Monday, May 30, 2011

DIsMarks Blog Carnival 22

The DisMarks Blog Carnival #22 edition is now available! 

Be sure to check out my review of Cafe Orleans and the rest of the wonderful Disney blogger's sites! 

Visit the carnival here.

Happy Memorial Day!

I hope everyone has enjoyed their holiday weekend!  If you were at the parks, I certainly hope you had a great time!

I will be back on Wednesday with the June Scavenger Hunt!


Friday, May 27, 2011

Driving VS Flying: Part 3

If you missed the previous posts, you can find Part 1 and Part 2 here.

The wrap up my review and thoughts on driving versus flying to Disneyland, below is a helpful chart. 

Please remember that this chart is based off my 400 mile distance from Disneyland and that there are many variables in the budget that would change for your situation.  Number of people, meals needed, airline, gas prices, etc.  I hope this has been helpful in planning your trip and finding the right budget to make your magical visit affordable.


My choice of travel?  Driving.  I save so much money by throwing the family in the car and driving straight for 5 hours.  It means have a lot more money to spend at the parks. :-)  What's your preferred travel method?



Monday, May 23, 2011

Best Walking Shoes for Disneyland

For the last 3 years, I've been searching for the perfect walking shoes for Disneyland.  I've tried different types of tennis shoes, flat shoes, and even flip flops.  But they've all left my knees and toes aching at the end of the day.  Not to mention the occassional blister.

I'm pleased to say that I've FINALLY found the PERFECT pair: Skechers Shape-ups.



















I happened to be at the mall one day shopping for last-minute Disneyland items and decided to try on a pair just for kicks.  I'll admit that when these shoes first came into market, I was extremely skeptical.  These shoes are marketed as being "Designed to help maximize calorie burn, firm buttocks, and improve posture".  Uh huh.  Sure they do.

The second I stood up and started walking, I felt like I was walking on clouds!  My feet felt so light and it was actually fun to walk!  I still wasn't sold on the whole "firming my buttocks" pitch but I was totally into the way they made me feel.  So $89 later, I bought them.

As I went onto my 4-day trip to Disneyland earlier this month, I was so excited to try these as my "park shoes".  4 days later, not one single ounce of pain in my toes, ankles, feet, legs or back!  And absolutely no blisters!  I felt in great shape!  Not only were they great to walk in, but even running after my 2 year old in the park was not a problem!

The next time you're at the mall or pass by a Skechers store I recommend at least trying them on.  And who knows about the whole "firm buttocks" thing.  Maybe in 6 months my butt will look like my pre-baby self!  One can only dream... ;-)
























Disclaimer: This review was written based on my own experience with the Skechers Shape-ups shoes.  I was not contacted by the company or asked to write about the product by anyone. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Driving VS Flying: Part 2

If you didn’t catch Part 1 that covered Driving, check it out here.

FLYING
Based on a 400 miles distance from Disneyland, driving can take 5-7 hours travel time door-to-door.  If you fly, the flight is only 1 hour and 20 minutes, however the door-to-door travel time isn’t as time saving as you may thing it is.

It’s certainly a more convenient way to travel, especially if you’re a mom traveling solo with your kid(s). But when there’s convenience, there’s almost always a price tag associated with it and it’s much higher than a couple gas tank fill ups.

Door-to-door Travel Time
This will vary based on your proximately to the airport, take off time and your destination hotel
1.       Leave house at 5:30 am
2.       Park car at long-term parking
3.       Check in and security line
4.       Take off on plane at 6:55 am
5.       Arrive at Orange County Airport at 8:15 am
6.       Wait for luggage
7.       Wait for shuttle
8.       Hotel arrival at 9:15 am
9.       Total travel time: 3.75 hours

That means I saved 1.25 hours flying instead of driving but I paid more than double for the convenience.  Airlines don’t really offer coupons, but there are different ways to save on flights.


On a 6:55 AM flight to Disneyland

















Money-Saving Tips
Did you know that booking your flights from most airlines is cheaper on Tuesday and Wednesday?  Ticket sales are usually posted on Tuesdays since most bookings occur on Mondays.  Don’t believe me?  Go to Southwest on Monday and get a price quote.  Then go back on Tuesday and get a price quote for the same flight.  You’ll see a difference in price.

You can also save money by flying out on any week day other than Friday.  Fridays and Sundays are typically busiest with all the business travel so airlines can charge more for those flights.  Flying on a week day also works out well since the parks are less crowded during the week days AND hotel rates are cheaper.

Cost
As an example, here’s a recent flight I booked in February from Southwest:
Depart on Monday at 6:55 am.  Arrive at 8:15 am.
Return on Thursday at 12:10 pm.  Arrive at 1:35 pm.
Cost = $279 for two people.

By leaving at 6:55 am, the airport and plane is less crowded.  Therefore my daughter and I received an entire row to ourselves.  And we were still able to enjoy a full day at Disneyland since the park had opened at 9:00 am that day. 

Part 3 of this post will be up next week and will provide a roll up summary with side-by-side comparisons for planning references.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bonus Scavenger Hunt List: Pirates Theme

Welcome visitors from the Babes in Disneyland Disney Blog Hop!  If you are a returning reader, thank you for coming back!  This week's blog hop theme is Pirates of the Caribbean. 

I'm excited to post a bonus pirates-themed Photo Scavenger Hunt List! 

Print out your list and go hunting for the items on your next Disneyland visit.  You'll need to photograph the items as proof that you found it!  If anyone needs clues, post it in the comments and I'll provide hints.  Have fun!


Click on image to print


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Disney Blog Hop: Home Decorating

A big "Welcome" to everyone coming in from the Disney Blog hop, hosted by Lisa at Babes in Disneyland!  Thank you for visiting 400 Miles to Disneyland.  This week's blog hop theme is how Disney is incorporated to your home decorating.

I have two Disney themed rooms in my home. 

The first is my daughter's room.  When I was pregnant, my best friend's gift to us was painting our daughter's room.  I happened to be in Hawaii with my husband and upon our return she had come in to paint the entire room green and purple!  It was the most wonderful surprise and one of the most meaningful gifts!  Once the room was painted, I worked with my parents to find Bambi wallpaper borders.  We found some online and then my Dad put the paper up.  As I got further into my pregnancy we collected more Bambi items such as a artwork, picture frames, and a light switch holder.



Framed photo and wallpaper border


Lightswitch cover






















The second Disney room is the our guest bathroom.  It's painted a Tinker Bell/pixie-color-teal.  The photos don't give the paint justice, but trust me, it's a bright pixie color!  I hung a lithograph and put a bunch of Tinker Bell trinkets around the sink to keep it fun.

Framed Tinker Bell photo and trinkets in window sill

Sink with various Tinker Bell trinkets


Mickey soap!  You can currently find this at Target

Random trinkets

This is usually hanging over the toilet!



















Over in my kitchen, I have a number of Disney items to keep it fun. 

Dinnerware

Plates and bowl (matching mugs not pictured)













Glassware
Fun glasses from Disney Store in Paris, France






















Sink cover















Kid's dinnerware
A few of the many plates my daughter eats from
















Kid cups and forks















I also have kitchen towels that match my dinnerware but they're currently dirty in the laundry otherwise I would've provided a photo.

Thanks for visiting!



Wordless Wednesday: "I wonder what's inside..."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Driving VS Flying: Part 1

Living only 400 miles away from Disneyland always presents me with a chance to drive or fly.  I could easily save money per person just by driving but it would take 5-6 hours to get there.  Or I could cough up a few hundred dollars to fly and save myself 2 hours travel time.  I will present both transportation methods and costs to help justify each method.


DRIVING
This is by far the cheapest method of getting to Anaheim.  And depending on what time I leave my house, it could take 5 hours, sometimes 7 if I run into LA traffic.  However, I’m only paying for 2.5 gas fill ups roundtrip instead of approximately $200 per person if I fly.  And since I frequent the park every few months, I typically opt for the road trip so I have more money to spend at the park.

TRAVEL OPTIONS
Now that I know I’m driving, it’s all about what time to leave, how many hotel and park days, and how much money I have budgeted in my trip.

        The Super-Saver Budget
If I’m going on a 3 day trip, that which leaves me with a 2-night hotel stay.  To maximize my dollar, and I know this sounds crazy, I will leave at 2:00 AM.  Leaving at the hour saves me a hotel night and travel time is optimal at only 5 hours.  At 2:00 in the morning, there is NO TRAFFIC and it’s just a straight drive to Anaheim.  It’s also great because we don’t need to stop for food and my daughter is sleeping all the way.

We arrive at our hotel an hour before the park opens which is perfect because I can get an early check in and settle in before heading out to the park.  I’ve driven at this hours plenty of times and am not tired at the parks.  Mainly before I still get that tingly excited feeling when I get there and because I’ve had a couple Red Bulls.

On our third and final day, we check out of our hotel room in the morning and spend half the day at the park.  Once we get to lunch time, we start our journey back home.  Our return trip usually takes 6.5-7 hours due to traffic on Highway 5 before the Grapevine.  We also don’t need a meal since we have our last meal at Disneyland right before I jump in the car.

The Leisurely Budget
If I have the time and money to do an extended stay of at least 5 days, I can spread out my travel and park days to not feel as rushed as the Super-Saver Budget.  I recently came back from a trip of this budget level and it was great!

I planned our trip for 5 days, Sunday through Thursday to factor in driving time for Sunday.  We left at 9:00 am and it only took us 6.5 hours including a 45 minute lunch stop. 

On Thursday, we left at 4:30 AM to beat LA traffic home and enjoyed at 6 hour non-stop trip.

DRIVING BUDGET SUMMARY

Super-Saver Budget
No. of people = 3 (Me, hubby, child)
Travel time = 5 hours
Road trip meals = $0
Hotel parking fee = $0
Total Cost = $138 ($55 tank fill up X 2.5 fill ups)

The Leisurely Budget
No. of people = 3 (Me, hubby, child)
Travel time = 6.5-7 hours
Road trip meals = $30 (estimated $10 per person on the trip down, $0 for the return)
Hotel parking fee = $0
Total Cost = $168 ($55 tank fill up X 2.5 fill ups)


Part 2 of this post will be up this week and I will cover the flight costs and advantages/disadvantages.  In Part 3, a roll up summary with side-by-side comparisons will be posted to provide a reference for your planning.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Mickey's Halloween Party Advance Tickets Available This Month

I just logged into the Disneyland Annual Passholder site and was so excited to hear that advanced Mickey's Trick-or-Treat Party tickets will go on sale to Annual Passholders this month!

Below are the details from the Annual Passholder site:


Mickey's Halloween Party at Disneyland Park!

Buy early and save!
Advanced tickets for Mickey's Trick-or-Treat Party will go on sale in May 2011. Annual Passholders can take advantage of this special opportunity to purchase and save on select nights during these spooky festivities. Dress up your little ones, don a costume of your own and trick-or-treat at Disneyland Park.

Spine-Tingling Attractions and Entertainment
Take part in all kinds of frightful family fun:
  • Viewing of the boo-tiful Halloween Screams fireworks spectacular — exclusively for Mickey's Halloween Party Guests
  • Admission to the Disneyland Park up to 3 hours prior to the event's start time
  • Disney Villains prowl the grounds
  • Special treat stations offering both yummy candy and healthy goodies
  • Dress up and join the ghoulish goings-on at Mickey's Costume Party Cavalcade
  • Access to nearly all Disneyland Park attractions, including all the Halloween-themed attractions such as Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy and Haunted Mansion Holiday
  • Access to the Park before it closes to the general public beginning at 3:00 p.m. for Tuesday 6:00 p.m. events and 4:00 p.m. for Friday and Halloween 7:00 p.m. events
  • Lively music so your bones can boogie
  • Creepy crafts and activities for the whole family
  • Plus lots more entertainment for little boys and ghouls
You'll also enjoy complimentary parking for one vehicle. Larger vehicles may require an additional fee.
Save when you buy in advance! On select nights Annual Passholders save $15 on Mickey's Halloween Party.

2011 Party Dates
Advance Annual Passholder
Ticket Price
Annual Passholder
Price at the Door
Friday, September 30
$44.00
$59.00
Monday, October 3
$44.00
$59.00
Friday, October 7
$59.00
$59.00
Tuesday October 11
$44.00
$59.00
Friday, October 14
$59.00
$59.00
Tuesday, October 18
$44.00
$59.00
Friday, October 21
$59.00
$59.00
Tuesday, October 25
$44.00
$59.00
Friday, October 28
$64.00
$64.00
Monday, October 31
$64.00
$64.00


All event attendees — including adults — may dress in their favorite Halloween costume and must follow these and other guidelines:
  • Costumes should be child-friendly and may not be obstructive, offensive or violent.
  • Guests may wear masks. However, masks must not obstruct vision and eyes must be visible at all times.
  • Guests that dress like Disney Characters may not pose for pictures or sign autographs for other Guests.
  • Costumes should not drag on the ground.
  • Costumes should not contain sharp objects, pointed objects or materials that may accidentally strike another Guest.
  • Costumes should not contain any weapons which resemble or could easily be mistaken for an actual weapon.
  • Guests of all ages may only wear costumes to the Mickey's Halloween Party event and during the designated hours prior to the scheduled event for which they have valid tickets. During normal Park operating hours, costumes are only permitted for Guests ages 9 and younger.
Guests that do not adhere to these guidelines may be refused entry into the event unless their costume can be modified to meet the above standards.


If you haven't been to Disneyland during Halloween Time, it's my favorite!  It's beautifully decorated with pumpkins galore.  Last year, the private Trick-or-Treat party occurred at Disneyland.  Ticket holders have exclusive access to the park once it closes to the public at 7:00 pm.  You can go trick-or-treating around the park (candy and healthy snacks available), go on rides (with much shorter lines), take photos with characters in their costume in addition to the Disney Villains, and there's a private fireworks and parade.  The best part is that adults can dress up and trick-or-treat too! 

Below are a few pictures from last year's event:


My little Alice and her trick-or-treat bucket


Her first time trick-or-treating at Disneyland



















Candy and healthy snacks are available for trick-or-treaters










I can't wait to purchase our tickets!  As Halloween approaches, I'll be posting a review of last year along with helpful tips to make the most out of your experience (especially for the trick-or-treating!).

Blogger Experiencing Issues

Hi everyone,

I wanted to try and post an update that Blogger has been experiencing issues since yesterday morning. 
The post I did yesterday and its comments on Disney Home Decorating for the Disney Blog Hop keeps disappearing and reappearing.  I'm so sorry for any inconvenience.  I just wanted to let you know I'm not intentionally doing this and hope to respond to the comments left as soon as Blogger resolves their issues.

Thank you!
P.T.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Creative Uses for Popcorn Buckets

I love popcorn.  It's one of the snacks I look forward to at Disneyland.  So if you're like me, you've likely collected a bunch of popcorn buckets over the years and have been wondering what the heck to do with them!  Here are some creative uses for these fun buckets.

Just a few of the buckets I have





















1. Keep your kid's crayons and markers in them.

2. My personal favorite: it's the perfect bubble container!  My daugher loves bubbles so she has a good collection of bubble wands and toys.  Her bucket holds all of them and the lid doubles as the bubble solution tray! 

Bubble container















3. On road trips to Disneyland, we keep snacks and goodies in here. 

4. When going to the movie theatre, we take a bucket for our daughter.  We'll either fill it with her toddler-appropriate snacks or bring an empty one to fill with popcorn.  It's nice because we can always take the leftover popcorn home.

5. Beach toy holder.  When going to the beach we put her shovels and sand toys in it.  Plus the shape of the bucket is great for building sand castle towers.

6. A gift bag.  Looking for a unique gift wrapping solution?  Try the bucket!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Review: Café Orleans

Located in New Orleans Square next to the French Market and a hop, skip and a jump from the Blue Bayou, this is a table service restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating.  As you would expect, they serve Cajun-Creole food as well as American cuisine.  And as with all table service restaurants, it’s recommended you make a dining reservation in advance.  Disney Dining: 714-781-3463.




















My husband and I had a reservation was for 11:30 which is right before the lunch time crowd.  We were seated in the very front of the outdoor seating under a shaded tree.  It was the perfect table because we were in the corner with no one around to bother us.  I imagine during other times of day you could catch street shows and other excitement.

Our waiter said we had the best seat in the house

The menu cover

Food selections
I didn’t have to look at the menu.  I knew what I wanted.  I had done some research online and found lots of positive reviews about their signature appetizer.  The pomme frites (that’s French for French Fries).  But these are not like any other French fries.  They are tossed with Parmesan cheese, garlic and parsley served with a Cajun spice dipping sauce. 
Once they served the basket of pomme frites, and after I wiped the drool off my face, I grabbed a fry and dipped it in the sauce.  There was a lot of deliciousness going on in my mouth.  It was the most incredible fry and dip I’ve ever had.  We quickly ran out of dipping sauce and ordered more to go with the rest of the fries.















Also on the menu were sandwiches, salads, gumbo, the famous Monte Cristo (in case you don’t get a Blue Bayou reservation, you can always get the Monte Cristo here), and crepes.  They also offer a children’s menu with salmon fillet, chicken, or macaroni.  I chose the French Quarter Blackened Chicken Caesar salad, and my husband ordered the Creole Ratatouille. 


French Quarter Blackened Chicken Caesar Salad




Creole Ratatouille

The salad, which looked simple, was quite tasty.  The chicken had a Cajun kick to it which paired nicely with the dressing.  According to my other half, the ratatouille was good but not jump-off-your-seat-good.  However, it was beautifully prepared.  I took a bite myself and it wasn't what I expected
(but it was still good).  I think I convinced myself it would taste like the dish Remy and Linguini prepared in the Disney/Pixar "Ratatouille" movie.

Our waiter came by and asked if we were having dessert.  I said, “Absolutely!  We want the Mickey-shaped beignets.”  If you’ve never had a beignet before, think of it like a warm, less puffier donut but with powdered sugar. 
Our order of beignets...before we realized we had a complimentary plate coming our way!


Along with our beignets, our waiter also brought a dish of three extras with a candle.  I was so consumed with the pomme frites that I’d almost forgotten I had let the Disney Dining Cast Member know that we were celebrating our 5th anniversary.  So now we had two plates of beignets!  Yum, yum, YUM!!
The complimentary beignets for our anniversary


On a second visit to Cafe Orleans, I had taken my daughter and ordered off the kid's menu.  She had the chicken and pasta which was fantastic.  Definitely one of the better kid menu selections from the parks.
Kid's menu: chicken and pasta

 













If you have a chance to try out Café Orleans, please do!  You won’t regret it.  Have you eaten here before?  What was your experience like? 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Rare Character Sighting: Evil Queen

My 2 year old daughter is not your typical little girl.  She's not really into the princesses or girly things.  She likes crocodiles, ghosts, pirates, and Disney Villains.  So when we walked down Main Street, we were so surprised to see the Evil Queen from Snow White!  I've only heard of her making an appearance during Halloween Time so to see her in May was a special treat.  When I pointed her out, my daughter got super excited and was anxious to meet her.  The queen was great with her and taught her to cross her arms to pose like a queen.  Here are some pics from her meet and greet:

Walking up to the Evil Queen

Teaching my daughter the proper pose

All of us in the queen's pose!

Friday, May 6, 2011

CLUES #1: May Scavenger Hunt

Finding yourself a little stuck on May's Photo Scavenger Hunt list?  Below are a few clues to help you out! 

ADVENTURELAND
[ ] Mrs. Potts
Mrs. Potts and Chip can be found in a treehouse

















TOONTOWN
[ ] Toontown Seal


You can find the Official Seal by looking up














HOLLYWOOD BACKLOT
[ ] Suitcases

You'll have to check in to a hotel to find this pile

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Review: Storyteller’s Café


During a visit to the parks this week, we were looking for a place to eat to beat the heat.  We left California Adventure and wandered into the Grand Californian Hotel.  We immediately found Storyteller’s Café and saw that there were plenty of tables available and agreed we’d have lunch here.
Starting off with a white bread loaf and corn bread











I ordered my daughter a Make-Your-Own Pizza, not really understanding it was really “make your own”.  The waiter brought a white Mickey-shaped plate with pizza dough, sauce, cheese, and pepperoni.  She was able to spread the sauce, cheese and pepperoni herself before they took it back to the kitchen to be cooked.  She had so much fun “cooking” her pizza and it was such a nice little surprise for us to experience. 
The waiter bringing out her pizza ingredients


Step 1: Add sauce










Step 2: Add cheese









Step 3: Add pepperoni










Step 4: Eat and enjoy!










Once they brought back her pizza, it tasted really yummy!  The dough or sauce must’ve had some type of seasoning in it because this was the best tasting pizza I’ve ever had at Disneyland.  Oh, just wanted to point out that my daughter did eat her pizza and that I’m basing my review off her left-overs.

My sister in law went the healthy route and ordered the Mixed Greens salad which came with arugula, sun dried tomatoes, and pine nuts in a vinaigrette dressing.  According to her, it was also quite yummy.

Mixed Greens










I decided to take a cheat day and opted for a cheeseburger.  Boy, was it DELICIOUS!  The meat was tasty and the bread was nicely toasted.  They included a Thousand Island type dressing in it that really topped off the burger.

A super yummy cheeseburger













We had a wonderful experience at Storyteller’s and will definitely be making this part of our food stops.  Not only was the food delicious but the Cast Member were wonderful and hospitable.  During breakfast, they offer a character dining experience so we have to check that out as well.  Keep your eye out for a future review!

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