Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Happiest Place on Earth! 10 Suggestions for a Magical Experience at Disneyland

Summer has been jam-packed at my house, as you can see from the sparse amount of posts I have written. With school back in session, however, I'll be posting more regularly again...I'm so excited to show you what's coming up in the stitching world! Lots to look forward to!

But for now, I wanted to share some of our summer fun with you. We returned earlier this year from a fantastic few days at the Happiest Place On Earth! We had such a marvelous time that none of us wanted to leave.

The park is clean, classy, and of course, magical in every way. I am, in no way an expert in all of the ins and outs of Disneyland. However, I am a bit of a guide book junkie whenever we are planning a vacation. My favorite guide book that offered us the most help was The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland, but I also got some good info from Fodor's Disneyland and Southern California with Kids.I have gleaned several things that were beneficial in the planning of our vacation, and I've developed my own opinions about some things we discovered ourselves.

In case you are planning a trip in the near future, and wondering about some Disneyland-ish possibilities in addition to the main attractions, here are 10 of my favorite suggestions for a truly magical experience at Disneyland:

1. Purchase a Unique and One-of-a-Kind Souvenir.

So this is my favorite find at Disneyland this trip! I had read about this little Silhouette Shop on Main Street, and was instantly intrigued with the concept of this personalized souvenir.

The shop itself teeny-tiny with only enough room for a few people at once. The artist has worked for Disney for 30 years; 3 years as a watercolor artist, and 27 as a silhouette artist. I was blown away when I saw her work! She is amazingly talented.

She simply has you sit so she can see your profile, and in a matter of about 30 seconds (I'm not kidding!) she snips, snips, snips your silhouette from 2 sheets of paper while she chats away with you. No drawing or anything. It was the coolest thing to watch! She can do individual silhouettes or layer several profiles if desired like we did. The cost is under $10 per person, and you get not one, but two sets of silhouettes to frame.

I love this little memoir to remind me of how my kiddos looked when we went to Disneyland! If we ever get a chance to go back, I'll be stopping in again for an updated souvenir.

2. Tickle your Tastebuds.

If you have visited Disneyland without stopping at the Dole counter just outside the Tiki Room, you have missed out! They have the most delicious and refreshing pineapple whips, and they are by far the best bargain in the park (well, food-wise, at least).

We returned again on another day for a second helping and enjoyed them just as much! Definitely worth the stop. (And if you see a line forming outside, just go through the gate toward the Tiki Room, and get in line over on that side...we hardly saw anyone over there, and got our treats much faster that way.)

3. Face your Fears.

So three years earlier, my hubby had taken the boys on the Tower of Terror, and swore he was never setting foot on that ride again! For him, it was the worst ever. I was designated as the adult to accompany the kids, and of course was a little hesitant after hearing him describe his *traumatic* experience. However, my boys thought the ride pretty much rocked, so they convinced my Blondie to join us as well, much to her disdain.

My greatest regret of the whole trip was not purchasing this photo. We snapped it on the way out however, and you can see my boys and I actually having a great time on this ride, and poor Blondie not sure what to think! I laugh every time I look at it.

When it was all said and done, and she realized that she had survived this ordeal, she said she was glad that she went, and wanted to do it again, which we did! Despite my hubby's grim description of this ride, the rest of us found it to be one of our favorites...even Blondie. She was glad she had faced that fear. (Me too!)

4. Take a Photo with a Character.

The characters were not our main draw in Disneyland, but by the second day, the girls couldn't help but wait for a few minutes to meet some of the characters and to get their autographs. (We purchased an inexpensive autograph book at a kiosk and a large pen to make it easier for the characters to sign with.) It became a fun game for us to see who we could spot, and to see how short of a time we could wait in line.

Cinderella was the first character we had the chance of meeting over in Disney's California Adventure. Can you see the sheer glee on my little one's face?

5. Torture your Teen.

How often do we have an opportunity to do this? A Small World is the perfect place for some parental revenge. Savor the moment!

6. Channel your Inner Hillbilly.

One of our favorite stops for lunch is the Golden Horseshoe in Frontierland. The food is not unique, but there is plenty of it (we shared meals), and you get to eat while watching a great performance by the very talented Billy Hill and the Hillbillies inside an air-conditioned building.

They are a group of musical performers that are comical and completely entertaining, and keep us laughing through our lunch.

7. Expand your Cultural Horizons.

I had heard about the Aladdin production over in the Hyperion Theater at California Adventures, but had never taken the time before to watch it. I had determined that this was one thing I wanted to experience, and told everyone early on to prepare themselves mentally for this event!

As you can see, my children were thrilled at first to be there, to say the least. with most affairs and kids, they found themselves laughing throughout the play, and in the end, sheepishly admitted that they had enjoyed it. Even my littlest one had a great time.

The show was fantastic--great scenery, great acting, great music, and the Genie was hilarious. He was, of course, my kids' favorite part of the show.

The play is a speedy version of the cartoon story line that we are all familiar with, and really only lasted about 45 minutes. Totally worth it!

8. Visit the Princesses at the Fantasy Faire.

(Well--only if anyone in your family cares about princesses!) However, I wouldn't spend more than 45 minutes in line. We arrived early in the day and were told the line was a 1 1/2 to 2 hour wait. We bailed at that point! Later on (around lunch time) we returned to learn the wait was only 45 minutes (and completely accurate). The girls were desirous to wait that long, so we passed the time eating snacks and chatting with others who were waiting as well. It proved to be one of the girls' very favorite activities of the trip!

The 3 different princesses we met were personable, kind, and darling, to say the least. My girls couldn't stop talking about how much they looked and sounded like the characters in the movies, and how special the princesses made them feel. They totally felt like the 45 minute wait was worth it.

9. Stop at City Hall.

Just inside the main gates and to your left is City Hall. I didn't really know what was there, but when you visit, you can get the kiddos (or yourself) some badges to wear as free souvenirs.

They have some that say, "Happy Birthday", or "1st Visit", or "Honorary Citizen of Disneyland"...and I'm certain they come out with new ones regularly.

10. Give the Monorail a chance.

I had never ridden it before, assuming it to be a waste of my precious time in the park, but the kids expressed interest, so we gave it a try. It proved to be a relaxing and enjoyable break from the hustle and bustle of the park, and gave us a bird's eye view of many of the attractions.

I also stumbled up this fascinating article about what goes on at Disneyland after all the guests leave. Yes, some of the rumors you may have heard are true: feral cats, 300 gardeners, touch ups with gallons of new paint, and the scraping of gum---all things that occur throughout the night inside the gates of Disneyland. And my boys noticed in Disneyland California Adventures that a crew member emptied a trash can near a ride they were waiting in line for, but the bag wasn't even full yet. This article explains Walt Disney's reasoning behind things like this that occur in Disneyland before it even seems necessary. It certainly made me appreciate all that goes into creating the cleanliness and magic that Disneyland is so famous for .
What more can I say? I am in love with Disneyland and everything magical that happens there. And yep....I wanna go back!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Scrumptious Snickers Salad

On a recent Sunday afternoon when we were all home, I decided to try a new recipe I spotted on a local talk show. It is a crazy combination, which is what intrigued me and motivated me to try it in the first place. But guess what? It is deelish! Almost more of a dessert than a salad--and perfect for entertaining or for a unique potluck item for those summer parties. Ready for the ingredients?

*Cool Whip
*Cream cheese
*Powdered sugar
*Frozen Raspberries
*Chopped Snickers Candy Bars (yup! )

Go to this link for the recipe details. The mixture of the crunchy apples and chewy, chocolatey Snicker Bars with the creamy Cool Whip and cream cheese, accented with the raspberries is all to die for! If you try it, let me know what you think. I think you just might dream of this salad.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

T-Shirt Give Away Results

The summer has been crammed full, and I hope to get back to blogging on a more regular basis! For the entire month of July, at least one person in the home was gone during each week ...We started the month with a family vacation, followed by my oldest son on "Trek" (I'll explain in a later post--believe me, it has nothing to do with "Star Trek"), another gone to scout camp the next week, followed by my oldest son again leaving for a scout pack trip, and myself at Girls' Camp for the Young Women in our area. It has been great fun and oh, so busy, and I am grateful to have it behind me!

So now that I can breathe again, I'm excited to share some of my t-shirts with my readers! Let's get right to it. chose the following two numbers:

Congratulations to comments 8 and 13 which belong to Lori C. and Cami K.! I will get in touch with you both for your t-shirt sizes and preferences. Thanks to all for joining in with my summer fun!

Love to all,
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