Important Blog Update

Hello readers!  I’m very excited to announce a new change to the blog.  RAISING A DISNEY KID was my first blog and my original focus was to post anything and everything related to kids and Disneyland.  After a few months I realized that there’s a lot more that I want to cover which goes beyond the scope of kids or being a parent to a little one.

Now that I’ve had some blogging experience, it’s time to roll out my new blog:

400 MILES TO DISNEYLAND

Here’s what you can find at 400 MILES TO DISNEYLAND:

  1. Printable Monthly Photo Scavenger Hunt Lists
  2. Weekly Photo Scavenger Hunt clues
  3. Disney info and updates
  4. Travel info and packing tips
  5. Tips on experiencing the park
  6. Reviews of hotels, dining, attractions, shows, etc.
  7. Discounts and promotions

This blog seems more appropriate to what I want to share outside the kid and parenting space.  I’m an Annual Passholder who frequently makes the 400 mile trip to Disneyland. 

Most importantly, the Photo Scavenger Hunts will migrate to the new blog and will have a new treatment.  You can download and print monthly lists for the ultimate quest.  Bringing your list to Disneyland will be more fun now that you can check off items as you find them. 

Be sure to update your bookmarks or even better, subscribe to 400 MILES TO DISNEYLAND for the latest postings.

http://www.400milestodisneyland.com

Summary of changes:

  1. RAISING A DISNEY KID will not continue posting, however all posts will remain available.
  2. New content and posts will happen at 400 MILES TO DISNEYLAND.

 

Please visit 400 MILES TO DISNEYLAND and let me know what you think!

Thank you for visiting.

P.T.

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Mark Your Calendars: April 30

Be sure to stop by on April 30 for our big announcement!

As a little sneak peek, expect big things to come out of the Photo Scavenger Hunts!

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Big changes coming soon…

I know it’s been a while since my last post but there’s good reason for it! Some big change to the blog are coming and I can’t wait to share them with you. If you’re a fan of the Photo Scavenger Hunts, then you’ll love what’s coming up.

Stay tuned…

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My Disney Bucket List

Here’s my bucket list…a list of things to do/see before I die.  All Disney-related, of course.  :-) 

  1. Take a solo photography trip. 
    I’d love to go solo to the parks and take amazing photos of the park with different points of view and all of the hidden gems of the park.

 2.       Ride the Lilly Belle

Did you know that you can ride the red caboose on the Disneyland Railroad Train if you ask a Cast Member nicely?  The Lilly Belle is named after Walt Disney’s wife, Lilly.  Based on photos that I’ve seen, the caboose is known as a Parlor Car and is decorated in Victorian style.

 3.       Take my family on a Disney Cruise
Hopefully in a few years after baby #2 arrives and is old enough, I’d like to take my family on the Disney Cruise Line.  Preferably the Disney Dream, the line’s newest ship.  And if we can afford it, I’d combine the cruise with a Walt Disney World visit.

 4.       Stay at the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at the Disneyland Resort
Despite my many visits to the resort, I’ve never stayed at a Disney hotel.  Based on my experience with Walt Disney World hotels, I’d love to experience the same.  The Disney hotels at WDW are simply AMAZING.  But I can never justify the price when I can find cheaper hotels that are closer in walking distance to the parks.  So maybe one day I’ll splurge on a special trip and stay there.

 5.       Go on a Disneyland Asia trip
I think when I’m 40 I’ll schedule a big family trip to see Tokyo Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland, and the yet-to-be-open Shanghai Disneyland.  I’ve always wanted to visit the Tokyo park and since I’d be in Japan, I might as well visit the rest of the parks!  Once I complete this trip then I can say I’ve visited every Disney park in the world.  I currently only have 3 down (California, Florida, and France).

 6.       Beat my husband’s Toy Story Mania score
Enough said. 

 7.       Get my family to dress up as a theme for Mickey’s Trick-or-Treat Party
I tried to this year, but there weren’t any costumes my daughter’s size and my husband didn’t want to participate.  He instead found his own costume to wear, I found mine, and DD wore hers.  It’d be fun to dress up as a family for example as Boo, Mike, and Celia from Monsters Inc or Snow White, the Queen, and a dwarf.  One day…

 8.       Spend a day riding as many rides as possible
In order for this to work I need to find my ultimate Disneyland buddy.  Likely, this will be my daughter when she’s older.  But I think it would be fun to take pictures of each ride and time and then see how many rides we could fit in a day.

 9.       See Beauty and the Beast on Broadway
I have always loved this movie and felt it was one Walt would be proud of.   The story line is excellent and the songs are top notch.  It was perfect for a Broadway show.  The ultimate experience would be to see this in New York, however I’ll likely have to catch the traveling show.

 10.   Take a picture of family in mouse ears
Sounds cheesy, but I REALLY want a photo of my husband, daughter, and myself in mouse ears.  Plus it would make a great Christmas card photo.

 What’s on your list?  Share them in the comments!

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The Importance of Arriving Early

One of the best tips I can give someone is to arrive right at park opening for Disneyland or California Adventure.  If you arrive at 8:00 am, you can do more attractions in the first two hours than you could an entire day.  This is so helpful because after you’ve been in the park for a couple of hours, the rest of the day is a breeze and you don’t have to feel rushed to “do it all”.

A couple of years ago I went with a large group to Disneyland during Christmas time.  Arranging for everyone and their kids to be ready for park opening was impossible.  Since DD and I are early risers, we were ready to go at a quarter to 8.  At the time she was 16 months ago and like most kids that age, they do not have patience to wait around while others are getting ready for the day.  So I told the group that we’d head to the park and would meet everyone inside when they were ready.

DD and I arrived right at 8:00 after walking from our hotel.  And immediately we went to Fantasyland and did Peter Pan’s Flight, King Arthur’s Carousel, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Casey Jr., and the Mad Tea Party.  And it was only 8:30 am.  When you arrive at park opening, you literally walk onto the rides as there are little to no wait times.

Following Fantasyland, we went to explore Tarzan’s Treehouse, the Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.  The time was 9:20 am.  I had done 10 attractions in 80 minutes.  Not bad.

Once the rest of our group arrived, I didn’t have to worry about “what do we do next?” since I had done the majority of the attractions suited for DD.  I didn’t feel rushed to grab Fast Passes or hurry to catch a show following a ride.  I took my time and it allowed for DD to explore her surroundings at her own pace. 

Another advantage of arriving early is catching the early lunch times.  Since we skipped a formal breakfast (she ate fruit and cereal in her stroller) we ate at the French Market at 11:30 am and had no wait or the inconvenience of scouting for a table.  Once we wrapped up our lunch, the crowds started to gather after 12:00 pm and I was so glad I wasn’t part of it. 

If you’re traveling with little ones and staying at a nearby hotel, nap time breaks are almost a “must”.  And since I had done most of the attractions, breaking for a nap didn’t interfere with us coming back to the park in a mad dash for completing our attraction wish list.

What time do you normally arrive at the parks?  Do you notice a considerable difference arriving at opening vs later in the morning?  Post your comments!

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World of Color

What is World of Color?

World of Color is a nighttime water and light show at Paradise Bay in California Adventure.  If you’re familiar with Disneyland’s Fantasmic show, it’s a similar type show minus the live characters and water boats. 

Fantasmic vs World of Color

The biggest difference between the two shows is that you’ll need a Fastpass to see WoC.  With Fantasmic, you can literally show up right before it starts and find a view where you can enjoy the entire show because they use three small “water projectors” on the left, center, and right of the “stage” that shows the same action.  WoC is in high demand and since the show takes up the entire “water projector”, really the only place to view it and enjoy is from the center of the viewing area.  Read on to learn about getting Fastpasses.

I personally love the Fantasmic show but I like to think of WoC as being 10 times bigger.  While Fantasmic has a story centered around Mickey’s dream, WoC is more of a tribute to the music, characters and beautiful animation of Disney’s movies.  There’s no real story behind it, just a wonderfully done show featured on water.

Getting Fastpasses

There are three ways to get a Fastpass to get a reserved viewing section

 

1. Wait in line

As soon as California Adventure opens, there’s a Fastpass Distrubtion center in front of the Grizzly River Run attraction.  The viewing section for this Fastpass is distributed at random and does not guarantee center viewing.

The line starts at park opening and you’ll need a theme park admission ticket for each WoC Fastpass.  These Fastpasses can run out quickly and I’ve seen people camp out in front of the California Adventure gates hours before the park opens.  

 

2. Pre-Order a World of Color Picnic Meal online

If waiting in line is not your cup of tea, you can go online prior to your trip and reserve a picnic meal that comes with a WoC Fastpass. 

Adults can pick from 4 meals:
All-American
European Antipasto
Taste of Asia
Mediterranean Vegetarian

Children can choose from 2 meals:
Junior All-American
Lunchbox Classic

Click here for photos of each meal.

All picnic meals are $15.99 and can be picked up any time throughout the day.  Each order includes a reusable WoC tote bag. 

You can order online at Disneyland.com:
http://disneyland.disney.go.com/disneys-california-adventure/world-of-color-picnics/

 

3. Reserve a World of Color Dining Package

This is method will get you the best viewing possible!  I’ve done this twice and have gotten center viewing without waiting in any sort of line to get my spot. 

 You can dine at Ariel’s Grotto or Wine Country Trattoria and receive a Reserved Viewing Fastpass for WoC.  For dining reservations, call the Disney Dining Line (714-781-3463) at least 60 days before your trip.  

Ariel’s Grotto

$39.99 for adults
$20.99 for children ages 3 to 9 

Dine from 5:00-7:00pm to see the first WoC show
Dine from 7:05-8:30pm to see the second WoC show

 Unlike the lunch time dining experience, there are no princesses during the WoC dining hours.  This package is a 3 course meal and the food is superb.  If you’re traveling with kids under 3, they provide spaghetti with a meatball on a stick or mac n cheese for FREE.  Just ask! 

FREE meal for children 2 and under | Spaghetti with a meatball on a stick

Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip with garlic, cheddar mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables

Dessert Platter with World of Color white chocolate film strip

Wine Country Trattoria

$29.99 for adults
$18.99 for children ages 3 to 9 

Dine from 4:00-7:00pm to see the first WoC show
Dine from 7:05-8:30pm to see the second WoC show

Dinner here is also 3 courses and costs a little less than Ariel’s Grotto.  However, we tried this dining package and were not impressed with the food or service.  We waited a long time to be seated (even though it wasn’t busy) and it took a while to get our food or beverage refills.  When you’re with a 2 year old, waiting around becomes difficult, especially if they’re hungry.

At the end of your meal, your waiter will hand you a Fastpass for the Reserved Viewing area.  Be sure to show up at least 30 minutes before show time to find a spot within your viewing area.

For more details on World of Color Dinning Packages, please visit Disneyland.com
http://disneyland.disney.go.com/disneys-california-adventure/world-of-color/

 

 

The Show

Once we got our Reserved Viewing Fastpasses from our dining package, we spent some time at California Adventure and headed over to Paradise Bay at 8:30 (half an hour before the show).  We quickly and easily picked a seating spot on the stairs and were comfortable in the center of the viewing area.

Without spoiling anything, it is a beautifully done show and the whole time DD was saying, “Wow!”  Her favorite characters were featured and recognized a lot of the songs. 

Overall, trying to see World of Color can be painless IF you plan ahead!  I’ve heard stories of last-minute attempts to see the show and it didn’t work out because they didn’t have a Fastpass or were stuck on the end of the viewing area and could not view the entire show.  I highly recommend seeing this show and choosing the dining package.  The cost might be on the higher side, but think of it as a Dinner and Show.  You pay for a 3 course meal and get preferred viewing of the show – all without waiting in a single line!  The not waiting in line is what sold me on the dining package in the first place. 

What was your experience like?  Did you try the picnic meals or wait in line for Fastpasses?  Post your story in the comments section.

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“You’re going to Disneyland AGAIN?!”

I once had a co-worker ask me if I do the same things everytime I visit or if there’s still something new for me since I am a frequent visitor.  The answer is, yes, there’s always something new to discover.

I’m not exactly sure how many times I’ve been to Disneyland but I’ll take a wild guess and say that I’ve been there 20 times.  And yet, there are still a lot of eateries I haven’t been to or attractions I haven’t been on/seen. 

Since I purchased an Annual Pass this year, here are the brand new things I’ve discovered that I’d never done before:

1. Cafe Orleans (restaurant)
2. Bengal BBQ (restaurant)
3. World of Color (show)
4. Toy Story Mania (attraction)
5. Mickey’s Halloween Party (formerlly Mickey’s Trick or Treat Party) (special event)
6. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (attraction)
7. Plaza Inn breakfast (restaurant)
8. Casey Jr. (attraction)
9. Space Mountain: Ghost Galaxy (attraction)
10. Tomorrowland Terrace: An Elvis Presley tribute (show/live entertainment)
11. Pacific Warf (restaurant)
12. Big Thunder Ranch BBQ (restaurant)
13. Big Thunder Ranch (attraction)

And here’s what I haven’t experienced yet:

1. Silly Symphony Swings (attraction)
2. Eaten a corn dog (eatery)
3. The Cove bar (restaurant)
4. Lucky Fortune Cookie (restaurant)
5. Never bought myself a pair of Mickey ears
6. Eaten a Tigger Tail
7. Taken a ride on Main Street in the horse-drawn carriages
8. Goofy’s Kitchen (restaurant)
9. Stayed at a Disney hotel property
10. Bibbidi Bobbidi Bootique (for DD)
11. Rope Drop

So you see, there’s ALWAYS something new to do and experience no matter how many visits you’ve had.  What’s on your “To Do” list?

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