Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: What a year!

It's 8:34 pm here on the West Coast and as the East Coast is getting ready to ring in the new year, I still have some time to reflect on 2011.  It's been a great year for me and am grateful for all that I have in my life.  My darling daughter who makes me proud and thankful for life every day.  My husband who never stopped believing in me.  And the rest of my family for being there and always loving me.

2011 was also when I launched this blog.  It's been so rewarding being a part of the Disney blogger community.  There are some really great people out there that love Disney just as much as I do, if not more.  I've learned so much from everyone and look forward to 2012.  Big shout out to Beth Doda and everyone at the Magical Blogorail!  You all are the BEST and really make blogging fun!

I've got some great posts coming in 2012 (I guess that would be tomorrow!).  Here are my favorite posts from this year.  I hope you enjoy them!  Have a happy, safe and wonderful New Year!

Nightmare Before Christmas Themed Christmas Tree
I accomplished my dream of having a NBC themed tree this year.  Purple tree, pumpkins, and a Zero tree topper!

Finding Eeyore Inside the Indiana Jones Adventure
I FINALLY found Eeyore.  After years of searching, I can scratch this one off my list.

Making Pizzas at Storyteller's Cafe
A fun kid's menu item where they can prepare their own pizza for lunch.

Hunting for Hidden Characters at Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar
During a girls-trip to the park we went a huntin for Donald, Stitch, Mickey, and the Orange Bird at this enchanted bar.

A Date at Disneyland
A solo trip to the park with my husband made for a really fun date!  

November 2011 Scavenger Hunt
A switch up to the previous scavenger hunts.  More fun for everyone!

Thanks for visiting and following 400 Miles to Disneyland.  See you in 2012!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Planning My Dad's 60th Birthday at Disneyland

I'm about a week away from my dad's 60th birthday celebration at Disneyland.  My mom and I have been planning this for the last month or so and now that it's right around the corner, I can hardly contain my excitement!

My dad hasn't been to Disneyland in just over 10 years so it'll be fun showing him everything that's new and introducing him to all of my favorite eats.  A big part of my Disney love is stemmed from my dad who showed my brother and I all of the original cartoons and animated classics.  He also made sure we knew who Walt Disney was and explained all of his work.

We're only going to be at the park for two days, so I have to jam a few things to the schedule to make sure it'll be a magical trip.  For starters, I already got him a set of Kermit the Frog Mickey Ears that say "Papa" (that's what my daughter calls him).  Then I'm having my cousin design a t-shirt that has a big "60" on it.

Park: Disneyland
Breakfast: Carnation Cafe.  Can you believe he's never had a Mickey waffle?!  He needs to experience the deliciousness that is Carnation Cafe.
Snacks: Dole Whip!
Dinner: Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Resort.  None of us have eaten here and since it's a special occasion, it calls for a special dinner.  My dad and I are big steak lovers so I'm sure we'll enjoy it.
Shows: Christmas Fantasy Parade and Fantasmic (he's seen this but hasn't seen the new dragon)

Park: California Adventure
Breakfast: Carnation Cafe.  So good we gotta do it twice!
Snacks: Gotta get some Mickey Cake Pops from Dulce Adventura.  He's never had a cake pop before!
Dinner: Ariel's Grotto World of Color dinner package to get FASTPASSES for World of Color.  My mom loved WOC when I took her over the summer and she insisted that my dad see it as well.  Since this show really does require FASTPASSES, booking a dinner package is the best bet since you get the best viewing section for the show.
Shows: Aladdin.  This is a spectacular 45-minute Broadway-level show that my dad never experienced.  It's been a while since my mom last saw it as well so this is a "Must-Do".  And of course we'll see World of Color in the evening.

Since we're driving home on the 3rd day, we're going to have lunch at Tortilla Joe's in the Downtown Disney District.  My dad loves Mexican food and I know he'll love this place!  The food is so fresh and yummy.

Reviews will come in the next two weeks and I'll share any fun birthday celebrations we do.  In the meantime, my daughter and I are counting down the days until we go to Disneyland my dad's birthday!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from my family to yours! 

I wish you all a most wonderful and magical Christmas.


Notice the Disneyland popcorn bucket made an appearance on our family photo?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Random Stuff at Disneyland: Bird Cages

One of the things I like to do at the park is take note of the little details.  The Imagineers are very clever and seriously fill up any "dead space" in the park.  

I recently discovered a common theme throughout the park this year: bird cages!  They are just about everywhere!  

Where to find: Main Street around the corner from Carnation Cafe

Where to find: New Orleans Square

Where to find: Muppet Vision 3D at California Adventure

Where to find: Adventureland Bazaar

Where to find: Adventureland above the restrooms

Ok, technically not a bird cage, but it is a butterfly cage!
Where to find: Tarzan's Treehouse

Where to find: New Orleans Square

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hidden Mickey: Gadget's Go Coaster

I cannot express how proud I am of my 3-year old daughter for spotting this Hidden Mickey at Gadget's Go Coaster all by herself! 

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Love/Hate Relationship with "it's a small world"

Ok, it's time for me to clear the air. 

If I weren't with my daughter at the park, I wouldn't bother going on "it's a small world".  That's right.  I'm not a fan.

It's an attraction mostly targeted to little ones, and it repeats that song over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over.  

In my younger days, I wouldn't be caught dead wasting time on this ride.  I spend most of my time on the Matterhorn or Space Mountain.  In fact, I avoided the entire Small World area entirely because I couldn't stand listening to the clock go off every 15 minutes announcing the time with the marching dolls.

And then something happened.

I had a kid.

One of the beautiful things about Disneyland is that most of the rides are designed for the entire family, infants included.  So during our visits, Small World was always something I took my daughter on and over the years I've started to appreciate it.

The song has a good message and showcases peace among all.  In addition, the Imagineers have added Disney characters to the attraction making it more fun to find and point them all out to my daughter.  

Now, if I was at the park and didn't have my daughter with me, I still wouldn't go on.  

But if she's with me, I will take her over and over and over and over if she likes it so much that she's THIS happy just to be in the queue:

The video is 2 minutes, so if you don't have time, skip to the last 45 seconds.  
It just melts my heart to see her this happy.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I've Created a Monster

Let me start this post with a disclaimer.  Since my daughter was 14 months old, she's visited Disneyland more times than most people have gone their entire lives.  The reason being is that 1) thus far it's affordable since kids under 3 are free and 2) I have an Annual Pass, so I need to visit often enough to make it worth it. 

Now that I've gotten that part out of the way, let me tell you how my morning started.  I went into her room to wake up my little one for the day.  I took her out of her Snow White pajamas and changed her into a Minnie Mouse t-shirt and put her Mickey Mouse tennis shoes on.  We go downstairs to get my stuff ready for work and then she starts crying.

In between her wails she says, "I want Jack and the lights!!!"  Translation: "I want Jack Skellington and I want to see the Christmas lights at Small World".

Mommy - "You want to go see Jack at Disneyland?"

Daughter - "Yeah!!!!!!  I wanna go Disneyland NOW!!"

Mommy - "Sweetie, you have to wait 4 weeks.  That's when we go back with Grandma and Grandpa".

Daughter - "NO!!!  I wanna go Disneyland NOW!!!!!!"  

Mommy - "You have to wait 4 weeks, ok?"

Daughter - "NO!!!  NO!!  I want Jaaaaaaaack...wahhhh!

This conversation went on and on while I'm still getting us ready to leave the house.  This morning was 34 degrees so I was trying to put her jacket on, but she wouldn't let me while she was crying.  She finally let me put on her Tinker Bell puffy jacket once I gave her a Mickey Mouse fruit snack.

After getting into the car, the crying started again and down the street we went with her screaming for "Disneyland!!".

Ay yi yi.  She's a toddler and she's already demanding for Disneyland!  Makes me think I should add more buffer time in between visits.  But on the other side, I'm touched that she loves it so much and has been remembering all her trips.  It's a double-edged sword.

Have you created a little Disney monster?  I'd love to hear your stories!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My First Grown Up Visit

Welcome to those of you joining me from Disney on Wheels and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 3rd stop on our Magical Blogorail.

My first visit to Disneyland as a "grown up" came shortly after I moved out of my parents house.  At 19 years old, I figured that I made enough money to support myself and continue going to school.  After a thorough search on Craigslist, I found a house with a room for rent.  My roommates ended up being the coolest people to live with.  A few months after moving in, we all drove down to Disneyland for the weekend.  The experience was one I would never forget.

Since it was my idea to go to Disneyland, we ended up taking my car.  So by default I was the driver the entire way down.  I wasn't scared or worried; I was very excited about this new part of my life that was coated in independence.  

On this trip, I ate at many different places that I'd never been to.  Going with my parents, we usually ate at the same places every time so I wasn't very aware of the dining options.  This really had an impact on future trips as I tried to eat at new places every visit.

I remember we went on Splash Mountain countless times making funny faces every time!  It was hilarious!  I think we ended up buying 3 or 4 of the photos. 

New found independence aside, the transition of visiting as a teenager to adult wasn't that much different.  I still believe in the magic and get excited to see characters and shows.  Even more so now that I have a daughter and can experience everything through her eyes.

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Disney in our Blood.

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 ~ Can Do It Mom AKA Mouse Fan Diane
2nd Stop ~ Disney on Wheels
3rd Stop ~ 400 Miles to Disneyland
4th Stop ~ Disney in Our Blood

Friday, December 2, 2011

Nightmare Before Christmas Themed Christmas Tree

One of my projects this year was to make a Nightmare Before Christmas Themed Christmas Tree.  Why?  Well, Halloween is my favorite holiday and I really like to think outside the cookie cutter.  

I was really inspired by the beautiful NBC decorations at the Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland.  So I took my purple Christmas tree and went to a couple craft stores after Halloween and this Black Friday weekend to purchase discounted items for tree decorations.  Everything, with the exception of Zero for the tree topper, was bought on clearance or severely discounted.

For starters, I already had a 4 foot purple Christmas tree that was given to me as a gift earlier this year.  Why purple?  Like I said, I like to be different.  

Basic decorations consisted of black & silver ribbon, tiny lightweight pumpkins, and green glittery flowers.

The flowers had a wire stem, so they were easily wound on the branches.  They were 65% off when I bought them so they came out to $0.30 each.

The ribbon was on 75% Halloween clearance and the entire spool cost me $2.99.  I used it to tie black bows around the branches.

Next was the mini pumpkins.  I bought the last two boxes at the craft store for 75% off after Halloween ($3.99 for each box of 10 pumpkins).  Using a black marker, I drew Jack-o-Lantern faces to match the NBC theme.  Next, I used black thread to tie a loop around it and then hung them on the tree. 

Jack Skellington and Oogie Boogie Jack-o-Lanterns

Using black thread, I made a loop around each pumpkin top and hung them on the branches.

Oogie Boogie

In the Halloween discount bin, I also found this ribbon with Jack-o-Lanterns for $0.99.  Since I only had one, I used it to string up the trunk of the tree.

For the NBC ornaments, I bought these light-weight Christmas balls over Black Friday weekend at the Disney Store.  First they were 40% off and then I got an extra 10% off with my Disney Visa Card for a grand total of 50% off ($12)!  

I also got this great Jack ornament for $5.99 (50% off).  Score!  

Now for the tree topper.  Over Thanksgiving at Disneyland, I found this little Zero plush that had a light up nose.  With my Annual Passholder discount, it was 20% off.  

To make it a tree topper, I dusted off my sewing kit to grab the thread puller and opened up the bottom of the stitching.  This allowed me to empty out Zero's guts aka stuffing and beans.  

That made him very lightweight and the perfect candidate for the tree topper.  

And here's the final tree!  What do you think?

And since we're on the topic of Jack Skellington, check out my new wreath from Disneyland!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December 2011: Monthly Disneyland Photo Scavenger Hunt List

The December Scavenger Hunt list is here! 

Following November's template, this month's hunt has a snap shot of the item you're tasked to find in each land. Don't forget to click the image to enlarge and print. 


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. If you’re stuck on something, let me know and I’ll be happy to provide a clue.

Good luck and have fun!
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