Tag Archives: theme park

Another Disney Birthday (or Eating All The Foods Again)

I love getting to celebrate my friend’s birthdays at Disneyland. I don’t really get to do it since my birthday is during the summer blackout for my annual pass. But celebrating someone else’s birthday at Disneyland makes me as happy as if it were my birthday. And this week, I was at Disneyland to celebrate my friend Dani’s birthday!

And not only was it an adventure to celebrate Dani’s birthday, we also wanted to go and try more of the foods at the Festival of Holidays at California Adventure. I had gotten to try several things the last time I was there, but there was so much that I wanted to try. And I still had a lot of tickets left of my Sip and Savor pass and this was possibly the last chance I would have to use it.

When we got to the parks, we immediately headed to the annual pass area for the Festival of Holidays so Dani could get her Sip and Savor pass. We all knew we’d be trying a bunch of food, and the pass really was the best option for us.

Over the time that we were in the parks, we all got to try a lot of food. I personally got the brisket, a eggnog macron, crab salad on polenta, a pretzel, and chocolate pot de creme. It was all delicious and the serving sizes were pretty good. I ate a bit too much, but I couldn’t help myself!

And between the eating, we did get some rides in. We let Dani pick the rides since it was her birthday. She wanted to check out California Screamin’ before it goes down for refurbishment.

And we went on Guardians of the Galaxy where we finally had a new song on the ride! I have now heard 4 of the 6 songs so I’ll hopefully complete that list soon.

And we went on Dani’s favorite ride, Toy Story Mania. It took 2 tries to get on that ride because it broke down right before we rode it, but we returned later that night and we were able to get on before we left.

We usually have a plan when we go to Disneyland, but this time we didn’t. So we ended up doing a lot of walking and going back and forth a lot. It was great because we all got a ton of steps in (we figured we walked about 7 miles that day), but I was feeling some pain.

But when we went over to the Disneyland side, I had a chance to rest. My friend Christopher was at Disneyland with his wife and kids. They were hanging out on a bench waiting to watch the castle light up at night. So we decided to join them and check out the castle. It was a very windy day so we knew the fireworks would be canceled, so this was our only chance for nighttime entertainment while we were there. It was awesome getting to catch up with a friend and we all loved seeing the castle change to the winter look. And while the castle was undergoing its transformation, fake snow was falling which just seemed magical!

The last ride that we went on at Disneyland was Small World Holiday. It’s always so pretty to see all the lights on the facade of the ride.

And the ride is fun during the holidays too. It’s different from the version during the rest of the year and I’m always happy to ride it. I don’t mind the regular version, but the holiday one is much better in my opinion. Maybe it’s all the extra lights that they add inside the ride!

After our ride, we decided to get a nice photo in front of the castle. Michelle’s annual pass includes Photopass photos now, so it’s nice to be able to take advantage of the photographers that Disneyland has. There was a line for the photos, but it went pretty quickly so we were able to get our nice group photo without too much of a wait.

By that point, we had walked back and forth quite a bit between the parks and it was starting to get cold. The temperature wasn’t too bad, but the wind made it feel much worse. We all decided that even though we would have loved to have gone on a few more rides that night, we were ready to head back (and to get into a nice warm car!).

My pass is good for part of next week and then I’m blacked out until the new year. I don’t think I’ll be making it next week but I know I’ll be back in January when my pass is good again. It’s almost time to renew my Disneyland pass and there is no question that I’ll be doing it. I get so much happiness out of my Disney days and I can’t imagine not having them anymore!

Holiday Time At Universal (or Enjoying Another Castle Show)

It wasn’t that long ago that I was at Universal Studios. And when I was there, we heard that they might be doing some holiday stuff in the Harry Potter section of the park. They’ve had Grinchmas there since I worked there, but this was going to be the first time that there was something else. We didn’t know when it would start, but I figured that I would try to check it out when it happened.

Right after that visit, they announced that there would be a special holiday themed light show on the castle and I wanted to see how it compared to the regular light show on the castle that I had seen. I didn’t have any plans to go to the park, but this week my friend Michelle texted me to see what I was doing. I happened to have the day free so we decided to go over to the park to check out the light show and ride a couple of rides.

When we got there, we found out that the light shows started around 5pm so we had a couple of hours to wait. We went on the Harry Potter ride (which was fun as always) and as we were walking over there we were shocked to see how empty the park was. I hadn’t seen it empty like that since when I worked there and it was nice not feeling like everyone was running into you.

After the ride, we went over to the animal actor show. I used to go to this show a lot when I worked here because some of my co-workers knew the animal trainers. But I hadn’t been to the show for a while so it was fun to see what was new.

A lot of the show ended up being toward the front of the stage so we weren’t able to see that much of it. But it was funny to see that they had a lot of the same jokes and setups as they did before but with different animals. Some of the things that used to be with the orangutan is now with a dog. But it was very similar to the old show.

We weren’t sure what we were going to do after that, but we decided to go down to ride the tram. Unfortunately, even though the holiday time started for Harry Potter, Grinchmas wasn’t started for another week so we weren’t going to see the stuff they do for the tram. But we figured that a lot of it would be set up so we could see the decorations. We actually had a really great guide on the tram who had some jokes we hadn’t heard before and he was really entertaining. And once the tram tour ended, it was time to head toward the castle for the show.

We made a quick stop to get some hot butterbeer because it was getting cold and we headed to the viewing area. But so many people had lined up early that we had to go off to the side to watch in a spot that had a tree blocking our view. But we got to see the show a bit and figured that we would move to a better location in time to see the second show. So as soon as the first show ended, we went to a spot with a perfect view of the castle and we waited until the next show time (which was only about 10 minutes later).

I really liked this light show. I think it was better than the regular one. I’m sure there are a ton of Harry Potter references in it that I don’t get since I haven’t seen all the movies, but it was still really fun to watch. The projections are done better than I’ve seen them done anywhere else and it’s just a really great show!

And the finale of the show had some fireworks (although I didn’t get to take photos of those) and the entire castle was just lit up and glowing!

It was pretty crowded watching the show and I have a feeling that some people just came to the park to see the light show and that’s it. But since the show happened multiple times that night, I’m sure everyone who came there to see it was able to do so.

After the show ended, there was still a little bit of time before the park closed. But Michelle and I were both ready to head back. There weren’t any other rides we really wanted to go on and the traffic wasn’t looking too bad. But even though we didn’t do that many rides, I’m glad we went to Universal to see the castle show and all the other holiday decorations.

While it’s not as big as Disneyland, they still do a great job decorating the space that they have and making the park feel festive. And just like every other time I’ve written about Universal, I’ve got the same lack of plans to return. I’m sure I’ll be back before my pass expires, but I have no clue when that will be. But I’m still so glad I got my pass again this year so that I could experience all this holiday fun!

Festival Of Holidays (or All The Food, Some Of The Rides)

After my last adventure to Disneyland, my friends and I tried to plan out when we could go for the rest of 2017. We knew that our winter holiday blackouts were coming soon with our passes and we were limited in how many more days we would be able to go. We made some plans for December but we were also hoping to figure out when we could go in November too. We couldn’t figure out when all 3 of us could go, but Michelle and I were both able to go this week so we decided to go for a Disney day!

The timing was perfect because the holiday stuff just started at Disneyland. And at California Adventure they were doing the Festival Of Holidays which consists of about a dozen different food booths with different holiday themed food offerings. It’s similar to what they did during the Food and Wine Festival earlier this year and we were excited to check out what food we could get! And as Annual Passholders, we could get the Sip and Savor pass which allows you to get 8 items for $45. Since most things were more expensive than $6, it’s a pretty great deal!

Michelle got 4 things and I got 3 things throughout the day. And most of the time we split stuff between us so we could each try as many things as possible. I think the salmon and brisket were my favorites so far. But I’ll be in the park at least one more time before the Festival Of Holidays ends (plus I still have 5 more food items I can get with my pass) so I’ll be trying many more.

And our priority was to try all the amazing foods, we did go on some rides as well. We went on Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout twice in the hopes that we’d get a new song on the ride. There are 6 song choices and we had only had 3 before. But on the 2 rides we had, both times we had songs we had already heard before. Hopefully we will make it through all 6 songs one day!

We also went on California Screamin’ since that ride will be closing for a bit soon. They will be changing the theme of the ride (but keeping the ride the same) so it will be themed to “The Incredibles”. But we still wanted to make sure we got to go on it before it closed and changed.

And they will also be closing Mickey’s Fun Wheel to change the theme so we made a stop over there as well. We were about halfway up on the ferris wheel stopped because they were loading the cars below us. Michelle and I were focused on the fun view and looking at what food things we wanted to try next.

But we realized after a while that we had been at that spot for a while and when we looked down we realized that there was no longer a line for the ride. I don’t know what happened but it did break down so they had to move it so that each car could get off. But when they got our car down to the bottom it kept moving. It was weird and we thought maybe the ride was working again. But I guess they just made a mistake because it started going backwards so we could be let off. But they gave us a pass to use for another ride and we took that to go on Soarin Around The World.

We also got to see an incredible sunset while in the park. It kept changing colors as the sun was setting, but it looked amazing every time we looked at it.

After those rides and our food, we decided to go over to the Disneyland side. It was pretty crowded over there compared to California Adventure but it was still so pretty with all the holiday decorations up.

It felt so late but it wasn’t even 6pm! The time change really threw me off and I was already starting to feel tired. We tried to go look at the castle but they were filming the tv special that will be airing soon so the castle was blocked by various equipment. We kind of could see how pretty it looked, but I’m looking forward to seeing it another time when the view isn’t obstructed.

And we then had our final ride of the day which was Space Mountain. It’s back to the regular version of the ride, but that feels special since between Hyperspace Mountain and Ghost Galaxy it seems like I never ride the regular version.

We debated about trying to go on one more ride to wait out traffic, but we both were pretty close to being done. Even though we didn’t go on that many rides, we did a ton of walking. My Fitbit said I had done about 17,000 steps which is what we normally do in a full day of rides.

But even being tired while we were walking out, I couldn’t help but smile at how pretty Main Street looked with all the lights.

I’ll be back at Disneyland in a few weeks for sure, but there may be another adventure before that or right after before we are blacked out for the holidays. The holidays are so pretty at Disneyland and I want to make sure I experience it as much as possible before I have to wait a year for it to be back again!

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A Wizard’s Birthday (or A Full Universal Day)

When I got my Universal Studios pass again this year, I knew it would be worth it since you only have to go twice to make it the cheaper option than buying tickets. But I didn’t know if I’d go much more than that because I don’t love going there as often as I do Disneyland. I’m pretty sure that I won’t be getting another pass after this one expires, so I’m making sure that I get my Universal fix in while I have a pass.

So when my friend Erin told me that her daughter Olive was doing a birthday adventure at Universal, of course I wanted to join in! I’ve known Olive her entire life and I love that she is so into the world of make-believe. She loves everything Harry Potter and loves being in the park to do spells.

They wanted to get there when the park opened, so it was an earlier start than I’m used to. I was at the gate before it opened and it was raining a bit while I waited for them to join me. But fortunately that stopped soon after and it ended up being a pretty gorgeous day out.

Olive could easily spend the day just doing the Harry Potter ride 13 times. That’s actually what she said her plan for the day was. But the grownups in the group knew that wasn’t how the day was going to go so we encouraged her to pick other rides she wanted to go on. We went on the Minions ride, she and I watched when the others went on Jurassic Park, and I got to ride a few other things without Olive. But the main part of the day was spent in the Harry Potter section of the park.

It was nice to see that they were already decorating for the holidays and most of the buildings have garlands and wreaths on them.

We did the Harry Potter ride twice as a group and we also had a nice lunch at the restaurant there. While I can be a bit tired of the same things over and over again, I love being there with Olive because seeing things through a kid’s eyes is just such a fun experience. Seeing her believe in everything in the park as something real is a great thing. So many kids are jaded by her age and I appreciate that she still believes and is still a kid and not an elementary school aged teenager. Kids should get to be kids and that’s exactly what she does.

While we were at the park I was starting to deal with some pretty bad nausea. I had my medications with me and was taking them while I was there, but I was glad when we decided to take a break from the rides and go watch the Waterworld show. I see that show almost every time I’m there and it is still one of my favorites.

I was feeling a bit better after sitting down for the show, but I was not feeling like I could do any more rides. I don’t think I would have thrown up on a ride, but I didn’t want to risk that or do anything that would potentially make me feel worse. So while everyone else was getting ready to ride the Harry Potter ride again, I had to say goodbye so I could go home and try to feel better.

I didn’t feel too horrible about leaving early because some of Olive’s friends arrived just as I was leaving. And I had been in the park for about 6 hours which is longer than I’m normally there. So I had a full day and I think that Olive had fun while I was there. And from the photos I saw on Facebook, I know that she had fun after I left too. It looks like they stayed there until the park closed so they had a super full day!

I’m only about halfway through my year with this annual pass to Universal so I’m sure I’ll make it back there again before it expires. Some of the employees there mentioned that they were going to do a special castle show for the holidays so hopefully that will be this year so I can see it. And I’ll probably go back right before my pass expires to ride all my favorites one more time before I know I won’t be going back for a while. And maybe Olive will want me to go with her again and we can have another Harry Potter filled day!

A Disney Birthday! (or Princesses and Awesome Ears)

I love Disneyland and I love birthdays so when those get to be combined it’s so much fun! And this week, I had a fun Disney adventure that was to celebrate my friend Michelle’s birthday! We also wanted one more Disney outing to see the Halloween stuff before it switched over to Christmas decorations, so this was perfect timing.

Since we were going to celebrate Michelle’s birthday, Dani and I tried to do some fun planning. We got her some Peter Pan themed ears and told Michelle to make lunch reservations somewhere fun and festive. Michelle is going to wear the ears we got her another time because this time her outfit was Maleficent themed. We all tried to have cute outfits this day because Michelle had recently added MaxPass to her annual pass which includes Photopass so we can get all the cute photos from Disney photographers!

We had to take advantage of getting fun photos right away. When we got to the parks, we started on the Disneyland side and did a bit of shopping at first so Michelle could get some ears to match her outfit. And then we were over to get some photos with Star Wars characters. When we saw Kylo Ren, there wasn’t a Photopass photographer, but we still got a cute photo.

But there was a photographer when we got to Darth Vader and we got so many photos! I knew they took photos while we were posing, but they also took so many photos while we were interacting with the character. It was fun to look at those photos, but my favorites are still when we posed.

After our photos we went over to Tomorrowland to do Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (Michelle and I still have our year-long competition with the points on that ride), and Star Tours.

I wish I had a photo from Star Tours too because Michelle ended up being the Rebel Spy that time! I’ve never gotten to be on the ride when someone in my group was the Rebel Spy and I’m sad I didn’t think to have my phone out to take a photo when she was on the screen. Oh well. Hopefully that will happen again and I’ll remember!

After those rides, we headed over to California Adventure since our lunch reservation was over there. We had some time before lunch so we went on Soarin’ Around The World and then walked over to Ariel’s Grotto. I had never had lunch there before (they also do breakfast) and I was impressed by the decor and the view when we got inside.

When you walk downstairs to the dining area, you first take a photo with Ariel. We thought we could use the Photopass for that photo, but it isn’t part of that and we didn’t want to spend $30 on the photo. But we did take advantage of all the princesses that walked around during lunch and got photos with them. The only negative was that there wasn’t a photographer walking with the princesses so most of our photos ended up being selfies.

The food at Ariel’s Grotto is a prix fixe meal. You get soup or salad, a choice of entrée, and then a dessert selection.

I went with the crab chowder and the tri-tip and those along with the dessert were really good!

And we made sure that they knew it was Michelle’s birthday so she also got a cupcake with a candle in it along with her desserts.

After so much food, we wanted our stomachs to settle a bit before riding anything too intense so we went on The Little Mermaid ride and then went to the Animation Academy to do some artwork (I’m finally getting better at drawing circles).

Then it was time to ride Guardians After Dark. Since this was a Halloween offering we wanted to make sure we got to ride it again, and Dani hadn’t had a chance to check it out yet. We didn’t get to do the Guardians ride during the day, but I’m sure we’ll do that next time we are there. But the nighttime Halloween version is fun so I’m glad we did it.

After that ride, California Adventure was closing and we were going to go back to the Disneyland side. But we were taking our time and did some shopping and discovered something amazing in one of the stores. Disneyland now sells ears that have changeable bows! So you can have one set of the ears headband but change up what character it represents! I loved that idea and so did Dani and Michelle. All of us ended up buying ears and a second bow. I kept mine with the original bow, but I liked it that way too!

We then headed back into Disneyland to ride the Jungle Cruise since it’s so much fun to ride that when it’s dark out. But as we walked over, it started to drizzle/mist rain. It was so weird and none of us thought it was going to rain that day. But fortunately, the boats on the Jungle Cruise have canvas on top so we were protected from the rain.

And after that ride, we all felt like we were done for the day. But we decided to try to get a cute photo of all of us with our new ears and there was no line for the Photopass photographer in front of the castle! There is always a big line there but maybe the rain scared people away? But within minutes we were taking a bunch of photos in front of the castle. And I love how the rain almost looks like glitter in the photo!

It was a nice full day at Disneyland and we didn’t feel rushed around at all. And some of the Christmas decorations were already up when we were there. But I know we’ll be back at least once or twice to see all of those holiday decorations. But I was just glad that we got to see all the Halloween stuff one more time and got to celebrate another birthday at Disneyland. I never get to celebrate my birthday there since it’s during my pass blackout, but now I’m thinking I should celebrate my half birthday there next year!

Halloween Time In The Daytime (or The Fun Of The Single Rider Line)

When I renewed my Universal Studios pass earlier this year, I knew that I wouldn’t have to go that much to make the price worth it. I actually had already gone enough to make the pass worth it back in June, but that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t going to go more. And when my friend Michelle and I figured out we both had a free Monday afternoon, we decided we should go to the park and have some fun that day!

It actually worked out perfectly because I had to meet someone near Universal that evening, so being over there prevented me from having to drive over in rush hour traffic. We got to Universal around noon and were trying to make a plan on what we wanted to do. We always like riding the rides in the Harry Potter section, but we also wanted to go on other things. So we decided to head down to the lower lot and go on some rides there first.

As we were heading down, I realized that I left some one-time front of the line passes I had gotten in June. I had gotten stuck on a ride and they gave us some passes to use another time. The park wasn’t too crowded, but waiting 30 minutes per ride can add up. But when we got to the Mummy ride, we realized that there was a single rider line! We don’t care if we don’t ride together (you don’t talk while on the ride), so that’s what we did and we only ended up waiting about 5 minutes before we got to go on.

After we both rode on the Mummy, we headed over to Transformers where they also had a single rider line. And again, the regular line was about 30 minutes and we pretty much walked on as single riders. It really doesn’t matter about not riding in the same vehicle and we only had to wait a few minutes for each other after the ride. The only other ride down on the lower lot is the Jurassic Park ride, and even though it was a warmer day neither of us wanted to get wet so we headed back up the escalators.

We went on the tram next. I think the tram will always be special to me since I worked at Terror Tram. And the signs for Terror Tram were up even though that only happens at nighttime. The sign said it was a 10 minute wait for the tram, but we walked right on to one since we didn’t care what car we were seated in.

But we did still get to see some of the Terror Tram stuff down by the Bates Motel since they can’t take it apart every night. I didn’t really get any pictures of that because I was seated on the wrong side of the tram. But it’s always fun to see where I used to work and where some of my friends still work!

Then we decided it was time for some Harry Potter fun.

First we got some lunch because it was getting a bit late in the afternoon and we both needed to eat. The Three Broomsticks restaurant in that section of the park is pretty good and I’m always happy to eat there. I didn’t get any Butterbeer this time but it was still a good meal and a nice time for Michelle and I to sit in the shade and relax.

We then went on both Harry Potter rides (we pretty much walked onto both rides) and then realized that it was time for the last Waterworld show of the day. That’s always a great show and it seemed like perfect timing that it was happening right then. It was pretty crowded in there, but we found some seats in the shade pretty close to the front (but not too close that we were in the splash zone). The show was just as good as always and again it was a nice way to enjoy the afternoon.

After the show was done, we were pretty shocked that we had done everything we wanted to do in the park so fast. We really expected to take longer to do everything, but the single rider line really saved us. But in under 5 hours we did 5 rides, a show, and had lunch. Plus we had the time we had to walk to and from the car to the park and all the walking we did in the park. I don’t think even on an empty day I would expect to get more than this done in that amount of time. It really worked out perfectly for us and I’m so glad we went!

I might be going back to the park next month, but I really don’t have any concrete plans yet. And I’m debating if I’ll renew my pass again when it expires next year. I do really enjoy going to Universal, but it’s not the same as going to Disneyland. It’s totally repeatable, but not in the same way. And if I’m trying to do better on budgeting, the cost of my pass (even if it is pretty low) could probably be put toward better use. But I’ve got a while before my pass expires so I’m guessing I’ll be back at least once or twice before I have to think about renewing.

It’s Halloweentime! (or Another Disney Afternoon)

It seems like it has been forever since I was at Disneyland, but it was only about a month ago that I was there. But since that day was a short visit I felt due for another Disney day. This time, my friend Dani was out-of-town working so Michelle and I went just the two of us. It’s weird to be missing a member of our usual Disney group, but Dani understood that we wanted a Disney outing and didn’t mind that we went without her.

Michelle and I went after I had my Orangetheory workout that morning, which is the usual routine. But that also means that we get to the parks around 1pm. But that worked out well because we didn’t have a big plan for the day. We knew all the Halloween decorations were up and all the Halloween overlays were on rides, so that’s pretty much all we focused on doing.

Right when we got to the parks, we made a quick lunch stop for corn dogs and we found out that our friend Lauren was on her way to Disneyland too! So we waited there for her to meet us before we headed to our first ride of the day. Space Mountain is a favorite of mine in whatever form the ride is in. I love the classic ride, the Hyperspace Mountain version, and the Ghost Galaxy version that they have at Halloween. It was a perfect first ride for the day. We were trying to think of a funny ride photo pose, but I think we all missed what the others were saying. I thought we were going to pretend that we were in a shampoo commercial where someone seems way too happy to have their hair washed.

After that, we decided to go on something a bit slower. The Rivers Of America had opened up the last time we were there, but we rode the train around to see things. This time, we decided to go on the Mark Twain boat to see everything else that we missed. We found the perfect place to relax on the second level in the front and we got to admire what an amazing day it was.

And there were a lot of details around the river that we saw that you can’t see from the train. My favorite was this animatronic beaver that is under the bridge the train goes over. It’s chewed through one plank and is working through another.

I love that Disney adds all those cute details and it makes it so that there are always new things to discover. The ride around was the perfect way to relax before our next Halloweentime ride: Haunted Mansion Holiday.

This overlay is not just for Halloween, but I still think of it as a Halloween thing. They always do a great job for the ride and there are new things added each year. And I love to see what the gingerbread house looks like each year.

After that, we decided to walk over to California Adventure. There was a Halloween party on the Disneyland side and we wanted to switch to the other park before it got too crazy. And our first stop on the other side was our new favorite: Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout.

They also have a Halloween overlay, but they only do it at nighttime. But that was perfect for us since this ride is still so new to us that we wanted to ride it the normal way too. After the ride, we had a decent amount of time to wait before the nighttime version started. So we did some shopping and some artwork.

My Scrooge McDuck is the one in the middle that looks weird and cross-eyed. We then headed over to Starbucks to sit and relax and we ended up meeting up with my friend Christopher and his wife who were in the park that day too! Lauren ended up having to leave after that and Michelle and I headed back to Guardians of the Galaxy to ride the nighttime version.

This version reminded us both of the old Tower of Terror ride. The new ride doesn’t feel as much as a drop ride as Tower did. But the nighttime version was totally a drop ride again! Since it was totally new to us, we didn’t know what to expect. And when we were at the top where they take the photo, it took forever before it dropped so Michelle and I kept glancing at each other while we were in our photo pose.

We had gotten Fastpasses for the Guardians ride again and had some more time to wait. So we headed over to Cars Land to get some dinner and check out the new Halloween decorations they had in that area.

And then we were back at Guardians for another ride. The nighttime version only has 1 song (the daytime version has 6 songs each with their own ride pattern) so we were a bit more prepared for the ride. But being prepared and knowing what happens doesn’t make it any less fun for us. We both had a blast riding it!

And when we were done with the ride, the park had closed. We took our time walking out because it’s so fun looking at everything at nighttime. I loved the exterior of the Guardians ride and how it reminded me of the Tower of Terror.

And once we left, we got to check out the decoration at the gate too. We saw it during the day, but it’s much more impressive lit up at night.

Even though we didn’t do a ton of rides, it still felt like a full Disney day. We got all the rides in that we wanted to and we had a blast. I’m hoping to make it back to the parks sometime in October so that I can see all the Halloween stuff one more time, but if I don’t make it at least I got to see it this week!

A Quick Disney Day (or Getting Back To The Parks And Onto The Train)

It’s been a while since I’ve been to Disneyland. The summer blackout for my annual pass is only about 2 months, but when you are used to going to the parks once a month or so it feels so much longer! So when my friends and I looked at the blackout date calendar and saw that we were finally going to be able to go back to the parks, we put it on our calendars so we could make sure we got our Disney day in!

For a while, the train has been closed because of the work going on for the new Star Wars land. I love the train and it’s been sad that it’s been down for so long and I couldn’t wait to be able to get back on it. Plus, Dani had never been on the train at Disneyland! So knowing that the train was open again now made me even more excited to be going to the parks.

We knew it wasn’t going to be a normal Disney day when we arrived. Normally when we get there around lunchtime, there may be some cars lined up for the parking structure but we get parked pretty quickly. But this time, the lines were pretty far back for parking. It didn’t take too long, but we realized that it was going to be much more crowded than we expected. Maybe everyone else was just like us and was excited to finally be able to get back to the parks after the summer blackout?

No matter way, we were ready to have some fun as soon as we arrived. And the first stop was the train. There’s normally not a line for the trains, but everyone was so happy that it was back and they wanted to see the new stuff they added. So we were in line for a little while before we could get on the train. But that was ok because I was just so happy to see that the trains were running and was enjoying people watching everyone there. And when we got on a few trains later, I couldn’t wait to see all the new changes.

I didn’t take a ton of photos because I wanted to focus on enjoying the train, but I love the new views of the river that you get from the train. It’s so pretty and the landscaping looks so good!

They also did some fun work in the diorama section of the train. There are now more moving elements, especially on the background of the mural. I think it added some nice touches while still maintaining the classic look of the diorama that I love so much. I know my mom loves that part of the train too and I can’t wait until she can come with me to Disneyland again so she can see it herself!

After doing the full trip around the park on the train, we headed over to California Adventure to ride the Guardians of the Galaxy ride. We were hoping to get a new song (there are 7 songs and we’ve heard 2 of them already), but we ended up getting one of the same ones we had the last time we rode. But it was still such a fun ride and I don’t miss the old Tower of Terror ride. We were trying to think of a fun photo to do this time and we decide to try to do some sort of ninja/karate pose. You can’t really see it well, but because of where I was sitting I was able to kick my leg up and I got it up pretty high!

After the ride, we were feeling a bit overwhelmed from the heat and the crowds so we decided to take a break to get something to eat. We decided to go to the Trattoria and I didn’t realize that neither Michelle nor Dani had been there before! It’s one of the places I really like so I was excited to share it with them.

I decided to get the Osso Bucco and it was delicious. Maybe a bit too rich considering how the heat was affecting me, but it was so good!

After eating, we went back to Guardians of the Galaxy where there was a little show happening in front of the ride. It’s a dance off thing and it was cute to watch for a minute.

We decided to go back on the ride after that, but Dani wasn’t feeling up for it so she waited in the shade while Michelle and I went on it. Again, we were hoping for a new song but we ended up getting the other one we heard the first time we rode. I guess it wasn’t meant to be to hear the other songs and know what the other versions of the ride were like. We didn’t really have a fun photo and that’s probably for the best since the person in front of us kind of blocked us in the photo.

We were thinking about doing another ride after that, but I think all of us were feeling a bit done. I wanted to have a full day at Disneyland, but the heat was getting to me and I hadn’t slept too well over the weekend so I think that was catching up to me. We tried to take a bit of a break in the shade to relax, but we realized that we were all ready to go home.

Since we all have annual passes, it’s ok that we had a short day at Disneyland. We can go back soon to ride other things that we didn’t get a chance to ride this time. And hopefully when we go back it will be less crowded and we won’t feel as off as we did from the heat. But no matter how long we were in the parks, being at Disneyland makes me so happy and I’m so glad I was able to go back this week!

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Guardians and Ladies Who Lunch (or A Fun Summer Day At Disneyland)

Every summer, I know that my Disneyland pass will be blacked out. So we always try to plan a really fun Disney day as our last day before the summer blackout. And my friends Dani, Michelle, and I had planned a Disney day for this week about a month ago. We had no clue that we would be there about a week before our adventure, but we still were more than ready for an amazing Disney day!

Knowing that this was going to be our last day in the parks for about 2 months, we worked on what we wanted to do. The biggest thing was to ride the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride that is where the Tower of Terror ride used to be. It had just opened and we hadn’t had the chance to ride it. And originally when I thought I would need surgery, there was a chance that I wouldn’t be able to ride it until the fall. So to know I could ride it this time made me so happy!

We got to Disneyland around 12:30 and immediately started to work on a plan for the day. We had a few things on our list and we wanted to time things out carefully. We first got Fastpasses for the Haunted Mansion and went on the Pirates ride while we waited for our Fastpass time. And the timing worked out perfectly because we were off Pirates right when the Fastpasses were good. We quickly got into the room before the stretching room and it seemed to be taking a bit of time. So we took advantage of that and tried to get a cute group photo in the room.

Unfortunately, the reason we were stuck in that room for so long was the ride broke down. They gave us the option to wait to see how long it would take for the ride to start back up again, but we weren’t able to stay. And that was because we had some lunch reservations that we were looking forward to!

When we were planning this Disney day, we wanted to make sure we did some special things. And to us, getting to eat at the Blue Bayou is pretty special. It’s not too much more expensive than what we normally spend for meals, but it is a bit of a splurge. And you have to make sure that you make reservations in advance because it’s so rare to be able to walk up and get a reservation for some point that same day. We actually made our reservations the last time we were at Disneyland and we got one of the last reservations times for the day!

And even with our reservation, we still had to wait about 30 minutes for a table to open up. But it was worth it because it is such a fun restaurant!

We didn’t get a water front table (I’m sure the wait would have been even longer if we wanted one of those), but you still get a fun view of the Pirates ride from the seats. And we were pretty sure that the last time we ate there we were at the exact same table.

We took our time eating lunch because it was hot outside and nice and air-conditioned in the restaurant. I had the steak (which I think I had the last time too) and it was the perfect meal. I knew this was going to be my main meal of the day and it was delicious! And getting to have a nice, relaxing, and kind of fancy meals with my friends was exactly what we wanted to do.

After lunch, it was time for the other main event of the day: riding the new Guardians ride. I’ve seen so many videos of the ride and I was almost shaking with excitement as we got to the ride. And I think Michelle and Dani felt the same way. We were all smiles as got into line!

The line for the ride was pretty awesome too. The first room that you go into has Rocket Raccoon and it’s so funny. And there are some things hidden in the room that we were pretty sure were from the Tower of Terror ride. And when you are close to the ride, there is a Yeti from the Matterhorn ride up in a display!

And it was exactly what we hoped the ride would be! It’s not exactly a drop ride, but it still has drops. But the ride is almost always in motion (instead of just going up and dropping) and it was almost more exciting to be flying up than to be dropping down. We loved it so much that we rode it twice! There are 6 different versions of the ride, all with their own soundtrack. The first time we rode the soundtrack was Elvis and the second time we rode the soundtrack was the Jackson 5.

And not only is the ride different, the way that the photos work at the top were different too! The first time, it took forever and we were wondering if we were ever going to drop. The second time, we didn’t even really stop where they take the photo so we all have half poses on our faces.

We also walked to the side of the ride where we heard there was an Avengers logo in the ground. There are rumors that an entire Marvel land will be coming one day, and having this next to the ride makes me think that those rumors are probably true.

After those rides, we headed back to the Disneyland side. We wanted to get on Space Mountain before the summer blackout again. And because our second ride photo on the Guardians ride was so funny, we decided to pose like each other. So I posed like Dani, Dani like Michelle, and Michelle like me. I think we nailed it!

After Space Mountain, we were done with the rides. But we still had one more thing we wanted to do before we left. We had said that we really wanted to watch the fireworks show since it’s such a good one. We thought we had claimed a good spot near the castle, but because of the angle of how they shoot off fireworks we had a tree blocking our view (I’m sorry Michelle!).

We did get to see the projections on the castle up close which was fun. It reminded me of the amazing projections Universal had at their show. But it might have been ok that we couldn’t really see the fireworks because in the middle of the show, everything stopped and the lights came back up. The winds had gotten too strong and the fireworks had to be cancelled. It’s unfortunate, but I know how it can be super dangerous if there are high winds. So maybe this Disney day was meant to see the castle projections and when we go back after the summer blackout we can watch the fireworks from farther back.

By this point, we were all pretty tired. We ended up walking through Downtown Disney and checking out some of the stores and then walking back to the parking garage. I was so tired when we got back to the car, but it was worth it. We got almost everything done that we set out to do and it was pretty close to a perfect day. Now I just have to wait about 2 months until I can get back!

A Universal Evening (or Checking Out The Castle)

One of the fun bonuses for having an annual pass for Universal Studios is that they do some preview events for passholders from time to time. And pretty soon after renewing my pass, I got my first preview event invite. This time, it was for the upcoming light show that they are going to be doing on the castle in the Harry Potter section of the park.

When they originally announced the new light show, my friend Michelle and I realized that it was going to be starting after our passes were blacked out for the summer. So when we got the preview invites, we jumped at the chance to go and signed up! We had a viewing time of 9:20pm for the show, but we figured we’d just go to the park after we were both done with work and have some fun before the light show.

We got to the park around 5pm and found a pretty amazing parking space (which doesn’t always happen at Universal since they aren’t as great with their parking lot as Disneyland is). And since we were both getting a bit hungry for dinner, we decided to make a stop in CityWalk before going into the park since the food is a bit better there.

We went to DongPo Kitchen where we had gone once before. They have amazing green beans that we were both kind of craving. We decided to get those again along with some chicken and pork belly and had a pretty awesome meal!

We then headed toward the front gate of the park where we had to check in for the preview event and get our wristbands. We also got coupons for 20% off a purchase in the park. I didn’t think I would be purchasing anything there (I’m really trying to not shop as much), but it was nice that they gave us those as a perk.

Michelle and I weren’t sure what we were going to do at the park. We only had about an hour before the park closed (the preview event only had the Harry Potter section open) and we were debating on what we wanted to ride. And as we passed the Special Effects Stage, we realized the show was going to start within a few minutes. I hadn’t seen the show in about a decade, so we decided to go in and check it out.

We were sitting on the side in the front, so it was a bit tough to see everything. But we could still see a lot and I noticed how much they’ve changed the show. It’s pretty awesome what they do now and they have real stunt people in the show doing stage fighting and lighting themselves on fire. It’s a big improvement over the old version and I have a feeling I’ll be checking it out again.

When the show was done, we only had about 5 minutes until the park closed so we had to pick one ride to do. And we figured since The Simpsons ride was right there that we would do that. The line wasn’t too bad and we got to cut ahead a bit because they were looking for a group of 2 to fill up one of the ride vehicles. And after waiting only maybe 10 minutes, we were inside the building waiting to go on the ride. I love the little digs at Disneyland attractions that they have inside there!

When we were done with that ride, the park was officially closed so we walked over to the Harry Potter section. There were 3 showtimes for the new light show (8:40, 9:00, and 9:20) and we figured we’d try to watch it at least twice. But first, we wanted to ride the Harry Potter ride which is one of my favorites.

As soon as we got off the ride, we headed outside and the light show was starting! We couldn’t really be in the viewing area since we had a different showtime, but we had a pretty great view from farther back!

And as soon as that show was done, we made our way to the front of the reserved viewing area to see the show from up close. The show is only about 5 minutes so I’m glad we didn’t really have to wait in a big crowd to watch it. It’s pretty awesome and the projections are incredible up close, but I was a bit disappointed how short the show was.

We let the crowd clear a bit before we headed out. I’m glad that we were able to go to Universal and considering that we were only in the park for about 2 hours I think we got quite a bit done. I won’t have a chance to go back for a while unless they do bonus days for passholders (which they do from time to time). But if this is my last visit for a while, I would have to say it was a pretty great visit and I feel like I got everything done that I wanted to do.