Thanksgiving Holiday Highlights

Posted on December 12th, 2013 by Jean

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving! Sorry for my recent absence, but here are highlights of our holiday.

Tom Frog_crop• Seeing my husband with frog butt & legs at the Rainforest Cafe in Anaheim.

Tom stopped for a drink while the girls and I checked out the shopping area. Two hoochy nice ladies bought him a cocktail and offered to show him Disney underground if he’d kindly slip off his wedding ring. Luckily he declined… the tour… not the beverage.

• Catching the Disney Fireworks Show as we left Disney District.

We had never seen the fireworks show, and enjoyed a great view of them from the lawn near the entrance of the downtown shopping area. The girls snuggled with their new Rainforest “glitter-eyed” critters (an owl and a cougar) while Tom only had fond memories of those other Rainforest cougars, the 2-legged kind. ::: Meow! :::

• Spending the day before Thanksgiving at Disneyland.

Disneyland is decked out for Christmas from November 12th through January 6th. We felt so fortunate to combine a business trip with pleasure, and spend the morning & afternoon at Disney. Cinderella’s castle was covered in snow, there were garlands strung across Main Street, the Jungle Cruise was renamed the Jingle Cruise, the characters were dressed in warm sweaters & hats, and the Princes accompanied the Princesses during the Christmas Parade. Plus we finally got to try our 1st Dole Whip (pineapple ice cream)! Four thumbs up!

Disney Thanksgiving collage

• Quick Non-Traditional Dinner with Family! Tom’s sister, niece and nephews braved holiday (and Justin Timberlake’s concert) traffic for 3 hours to meet us for a late night Thanksgiving Eve dinner at The Tilted Kilt.  We enjoyed the nachos, burgers, sandwiches, pizza, mozzarella sticks, cold beer and soda. We stayed until closing.

• Grilling a turkey the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Our 14 lb. turkey was done in 90 minutes when hubby wrapped it in 6 layers of foil and threw it on the 500° grill. I had to hustle to get the side dishes done in time!

• Baking The Best Gingerbread Cookies. With the exception of possibly five cookies, I think I have devoured  4 dozen cookies myself. I’ll do the waddle of shame after the holidays. Right now, I’ll do the waddle of pure delight!

• Two words – Hot Tub! Our 15 year old hot tub bit the dust, and Tom coordinated an awesome deal with a local Pool & Landscape company for their floor model. We love it!

• Underwater photos. Thanks to the Panasonic Lumix camera, we can take fun pictures above and below water! We bought it over the summer to take photos of our town’s annual River Regatta, and enjoy using it whenever memories are being made.

water play collage
Busy days are ahead with our youngest daughter’s birthday, her Christmas program at school, Christmas parties, Christmas shopping, and work. I wish you the best holiday season ever!
• What are your plans for Christmas?

Affordable Disney In A Day – Part 2

Posted on November 11th, 2013 by Jean

In Part 1 we reserved an inexpensive, off-site room, had breakfast at Denny’s, printed our Disneyland tickets, took the train to Toon Town, rode Gadget’s Go Coaster, and collected character autographs. We have saved so much time & money, that it is time to splurge.

Tip 6 – Eat Lunch at the Big Thunder Mountain Ranch

Big Thunder Mountain Ranch BBQ

All you care to eat bbq ribs & chicken served with sides of coleslaw, baked beans and corn bread for $15-$29 per person. They open at 11:30am; go early and reservations are not needed. If you’re planning a later lunch, make reservations online. A $10/fee is charged for cancellations or no-shows.

The food is delicious! The meat falls off the bones of the ribs & chicken. The sauce is tangy and sweet. Our kids upgrade to root beer floats with whipped cream and sprinkles. We dine under the canopies while serenaded by live performers. BONUS: The “owner” of the ranch will sign your autograph book.

Disney coin pressTip 7 – Press Coins

For $1.25 you can create a Disneyland keepsake, a pressed quarter! The toy store in front of It’s A Small World has a quarter machine. Your choice of 3 Disney characters will be pressed onto your coin. BONUS: Download a free pdf of Disney coin press machines at Park Pennies (dot) com.

Tip 8 – View The Parade

Best place to view, the Main Street Train Station! Go early, plant yourself, and relax while you wait for the parade to travel right before you. We have fought the crowds along Main Street, had horrible non-existent views and sore shoulders from hoisting the kids. It’s best to position yourself above the crowds, and be eye-level with many of the performers. BONUS: Here’s a little video I put together with footage Tom shot.


Tip 9 – Visit Disney District

Catal at Disney District

Friends of ours from the Anaheim area invited us to dinner at Disney’s Blue Bayou inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Yes, it was a fabulous, unforgettable experience. But the one thing they advised was to park at the Disney District. The first 3 hours of parking are FREE; 5 hours are free with validation from participating locations. There are many restaurants and shops within walking distance to the main Disney entrances (Disneyland and California Adventure). We stopped for lemonades at Catal Uva Bar. People-watching al fresco was devine!

Tip 10 – Create A Memory Magazine

If you can create pdfs, you can make a magazine of your Disney memories for around $5.00! Visit Magcloud to upload and order. Templates are available. Minimum 20 pages. I use photoshop to create my pages, save them as pdf files, and combine my pages in Adobe Acrobat. Twenty pages plus perfect bind is $5.00/publication. Additional pages are 20 cents (must increase by 4 page sets). BONUS: This is so much cheaper than snapfish or any other album-making site, you can afford copies for the whole family (grandparents, aunts and uncles included).

Disney Vacation 2013

By Jean Has Been Shopping

40 pages, published 6/8/2013

Our Disneyland Vacation 2013.

• Where is your favorite place to dine in Disney?

• What is your favorite Disney souvenir/collectible?

Affordable Disney In A Day – Part 1

Posted on November 9th, 2013 by Jean

Once a month, Tom visits Anaheim on business. During breaks from school, we make quick Family Trips out of his business travels. Here are 5 tips to make the most out of your visit to Disneyland. Part 2 has been posted.

Best Western PavilionTip 1 – Stay Off-Site

We have found a jewel of a hotel near Disneyland. They charge from $110 to $130/night (based on 2-Queen beds, 4 room occupants). It is the Best Western Plus Pavilion on Katella Blvd. BONUS: This hotel gives you coupons so kids eat free at Denny’s next door. Stop in for breakfast before heading to the park. Potential savings compared to staying at a Disneyland Resort: minimum $1,500.00

Tip 2 – Purchase eTickets

Bypass the ticket booth, which is an avoidable long line, and go straight to the admission gates by purchasing your tickets online. Purchase, download, and print your tickets prior to your arrival. BONUS:  1-Day/1-Park tickets are less than $100/per person, young or old! Potential savings of time: 30 Minutes to 1 Hour

Disney Engineer and Conductor autographsTip 3 – Ride The Train

Catch the train at Main Street and head to your favorite location. Ours is Toon Town, the 2nd stop.  Your feet will thank you for not abusing them early in the day. BONUS: Be sure to ask the Conductor and Engineer for autographs! Our Engineer shared an easy way to tell them apart. The Engineer wears pajamas, and the Conductor looks like a penguin. Potential savings of time: 30 Minutes and Happy Tootsies

Tip 4 – Ride a Coaster in Toon Town

Time to get this party started with a mild coaster the whole family will love, Gadget’s Go Coaster!  BONUS: While in Toon Town, visit Minnie and Mickey Mouse in their respective homes. The lines move quickly, and there are lots of photo ops throughout the houses.

Tip 5 – Collect Autographs in Toon Town

Disney Autographs

Autographs are easy to come by in this section of Disneyland. We’ve met Pluto, Goofy, and even the elusive Daisy!  You can purchase your autograph books online or in the park. The best pen for autographs is the retractable Sharpie in any color except green (which stains character outfits). BONUS: One pen per family. The character handlers will inform you, open your books and have your pen ready. Handlers will also take photos for you (free of charge with your camera or smart phone).

• Who is your favorite Disney Character?

• What is your favorite Disneyland ride?