Recent Journeys

Two weeks ago (good grief, how does time go so quickly?!), I was on vacation. I needed it. Spring has been sluggish for me. I’ve had a hard time getting a rhythm going so I looked forward to a change of scenery for a week to just give myself a chance to re-set.

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Seriously, he’s adorable and never stops moving (nor has he learned where a camera is yet LOL)

I started out my week with family. My nephew is already getting ridiculously big and has the best smile. I even successfully stayed alone with him while his parents had some pool time. Yes, he was mostly asleep for that time but small victories people. I am not a baby person. We also went and frolicked at IKEA for an afternoon – I do enjoy a good walk through IKEA even if the crowds are ridiculous.

I then went off to Walt Disney World for a few days. This was big for me as it was my first official solo trip in which I was on my own for the entire time. I kind of adored it. I didn’t have to worry about anyone’s whims but mine. I could go on attractions I hadn’t been on in forever or wait in lines for those that I enjoy but the others could care less about. I could decide to watch the parade or the night shows or go do something else while those went off. I didn’t have much of a plan. Which for Disney these days means I knew exactly what parks I would be in, what attractions I would be riding, what shows I would watch when and where I was eating at all times. But I didn’t know what I was doing in between my plans and that was delightful.

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The food in Pandora is pretty (and tasty too!)

I will note I got to see all the new things at WDW and I enjoyed them all. I’ve heard a lot of mixed things about Animal Kingdom’s newest land, Pandora, since I got back (I managed to avoid most spoilers before my visit) and I have to say, I agree at times and other times I wonder if I visited a different place LOL as those bloggers and podcasters. Pandora is small but that’s the point. Disney Imagineering is trying to create a very personal, intimate experience with Pandora and I think they mostly succeed. There are kinks to work out but there always are with new attractions. Pandora is gorgeous; easily one of the loveliest things I’ve seen come out of Imagineering in my lifetime. It is different from day to night in a way we haven’t seen in the parks before. Both the official attractions are gorgeous; one worth the wait and one not in my opinion but that is usually the way of it right? For me, Flight of Passage was incredible. I think next time I ride Soarin’, I’ll feel like I’m on an antique. It was grandiose and yet so much…my experience. I rode a Banshee; there were other people in the room at the time but I couldn’t have told you they were there. I flew; I felt that animal breathing underneath me. I don’t know how they did that but I adored every minute of it and would happily wait for it a couple times next trip to do it again. The other ride? Has an audio animatronic to die for. It’s beautiful in every sense of the word. It’s also really short. Far too short for the amount of time you wait to board your boat. And also, any bets on how much time passes before that audio animatronic has technical problems? We’re still waiting for the yeti to be fixed…At least Everest has a ride without the yeti. Take away the Shaman from that ride and you just have a really short pretty boat ride.

I critique because I love of course. I always want them to keep moving their ideas forward and keep wowing me. But keeping what they have up and running is important too. Wowing me was certainly on the menu with Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom. That show is incredible. And overwhelming. There was almost too much going on; I didn’t know whether to watch the fireworks or the Castle projections. So, repeat viewing is a must for this show (as is getting your spot at least an hour early; I was used to Wishes where I could stroll up 30 minutes before and get a good spot so this threw me a bit). I missed the narrative of Wishes a lot; HEA is just sort of an compilation of greatest hits and current favorites. I ADORED that Hunchback of Notre Dame got some serious love from this show; a lot of “forgotten” or often overlooked Disney characters poked their heads up in this one and I can only applaud that. The Disney geeks will always want more of that for ourselves and also so we can share those movies with the new generations. Yes, I love Frozen but it was nice, like I said, to see Quasi get his moment center stage too.

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Best part of the reunion was hanging with this crew for the weekend

After I let my inner eight year run rampant, I headed north so my inner 20 year could re-visit undergrad. It was time for my ten year reunion at Gettysburg College. I find it so hard to believe it’s been ten years. In so many ways, I feel am the same kid who lived there for four years and in so many ways, I know I am not. I especially loved getting to room with my Senior year roommates again and just be around friends for a weekend. I am coming up on five years in Tallahassee; the longest I have lived anywhere since finishing undergraduate studies at Gettysburg and I’m feeling that a bit. It’s hard to describe exactly. I enjoy my work a lot; always have and I like Tallahassee but I’m still working on making it home and one of the things I’ve never quite succeeded in doing is finding a solid core group of friends here like I always had at home or in school. It’s different now of course; so much of my age group is married and has young children and doesn’t have time, or make time, for friendship outside of those groups. Which is fine and I understand. It’s just…it would be nice to have some of my oldest friends closer geographically for sure. So, I clearly just need to travel to visit people more. The whole student-loans-take-over-my-bank-account lifestyle will just have to take a hike and I’ll fly around and visit people instead.

So, that is what I have been up to. I need to do a reading round-up here and share a few recent recipes (as well as an experiment with Hello Fresh!) here too. I’m hoping to get back on a schedule on so many things (cooking! reading! exercising! blogging!) so fingers crossed I can. And oh yeah, work travel next week to add a challenge to scheduling should make this interesting per usual.

So, a month happened…

The last month has been CRAZY! Lots of traveling (for both fun and work), I visited both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, ran a 10K and tried out a new recipe to try and get myself back into my regularly scheduled program. I also only finished books which had nothing to do with my reading goal for the year. When I travel, I find bubblegum for the brain to be what I want to read (aka trashy romance novels). So, while I have been reading, I haven’t made any progress on my reading goal for the year.

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Me, Ally and Mom at Disneyland

So, my mom, sister and I hit up Disneyland for a girls’ trip in mid-April. Sadly, the weather was being very un-Southern California like while we were there (very rainy and cold) but we still had a blast. I liked the parks much better this time around than in 2012 – I think it was because I could actually enjoy the parks and not be running off to a conference for work every few hours. I got to see and do a lot more this time and really enjoy the differences between DL and WDW. I also am jealous of those on the West Coast; the history of the parks seems to be a lot more present in DL especially since they’re celebrating the 60th anniversary right now. WDW doesn’t always harken back to its history well which confuses me. People like me, who grew up on WDW and not DL, always want to see that more but I do understand it’s the effect of the different audiences at both resorts. Disneyland is defined as a much more “locals” park whereas WDW is a vacation destination. Still, a show like what World of Color is running right now, mining the history of the resort, using the archives, vintage footage, past attraction audio? Honestly, pretty unthinkable in WDW. At least, I’ve never seen it. Can you imagine if they did a World of Color-esque show at Epcot that showcases that park’s history?! Be still my heart.

So, once back on the East Coast, I did some work traveling in Central Flor

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Still smiling at 6.2 miles

ida because I needed to stay in the Orlando area because I was running in the inaugural Star Wars 10K. Guys, it was so much fun! I sort of loathed my first 5K last summer. Well, not sort of; I definitely loathed it. But I wanted to do a Disney run and I needed to up the ante so 10K it was. I went into it thinking it was something I would be happy to say I did but never want to do again. So not true. I’d do another Disney run in a heartbeat. For one thing, the weather was awesome for it (meaning it was chilly, the sun wasn’t up yet and it was misting which kept it cool as well). My first run was on July 4th in Tallahassee after the sun was up…it was MISERABLE. Clearly, I am game to run at 5:30am to avoid that. Plus, that 5K was also, well, boring. Disney knows how to entertain you on a run. At no point did I feel like “OMG, WHEN IS THIS GOING TO BE OVER?!” For the Star Wars 10K, there were fireworks to start the race, you ran through Epcot and Hollywood Studios, periodically there were screens showing scenes from the movies, characters to have pictures with, other effects to run through etc. I loved every second and hey, I did really well! I’d definitely do another Disney run in a heartbeat; to me, it was worth the cost. I’m not sure if I’m game just yet to move up to the next distance though…

Clearly, I’ve been busy! Look for the recipe I tried over this past weekend on the blog later this week!

 

Well, that’s summer then…

I will admit, the fact that it is September literally shocked me. Summer went so fast! It helped that I was very busy for most of it and had lots of fun times but that also meant I apparently didn’t have time to blog. I have reasons.

Up a tree. Photo credit to my awesome cousin Jodi
One, summer was, as I said, busy! I got to go home when the temperature was above 40 degrees which means dinner at the Loop, races in Oswego, ice cream at Byrne Dairy and especially an awesome, no holds barred feast up at Grandma and Grandpa’s camp. It was awesome! And then I went to Orlando to hang with a super awesome family which meant actually having children with me at the Disney parks. This was novel and so much fun and slightly nerve wracking because at times, in case you’ve never visited a theme park of any kind in the summer months, it was CROWDED. The amount of people required capital letters. But, we had a blast and rode lots of rides and ate lots of food and just had a fantastic time at Disney. I then turned right around and left for New Orleans for a conference but I did get to see some of the city but it’s on my “really need to go back and spend days exploring” list because I really only had a day to see the highlights and that wasn’t doing it justice. I did get beignets and coffee at Cafe du Monde though and it is as tasty as they say. I always like when things live up to their praise.
Two, work. I love my job, I really do but we were very busy this summer. Hopefully, sometime this fall people will start to see the fruit of all our work when our new digital library site goes live but until then, I don’t have much to show for everything we’ve done but know that we worked hard this summer on lots of stuff and hopefully this fall we’ll get some awesome things to show for it. One of the downsides of my job though is a lot of hours in front of the computer screen meaning the last thing I often want to touch when I get home at night is my laptop.
Three, I think I am officially in a bit of a reading slump. I haven’t been reading very fast or very much. Nor have I been that interested in what I’ve been reading. I am hoping to get back on track this fall and into a reading routine again. That always helps me stay on track with books even if they aren’t holding my attention very well.
Four, something about summer just means I go out for an hour and then spend four in front of the TV. Not good. I was hoping to get rid of cable (and temptation) but a frustrating couple of phone calls meant it would cost me more to pay for just internet instead of my current bundle (how twisted is that?!) so cable stays. However, a reading routine and books I actually want to finish will help me kick the cable habit I have developed! Also, the start of the fall TV schedule will help as when I know there is a show I want to watch at 10, I make the effort to read from 8 until 10.

Sigh, so good. Beignets and coffee at Cafe du Monde
I also am debating a movie re-watch of all my movies and blogging about it. This is both an effort to do some cleaning of my DVD collection (would I want to watch this ever again?) and also an effort to blog more about movies AND books again. We’ll see if this fall works out for that or if that becomes a winter project (or at least as wintry as it gets in the South – autumn is just depressing because I really miss all the colors)
And recipes too should be making a reappearance here! I actually think I have a recipe to share that I just never did this summer so I will try to dig that up and share ASAP. I did just try a new dish last week but it was kind of blah so not sharing that one. Again, I am hoping to get back into a routine this fall and cooking is on the list to make a priority!
Happy Fall everyone!

All Nighter

I never pulled an all nighter in college. I was one of those annoying students who finished papers and take home exams days before they were due. I can remember two late nights. One was on an essay for my Working Girls class. Not that kind of working girl mind you, the class took a look at the portrayal of women and work through the 19th and 20th centuries. I’d not done well on my first paper for that class so I did what I often did in cases like this, blew the second paper into major dramatic proportions. I needed to nail it; it needed to be the best paper this professor had ever read. I had gone to the library to start work on it in the early evening but I got into a groove and just kept working and writing and suddenly it was 2AM and I was still in the attic of the library. Not a big deal really but it happened to be I lived quite a walk from library at the time so the walk was perhaps not something I should have been doing. The other time was actually before the last one though I remember it less vividly. I’d been getting no where on a paper. I didn’t know what I was trying to say in it or where I wanted to take it. I was frustrated and annoyed. So, I did the only thing I could think of; scrapped it. All four pages of useless pratter I’d managed to write and started over. At 11PM. My poor roommate. However, once I didn’t have to worry about what I’d said before, I was able to make headway and once I started making headway, I didn’t want to stop for fear I’d run into a roadblock if I walked away. So I got about half the paper done before I was confident I knew where I wanted the rest of the paper to go. All this to lead up to a story about Walt Disney World. Bet you didn’t see that coming.

Heading into MK at 11PM

I missed the first 24 Hour event in the Parks. I was in Florida at the time but unable to justify taking the day off, driving down and dealing with the crowds. So, I lived vicariously through my Twitter feed and was bummed I missed it. When the Monstrous Summer All-Nighter to promote the upcoming release of Monsters University was announced it just so happened to fall on a weekend I was already planning on visiting. So I talked my sister and her newly minted fiance into going when I got to Orlando after driving down from Tallahassee at 9PM. To start with, I think our timing was off. We managed to arrive just as Wishes! was going off which meant the pakring lot at MK was still full as the first mass exodus from the park had not occurred. Instead, we were parked at Epcot and left to work our way to MK. The line for the monorail was mammoth so we opted for a bus to the Contemporary and then a walk to MK. It’s funny to see the park packed to the gills at 11PM which is about the time we finally made it in the gates. They had already run out of buttons and t-shirts so no souvenir merchandise for me which saved me money. We did make it for the second showing of Memories. Because of the lighter crowds in the Hub, we were able to get closer than usual and really enjoy the detail of the show.

Full Moon over Cinderella Castle

We then booked it out of there to avoid getting caught by the 1AM showing of the Main Street Electrical Parade. However, the park packed. The wait for Big Thunder Mountain was more than we were willing to wait (it would have put us on the ride at about 2AM) so we hit up Haunted Mansion and The Little Mermaid. The full moon lit the park in both a cool and eerie way. I was thinking it was a good Kingdom Keepers vibe. After Mermaid, we decided the other lines were longer than we wanted to commit to (I’d had coffee before coming so I was wide awake, my sister and her fiance however were fading fast) so we headed for our last stop – ice cream. At 2AM. No better time! The Eye Scream Sundae, special for the event, was delicious. I went for the Mint Chocolate version complete with a white chocolate Mike circa University disc. Just as we finished eating, the dance party in front of the Castle was getting started. A DJ was setting up to keep people awake and moving as they entered the home stretch. We danced out way down Main Street and started the long trek back to our car at Epcot. Taking the monorail in that time of night was fun though – seeing Epcot getting spruced up for guests the next day.

All in all, I am glad I went and experienced one of the 24 hour events though I don’t know that I’d need to attend another one. A fun novelty definitely but not something I need to do again.

Even More Magical

As you should know by now, going to Walt Disney World for me is the equivalent of getting to go to a second home. I know those parks, those rides, and all those good eats as well as I know my hometown. At Christmastime though, it becomes something even more magical.
I haven’t been to WDW at Christmastime in 12 years. Think about that Disney people. The last time I saw the Osborne Lights they were on Residential Street, Snow on Main Street was still novel and there was that great theater back in Tomorrowland for the Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas show. There was also, gasp!, no Holiday tag to Illuminations which I think might be the most tragic thing of all.
So, now that I had my Florida Resident Annual Pass, I headed down to WDW for Thanksgiving to take advantage of my sister being a fantastic person who was willing to go to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party for a third time with me. Sadly, my body decided to cause issues this trip (the Celebration hospital is VERY nice FYI) so we missed our planned Thanksgiving feast at Tusker House but we discovered that the food court at Pop Century does a nice Thanksgiving meal on their own. The things you learn…
OK, so what was my favorite part of all the new holiday things I saw…that would be like asking me to pick only one favorite book. I adored the new location of the Osborne Lights on the Streets of America. The snow added a nice touch but I especially like the “dancing” lights (which is apparently it’s official name now…who knew?). Every 10-15 minutes, the lights “dance” to a song. It was fun to watch and see what they would do next! We also got there just in time for the lighting which I liked seeing – I think some of the impact is lost if you were to just wander in. Seeing all those lights come on at once was truly incredible.
Looking down the Streets of America
Next, is Epcot. This is my favorite park anyway but add in the Christmas element and it’s even better. I wish I’d had more time to go and watch all of the little shows in each country. We caught part of the show in Norway and their mischief maker Santa was fun to learn about. Also, apparently, you leave out Porridge and Ale for Santa in Norway. That is one St. Nick that knows what is up! We also didn’t have time for the Candlelight Processional but that is at the top of my list for next year. It’s something I know I will adore. I didn’t make a big push to see it this year because I missed the narrator I would REALLY love to see by a day. Next year Neil Patrick Harris (and if you don’t come, I will cry). Now, Holiday Illuminations. I love fireworks, well, let me rephrase…I love Disney fireworks. To see non-Disney fireworks is just sort of sad actually but I digress. As I was saying, I love Disney fireworks and Illuminations happens to be my favorite of them all. Holiday Illuminations adds a tag at the end. It is AWESOME in the true sense of the word. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen so many fireworks! And as always it goes beautifully with the music and adds a truly magical element during the holidays. We actually saw this twice and it was totally worth it!
The park that pulls out all the stops at the holidays though is Magic Kingdom. Home to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, MK is truly decked out in its holiday finery this time of year. Lights and garland are everywhere along Main Street USA and if you stay for a party, you also get snow on Main Street which is such fun to see. We attended a sold out Christmas Party so it was a bit crowded still. If we hadn’t been so tired, I think I would try to do the later parade and show because most of the families with kids do the early ones and then leave after the fireworks. I enjoyed the show in front of the castle – If nothing else, I do love watching the cast members in these shows. I sometimes think it would have been fun to be a dancer at WDW if only for the fun costumes  The parade was so much fun – I didn’t really remember it from before especially the smells! Yes, some of the parade floats come with their own smells like the Alpine float with Chip and Dale smells of pine and the Baking floats make me hungry from cookies even if I wasn’t feeling well. We did get some of the (free with your $60 ticket) cookies and I tried the apple juice rather than the hot chocolate. The juice was tasty! It had an added kick of cinnamon which I enjoyed. I would have liked it hot though even better. The new show on the Castle before the fireworks is wonderful! I liked it a lot better than the one they ran over the summer. I especially liked they have added a Wreck-It Ralph section to it – it was fun to watch Ralph and Felix wreck and then fix the Castle! Then it was time for Holiday Wishes. They had a bit of a mishap with the fireworks the night we were there – the close up fireworks were firing just fine but the larger fireworks went MIA for a bit. Luckily, they got it back on track for the finale and if you didn’t know better, I don’t think you would have missed them. I do enjoy the perimeter fireworks they have for the special firework shows – it’s fun to be “surrounded” by fireworks 🙂
Seriously, you’d think they couldn’t improve on the best sight in the world and then they do…
But wait! I forgot what I think is my favorite part of the Magic Kingdom at Christmas time. The Castle lights. A few years ago, Disney “iced” CInderella’s Castle with white lights to make it look like ice hanging all over it. We didn’t watch the lighting but it was truly a magical sight to see when we walked up to the Castle after eating. The lights will vary throughout the night but I think I prefer the blue best – truly makes it look like an iced confection!
Cinderella Castle at Christmastime
Yes, it is crowded this time of year, make no mistake but I think it’s worth it because at this time of year, the most magical place I know of gets a lot more magical 🙂

A Short Ode to my Favorite Park

Actually, ode is probably the wrong word since you won’t find poetry here. But I did feel the need to mark the 30th birthday of my all-time favorite Disney park.

You see, I was an odd kid (I can see your mock shocked expressions from here) and while most kids liked the glamor of the Magic Kingdom or the thrill rides of what was then MGM Studios, I couldn’t get enough of Epcot. Something about hearing that futuristic music as I entered the gates and seeing that giant geodesic sphere of Spaceship Earth enchanted me as no castle could.

In Epcot, I could see what the future would look like if I rode Horizons, a ride that has sadly left us but that I still have a crystal clear memory of, even how Dad used to let me choose how the ride would end. I also have very clear memories of the original Journey into Imagination and Dreamfinder’s marvelous presence alongside his Figment. I remember the Land before it was “that building where Soarin’ is” and the Living Seas before Nemo invaded and you got to ride in a hydrolator to Sea Base Alpha. While I love Epcot just as much today and all the new attractions, I still have a pang for the Epcot of my childhood which seems more whimsical than the Epcot of today and also more hopeful, like we were still excited for the future would bring, rather than worried about it. In a sense, the Epcot you visit today is much more concrete and based in reality than the one you would have seen on opening day.

World Showcase though seems very familiar still. Not much has changed over the years; the landscaping grew in, they updated the boring boat ride in Mexico to include Donald Duck and Martin Short narrates the Canada film. The trolls are still threatening to send us over the waterfall in Norway, the department store in Japan is still one of the neatest places to shop on property and France still has the best bakery. I was one of those kids that had to do a passport through World Showcase every trip and the thrill of seeing my name in different languages never got old. I appreciate World Showcase more now though. As a kid, Future World was my favorite but now I love exploring the countries. I think being able to explore each country’s drinks is also a plus!

So Epcot, Happy 30th – that Mimosa Royale in Morocco yesterday was for you!

(Sadly most of the photos from when I was a kid at Epcot are still actual printed photos and not digital files. Someday I need to digitize those…)

Visiting the Park that Walt Built

Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland

One of my favorite questions to ponder when I visit my home away from home, Walt Disney World, is what would Walt think of his Florida Project today? What would he think of how they “translated” EPCOT, of Hollywood Studios, of Animal Kingdom? It’s a fun exercise but we’ll never know the answer like we do when it comes to its Southern California counterpart.

One of the pilgrimages every good Disney geek needs to make is to the park that Walt built, Disneyland. It’s the one park we have that is stamped by Walt in every way, the one that started it all. I’ve been begging to go for years – insisting the photos from the one time I had been there at 18 months old were doctored. I was apparently miserable on that trip; I wouldn’t let a character near me for a picture and the one of Mom and me and Donald, I am crying my little heart out. Luckily, I grew out of that quickly in time for my first trip to Walt Disney World a year later. So, going back to Disneyland has been a dream and finally, about a month after visiting my home parks in Florida, I got to go back to Disneyland.

It was work that gave me the excuse to go. I was presenting at ALA Annual which was being held in the Anaheim Convention Center, literally across the street from Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. I wasn’t staying on property but I could see California Screamin’ from my hotel room window, which leads to my first impression of the resort, how small it was and how on top of everything it was. In Walt Disney World (WDW), once you’re on property, you’re in an area controlled by the Imagineers. You see what they want you to see, nothing more. They could do that in Florida because of the lessons learned in Disneyland. It also blew my mind to see the two parks directly across from each other – five minutes and you could walk from one and into the other. I sort of missed the anticipation of having to climb onto a bus to switch parks, the special moment as you have to walk up to the entrance for the next one you want to explore. Downtown Disney is also right there, next to the two park entrances and it’s more like Universal CityWalk than its Orlando counterpart. I liked its atmosphere though; made walking through it to get to the parks fun rather than overwhelming.

Disneyland was the park I was most excited to see. Sure, California Adventure was an entirely new park to me but again, it wasn’t the park that Walt built, it wasn’t the one I’d really come to see. With Disneyland, I would have a chance to see a park that we know exactly what Walt thought about it. I’d get to see the Firehouse with the light on, alerting everyone that Walt was “home,” the original Tiki Room, the original Haunted Mansion. I could pay my respects to Mr. Toad one more time and ride the Matterhorn after exploring Toontown. I could also, finally, get a good look at Sleeping Beauty Castle.

My first look of the castle though was rather rushed. Thanks to a disorganized shuttle company, we needed to run to make our Blue Bayou lunch reservation. My first reaction to the Castle was literally “oh look – the Castle! Excuse me, where is the Blue Bayou restaurant?” It wasn’t until after I was stuffed with a Monte Cristo that I got my first really good look. I’d always been told it was small and of course I’d seen pictures but I’d never really understood how small it was until I was standing in front of it. My picture from one end of Main Street, you can barely tell there IS a castle there. But all of Main Street USA compensates, it is all built on a smaller scale – like its been slightly miniaturized from what I am used to seeing. The Castle itself was just…cute. Like the sort of castle you dream of as a kid, quaint approachable – all good fairy tales come to life. Cinderella Castle can look imposing; Sleeping Beauty Castle looks like a place to explore. Fitting it is the one with the walk through attraction in it.

All of Disneyland is like that – smaller scale than I was used to but approachable, welcoming, quaint – full of nooks and crannies to discover and explore. I fell in love with New Orleans Square, lots of courtyards and stores tucked into corners and it empties out at the Rivers of America where the Haunted Mansion and Big Thunder Mountain sit on opposite sides than where I expect them to be. I actually spent a lot of my time in Disneyland going in the wrong direction. Its familiarity was disconcerting. I’d think “I know where that is” only to realize it’s not even in the same land as in the Magic Kingdom. Not only were things in different places, they weren’t even in the right park! There is an Innoventions in Disneyland, a Star Tours too, both sitting in Tomorrowland and confusing me but it was fun to see how they fit into the Magic Kingdom park rather than in Epcot or Hollywood Studios. I think my favorite Disneyland ride had to be Indiana Jones Adventure. I had so much fun both times I rode it, laughing and enjoying its effects. It’s the same ride vehicle as Dinosaur but I thought used to much better advantage in this attraction. I also loved the fireworks at Disneyland and was sad they don’t have the soundtrack for them available for purchase (Surprised too, Disney doesn’t usually miss a chance to sell you something) but seeing Tinkerbelle and Dumbo zoom around Sleeping Beauty Castle was so neat and the fireworks are huge! I realize its because they have to set them off much closer than they do in the parks in Florida but it was wild to see!

Carthay Circle Theater and Fountain in DCA

I did of course go over to California Adventure too – I had to see its new attractions though going a few weeks after the opening of Cars Land meant about a billion other people are there with you. I adored the Buena Vista Street area; it reminds me of how Hollywood Studios used to be before they built that awful hat in front of the replica of the Chinese Theater. It even has Streetmosphere people wandering around and a snappy newsboy show that is clearly playing on the current popularity of Newsies but I not going to complain – I do love me some singing, dancing boys. Cars Land is impressive; what I could see of it through the crowds anyway. It literally feels like you walked into the movie and the details are all there from the different “houses” of the characters to the statue of the founder, Stanley, sitting at the end of the street. I only got to ride its main attraction, Radiator Springs Racers as its single rider line was a fairly reasonable wait (about 45 minutes when we joined it, 60 minutes when we got off the attraction – considering the main line was never below three hours and fast passes were always gone while I was there, it’s the only way I was getting on it). Racers is so much fun! Its story is great, the theming out of this world and the end “race” with another car full of guests is a blast. My only complaint is how short it was. If I’d waited three hours for it, I think I might have been a bit steamed. The other two rides didn’t have single rider lanes and I wasn’t going to wait an hour for them when I had so much to see and do. I kept telling myself it was another reason to go back! I also got to ride the Little Mermaid ride which is coming to WDW in the new Fantasyland expansion. It was so colorful and fun and hey, any excuse to sing along in a ride, I’ll take it! As I didn’t visit California Adventure back before a lot of its face lift was completed, I can’t compare but this definitely seemed like an all-day park to me, especially since you’ll be waiting for the three rides in Cars Land for most of it! Also, World of Color? A. MAZ. ING. And has fast passes – brilliant! I didn’t have to stake out a good spot hours before the show, I could ride rides up until about 30 minutes before then proceed to my designated spot for the show, front and center (but back enough so I didn’t get wet at all). Seriously, Disney needs to get on that for its night shows in FL, it made life so much easier and let me enjoy the park a lot longer than I could have otherwise.

Overall, I enjoyed my visit out to the park that Walt built and its next door neighbor. I didn’t get to see everything and lines meant I missed out on certain things (like Space Mountain and the Matterhorn as they was either down or the wait too outrageous every time I was near them) but like I said, just another reason to go back!