Our 16 Hour Day @ Disney CA Adventure

I had been holding onto a Disney gift certificate that I won from last year, waiting for a good opportunity to use it.  I was waiting for Disney to announce their “deal” for Southern California residents that usually happens in the beginning of the year.  Meanwhile, D has been wanting to go to Disney California Adventure for a while so he could check it off the kids’ list.  k went when she was two years old, and n had never been before.  How sad that we live so close, yet hardly get to go since it is so expensive!  So, at last, Saturday was the day!

How is it possible that we spent sixteen hours, door to door at Disney California Adventure?  Well, I will tell you!  Since it was supposed to open at 8 a.m., we left a little after 7 a.m. to make sure we had enough time to park, go through security, and take the tram.  At least we did not have to buy tickets there since I had purchased them online the day before.

 

In the morning, when you first arrive, everyone is in a good mood and excited for the day.  Even the tram ride seems fun!

I am glad we had a cast member take this picture.  It is our only family shot of the whole day!

In the morning, we attempted to follow a touring plan that I had found online.

  • First, we grabbed our Fast Pass tickets for Guardians of the Galaxy.
  • Then we rode Soarin’ Around the World.  The kids kind of knew what to expect since we did a similar ride last summer in Vancouver.

  • Next we grabbed our Fast Passes for the 9:45 showing of World of Color.
  • Then we went on ToyStory Mania!  After that we obtained Fast Passes for Radiator Springs Racers.

  • Then we rode the Guardians of the Galaxy, fka Tower of Terror.  After riding that one, I declared that “Once was enough for me!”, but D really liked it.  I think we had not really adequately prepared n and he was a little shell-shocked.

It does not look like we were having as much fun as everyone else–ha!

  • We went on Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree.  This was my first time seeing Cars Land, and it was pretty impressive!

  • Next we did Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters.  I like the “dance” that the cars all do at the end.

I like noticing all of the Disney details, like the tire topiaries…

…and the Radiator Springs trash can.

  • We had a mid-morning snack at Cozy Cone Motel.

Bacon Mac & Cheese in a Bread Cone.  The bread was not that great; the concept was better than the execution.

  • We watched It’s Tough to be a Bug!
  • Finally it was time for our Fast Passes at Radiator Springs Racers.  This was my favorite ride of the day!  Definitely get a Fast Pass for this one, though.

The 3 + 3 rider configuration is a little awkward since you basically always end up sitting with single riders.  The cars are spacious though, so our personal bubbles stayed intact.

  • I really wanted to make the noon showing of Frozen at the Hyperion Theater.  I had to make a quick stop to grab more Fast Passes for Radiator Springs at night along the way.  We ended up power-walking and they almost shut the doors on D after the kids and I were already seated.  Luckily, they let him in and we were reunited.  The show was done really well and lasted longer than I thought–about an hour!  This was a good resting time for us.  It brought back memories of the theater production we saw onboard the Disney Wonder.
  • We ate lunch at Pacific Wharf Cafe.

Broccoli cheese soup and potato soup in a Boudin bread bowl and took it easy after our somewhat rushed morning.

  • We rode The Little Mermaid.
  • We went on Silly Symphony Swings.  This was n’s first time on a ride like this, and he liked it!
  • We watched Turtle Talk with Crush.
  • We waited in line for Monsters, Inc., but there were technical difficulties they stopped the ride and we left.

I know they are trying to make the park less California-specific, but I hope they keep this waterfall!

Both Grizzly River Run and California Screamin’ were closed that day.  We knew that beforehand, though, so it was not a major disappointment.  Check online before you go!

  • We went on Goofy’s Sky School.
  • We ate a corn dog from Corn Dog Castle.  Tip: ask to have the corndog by itself (it comes with apple slices or chips) and save $2!

  • We did a little window-shopping in Downtown Disney and ate at Earl of Sandwich.

  • We stopped by Starbucks for an Americano (mostly for D) and a Vanilla Steamer for k and n.  It is crazy how crowded all of the Starbucks locations are at Disneyland!
  • Cars Land takes on a whole new aura at night!

  • We used our second Fast Passes for Radiator Springs so we could ride it at night.  Our car ended up on the alternate track, so that was fun.

  • We rode on Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train just because we had time to kill before World of Color.
  • We went on Soarin’ Around the World One more time even though we did not have a Fast Pass.  The wait was about 35 minutes, which was our longest line of the day–not bad!
  • We queued up for World of Color around 8:45 even though the show was not set to start until 9:45.  I am not sure why there was not an earlier showing that night. At this point, D was wishing that he had brought a warmer jacket.  n was able to stay up and actually did not fall asleep.  We were able to find seats at the front of the first elevated section along the pier.

World of Color has been around for a while now, but this was our first time watching it.  The lights/water/fire effects were quite impressive, but I think Fantasmic! is still my favorite.

Of course, no amateur iphone pictures could do the show justice.  It is something that you just have to experience for yourself.  The show ended around 10:15.  By the time we left the park, took the tram, found our car and arrived home it was just after 11 p.m.  It was an exhausting, but fun day.  Now I need to plan our upcoming day at Disneyland!

 

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Last Visit to Legoland

Our annual pass to Legoland is coming to an end so we decided to sneak in one last visit.  I told the kids this might be the last time they go until they bring their own kids!

We arrived before it opened, or so we thought.  It seemed like they had already let people in the park.

The lines were minimal, so we rode on the dragon roller coaster two times in a row.

One ride we had not done in a while is Skipper School.  D looks a little nervous handing over the wheel to n!

It is nice to see all of the Christmas decorations.

We watched the Lego Friends Christmas show.  I was pleasantly surprised the cast actually sings (not lip sync).

The snow at the end was a nice surprise, although k does not seem too impressed.

Too bad Legoland does not have sledding anymore!

We also did a quick walk through the aquarium.

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Pre-Thanksgiving Visit to Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle is one of those places that everyone who lives in California needs to visit once in their lifetime.  I had been multiple times, but never with D or the kids.  D’s family says he went he was a kid, but he did not remember it.

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Can you see the castle on the hill?

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You can buy tickets online in advance but I found their reservation fee outrageous so we waited until the day of our tour to buy tickets.  We arrived early and bought tickets for the first Grand Rooms tour of the day at 9:00 am with no problem. There is a bus that transports you up the hill to the castle while you listen to narration by Alex Trebek.

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Our tour began in front of one of the guesthouses.  There were tourists in our group from multiple countries, including Australia!

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Unfortunately, the famed Neptune Pool was being renovated–doh!  Apparently it was leaking 5,000 gallons of water everyday.  The tour guide said it was scheduled to be done by the end of the year, but I am pretty sure it will take longer than that!

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La Casa Grande!  It was interesting to learn about the corroboration between William Randolph Hearst and his architect, Julia Morgan (a Cal grad!).

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It was nice that they had already started decorating for Christmas.

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Our tour guide was an amazing fount of knowledge.

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The intricate detail that can be found everywhere is so amazing.

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After the tour, we were free to wander the grounds.

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When you are ready to leave, you go down to the indoor pool and catch a bus at what the tour guide called the “fanciest bus stop in America”.

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Walking on gold!

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Nikkei Appreciation Day: UCLA Women’s Basketball v. Baylor

On Saturday we had free tickets to the UCLA Women’s Basketball game through k’s basketball league.  We invited my parents since my dad is a UCLA alum and an avid UCLA sports fan.

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It was Nikkei Appreciation Day, so they honored a couple of pioneering Nikkei women basketball players.

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The game was pretty exciting.  UCLA trailed in the beginning, then pulled ahead.  Baylor brought it back to a four point differential, but UCLA kept the lead through the end.  According to D, UCLA was ranked #8 and Baylor was #3.

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k had fun sitting with her teammates.  However, they were not enthusiastic enough to make the Jumbo Tron.

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One of k’s teammates participated in a half-time contest.  She did not win, but it was close, and I am not sure the other competitor completely followed the rules.

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The alumni band was there.  We heard the official marching band outside practicing for the UCLA-USC football game that night.

This ended up being practically an all-day event due to horrendous traffic.  However, we were home just in time to watch the Cal v. Stanford game (us) and the UCLA v. USC game (my dad).

 

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Our Visit to Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, Part 2 #HowDoYouMuseum

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And we continued with the animal displays…

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The Wall of Fish

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D pointed out the exclusive Hello Kitty, the Paleontologist merchandise in the gift shop.

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Sanrio has just been on a roll with all of their recent collaborations!

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When we were done looking around the inside of the museum, we went outside to explore the garden area.

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We could see the rose garden through the fence, but by this point the kids were getting hungry and tired.  Next time!

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Los Angeles: You are a pain to visit with all of the traffic, congestion, and lack of free parking, but we will be back soon!

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Our Visit to Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, Part 1 #HowDoYouMuseum

We had no school on Friday, and D took the day off of work, so we took a day trip to L.A.  The plan was to use our free IMAX tickets at the California Science Center, but the projector was having technical difficulties.  Fortunately, I had also made reservations at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, which is within walkable distance so our drive to Los Angeles was not all for naught.

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I would recommend buying the tickets online before you arrive.  Adults were $12 and kids were $5 with no service fee.  At the door it appeared that they were charging $10 for kids.

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Right at the entrance to the museum you are greeted by impressive dinosaur fossils.

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The geodes and precious gems were fascinating to look at.  Can you imagine stumbling upon one of these beauties?

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This fish totally grossed me out.  I guess someone found it in the LA River??

I had way too much fun taking pictures of the animal displays.  So nice that they stand still for pictures! 🙂

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I think we need to watch Night at the Museum now!

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There was a whole exhibit dedicated to the history of Los Angeles.

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They had a staring contest.  The polar bear won.

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k is getting close to 5 feet; n is on his tiptoes!

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As you can tell, there was a lot too see.  I will do part 2 tomorrow…

 

 

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Fish Family Night @ Five Point Amphitheatre

When Irvine Meadows shut down last year, it was questionable whether FishFest would stay in Orange County.  They ended up holding a concert at the Honda Center, but we did not attend.  However, when I heard they were having a Fish Family Night at the newly opened Five Point Amphitheatre at the Great Park in Irvine, I bought tickets.  I was curious about the venue, AND Jeremy Camp was headlining, so that sealed the deal.

Friday night is not an ideal time for a concert.  D had to stay at work a little late, so he ended up just meeting us at our seats.  Good thing the parking was FREE!  (I am sure this policy will not last long).  We ran into a family from k’s basketball team so we hung out with them for a bit before the concert.  The mom had to return to her car because blankets were not allowed, so take note.  They did allow everyone to have a gallon ziploc bag with food and water, however.

We were in the back section all the way to the right of the stage.

This was only the second concert held at the amphitheatre.  D says it is a temporary structure.  Well, my main complaint is the lack of leg room.  As you can see, we were quite cramped.  If anyone in your row needed to leave, everyone had to stand up, and some people had to exit the row to let others pass.  Also, because of the way the seats were connected, I could feel the constant jostling of the kids a few seats down from me.  In was pretty bad, to the point where I felt some motion sickness!

The lineup was:

Royce Lovett–I had never heard of this artist.  His music had some rap in it, reminiscent of Toby Mac.  I felt kind of bad for him because the amphitheatre was quite sparse when he started his set.  However, everyone needs to get their start somewhere, right?

Micah Tyler–I was looking forward to “Never Been a Moment”, one of my favorite songs currently being played on the Fish.

We Are Messengers–Never even realized that this band is Irish until I heard the lead singer talk.  It is funny how people’s singing voices are different than their talking voices.

Big Daddy Weave–I always forget which songs Big Daddy Weave sings, but they have some good ones.

Jeremy Camp–My all time favorite Christian music artist.  Yes, I even read his autobiography.  He has quite a story to tell, and his performances are always dynamic.

n was pretty much asleep by the end.  We left before Jeremy Camp’s last song, so exiting was not a problem once we found our car (there were no parking lot signs!)  I am glad that 95.9 the Fish has found another home, at least for now.

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A New Decade

D and I both celebrated birthdays last month, so I have now officially joined him in the 40’s club.

I had two Knott’s Berry Farm tickets that needed to be used before the end of the year, so we made it a birthday celebration and went last weekend.

Charlie Brown in a Frankenstein costume greeted us while we waited for the gates to open.  k did not want to jump in for the photo opp–oh no, say it isn’t so!

Although fall is my favorite season, I am not too much into Halloween decor.  Ghost Town had some creepy setups, but there were also trick or treat stations, so that was fun for the kids.

With n being over 48 inches now, a whole new range of rides became available to us.  We rode Ghost Rider, Pony Express, Big Foot Rapids and Jaguar for the first time with the kids.  In addition we went on Voyage of the Iron Reef, Coast Rider, Log Ride, Mine Ride, and Sidewinder.  We tried to convince the kids to go on Montezuma’s Revenge, but they were not having it.  I think they did not like the idea of going upside down.  Next time!

We were able to practically walk on almost all of the rides except for the last one, Sidewinder (35 minute wait-time).  We were ready to go home by noon!

On our way out of the park we stopped at the onsite Starbucks to try the Boysenberry Frappuccino.  It did not have coffee like I thought, so the kids had some.  It was more like an icy boysenberry smoothie.

Now that Porto’s is in Buena Park, it is a must stop if we are in the area.  Lines were long, but not out the door.

This was my first time trying the Citrus Chicken Plate.  This was SO good, and I would highly recommend it.  The combination of flavors was spot on (I have been watching too much MasterChef with the kids!).

We brought our dessert home.  Chocolate eclair for the kids and a special seasonal pumpkin eclair for me.

D chose the cappuccino mousse–yum!

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Tanaka Farms Watermelon Tour

We have been to Tanaka Farms on numerous occasions, either in the spring for the strawberry tours or in the fall, for the pumpkin tours.  I won tickets to the farm a while back, but I wanted to hold onto them until the summer so we could go on the watermelon tour for the first time.

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D had been looking for a straw hat to wear for our housebuilding mission in Baja.  When we were browsing the gift shop, they had a nice selection for a reasonable price.  Sold!

While we were on the tractor tour, we tried many freshly picked vegetables, including sweet corn.

All of the tour guides have been friendly, knowledgeable and enthusiastic.  This one was no exception.

We stopped and sat under a tent to taste various melons.  This yellow watermelon had a slight pineapple taste.  It is not widely available because it is fragile and difficult to ship.  n did not really care for it, but he is not a huge watermelon fan in general.  The rest of us really enjoyed it, though.  So refreshing!

At the end of the tour, we each went home with a watermelon.  One boy kept dropping his.  “Hold onto your watermelon!”

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Marvel Universe Live! Age of Heroes @ Staples Center

Contrary to all of my recent posts about Alaska, we did do other things during our summer vacation.  I was able to obtain free tickets to the Marvel Universe Live show at Staples Center, so we went on a Sunday afternoon.

I was not sure what to expect.  There was a loose plotline and lots of pretend fighting.

We have never watched Guardians of the Galaxy, so we were not too familiar with these characters.

The aerial acrobatics were pretty impressive.

I think n enjoyed the show the most, which is understandable since I am pretty sure he was the target audience.  D and I realized how many superhero movies we have not seen in the past few years.  We need to catch up!

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