Monday, September 29, 2014

The Disney Snob in Carsland: Disneyland Trip Report Part I

There's a new California video from Disneyland up on my YouTube channel, and putting it together made me remember what an amazing time we had experiencing Disney on the West Coast!  I've been sharing bits and pieces of that trip on here (you can search the Disneyland label to find them) and on YouTube, but I thought it would be fun to do a trip report about it so I don't leave anything out. :)

SO.  We had two days at Disneyland Resort this past April and were determined to make as much of our time as possible!

After a fun day in LA with croissants and dinosaurs, we arrived and checked into the Paradise Pier Hotel in the evening - just a glimpse of Disney's California Adventure park from the edge of the pool deck sent me into raptures.  We know the parks and resorts at Walt Disney World very well, but Disneyland was a whole new world, and I was SO RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED.  I had to stay up late to watch World of Color from the top floor.  It was amazing!!  The very next day we would be heading to DCA to see it and also CARSLAND in person for the very first time ever. AHHH. :D

Guests staying at the three Disneyland hotels have access to Extra Magic Hour early admission at the parks (just as WDW resort guests do).  The next morning, regardless of the jet lag, we were up at the crack of dawn to take advantage of the EMH at DCA!


We had a quick club level breakfast (YUM) and headed across the street to Disney's Grand Californian Resort...


This place is so beautiful.  I wanted to stop and admire and take pictures of just about everything in the lobby, but that would have to wait - we were burning park time!

There's an entrance to DCA inside the Grand Californian that all guests staying at Disneyland hotels are welcome to use.  The early opening was at 7am - it was around 7:20 when we reached the Grand Californian turnstiles, and, as you can see in the vlog, the security line was CAHrazy long.

It kept wrapping around hidden corners so you didn't even realize how long it was at first!  We passed by the resort's counter service restaurant, White Water Snacks, which Athos insisted was actually Roaring Fork.  The Grand Californian is very reminiscent of the Wilderness Lodge!

Luckily the line moved fairly quickly - we entered the park at 7:35 or so.  We had vouchers for our park admission, and they print your tickets right there at the turnstiles!  They also are still turnstiles, unlike the "touch" stiles at Disney World.  They don't have finger scanners, but for multi-day tickets they actually take your picture.


First Disneyland park photos of the trip!!  We zipped past Grizzly River Rapids (which I believe was closed during our visit...the April weather was just chilly enough that I probably wouldn't have wanted to ride it anyway!).  First stop was CARSLAND.  The park was pretty darn deserted since the regular guests hadn't arrived yet.

We cut through an empty Pacific Wharf area - we were actually entering Carsland from the back, but it could not have been a more perfect approach...

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fab Friday Finds: 9/26/2014

Just a few pinches of Internet pixie dust to see us through to the weekend... :)

1. Have you seen the new Disney Vera Bradley pattern - Disney Dreaming - that just came out?  We'll be heading down to WDW for a last-minute Halloween trip in just a few weeks, and I can't wait to check that out at Cherry Tree Lane!  Also from the Disney Parks Blog - ghoulish sweet treats and cupcakes I seriously want to try. :)

2. My dear friend Laura has a new trip video up from our day character hunting at the Magic Kingdom last December!!

3. Bright colors, crazy fashion, and DISNEYLAND!  Disney Style has such a fab photo shoot with the Girls with Glasses at the happiest place on earth.  I've been enjoying their blog of the girls is Brooke White - I remember her from American Idol!

4. Because a good internet meme always brightens up a Friday, especially when it involves Taylor Swift - who proves yet again that she is the coolest artist out there.  Love her tumblr page!

5. More TSwift fun from Kid Snippets and Bored Shorts TV.  I can spend the entire afternoon watching their videos - so. dangerous.

New pixie dust this week on the blog...

-----Where in WDW: Triton's Trident-----
-----Emma in Europe: Snowy St. John's Cambridge-----

...and also a bunch of new videos over on YouTube:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

St. John's and More Cambridge Exploring

We are off to ENGLAND for today's blog post, my friends.  Don't worry, you won't need your passport.  You might want a coat and some mittens, though...

As you may remember from the last Emma in Europe trip report post, we had been exploring Cambridge, England on a very snowy and blustery March day.

We were walking along the Backs - the back of the colleges against the river - and the gate to St. John's College was open.  This was during one of the college breaks, so there weren't many students around.


The frosted daffodils looked as surprised by the snow as we were!  I had been thinking of this as a "spring" trip to Europe when doing the planning beforehand, but the weather had other ideas.

Cambridge covered in white was quite beautiful though!

There's the Bridge of Sighs!  It is awfully pretty - although it doesn't look much like the one in Venice.  Why is it called the Bridge of Sighs then, I wonder?  I'm picturing some St. John's undergraduates a hundred years ago reading Byron and jokingly calling their bridge the Bridge of Sighs as they sighed on the way to their exams...and then name stuck!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Where in WDW: Trumpets and Triton's Trident

Happy Windsday, everybody!  Put on your thinking caps, cause I've got a new Disney World trivia photo for you....

Have you ever seen these regal trumpeter fish?  They're heralding the king...

He's nearby with his trident!

Post your guess in the comments...and good job with the last Where in WDW trivia.

Aladdin's magic faucet can be found in a royal room at the Riverside Resort!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

WDW + DL Disney Parks Haul!

I'm not necessarily a huge Disney souvenir person (sometimes I prefer to admire the merchandise and take pictures of it rather than purchase!), but it is fun on every trip to hunt out those really unique, small, stylish mementos... a Motorama Girls sweatshirt from Carsland so that you can look as sassy and classy as Flo and the gang once you get back home.  Or a pink hippo to remind you of the time you went on the Wild Africa Trek.  Or an entirely elegant Mary Poppins scarf from the new Marketplace Co-Op.

You get the idea! 

So I decided to round up some of the pixie dusted merch I found on our coast to coast Disney Parks trips from this year - both Disneyland and Disney World - to share in a "haul" video on my YouTube channel.  Hope y'all enjoy it! :)

(Seriously, though - how cute are those hippos??)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Whispering Canyon Cafe: A Tale of Two Skillets


For this blog post, we're going to need ketchup.  Lots and lots of ketchup.


Why all the Heinz, you ask?  Because today's blog post is taking us to the soaring log lobby of the Wilderness Lodge Resort at Walt Disney World, where we've got a table waiting for us at the Whispering Canyon Cafe (looks like somebody is celebrating something so the cast members decorated a table with confetti - so fun!).

Whispering Canyon serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and is located just off the lobby.  It's one of two table service restaurants at the Wilderness Lodge.


This location is famous for their all-you-care-to-enjoy skillet, and we're going to look at not one but two skillets today - the breakfast skillet (in the foreground on the left...I'm holding a mini skillet of potatoes that came with my breakfast sandwich!) and the lunch/dinner meat-lover's skillet!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Links: 9/19/2014

Happy Friday, friends!  For this week's five fab finds, we've got some Disney and Frozen news, a few youtube favorites, and just a pinch of Jane Austen.  Hope it's a lovely weekend!

1. The biggest piece of Disney news this week is that the classic Maelstrom ride in the Norway pavilion at Epcot is being replaced by a Frozen-themed attraction.  Sadness and woefulness.  I would love a new Frozen ride, but I want Maelstrom to stay - and I'm worried they're just going to switch out the trolls and polar bears and vikings for Anna and Elsa a la Gran Fiesta in the Mexico pavilion.  I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

2. Once Upon a Time will be back soon with a new season, and I don't really mind the Frozen takeover here.  The costumes in the promo look gorgeous!  Also, as always: HOOK.

3. Bored Shorts TV took on the Apparently Kid youtube sensation in a completely hilarious Kids Snippets News episode, and now my brothers are quoting it nonstop.  I don't even want to know how many times we've watched the Star Wars episode, but we must have it memorized.  TOO FUNNY.

4. Another YouTube channel I've been enjoying lately: the vlogbrothers!  One of the brothers created the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which are the best.  I liked this google-inspired video of questions and answers.

5. Because links posts are better when they include a little Jane Austen...I just discovered the Hark, a vagrant comics and loved this one.  Emily Bronte and the brooding hunx...

Don't forget to catch up on this week's blog posts...

...and the new videos on my youtube channel!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wild Africa Trek at Disney's Animal Kingdom: Full Review!

Get ready, everybody.  Today I'm taking you on a safari...

...and not just any safari!  This is the WILD AFRICA TREK tour which you can embark on at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park.

My brother Athos graduated from high school this year, and all he wanted for his graduation present was to go on the Wild Africa Trek!  We did this during August, and we went in the afternoon (the hottest part of the day) to get the $50 discount - it was about $150 a person.  You do want to book it in advance, and unfortunately it does not include park admission.

The check-in for the Wild Africa Trek is right next to the entrance to Kilimanjaro Safari!  You can see the green sign just to the left under the roof.

A quick note about Trek photography: you are allowed to bring a camera - it just has to have a wrist strap or a neck strap so it can be securely fastened to your person.  I love my Disney photography, and I would've been so bummed to leave my camera behind.  I had my Canon PowerShot SX510 HS which was great for the trek - not too heavy and let me take photos and videos!

The trek guides have a nice camera which they use quite a bit during the tour to get photos of both you and the animals - and all those photos are included with the price, which is pretty sweet.  So you don't have to settle for a selfie on the rope bridge. ;)

This is a three-hour tour, and you want to check in about 15 minutes early.  I did not want to take any chances, so we were originally there about half an hour early - we spent the extra time exploring Harambe then came back to get started...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dining aboard the Disney Dream: Animator's Palate

I've been looking through photos from our cruise on the Disney Dream, and I realized that while we've explored two of the ship's three dinner rotation restaurants - the Enchanted Garden and the Royal Palace - we haven't talked about Animator's Palate yet...

...that obviously needs to change!  Animator's Palate was slotted to be our dining location for the last night of the cruise, and I was so excited to experience the bright colors and interactive theming...

The walls come to life during your meal!  I guess you could say fish are both friends and food at Animator's Palate. ;)


Even before you've stepped foot in the restaurant, the hallway leading up to it is lined with concept art (Disney Princesses FTW) to get you in an animated mood!

Soon the art takes over the walls.  I love Cinderella in the above mural.  She's just like, "Aladdin, what are you doing??  And all these dalmations!"


So many classic characters in the lobby!  But let's enter the main space...

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Old Key West Resort: Room Review

Over many years of trips, my family has been fortunate enough to stay at most of the Walt Disney World resort hotels.  The one last resort we hadn't experienced was the original Disney Vacation Club resort, Old Key West.  As we got to check it off our list this past spring, I thought it'd be fun to share a room review!

Arriving at a DVC resort is always fun because you get to hear that 'Welcome Home!'

The plethora of palm trees around the lighthouse and Sandcastle pool gave us a great first impression. :)  You feel like you're on vacation right away!

We headed to the Hospitality House just nearby to get checked in...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Festival of Fantasy: BRAVE!

So the crown theme park at Walt Disney World, the Magic Kingdom, has a brand new parade called Festival of Fantasy.  That's right.  Go put the soundtrack on. ;)


Over the last few Fridays, I've been sharing photos of each fabulous float!  We've watched Beauty and the Beast and the princesses and Frozen sisters glide past...

The Snuggly Duckling boat has sailed by with Rapunzel at the helm!  I just noticed there's a goat at the back of the ship.  I didn't even remember the goat from Tangled...

We had an Under the Sea party post with Ariel and friends...

...and just last week we searched the horizon for the second star to the right with Peter Pan, pirates, and the lost boys.  Today - are you ready? - we're looking at the BRAVE BAGPIPE!  

Merida's float is literally shaped like a giant bagpipe decked out in crazy tartan - it looks so cool from the side with the pipes and ropes!

Jigging Scottish dancers lead the way, with Merida rising just behind them... 


All of the characters in this parade seem so incredibly peppy and excited...and then Merida comes down the street and puts them all to shame.  She is so energetic; it's almost frenetic.  But then she's chasing down the wind, right?

Once again the parade designers were incredibly smart to put Merida up front and center where you can't miss her and can see her even from the distance!


Merida knows how to work that hair.  She makes it look so fun!  Also, on a somewhat unrelated note: can we just appreciate how awesome that enormous tassel is?

A few more float details - clan DunBroch represent.  When seeing photos of Festival of Fantasy, I wasn't really sold on the crazy colors and over-the-top design.  But in person, with the music and all the excitement and energy of the parade - it totally works!  


Merida's three brothers - in bear form - are hidden on the bagpipes!  Uh is eyeing a bowl full of cakes!

No Disney parade float would be complete without the dancers... their choreography!  The parade soundtrack as a whole is wonderful, but the Brave portion is one of my favorite parts!

The costumes are so fun - I want that green dress and belt.  And the boots too actually. ;)


A few more photos because I can't resist...

Just struttin' down the street.  So much swag.

What's that I see on the horizon for next week's Festival of Fantasy post?

A DRAGON, awesome fairies, and an incredibly dashing prince.  Phillip, guys.  Seriously.  Get ready to swoon.

Hope it's a fantastic Friday!