Saturday, April 19, 2014

California Debriefing next

I know, I know - you all are finding it difficult to move on with you own lives because you are wondering how our California vacation went.  Well, worry no longer.  I am finally here to at least starting telling you!  Now I just hope I remember correctly!  Maybe John will jump in if I am totally off base.

We left on a Wednesday, after the kids got home from school  Our direct flight didn't leave until 7:40 so we had plenty of time to grab a bite to eat and get through security.  Katie and I were seat buddies on this flight and Will and John were right ahead of us. 

We got into CA around 10:45 (their time).  There was an issue with baggage claim because it took FOREVER for anyone's bags to show up - we waited probably 30-45 minutes I bet.  Then we took a shuttle to the car rental place which was another long wait.  Not sure what the guy's problem was but he was certainly not very quick.  We got our car finally - and headed to our hotel near Disneyland which was a good 30 miles away yet.  On a positive note - the freeways were relatively clear at midnight.  Got the kids to bed so that we could do Disney the next morning!

The hotel offered a breakfast buffet - kids ate free with adults.  We ate and then walked to Disneyland because the entrance was only about two blocks away.  I must admit - I'm not a Disney fanatic, but I was fairly excited to be going to Disneyland.  It's easy to get excited because everyone around you is excited as well.    The guidebooks say to get there about 30 minutes before the park opens....so that's what we did.  Then we waited til 9 am for the park to open.

 
Waiting.....but it was a nice day!

 
First celebrity siting - Minnie!  We also saw Goofy and Daisy Duck.  We were making the most of our time in the park so we didn't get in lines for pictures.  The kids were well aware that it was just people dressed in costumes anyway. 

 
Sleeping Beauty's castle.
Thanks to Netflix and a DVD about Disneyland - we knew to walk through the castle and look for a steel nail driven into the walkway, which marked the exact center of Disneyland Park.
 
 
Before the trip, I had gone back and forth trying to decide between planning the day out, carefully picking which rides we should do at what time or just letting the day take us and do things as we came across them.  I read a few guidebooks from the library and both STRONGLY advised against the latter approach.  They said your wait time would - on average - for the entire day would be about 3-4 hours longer in total.  Well, that decided it for me.  So, I worked out a vague plan of what we should do that morning while the park had fewer people in it.  Then, later in the day, doing rides that we happen across or that we notice have shorter wait times. 
 
Along with the guide book, we used an app on my phone that updated people about wait times at certain rides.  We also took advantage of the FastPass option certain rides have.  You go to the ride, scan everyone's tickets and then they issue you a window of time to return later in the day to ride, at which time you won't have to wait in the regular line.  It isn't available on all rides, and there only a limited number for the day so it's best to get them early. 
 
Here's a list of rides we were able to go on -
- Peter Pan's Flight
- Snow White's Scary Adventure
- Star Tours (A Star Wars virtual ride...which was awesome!!!)
- Space Mountain (used FastPass)
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
- Autopia (The kids got to drive cars along a real road course while John and I were passengers.  It was terrifying!)
- The Haunted Mansion
- Disney Railroad
- Mark Twain Riverboat
- Big Thunder Mountain (used FastPass)
- Gadget's Go Coaster
- Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
- Pirate's of the Caribbean
 
I think that's it!  It's a Small World and the Indiana Jones Adventure ride were being refurbished so we couldn't do those.  We also skipped Splash Mountain because we didn't want to get soaked.  We tried to do The Matterhorn, (bobsled ride) but the wait time was too long and they weren't doing FastPasses for that. 
 
Space Mountain scored really high on our list of favorites as did Star Tours.  But it's REALLY hard to pick a favorite.  They were really awesome.  And yes, the wait times were long.  Snow White's Scary Adventures was the shortest wait - at about 5 minutes.....but we did stand in line up to around 50 minutes.  BUT Disney has kind of thought of everything and most of the time they do make waiting in line a part of experience.  So they have stuff to watch, and see while you move along in line.  They also weave you back and forth and in and out of areas so that the length of the line is very deceiving.  Sometimes you think you are SO CLOSE, but then realized there's an entire section of the line you haven't been through yet.  But I do have to say the kids (and John) were total troopers about waiting.  They didn't complain or whine while we had to wait - it made it much more tolerable!
 
 
C3PO spoke to the crowd at we waited in line for Star Tours.

 
R2D2 was there too!

 
Mark Twain Riverboat
 

Riverboat ride around the lagoon.
 
 
 
Splash Mountain action shot.
 
 
 
Will and I making our way down Main Street USA.

 
The kids wouldn't cooperate, but "I" wanted my picture in front of the castle!


Big Thunder Mountain roller coaster!  This one was wild and lots of fun -
Funny story....I got a FastPass for this one around noon that said return between 5:30 and 6:30 to ride.  So we went back to hotel around midday - went swimming, relaxed, snacked, etc. and then came back to the park to do some more rides that evening. The wait time in the regular line was WAY over an hour.  We walked past HUNDREDS of people while we were in the FastPass line and got right on!  It was great!
 

 
Every night there is a parade.  They suggest lining up for a spot an hour before it starts.  Well, you've seen one parade, you've seen them all.  We did sneak some peeks, but it was also a VERY slow parade....so we waited til we saw Mickey and then took off to do more rides.  If you squint you can see him too. :)
They didn't have fireworks that evening.  Oh well! 

 
Katie and Will had a giant pool almost all to themselves.  That's Katie back floating in the middle there.  We had taken along their life jackets - I just thought they might need them, not knowing how deep the pools would be, etc.  We never even unzipped them!  (
Note to me: Next time we'll leave them at home!)

 
Not even 15 minutes after we returned to hotel for the evening........

 
.....they were both out like a light.
 
 
Up next: Day 2!  We hit the beach and head to the desert!


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Warmer weather

Time for a new post - gotta get that blond mess in the picture farther down! 

It was warmer here Monday and Tuesday and then yesterday it got cooler again - cooler today too....although it says 29 degrees so we should be happy enough with that.  It's sunny.

Our garage door broke yesterday.  It wouldn't close.  When I hit the button to close it, it would hit something and then go back up.  Sometimes this happens in colder weather and it just needs help going down.  So I got out and was helping it go down, but still not working.  Of course this was occurring as we were heading out the door to school and had about 2 minutes to spare.  So I detached the door from the automatic garage opener and was going to close it that way - which is a pain, but always worked...in the past.  Even that wouldn't close all the way.  One side seemed to go down, but then that threw the other side off alignment.  Who knows. 

I called John to tell him about it and that he'd have to go in the front door when he came home, instead of the garage.  When he got home he noticed that the cables on one side had snapped.  He called some "garage door" people and they said it sounded like we would need a new one. 

So the guy came this morning to look at it and confirmed that we would need a new one - so they are coming back at noon to install it.  It should be all taken care of today!   I like those quick fixes....of course you have to pay for them....but I still like them.  Oh, and they are also going to install a new entry keypad as well!  It will be nice to have a new one of those.  I have to remember to tell them to install it about a foot lower so that the kids can reach it if they need to. 

I better run - I have a reading group at school to meet at 10:30.  This week has been utterly crazy - it was book fair for 3 days and I am co-chairing it with another mom. But THAT is over and now it's on to taxes.  I'd LOVE to get them mostly done before we go on vacation!  We'll see.....

Monday, March 3, 2014

All over....

The kids and I have wrapped up another musical. We had 4 Shrek performances this weekend and it was quite exhausting - as it always is. A week of late night dress rehearsals followed by a weekend of late and all day performances will have that effect. Friday was opening night and it was exciting as ever. Will told me later that he was a bit nervous, but you wouldn't have been able to tell. He was nervous onstage because one of the other dwarves accidentally knocked his hat off, but he recovered. I accidentally dropped my walking stick during my dance - actually one of the other blind mice did too. So we reluctantly changed the dance a bit to exclude that part. Katie also missed part of one scene due to a miscount of kids, but no worries - it was on to Saturday! Saturday we had a 2:00 show and a 7:00 show so we were there all day. Volunteers made supper for us between shows and it was so delicious - turkey, baked corn, mashed potatoes, gravy, pasta salads, rolls, etc. It was ridiculously good. Katie's teacher came to the afternoon show which made Katie very proud! And John came to the Saturday night show, which - I think - was the best one, at least from what I have gathered. Sunday's show was a bittersweet ending to 2 months of preparations, but we were also glad to close the book on Shrek for a while. Pictures keep coming in, but here's some that I thought I would share.....
 
Getting Will's make-up on.  He let me do his, but Katie preferred the work of others. :)
 
 
Will having fun during his song.

 
Katie leading out the Farquad dancers.

 
Me and my mice (I'm in the middle....)