Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Penelope California Favorites

 Here is Penelope's post on her most favourite things about Disneyland.

Favorite Disney Ride: It was Splash Mountain which was of no surprise.  She was terrified but had been looking forward to all these rides that she miss out last time.  The first time we went on, she insisted on being in-between Greg and I the first time, the front the second time and on third time, it was just Greg and the girls since it was too cold for me (it was after the sun set and cooling down) so her and Greg sat in the last row together.

Favorite Univeral Studios Ride: The hippograph in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  She rode it 5x.  And when we were waiting for Greg and Finley to finish riding the Harry Potter ride yet again, one of the Hippo Operators came and asked Penelope if she was going to come ride again hahaha. 

Favorite Ride Overall: Splash Mountain.  She loved getting wet!!!

Favorite Food: Originally she chose the Turkey Dog she had on our last night in Disneyland in Toontown but it was changed the following day when we went to In and Out for burgers and milkshakes.  One of the workers gave them these hats and Penelope kept hers on until she got on the airplane and fell asleep.  She got tons of compliments on it.  

Favorite Disney Characters:  Belle, Olaf, Anna + Elsa

Belle is almost impossible to meet these days and she is rarely at the Royal Fair with the other Princesses.  Greg saw her leaving the Royal Theatre after her performance and figured we could meet her there after  her show on Friday.  Penelope loves Belle and really wanted to meet her so this what we did.  We showed up at the end of her show and was going to wait for her to come out so Penelope could meet her.  We didn't come for the whole show since we did it last time and it never changed since then so we passed.  However, we overheard another mom asking someone who works at the Royal Theatre and she said if you watched the show you can stay inside and she will come out for photos and autographs.  So we snuck both girls in over the railing and I went in too and we got her photo and autograph and Penelope was thrilled!

Olaf was another favourite of Penelope's - perhaps her most favourite.  She was wearing her Olaf shirt and he was beyond thrilled to see himself on her shirt.  I have no idea who was playing Olaf but whoever it was, they were amazing at their job.  

Her final favourite was Anna + Elsa. They were pretty awesome too.  I was very excited to see them too.  Sometimes I feel like I live in Erindale hahah. 

Favorite Beach: Laguna Beach

The girls built sand castles, tunnels and circle drives.  They played in the water and explored the rocks looking for tidal pools.  They loved all 4 beaches they visited but this was probably their favourite.  

Favorite Animal At The Zoo - to nobody's surprise, it was the giraffe!

Favorite Disney Moment: Penelope loved all the rides she got to go on this time.  Last time she missed out on so many rides and was left to the lame rides in Bugs Land but this time she got to go on every ride, some multiple times, except 2!!  She was a very happy kid!  This photo below was taken from the Big Thunder Railway.  We rode this 2x in a row and we all liked it.  I don't remember this ride well from Disneyworld and it was being refurbished last time so this was the first time for both Finley and Penelope.  A pretty swell roller coaster!

Favorite Moment of the Trip: Penelope loved Paint The Nite Parade which was freaking awesome.  She loved this and Belle's float!

Her second favourite moment of the trip was everything about Disneyland

She said it was very magical!

Least Favorite Ride: The Pirates of The Caribbean.  Don't know how anybody could hate this ride but she sure did. 

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Becky's California Favorites

So we each decided on our favourites in a variety of categories and here is mine!

1.  Favorite Disney Ride:  I pretty much loved every Disney ride I went on except for 2 (see further down below) but if I had to pick a favourite it would be Holiday Haunted Mansion.  After seeing it all decked out for the Holidays I don't know if I could ever go back on the regular ride and be entertained.  A close second would be Soaring Around The World, which used to be Soaring Around California.  The revamped ride was amazing and I loved every second of it.

Favorite Universal Studios Ride: I was heading into Universal thinking my favourite ride would be the new Harry Potter ride but it was for the second time in a row, The Simpson's ride.  I have never watched the tv show other then being in the same room on the rare occasion that Greg watches it but I love it.  You go into a little cart and because of the 3D screen it feels like you are on a legit roller coaster and it is fantastic!!

Favorite Ride Overall:  The Simpson's by a HAIR

Favorite Food in California:  It was this peach and beet salad that I ordered on our first night there and it was amazing.  It was at JD Schmidt's which was located near the Honda Center where the Ducks play and Angel Stadium where the Angels play.  I wish I had taken a photo but instead you are getting a photo of the transit station entrance.  Isn't it amazing?  I think it is the prettiest transit station in the entire world.

Favorite Character Met: We met 27 characters but most I have met the previous 2 times and God knows I love Cinderella and I always enjoy meeting her but I loved meeting Gru from Dispicable Me which is one of my favourite movies.  We also met the girls and the minions!  The new Minion Land at Universal is really well done.

My Favorite Beach: I loved Manhattan Beach which was the first beach we visited and I was quite torn between there and this one and ultimately went with Mission Beach in San Diego.  We had spent the day at the San Diego Zoo and then we headed down to the USS Midway and the Waterfront before ending the day at Mission Beach where we played in the sand and water before having supper at The Draft which had this view from the windows.  It was amazing!

Favorite Animal at San Diego Zoo: The coolest animal I saw at the Zoo was probably the Sorval but I think my favourite moment was watching this bear playing in the water.  We spent a lot of time watching him play and it was fantastic.  Another favourite moment was probably towards the end of our day at the zoo when we saw 2 gigantic turtles having sex.  The noises they make are quite ridiculous.  Adults were snickering and kids thought they were fighting.  

Favorite Disney Moment:  The Jedi Training was super amazing.  I am pretty sure Greg wished he was in there getting the training too.  A must do for every Star Wars loving kid

Favorite Overall Trip Moment: I have two: 

The first is the whole entire Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Although I didn't love the main attraction which is the ride, I loved everything else!!!

Our first stop in Harry Potter World was Ollivander's which was so cool.  They actually had things mechanically set so it was like magic.  They didn't have Ollivander sorting the wands but she did look a lot like Professor McGunigal.  This is actually the busiest attraction inside Harry Potter Land and lines for it by the end of the day are almost 2 hours.  We were the first ones in for the day. 

Hogsmeade was so awesome.  I felt like Hermoine Grainger there haha.  We drank frozen ButterBeer and ate lunch at Three Broomsticks.  It was so freaking amazing!!!

My second favourite part of our trip was experiencing the holiday magic of Disneyland.  I already thought Disney was the most magical place in the whole world but Holiday Disney just takes it up a whole other notch!!  IT IS AMAZING!!!!

My Least Favorite Ride:   Teacups.  The girls and Greg were spinning it so fast that I thought I was going to vomit but fortunately I did not but I felt very nauseous every ride I went on after that hahaha.

Least Favorite Moment: Ride Operators thinking that I was 14 and not old enough to ride with Penelope haha.  Once it was an old guy at Universal who said I couldn't ride with Penelope and I was like why not (even though I knew why) and he laughed and apologized.  And then our last day of Disney some girl much younger then me asked me how old Finley was because you can't ride with anybody under the age of 14 if you are under the age of 7.  I didn't say anything but I was really mad. Greg thinks I should be flattered but I most definitely am not.    Flicks Flyers was a close second.  Same with the Swirly Ride at Universal.

Monday, 28 November 2016

California By The Numbers (Kinda)

The new International Wing at the airport is nothing short of phenomenal.  It so big that they now have trams running to take you to connections and other parts of the airport.  They have wayyyy more check in kiosks and you now go through security before you go through customs.  This whole process took only 20 minutes which is quite crazy for 8am flights and line ups were insane through both customs and security.  We once waited so long we almost missed our flight to San Francisco.  This is so much better!

Once you get though security and customs, they had a much better restaurant selection that you used to have and the cool sitting areas were amazing.  They have 100's of windows to see out and more charging ports for charging electronics.  If you are flying to the United States, you are on the upper level and if you are flying to Mexico or overseas, you are on the bottom level.  This is one of the sitting areas that Finley laid on while we waited for our flight. 

Our flight left Calgary at 8am and we landed in LA and their airport is even worse then the old part of our current airport.  Our flight was just over 3 hours and we landed at 10:15am local time.  We made our way through the airport and went outside to find the shuttle to our car rental agency.  We didn't have to wait more then 5 minutes before we were on our shuttle.  All 4 lanes of traffic trying to leave LAX was backed up and packed like sardines.  I had no idea if it was normal or not but then Greg googled it and apparently someone had either fallen off or was pushed off the upper level parkade.  I had wondered why I had seen a coroner van while we were on our shuttle and turns out this was why.  Because I had assumed the van had picked up the body, I wasn't expecting to see it but sure enough I did.  First I saw a shoe lying near the police tape and fence that was up blocking pedestrians from seeing anything and then because we were in a moving vehicle we could see the body.  It was covered in the space blankets you get when you finish a race in the cold but you could see it from the knees down.  I had never seen anything like this in my whole life and don't ever wish to again.  Thankfully neither girl noticed what was going on.  They finally diverted traffic and we soon made it our rental car.  

For the second time in a row renting vehicles, we got a white Chrysler Town + Country which is also what we had in Maui.  The girls loved having the sliding doors and Penelope cannot wait to get one when she gets older hahahaha. 

After we landed and Greg turned his phone back on, he found out that there was a crisis back in Calgary that he had ago deal with.  Something about a valve leaking and very tiny number but it was problematic none the less.  He took 3 phone calls and several text messages getting it sorted out and I even had to text his college twice while we were driving on the freeway.  It was all gibberish to me.  This apparently was/is his area expertise and one of the big reasons why he was hired.  It was kinda crappy but it was all over after one day.  

We spent 8 days + 7 nights in California. 3 days were spent in Disneyland which is just amazing during the holiday season.

We spent one day at Universal Studios

One Day In San Diego at the San Diego Zoo, The SS Midway and The Beach!

And finally, four partial days of beaches: Laguna, Manhattan, Venice and Mission

We collected 10 seashells and built 10 sandcastles and three mountains and 2 tunnels and one circle drive.  The girls love the sand and beach a TON!!  Me, not so much plus the Pacific Ocean is really cold!

We also visited the State Marine Reserve and spoke with the Marine Educator while we were at Laguna Beach.  She told us about the tidal pools and then showed us the amoeba's and that the reason they had a ban on collecting sea shells was because they amoebas lived in the shells as a way to survive.  She also told us that there were zero starfish in California because of Starfish Wasting Disease.  It was pretty cool!

We walked for a total of 148,133 steps which was just over 85km.  The highest daily amount was Friday which was our third and final day at Disneyland.  It was significantly more then the other 2 days at the park because this time we were walking all over the place riding our favourites over and over again.  Our lowest day total was 12, 138 and that was on Wednesday.  We walked to and from Starbucks, registered for SeaWheeze and went to Laguna Beach and pit stop at a Target.  It was a much needed day of rest.

I successfully registered for my fourth Lululemon SeaWheeze using 2 iPhones, 2 iPads, and a desktop in the hotel Business Centre that Greg opened multiple screens open on.  

We went to 3 different Targets and was infinitely sad that it was no longer in Canada.  The stuff they had out for Christmas was amazing, the kids clothes brilliant.  I bought myself 2 shirts and the girls each a pair of pajamas and a Poppy troll christmas ornament.  God I miss it so....

One of the shirts that I bought from Target was a Christmas shirt and the other was a Minnie Mouse shirt that I could wear to Disneyland.  Turns out it was purchase made by many as I saw 37 different women wear it over the course of our 3 days at Disneyland. 

We bought 3 Minnie Mouse Ears on our first day at Disneyland.  I got christmas ones, Finley got amazing hot pink ones and Penelope got Tinkerbell ones.  We wore them all for the whole 3 days there and the girls both wear them to school for their first day back.  

We purchased 4 Mickey Mouse Shaped Ice Cream Sandwiches and they were delicious.  We also purchased 3 Mickey Mouse shaped rice crispy treats covered in garbage that nobody ate but they sure looked pretty.  This one was my favourite.

We rode 60 rides between both Disney and Universal:
**12 at Universal
**31 at Disneyland
**17 at California Adventure

The rides we rode more then once:
Harry Potter (3x)
Flight of the Hippogriff (4x)
Minion Mayhem (2x)
Transformers (2x)
Splash Mountain (3x)
Autopia (2x)
Space Mountain (2x)
Big Thunder Railway (2x)
Haunted Mansion (2x)
Mater's Junkyard Jamboree (2x)

Ghosts at Haunted Mansion


California Slammin + Mickey's Ferris Wheel

Jurassic Park

Penelope could ride everything but two rides at both Disney parks and 3 rides at Universal but was only 2 this time because they are refurbishing the mummy.

We got to a spot to watch the holiday festival parade about 30 minutes before it started to ensure we could get a good spot to see and then it proceeded to start 25 minutes late.  It was so awesome that it was worth the wait.

Two kids fell asleep with heads in my lap while we waited for the fireworks to start.  

Penelope then fell asleep on Greg's shoulders like she did in 2013 when we were here and again missed the fireworks.  Next time she says she will stay awake.  

We waited 48 minutes in line for Tower of Terror.  It was the only like we stood in the entire week.  It would have been shorter but I spotted Sofia The First and since we missed her the last time so I insisted we get a photo with her much to Greg's dismay. 

We walked the 20 minute walk from our hotel to Disneyland 3x.  Greg did it 4x because Penelope forgot her glasses so he ran back to hotel to get them while we explored downtown Disney and Starbucks.  

Our hotel, The Anaheim Majestic Garden, had shuttles that took you both to and from the hotel and park.  We never took the shuttle there, but always took it back at night.  We missed the first 2 shuttles on night one but managed to miss zero the next 2 days.  Our gate was #19

You can no longer fast pass the live shows like you could the last time we were there so we had to arrive at Frozen Live 45 minutes early so we could ensure a spot for the 330 show.  We got seats in the seventh row in the orchestra section. It started 4 minutes late but OMG was it worth it, it was freaking amazing!!!!  Go see it if you are ever back in Disneyland.  Well worth every second we waited for it.

We recorded one birthday video greeting for my sister who was celebrating her 35th birthday on November 15th.

Non restrictive fast passes were given out for the festive version of World of Colour and Greg got 4 as soon as the park opened.  We then arrived to our special viewing area about a 30 minutes before the show started.  We had awesome spots until Greg thought he found better but it turns out he didn't and we lost our great seats.  We were still in the front but more to the right then centre.  In the summer version we saw, they utilized all 3 screens so you could see but not this time.  I was pretty disappointed because I couldn't see anything on the screen but from what I could see, the photos were very blurry and distorted.  Overall, it was disappointing.  

On our rest day, we were all so tired after supper that we went to bed at 730pm and slept a solid 10 hours.  Greg stayed up a little longer and did research on our drive the following morning to Universal Studios.  At around 8pm, it was a 35 minute drive to get to Universal Studios which was 53  miles away from our hotel.  However, to get to Universal in time for the 9am opening, we had to leave our hotel at 7am at the latest.  So we left at 6:43am and got there at 8:13am.  At one point, there were 8 lanes going from Anaheim to LA!!  Pure Insanity.  On our way home, it took us exactly 2 hours!  I could never deal with that on a daily basis.  

We paid $50 to Universal Studios so that we could get in one hour early so that we could have access to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter before the general public and it resulted in ZERO line ups to do anything in HP World.  It was fantastic. 

One 6 year old had a career change while at Universal Studios.  She now wants to be an Animal Trainer after watching the animal trainer show.  She has started her training with Pizza who has so far ate a lot of treats and done nothing else.  She takes this new career very seriously.  The show was mostly lame and very similar to the show we saw last time but they did have Draco Malfoy's Owl there and that was pretty awesome.

At the San Diego Zoo, you can purchase and consume alcohol while you are walking around the park looking at the animals.  At 10am, the carts open up the alcohol stand and you are good to go.   It is a great feature that more parks should endorse - especially on hot days.  I had the Angry Orchard Cider and it was so good.  I wish I could find it in Canada!!

The San Diego Zoo is home to over 3700 rare and endangered animals representing more than 650 species and subspecies and a zillion plants.  And I swear half of their animals are Gazelles.  I had no idea there were so many different varieties of Gazelles. 

On two occasions, ride operators thought I was under 14 years of age.  The first time, it was in Minion Land at Universal Studios and the guy operating said that Penelope had to ride with Greg.  I asked why she couldn't ride with me and he was like oh I thought you were the kid and then laughed. I was annoyed.  Then on Friday in Disneyland, the ride operator asked to make sure Finley was over 7 because you  have to ride with someone over the age of 14 if you are not.  And she was really young too not old like the guy at Univeral.  Greg thought it was hilarious.  Me not so much.  

On our trip, Penelope had at least 22 time outs.  The longer our trip got, the more terrible her behaviour became.  She thrives on discipline and routine and that is lost while on vacation but we tried to do the best we could which included time outs in corners of ride lines and drawing time out squares on the beach.

We met 27 characters between Disneyland + Universal and here they all are:

The only one missing is Mater and that is because it is only on my photo pass and when I made these collages I was at Finley's tech training and didn't have access to them.  To find out our favourites, you will have to check back with our daily favourites that will post each day.

1240 photos were taken and probably even more deleted as well as 4 videos not to mention all the photos on our photo pass that Disneyland offers. 

Our plane departed from LAX at 8:39pm, 6 minutes early, and landed at local time at 12:12am which was 45 minutes early.  We were in our car by 1:15am and in bed by 1:51am which concluded our crazy fun trip.  

Each day we will feature one member of our family and their favourites of the trip.  I am first since I have finished that one and after that is anyone's guess haha