Thursday, November 15, 2012

Happy Birthday Macy!!!

This sweet wonderful girl of mine is 12!!!! Happy Birthday to you!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Eleanor's Most Excellent Disneyland Birthday Trip

In our family it's become a tradition to take our children on a special trip when they turn 10. Ben went to NYC with Trent and I took Macy to visit the Mall of America a couple of years ago. You can read about it here. After much thought, Eleanor decided to go to Disneyland. We actually were going to go to Disney World, but getting any tickets with airline points was not an option. As it was, we had to do some fancy footwork to get enough points to go on this trip. It worked, tickets were purchased (you have to pay a small fee, but $20.00 for two, round trip, tickets to California is not too shabby!) and we just had to wait!

After waking up at 4:00 am, we were at the airport before we knew it! So far no mishaps, except we found out that a deer hit Trent on his way home. We are happy to report he is okay and we only had to replace a side view mirror-whew!

Eleanor needed some hot chocolate to wake up and warm up!
Eleanor is excited to be winging her way to the left coast!

We had a quick layover in Chicago. While we were there, we took some time to walk around and visit some of the sites that Macy and I enjoyed in the airport during our trip.

We finally made it to California!! My grandmother and her daughter, Cindy, picked us up at the airport and took us around the Newport Beach area so I could revisit some favorite spots from my childhood.
Here we are crossing Balboa bay on the Balboa ferry. Fun!

Eleanor is touching the Pacific Ocean for the first time!
We spent a lovely day and evening with Cindy and grandma and by 6:00 that night, with the time change and all, we were beat. We were both asleep by 7:00. This was also the weekend to fall back and so we ended up waking up at 3:30 am unable to go back to sleep. It was going to be a long day!

That morning we said goodbye to Grandma and went to church the next morning with some friends. Afterwards they took us out for a yummy lunch and then dropped us off at our hotel. They quickly got us checked in and we were on our way to the parks!

For our first stop, we decided to visit Disney's California Adventures. This park was new to both Eleanor and me!

Our first stop was Radiator Springs! If you haven't been to Disney California, you have to go just so you can say you visited this. I'm hoping they are planning on building one just like it at Disney World in the next few years. Cars is one of our favorite Disney movies, so we really enjoyed this area!
Hanging out with Stanley!
The Cozy Cone! It was a place where you could get treats, drinks, etc.

One of our favorite rides was the Radiator Springs Racers. I didn't take any pictures of the ride itself, but here's a link to a video that gives you a good idea of what it's like. It was by far my most favorite ride.

Eleanor waiting by the "original" Radiator Springs.

Still waiting.

And still waiting. The first wait was about 1 1/2 hours!

Finally, on the ride and ready to go! Sad that we waited so long and the ride was over so fast!

 Then we went over to the boardwalk area and went on Toy Story Mania. A favorite from our trip to Disney's Hollywood Studios at Disney World. It did not disappoint this time either!
 A fun trip on the swings!

It was soon time for Disney's California Adventures to close and so we went over to Disneyland. It was very crowded. Little did we know that earlier that day, the Backstreet Boys were filming a Christmas special and so the park was packed. It didn't help that is was a Sunday and a beautiful day. If you see the special, the band was wearing heavy coats to make it look like it was cold out, but it was actually close to 90 degrees that day.

Our first stop was the Pirates of the Caribbean since that ride was down when we went to the Magic Kingdom a few summers ago. We waited in line and got in a boat and moved up and then stopped and waited and waited and waited some more. Pretty soon they were making announcements that the ride would be moving shortly, except it never did. They finally had to turn on the lights and evacuate the ride. We went through a side entrance by one of the fake houses along the water. They gave us a free "pass" to be used in the fast pass lane of another ride.

So we went over to the Haunted Mansion and waited and waited and I realized the line was not moving at all. It was also broken down, but they weren't telling anyone that. We tried to leave and they had us kind of locked in, but we were finally able to go out. We worked our way through the crowds to the Thunder Mountain Railroad-finally success! It was dark and fast, but a lot of fun. Then we were somewhat lost as it was very dark and it had been over 15 years since I had been to Disneyland. We finally made it over to Fantasyland and were all excited to go on It's a Small World, but it was closed (they were decorating for Christmas). It was now almost over 2 hours since we had gotten in the park and we had only successfully ridden on one ride! We made our way to Tomorrowland and used our free pass on Star Tours.
 The only problem was the Fast Pass line was anything but fast. Once again we found ourselves in a line to a ride that was having technical difficulties. We stayed since our pass was now gone and it was only good for Sunday and it was getting late and we were ready to head back to the hotel anyway.
 Finally we got to the 3-D glasses! It still took a while after this point to board, but we finally made it on the ride. They've redone the ride since we rode it at Disney World and it was great!
We rode Buzz Lightyear on our way out of the park and made our way back to our hotel. We were tired (it was 2 am our time!) and Eleanor fell asleep before her head even hit the pillow.

 The next morning we were off to visit Disneyland first thing. We had been awake since 4:30 California time thanks to the fact we were not used to the time change. We had a lot of waiting around to do!
 We did a little window shopping in Downtown Disney. Don't these treats look fabulous?

 We began our day with more waiting. It was hot, but at least this time we remembered to bring books to read while we waited.

 On our way down Main Street USA to Space Mountain, except after all the waiting and waiting and waiting some more we discovered the ride was down-all day. :(
 So we rode on Autotopia after waiting and waiting and waiting. Getting to the park early was not turning out to be very advantageous as almost every ride we visited was down or running at minimal capacity.
 Finally! The Matterhorn was up and running. A very fun ride, although I don't remember it hurting so much to ride it when I was younger.
 Eleanor got some fun mouse ears with her birthday money.
 Things were finally starting to move along at faster than a snail's pace and the rides were finally up and running, so Eleanor was checking her plans and seeing what was next.

Tea Cups!!

We headed back over to Disney's California to enjoy a few more things over there before going back to the hotel. This Ferris Wheel was fun, but don't go on it if you are afraid of heights. What you can't see is that some of the cars do not stay in one place like on a regular Ferris Wheel-they move along a track. We did not go on those-they were too scary!!!

 Day number three and we were excited to visit Disneyland an hour half hour early. Our Early Morning Magic Hour was really only about 30 minutes long because they were filming a movie and weren't ready for regular people to come into the park.

 In fact we weren't even allowed to walk down Main Street. They made us walk behind the scenes where all the garbage and pipes, etc. was located. One funny guy commented, "I'm so glad I payed $75.00 to see this!"

 The movie they were filming is Saving Mr. Banks and it's about Walt Disney and his filming of Mary Poppins. If you look closely at this picture, everyone is wearing clothes from the 60's. They were taking a break when I took this picture.

 Here they are getting ready to film some more. We kept getting in trouble because we were actually interested in what they were doing.  Even though we stayed quiet (lots of signs telling everyone to stay quiet), stayed behind the ropes (lots and lots of ropes) and did not take any flash photography (again lots of signs!), they did not want us to watch what was going on.  We were expected to just keep walking and pretend they weren't there. So they kept telling us to move on and so we decided to go over to Disney California where we found out that Tom Hanks was at Disneyland (he's playing Walt Disney in the film) and maybe that's why everyone was a bit less pleasant than usual.  A few days later after we came home, I did some searching on the internet about the movie and discovered some people actually able to get some shots of filming/Tom Hanks-I'm amazed that they were successful!

 Walt and Mickey were happy that we came to visit them.
Phineas and Ferb!!

 I'm embarrassed to say we ate these corn dogs for two lunches and two dinners. One of the lunches was at a little stand in Disneyland, but they are hand dipped at both places and so good.

 Surprise! Christmas had arrived at Radiator Springs overnight!

 We had to make sure we had a Mickey Mouse Ice Cream!
Waiting to watch the production of Aladdin. Front row seats. It was fabulous!!!

 We finished up the night waiting to watch the World of Color which is an amazing water show. We were a little too close to the water though and proceeded to get soaked. It was beautiful though!!!

We spent one more night in California and then it was time to head back home. I'm pleased to say that our trip home was easy and uneventful. A rare thing when traveling with me!
 Eleanor is sad that our trip is over.

Actually she's excited to go see Daddy and all her siblings. We brought presents!!!! 

Although things did not go as smoothly as we had hoped, it was definitely a fun trip and one that I hope Eleanor will remember fondly for the rest of her life!