Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Happiness

Well readers, I haven't really had anything particularly special to write about lately, so I decided that I'm just going to start posting things from my trips that I find especially fun, or interesting, or just plain put a smile on my face. So below are some pictures of things that I wanted to share. After over 40 trips to the parks so far this year, I can still walk through the gates and feel the Magic of Disney. I was afraid I would lose that feeling, visiting practically every weekend, but I haven't lost it yet! And I hope I never do...


Disneyland has a new parade this summer, "Soundsational!" It's a really fun parade to watch, and my very favorite part is the way it begins...the drumline. These guys are always having the most fun, no matter how hot it gets and how sweaty they are! Their enthusiasm is contagious, and I just love the way they sound.


Cold mocha almond fudge ice cream on a hot day, enjoyed on Main Street, USA.


Fun days with new friends :)


Storm Troopers looking for rebel spies in Tomorrowland.


And this guy is a new addition as of this past Friday...he will apparently only be around for a few weeks, so I'm so happy I found him yesterday and got a picture with him! Do you speak Droid?




Tuesday, June 28, 2011

*The Dream Come True*

The first time my husband and I went to Disneyland together, he shared with me a dream that he’s had for a very long time…to dine in a restaurant called Club 33. I had heard of it (I think) but didn’t know much about it, so he gave me some information, and over the years I’ve learned more about it.

In a nutshell, Walt Disney added Club 33 in the 1960s as part of the plans for New Orleans Square, with the purpose of having a special club for corporate sponsors and VIPs. The club didn’t open until May of 1967, 5 months after Walt’s death. Memberships include corporations and individuals and are extremely expensive. Members do get several special perks, including dining inside the club. It is decorated with several antique pieces collected by Lillian Disney, as well as various props from Disney films.

The closest that we thought we would ever get to going to the club was the day we took the “A Walk in Walt’s Footsteps” tour that Disneyland offers. Part of the tour takes guests into the lobby of Club 33, but that’s as far as you’ll get! They allow you to take pictures inside the antique-style lift and around the lobby, while the stairs to the second floor dining room taunt you :-) The only way anyone in the general public is able to dine there is by being invited by a member (or someone who works for a company with a corporate membership). I knew that several of our new friends who we met through the MouseWait app had been there, but I never bothered to ask how they were able to go. I just knew they were all very lucky for the opportunity!!

And then a few weeks ago, I got a message from one of those new friends asking if we would like to dine at Club 33. I cannot tell you how excited I was when I opened that email…the idea of this dream coming true for my husband was beyond belief!! Of course we accepted right away, even though we knew it would probably be the most expensive meal we ever eat…you do not pass up an opportunity like this that will probably only come along once!

Our day finally came this past Father’s Day, and it was everything we had dreamed about and more! There was a group of 12 of us who dined together, and it was AMAZING. The food was fantastic (and there was a LOT of it!), the d├ęcor is beautiful and rich with history, and the company was perfect. We were allowed to stay for as long as we wanted, which ended up being almost 3 hours. None of us wanted to leave! I was the last one to get up from the table, I just couldn’t soak it all in enough and I didn’t want it to end.

We took about a million pictures, so I’m only posting a few here, but many more can be found in my Flickr album. We tried to capture some of the unique decorations, but somehow pictures don’t quite grasp the feeling of being there in person.

Our dining group


Stairs....or lift?? Lift, of course!

The Trophy Room where we dined

Characters!!



SO much food!

View from below

Dreams really do come true at The Happiest Place on Earth!!


I love you honey and I’m so happy that we were able to make this dream come true for you, all thanks to some new, VERY generous friends who may never know how much we truly appreciate what they’ve done for us!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Movie Premiere

Hello readers! I apologize for being blog-MIA for a while, but I’m back and I’ll have some new posts coming up, including this one!

As I’m sure most of you know by now, Pirates of the Caribbean 4 came out in theaters recently, and they just happened to hold the premiere at Disneyland. Now, I originally didn’t have any plans to attend the “black carpet” for this movie…I have only seen the first one of this series and I just didn’t want to camp out all day on bleachers to watch the stars walk. But as the day of the premiere came and the hours wore on, I finally wised up. This was quite possibly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I was going to miss it?? Not to mention I have a sad obsession with Hollywood and celebrities…what was I thinking not going?! So I hauled my butt off to the park and prayed that I would actually find somewhere to stand where I could see something.

Lucky for me, I scored a spot along a fence line towards the end of the carpet. And I ended up being REALLY glad that I went. It’s events like this that I need to learn to take advantage of while I live only 20 minutes from Disneyland, because I will not always have these opportunities.

What did I learn from this experience? One, I need a better camera!! Too many of my pictures came out blurry, which was so disappointing. My point and shoot just couldn’t handle the speed I needed, and didn’t do well at night. Or maybe it was serious user error LOL Two, if you’re going to stand in one spot for over 4 hours, with people pushing up against you for those 4 hours, wear comfortable shoes!!! I did not wear the shoes I should have and regretted it. And three, if you have the chance to do something you think will be even remotely fun and the opportunity may not ever present itself again, DO IT!!

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the premiere. I was able to shake hands with Teri Hatcher, Cat Cora, and my favorite moment of the day…MARTIN SHORT!! :D If you care to see the rest of my pictures, they are on my Flickr page. Enjoy!


Lots of pirate themed entertainment as we waited


Martin Short!!!

Teri Hatcher

Andy Garcia (saw him the night before at the Park too!)

The side of Geoffrey Rush

Penelope Cruz...she is even more gorgeous in person!!

The man of the hour, Johnny Depp! He was apologizing because he had to be rushed along, they were literally pulling him away from the fans because they were running SO late.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Hidden Mickeys

Many of you probably already know what a Hidden Mickey is, but many of you may not. In case you don't, a Hidden Mickey is a "representation of Mickey Mouse that has been inserted subtly into the design of rides, attractions, and other locations in Disney theme parks and elsewhere on Disney properties." In other words, you're looking for something that looks sorta like this:

Basically, a big circle for the head and two smaller circles for the ears. There are also some Hidden Mickeys that look like Mickey's profile, more like this (I have yet to find any personally that look like this one):


I won't begin to go into where you can find them within the Parks. There are thousands of them, all over everywhere. There are entire websites and books dedicated to this subject, and I highly recommend checking them out if you are at all interested in finding them. The Parks sell one of the books or you can order one easily from Amazon.com. If you have the MouseWait app on your phone that I mentioned in a previous post, they have a special section called Hidden Mickey Checklist where you can check off and keep track of the ones you have found.

One of the reasons I'm mentioning the Hidden Mickeys is because the Parks are heading into a busy time of the year. Spring breakers are heading by the thousands to spend their vacation at the Happiest Place on Earth, and sometimes it can get so busy that you can only ride a few attractions in one day. Finding Hidden Mickeys can be a really fun way to spend your time while there, and kids seem to have a lot of fun with the thrill of hunting them down.

Below you will find a few of the Mickeys that I have found myself...can you tell where in the Parks they are?? Some are a lot easier to spot than others. Good luck and happy hunting!!






Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Attraction Photos

I have a challenge for all of you: next time you ride an attraction that takes your photo at Disneyland or California Adventure, try to make it a memorable one! I never used to care much about these photos, but now it's become a challenge to myself to come up with funny new ones each time I have an opportunity. I'd now like to share my favorites...please forgive my dorkiness :)

Enjoy and have fun with it!! See what others you can come up with.

P.S. There is technically only one "ride" at the Parks...Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Everything else is an "attraction." And believe me, this is a hot debate among a lot of people...ride vs. attraction. It's a hard habit to break calling everything a ride!

P.S.S. You don't have to purchase attraction photos! Just whip out your cell phone as you get to the preview screens and snap a photo of your photo! That's what I did with all of these. Some come out better than others depending on where the sun is at the time.

Sometimes the picture is funny even when you don't mean for it to be :)

Enthusiasm counts!

ROCK ON!

Peace.

Call me!

I call this one "Just Jack!"

One of my favorites...I was in a "Vogue" mood.

Even my husband is starting to get into it! :P

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The iPhone App

I wanted to give a quick plug to one of my favorite apps to use at the Park. It's called MouseWait and it's one of the most useful apps I've ever come across. Well, for me personally anyway.

I was searching the App Store one day trying to find one that would give me up to the minute attraction wait times at Disneyland. I found MouseWait and downloaded it to try (it's free!!), and I've been in love ever since! There are a ton of people who are in the Parks every day, updating the wait times as they walk around all day. I'd say it's probably the most accurate one you'll find. It comes in very handy for helping to plan while you're there.

There are several other features within the app, including the MouseWait Lounge - a whole forum of really awesome people who post lots of useful tips and information, and also post real-time photos from their adventures in the Parks. 

If you download the app, also be sure to check out the "iResource" section...my favorite part is the iPhone Charging Station List (for anything you need to plug in, not just your iPhone). There's also a section for Passholders that shows blackout dates, discounts, etc.

I believe the app is also available for Android, but I'm not sure about any other phones.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Lilly Belle

There is a special train car that is part of the Disneyland Railroad that you may not know about. The car is named “Lilly Belle,” after Walt Disney’s wife Lilly. At one time it was used to carry special VIPs and dignitaries who visited the Park, but these days it can be ridden by anyone. All you have to do is ask.

I have wanted to ride it ever since I learned it existed, and last weekend I finally asked. It’s simple – go to the Main Street Railroad Station and ask one of the conductors if there is room to ride it that day. It’s not always running – they don’t bring it out when it’s raining – but most days it is possible. The earlier you ask in the day, the better chance you have to get on it.

A Cast Member will lead the group on to the car, and you ride it once around the whole park, ending back at the Main Street Station. The CM will share interesting stories and facts about the Lilly Belle and the Park itself.

If you decide to ride, be sure to ask for the special train ticket, and to sign the guest book inside. I’m looking forward to doing this again!







Friday, January 28, 2011

The Flag Retreat Ceremony

By far, my favorite part of a day at Disneyland is the Flag Retreat Ceremony. It is held in Town Square at the very front of the park, and if you've never seen it...you really must take the time one day. Right now you can see it at 4:30PM every day.

Why do I love it so much? Well, I love traditions. I love "pomp and circumstance." I just think it's really special that Disneyland honors the military every day in this way.

The ceremony starts out with the Disneyland band. Usually they come down Main Street (right now they come from somewhere else due to construction going on) and end up around the flag. They play several patriotic songs and the Dapper Dans join them. Right before they lower the flag, they play each branch of the military's service song. As each branch's service song is played, any current or past member of that branch is welcome to step forward and stand around the flag and be recognized for their service. Three service members perform the ceremony of lowering the two flags and folding them. Everyone then sings "The Star Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America" along with the Dapper Dans. Inevitably, every time I watch this ceremony, I get teary eyed. It's emotional, and you just can't help it!

There are a few things that make the ceremony extra special to me. One is that there is a veteran who goes to the Park every single day, to watch and take part in the ceremony. He takes great pride in being a part of it, as well he should since he served in both the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard. The other special thing to me is Ernie, a Gunny in the Marine Corps. He is there most days to actually lower the flag, and he goes around the circle of benches around the flag before everything starts to shake everyone's hand. He is just a very exceptional man, and if you have the chance to meet him, you should.

The most special part of this ceremony is that it allowed me to see my husband as a Marine for the first time. He served in the Marine Corps for 9 years before we met so the only time I've seen him as a Marine is in pictures. It meant a lot to me to see him up there and I was very proud of him. I know he did it for me, not for himself, but that doesn't make it any less special. Thank you Disneyland for giving me this rare opportunity.  And for making me cry :)





The Dapper Dans

Hy husband is on the far left, in black
Ernie is on the right, lowering the flag