed significantly.

I tell you, this summer continues to be splendid.  I hate that everyone is talking about "back to school."  The funny thing is that I keep thinking, "oh, how great, that doesn't apply to me (snicker snicker), but then I realize for the last 6 years I've been teaching fitness classes at a University, so it DOES apply to me, but in a different way.  My back to school shopping is a few new yoga pants and tops.  HA HA.

Anyway, here are some highlights from the last few weeks.

The aforementioned Highland Splash Pad that I didn't have pictures of before:

 in. out. in. out.

 ahh, not in my face

 sun bathing rock like Ariel's

I love this fun water, Dad!


One night Naomi didn't want to go to bed and this is what the sleepy head looked like after I took out her piggy tails!  :)


Last Friday we had an impromptu family date night that ended up being spontaneously fun!  We ate at Shoots (one of my faves!), and played arcade games at the Beach Resort like Deal or No Deal, and capped it off with a Dole Whip float!  Um, yeshhhhhh pwease! 




The next day we investigated the Alpine Splash Pad.  It was fun because it felt remote and serene.  Nomie modeled her new babingsuit (yes, I meant to spell it that way).




I mean, that's precious.

Ha ha, I have so many shoe videos, but I had to round out her obsession with girly heels with her new found admiration for sneakers.  She was walking around in these until I got out my camera.  Still cute, though.


Nomie highlights:

  • Still loves shoes
  • Has discovered fruit snacks and will never refuse them :)
  • She sleeps and eats quite well (unless she is teething, then all bets are off)
  • Speaking of teething, she now has the top central and lateral incisors, and the bottom central incsiors (her first two) with the lateral incisors finally pushing through.  Sheesh, we still have a long way to go.
  • Loves playing outside (chalk, bubbles, pools, splash pads)
  • Now has separation anxiety (taking her to basketball is starting to be difficult, leaving her in Nursery is also becoming difficult, she even sheds a few tears when I leave her with Grandma. I'm hoping she breaks out of this when I start teaching again and she gets used to other company when Hylan and I are gone--it's only a couple hours). 
  • She doesn't talk (except Momma, Dadda) but she is increasing her signs every day!
  • She loves her new sign language pop-up book and asks for it every day by doing the sign for book.
  • She loves to help Swiffer the floors.  She'd help with the vacuum too, but that one doesn't work out as well.
  • She will usually sit and let me do her hair.
  • She mostly hates getting her diaper changed (unless she really needs it or she is feeling really calm).
  • Every morning she will grab her Betsy (blanket doll) and Minnie Mouse to take with her out of the crib.
  • I bought her telephone cord bracelets that she adores and rarely takes off. ($2.00 at Target for 10. Perfect size for her. They were mislabeled hair ties. Score for us.)
  • She still watches parts of Frozen and Tangled nearly every day.  

What a life!  I love my family!  And I am still loving this summer!