Disneyland Tips

Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout

Well Disney loving friends, Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout (formerly Tower of Terror) has been open for almost a month now and I still have only been on it one time. Not exactly a toddler friendly ride, so my chances to experience it have been limited. However, that one time was pretty effing awesome. This post is going to take you through the highlights of the exterior and interior lines of the ride and I am going to talk about the ride itself, so if you haven’t been on it yet and you want to be surprised, come back and read this post later (but like stick around and read some other stuff while you’re here, won’t ya?).

Okay, so other than the (ugly) glaring new facade of the ride, the outside line area is pretty similar to what it was before. There is new music piping through the speakers, however it is not (sadly) the GoG soundtrack, it’s just the instrumentals. This was a conversation Brianna and I had several times while waiting in line and after the ride: why are we not getting to listen to one of the best movie soundtracks ever while we wait in line for an hour and a half? I’m guessing the answer to that question is simple: royalties. I imagine Disney wasn’t willing to fork over the cash for the rights to the songs, so instead we get boring background music.

As soon as you step up to the doors of the ride, the changes hit you in the face. The whole concept of the ride is that the tower is now home to Tivan’s collection (hence the large gold statue at the entrance, btw, how freakin’ cool for Benicio Del Toro). The interior part of the line is filled with all kinds of cool displays.

These cool (and hard to photograph) cube thingys hang from the ceiling and a huge screen occupies the majority of the back wall of the room. The screen shows a message from Tivan, interrupted by a message from Gamora and Quill, which basically sets up the premise of the ride (breaking out!).

 

My biggest complaint about all the new stuff in the interior is that you don’t spend much time in this section, so you don’t get to see everything and take it all in, and you don’t get to see the full video. I also hate spending an hour waiting in line outside only to be inside for three minutes. Kind of a bummer (though I think this is a fire/safety precaution). I wanted to have more time to look at everything in the space, which I guess will happen as I ride the ride more.

Just like before, riders are led into the “library”, which is now supposed to be Tivan’s office. Instead of our favorite Twilight Zone video, we now are privy to Rocket’s plan for breakout, and we get an animatronic Rocket too.

My favorite part of the interior line space was seeing Harold! Harold used to reside in the Matterhorn, but got demoted for a newer, younger model. So now old Harold lives in the tower, which I think is awesome. Not much has changed in this portion of the ride line, other than the addition of the yeti.

And then we get to the ride itself. Guys, I loved it. It tells a story, incorporates humor and good music, and still has all the thrills of the original. Plus, Chris Pratt. The drops are not the same as they were before (and I’m interested to ride it more and see if the drops are now randomized, which ToT at Disney World has always had, but we never did). I laughed, I screamed, my stomach felt like it flew out of my body…it was everything I could have asked for. I was not as attached to the original ToT as some so I wasn’t totally depressed with this change (though I am scared of what else we will lose as Hollywood Land becomes Marvel Land…bye bye Monsters Inc :(), and I have to say, I think the new ride is an awesome addition to DCA. I don’t love the way the tower itself looks as a backdrop in the park, but the ride is amazing, and I didn’t see a single person exiting the ride without a huge smile on their face. So I think it’s a hit.

Have you been on Mission Breakout yet? What did you think?

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How to Have Fun at Disneyland with a Toddler

This is a sponsored post. I was compensated in the form of a free product, discount, or monetary payment in exchange for writing this post. All opinions are my own.

If you’ve been a regular tuner-inner to my blog and its many reincarnations over the years, this post might seem familiar. In the past I have written posts on how to have fun at Disneyland without kids and while pregnant. Now that Squirt is three and a regular at the parks, I have learned some valuable info on how to have a fun day with a toddler in tow. Most of the time when Squirt and I visit Disneyland, we are there for just a couple of hours (which I highly recommend if you are a local and can swing it), but we recently had the opportunity to spend a whole day at the parks as a family and even as a park reg, I learned some tricks to help make your day with a little one much more enjoyable for all involved.

Start your day off right. Our first stop upon arriving at Disneyland was to the Main Street Starbucks. Matt and I both needed some caffeine to prep us for our day, and Squirt needed something filling with lots of protein since he would be expending a considerable amount of energy throughout the day.

Hit up the best little kid rides first. We stayed in Disneyland for the first half of our day, where we went on it’s a small world and Jungle Cruise, which are Squirt’s two favorite rides at that park. Both are great for little ones as there is so much to see, and even on a crowded day, the lines aren’t too unbearable.

Have a plan ahead of time for the “big” rides. Squirt is super tall for his age, and we discovered when we got to Disneyland that morning that he had reached the height minimum for Star Tours, which was both Matt’s and my favorite ride when we were kids (and still is Matt’s). Having reached 40 inches (and not even three at the time!), Squirt would have been able to go on many of the bigger thrill rides in the park, but we decided to just stick to Star Tours since he is already familiar with the characters. I was a little worried about all the bumping around, but he handled it well, just said “whoa” over and over. I think the important thing to remember when it comes time to try out the big kid rides for the first time is to make a decision based on each individual ride. Just because your kiddo can ride the ride, doesn’t mean he’s ready. We will hold off on Big Thunder and Space Mountain in particular until Squirt is a little older.

Enjoy some in park entertainment. There are tons of smaller groups who perform throughout the parks continually over the course of the day. These are a great way to take a few minutes and sit or stand and take a breather or have a snack. We love watching the Disneyland Band in particular since we know a couple of the musicians, but all of the live bands are fun and entertaining to watch, and a great way to catch a little break.

Take an afternoon break. Taking a break from the excitement of the parks is a must when spending a day at Disneyland with a toddler. We prefer to go back to our hotel room when we are staying on site or nearby, but you can just as easily take a break in Downtown Disney, or at some of the quieter spots in the parks (I’m a fan of Hungry Bear at Disneyland and Animation Academy at DCA). Spend some time chilling out in the shade, have a snack, and (hopefully) give your little one time for a nap. Squirt doesn’t nap anymore so on our most recent trip, we spent some time relaxing at our hotel pool. A little down time is a major necessity for both the kiddos and the parents to make it through the day.

Try to park hop just once. Going back and forth between the two parks is exhausting as an adult, so it is definitely a lot to ask of a toddler. We try to do one park in the morning, then take our hotel break, and then return to the second park in the afternoon/evening. While at DCA, we love to do Monsters Inc, Little Mermaid, and Luigi’s. Limiting yourself to one park at a time will help cut down on the overwhelming nature of park hopping.

End the night on a sweet note. We called it a day before parades and fireworks because Squirt was fading fast, but to make sure we ended our trip on a high note we stopped for some ice cream on our way out of DCA. If you decide to leave before all the nighttime experiences (which I actually recommend with a toddler), try to have one final fun or exciting event to close out your trip.

A full day at Disneyland and DCA can be exhausting for anyone, but it can be especially draining for a toddler. A tired toddler means serious meltdowns, so make sure to take lots of breaks and try not to do too much at once. It is definitely possible to have a great day at Disneyland with your toddler, as long as you are prepared and patient!

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It’s the Ten Disney Commandments

If you don’t get that reference from the title, you should probably just leave now (just kidding, don’t actually leave, but go listen to Hamilton immediately). So the idea for this post popped into my head a couple of weeks ago after some particularly good and bad interactions at Disneyland and I just kind of ran with it. And I’m pretty sure these commandments will now be posted at the entrances of all Disney Parks because they are that good. If all Disney Parks attendees could adhere to these ten commandments of park going, we will all have a pleasant and enjoyable experience. Consider me your Moses of Disney (and I legit just had to Google who found the ten commandments #neverreadthebible #sorrymom).

Thou shalt not judge parenting skills. Look folks, not gonna lie. I used to be hard core judgy of parents at Disneyland…you know, before I actually had a kid. My kid is relatively well-behaved at Disneyland because we are usually there for three hours and we go all the time. However, it is completely NORMAL for young kids to be having total meltdowns at the parks. They are overstimulated, overtired, and cranky AF. Instead of judging the parents of said kids, buy them a beer. They deserve it. Also normal behavior for kids at a theme park: running away, touching everything in sight, colliding with strangers, crying, whining, demanding food/drinks, complaining, refusing to walk, and refusing to ride in a stroller.

Thou shalt not walk with more than three people in a line. And honestly, three is pushing it, but I know that there are groups of three at the park and no one wants to walk by themselves. So three people deep is the absolute max. If you are in a group of five people walking in a straight line down Main Street, we all hate you.

Thou shalt not ask park-related questions of ticket takers at the park entrance. There are literally hundreds of cast members inside the parks who will be happy to answer your questions. Don’t hold up an entire line of people trying to get into the parks. Also, at every turnstile there is a stack of maps and entertainment guides, with pretty much everything you need to know right there for you.

Thou shalt not cut off strollers. I, along with many other parents, have a stroller AND know where I’m going. I walk with a purpose and I walk quickly (#cardio). If you step in front of my stroller, don’t expect me to be able to stop my momentum. You’re likely going to get hit. And don’t even think about giving me a dirty look after I run into you.

Thou shalt always help other Disney goers in need. Hold doors, give directions, pick up dropped items. Do nice things for other people. Parents, when unloading strollers from the tram, work together to lift them. If you see a mom searching for wipes in the bathroom, give her one. Disney should bring out the best in all of us.

Thou shalt always have your Fast Pass ready. This commandment is mainly for California Disney peeps. You will have your FP checked when entering the line. You will need it again about halfway through the line when a cast member collects it. Have it ready! If not, you will hold up the line that by definition is supposed to move fast.

Thou shalt not stop in the middle of a walkway. This may be my biggest pet peeve ever, anywhere, but mostly at Disney Parks. If you need to stop walking MOVE TO THE SIDE. I don’t know why this is hard to understand, but for the love of God, it is not cool to stop in the middle of a crowded, moving walkway when there are hundreds (thousands?) of people trying to walk behind you. I will make a snotty comment under my breath if I see you stopped in the middle of the path.

Thou shalt keep all slow traffic to the right. Building on the above, if you are someone who wants to stroll leisurely through the parks (by all means, that is your right), then stay to the right hand side of the path. Think of Disney walkways as freeways. Slow people, stay the eff out of the way.

Thou shalt always be nice to cast members. I have been going to Disneyland for a long ass time. I have NEVER had a CM just be rude to me for no reason. Ever. Even when they are telling me something I don’t want to hear, they are still ridiculously nice about it. So there is no reason to be a jerk to cast members. If they are telling you something that you don’t like, they are only relaying the information they have been told to give out. Sometimes different CMs will have conflicting information. I know how frustrating that can be, but it’s not their fault. They don’t make the rules, they just enforce them. Write a rude email when you get home if it’s that bad, but do not abuse cast members in the parks. They are doing the best they can with what they are given. And on the flip side, if a cast member goes out of their way to do something awesome for you, email or tweet about that so they can get the recognition they deserve.

Thou shalt not be that AP. You park regulars know who I’m talking about. Answering a question or pointing someone in the right direction is awesome (see the helping others commandment), but there are APs out there who hear a simple question (“Which way to Pirates?”) and launch into a diatribe about every detail of Pirates they know. It’s obnoxious. Don’t be that guy.

Now if everyone could just follow these ten simple rules, we’ll all be good to go! Any commandments you would add to this list?

 

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Let’s Get Prepped for the 2017 Food and Wine Festival

The 2017 Food and Wine Festival begins today at California Adventure, and I am so excited! I had a blast at last year’s festival, and from the looks of things, this year is going to be even better. I decided to do a couple of different things this year to make sure I am ready to fully embrace the festival. One was creating a pair of wine-themed ears and the second was creating a printable checklist of the tastiest sounding food and drink item offerings. Both of which I am going to share with you!

First, the ears. I found this fabric months ago at JoAnn and have been holding onto it, just waiting for the festival. I used the same method on these ears as I did in this tutorial here. I used a rhinestone trim for some extra sparkle and I am so loving how these guys came out!

The second thing I decided to make was a food and drink checklist. Last year I enjoyed hopping around to the different booths and trying random items, but I think I missed out on a lot of goodies because I didn’t have a clear plan of attack. So this year I created a list with both food and drinks to try and what booths I can find them at. This is a fraction of what is available at the festival, I just picked the yummies that sounded most appealing to me personally. There is a good chance I will try some additional items, but these are the ones I want to make sure I don’t miss. This is the list I came up with:

2017 food and wine festival checklist

If you would like to download the checklist and print one for yourself, click this link! I am going to be checking out the festival on Sunday, so make sure you are tuned in to my Instagram to see what delicious offerings I sample this weekend. And make sure you come back soon to get the full rundown from this yea’rs festival. Are you planning on attending the Food and Wine Festival? What do you most want to try?

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The Main Street Electrical Parade Comes Home!

You guys. I literally CAN’T EVEN. If you grew up going to Disneyland in the 80’s and early 90’s, then there is no doubt that you have some pretty epic memories of the Main Street Electrical Parade (from here on in referred to as MSEP). I have so many memories of watching the nighttime spectacular, and before Fantasmic came along, it was my favorite part of nights at Disneyland. I was devastated when the parade left in 1996, and though it came back to California Adventure in the early 2000’s, it was just never the same (also, I never went to DCA then because it was lame and I wasn’t old enough to drink yet).

I have to say, one of the main reasons I was bummed about Paint the Night not becoming a regular fixture is because I thought PTN would become Squirt’s MSEP, something so epic and visually stunning that he would remember it well into his adulthood (where he WILL continue to love Disney or so help me…). I am still a little bummed/annoyed by all the ambiguity around PTN’s future at Disneyland, but it was partially eased a couple of months ago when we got the news that MSEP was coming back to Disneyland!!! Cue the music and the tears! As soon as its arrival date was announced, I booked dining reservations for preferred seating and started counting down the days.

Of course, the day of the parade’s public premiere (those willing to fork over $100 for the advanced premiere party saw it the night before the rest of the public) dawned cold and rainy. Cold is fine, but rain is a no go for the MSEP. But I already had reservations, and conveniently Matt had a conference in OC that same night, so I bundled up Squirt in about five sweatshirts (since I sure as hell am not spending money on a raincoat for my toddler in Southern California) and we headed down to the parks. Luckily the rain was just a light drizzle most of the day, but it was enough to totally derail the on the go meal option at Aladdin’s Oasis, which meant I got an anytime preferred seating Fast Pass instead of the usual timed and dated one. And even more luckily, the rain cleared up just in time for the parade to be able to run. Not gonna lie y’all, when this train came around the corner, there were some tears.

I loved watching the MSEP so much, that I went back the next night and used my Fast Pass! Two nights in a row of pure childhood nostalgia. Seriously, I loved every second of it!

To be fair, Squirt couldn’t have cared less about the MSEP. Maybe because he was tired or cold or thinking back to the technological wonder that is PTN, but he was not impressed. Granted, he is two and a half so we’ll give him that.

Despite Squirt’s completely lukewarm reaction to one of the defining highlights of my childhood, I was thrilled to welcome MSEP back to its rightful home. Also, it was super fun to see others in their mid 30’s-40’s as excited as we were when we were kids. THAT is the magic of Disney, folks.

The MSEP is only back in town for a limited time, and as of right now is scheduled to depart Disneyland for good on June 18, 2017. One can assume that this will be the final run of the parade (which had stints at both DCA and Disney World after leaving Disneyland originally), but with Disney you never know. I do know that I am going to be soaking up as much of the parade as humanly possible while it is here because my love is deep. Also, I am super excited to see what Disneyland has in store for its upcoming retro/MSEP themed AP Days, which are starting in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned for more info on that!

If you want to see more shots and videos from the parade, make sure you like my Facebook page as I will be adding in new media each time I see the parade! For now, here’s a little snippet of the beginning!

Do you have fond childhood memories of the MSEP? Will you be making a visit to the parks in the coming months to see it again? If so, let me know (I’ll probably come with you!) in the comments!

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AP Days at the Disneyland Resort

AP Days are back at the Disneyland Resort! I have to say, I was surprised to see another round of AP Days scheduled for the fall since they just had them just a few months ago, but it was a pleasant surprise so I’ll take it! Despite the fact that I spent my whole day Monday at Disneyland in order to catch the end of the 60th celebration (check out my Instagram if you want the highlights!), I packed Squirt up in the car on Tuesday morning and we headed down to be a part of the first AP Day of the fall. AP Days really start when you park at the Mickey and Friends parking structure, but only if you have three or four people in your car. There are discounts available for carpooling, along with a really cute AP button for cars with four or more people in them (at least one of whom needs to be a passholder). There is lots of info about AP Days posted around the parks, even at the tram stop on the way in. When you enter DCA, there is an informational sign letting you know where to go…




Both locations are new, as last time events were held in Stage 17 and the Blue Sky Cellar, but more on that later. We headed over to Paradise Gardens first. In this area, there is a phone charging station set up (make sure you bring your own charging cord if you plan on using it) and a little welcome area in the gazebo that had the merch on display and a photo stop. If you need to renew/upgrade your pass, they will happily take all your money at this location. You can also pick up your weekly button right outside the gazebo.

Just outside of the gazebo, you can pick up these special edition recipe cards. Both of these pumpkin goodies sound pretty good, except they made a typo on the Pumpkin Bread one. It says “raisins” when they clearly meant to put “chocolate chips”. I have collected some of these cards before, but haven’t ever actually made any of these dishes, so I’ll put them on my to do list.

In addition to the weekly pin and recipe cards, they were also handing out these activity sheets at Paradise Gardens. It has some fun little counting/scavenger hunt type games on it that would probably be really cool for elementary school age kids. I freakin love this button and I can’t wait to see the rest of the series.

The merch for AP Days can be found at the Studio Store, which is located right in front of Monsters Inc. I really like this shirt, but I am not sure I would actually wear it (I think I would like it better if it were just the front design).

This coffee tumbler definitely came home with me though. I love the colors and the design and I will use this bad boy on the reg.

The other main area for AP Days is over at Stage 12, which is the one behind the dance floor for whatever it is they replaced Mad Tea Party with. This area was kind of a bummer for a couple of reasons. One, there was a good size line to get in that was directly in the sun and had no shade whatsoever. They also didn’t allow strollers in said line so that made waiting in the heat with Squirt even more of a challenge (they didn’t let strollers into Stage 17 either, but there was never a line and there was AC inside so it wasn’t a big deal). Once into the area, it is super cramped and hard to move around. The main attraction here is the character meet and greet, which we didn’t do because after waiting in the long line outside the area, there was another long line, again outside and not shaded, to meet the actual character. Boo.

Since we had waited all that time to get in, I grabbed a complimentary water bottle and sat down with Squirt to do some coloring. While it is very nice that they set up these tables for the little ones, they took up a majority of the space inside the waiting area and made it really hard to move around.




While I will obviously be going back each week to get my new button, I don’t think we will be going back to the Stage 12 area. The only thing you can get there that you can’t at Paradise Gardens is the character photos, and frankly, Squirt hates them anyway so why bother. I don’t want to sound ungrateful because I know these AP Days are a total bonus and definitely not something Disney has to do, but I really wish they would move both areas back to their previous indoor locations. I know it’s “fall” but it’s still super hot here in So Cal and waiting outside in the sun is no bueno.

Have you attended AP Days before? What are your thoughts? I will continue to post on Instagram as I attend the upcoming weeks of AP Days so keep an eye out for the new button designs and any new info that might come our way!

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My Top Sweets at the Disneyland Resort

If you are anything like me, you have a major sweet tooth. And if you are anything like me, you find Disneyland to be the perfect place to indulge said sweet tooth. I mean, you so cannot go wrong with so many of the yummy sweets you can find in the park. These are just some of my favorites!




The Sea Salt Caramel Sundae from the Ghiradelli Soda Fountain in California Adventure. The name alone should say it all, but if you need more convincing, this decadent ice cream sundae is a caramel lover’s dream. It has swirls of caramel inside, along with some hot fudge, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and sea salt on top. My favorite thing about this sundae is the sea salt because it really holds it texture (I find a lot of the times sea salt kind of dissolves away) and gives a perfect balance to the sweetness of the sundae. Also, this bad boy is definitely big enough to share.

disneyland sweets

The Mickey Ice Cream Bar is a classic, and you can’t beat it on a hot day at the parks. It’s a simple vanilla ice cream bar, but what really makes it is the richness of the chocolate. Yummy!

disneyland sweets

These Milk Chocolate Salted Caramels are my favorite treat to take home from the parks. Anytime I am staying down in the OC overnight, I grab a bag of these guys to take back to the hotel. They are the perfect late night snack…or late afternoon snack…or breakfast.

disneyland sweets

The Maple Nut Fudge from Candy Palace on Main Street in Disneyland. Not going to lie, all the fudge is divine, but I’m a big fan of maple fudge and you can’t find it most places, so this one is my go to. Also not going to lie that I would prefer it without the nuts, but I will put up with them for maple goodness.

disneyland sweets




Some other notable favorites that aren’t pictured include the English Toffee from Candy Palace and the create-your-own ice cream bars from Clarabelle’s in California Adventure. A notable sweet treat that I think you should totally skip: churros. #Sorrynotsorry. The churros at Disneyland are fine and tasty, but they are not the best sweet (or most unique treat) you can find in the park. And to me, they taste like any other churro I have had at any other theme park or baseball stadium. There are much better ways to spend $5 on sweets, in my opinion. Also, while I do love me a Dole Whip, I cannot justify standing in line for that long for ice cream. I mean, I know it’s delicious, but I just can’t do it. More power to you if you are willing to wait!

What are your go to sweets at the Disneyland Resort? I’m always looking for excuses to buy sugar new things to try, so leave me your suggestions!


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