Mousing Around

My mom was down visiting and we decided to go visit…where else? Disneyland.

My mom bought the boys bubble guns. Aram wouldn’t put his down the entire day. Samuel preferred to be in the center of the bubbles, rather than be the bubble-maker.


"Big Thunder Mountain"-I told Samuel to pretend he was scared in line

Aram says he's never scared. I'm betting his future career will entail deadly animals and firearms.

Secrets of the Mouse

I have a few friends recently who have told me that they don’t want to brave Disneyland with their kids because it is a disaster waiting to happen. I don’t blame them. After being there twice this week I saw bigger meltdowns than Fukushima and Chernobyl, combined.

I doesn’t have to be that way!

I’m spilling some of my secrets.

  1. Pick your day wisely! If you can go on a weekday and avoid summer months (too hot anyway) that is the perfect time to go. A weekday in September is practically empty.
  2. Parking: The main parking garage is not fun if you get stuck in a spot a mile away from the elevator (and Disney directs you to the spot). Most weekdays the parking for over-sized vehicles and handicapped is open to the public. When you get to the parking attendant ask if you can have a yellow strip and if you can park on the ground. They won’t let you do it unless you ask!
  3.  Coffee: Now you’re in and you want some coffee. Buy a cup of coffee anywhere in Disneyland and have fun walking around. If you’re needing another caffeine boost just give your cup to another vendor in the park that sells coffee. You get free refills the entire day!
  4. Disney’s California Adventure: This is a hidden gem. People hated it because I don’t think they understood how to use the park properly (hence the huge revamp)- If we come here during the afternoon I’ll bring the kids to the bar at Ariel’s Grotto (where there are constantly scuba divers getting ready for WOC) get a mojito and bbq chicken pizza. The boys love it, the food isn’t bad, and it’s cheap. (FYI: the bar makes their own tortilla chips! They are good)
  5. Is it hot? California Adventure has Grizzly River Run. You have to be 42 inches to go on it. If you’re with small children, or just want to relax and let the kids get wet -You can walk past the fastpass distrubution for WOC, down a ramp (you won’t find it unless you know it is there), where they have an observation area right where the rafts come down from the ride. There is shade (for you) and a “wet zone” for the kids. My boys love waiting for the rafts and guessing how wet they’ll get from each other.
  6. You want to buy your child a balloon, but you’re afraid it will fly away or pop? No problem. If that happens, just tell a cast member selling the balloons, and they will give you another one for free!
  7. Dinner: Napa Rose is a 5 star restaurant in The Grand California Hotel (connected to California Adventure). Some of the best food I’ve ever had (try the mushroom cappuccino bisque). At just a regular trip to Disney I don’t want to spend $200-300 on dinner. BUT…relax and eat in their lounge and ask for a kid’s meal. They are good portions and the food is the same caliber as their 5-star menu. The servers are great, just ask if you can order off the kids menu and they will always say yes (one of my favorite servers there was the one who taught me to do this and told me this is what she eats regularly). The price of each entree is between $8-$14 and you won’t get those prices or that quality in the park!
  8. Disneyland Fireworks:Don’t sweat parking out in front of the castle on the ground for hours (yuck)…Go to the Plaza Inn at Disneyland (Get there 15-30 minutes early to find a good seat). You don’t have to buy food to sit there, but you can if you want to!

And here is my list of in-park food that isn’t horrible:

Bengal Barbecue in Adventureland

Royal Street Veranda in New Orleans Square (Clam Chowder and Gumbo, only)

Sit-down: Cafe Orleans

And that concludes my list!

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Brian and I took a weekend vacation to Carmel!

A big part of my childhood was spent there, so I love going back.

Carmel Then:

Carmel Now:

 

We do encounter one problem. The men in my family (and the ones we marry) tend to be abnormally tall, and the houses in Carmel are built for abnormally small people.

Eating is one of my favorite things to do. And some of the best restaurants are in town.

We met my best friend from Carmel, Heather, and her husband, Adam, at the Flying Fish for dinner. This is my all-time favorite restaurant.

The best abalone!

After dinner we went to a drive bar in downtown Carmel (didn’t know one existed there!)…complete with a WII, disco ball, and boom box as the “sound system”….

Living it up at Ody's Tavern

The next morning we went to the Tuck Box for scones. Brian was very reluctant to go here when we first came to Camel together years ago. We’re both not scone people and a feminine tea house is the last place he wants to hang out….but there is a reason it is huge tourist attraction. The scones are really good, and the atmosphere is very Alice in Wonderland. Now we always make sure to go at least once.

For dinner we went into Pacific Grove to Peppers! They have the best tamales I’ve ever had (half of the time they aren’t available…). And great margaritas…..

 

Other places worth eating:

Marinus at Bernardus Lodge.

The Little Chicken House!  (My favorite!)

Little Napoli

Mission Ranch

Fun Facts about Carmel:

  • High-heeled shoes are outlawed (the law used to be enforced long ago..)
  • The city of Carmel-by-the-Sea does not have numbed addresses. You must name your house. Some of the names: Hansel and Gretel, Periwinkle, Sea Urchin…. There is no mail delivered (post office only), but if you wanted to order a pizza you would give the address as the name of your house.
  • There are no parking meters
  • Father Junípero Serra (the first President and founder of the early Missions) is buried there