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A 30-something living in the foothills of the Virginia mountains; I'm saved by grace, addicted to coffee and my little sister is my best friend! I devote most of my time to exploring, reading, attending as many Nationals games as possible and documenting life here. My Prince Charming got lost somewhere along the way...but I'm trying to remain hopeful that true love exists.

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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

California Dreamin - DisneyLand Adventures

I'm back - I know you've all missed me terribly. All two or three of you that read about my adventures and stop by this small corner of the internet that I call "mine".

Between being taken down by a sinus infection at the end of the week of May 15th and then leaving for a glorious ten days of vacation in California, I'll go ahead and call my absence a pretty reasonable thing. I know some people blog while on vacation...but when my family goes on vacation, we tend to be constantly doing something from the time the sun comes up until it goes down...there isn't usually much time for blogging...or anything else for that matter!

I should note - the next few posts will largely be photo dumps - I hope you enjoy!

On the...plane...again....
High above the clouds...

Smoggy foggy Los Angeles from the sky....
Hey - good to see you again!
My family left on Friday evening and flew out to California...arriving in Los Angeles around 7:00, which to us East coasters felt like it was 10 PM! After cruising (ha...yea right) through LA traffic to Anaheim, we arrived at our first stop on this ten day odyssey: DisneyLand! We stayed at the Grand Californian and spent Friday evening through Tuesday morning in a whole other world - because honestly, that's what it feels like when you're at Disney - you know? I love that feeling!

*Inner child explodes with happiness*
We escaped the Abominable Snowman & made it down the mountain!
Climbing the Matterhorn is tough....
I will confess here and now that I am a complete pansy when it comes to rides - I don't do heights, I don't do big drops, I don't do hanging upside down, I don't do "hang time"...I mean, the list goes on and on. I have not ridden Space Mountain in years and years; I rode it when I was in my early teens and wrote it off completely, but this year it was re-branded as Hyperspace Mountain (Star Wars mania!) and so I decided to give it a go once more. I didn't want to...seriously...it was probably pathetic how I said "I do not want to ride this..." but I shut up, sucked it up and climbed on board. Shockingly (ha!) I didn't hate it and I suppose when we return to the Disney(s) again in the future, I'll give it another go! I'm sure my sister loved having me sit beside her and quietly mutter/sing "Jesus Take the Wheel" as our spaceship banked all the turns in the dark of "space"...hahahaha!

Move along...nothing to see here...
Submarines, Monorails & Mountains...all in a day at Disney!
Ready to dive under the sea and find Nemo...
We battled Darth Vader on Star Tours and followed up with some Bantha Blue French Toast (Star Wars fans out there...) for breakfast before climbing aboard bobsleds to race down Matterhorn Mountain! The Matterhorn easily became my favorite ride at DisneyLand - loved it! We found Nemo under the sea on what used to be the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride; we had a rider along with us who will not grow up to be a submariner, she screamed in terror for most of the deep sea dive and even the sight of Dory could not console her. Oops! We boarded another watercraft, this time to ride It's A Small World - a ride my Dad absolutely loves - cue the eye roll and sigh. We make fun of him every time we ride this, he thinks we could let it be and not miss anything. But hey - I need to hear that cheery refrain on repeat for a complete Disney experience - don't you?

This shirt isn't even ironic for him...
So amazing to look at - very different from Disney World's version!
Sleeping Beauty Castle - objects in mirror are smaller than they appear...
A huge...or maybe not so huge takeaway from DisneyLand...Sleeping Beauty castle is quite small! I suppose I was expecting something along the lines of the grandeur of Cinderella castle at Disney World and when we rounded the corner of Main Street - we were floored by the size of the castle! I will say it looks larger the closer you get (forced perspective at work...) but from afar...man it seems tiny! After visiting with the grim grinning ghosts of the Haunted Mansion and having an early lunch at the Blue Bayou, which is located in Orleans Square and has a portion of Pirates of the Caribbean running through it, we spent a large chunk of the afternoon in Frontier Land and Adventure Land, we adventured through the Frontier. Okay...sorry...that was cheesy!

The River of the Americas
Thunder Mountain!
We cruised through the jungle and I was sad to see that Tarzan's Treehouse was closed for renovations...but oh well. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has long been a favorite of mine and I enjoyed every minute of our brief spin through the canyons, mountains and ghost town of Rainbow Ridge and we even took a quick spin through Winnie the Pooh's vivid imagination aboard some fat little honeypots! We actually passed on Splash Mountain completely on this visit - the wait time was over an hour! We took ourselves and our Fast Passes along to Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye and went along with Indy as he hunted for treasure and dodged spikes, curses, giant balls, skeletons and of course...snakes...and somehow made it out alive, ha! After watching the afternoon parade, we decided to spend the late afternoon in Fantasy Land!

After surviving our adventure with Indy...
Lindsey & her hero - Mr. Toad!
Snow White Grotto...
I discovered in Fantasy Land that Lindsey was more than a little excited about riding Mr. Toad's Wild Ride; at one point I heard her quietly whisper to herself and when I asked her what she was saying, she confessed she thought she needed to lower her expectations of the ride because she didn't want to be disappointed! Ha! We took a spin through Alice in Wonderland's ride (aboard caterpillars...of course) and rode woodworking benches through Pinocchio's tale before boarding small boats to cruise through the Story Land Canal ride - which was so cool! The ride was just a simple boat ride through a small lagoon, but it featured incredibly detailed miniatures of so many Disney animated films: Aladdin, Cinderella, Frozen, the Wind in the Willows (calm down Lindsey...) Beauty & the Beast, Snow White...the list goes on and on! I loved it! We had dinner at a buffet style restaurant before trying to find a good spot to settle in for the evening parade and fireworks!

Mack - all in lights!
If you think Disney is letting go of Frozen any time...think again...ha!
Fireworks light the night...whoosh!
The parade and fireworks were new for the 60th Anniversary Celebration and they were pretty amazing - is it sad to say that I don't have that many pictures of the fireworks because we'd found a bench to sit on and I didn't want to stand up? Ha-ha...so true! I watched every bit of the parade from a standing position, wedged against people I didn't know - which is what everyone else was doing - but when we discovered a bench to sit on for the fireworks, it was on! I thoroughly enjoyed my first day at Disney Land and let me tell you...I fell into the bed and died on Saturday night...granted, that whole time difference might have had something to do with it...

The Grand Californian lobby!
So - that is day one - and I assure you, there is so much more to come! Exciting, right?


In Case You Wondered (Food & Lodging)

Galactic Grill in Tomorrowland: counter service; great for a quick meal!

The Blue Bayou in Orleans Square: sit down meal; awesome setting, on the pricier end (as far as Disney is concerned)

The Plaza Inn: sit down meal; buffet style; middle range on price

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa: one of three hotels at Disney Land; gorgeous...rooms are a bit wee for four (grown) people...but still really lovely!




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