Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Always Go Left at Plaza Inn

     We go to the Plaza Inn Character Breakfast every year.  The first year that we went was a surprise for my moms birthday. We enjoyed it so much that we made it one of our Disney vacation traditions. No matter what else we plan we make sure to include the breakfast.

     The restaurant has seating outside and then inside to the right and to the left of the main entrance. Up until the last two years we have sat on the left side of the restauran

t. The food is great but of course we go for the character interaction too. That is the main reason we go actually. is to see the characters, yes it is the child in is, it is the Disney in our hearts. To us they are all real.

     When you sit on the left side the characters come around constantly. You take a bite of food and then it is time to take another picture. The characters are everywhere. We just love it. Then year before last we were seated on the right side. We really didn't think much of it but later we would.

     There were several families sitting on the right side but the characters did not come around. We got our food and waited, Minnie finally showed up and I think maybe Pooh but we watched as the characters would go to the left, outside, almost to our side and then they would leave. We were disappointed. There were little kids who were also disappointed so one of the parents went to let the cast members know that we all wanted to see the characters too. She said that they would send them over but thirty minutes later after watching them make their rounds everywhere but our area,we left. The food was still great but the experience was not magical.

     Last summer we were seated on the right again. I made a comment to the cast member who took us to our seats stating that we had a bad experience last year with the right side and we really wanted to see the characters. I had even requested when I made our reservations not to be seated on the right. But the cast member assured us that the characters would come to our table. Once again though we watched them make their rounds to the left, outside and only three came to our side. It was yet again a great meal but not so magical experience.

     We will go to the Character breakfast again this year but we will insist on the left side because we go for the characters too and we want to get our money's worth and our magic.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

We Made it Through the Rain Without Wipers

     We are die hard Disney fans, this year proved how nothing will stop us from taking our yearly trip to the Happiest Place on Earth. 

     Prior to our July 2015 trip my moms van was having issues. She had it in the shop several times and we were a bit concerned that we would have to all crowd into my small car. Mind you if that would have been the case, we would have done it. (Shoot when I was a kid we piled several of us into vehicles and even without air conditioning.) One problem with the van would get fixed, another would arise, then another problem fixed and another new one. Finally a few days before we were to leave the van was working. 

     On the night of July 1, 2015, the night before we were to leave town, my mom went to wash the van and called me to tell me that the windshield wipers did not work. We were starting to wonder if for some reason we were not supposed to go to California. But that thought did not last long. We knew we were going no matter what.

     The next morning my mom took the van in to the shop to see if they could fix the wipers. We thought maybe something had been unhooked when they fixed another problem. But, they told her it was the motor and it would take them at least a half a day to fix it. Well that was not going to work. My mom told them were were headed out of town so the man at the garage told her to use Rain-X on the windshield.

     You would think rain would  not be a concern in July but every year we usually hit rain in Flagstaff and sometimes near Kingman, Az. So, we got some Rain-X and put it on the windshield. We squirted it on and then wiped it off. It left a film but we did not care. 

     Lo and behold we did hit rain, it was near Flagstaff and it did come down pretty hard at some points. At first we were feeling a panic because we had no wipers but the rain balled up and just ran off the windshield. It actually worked better than wipers at times. It was so strange though. When we slowed down it was harder to see because it did not run off the windshield. 

     We stopped, got gas and put more Rain-X on the windshield. We hit more rain near Kingman and it was even harder rain but again the Rain-X proved to amaze us.We put it on again but the next time we put it one we read the bottle and it said to wipe with a damp cloth after applying to remove the film. We did that and no more film. Rain-X saved the day.

     We proved that come hell or high water, wipers or no wipers, nothing will keep us from Disney Resort. "We Made it Through the Rain" became our theme song for the year.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Disney's California Adventure Park of Old

     Disney’s California Adventure Park is an amazing park at Disney Resort in Anaheim, California. It opened in Feb 2001. I first visited the park with my family in July 2003. It is a different type of Disney experience that is as magical as a Disneyland experience in a different way. It has also undergone many changes which made us sad but it still remains magical. When we first went there in 2003 and until the changes, the lands in Disney’s California Adventure park consisted of five different lands, Sunshine Plaza, Hollywood Pictures Backlot, Paradise Pier, Golden State and Bugs Land.

     When you went under the Golden Gate Bridge after entering the park you were in Sunshine Plaza.  It was such a spectacular place. The Beach Boys, Peter Paul and Mary and many other California “surfing” songs play overhead giving the area a magical California feel.  It was also a lot of fun to eat an ice cream cone at Brr Bank Ice Cream Parlor, an ice cream parlor that was inside a replica of a Zephyr train. The entire area has changed and the music is not the same but it still is magical.

     To the right of Sunshine Plaza was the Golden State where many excellent rides and attractions  are located. Soaring over California (now just called Soarin) is an amazing adventure in flight that takes the flyer on a trip over California. Grizzly River Run takes guests on a rafting trip on the rapids. It is a fun adventure where riders will most likely not just get wet, they will get soaked. Red Creek Challenge is a fun place in the Golden State for kids. It’s a trail where kids can hike and play. My kids loved it when they were younger.

     Golden State has some wonderful restaurants to eat at. Tate Pilot Grill (now Smokejumpers) is a part of what was called  Condor Flats and a delicious counter service restaurant where burgers, fries, ribs and many other foods are served. The service is excellent and the atmosphere was that of an old rocket test laboratory. It is still a great place to eat, the food and atmosphere are the same. The music is not as good as before.

     From Golden State guests entered Paradise Pier, a part of the park that has a seaside amusement park theme feel. Guests can travel fast on California Screamin, based on the old wooden roller coasters, with a special twist. Toy Story Mania is another one of Paradise Pier’s fun adventures. Travelers enter the world of toys where they get to be a part of arcade games with some fun special effects.

     While visiting Paradise Pier guest have many different counter service restaurants to choose from. The Pacific Warf CafĂ© has delicious bread that is freshly baked at the Boudin Bakery. They serve clam chowder, broccoli soup or chili all in sour dough bread bowl.  They also have sandwiches on their delicious bread. Other restaurants in Warf district are Mexican style restaurants and the new Asian counter service restaurant The Lucky Fortune Cookery.

     A Bug’s Land is next to Paradise Pier’s Pacific Warf District. A Bugs Land is a great place for little kids. It is also a lot of fun for big kids. Visitors get to learn what it’s like to be a bug in “It’s Tough to Be a Bug.” Guests can also take a trip on Heimlich's Chew Chew to see what a caterpillar eats. There are many other rides in A Bug’s Land for everyone to enjoy.

  Hollywood Pictures Back Lot now just called Backlot, is a trip to Hollywood’s past. The stores and shops scream out Hollywood. Guests could watch the Muppets in the 3D laboratory in Muppet Vision 3D  which sadly is now gone, visit Monstropolis with Mike and Sully on Mike and Sully to the Rescue. Crush is there to give visitors a look into the world of a humorous turtle and everyone can be terrorized as they ride the elevator on Tower of Terror. The whole backlot is a fantastic experience. They have a great hot dog place, Award Wieners where guests can get a hot dog and chips. Hollywood Backlot also has an excellent live play Aladdin where guests can experience a professional play. Aladdin is also leaving the theater.

     At night time the park comes to life with the new water show, World of Color. It is an amazing show that uses lights, water and song to enhance and tell a story using many different Disney movies.

     The entire park is an amazing Disney experience. Coming soon they have a trolley and Cars Land.  Guests need to plan several days at Disney’s California Adventure Park to experience it all especially now with the addition of Cars Land. I will write about the park as it is now soon. 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Favorite Places to Eat at Disney's California Adventure Park

     I wrote about our favorite places to eat at Disneyland, now I will tell what our favorite places are in Disney's California Adventure Park (DCA). The price range is about the same as Disneyland. Some places are a little more costly but not compared to places you might eat outside the park. Taste Pilot Grill, Award Wieners, Cozy Cone, Flo's V8, Pacific Warf Cafe, Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill and Ghirdelli's are our favorite places to eat when we are at DCA.

     Taste Pilot Grill is now called Smokejumpers but will always be Taste Pilot to us. The atmosphere has changed but the food is pretty much the same. They have some of the best burgers I've ever tasted. They also offer an excellent condiment bar where you get a delicious barbecue sauce along with all the other burger fixings. Their fries are good here too but sure not as good as when we first started eating here in 2003. back then they have the seasoned waffle fries and they were the best fries ever! I really don't know why the got rid of them but know we miss those fries a lot!

     Award Wiener is a great place to get a delicious hot dog. We go there when we are not real hungry because even though their dogs are yummy they only give out chips so you tend not to fill up as well as when they serve fries. When we first started going to the park they had fries and we sure do wish they would bring them back.

    When we are looking more for a snack than a meal or just a small meal, Cozy Cone is the place to go. Cozy Cone has a fritz pie in a delicious bread cone. They also have Chili Con Case but it is not my favorite. We go here a few times each visit to the resort. Cozy Cone also has a delicious soft serve ice cream and some delicious Churro bites.

     For a nice meal that is on the healthier side we go to Flo's V8 Cafe. It is still counter service but delicious food. The meals are a bit more expensive than the other restaurants but here you get meat and two vegetables. We always walk away full. The atmosphere is a lot of fun whether you eat inside or out. The outside seating area looks on to Radiator Springs Racers or you can just chill out on Route 66..

     Pacific Warf Cafe is where we get soup in a bread bowl. We love to eat here and take our food to the large eating area. You can also get food at Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill and sit in the same area. There is something for everyone in the Pacific Warf eating area. The bread bowl I like to get is clam chowder. I don't care much for sour dough bread but it is good with the soup. I keep hoping someday they will use regular bread too. I love the chicken dinner at Cochina's. With that you get chicken and a vegetable or two.

     There are times when we really are not all that hungry or actually are not hungry for a meal. So then we go to Ghirdelli's for an ice cream dinner. We usually get a sundae or one scoop of ice cream with toppigs. It is a wonderful way to end a magical day in the parks or a magical afternoon or any magical time.

     No matter where you eat in DCA the food is delicious and you leave feeling fueled. Then you are ready to enjoy the rest of your day or head back to the room for a restful night


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Special Memories With a Special Cast Member

     We have had many cast members make our visits to Disneyland and California Adventure Park special, magical and memorable. They not only do their job by meeting the needs of the guests but go above and beyond making each guest feel important and loved. Those remarkable cast members love their jobs and it shows. I only know the name of one cast member who made special memories for us because we met up with her two years different years and we remembered her.

     This cast member is Paula and she works in Fantasyland. In 2006 while we were waiting to ride on Casey Jr. Paula joked with my youngest son who was nine years old at the time. She told him that he was a monkey and made us all laugh. Later we saw her at the Carousel too and she made us laugh once again.

     Several years later in 2011 when my son was fourteen years old we were waiting to ride Casey Jr and the cast member working there was joking and telling the kids they were monkeys, she was incredibly funny. I remembered her from 2006 and we visited with her telling her that she had joked with my son back when he was only nine years old. He remembered her too which she thought was very special.

     Paula was a lot of fun and we went back to see her the next night when she took a picture with my son. Meeting such a fun cast member two different years was a special adventure to us all and I believe it was magical for her to have us remember her unique sense of humor and wonderful personality. She said it made her feel great knowing that she helped make our visit to the Happiest Place on Earth a fabulous experience.

     Other cast members are special too and I will share those experiences too but felt this one needed its own spot to shine

Our Favorite Places to Eat at Disneyland

     Dining at Disneyland is fun just because it is Disneyland. The restaurants are a lot of fun and add a special magic to the entire experience. Many people say the prices are way out of line but in reality there are many place to eat that are no more expensive than a meal at McDonald's. Disneyland has many different places to eat. Some of our favorites are Redd Rocket Pizza Port, Plaza Inn, Golden Horseshoe/Stage Door Cafe, River Belle Terrace, Cafe Orleans and we used to love Blue Bayou.

     I will start with The Blue Bayou, The Blue Bayou is a fancy dining restaurant and requires a reservation because they are so busy. The atmosphere is a lot of fun since it is located in the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. The service is excellent and until the last two years we thought worth the high costs. We have gone there every year since 2006 but after last year will never go again which is sad. Their menu has changed and the food is not as good as it used to be.Well except for their gumbo, it is out of this world!  We've experienced the atmosphere so it is time to leave this wonderful restaurant behind and enjoy our memories of the Blue Bayou. I will write about our memories of this beautiful restaurant later on.

     Redd Rocket Pizza Port is located in Tomorrowland and is a great place to go for pizza or pasta. They also offer salads which we don't eat often because well, who wants salad when you have pizza and pasta. Pizza Port is a counter service restaurant where guests can watch them prepare some of the food. All of their food is very affordable and delicious. Seating is inside the restaurant and outside too. Our favorite place to eat is actually by the entrance to Space Mountain. We eat at Pizza Port several times when we visit Disneyland. The atmosphere is futuristic and a lot of fun.

     For character dining at its best, The Plaza Inn near the entrance to Tomorrowland is the place to be. It is a buffet style restaurant and the food is absolutely delicious. The atmosphere is super fun. Disney characters come by your table for photo ops and to interact with you. It’s a little on the pricey side, but it is so much fun. It is another magical experience. Do make sure you ask to be seated on the left side, for some reason the characters go there most often.

       The Golden Horseshoe in Frontierland is another of Disneyland’s counter service restaurants. They offer chicken and fish strips. We used to go for the entertainment but Billy Hill and the Hillbillies are no longer there so we just go for the food which you can also get at the Stage Door Cafe located to the right of the Shoe. They offer the same food except also offer hand dipped corn dogs and funnel cakes that are to die for.

       The River Belle Terrace is a wonderful place to eat breakfast. They offer many different meals including Mickey Mouse pancakes. It is a counter service restaurant but the food is always delicious and fresh. River Belle is an elegant restaurant. You can sit inside or outside and watch the Mark Twain sail the waters on the Rivers of America.

     Our new discovery in 2015 was Cafe Orleans. Because of our love for The Blue Bayou gumbo we decided to try Cafe Orleans. We had heard they serve the same gumbo and well, they do! Oh how excited we were to find out favorite food at a lot cheaper price. You can also get just a bowl of gumbo and it is a good helping too. We tried their Monte Cristo as well and found it to be delicious too. Cafe Orleans is now one of our favorite places to eat at Disneyland. We will eat there several times each trip I am sure.

     There are other places to eat at Disneyland but the ones I have mentioned are our favorites.  Dining at Disneyland is fun just because it is Disneyland. The restaurants are a lot of fun and add special magic to the entire experience.