Saturday, June 25, 2011

Traditions: Annual Mother-Daughter Trips

One of the traditions I started with my daughter last year was an annual Mother-Daughter trip to Disneyland.  Just us.  No one else. 

To make it more special, I decided that if I were to do this every year, we had to fly instead of drive.  For our first trip in 2010, she was 22 months old and had never been on a plane.  And I was about to fly with her...all..by...my...self.

I'll admit that I was really scared and worried I wouldn't be able to handle any meltdowns or tantrums.  I seriously almost wanted to back out.  But the more I thought about the great memories we were going to have, the more it made me want to do this.  And then when she's 25 I can tell her all about that memorable trip. 

And so we did it.  And it was GREAT!  We flew in the early morning so we had the entire plane row to ourselves which made flying easier.  She was a real trooper and didn't cry at all.  Getting to the park from the hotel was a breeze and she didn't complain about anything. 

I had the greatest time just her and me in the park.  At this point it was her 5th trip so she was recognizing everything and was getting used to the routine.  We had her first Character Breakfast at the Plaza Inn and she got so excited to see the characters up close.  We went on all the rides and she was giggling and having a ball.


Our first Mother-Daughter trip

Then this past May we did our 2nd Annual Mother-Daughter trip.  Knowing that this was the continuation of something we started the year before was giving me warm and cozy feelings. 


Our 2nd Annual Mother-Daughter trip. 
Readers may recognize the significance of this photo spot from an early Traditions post.  :-)

Just knowing that I started this for her and we can always look back and have that special bond and annual adventure.  Once we expand our family and have one more kid (I'm closing the shop after 2 kiddos), then I'll start the same tradition with him/her.  As a parent, I hope I can bring the sense of traditions and importance of bonding to my kids. 

Looking forward to the 3rd Annual trip in 2012! :-)

Friday, June 24, 2011

30 Day Disney Photo Challenge: DAY 10

DAY 10 = A picture of your favorite ride or attraction

Easy.  The Haunted Mansion.

It's such a great combination of spooky and fun without being overly cheesy in the the spooky department.  It's got great decor, a mind-tripping elevator stretching room, a classic Hidden Mickey, 999 ghosts, a fun song and you get to take home a hitch hiking ghost!

And during the Halloween and Christmas holiday, they add the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay.  I actually went the first year that they did this and was quite upset when I learned that they "enhanced" my favorite classic ride.  But once I went through it, the Imagineers certainly did a GREAT job!  When you watch the movie, you'll see that they incorporated every little detail in the the attraction.  My daughter loves the Nightmare overlay as well and gets excited everytime she sees Jack Skellington or Oogie Boogie. 

The Pumpkin King in front of the Haunted Mansion entrance

Thursday, June 23, 2011

30 Day Disney Photo Challenge: DAY 9

DAY 9 = A picture of your favorite Disney restaurant

Do I have to pick just one??  I have so many!  Cafe Orleans, Carnation Cafe, Ariel's Grotto, Bengal BBQ, French Market...

I guess if I had to narrow it down to just one, I'd have to go with my original favorite: French Market in New Orleans Square.  The clam chowder in a bread bowl is THE BEST IN THE WORLD!!!!!!!  No joke.  I've told this to many skeptics but once they tried it, they agree.  It's so deliciously creamy and tasty.  I'm a fan of clam chowder and have tried many during my life but this takes the cake.  And speaking of cake, they also have the best cheesecake.  :-)

The World's BEST Clam Chowder with a Halloween/Jack Skellington Cheesecake...YUM!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Tower of Terror

30 Day Disney Photo Challenge: DAY 8

DAY 8: A picture of the ride you miss the most

Definitely not the best picture for this, but I remember the Phantom Boats being really fun as a kid.  Similar to Autopia, you'd steer a boat and "avoid" big rocks and stuff. 

Of course there's a ever-present memory of me and my impatient 7-year old bladder peeing all over the boat as the ride came to an end.  Maybe it's best that it's no longer around...


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

30 Day Disney Photo Challenge: DAY 7

DAY 7 = A picture of your favorite in-park character

Mad Hatter!  He's soooo funny and has a big personality!  Every encounter has been a hilarious moment and has made funny faces at my daughter or really engaged with her in playing games.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Traditions: Photo Spots

Starting and keeping family traditions is something that's really important to me.  I want my daughter to grow up and look back at her childhood and appreciate the traditions that we've started with her (and hopefully she'll carry them to her family!).  Whether they're family or Disney traditions, it's all the same.  They're unique to us and that's what makes them special.

I'm starting a new series to share some of the traditions that we've started.  I hope you enjoy and maybe you'll be inspired to start some or share your current traditions!  I'd love to hear about them!

The first tradition all started with an engagement photo.  Back in 2005, my then-boyfriend knelt down on one knee in front of the castle by one of the tapestries and asked me to marry him.  Of course I said 'YES!'  When then grabbed the first person we could find and had them take a picture of our proposal location.



The one that started it all...we just got engaged!


When we returned in 2008, I was 4 months pregnant with our daughter.  I ran us up to the castle in front of the exact tapestry where we got engaged and had my sister-in-law snap a photo.


Knocked up with a bun in the oven

The following year we brought our daughter for her first trip and it dawned on me that we should take a family photo here for every visit that we make.  Then we can look back and see how our family has expanded and how big our children have gotten.  Here are a few of the photos that we've taken...my goal is to put all of these into a scrapbook so we can flip through the years and the memories.

Her first trip!
Celebrating her 2nd birthday!

30 Day Disney Photo Challenge: DAY 6

DAY 6 = A picture of something you've never ridden/seen in the park

I've never ridden on a Main Street vehicle.

One of the Main Street vehicles carrying lots of characters during Christmas time.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

30 Day Disney Photo Challenge: DAY 5

DAY 5 = A picture of your least favorite attraction

This one's pretty easy.  I really dislike the Zephyr at California Adventure.

There's no theming or story to the right.  I don't feel connected to it.  It's just a silver space ship that circles round and round.  I guess it's for people that don't like thrill rides but still want to ride something.

For example, Mulholland's Madness at California Adventure has a 4-person rollercoaster.  And while it was thrilling and somewhat scary at times, there was no connection to Disney.  They are now re-theming it to Goofy's Sky School based on one of the original cartoons and will be open later this summer.  I can't wait to ride this because now I know there's a story to tell and can enjoy it more.

The Zephyr?  What's the story?  Why is it even here??

Photo copyright Disney

Saturday, June 18, 2011

30 Day Disney Photo Challenge: DAY 4

DAY 4 = A picture of the way you know you're at a Disney park

If see themed trash bins, then I definitely know I'm at Disneyland.  Theming is one of my favorite parts of Disneyland.  Everything from the trash bins, to restroom signs, to law-requiring signage is themed to the land.  There's not a detail that has been missed.

Just a few of the many themed trash bins at Disneyland.  Can you guess which land they belong to?

Friday, June 17, 2011

30 Day Disney Photo Challenge: DAY 3

DAY 3 = A picture of your favorite Disney memory
 The first time I saw the Main Street Electrical Parade at Disneyland.  I was in the 2nd grade which was the first trip I remember as a kid. 

I remember hearing the music start as the lights on Main Street turned off and feeling so excited to see what was coming down the street.  Seeing Elliot from Pete's Dragon come out with the Blue Fairy was so amazing as a kid and I was in awe by all the lights. 

But the one that really stuck out was this little guy, the snail. 



He'd spin around in circles, then come right at you, stop, and spin around and around again.  I thought it was the funniest thing.

After coming home from the trip, I would play with my little brother and pretend that I was the snail and spin around and around. 

Now, everytime I hear the Electrical Parade's music, my eyes literally tear up and it brings me back to the age of my childhood when all those magical things were real.

Sadly, when the Electrical Parade was last at California Adventure in 2010, my daughter fell asleep and never saw it.  We're looking forward to our WDW trip in 2013 and hoping that the parade is still there so she can see it. I hope she can one day see the parade, hear the music, and really feel the magic that it brings.


Be sure to check out the 30 Day Disney Photo Challenge that was started by Your Highway in the Sky

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Disney Blog Hop: Family

Happy Thursday and welcome readers from the Babes in Disneyland Blog Hop!  Thank you for hopping over and checking out my blog.  If you're a returning visitor, welcome back and thank you for coming again!




This week's blog hop theme is family.

Today I'm sharing one of my favorite pictures from our first trip together as a family of 3:

"Who's that crazy guy with the cowboy hat?"

This picture makes me laugh so much!  My daughter was 14 months old on her first visit and we decided to run into one of the stores in Adventureland and throw some hats on.  She must've been confused with her daddy since he never wears hats and wondering what that crazy thing on his head was.

One day we'll add a 2nd mouseketeer to our family but until then, the 3 of us will continue to take pictures of us in crazy hats.

Thanks for visiting and don't forget to to visit the other wonderful blogs from the hop!

30 Day Disney Photo Challenge: DAY 2

DAY 2 = A picture of the character you're most like

This one was pretty hard.  I'm definitely not a princess, nor am I like my favorite group of characters, the villains.  After searching through all the Disney movies, I realized I share a quality with FLIK.



Yes, Flik the ant. 

Flik is super creative with all his little inventions and the fake bird idea that almost scared off Hopper and his crew (the real bird did away with Hopper in the end).

What we have in common is that we're full of ideas.  I'm a natural thinker and planner so I'm always thinking of 1 million things that could be improved or streamlined in work or at home.  Plus, he's always super helpful, friendly and has good intentions.



Be sure to check out the 30 Day Disney Photo Challenge that was started by Your Highway in the Sky

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

30 Day Disney Photo Challenge: DAY 1

I've finally found time to start the 30 Day Disney Photo Challenge that was started by Your Highway in the Sky.  Basically each day you post a photo and description for each day for 30 days.  Be sure to check out their blog to find the full list!  I'm so excited to start!  Now on to Day 1!

DAY 1 = A picture of you at Disney with 10 reasons you're a Disney lover

1. Disneyland is an escape from the real world which is full of hard work, adult responsibilities, taxes, bills, rush hour commutes, and worst of all, I no longer eat for free on Tuesdays at Denny's.  Disneyland is the one place where I can leave all that crap behind and be a kid again.

2. I can see the magic through my daughter's eyes and it always brings me to tears as it reminds me of the innocence and beauty of children.

3. Photo Scavenger Hunts!  I love being able to play a game that not everyone else knows about.  I still get weird looks from people when I take photos of "random" things throughout the park.  It's so much fun collecting photos and crossing things off my list.

4. Hidden Mickeys.  Just like the scavenger hunt, I love to find things!  I always find a new one on each visit.

5. The food!  I love, love, love the food at Disneyland.  My favorites include the clam chowder from French Market, skewers from Bengal BBQ, Mickey-shaped beignets from the Cafe Orleans, Mickey waffles from Carnation Cafe, BBQ from Big Thunder Ranch BBQ, and now the new sweet potato fries from Hungry Bear Restaurant.

6. Jungle Cruise.  What can I say?  I like the cheesy jokes.

7. Riding the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean with my daughter because she gets a kick out of the ghosts and pirates.

8. Halloween.  It's so much fun to be in a festive, fun, and safe environment for Halloween. 

9. Photo ops with the character.  Ok, so I know I'm a grown up but I still like to have my picture taken with the characters.  They make more great photos and memorable times!

10. Being with my husband and daughter in Dumbo.  I like the feeling of being squished in with my little family and enjoying the moment as we take off in an elephant.



Friday, June 10, 2011

Walt Disney World and Disneyland Ticket Prices Increasing June 12, 2011

It's that time of year again where Disney decides to increase ticket prices at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.  They actually did the increase a couple months early as the last couple of years it's been in August. 

The new prices go into effect on June 12, 2011.  According to the official Disney Parks Blog and just like last year, no reason was given for the hike.  As stated on their official blog, reservations and tickets purchased before June 12 will be honored.  All tickets expire 14 days from the date of first use.

When I bought my Deluxe Annual Pass 2 years ago, I paid $299.  Now for my next renewal, it would cost me $379!  That's a 27% increase in 2 years! 

Once my daughter turns 3 this year, it's going to be very expensive for our family to visit the park now.  And I can only imagine what it will cost when we add our second child to the family.  Since my husband is not an Annual Passholder, I'm going out to Safeway tomorrow to buy a couple of 2-day passes so I can lock in the current rate before it increases on Sunday.

I understand it's a business and over time prices will increase, but doing it again in less than a year?!  The last increase was August 2010 and now 10 months later they are hiking up the prices.  I love Disneyland but I really wish they would be more considerate to the timing of their increases.  I'll bet that the prices of food and other goods in the park will also see a jump in price. 

Below are the new ticket prices effective June 12, 2011:

DISNEYLAND

Theme Park Ticket Options

TicketAges 10+Ages 3-9
6-Day Park Hopper$271$251
6-Day 1-Park Per Day$256$236
5-Day Park Hopper$266$246
5-Day 1-Park Per Day$251$231
4-Day Park Hopper$249$231
4-Day 1-Park Per Day$234$216
3-Day Park Hopper$224$208
3-Day 1-Park Per Day$209$193
2-Day Park Hopper$173$161
2-Day 1-Park Per Day$158$146
1-Day Park Hopper$105$99
1-Day 1-Park$80$74

Theme Park Annual Pass Options

Premium$499
Deluxe$379
Southern California*$269
Southern California Select*$199


WALT DISNEY WORLD

Theme Park Ticket Options (*)

Days On TicketBase Ticket: Ages 10-upBase Ticket: Ages 3-9Optional Add-On: Park HopperOptional Add-On: Water Park Fun & MoreOptional Add-On: No Expiration
10 Days$291 ($29.10/day)$272 ($27.20/day)$55$55 (10 visits)$225
9 Days$283 ($31.44/day)$264 ($29.33/day)$55$55 (9 visits)$220
8 Days$275 ($34.38/day)$256 ($32.00/day)$55$55 (8 visits)$195
7 Days$267 ($38.14/day)$248 ($35.43/day)$55$55 (7 visits)$160
6 Days$259 ($43.17/day)$240 ($40.00/day)$55$55 (6 visits)$130
5 Days$251 ($50.20/day)$232 ($46.40/day)$55$55 (5 visits)$115
4 Days$243 ($60.75/day)$224 ($56.00/day)$55$55 (4 visits)$75
3 Days$232 ($77.33/day)$214 ($71.33/day)$55$55 (3 visits)$35
2 Days$168 ($84.00/day)$155 ($77.50/day)$55$55 (2 visits)$25
1 Day$85$79$35$55 (2 visits)n/a

Theme Park Annual Pass Options (*)

TicketAges 10-upAges 3-9
Annual Pass$519$478
Premium Annual Pass$649$598

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Disney Blog Hop: Summer

Welcome readers from the Babes in Disneyland Blog Hop!  Thank you for hopping over and checking out my blog.  If you're a returning visitor, welcome back!  As always, thank you Lisa from Babes in Disneyland for hosting the weekly Disney Blog Hop!  Please be sure to check out the other bloggers!  There's a lot of great bloggers here and some very lovely ladies who would like to hear from new readers!  :-)



This week's theme is SUMMER.

Hands down, it's my most unfavorite time to visit the park (more on my favorite seasons down below).  School's out so for a lot of families, it's one of the only times they can come out to Disneyland.  This means there's a lot more people in the park and the lines are a lot longer.  And with the Southern California heat, waiting in line means there's a lot of sweating around. :-(

Disney knows this and that's why they pack on the activities during summer to make it more appealing to those who hate lines.  And this summer is going to be HUGE!  Within the last couple of weeks, they've opened a bunch of new attractions and they're all really compelling which means I'll be breaking my no-summer thing and visit for a day next month (I'm praying the crowds will be somewhat lite for summer). 

Here's what the Soundsational Summer program will bring from June 3 - September 5, 2011:

-The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventure (new ride at California Adventure)

-Star Tours (reboot of the original now in 3D and more than 50 different adventures)

-Mickey's Soundsational Parade (new parade)

-Goofy's Sky School (new ride in California Adventure opening later this summer)

-Magical! Fireworks Show (Tinker Bell is on break and Dumbo will open up the show)

I'm looking forward to the parade and Little Mermaid ride.  Both are attractions I know my 2-year old will love so I'm really more excited to see her reaction and be part of her experience.  Full reviews will come following my experience with the new attractions!

Keeping cool from the summer heat at Princess Dot's Puddle Park at California Adventure


And now for my favorite non-summer times to visit! 

I hate waiting in long lines.  My 2-year old hates waiting in long lines too.  Since she's not in school, I'm fortunate enough to take her anytime so long as I have vacation time from work.  Here are some of the best times to visit with the shortest lines (5-10 minutes):

October - For the past 3 years, the first week of October has not failed us in being lite on the crowds.  We can pretty much walk onto the rides or wait 5 minutes.  The weather is really nice, not summer hot, but still warm enough to wear shorts and a tank top.  This time of season is also really festive with Halloween and fall so you'll see pumpkins and warm fall colors everywhere.  You can also buy tickets for Mickey's Trick or Treat Party which is a private event now held at Disneyland.  Adults and kids can dress up in costume and trick-or-treat around the park getting candy and healthy snacks.

January and February - Both months are pretty equal on the crowd factor.  It's a bit colder so bring a jacket and wear jeans!  There are typically ride closures for refurbishment, so always check ahead to make sure your favorite ride or restaurant will be open.

May - I recently took my first trip during May and was pleasantly surprised by how empty the park was.  If you think about it, spring break from March and April are over so the kids are back in school to finish out their last month before school ends in June. 

For all months, we always travel during weekdays so we don't hit the locals who attend on the weekends. 


I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that my July trip will be a lite one!  Can't wait to report back on our experiences with all the summer happenings!  Are you planning on visiting this summer?  What are you favorite times to visit?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

CLUES: June Scavenger Hunt

*SPOILER ALERT!*

Once you click at the jump link, you'll find a few clues to June's Photo Scavenger Hunt.  I'm not going to tell you where to find them, but at least you'll have some help on what to look for.  Good luck!


TOONTOWN
[ ] Jack-o-lantern



CRITTER COUNTRY
[ ] "Pooh's Thotful Spot"



NEW ORLEANS SQUARE
[ ] Eye of Newt (blue bottle)



HOLLYWOOD BACKLOT (CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE)
[ ] Blue Fairy (from Pinocchio)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Churros

My husband loves Disneyland churros.  So much so that I've found they've made appearances in our family photos...

Starting off the day with a churro

Churro still in hand during traditional family photo

Proudly displaying them in the big family photo

During traditional family photo (me 4 months pregnant) he's still with his beloved churro

Rare Character Sighting: Tarzan

Flipping through some old photos today, I stumbled upon on my personal favorite park characters.  Tarzan! 

On a 1999 trip, I found Tarzan, Jane, AND Turk at Tarzan's Treehouse.  I think any encounter with at least 3 characters is a magical find.

Oh, how I wish Disneyland would bring back the handsome Tarzan to the parks... :-)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Disney Blog Hop: My First Scavenger Hunt

Welcome readers from the Babes in Disneyland Blog Hop!  Thank you for hopping over and checking out my blog.  If you're a returning visitor, welcome back!



This week's blog hop theme is Disney firsts.  There's a lot of firsts I could discuss but one that I think is most relevant would be my first Disneyland scavenger hunt.

During the 2009 What Will You Celebrate campaign, Disneyland gave every visitor a free park ticket on their birthday.  Since I had given birthday to my daughter in 2008, I was itching to go back to the park.  So getting in for free was a no brainer and my daughter was 14 months old - the perfect age for her first visit!


Our first trip as a family

At 14 months old, my daughter was still going for 2 naps a day being 2-3 hours each.  And since this visit was just my husband, my daughter and I, my hubby and I needed something to do while she napped.  Returning to the hotel for her nap really wasn't a consideration (selfish, I know) so I came up with the photo scavenger hunt idea. 

I went through photos from past trips and my various Disneyland books to come up items for us to find.  I knew were a lot of them were but I played along so my husband would have fun seeking the items.  My husband, who is not a big theme park guy, LOVED the scavenger hunt.  While my daughter was napping, we had the best time running around the park snapping photos of all the items. 

I've since made scavenger hunt lists for every park visit and continue to constantly snap photos.  It's a fun alternative to finding the Hidden Mickeys around the park.  And it's what inspired me to start this blog!  I've shared the hunt lists with family members and seeing them have fun with it, I thought others out there would too.  So every 1st of the month, you can expect to find a new printable scavenger hunt list so you can play with your family and friends. 

Thanks for stopping by!  Below are some of the items we found on our first scavenger hunt list.

A real US mail box

A photo with a topiary


An abominable snowman

A telephone booth with a door




A real, live animal


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June 2011: Monthly Disneyland Photo Scavenger Hunt List

The June Scavenger Hunt is here!  Need to find the rules to the Photo Scavenger Hunt?  Visit the tab at the top of this blog for a printable Rules page.

Print out your list and go hunting for the items on your next Disneyland/California Adventure visit.  Clues to items will be posted mid-month but if you’re stuck on something, comment below and I’ll be happy to provide a clue.

Don’t forget to subscribe or follow this blog.  You’ll be notified when new lists, clues, and bonus lists will be posted.
Good luck!
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