Tomorrow, the hubs and I will be running our third Neverland 5K at the Disneyland Resort. Not going to lie, I hate running. There are very few things on this planet that could make me run and most of them involve being chased. But I will run for Disney. ‘Cause I’m weak like that. This will actually be the first time I have been able to run during the 5K as I was pregnant during the last two and advised by my doctor to walk the course (and trust me, I had no problem with those instructions). I will be attempting to do some actual running this time around (it was one of my yearly goals, after all), but I’m not excited about it. I am excited about our outfits. Part of the fun of a Disney race is coming up with cool running attire. The hubs and I always try to match our outfits (and by that I mean he wears what I tell him to), but so far they have been pretty standard. A lot of people go with the Neverland theme for this particular race, which is cool and all, but you all know how I feel about a certain Neverland fairy who gets a lot of the costume attention. So this year we are going with a pair that I think is super fun. Hopefully our outfits are a hit! I’m going to break it down piece by piece, see if you can figure out who we are going to be!
Howdy readers and happy Friday! Today we are going to take a little look at a day in the life of a Disney Mom blogger (that would be me). I take Squirt to Disneyland about once every two weeks, sometimes more and sometimes less. Our trips are quite different from a typical family trip to the parks. We go on weekdays, spend a couple of hours walking around, and then we head home. Since I am a passholder and Squirt still gets in free, there is no pressure to spend all day in the parks. And since Squirt is still not into rides, we mostly enjoy the atmosphere while I take pictures and gather info for upcoming blog posts. This is what one of our typical trip days looks like:
9:48–We load up the car and hit the road. Disneyland is about thirty miles from our house, but getting there without traffic is virtually impossible. But I have figured out the sweet spot time to leave, after morning traffic and before afternoon traffic.
10:32–We park in the Downtown Disney parking lot. Okay, so I’m a terrible Disney ambassador here, but I always park in Downtown Disney for our short trips. I’m not paying $20 to park in the main lot when I am only going to be on property for three hours. You take enough of my money, Disney.
10:45–We make a short stop at Something Silver, one of my favorite Downtown Disney shops. I need some new earrings and they have the best selection of everyday silver studs.
11:02–We enter California Adventure and head straight to Starbucks. Because coffee. I order my iced coffee (I always give my middle name at Starbucks, since “Falon” doesn’t typically turn out well) and a parfait. We sit at our favorite table and I eat my breakfast while also feeding Squirt pieces of my discarded bananas (I hate them, he loves them, we’re a good team like that). He makes friends with the two ladies sitting near us, as is his norm.
11:23–I clean up our table and we head over to the Baby Center for a quick diaper change. It actually goes smoothly and Squirt barely even fusses. He is not happy, however, when I attempt to put his hat on him before we head out. He would rather be blinded by the sunlight than wear a hat.
11:38–Most of my upcoming blog posts are focusing on Disneyland, so we head across the way to the Happiest Place on Earth. We snap some pictures of Ariel, who is posing in the front of the park, and then head over to Tomorrowland. We attempt to see the Tomorrowland movie preview, but it has just started and is going to be another twenty minutes until it starts. We decide to skip it and continue our tour of Tomorrowland.
12:04–We make our way toward the castle and snap some more pictures. I check out the crowd at Fantasy Faire and see there is standing room available for Frozen at the Royal Theatre. We park the stroller and I snap some pictures of my little ham while we wait for the show to start. I haven’t actually seen this one, only Tangled, and it is as witty as I had hoped (stay tuned for a full review).
12:41–It’s almost time to head out, but first we stop at City Hall to get a birthday button for my brother and sister.
12:49–We exit the park and find some pretty flowers and stage a mini photo shoot with Squirt and the birthday button. He mostly wants to eat it (shocker), but I manage to get one good shot for the auntie and uncle.
1:11–We get in the car and head home. We had a nice little field trip, and I managed to gather material for three new blog posts, plus multiple social media shots. All in all, a productive day! We hit the road, and Squirt promptly falls asleep. We have a peaceful ride home.
So as I stated in my previous post detailing my favorite quick service restaurants in Disneyland, we typically eat our meals in California Adventure. Not just because of the booze, but I also find it easier to find seating at DCA and the restaurants are a bit more open so they feel less crowded (they’re not less crowded, but they feel that way). DCA is home to my favorite Disney park restaurant ever, Carthay Circle, but unfortunately, it is out of our budget except for special occasions. But there are still plenty of delicious and affordable food options for you to try when you visit California Adventure. These are my top three!
Pacific Wharf Café: The café is located in one of the main dining sections (on the pier) of DCA, which is nice because it is central to the park and offers several different food options in close proximity to one other (great if you have a large group who all want something different to eat). The café features yummy salads and sandwiches, along with soups served in sourdough bread bowls. If you are like me and feel that bread bowls are the best food invention ever, you will not be disappointed. Try the vegetarian chili (and don’t be freaked out by the vegetarian part, it tastes just as good as meat-filled chili).
Cocina Cucamonga: This Mexican themed eatery is located in the same area as the Pacific Wharf Café. No California themed park would be complete without some good Mexican food and this is about as authentic as you can find in a mass production setting. It features the same basic menu items as Rancho del Zocalo at Disneyland, but with the bonus of beer and margaritas! The Hacienda Ceasar Salad is my favorite here.
Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta: Serving up tasty Italian themed eats, Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta is relatively new to the park. This spot, located at the far end of the park near Mickey’s Fun Wheel, has one of the best seating areas in the park (though it is all outdoor) and for me has always been one of the fastest service wise. The Chicken Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto pasta is my favorite, try it with a glass of sangria or a beer!
Those are my top three spots to grab a quick bite at DCA! What are your favorite eateries in the parks?
Date Night at Disneyland is my all-time favorite. Anytime we are planning a date night and the hubs asks me what I want to do, I just look at him like, duh. Granted, we can’t always make it work with our schedules, but when I do get a Disney date night, it’s the best. Most people tend to think the parks are for kids, and as parents, we are crazy for going there without our son. But those people are sorely mistaken. Here’s some of the awesome, grown up things you can do for a Disney date night!
Have an awesome meal. Disney is home to great restaurants like Carthay Circle, Blue Bayou, Wine Country Trattoria, and Cafe Orleans. Not to mention the great hotel restaurants like Napa Rose.
Drinkety drink drinks. California Adventure is home to awesome bars, like the one at Carthay Circle.
Live entertainment. There’s nothing more romantic than snuggling up to your significant other and watching a Disney show, whether it is the fireworks, Fantasmic! or World of Color.
Now that we’ve covered my favorite things at Disneyland, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite things at California Adventure. I will admit, DCA had been open for several years before I ever visited the park. I was skeptical that any park could ever come close to the magic of Disneyland and so I stayed away. Now I find myself spending more and more time there (and not just because of the booze, though that certainly doesn’t hurt). I love the openness of DCA, I love that it is laid back (like California itself), and I love how it captures my home state and so many places that I have grown up visiting. Just like Disneyland, it has a magical feeling that can’t be captured in words. But I am going to try!
1. Cars Land at night. I don’t typically ride a lot of the rides in Cars Land because I usually don’t have time, but I always make a point to walk through it at night. The neon lights are really something else. While you certainly feel like you are in Radiator Springs anytime you walk through Cars Land, it really feels like you a part of the movie when it is all lit up.
2. Watching people watch World of Color. Not going to lie, WOC is not my favorite show. I was blown away by the beauty and technical feat of the water extravaganza the first time I watched it, but it hasn’t held that same magic for me during subsequent viewings. I haven’t seen it in probably three years because when I am at the parks at night, I would rather see Fantasmic!. I am hoping that the 60th anniversary version helps me find the magic in the show (and to be fair, I know they have made changes to it since I have seen it last, so it might be totally different for me now). What I do find magical is watching other people watch WOC for the first time. I love watching their faces as they see what I saw that first time: true beauty and Disney moments presented in a way you could never imagine.
3. The Carthay Circle bar. I would include the restaurant in this too, but I have only eaten there once (and it was amazing and worth every penny). We stop by the Carthay Circle bar every time we have a Disney date night. I love the dark wood, the 1920’s vibe, and the Walt memorabilia. Plus, the soundtrack is so fabulous, I even bought the CD.
4. Character costumes on Buena Vista Street. The costumes that Mickey, Pluto, Goofy and the gang wear in DCA are the best. We’re talking bow ties, suspenders, and newsboy hats. It’s basically the cutest thing you’ve ever seen.
5. The beer cart. I’ve made it no secret that I love my booze so this one shouldn’t come as a surprise. The beer cart was the first place I visited when I realized I could drink at Disney. The hubs and I typically make this our first stop when we enter the park. And that leads to…
6. Drinking in line. Waiting in line sucks. We all know this. Disney knows this. They created a whole ticket system to avoid this. The only thing that can make waiting in line enjoyable is drinking while you’re doing it. Suddenly a 45 minute line doesn’t seem like such a long time.
7. Toy Story. For the same reason I love Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, I love Toy Story Midway Mania. It is one of my favorite rides with the hubs and we compete fiercely every time (loser buys the next round of drinks). Plus, this is the one ride that while waiting in line, I always have time to finish my beer.
8. The Little Mermaid.The Little Mermaid is one of my all-time favorite movies and I watched it pretty much every day for a year straight when it came out on VHS (didn’t you just love those puffy movie cases as a kid?). While some may find the attraction lame, I love it as it captures all of my favorite moments from the movie.
9. Starbucks. Long before Disney wised up and put Starbucks locations inside the parks, I begged for them. I can’t tell you how many times I was at the park and thought, I could really go for a Starbucks right now. The location at DCA is one of my favorite locations in the park, and not just for the coffee. There is plenty of seating, and when I visit with Squirt, there is always enough open space for me to park the stroller, have a seat and enjoy my breakfast. Also, since it is rarely crowded, it is one of the few places in the parks (other than the Baby Center) that I can get him to focus on his food without being super distracted by the crowds.
10. Alfresco Tasting Terrace. The Alfresco Tasting Terrace is a relatively new addition to DCA and I have only been there once. And it’s already one of my favorite places, that’s how awesome it is. In addition to great wine tasting (look at the size of those pours), they also have amazing appetizers. It’s also one of the quietest spots in the park. If you need to sit, relax and take a break from the crowds, this is a great place to be. Did I mention there’s wine?
There you have it, my favorite things about DCA. Did your favorites make the list? Let me know what you love about California Adventure!
Hello friends! Time for another restaurant review! A couple of weeks ago I dragged the hubs down to Disneyland on a Friday night (not an easy feat when you live in LA). It had been a long time since we had a Disneyland date night (like since before I got pregnant with Squirt) and I was in desperate need. We started out the evening having dinner at Wine Country Trattoria, in California Adventure. We typically eat at DCA on date nights because, well, that’s where the booze is and we had eaten at the Trattoria before and enjoyed the food. We arrived around 8:00 and despite a crowded park (it was Star Wars Marathon weekend), were told the wait would be about fifteen minutes. So we got some drinks at the wine bar next door (Hubs chose beer, as usual) and snagged a table at the outdoor patio.
We were seated within the fifteen minutes at a table inside the restaurant…
When we have eaten there in the past, we sat outside on the patio, which is much prettier. But we were hungry and didn’t have a ton of time, so we stuck with our inside table.
Since we already had drinks, we went straight to perusing the menu.
Though of course, I did check out the wines. Just to make sure I could give a complete review.
Hubs and I decided to share an appetizer and entree. We started with the Caprese Salad, which is always one of my favorite options at any Italian restaurant. It was pretty tasty, though it could have used more mozzarella (you can never have too much cheese). I would say it was on par with most Italian places.
For dinner we shared the Herb-roasted Chicken Breast. I was expecting a bigger portion, I guess because I live in the land of huge food, and so this was kind of disappointing, especially since Hubs and I were splitting it. It was good, the pasta in particular was yummy, I just wish there had been more of it.
We decided to skip dessert so we could spend more time walking around the park. When all was said and done, we were in and out of there in less than an hour, which was nice since we mainly wanted to spend time at Disneyland. I feel like my previous experiences at Wine Country Trattoria were better than this one. The food was good, but it wasn’t the quality I have come to expect from Disney dining (the Alfresco Tasting Terrace had much yummier options). I usually feel like I am getting a good value for what I pay, but this time, not so much. Also, service is usually impeccable at all Disney restaurants (and I was a server for five years so I have high standards) and while it wasn’t bad this time around, I wouldn’t call it great either. I’m sure we will go back to the Trattoria again since we like Italian food and it is a convenient location in the park, but this experience was definitely not one to write home about (so I’ll just blog about it instead).
Alright mommies, let’s talk real here. As magical as Disneyland can be for you and your kids, taking a baby (and to me, a baby is anyone under the age of three) to the parks is work. There is tons of stuff to bring, problems to deal with, and unexpected surprises to handle. The number one tool in my arsenal for dealing with baby problems is the Baby Center. Both parks have a Baby Center (though at DCA it is housed inside the rather unappealingly named Child Services building) and it can save your trip.
At DCA, the Child Services area is located next to Ghiradelli, just past the entrance to Cars Land.
The Disneyland Baby Care Center is located at the end of Main Street toward the right side (if you’re looking at the castle). It’s right next to the corn dog truck (and clearly much more aesthetically pleasing than the one at DCA).
Inside each Baby Care Center is everything you need to take care of your little ones. There is a private closed off room for nursing, complete with rocking chairs. There is a changing room with cushioned tables (much better than the hard plastic ones in the other bathrooms). In the changing room, there are also kid sized toilets for your potty-training toddlers and a nice sink for cleaning up (the last time I was in there changing Squirt, a family came in whose toddler had just thrown up all over himself–much easier to take care of an accident like that in there rather than in the bathroom). There is also a kitchen area with high chairs and a microwave. Plus, there is a mini play area (mainly utilized for older siblings while the younger ones are being tended to). There are always cast members (typically the lovable grandmotherly kind) to help you out with whatever you need.
For me, the Baby Care Center is great for a few reasons. I much prefer changing Squirt in there rather than in the bathroom. There is more space and it is a more comfortable environment for him. On our last trip, I went to the Baby Care Center at DCA when we arrived, set for a normal changing. To my surprise, I opened up a huge poop, what my husband and I refer to as a ten-wiper. Because I was in the Baby Care Center and not the bathroom, I had a table to set my diaper bag on, a readily accessible trash can, and a comfortable place for Squirt to lay during the ten minutes it took me to clean him up. Plus, since there are multiple tables, I didn’t have another mom waiting on me to finish up (which seems to happen every time I change him in the bathroom) or hoards of people trying to get around me to get to the stalls. Crisis averted.
My kid also tends to be very distracted in places with a lot of people so sometimes feeding him in the park is difficult because he won’t focus on his meal. In the feeding room, it is just him and me so he is able to eat much better. Finally, dads are allowed to come in to the Baby Care Center (though they don’t go in the nursing area) which is a huge help, especially if you are at the parks for the first time with your little one. Or if, in the case of the sick toddler, it’s going to take two sets of hands to get your kid back in park exploring shape.
If you are traveling to the parks with your little one, make sure you stop by the Baby Care Center anytime you are in need of help with changing or feeding, or if you just need a quiet break away from the crowds.