Oct 31, 2014

DisneyMania - Comparison Photos

This last post about Disneyland is a fun one for me. and photo-heavy. 

Disneyland is a special place in general but it is also the first place Cameron and I went of vacation, together, as a couple. We have been to Disneyland, together, 3 times - each visit actual shows how our family of 2 has expanded to 4. This next collection of photos is comprised of photos from all 3 visits. 

This first group of photos shows how our family has grown, all taken in front of the Main Street Station of the Disneyland Railroad:  

2005
2011

2014
Then we have pictures of each girl during their first visit in front of the Main Street Station of the Disneyland Railroad with Grandma & Grandpa, Mom and Dad. 

2011

2014
Each girl in front of the Main Street Station of the Disneyland Railroad with just Mom and Dad.

2011
2014
 Buzz Lightyear's Astroblasters Action Shots through the years: 
2011 - Me, Cameron & London 



2014 - Cameron & London

2014 - Sydney & Me
2014 - Cameron & Sydney, round #2
 My favorite shot through the years, all taken on the Jungle Cruise: 

2005
2011
2014
This series is special to me. During my first visit to Disneyland, back in 1985, my mom rode with me on Dumbo the Flying Elephant. Without really thinking of this when we took London to Disneyland in 2011, I rode with her during her first flight. My dad sent me the 1985 picture earlier this year and well, we just had to continue the tradition: 

1985

2011

2014
We seem to get great action shots of the girls when we go on King Arthur's Carousel as well:

2011
2014
2014
First Ears: 
2011
2014
London fell asleep at the end of our visit with her in 2011. So we took a picture of her sleeping with her ears on her: 

2011
We couldn't resist taking this picture of her when she fell asleep on our last day after getting Sydney's first ears: 

2014
And then Sydney fell asleep on our walk back to the hotel on the last day. We couldn't resist, again: 

2014
Happy Halloween!

Oct 30, 2014

DisneyMania - Final Thoughts & Some more Photos

If you haven't figured out yet, we had a great time during our visit to Disneyland this year. It was just as much fun seeing it through Sydney's eyes for the first time as it was when we watched London experience it almost 3 years ago. And it was fun watching London experience it again, in her mind, for the first time, since now she is at an age where she could comprehend it was something special. 

Like our trip 3 years ago, we stayed at Paradise Pier, with their TV room near the lobby being my saving grace - my mom was able to sit in there with the girls while I loaded up the car (three trips total between the car garage and our 6th floor room) since Cameron had left the night before for his Canada hunting trip. 

Sadly, we likely won't stay there again. We love it but for the price, and when we will need to be buying 4 tickets for our family, it just won't be worth it, when there are so many other hotels at much cheaper rates within walking distance. We did it this time so that Sydney knows she got the same treatment as London did for her first visit. And we got the same perks, which included a Free Lanyard and pin for each of us "paying" guests (Cameron, London and Myself) which meant we were able to start Sydney's pin-trading lanyard. We also scored a Free Nightmare Before Christmas Oogie Boogie Vinylmation figure. It fits in perfectly in Cameron's office. 

The girls & I with Minnie - can you tell Sydney is hiding?
The one thing we did terribly was the planning of our days in the parks. We always start in Disneyland - honestly we could probably spend 2 days in Disneyland and only one in California Adventure. And planned right, we wouldn't even need park hopper passes but just purchase individual tickets to each park. But we knew we would be park hopping, at least on our last day there, due to the Bibbiti Bobbiti Boutique in Disneyland, the lunch at Ariel's Grotto in California Adventure and then the Castle picture back in Disneyland later. 

Sydney enjoying lunch at Ariel's Grotto


But with our staying at Paradise Pier, we also got Extra Magic hours in the park. Problem is, the first day we were there, that morning was for California Adventure. We always start in Disneyland. And we didn't make it to the Extra Magic hour any how. The first day we didn't even park hop. 



On a side note,  one of the things that I think makes Disney so amazing, is the way Cast Members go out of their way for you. We were in line for Dumbo The Flying Elephant and found out we would be the last in line for the next group to get on. We mentioned to the Cast member that told us that that we hoped we would be able to get to Elephants next to each other. The reason being is that my parent's have a photo of my mom and I riding Dumbo when I first went to Disneyland in 1985. Without knowing that at the time, Cameron took a picture of London and I together on the ride during her first visit. We only recently saw the picture of my mom and I in 1985, just before our trip, and of course then we knew that we needed a photo of Sydney and I during her 1st visit. We explained this to the Cast Member. When it came time to board, he came over to us, and let us through a different gate first, and told us we could take the two elephants nearest to us to get that picture and to ride. So we got to board first. 

Sydney & I on Dumbo! She loved it.

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But the second day we did, as we did make it to the Extra Magic hour in Disneyland, but then headed over to California Adventure to grab fast passes to Cars Racers and take London on The Twilight Tower of Terror. Not too bad, just one park hop. 

Sydney crashed hard during her nap on the 1st day

Friday was the worst by far, as we did make it to the Extra Magic hour in California Adventure that morning. So we went from California Adventure to Disneyland, back to California Adventure and then back again to Disneyland before the day was through. It was all a little nuts by the end.
Cameron couldn't resist and thoroughly enjoyed a Giant Turkey Leg!
 

That Extra Magic hour in California Adventure was worth it though. Cameron and I were able to go on California Screamin' a total of 5 times between the 2 of us. Cameron didn't even disembark after his first ride - he just went right on through as no one was waiting to get on outside of 2 people at the front. The previous two people in the front just had to move farther back on the ride! While he was doing that, the girls and I went on King Triton's Carousel, two times in a row without disembarking! And we walked right on to Toy Story Mania after all that. We were only able to sneak in two rides during our Extra Magic hour at Disneyland the day before - Peter Pan's Flight and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (20 minute waits on average for those two rides at that time. It also didn't help that Peter Pan's Flight broke down and had to be restarted, checked and tested for an addition 20 minutes! We were 3 groups of people away from getting on so we could go no where if we had tried.)

We spotted Mater moseying through Cars Land in California Adventure our 2nd morning while we ate breakfast at Flo's Cafe
We were quite impressed with Cars Land in California Adventure. My dad could have stayed there all day he said. Between the music and atmosphere it was like the days of his youth. Last time we came to Disneyland, Cars Land was still being built. They did a fantastic job at recreating the main drag of Radiator Springs and the few off shoot roads - Cameron even noticed that the cracks in the off-shoot roads were there on purpose. Disney is so good at detail. And Cars Racers is a new family favorite. After our Extra Magic hour in Disneyland on the 2nd day, we actually headed over to Flo's V8 cafe for breakfast. It was a great spot to sit and relax, enjoy some good food and people watch. That's when we spotted Mater and Lightning McQueen for the first time. 



Overall, London's favorite rides were in Disneyland: Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain Railroad, Pirates of the Caribbean and Star Tours. In California Adventure they were: Cars Racers and The Little Mermaid. London did not care for Space Mountain: Ghost Galaxy or The Twilight Tower of Terror. We think if was because they were so dark at all times. She was also quite bummed that she couldn't go on California Screamin' and can't wait until she is tall enough so that she can go on it. She also just missed out on going on Indiana Jones. I go back and forth on whether should would have liked it or not. 


Sydney's favorite rides in Disneyland were: The Disneyland Railroad, Buzz Lightyear's Astroblasters, Dumbo the Flying Elephant and probably Finding Nemo's Submarine voyage. In California Adventure: Flik's Flyers, Francis's Ladybug Boogie and The Little Mermaid.

A room-service picnic dinner with grandma on our last night - see the hair is still up and perfect, even after swimming!
Stay tuned for my final post tomorrow about our Disneyland trip tomorrow.

Oct 29, 2014

DisneyMania - A Lunch fit for a Princess

We had more fun in-store for Princess London and Princess Maisy after they got all done up at the Bibbiti Bobbiti Boutique during our last day in Disneyland. At lunch time, we all headed over to California Adventure for Lunch at Ariel's Grotto for a dining experience with Disney Princesses. 

Before we were even seated, London and Maisy got to meet Ariel. 

Then, after we had been seated and ordered, a man came out to announce each Princess we would get to meet. After each Princess was announced, there would be a pause in between the next so that the first Princess could make her way through a few tables. Each Princess visited each table to chat with the kids and take pictures. 

After Ariel, we met Princess Aurora, Cinderella, Snow White and finally, Belle. London and Maisy had so much fun. Even Miles was a little smitten at getting the Princess' signatures in his autograph book and was somewhat dismayed when Cinderella forgot to come back to our table to sign his book.

Sydney and Matt & Lynde's daughter McKenzie, on the other hand, weren't interested in the Princesses at all. In fact, Sydney wanted nothing to do with any characters throughout our whole visit. We had hope, as when Cameron was with her and London while I went on Space Mountain, Minnie Mouse came out for a meet and greet right by the exit, where they were waiting for me and he said she did react and say "Minnie Mouse" so they waited in line. But when we got up there, Sydney preferred to stay in the stroller and out of site of Minnie!

This was our first time with character dining. The experience for the kids is great, and the food was actually quite delicious. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of it as by that point I was starving and tired of taking pictures of the girls and the Princesses. Plus, I'd gotten a glass of lemonade in my lap during the procession too. I instead chose to enjoy the conversations with friends and family, and relax with my Habanero Lime margarita - a drink Cameron and I discovered during our last visit. Every one, of course, had to have a taste and admitted it was one dahm good drink. 

What was also nice is that the menu pricing was set. Each adult paid the same, each child cost the same and Sydney and McKenzie were free since they were under 2. That made splitting the bill pretty easy, though our waitress did it for us any how. The lunch did take up a bit of time, about 2 hours, that by the time we were done, we made a quick trip to The Little Mermaid ride before heading back to Disneyland for a group photo in front of the Castle at 4. We all agreed next time we would do the Castle photo first thing in the morning as we all were hot and tired, and not looking our best for the photo. Poor Maisy was passed out in her strolled. London would have been right there with her had the photo been 15 minutes earlier and had we not woken her up for a few more photos using our Photo Pass+ card as we made our way down Main Street.

Here are all our photos from the lunch: