We arrived at the Calgary International Airport 2 hours before our 8am flight to LAX. We were greeted by a new play area for kids ages 3 - 5 but since nobody else was around, we played in it. It contains 4 iconic locales: Saddledome, COP, Peace Bridge and Calgary Tower
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)
Splash Mountain (3x)
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
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