11.08.2013

Disneyland Food Reviews


Oh the food.  I literally spent MONTHS looking at and drooling over all the food stuffs that can be found at DLR.  There are so many amazing things to eat in the parks.  Since we were only there for 3 days I wasn’t able to eat everything on my Disney Foods bucket list but I did get quite a few in. I wish I had photos for you but well umm I just ate most stuff right away....
 
Here is my Disney Foods Bucket List-

Things I tried:

   The Cozy Cone Motel Eats- We tried the churro bites, the pretzel bites, and the Chili Cone.   All three offerings were just okay.  The churro bites were a bit to crunchy as if they had been left sitting for a while and the pretzel bites weren’t anything special.  I didn’t try the chili but was told it’s no better than what you can get for $1 at Wendy’s.

Cheese Flatbread from Tangora Terrace inside The Disneyland Hotel.  Not bad for “fast food” but wasn’t great and is in no way a meal for an adult.
Fun bendy straw in my rummy adult beverage

Shrunken Zombie Head, alcoholic beverage from Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar.  Very Tasty!

Krakatoa Punch, another alcoholic beverage from Trader Sam’s Tiki Bar.  This one came with an awesome tiki glass that I got to take home.
Me getting ready to bite into corndog heaven

  The Corndogs-oh these are the BEST corndogs.  They are hand dipped and fried to perfection.  Since they also happen to be huge they work as a meal unto themselves.  For $6.75 you get the dog and either a bag of chips or apple slices.  If you go to the Corndog Castle in DCA you can get the classic dog, a cheddar cheese filled dog, or a spicy sausage dog.  Otherwise you can find the classic corndogs on the Little Red Wagon or at the Stage Door Café in Disneyland.  Adia tried the Cheddar Dog and wasn’t overly impressed.  It looked like a large lump of cold cheese to me.  Stick with the classic and you will be just fine. 

 Popcorn!  Who knew popcorn could be so good?  Not a bad deal either considering you are in Disneyland.  We got a Halloween themed Souviner bucket filled for $6.  It was nice since it had a lid so we could munch all day.  

  Did I mention the Dole Whips?  I do not have the words to describe how good that fluffly pineappley frozen concotion was.  I tried the float but next time will just get the whip on it’s own.  I will also share since it’s a pretty large serving!  
Ryan is going to eat the ears first
   Mickey Soft Pretzel-It’s fun to have a Mickey shaped pretzel and it’s not bad if you want to munch on the run but it’s really nothing special.  I have heard the cream cheese one is good but we just got a plain salted one. 

      Chicken and Fries- The Stage Door Café is tucked into a corner in Frontierland and serves chicken and fries, Corndogs, Fish & Chips, and Funnel Cakes.  We got the chicken nuggets and fries and Adia got the kids power pack.  The portions were good, the prices were okay, and the food was tasty.  We even had leftovers which I put away in the backpack and the kids ate later in the hotel room.

        Tigger Tails-Found in Pooh’s Corner in Critter Country.  I like marshmallows.  I especially like them if they are dipped in chocolate.  I have never had anything as good as these though.  Disney’s homemade marshmallows threaded onto a stick, dipped in caramel, then dipped in chocolate.  I brought one of these home with me and kept in the fridge so it could be savored for a few days.
 Peanutbutter Sandwich-Found in Pooh’s Corner too.  I also happen to like peanut butter… peanut butter smooshed between two graham crackers then covered in chocolate?  Yeah I REALLY like that.

Things I have yet to try:
 Plaza Inn Fried Chicken-Found at the Plaza Inn.  Reviews say this is THE BEST Fried Chicken around.  We didn’t make there but it is a must do for a future
      Bengal Barbecue-This is a little stand that serves meat on a stick.  While I would like to try the spicy Banyan Beef Skewer, the bacon wrapped asparagus Safari Skewer is a must.
  Jalepeno Cheese Filled Soft Pretzel.  I love Jalepeno and cheese so this is right up my alley
   Dinner at the Blue Bayou.  It’s gorgeous!  The drinks glow!  I would love to get a mint julep in a glow cube cup and share the famed Monte Cristo Sandwitch with my sweets.  
.   Pommes Frites and Beignets from Café Orleans
  A Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar
   Mickey Shaped Waffles
   Lemon Bumblebee Cupcake from Hungry Bear Restaurant
   Dinner at Flo’s V-8 Café when all the neons are lit
An ice cream bar from Clarabelle’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream
  Sundae from Ghirardelli Soda Fountain

We also got to eat in Downtown Disney a few times.  One night we got pretzel bites and a pretzel pizza thing from Wetzels Pretzels.  It was the perfect sharable snack to take back to our room after a long day in the parks.
Outdoor seating area at Tortilla Joe's
We also at at Tortilla Joe's Taqueria twice.  This is an area that reminds me of Chipotle with a few options for taco's or burrito's, meat choices, toppings etc.  There is mostly outdoor seating and no waiters/waitresses.  We ate her one morning for breakfast and one evening for dinner.  Both times were really good and affordable.
The last morning we were in Anaheim we wandered over to Earl of Sandwich and ate breakfast.  Again is was good and affordable.  Next time I will plan on eating lunch or dinner there since the sandwiches look amazing and are a really good value.

Since I am sure there will be another trip to DLR in the future I know what things I must have again and what things I still really want to try.  A longer trip or a bigger stomach may be in order!

You can find menu’s and prices at AllEars.Net


 

11.06.2013

Dia De Los Muertos Shrines

I made these shrines for the Day of the Dead swap hosted by Retro Cafe Art Gallery.  The only rule was that we had to pick from a few shrine kits to use.  In the past I have always leaned towards using primary colors for these shrines.  This time I wanted to do something a little different so I chose new colors to work with.  I am very happy with the orange and yellows even though neither is a favorite color of mine. 
 
In this first shrine I painted the inside and outside with orange and red .  Neat little trick I learned when making this shrine is the sand it down before painting.  Then use you sandpaper again on the dry paint to wear it out a little.  I found a neat chipboard piece which I made glittery and attached to the roof.  I sandwiched the papal picado between the two layers.  To make the border design I used a Sharpie Paint Pen.  If you haven't tried one of these do ASAP!  I ordered the little poly candles from Etsy and everything else was in my stash.

This second shrine is somewhat similar to the first with the use of the skull/crown/flower eyes and candle but this is where my inspiration took me.  I did use a different kind of skull bead which is flat rather than 3D as is the crown.  The border is done with gold dresden flowers and the top has yellow and orange paper roses.  

I am hoping that whomever receives them in the swap loves them as much as I do.  I had a hard time sending them away but I know with so many other amazing artists who play along that I will get something gorgeous in return.


11.01.2013

Disneyland Resort Review


When we decided to plan a trip to Disneyland in 2013 my research skills went into overdrive!  I had never been to Disneyland (DLR) as an adult, my kids had never been, and I felt a great sense of responsibility to give them a trip they would never forget.  I also really wanted to have a great trip since going to any Disney park is pricey no matter what.  I mean even if you aren’t temped to eat everything in sight and purchase a souviener from every ride you are still going to pay a pretty penny just for your tickets!   I got a ton of great tips from other bloggers (links at end of post) on things to eat, where to splurge, what to skip, etc.  Since these were SO helpful to me I thought I would share what worked for my family and a few things I learned while on the trip. 
The first major decision is the time of year to go…. There are so many things to consider when choosing the time of year to go.  For our family we decided that we did not want to go during a peak season.  Crowds are one thing that we don’t really do well with and pulling the kids out of school for a few days to avoid the crowds was worth it.  Additionally, we were able to get a good deal on a Disney hotel since it was off peak season.  We ended up going at the end of September from Sunday to Thursday which gave us three days in the parks where we were literally walking on most rides.  I think the longest line we stood in was 20-25 minutes, once for Grizzly River Run and once for Splash Mountain.  

Now there are a few drawbacks to going during the off peak.  First, more rides tend to be closed during the off peak times of year.  Second, there are no fireworks shows and less parades during weeknights.  Third, the parks hours are much shorter.  When we went the parks were open from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM but since there were less people we were still able to ride everything we wanted during those limited hours. **Tip** Use a website such as Touring Plans to get crowd estimates for the dates you are looking at, ride closures, and line times.
The next decision is where to stay while you are there.  I looked into a lot of hotels.  When I first started looking my critera was based on price, proximity to the parks, food offerings, and amenities.  What I really wanted was fairly priced hotel that was possibly within walking distance of the parks, and had either a fridge and microwave in the room or free hot breakfast.  Well all the hotels I had an interest in were passed on by my other half. 


 I was somehow pursuaded into staying at the Disneyland Hotel for the majority of our trip.. But we did end up saving a bit of money by staying the first night in an off property hotel and taking advantage of some Fall Deals and booking through Disney’s website directly but it was still quite expensive.  The first hotel we stayed in was the Best Western Plus Raffles Inn.  We stayed in one of their Childrens Suites which had two rooms.  One with a queen sized bed and TV and the other had bunkbeds, TV, and pull out couch.  They also had free hot breakfast in the mornings.  The hotel is right next door to the Toy Story parking lot so it would have been easy to walk over there and hop on a free tram to the parks.  For the remainder of our trip we stayed on property at the Disneyland Hotel.

 The hotel was so magical, the room was roomy and comfortable for 5 people, and it had a great pool area.  We were in walking distance to the parks, the room had a fridge, there were tons of places to eat right across the way at Downtown Disney, and we got Early Morning Entry in the parks for each day of our trip.  They had a really fun Tiki themed bar called Trader Sam’s and a somewhat mediocre eatery called Tangaroa Terrace.  We also ran into a few characters wandering around who were happy to pose for photos.  I was so happy that we could walk to our room for a rest in the afternoon and right after the park closed without waiting in yet another line for the tram.  **Tip** If you are going to stay on property book through Disney directly.  This way if they run a special offer after you have booked you can call and have them apply that credit your existing reservation.

If you do stay on property take advantage of  Early Morning entry which is available to all DLR hotel guests and allows you to enter the park one hour before the scheduled opening time.  Both parks are not open early everyday they alternate so we had to take that schedule into consideration when deciding what to do for the day.  

I really enjoyed staying on property but I am really not 100% sure that it was worth the price.  I think next time I may check into staying at Paradise Pier which is still on property but a bit easier on the budget or at another hotel within walking distance. **Tip** Like to get everything in one package and aren’t planning on staying on property?  Check out Get Away Today.  It’s a great way to book online.

One thing that I REALLY wish I could have changed was our tickets.  In order to save some cash I purchased 3 Day, 1 Park Per Day Tickets.  This meant that we couldn’t hop back and forth between the parks.  Bite the bullet and pay a little extra and get the hopping option!  Another must do is to download a line tracker app to your phone.  I cannot tell you how much we used this app.  It was so handy to be in a certain land and see what the wait times were and just head to the rides with little to no lines.  The app we used was from Touring Plans.  

I also shelled out about $60.00 for the PhotoPass+ Service that Disney offers.  I am on the fence about how I feel about this.  It seemed like a GREAT idea.  You pay $60 and Disney send you a voucher that you turn in for a PhotoPass card.  Everytime a photographer takes your picture you give them the card to scan it on to.  You also get all your ride photos and any character dining photos.  I was very happy to get all our ride photos.  Those suckers cost $15.00 each and we got at least 8.  Just there it more than paid for itself.  I also enjoyed not having to lug my own camera around and was able to just use my cell phone for photos.  Once you get home you can go online to veiw and edit all your photos, then you get a disc sent to you with the orginials and the edits.  You also get an agreement from Disney saying you can print the photos yourself.  The two things that I didn’t really like were that I had to take time to go and turn in my voucher to get my PhotoPass+ Card.  I really think they need to send the card in the mail already activated or something.  Stopping what I was doing and trying to locate the shop to activate the card was kind of a pain in the butt.  Also there didn’t seem to be that many photographers.  There was always one at the big picture spots like the castle, with characters etc. but it would have been nice to have a few that wandered around getting more candid photos in other spots.  There are some gorgeous places in those parks and they deserve to have photos taken there!  Overall, I am glad I purchased it for this trip but I don’t think I will for future trips.  **Tip** the PhotoPass Photographers will take a photo of you with your own camera/phone if you ask nicely.  Also remember you MUST pre-order your PhotoPass+ card at least two weeks before your trip in order to get the $60 price and to take in to account the shipping times.

Monday we used the early morning entry and went to Disney’s California Adventure(DCA).  Since we couldn’t hop we spent the day exploring this park.  In my opinion, it was set up kind of oddly with no real flow.  This may be because I had never been here but it was just odd to me…   We didn’t get to ride everything we wanted that day which is where the park hopper would have come in handy.  The best rides in the park that we experienced were Radiator Springs Racers, Lugi’s Tires, Soarin’ over California, and Grizzly River Run.   We also really enjoyed the show It’s Tough to be a Bug.   Everything else was just sort of meh.  I was disappointed that we didn’t make it to the Muppet’s show, the animation acadamy, and that Crush’s Turtle Talk was closed.  We did get to ride the Tower of Terror and that was an experience… one that I hope to never do again!  I had heard a lot of really great things about the World of Color show so we made sure to get to the veiwing area about 30 minutes before the show.  We had a decent view but no one seemed that impressed with it and we ended up leaving about 10 minutes early.  At least we beat the crowds out of the park!  

Tuesday, we used our Early Morning Entry to go to Disneyland.  I seriously teared up a little walking down Main Street that first morning with my kids.  We spent a fair amount of time in Tomorrowland that day.  A favorite of the adults was Space Mountain and we all loved Star Tours.  Adia loved Autopia and I was pleased with the Finding Nemo overlay in the subs.  We headed into Fantasyland and were able to ride Snow White, Pinocchio, Mr. Toads Wild Ride, and the Tea Cups in about an hour.  The entire day we pretty much flew from one thing to another all day!  We got to ride Splash Mountain twice, The Haunted Mansion (which was done up with The Nightmare Before Christmas), Winnie the Pooh, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Indiana Jones.  All this even with a break in the afternoon for a small rest!  We left the park right at closing and made our way back the hotel, ordered pizza, and went to SLEEP!

Wednesday, which was our last day we decided to do Disneyland again.  We hit up the Jedi Training Acadamy show first thing in the morning.  It was wonderful that my Star Wars loving son was the 1st picked to join the show.  Adia also got to participate but I don’t think she was quite as excited!  They both got to battle Darth Maul.  If you have someone who loves Star Wars don’t miss this show!  We got to ride Space Mountain, The Matterhorn, Splash Mountain, Haunted Mansion, and the Jungle Cruise in the morning.  We took a break in the afternoon for some pool and hot tub time and ended up not going back to the parks.   

View of the pool from our room
Everyone was tired and we were all happy with everything we had done.  No one felt they had missed out  on anything they wanted to do.  We ended up going out to dinner then shopping at World of Disney.  

Next time I want to spend an extra day so that we can take a one day break between parks.  It is INSANE how much walking you do and I was shocked at how well my kids handled it.  Overall we had a great time and are already thinking of our next trip!  

Links:

I was not compensated in anyway for this post.  All opinions are my own :)

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