Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Our first trip to Disneyland! Part 3: The Diamond Celebration

The Diamond Celebration

2015 saw the Disneyland resort celebrate it's 60th Anniversary, their Diamond Celebration. Of course any Disney anniversary celebration means special stuff for guests to experience, and the Diamond Celebration was no exception.

Both parks were decked out with lots of bling and banners....

Disneyland Diamond Celebration

Disneyland Diamond Celebration

Disneyland Diamond Celebration

Disneyland Diamond Celebration

There were new shows including the new 'Paint The Night Parade' (tied for my #1 favorite with the Main Street Electrical Parade), 'Disneyland Forever' fireworks, and 'World of Color Celebrate!'

Disneyland Paint the Night parade

Disneyland Paint the Night parade

Disneyland Paint the Night parade

You can see some of the shows in our vacation video:

Characters in new Diamond Celebration attire

Mickey and Minnie Mouse Disneyland Diamond Celebration

And of course merchandise.....

Disneyland Diamond Celebration Pandora Charm

We felt very fortunate that we were able to take our first trip to Disneyland while the Diamond Celebration was going on. I hope that some of the shows (*coughs* Paint the Night *coughs*) stick around for a while so we can see them again on our next visit.

Up next: Christmas at Disneyland

Disneyland Haunted Mansion Holiday

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Our first trip to Disneyland! Part 2: The Season of the Force

The Season of the Force


Because we went to Disneyland in December of 2015, there was one thing that was on EVERYONE'S minds.....Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. So parts of Tomorrowland were transformed to celebrate the "Season of the Force", which included special menus, character meet-and-greets, merchandise, new scenes in 'Star Tours' and turning Space Mountain into 'Hyperspace Mountain'. Chauncey is the big Star Wars fan, but as a sci-fi/fantasy nerd in general, I was quite excited to see everything.

Innoventions was changed to include costumes and props from all of the Star Wars films, and you could also meet Darth Vader, Boba Fett and Chewie! (Kylo Ren came after 'The Force Awakens' was released to avoid big spoilers).

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away....

Star Wars Launch Bay Disneyland

The Millennium Falcon!
Millennium Falcon model Disneyland

Rey's speeder
Rey's speeder Disneyland

Finally, someone Chauncey's size!
Chauncey and Chewie

Star Wars at Disneyland

BTW, as much as I enjoyed all the Star Wars stuff, I really, really, REALLY loved the 2nd floor of Innovations which houses all of the Marvel stuff. I actually cried when I saw all the Iron Man suits. I really wanted to meet Thor, but he wasn't ever in when we stopped by. Disney really needs to figure out how to get Marvel into the parks in Florida.

Iron Man suits at Disneyland

Thor Treasures of Asgard at Disneyland

Of course we went before 'The Force Awakens' was in theatres, so a lot of stuff made more sense AFTER the fact, but it was still very cool. I hope that Disney makes 'The Season of the Force' a regular event with each movie release.

Disneyland Diamond Celebration

Friday, March 4, 2016

Our First Trip to Disneyland! Part 1: Getting There/Where We Stayed

Yes I know, our trip was sooooooooo last year *wink wink* But you know I cannot go on a Disney vacation without telling you all about it! Unlike my other trip reports though, I don't think I'm going to go day-by-day since it was such a short trip (but aren't they all always too short #INeedToMoveSoICanSeeADisneyCastleOutsideMyWindow247 )


Instead I'll cover what I think are the most important parts, and yes that does include ALL of the much food.....

Getting There

We flew from Indianapolis to Los Angeles (LAX), instead of one of the airports closer to the Disneyland resort. This was due to a few reasons, 1) We try to fly Southwest exclusively as they are an amazing airline with great customer service (and bags fly free!) 2) We could fly non-stop from IND to LAX, so no worries about trying to make connections 3) We were using airline miles and the flights we chose were the best bang for our buck (or in this case miles) and the best travel times

Southwest Air heart logo

That being said, next time we might consider flying into a closer airport (the closest that Southwest flies to is Orange County/SNA), mostly because transportation will hopefully be easier. Since LAX is a significant drive, using a taxi would have been too expensive, so we opted for a shared van service. Once we landed and got our luggage, we notified the service we were here and they sent us a text with the van number. We walked outside to the waiting area and soon our van arrived, we ended up riding with two other ladies and we had a pleasant conversation that helped pass the time. Before we knew it, we were at our hotel.

NOW, the ride BACK to the airport was another story. We were given a window of time to be at our hotel to get picked up, however we were picked up almost 30 minutes past the window. We then proceeded to go pick up more people (in which our driver backed into a parking garage hitting the van, thankfully NOT hitting any other cars) and we didn't get to the airport till a little more than an hour before our flight. Thankfully our flight was delayed so it ended up working out, but if we could have taken a taxi we wouldn't have delayed because we had to pick up someone else. If we fly into SNA, taking a taxi (or an Uber/Lyft) will be much more reasonable and reliable.

The Hotel

Disneyland is unique is that the city of Anaheim built up around it, so it's surrounded by so many hotel choices, with only three of them being "Official On Property Disney Hotels" (the Grand Californian, the Paradise Pier Hotel, and the Disneyland Hotel). Staying on Disney property at Disneyland doesn't necessarily come with the same perks as it does at Walt Disney World, plus we were on a budget, so we decided to stay nearby. We ended up at the Ramada Maingate (recently renamed the Grand Legacy at the Park). We picked it for it's location, price, the complimentary breakfast and complimentary WiFi.


When we went, they were still undergoing construction on their newest building, so the "lobby" was temporarily in a trailer, which was fine. Everything was marked and we were able to check in without any issues, we even got a surprise free upgrade to a suite!

While the suite was a nice perk, it felt a bit lost on us since we didn't even use the living room area. When we go to a Disney park, our hotel room is just a place to keep our clothes, shower and sleep. That being said, the location of our hotel was amazing, we could see the Tower of Terror from our hotel room! It was an easy walk to the entrance of the Disneyland property, everything was well lit and with so many other people coming and going, it always felt safe.

Breakfast was served in the pool house, and there were plenty of tables and chairs (regular and pool) to sit in while eating. The menu varied each day, but there was always coffee, juice, fresh fruit and cereal. Getting a decent breakfast always helped start the day off right. The free WiFi was hit and miss, Chauncey never had any problems getting connected, while I could sometimes get my phone connected but nothing else. Since I have all Apple products, Chauncey thinks that maybe their router wasn't Apple friendly. Not a really big deal, but when you take a bunch of pictures on your phone, it's nice to upload them to Facebook and not be using your data. Overall we were quite happy with our hotel stay and would definitely stay there again.

Me with Bobba Fett