Posts Tagged With: Christmas

Things I loved and hated about Disneyland. . .

Okay, first let me say we all absolutely loved our time at Disneyland for MisManner’s third birthday. I truly have a newfound love for the Happiest Place on Earth. There were things we enjoyed and some things we could have done without and here I will share them with you.

THINGS WE LOVED

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We actually enjoyed a birthday lunch when we arrived at the Rain Forest Cafe in Downtown Disney. It was MisManner’s first visit and although the food is pricey, the ambiance alone was great for her. She was able to blow out her candles and enjoy her birthday celebration among the elephants, giant butterflies and beautiful aquariums. She didn’t particularly care for the thunderstorms that occur every 30 minutes, but seeing the life-sized animals come alive was a treat for her (and her older sisters).

Disney Jr. On StageAfter watching record marathon episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Doc McStuffins, and Sofia the First, I must admit I was a “tad” bit excited to see Disney Jr. Live on Stage. I went in fully expecting life-sized characters dancing and singing on stage, but what we saw was even better. The puppets took me back to my childhood when I first saw the Letter People in Kindergarten. The show was great and not some cheesy rendition of the cartoons. It was great how they integrated all of the shows together to make a fun interactive theme for the kids. I found myself singing and dancing along!

Captain AmericaWe were looking for an indoor attraction as a reprieve from the cold, windy weather so we stopped in “Innoventions.” This was a great interactive experience that had something for everyone.  BabyGirl (11) loved the Iron Man exhibit that gave her a look behind the Iron Mask. She is a lover of all things adventurous, so that was fun for her.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get in line soon enough to meet Thor which had us a little disappointed, but we did get to meet Captain America who thrilled MisManners because she loves all things superhero. But the best part of this exhibit was the Dream Home. OMG!! They had a room set up for a teen that included a projection wall that allowed her to virtually display different locations on her wall, virtually try on clothes from her closet, virtually try on make up and new hair styles, Skype and do all things technology and teen in the room.  There also was a story room that came alive as a storyteller came out to share a story, and interactive the kitchen was simply amazing. We all agreed we wanted to live there!

Disney’s “Frozen” area was fabulous. They really took their time to create an experience for the fans of the movie. From Olaf’s Frozen Fun, to the Meet & Greet with Elsa, Anna and Olaf, and the “First Time in Forever Frozen Sing-a-long,” we all had a great time. I was extremely thankful for the Fastpasses which cut down our wait time significantly. The two youngest girls enjoyed the snow area and MisManner’s favorite part of the entire weekend was the sing-a-long…. believe you me, she absolutely loves the movie, “Frozen” so the sing-a-long was right up her alley. Great job Disney!

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Christmas Fantasy ParadeThe parades were great. Hands down the Christmas Fantasy Parade at Disneyland was better than the Pixar Play Parade at California Adventure Park which I found to be dated and in serious need of new characters.  But seeing Santa on his sleigh in the Christmas Fantasy Parade was great, We only caught the tail end of that parade, and even that was great, so I can only imagine how fantastic the entire parade was.

it’s a small world” is a fan favorite for all ages. It was beautifully decked out for the holidays and was definitely worth the 45 minute line. The good part is the line was continually moving so it didn’t seem that long of a wait. Seeing the diverse cultures and the animated figures beautifully displayed made me fall in love with the attraction all over again. If we had time, we would have gone again.

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THINGS DISNEYLAND COULD IMPROVE

Star Tours FastpassWe need MORE Fastpasses. Actually, I’m not sure why all the rides don’t have the Fastpass Option. Although the lines we stood in moved fairly quickly for the number of people in line, some of the lines were still ridiculous and we opted to visit those particular rides another time. Also, if I have to wait more than 2 hours to return for a Fastpass attraction, I should be able to pull another Fastpass immediately instead of waiting 3 or more hours to pull another. It was frustrating for us to have to wait until we could pull another pass because we didn’t strategize correctly. And it must have been frustrating for others because we saw hundreds of “Your fastpass is on hold until such and such time because you already have a fastpass” tickets on the grounds near the machines. I felt kind of bad for all the wasted paper.

The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique experience at Disneyland needs some help. I thought it would be a cute idea to have an appointment to have MisManners transformed into a princess, but then I thought about the logistics of her walking through the park dressed in a costume, would she be overly sensitive to her “gown” getting crushed or dirty? And what about the hair??? So I opted out of the experience, but made sure to stop in to disneyland-bibbidiboppididothe boutique to see how it worked, so maybe during our next visit…. Ummm…. SO GLAD I DIDNT do this. Don’t get me wrong, seeing all the little princesses throughout the park was cute. However, what was not cute was the RAT’s NEST that the Boutique put in the top of these little babies’ heads. I don’t know who told them that was cute, but it looked a hot mess to me and these moms let their daughters walk around with this terrible weave in their hair. Now let me preface, I am sensitive to putting any synthetic hair in my daughter’s heads (MiniMe couldn’t get braids until she was 15 or more) because I think they should embrace what God gave them naturally. However, if I did sign my daughter up for this experience I would want her hair to at least look like the princess’s in the movies, not some over teased cheap clip in weave. I was appalled and glad I didn’t have to go off on some unexpecting stylist who was simply doing her job of cutting and pasting on these little princesses.  I think  simple braid and tiara would be a better option than what they offered.

The World of Color Fastpass experience, in my opinion is a joke. You get the same pass that about 800 other people get despite the time you pull your ticket and if you don’t get in line early to get a front row seat, you will see absolutely NOTHING. So unfortunately for MisManners and BabyGirl (actually MiniMe is only 5’4″ so she didn’t see much either), they didn’t really get to enjoy the amazement of the show. Thank God for the Made with Magic hats that drew their interest as they synchronized with the other hats and the lights of the show. But because everyone stood instead of sat down, and the projection is very low, you can’t see a thing at the back. Maybe if they put the projection just a tad bit higher, got portable bleachers like they do at parades for people to sit, or heck just ask everyone to SIT on the ground, you could see a little better. But alas, since we didn’t get the notice and didn’t line up early for the show, we were in an unfortunate position… the back!

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Overall, we enjoyed our time and really had a great time experiencing the magic of Disney!

Also, before I go I wanted to share with you a “Yay” or “Nay” list of the rides we enjoyed. Keep in mind these all were rides that my three year old could enjoy because it was her day and we all wanted to be sure the experience was focused for her.

Disneyland Park

  • “it’s a small world” – FAVORITE
  • “Peter Pan’s Flight” – Okay (a little scary for the little one)
  • “Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough” – Yay (great to read the story as you walk through)
  • “Snow White’s Scary Adventure” – Okay (a little scary for the little one)
  • “Disneyland Railroad” – Yay (great to tour the park)
  • “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” – Yay (Okay not really for the little one, but the animated Mr. Lincoln was amazing!)
  • “Chip ‘N Dale Treehouse” – Yay (if you’re little one likes climbing)
  • “Donald’s Boat” – Okay (not much to do here but climb up and look around)
  • “Goofy’s Playhouse” – Yay (MisManners enjoyed running around and exploring. Especially playing the piano.)
  • “Mickey’s House Meet & Greet” – Yay (when we first went through Mickey greeted us at the front door… not sure why he wasn’t in the photography area, but we went through twice so we could get the Official Mickey Photo.)
  • “Minnie’s House” – Yay (I think probably one of her favorite areas. She loved the house and really didn’t want to leave!)
  • “Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin” – Okay
  • “Autopia” – Yay (she loved being able to get in the car and take a spin.)
  • “Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage” – Yay (she loved looking at the fish, despite my claustrophobia, I survived the ride.)
  • “Innoventions” – Yay

California Adventure Park

  • “Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train” – Yay (a little short though, probably best for babies.)
  • “It’s Tough to be a Bug” – Okay (Needs to be updated.)
  • “Tuck and Roll’s Drive ‘Em Buggies” – Yay (MisManners got to drive and had a blast!)
  • “Liugi’s Flying Tires” – Yay (floating around was great fun.)
  • “Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree” – Yay (We all enjoyed this ride. It wasn’t too much for MisManners, a little scary for her at first, but once she saw me having fun, she had fun as well.)
  • “Redwook Creek Challenge Trail” – Yay (MisManners and BabyGirl (my 11 year old) both enjoyed exploring this area, despite me being tired.)
  • “Olaf’s Snow Fest” – Yay (What’s better than inside snow?? They also had a sledding area, unfortunately every time we tried to get in line it was closed.)
  • “The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure” – Yay (This was one of my favorites as it retold the story.)
  • “Toy Story Midway Mania” – Yay (My oldest, MiniMe (19) loved this ride. Trying to shoot the targets was fun.)
  • “Disney Jr Live on Stage” – Yay (My absolute favorite. Seeing all of MisManner’s favorite shows come to life on stage was great fun.)
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In Search of the Christmas Spirit, Part II

With Christmas just two days away, I have GOT to find my Christmas Spirit. I guess this year it’s been slow coming because the “Mister” is on the other side of the world defending the country, and I feel a little guilty celebrating when he’s so far away. All of the gifts have been purchased and delivered, yet more than half of them are still in the bags or in the boxes they were shipped in.  Heck, some nights we haven’t even bothered to cut on the Christmas Tree lights, but at least the tree is up and decorated, huh?

Well, tonight we decided to shake off these “Bah Hum Bugs” and go in search of the elusive “Christmas Spirit.” And boy, what did we find! We traveled 3 miles to the famed Garrison Street in Point Loma where the holiday spirit was in STEREO! With lights, sounds and kiddies all a joy, it was very difficult not to be excited that Santa’s big night is near. For more than 30 years, the neighbors on Garrison Street have been sharing their holiday joy with hundreds of visitors. There were tons of families, tour buses and even a few limo tours. We initially were going to do a drive by, but after our first pass, we couldn’t resist parking and strolling through the Winter Wonderland. It was amazing!

If you haven’t been, this is a must visit. It totally changed my excitement about Holiday lights.  See for yourself!

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In Search of the Christmas Spirit

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‘Tis the Season! I have been slowly but surely trying to find the Christmas spirit. It seems like Thanksgiving sped by and I haven’t had the opportunity to decompress and gear up for Santa.  However, having two small kids at home, I have to summon the essence of the holidays somehow, and in a hurry. So this year, I began my effort with a new twist on a holiday favorite as well as the original version: Debbie Allen’s “The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker” and California Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.” I so glad I decided to attend both!

Hot Chocolate NutcrackerDebbie Allen’s version was a high-spirited interesting twist on this holiday classic. Holding true to “The Nutcracker’s” central theme, Allen put a fun and entertaining spin on this production.  As an added bonus, “The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker” was filmed and aired it on BET this year.  We decided to wait until we saw it live before we watched it on TV so we would go into the show without any expectations. 

Hot Chocolate NutcrackerThis year also featured the Ms. Raven-Symoné. She was fantastic! From her singing to her dancing, she reminded us all of why we first fell in love with her on the Cosby Show. She is a true talent. After the show, I was admittedly disappointed to not see Ms. Debbie Allen herself, not even during the curtain call. However, I realized when we watched the show on BET, that Ms. Allen was so smartly disguised as one of the mice who stole the show, I didn’t even recognize her! In all the dancing was fabulous; the incorporation of the aerial dancers, stilt walkers, and stepping, made the show even more enjoyable for my little ones. I have to say we all left with a little more Christmas glimmer in our souls!

California Ballet NutcrackerNext up, my oldest daughter and I attended the California Ballet’s version of “The Nutcracker”. We were both excited because my daughter studied ballet for years and this would bring back memories of her on stage. We opted to leave the little ones at home because it would be a late night and we just wanted to have a “grown girls” night out.  (My daughter will be 20 in February.) First I must say, the set was gorgeous! From the opening scene to the last, I was impressed by the attention to detail that went into creating each set. I’d also like to give special thanks to the California Ballet because we went on their military appreciation night and our two tickets cost us a whopping $5 total! Not only did we have great seats, but the performance was phenomenal! The dancing, music and imagery were outstanding!

I can say, after our marathon of Nutcracker, it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere I go…. Here’s hoping you all have found your own holiday cheer!  Happy Holidays to you and yours and may your days be sunny and bright!

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