Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010 Legoland Trip Report

  We couldn't have asked for better weather on the day we visited Legoland during our recent vacation in California.  The lego models and lush landscaping of the park were set off beautifully by the bright blue-ness of the sky.
It was fun to spot the Lego models throughout the park and on the rides:

 Some of our favorite rides:

Aquazone Wave Racer

Lost Kingdom Adventure

Skipper School 

Beetle Bounce

Royal Joust
There are also buildings mixed in the park which are dedicated to building and experimenting with Lego lines, like this one for Bionicles.  Although he is into many different sets, my son has been a huge Bionicle fan forever.  We've even done a photo shoot with his creations, shot up-close and at ground level in the yard so it looks like one of the Bionicle movies.

After the kids ran, climbed and jumped around on the Hideaways playcourt, we made a mandatory stop for Granny's Apple Fries.  These are super good!  I have actually thought about them off and on ever since our previous trip 5 years ago.  You bite into the cinnamon-sugar dusted crispy outside and inside is warm apple compote.  Delicious!

After my beloved Granny's Apple Fries and a few more rides we went through the Lego factory tour, which fascinated the kids:

I like the variety of activities at Legoland- this fountain was a very popular item in the Water Works area.  There are little mats all around, and if you want the music to play and the fountains to spray, you have to hop around on those mats.  It was a great area- kids can play with water activities and not get very wet even.

Miniland, USA was very impressive.  It goes on and on with such a variety of scenes!  The kids were really enchanted with this part of Legoland.

In fact, there was so much to see in Miniland that we ran out of time to visit the new Sealife Aquarium right next to Legoland.  I love aquariums so I was sad to see it all dark and closed when we exited Legoland for the nigh!  I guess it will have to be seen on a future visit.  We had such a great time there is no way we won't be back!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Disneyland Part 3- The Disney California Adventure Report

One part of our trip that I was looking forward to was the visit to Disney California Adventure.  They have added several new things to the park since we last visited in 2007, such as a Monsters, Inc. ride,  Toy Story Mania, and the new lights-and-water show, World of Color.  

Feeling rather reporter-ly with complimentary park tickets for the day, I walked with my family into the park and headed to the Grizzly River Run, where we all got soaked.  I think the most amazing part of this ride is not how wet you get, but if any inch of you stays dry since there is alot of splashing and spraying going on!  We went first thing because we knew it would give us the day to dry off before the sun went down and the temperatures dropped.  

After the Grizzly River Run we went for a few times on the Golden Zephyr and the Silly Symphony Swings to dry off.  It worked great :)  Capped this with a turn on Soarin' Over California, one of the best rides in the park to do as a family.  

I notice that in the California Adventure side of Disneyland it feels very calm and laid-back.  It's kind of a nice change of pace from the fun but frenetic pace of Disneyland.  They also have pretty good food options.  I have been thinking about the food we ate last time ever since, and a sourdough bread bowl filled with soup was at the top of my list on this day.  Yet when we got there, I was in the mood for Mexican, so in the end I still didn't get my fix of chewy-crusted sourdough!  I blame the all-girl mariachi band walking around performing.  They were very good:

Forget the Tower of Terror- Mickey's Fun Wheel is the scariest ride in Disney's California Adventure!!  As it advances, you feel like you are on a roller coaster because the boxes run on a track from one edge of the wheel to the other. It glides from one side to the other, swinging back and forth until its momentum slows- just in time to go back the other direction.  In theory this sounds like  a fun ride, but something about the actual physical experience of it set off alarm bells in the prehensile area of my brain.  California Screamin' in the background was more my speed- strap me into the ride and then I am happy to go upside down even! 

We love the shows in Disney California Adventure:  It's Tough to Be a Bug, Muppets 3D and Turtle Talk with Crush were great.  The kids enjoyed Captain EO at Disneyland the day before, so it was fun to take in a few more shows.

There were no lines in the evening for Monster's, Inc so we went on several times.  I think it's because people were lining up for the ElecTRONica show.  My son is really in to "hidden Mickey's," the little mouse head and ears that are hidden in plain sight throughout both parks, so a few trips through here were great to give him the chance to spot them all.  We actually bought him a book that lists them all on this day and it was probably his favorite thing we bought on this trip.

Toy Story Mania.  I knew the kids would like this one.  Especially the big kid on the left...

Leading up to the opening of ElecTRONica for the evening, this dance show was something we all liked.  

We'd made plans earlier to watch World of Color but the kids were getting tired.  I think at this point it was 6 or 6:30, and show wouldn't be starting until around 9.  Mr. Mother of Style and I decided that we would have to save World of Color for a future trip, and we went over to Disneyland to finish up the evening.

 There is more construction underway for a future attraction featuring Goofy and all the Classic Disney characters like Mickey and Donald- I grew up watching all the "Classic Cartoon Favorites" of them so it will be fun to see them in action in this new area.

This concludes the Disneyland Report.  Fun was had by alll.  Good old memories came alive.  Happy new memories were created. 

...and they all lived happily ever after.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Disneyland Part 2- The Disneyland Report

We stayed in California for 5 days and had lots of fun at Disneyland, plus a day at Legoland that I'll write about next week. We went right after Nov 12th, because it marks the beginning of all the holiday decorations being up and all the seasonal ride-overlays are open- it's the best time of year to visit Disneyland!

My preschooler can drive.  My second-grader talks with birds- and they talk back.  My (almost) teenager can ride into space all by himself without making me worry.  I like Disneyland because it's a place where things really equalize:  Kids can do "big people" things, and adults can have just as much fun as if they were kids themselves.
 In the past we have stayed at the Grand Californian and the Disneyland Hotel.  This time we decided to try out the Howard Johnson across from Disneyland, and stayed in one of their nicely decorated kid suites: 

Kid's room.  They loved having their own little sitting room with a flat screen TV and bathroom: 

Grown-ups room:

It was nice having two bathrooms between the 5 of us:

As far as packing goes, the number one life saver is using Eagle Creek packing cubes.  Everyone in the family has 2 cubes in their own color and it is so nice to find everyone's clothes without turning the suitcase into a fabric stew!  It's also convenient in case you have to redistribute your luggage weight at the airline check-in counter.  We were gone for 5 days, so I packed 6 outfits for everybody, plus a few of the girl's Disney princess dresses for them to wear in the park if they wanted.

For inside the park, this was our set-up: 
  •  Our Peg Perego double stroller with a Eagle Creek packing cube underneath containing band-aids, arnica gel, a bottle of water, boogie wipes and advil, which was left in the stroller.  We would leave the stroller in an area while we walked around and grab it on the way to a different area of the park, or if the girls got tired.
  • A marvelously practical Saky Sacks tote bag to hang on the stroller handle.  I put everyone's mouse ears into it whenever we went on a ride where hats were not a good idea and also kept their autograph books and pens inside so they were east to find.
  • I brought a squishy Mark Ecko messenger style handbag that was convenient to wear on rides and carry around attractions or sling over the handles of the stroller when I didn't want to carry it.  I put things in it that I didn't want to leave with the stroller. 
Some of the highlights of Disneyland:

Meet and greet with Tangled's Rapunzel.  This Rapunzel was so spot on!  I was disappointed to learn that Mandy Moore is the character's voice in the movie- and I usually love Mandy Moore- because this girl had it down perfect. When we walked in to her room, she looked at my hair and said, "Oo! I love your hair!"  Maybe it's corny, but I liked it :).  She gave such great in-character responses to the kids' questions.  Love her little pose with her hand on her hip:  

Nightmare Before Christmas holiday overlay at the Haunted Mansion.  The kids like it no matter what, but this is the only time I like the Haunted Mansion:

The Enchanted Tiki Room with Pineapple Dole Whips.  As a little girl, I remember sitting there with my heart racing as I realized that the birds were, in fact, real and that we had, in fact, angered the gods with too much celebrating.  Now I'm pretty sure they aren't, but...still... on the last day we were there I could swear Pierre the Parrot winked at me.  The best moment for us was the day a cast member named Maynard was hosting the show.  He gave the opening greeting in an incredible, unforgettable, funny tiki god voice.  The room broke out into applause for him- something I've never seen before or since.  It was that good.

it's a small world holiday overlay.  Beautiful, busy, Christmas-y.

Everyone has their favorite ride in Disneyland.  Between the 5 of us, it's the Matterhorn (or Madame Horn's as my littlest called it), Space Mountain, Pirates of the Carribbean, Splash Mountain and Astroblasters (my favorite, which was unfortunately undergoing refurbishment during our visit).  We enjoyed the fireworks,  Christmas parade and nightly "snow" and ate many, many churros.

I think this post is long enough, so I will save the Disney California Adventure part of our trip for Monday.  Have a great weekend!