Disneyland Visit Part 2-First Time in Disneyland and Blue Bayou

In Part 1, I shared information about flying to LAX from Midway and getting to Disneyland via Disney’s contracted shuttle service.  I also introduced the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.  To reiterate some comments about the grounds, the G.C. is impeccable.  There are so many qualities that make it stand above the rest of your hotel options.  I will be revisiting some previously discussed and expanding further.  Enjoy, and if you haven’t read Part 1, you may want to read it before continuing.

The proximity to the parks from the Grand Californian is a feature that some overlook.  The ability to be anywhere in California Adventure or Downtown Disney and return to your room within 10 minutes is a convenient characteristic.  Couple that with travelling with a five and two-year-old and it’s a recipe to enhance everyone’s moods.  I would estimate the time from Disneyland to our room was between 15-20 minutes.  This is similar to staying on the monorail loop at WDW and returning from Magic Kingdom.

We arrived a couple hours before our reservation at Blue Bayou.  We did not waste any time heading over to Disneyland.  We exited the Grand Californian by way of their California Adventure entrance.  This may have been a mistake.  It was our first time in the park, and we found ourselves engrossed with several aspects of the park during our walk.  For example, our walk took us by my wife’s and my favorite attraction, Soarin’.  It was so difficult just walking right by!  Another thing I regret was walking down Buena Vista Street from the park to the main entrance too quickly during our first visit.  I found some of us wanting to stop multiple times.  However, the Grand Californian’s entrance to California Adventure is amazing if timed correctly.  It was BY FAR the quickest/easiest entry into any Disney park we have ever completed.  The Plaza area between the two parks is very simple.  I may have been expecting more, but I feel that Disney could do a bit more here.  The Plaza seemed baron and bland.  I get it.  They want you to move into the parks, but it felt like it was missing something.  Getting into Disneyland was surprisingly quick.  It was mid-afternoon on a Tuesday, so that was probably why it was so fast.

We wanted to take a few pictures on our way to Blue Bayou.

If you are looking for a place to eat in Disneyland, do a little research on Blue Bayou.  You will find that almost all reviews of the restaurant are positive.  You are also going to find that the place is very busy and can fill up quickly.  We arrived to Blue Bayou early.  We asked if we could be seated early, and they accommodated us without any hesitation.  Again, our timing was perfect because there were a lobby full of people waiting when we were done eating.  The atmosphere and theming at Blue Bayou is amazing.  The setting is nighttime in the New Orleans bayou.  Disney did an outstanding job mimicking the theme.  Additionally, the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction begins floating through the outer perimeter of Blue Bayou.  Some of the best seats in the restaurant are near this perimeter.  Blue Bayou offers guests Cajun fare.  They have a decent amount of options to choose from.  Here is a link to their dinner menu: https://disneyland.disney.go.com/dining/disneyland/blue-bayou-restaurant/menus/dinner/.  I tried the gumbo and Monte Cristo sandwich.  Both items were delicious.  Below are pictures of the food.

After dinner, we decided to visit a few attractions.  Our two-year-old daughter decided she would rather wait in lines on another day.  Instead, she and mom did a little shopping on Main Street.  That left our five-year-old son and me to experience some of the attractions.  We were already near Pirates of the Caribbean and the wait wasn’t too bad.  He had been to Walt Disney World, but Pirates was down for refurbishment during his visit.  This was his first time on the ride.  It went really well for the most part.  He noticed that the first scene was in the restaurant where he just had eaten.  He got a little scared when it went dark, but, knowing his personality, I knew he would be fine.  He LOVED the first drop!  This kid likes fast and wild rides (unlike his dad), so I was not worried about the drops.  He got a kick out of the scenes.  However, the boats got backed up badly.  We were stuck near the drunk pirate saying, “Here kitty, kitty” for nearly 10 minutes.  It was awful.  I kept trying to have him look at other scenes and talking to him about other things, but we were on the right side of the boat very close to the animatronic.  After the scare on Pirates of the Caribbean, he decided he wanted to go up Tarzan’s tree.  He actually caught me off guard.  By “catching me off guard,” I mean he took off running to the attraction and up the stairs without us discussing it.  Luckily, we were close and, he’s five, so it was relatively easy catching up to him.  The wait for Jingle Cruise was surprisingly low, so I knew we had to ride it.  I think the wait was only around ten minutes.  My son was unimpressed.  I was amused and enjoyed the Christmas overlay which I’ve never seen before.  I took some pictures of the Jingle Cruise, but they turned out terrible.  Next, we headed to Fantasyland.  In Fantasyland, we visited Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and one of our favorites: Peter Pan’s Flight.  As much as I wanted to stay, I knew he would be getting tired soon, so we headed back to the room.  I snapped one of my favorite pictures from the trip on the way out of Disneyland.

Come back to enjoy the rest of our Disneyland trip.

Justin Eggenberger, Co-owner of Adventure is Out There Travel, LLC

justin@adventureisouttheretravel.com                  Twitter @JAEggenberger

Is Disney Cruise Line Just for Families with Kids?

100_2337

So often when talking about cruising with friends and family, the first thing I hear when suggesting Disney Cruise Line is “I don’t want to be on a ship with all those kids!” or “isn’t that line just for families?”.  I had the absolute pleasure of cruising with five of my friends last November and found out for myself just how wrong both of those statements are.

Spaces on the ship

-Mallory says “I went in thinking wed have to stick one little portion of the ship to avoid hyped up children.  That wasn’t the case at all!”.

-the Cove pool and bar was one of our favorite hangouts on the ship.  The Cove is an adults only area and Disney does a wonderful job of enforcing this rule. There are cast members near the “entrances” gentling reminding families that this is adults only area and not to linger as they pass through.

-The District includes several very different bars and lounges.  The whole area is a great area for adults to have a drink, dance, and even sing.

-Don’t think that the “adults only” areas are the only places you’ll find magic.  We also rode the aquaDuck and of course ran into some of our favorite characters!

 

 

Dining and Entertainment

-“some of the best food I’ve ever had”

-Disney utilizes rotational dining in which your party rotates to a different dining room (Enchanted Garden, Royal Palace, and Animator’s Palate) with your serving team every night.

-Each dining room provides a different atmosphere and menu.  Everything we tried was delicious!

-Our serving team was outstanding!  They really engaged with us and learned some of our likes and dislikes.  For example, we had a bowl of cherries on our table every night.  They definitely brought a little extra magic to our trip.

-We went to a show every night before dinner.  These truly are “Broadway style” and appealed to all ages kids to adults.  Absolutely phenomenal!

-Room service is also an available option for dining.  We used it for snacks and coffee in the morning.  We were sure to order milk and cookies and of course Mickey Bars!

-In additional to the dining rooms and room service, Cabanas is also an option.  Cabanas is casual buffet style dining with many yummy options and we were always able to find a table to seat us all.

 

Accommodations

-There were five of us and we were able to book two connecting balcony rooms.

-Plenty of space for all of us.

-Bathrooms are split which was a HUGE bonus with five adults getting ready for dinner or a day in port.

-Beds were comfortable as was the fold out on the couch

-As our rooms were connecting, the divider between our two balconies was able to be opened which let us has have one large balcony to share. The below picture is before the divider was open.

100_2102

Ports

-We had two ports on our ship: Nassau and Castaway Cay

-Nassau was our first port and we scheduled excursions here.  There was a large selection of excursions and we had no problem finding two that our group split up to participate in.  The selection of excursion was varied and had great options for families and adults.

-Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island) was our second port.

-When we first boarded the ship we went directly to guest services to register for the Castaway Cay 5K.  5K participants we among the first off the ship when we docked at Castaway Cay.  Abilities vary and we were not the only participants walking.

-After the 5K some of us went to the ship to change and we headed to beach.  Serenity Bay is the adult’s only section.  The water is shallow and perfect for waiting.  We had no problem finding enough chairs for all of us to sit together.

-Near Serenity Bay are a bar and an eatery.  Lunch was wonderful.  So many options; chicken, fish, ribs, and sides.  Don’t forget to grab some banana bread or ice cream for desert!

100_2329

 

This is only a taste of our trip and I think the only complaint we had was that we didn’t have enough time to explore the ship.  We embarked on Friday and left on Monday.  So to answer the question of “isn’t Disney Cruise Line just for families with kids?” the answer is NO!  There is so much to do for adults too!

ALASKAN CRUISE 2016

My husband and I went with a group of friends on a 7 day cruise to Alaska in July aboard the Carnival Legend.  We flew to Seattle the night before our cruise was scheduled to leave port.  We walked around the city until all of our party had arrived.  Then some of us went to Pike Place Market.  The Market had vendors set up, selling flowers, crafted jewelry, fruits, vegetables, and fish.  It was fun to watch the fish vendors throw the fish!  We also saw the gum wall.

img_9567

One of our friends insisted we all chew bubble gum and leave our own addition to the “art”.  After that, we walked down to the water and ate dinner at The Crab Pot.  When we finished our delicious dinner, some of us walked back to our hotel, while the rest of our party went to a Seattle Mariners vs. Chicago White Sox ballgame.  Since we live near Chicago, it was fun to see the Sox play in another ball park.

The next morning, some of us walked to the Space Needle and went up to the top.  It was a clear day and was very scenic.  We could see our ship while she was waiting for us to board!

Once we boarded our ship, we took time to eat lunch, unpack and familiarize ourselves with the ship.  Then it was time for muster.  It was very hot and took a long time but is a requirement before the ship leaves port.  Muster is when the ship’s crew instructs the passengers where to go and what to do in case of an emergency evacuation of the ship.  Good to know.

At dinner time, we were all seated at three tables close together (there were 18 of us).  We ate at the same place every night and had the same servers.  We got to know each other very well by the time our cruise was finished.  In addition to the excellent service and delicious food, the servers would entertain us with a floor show.  They would sing along with a different song every night and dance a choreographed dance.  Lots of fun.  After dinner, we usually went to the theatre for a live show then went to the comedy club.  Finishing off the night would be a visit to the casino and/or bars or shopping in the onboard shops.

The first day was a day at sea.  There are many activities when you are aboard a ship, so we all did whatever we chose.  I enjoy getting a massage on sea day whenever we cruise, so I got a hot stone massage.

The second day we sailed the Tracy Arm Fjord.  The best adjective I can use about the Fjord is: magnificent!  It is a rain forest, so it was overcast and a little cool but no one stayed inside on that day.  The beauty was breath taking.  We saw whales, seals, eagles, icebergs, and a glacier.  It was all so amazing and beautiful.

img_9730

The third day, we docked at Skagway.  Some of us had booked the White Pass Railroad Summit Excursion.  We boarded a vintage passenger coach, which retraced the original route to the White Pass summit.  We passed Bridal Veil Falls, Inspiration Point and Dead Horse Gulch.  We saw beautiful mountains, gorges, waterfalls, tunnels, and trestles.  We saw the original Klondike Trail worn into the rocks.  After the excursion, we walked, shopped, and ate in Skagway.

img_9840

On the fourth day, we docked at Juneau.  It rained most of the day.  We figured we would never have the opportunity to visit Juneau again so why not make the most of it?  After lunch at the Red Dog Saloon, the weather cleared up a bit and we were able to see the beautiful area surrounding the city.

The fifth day was our stop at Ketchikan.  We explored the city and saw many interesting totem poles.  We walked over a plank bridge and saw salmon in the stream below.  We were told that we were lucky we were there when we were because, a short time after we left the bridge, it was closed because a bear had decided to find his lunch in the stream!

img_9935

Our final day of the cruise was mainly on ship.  We made port around 7:30 p.m. at Victoria, British Columbia.  Some of us went to see beautiful Butchart Gardens.  Our only regret was that it turned dark shortly after our arrival.  Our excursion by bus also included a narrated tour of the city.

img_0009

What do we have planned for our next adventure?  We are going to Epcot Food & Wine Festival!  We are looking forward to that, as we have talked about going for the past several years.  We also got tickets for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party!  I am very excited about it.  I hope to have lots of stories & photos for my next blog.

Claudia Eggenberger

Co-owner/Agent

Adventure Is Out There Travel, LLC

 

Traveling With Children Adventures

 

Wild Adventures (also known as travelling with children) ~~

I was about to write a bland blog about How To Travel With Children.  About 420 words in, I thought ‘this is boring ~ anyone could write this’.  So I decided to share the “fun” of some of our family travel experiences.

My husband and I did not have many opportunities of travel when we were growing up.  We decided, when the kids were young, that we wanted to give them as many traveling adventures as we could. If you read my first blog, you know that I have 2 grown children.  We are blessed enough to be able to say that we have traveled in all of the “Lower 48” with them. (I admit that sometimes the visit to a state may have been just a few miles in, so that we could at least say we had been there.  Is that cheating?)

Travel by car hint:  On a road trip, DO NOT give your 18-month-old son SweeTarts after breakfast in an attempt to keep him happy & quiet.  You will find yourself – I happened to be pregnant at the time – on the side of the road, cleaning up a mess after he gets sick all over himself, car seat, blanket, and back seat.  Your son will be crying.  You might also have a grumpy husband if yours is like mine and feels the need to “Make Time” while on a road trip.

Travel by air hint:  DO NOT give your 3-year-old daughter gum right before takeoff in an attempt to keep her happy & quiet.  The theory is that it will help alleviate ear pain from change in air pressure.  You will find yourself cleaning up a crying, sticky child’s face, hair, clothes, hands and a sticky airplane seat.  You might also notice that your fellow travelers are grumpy.  Your flight attendant might be on the grumpy side, too.

Additional hint:  DO NOT forget to pack your health insurance card.  That way, when your 5-year-old son splits open his chin from jumping into the hotel pool while turning to catch himself, you will have it handy for your trip to the emergency room.  If I close my eyes, I can still see what the inside of his chin looks like.  Also, be prepared.  You will have a grumpy 5-year-old as he watches his 3-year-old sister swim and he is not allowed in the pool because he can’t get his stitches wet.

photo stitches
Sad about the stitches.

While I shared a few of the not-so-fun experiences of our family travel, there are many, many more happy times.  We will never regret any of our family vacations and, instead, we are thankful that we had the means and opportunity to take our kids on so many adventures.

Claudia Eggenberger

Co-owner/Agent

Adventure Is Out There Travel, LLC