Saturday, May 12, 2012

Get Ready for the Mad T Party!

California Adventure's nighttime ElecTRONica is no more.  While I loved the concept and the actual event, I am sooooo excited about the new nighttime event: Mad T Party.

This is a new nighttime live music, food & drink, and game event based on Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.  It's such a great, fun theme and will be ready by June 15, 2012.

Check out the work in progress thus far!

This will be the stage of the live band

The House of Cards...notice the food truck to the far right?

I love this bar!  

No, this picture is not upside down.  This is the chandelier from the "Drink Me" bar.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Great "How to Pack for Disneyland" Debate

There are a few common questions that parents have to ask as they plan their visits to Disneyland or WDW.  

They are: 
1) What's a good age for a child's first visit? 
2) What rides can my kids go on? 
3) Do I need a stroller?
4) How do I pack for the park? 

For each question there are several answers as it will all depend on your situation.  How many kids do you have?  How old are they?  Are you a "I have to be prepared for everything" or "I just need the basics" type of parent?

I will review three types of bags/backpacks for park excursions and provide a little background into what kind of park parent I am so you can make the best decision for your scenario.

My Scenario
I hate carrying stuff.  Especially carrying stuff that I'm never going to use.  Therefore my packing is as light as can be.  There are still many basics that I need, but I definitely don't bring bulky extras like blankets, coolers, or sippy cups.  I like to be as free as I can be at the park so I can run with my daughter, hold her, hold a drink or snack and just enjoy the feeling of not lugging a suitcase.  

My daughter is 3.5 years old and fully potty trained now which means I don't have to lug around diapers.  I still carry wipes and some extra pairs of underwear just in case.  

The biggest item is my camera.  When I go with my daughter, I always bring my DSLR because I've missed too many moments using a point-and-shoot that has a slow shutter speed.  When visiting kid-free, I leave the DSLR at home and just bring the point-and-shoot.

Here's everything that I need to pack:
1. Wallet
2. Phone (loaded with my itinerary of dining plans, shows, etc)
3. Sunscreen (travel size)
4. Pack of gum
5. 2 snacks
6. Baby wipes (travel size)
7. 3 pairs of kid underwear
8. 1 pair of light pants i.e. leggings so it folds up small
9. 1 light jacket
10. 2 small plastic bags (in case of an accident with underwear/pants)
11. Hand sanitizer (travel size)
12. Hair ties
13. Sunglasses (but they primarily stay on my head)
14. Camera + 1 extra memory card

 From left to right...
1) A mini messenger bag
2) A multi-pouch backpack
3) A sling camera bag

1) Mini Messenger Bag
Long ago I purchased this bag from and customized it with the Cheshire Cat.  They no longer sell this, but you can find mini messenger bags at Target or travel stores.

This bag is great and really holds all of my basics, with the exception of my DSLR camera.  This bag is used when I go kid-free to the park and will just use my point-and-shoot camera.  It's my favorite bag for these kind of visits.  If you have older children or don't need to bring a DSLR camera, this would be ideal.

The top flap has a zipper which easily holds the show schedule or any items that I need fast access to.  Once you open the flap, there are side pockets for your phone, or whatever you need to put there.

The main bag will hold everything if you just want to forego the side pockets.  

2) Multi-pouch Backpack

If you really need all the extra stuff like multiple jackets, extra sets of clothes, room to hold shopping bags, food, multiple water bottles, etc, then you're going to need a backpack.

This is my Roxy Snowboarding backpack, so it's made tough and is water resistant.  I love this backpack because it's got a lot of pouches, but for Disneyland with my daughter, it's too much for me.  Like I said earlier, I don't like to hold a lot of stuff.  

I used this bag for Leap Day 2012 at Disneyland to carry all my camera equipment and it ended up killing my back.  So that will be the last time I use this as a camera bag.

I did use this backpack for Walt Disney World and it was perfect because my husband and I did a lot of shopping.  But I didn't have my daughter at that time, so we basically carried an empty backpack during the day and filled it with stuff towards the end of the day.

3) Sling Camera Bag

This is the newest addition to my backpack collection and it's one of my favorites!  I was trying to find a bag that had protection for my DSLR camera, had space to hold my daughter's wipes and my little extras, but I didn't want it to be a backpack.  I was looking for a sling so my camera could quickly be pulled out for me to snap spontaneous moments.  Having a backpack took too long for me to take it off my back, open the zipper, pull my camera out and then put the backpack on again.  With a sling, it just sits right there and I can take it out any time.  It also gives my back a break and allows me to be "free".

This bag has an interior compartment for my DSLR camera that protects it.  It has extra space for extras and features a size zipper that expands the bag if I need the extra space.  Now that I love!  

On the left is the camera compartment, completely protected.  To the right, there's extra space for stuff.  You could fit extra lenses, flashes or anything else if you're not lugging baby wipes and stuff.

The top zipper (arrow) opens up so you can expand the interior space.
There's a bunch of side pockets all around the bag, including one for a water bottle.

If you need more space or anticipate needing more carry room, I recommend you looking bags that start small and open up to a full bag.  Below is one I got at the Disney Store a few years ago.  

It starts small (I put my iPhone next to it for scale).  

Then you unzip it.

And, voila!  You've got an extra bag to hold stuff!

So there you have it!  The Great Debate on "How to Pack for Disneyland".  I hope this helps you in packing for your trip and that you find the best solution for your needs.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I Can Draw!

If you're looking to kill time at California Adventure between FASTPASS wait times or need to get out of the sun, look no further than Animation Academy.  

Animation Academy is a 20 minute animation lesson for guests of all ages (well, really anyone that can hold a pencil).  A Disney animator will teach you step-by-step how to draw a Disney character.  Each 20 minute lesson features a different character, so if you have time, you could stay for several shows and learn to draw others.  If you want to learn to draw a specific character, just ask the Cast Member for the schedule and they'll let you know what time that lesson is.  

Each guest is given a clip board with sheet paper and a pencil.

Up on the main screen, you'll see the animator's drawing board and will follow along starting with the frame of the character's face.  It's a very interesting process and the end result will amaze you.  During my session, we were learning to draw Tigger.  

Now, I may consider myself artistic in the sense that I'm crafty and creative, but I would not consider myself an artist.  My brother was born with that gift.  The fact that my shaky, busted hand could draw Tigger like this still amazes me. 

If you decide to give up on your drawing, you might as well look around the stage.  There's a lot to look at and you might just find a Hidden Mickey!

Lots of cool stuff to see...notice the seven dwarfes and the Disneyland Monorail game?

I spotted a Hidden Mickey on the pot!

Kid Meals: French Market

My go-to spot for food at Disneyland has been French Market for the last few years.  I really love the clam chowder and salad plate, but sometimes I'm not in the mood to share my soup with my daughter others.

Enter the Kid Meals!  French Market offers two meals:

1) Macaroni and cheese meal served with fruit and vegetables and choice of milk, small water bottle or juice ($6.49).

2) Chicken & rice served with fruit and vegetables and choice of milk, small water bottle or juice ($6.99).

Both kid meals are good and this is one of the few places that serve rice in a kid meal.  

French Market is a cafeteria-style restaurant (you grab a tray and pick what you want) that offers shaded outdoor seating.  Throughout the day jazz bands will jump on stage so guests can enjoy music while they eat.  French Market also offers great views of the Rivers of America and is fun for people watching.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Wishing for an Adventureland Resort

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

This month's topic is, "If you could have one attraction turned into a resort what would it be and why?"

The second I read this topic, I knew exactly which attraction should be considered for a resort. It's actually, not an attraction, but a land. Adventureland! This is my favorite land because it just screams "adventure", "mystery", and "amazing". Something about 1940's world exploration is fascinating to me, which is probably why I always had a crush on Indiana Jones.

If you take a peek at the Jungle Cruise, Enchanted Tiki Room or Trader Sam's at the Disneyland Hotel, there's a lot to work with to build a resort. Lots of fun tiki and jungle elements can be worked into the lobby, restaurants, rooms, and of course the pool!

Trader Sam's...just leverage the tiki torches and plants and you've got a fun entrance!

Trader Sam's...the perfect decor for a fun restaurant.  A little bit of everything!

Trader Sam's...even the liquor presentation goes with the theme using bamboo shelves 

Trader Sam's...and because an Adventureland theme includes lots of misc items, it's a great place to hide characters like this Tiki Stitch inside Trader Sam's.
Enchanted Tiki Room...Jose and other birds can welcome guests to the resort

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

Thank you for joining Magical Blogorail Peach this month. We will be back in May with an all new theme. 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.

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 ~ Tips from the Disney Diva
3rd Stop ~ 400 Miles to Disneyland
4th Stop ~ Disney in Our Blood
Final Stop ~ Joanna and her Amazing Technicolor Interwebs

May 2012: Monthly Disneyland Photo Scavenger Hunt List

The May Scavenger Hunt list is here! 

This month's hunt has a snap shot of the item you're tasked to find in each land. Once you find it, snap a photo with it as proof that you found it.  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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