Thursday, June 19, 2014

Downtown Disney Fun



Welcome to those of you joining me from Ashley Aspires and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the final stop on our Magical Blogorail.

This month's topic: Fun Outside of the Disney Parks

Although I sometimes hate the thought of leaving the parks during the day (I have to maximize my magical day!), I do really enjoy hanging out in Downtown Disney.  Downtown Disney at the Disneyland Resort is not quite as large as it's counterpart at Walt Disney World, however, it is home to some fabulous restaurants and stores.

Shopping
The World of Disney is the largest Disney store and a great place to find last minute souvenirs.  My favorite section is the home decor area because I love decorating the house with Disney magic.

Disney Vault 28 is a hip store that has contemporary Disney merchandise.  Think Dooney & Bourke bags, scarves, Harvey's bags, clothing, and jewelry.

D Street is a favorite of my husband's because they have a ton of Vinylmations, some that you can't even find inside the parks!  They also have a lot of Star Wars and Marvel merch inside.  

Other shops include:
Apricot Lane
Build-A-Bear
The LEGO Store
LittleMissMatched
Studio Disney 365
WonderGround Gallery
and more!


Shopping Experiences
Not really sure what to call this section, but there are a bunch of shops that are centered around creating an experience.

-Build a Bear Factory (make your own stuffed animal)
-RIDEMAKERZ (build toy race cars)
-Studio Disney 365 (think Bibbidi Boppidi Boutique)

Restaurants
These are my tow favorite eats at DTD.
Tortilla Joe's is a Mexican restaurant and the food is super fresh.  Table-side guacamole, piping fajitas, yummy burritos and my favorite, deep-fried ice cream!

Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen has got a lot of southern comfort food.  You can also order beignets here if you missed your chance to get them at Disneyland.  They are standard beignets (rectangles) and taste good but I still prefer Mickey-shaped beignets from New Orleans Square.

Other restaurants include:
Catal Restaurant
Earl of Sandwich
ESPN Zone
Rainforest Cafe
House of Blues
Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria
Napolini
Uva Bar
and more!


Thank you for joining Magical Blogorail Blue this month. We will be back on July 17th with an all new theme. Keep checking in with our blogs in between loops to keep up to date with our Disney news, photos and stories. If you are looking for more Disney magic, you can make your way over to The Magical Blogorail website to see all our members and their blogs, as well as all our previous loops.


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ Disney Babies Blog
4th Stop ~ Ashley Aspires

Saturday, June 14, 2014

5 Things I've Never Done

I get asked a lot, "Do you always do the same thing at Disneyland?  Are there things you've never done?".  I suppose they ask that to make themselves feel like they can understand why I enjoy going to the park so often.  But, there are some things I've never done in my many visits.

1. Eat a Mickey Mouse ice cream bar.
Such a classic food staple at any Disney park.  Yet, I've never had one.  Why?  Just never got around to it, I guess.  Or, just busy standing in the Dole Whip line.

2.  Eat at Napa Rose.
A signature restaurant at the Grand Californian.  I love a good restaurant and do not mind paying top dollar for great food.  However, everytime I look at the menu for this place, nothing sticks out and it just looks too fancy schmancy for my taste.  And I like fancy!  Not sure what it is.  But maybe I'll grab a glass of wine here one of these days.

3. Taken my family to see Mr. Lincoln.
Going to see Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln was a must-do on my family's list growing up.  My dad made us go every time.  And while I've always appreciated the attraction and the richness of history it provides, I've never taken my husband or daughter to see it.  In fact, my husband didn't even know you could go see Abraham Lincoln at the park!  I feel like neither would appreciate it, especially with my daughter being almost 6, even though she knows who he is.  Maybe one of these days when she's older and really studying that part of American history.

4. Ride on the Red Car Trolley.
The Red Car Trolley has been open at California Adventure for two years now and I still haven't taken a ride on it!  We've always just walked by the pick up location and never bothered to wait for a ride.  But it's something I need to check off the list, so I'll do it soon!

5. Gone on a Disneyland Tour.
Disneyland offers a few interesting tours, some that take you to Walt Disney's apartment (above the fire house on Main Street).  For that reason alone, I'd love to take one of these tours and learn some behind the scenes magic.

So there you have it!  You see, I haven't done it all!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Waking Up Early Pays Off

I've said it before and I'm going to say it again.

If you wake up early and get to Disneyland at opening time, you're going to avoid the crowds.

Just look at this picture of Tomorrowland.  I took this picture at 9:24am when the park opened at 8:00am.  Almost an hour and a half after opening and look how empty it is.  I had already eaten breakfast at Carnation Cafe, gone on Star Tours, Finding Nemo, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and picked up a Fast Pass for Space Mountain.  



This strategy really pays off because a lot of guests show up after 10:00 am.  You can accomplish a lot in the first couple of hours, especially when Disneyland opens at 8:00am.  It saves you a bunch of time during the day so you can just relax and not feel rushed to do it all.  While the crowds bunch up in the afternoon, you can take a break, go back to your hotel and then return in the late afternoon knowing you got a bunch of rides taken care of in the morning.

I mean, look at the queue for Alice in Wonderland.  I don't think I've ever seen it that short!  

Oh, and check out the dude in line on the left picking something off his chest!  Weird.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

runDisney, here we come!

It's time to fulfill a bucket list item.  My daughters and I are signed up for runDisney's Avengers Super Heroes race!  It's the first for all of us and we can't be more excited!  Since I'm a newbie to the runDisney thing, I thought I'd share some helpful tips on registration and early preparation for the big day.

Registration: Wake Up Early
First off, runDisney events are VERY popular.  The Avengers race (half marathon, 5K, and kid races) opened registration on March 19 at 9:00am Pacific Time and they all sold out within the hour.  That's insane!  

Stay connected to the runDisney website and once you find out the registration date of a runDisney event, mark your calendar to register online.  I cannot stress this enough.  I was at my computer at 8:58am and refreshed my browser until the registration opened up online.  I was able to secure spots for myself and both my daughters.  When my sister-in-law tried to register herself at 9:45am, the 5K was already sold out.  So if you're planning on doing this event with friends and family, make sure they're all aware of the registration date and time and get online on time.

Registration is Somewhat Time Consuming
As I went through the process of registering three people (myself and my daughters), I had to go through the same registration flow for each person, for each race.  Since my oldest daughter is signed up for the 5K and the kid race, I had to do her registration twice.  So my recommendation is to not volunteer yourself to sign up your entire group.  Make everyone responsible for their own registration.  

The Races
The Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend includes the following races:

Half Marathon: 13.1 miles of fun.  Must be 14 years or older and have proof of time.

Super Heroes 5K: 3.1 mile family fun run.  All ages are welcome, however strollers are not permitted.

Kid Races: Broken out into the following groups:
12 months and under: Diaper Dash for crawlers
1-3 year olds: 100 Meter Dash
4-6 year olds: 200 Meter Dash
7-8 year olds: 400 Meter Dash

My oldest daughter (who will be 6 when the event happens) and I are signed up for the 5K.  She's also doing a 200 meter dash.  My youngest daughter who will be 11 months by the time this event starts, is signed up for the Diaper Dash.  I can't wait for my girls to earn their own medallions!

Accommodations
I learned that every runDisney event has a travel agency (not the Walt Disney Travel Company) that offers discounted Disney hotel rates and park tickets.  I'm not sure about the Walt Disney World runDisney events, but for Disneyland's GET Travel is the travel agency and they can be reached at 407-939-IRUN.  I booked my Disneyland Hotel stay through them and found them to be about 30% cheaper than booking from Disneyland.com.  They also have great discounts on park tickets, which as you may know, discounted park tickets are not common.


The Medals
Only the Half Marathon gives out medals to all runners.  The 5K and Kid Races give out medallions which made of a thick rubber.  I've seen pictures of it online and they're still pretty cute.

The Costumes
And now we get to the good part!  I searched Etsy for some Marvel running tutu's and came across Lucky Number Tutu's shop.  I ordered myself a Black Widow outfit and a Captain America outfit for my oldest daughter.  Aren't they cute?  My daughter's already wearing her tutu!  Now I just need to find something for my youngest who will be crawling in the Diaper Dash.



Training...ugh
I just had a baby a few months ago so this is the perfect excuse to get up and start getting active again.  I've started my training lightly just by walking 1-2 miles around my neighborhood pushing the stroller.  My oldest daughter joins me too and has done really well when we walk over 2 miles.  

I use the free Nike iPhone app to track my distance and time.  It's great and averages out your mile-per-minute pace over time.  Once I'm done nursing the baby, I can start running with my oldest daughter and get her trained too.  I'm really excited to start running again.  As a former soccer player who's been in a slump for the last 11 years, it's going to be really refreshing to get running back in my life.  I just hope my knees don't die on me now that I'm in my 30's!



And there you have it!  I'll be sure to share my runDisney experience after the race.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Alice in Wonderland Baby Room

The day that I was originally typing this post turned out to be the day I went into labor with my second daughter!  So, many apologies for the lack thereof posts!

Here are pictures from the baby's Alice in Wonderland room.  The room was originally painted pink when we bought our house, and we decided to leave it that color in the event we were able to have another child.  And what do you know, turned out we had another girl!  

To work off the pink (which is NOT my favorite color by the way) and tone it down, I went for an Alice theme which is very colorful.  I enlisted the help of my very dear (and talented) friend to paint my vision.  I wanted to have the Alice leaves from Fantasyland (and the movie).  We poked around the internet to find a few photos of the leaves and she drew them out.  After a couple of painting sessions, the room was complete!  And then I went into labor that very evening!  Good timing I guess.




For my birthday last year, my husband purchased these pieces of art from Disneyland.  I'm so in love with them!






She's got an Alice clock and of course, her first mouse ears.


And what Disney-themed room would be complete without a Hidden Mickey?


And here's a picture of my newest Mouseketeer!


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