Hong Kong Trip Report: Disneyland

I’m a huge fan of the Disney parks (Rob is too — begrudgingly :)) so one of my travel bucket list items was to visit all existing parks. And earlier this year we were able to cross that item off the list!

We’ve been to the original Disneyland more times than we can count (we’re lucky to have grown up with the park practically in our backyard). In 2011 we jump-started this quest with our 10 day trip to Walt Disney World. Then we traveled to Tokyo Disneyland in 2012, Disneyland Paris in 2013 and finally Hong Kong Disneyland earlier this year.

We devoted about 1.5 days to Hong Kong Disneyland. The resort is pretty small and unlike all the others, it consists of Disneyland alone (all other resorts have a second gate). This was a good amount of time so we didn’t feel rushed.

We stayed on property at the Hollywood Hotel, which was great. I loved the Hollywood theme and the art deco touches. I found it to be a really striking hotel.

We booked a “park view” room. Yes, Space Mountain and the RC Racer track is visible but I think this is more of a parking lot view. LOL. If I could go back, I’d probably select a garden view or sea view room.

I had to go out to the recreation area early in the morning to get a shot of this sign without anyone around. I was determined! I love it.

Off to the park! From the hotel, we used the convenient shuttle bus. It runs frequently throughout the day and even late into the night which allowed us to visit the city after the park closed.

Ooohhh! So exciting!

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Paris Trip Report: Disneyland

Of all ten Disney theme parks I’ve visited so far, Disneyland Paris is the most gorgeous. The park is lush, rich in detail, and is expansive without feeling too big or losing its charm. I’d rank it as my third favorite park behind the original Disneyland in Anaheim and Tokyo DisneySea.

Random note – during the planning of this trip, I read reports online about rude cast members, maintenance problems, and issues with attractions/entertainment closures. I did notice more ride closures than usual (easily attributed to the off-season) and the parks aren’t as immaculate as their American counterparts but the cast members were nothing but friendly. Anyway.

We’re here!

Disneyland Hotel is situated above the entrance turnstiles to the park.

The park’s 20th anniversary was actually in 2012 but they were still celebrating while we visited in 2013.

You can walk down Main Street outdoors as you would normally do but as a compromise due to rainy weather, Main Street was also built with covered walkways known as arcades on either side. You can access all the stores with the advantage of shelter.

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Paris Trip Report: Walt Disney Studios Park

I pretty much spent most of January sick. UGGGHHHH. WHY?! I went to the doctor for antibiotics last week and I think I’m finally on the mend. Just in time for February.

Anyway, I think everyone knows I’m a huge Disney fan. 🙂 Visiting each of the 5 Disney resorts across the globe is on my bucket list and so far I’ve made it to 3 of the 5 (Walt Disney World in 2011, Tokyo Disneyland in 2012 and Disneyland all the time). After our Mediterranean cruise last year, Rob & I flew to Paris and checked off Disneyland Paris. !!! WOOHOO.

We spent 2.5 days at the resort, which was the perfect amount of time. I really wanted to stay at the Disneyland Hotel since it’s located at the entrance to the park but it was ridiculously expensive. So we opted for Sequoia Lodge. It’s a charming hotel that’s inspired by American national parks and I loved it because it reminded me of the Wilderness Lodge, which is where we stayed at Walt Disney World. It made a great home base for us!

The hotel exterior.

We booked a Golden Forest Club room which entitled us to a continental breakfast in the mornings and snacks in the afternoon. Guests visit the Golden Forest Lounge for these perks.

You never know who you’ll see at breakfast!

We loved coming back from a day at parks and hanging out here with snacks and coffee or soda.

It’s an easy 10-15 minute walk from Sequoia Lodge through Disney Village (basically Downtown Disney) over to the entrance to the parks.

There are two theme parks within the Paris resort — Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios Park.

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thanks 2013!

Oh man. I can’t believe the holidays are over. AND that I haven’t written anything since BEFORE Thanksgiving. YIKES!

Rob, Diesel & I had a wonderful holiday season. I hope all of you did too! I want to finish up my blog series on our trip to the Mediterranean (and eventually our other 2013 trips) but before I do that, I thought I’d share some random moments from the last half of the year… basically another one of my photo dumps. 🙂

To celebrate our 5th anniversary back in August, Rob & I had dinner at a favorite of ours — Napa Rose.

We ate at the Chef’s Counter once again, which I love because you get this great view of the kitchen…

It’s really such a fun experience.

To many more anniversaries!

We spent one day at the biannual D23 Expo. We wanted to see the Walt Disney Studios panel but only made it as far as the secondary viewing room (still fun to see live though). Outside of that, there really wasn’t enough to capture our attention for a full day. Not to mention that the lines for exhibits were pretty darn long. They definitely need more panels and activities to distribute the crowds better. BUT. The expo had two of the best photo opportunities!

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Japan Trip Report: Tokyo DisneySea

Ugh, daylight savings time. I don’t know why springing forward one hour affects me the rest of the week afterwards. I’m finally getting back to normal after a week of lack of sleep. And now my spring allergies have caught up with me. BLAH.

BUT the new Justin Timberlake album was released yesterday! WOOT. I downloaded it right away and currently have it on repeat. My favorite song at the moment is “Pusher Love Girl.” It’s AWESOME!

So in my last entry I revisited the time we spent at Tokyo Disneyland — and now we’re going to Tokyo DisneySea!

Thursday, 11/15 & Friday, 11/16
WOW is all I can say. DisneySea is the most picturesque theme park! It’s a real treat for the eyes at every turn and it quickly catapulted itself to my second favorite Disney park (after the original Disneyland of course).

The iconic Aquasphere is the centerpiece of the entrance plaza. It was so exciting to be here!

The park has a nautical theme and consists of seven different lands or “ports of call.” There is so much to explore at each of them — we spent 1.5 days at the park and didn’t get to see and experience everything (good excuse to go back :)). I don’t know that my photos can truly show how amazing the park is but I’ll try! Let’s start with…

Mediterranean Harbor! This is the entrance land and resembles an Italian port city.

First view of Mount Prometheus (the park’s iconic volcano) as you enter.

We decided to head right to explore the park counterclockwise (and avoid the huge crowd headed in the other direction – I’ll explain later).

The view above is taken looking back at Mediterranean Harbor from across the water.

Walking to the right brought us to Mysterious Island, which is located within Mount Prometheus and features a Jules Verne theme.

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Japan Trip Report: Tokyo Disneyland

I’ve been traveling for the past week and a half and now that I’m home, it’s taken me awhile to get back to normal. Rob & I spent Valentine’s Day weekend eating our way through Portland (pics to come someday) and then last week we were in San Francisco for work. I know I’m lucky to be able to travel but it’s pretty exhausting! Yeah, I know – first world problems and all. 🙂

Let’s back track to our Japan trip (I still have at least 3-4 more entries after this one — so bear with me).

Wednesday, 11/14

First day in the Tokyo Disney parks! We decided on Disneyland for our first day so that we’d experience something familiar to start.

This is the Disney Resort Line (aka monorail) that takes guests to the parks.

And this is the Disney Resort Cruiser that acts as a shuttle from the various on-site official hotels to the Bayside resort line station (so that guests can then connect to the Resort Line to get to the parks). Our hotel was across the street from the station so we never used it but I just loved the cruiser — it’s SO CUTE.

When I was planning our trip, I read numerous reports online that the Japanese are serious about Disney and arrive early to get into the parks. If you arrive even an hour after park opening, fast passes will be gone and ride lines will be hours long. This was NO JOKE. We woke up early to take the Resort Line to Disneyland well before the 9am opening and as we rounded the corner to the park, there were already lines upon lines of people waiting to enter. Oddly enough, the ticket booths had no lines because everyone was prepared and already had their tickets ahead of time like we did.

This was the crowd in our immediate vicinity waiting in line to get in to the park (can you spot Rob?). It was INSANE. But everyone was super organized and polite. I don’t even want to imagine what it’s like during high season.

Entering the park! SQUEE.

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california adventure

Over the past few years, California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort has been undergoing a huge overhaul/makeover. Some elements opened early (like The Little Mermaid dark ride, World of Color, and most of Paradise Pier) but the major pieces like Buena Vista Street and the totally new addition of Carsland opened this past June. We held off on checking it out for a few months since the opening was right at the beginning of peak summer season. But curiosity finally got the better of us and we visited the park in late August — on a really intensely hot day. OY.

We hit Carsland first and I was IN AWE as we turned to head down the main thoroughfare. It’s incredibly immersive. I loved it. And I’m not really a huge Cars fan — I never even saw the second movie.

First sight! I realize this picture is crap. It does NOT do it justice.

There are only three rides in Carsland and we figured we should try them all! We started with Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree where you’re swirling all around in a tractor. It was a cute kiddie ride but because it throws you around from side to side, it HURT!

Next up was Luigi’s Flying Tires. You’re in a HUGE tire and in order to move, you need to shift your body in the direction you want to go. We got the hang of it pretty quickly and had a good laugh figuring it out but I’m not sure it’s worth the long wait times.

The marquee ride at Carsland is Radiator Springs Racers. It’s phenomenal — definitely a new favorite.

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birthday snaps

This past weekend was the first time in a looooong while that I haven’t had to work over the weekend. It felt INCREDIBLE.

So I celebrated my 32nd birthday 2 weeks ago. YAY for birthdays! Not so much for getting older. Waahhhh.

I didn’t do much of anything to celebrate but I did make a few requests and got super-spoiled by Rob. 🙂

I asked for home-cooked spaghetti for my birthday dinner and he threw in some pretty freaking amazing fried chicken. SO GOOD.

Dessert was my FAVORITE banberry pie from Polly’s Pies. This pie also reminds me of my mom — so it’s really special to me.

Then we spent this past Sunday morning at Disneyland. Got there bright and early to try the new Star Tours (verdict – AWESOME! I wanted to go a second time but it closed down right after we got out) and Little Mermaid rides, hit a few of our other favorites (Space Mountain, Buzz), and also meet Mickey’s pal…


I love that Rob will humor me and take pictures with characters. Hehe.

I have one more birthday gift to look forward to next month when the Kindle Fire Rob bought for me arrives. SO EXCITED! Can’t wait to take it on vacation to Disney World. Only 34 more days!

fantasmic friday

I really need to do some TV wrap-up blog entries now that the broadcast season is officially over… BUT FIRST.

Last Friday night Rob and I made an impromptu trip to my happy place, Disneyland, because I JUST HAD TO accomplish two (very important) things.

The first was getting my grubby hands on an R2D2 popcorn bucket. These were released to promote the (re)opening of Star Tours. We didn’t get a chance to experience the new ride (I wanted to but the stand-by line reached 2 hours — we’ll check it out when we can get to the park earlier) but I did get my popcorn bucket. Mwahahaha.

YES. It was $15. I KNOW.

I look really happy. I’m so ridiculous.

The other thing I had to do that night was watch Fantasmic!. Even though we’ve been annual passholders for 2+ years now, I haven’t seen Fantasmic! since I was in college. That’s over 10 years ago! I was determined to see it again. So determined that I booked the Premium Viewing experience. It’s expensive and I definitely wouldn’t do it every trip but I thought it was a nice treat. 🙂

We even received a yummy dessert platter for each of us. Seriously, it was soooo nice to have an actual reserved seat for the show (no standing or sitting on the ground!). Not to mention a dedicated cast member who brought us beverages.

Since I’m so short, there’s normally someone in front of me blocking my view at shows like this but our seats were in the front row (and slightly elevated) so no obstacles here! We weren’t dead center but still had a wonderful view…

LOVED IT! It’s so silly but my absolute favorite part is the beginning when Mickey comes out and starts dancing. That is THE BEST. I may have even tried to imitate his dance when we got home. Probably too much information. LOL.

We also managed to ride Big Thunder Mountain (love it at night) and Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters (3 times!) but that was all just icing on the cake. It was a great night. 🙂

happy things, valentine’s edition

February is halfway over and this is my first entry of the month. !!! Terrible.

I did get sick for about a week so… yeah. That helps justify my lack of blogging.

Anyway. HAPPY (Belated) VALENTINE’S DAY!!! It’s time for another Happy Things… Valentine’s edition.

1. Mini carnations. I bought them for myself on Valentine’s Day. 🙂 Carnations get a bad rap but I love them.

2. Cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery. Thanks Carms for bringing them over! They were YUM!

3. Rob and I took one last trip to Disneyland before our annual passes expire. We normally “gift” them to each other for Valentine’s Day but we’re considering an international trip this year so we figured we should save the money…

He totally beat me on Toy Story Mania but I got him back on Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters, hehe.

We also finally saw the new water show World of Color, which was both amazing (loved the music) and disappointing (standing room only so hard to see everything going on even from the preferred viewing area).

4. We had such a great Disney day that we’ve decided to renew our annual passes anyway. SUCKERS.

5. We got new top soil in the yard and Diesel ran straight over and started rubbing his face in it. ARGH. He got SO dirty. But he’s still so cute! 🙂

And that’s it! How was YOUR Valentine’s Day?