Tag Archives: disney

European Vacation – Paris, France

After visiting Bruges, Belgium, we boarded a train to Kortrijk, Belgium as the first leg our day’s journey to Paris. Going to Paris was the motivation behind the whole trip – to visit our friends Jessica and Andrew in Paris. There transportation strikes happening in Belgium, but we checked in the morning and the trains were still running.

The train ride gave a little more time for some Papers, Please, but our luck ran out when we got to Kortrijk. By this time, the strike caught up with us, and trains were no longer running out of Kortrijk. And because we already used part of our tickets, we couldn’t get refunds. We ended up taking a taxi from Kortrijk, Belgium to Lille, France. Once in France, we took a train to Paris. We were late, but we got there!

I’m guessing we went to our AirBNB first, but I honestly don’t remember that. I just remember heading to Frame Brasserie where Jessica was waiting for us. Andrew was in the kitchen, preparing awesome food. For my friends who don’t know, the two of them used to live near me in California, but Andrew accepted a head chef position at Frame Brasserie, a restaurant in Paris inside the Pullman Paris Hotel.

Here’s Chef Andrew hard at work in the kitchen!

Here’s one of the dishes he prepared – foie gras on banana bread. I didn’t know those flavors would go well together, but it was amazing!

I don’t remember what each course was, but I know that I was impressed with all of it. So good!

After dinner, we went upstairs to a little balcony where we were able to watch the light show on the Eiffel Tower. It was pretty breathtaking. I wasn’t expecting to be as amazed at the Eiffel Tower as I was. It was beautiful.

Andrew gave us a little tour of the rooftop garden as well, including the chicken coop. The chickens were sleeping.

Jessica walked us back to our AirBNB, and we stopped to admire the Eiffel Tower more on the way.

Only gem and I were interested in Disneyland Park Paris, so we spent the day there.

We stopped for breakfast in Main Street, U.S.A. where I got a croque monsieur. (That’s not normally found on traditional Main Streets in the States, but I’ll forgive them. This little bird wanted some too and took a piece right out of my hand. Disney magic!

After eating, we went straight to Discoveryland, which is like Anaheim’s Tomorrowland. Instead of being purely futuristic, it’s themed after historical French figures’ visions of the future, making it retro and steampunk. It was awesome.

We rode Space Mountain Mission 2, Disneyland Paris’ Space Mountain, twice in a row. It had a great steampunk feel to it and was one of my favorite rides there. The wait was seriously just a few minutes. Yes, it was a weekday, but I don’t think we ever needed to wait longer than 15 minutes. I think the one-day, two-park ticket was only about $50 (US), which is nuts. I guess Disneyland Paris isn’t as popular as the original.

Next we went on a walk-through attraction called Les Mystères du Nautilus based on Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Apparently there was a similar attraction in our Disneyland in the 1950’s.

After a submarine, it was time to hop in some cars for Autopia. I’m completely uninterested in the Anaheim Autopia but enjoyed the Paris Autopia!

When we heard that Buzz needed our help, we rushed to Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast to defeat the Evil Emperor Zurg!

gem even found a planet with her name in it – Gemkurnz!

After finishing with Discoveryland, we went to explore Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.

I like this photo of gem and the castle despite the people in the background.

The castle had many stained glass windows. I prefer the one of Maleficent, one of my favorite Disney characters.

There’s a little balcony area on top that you can explore too!

It’s a Small World’s tribute to America started with the old west. I really enjoyed seeing this.

It also included the New York skyline, the Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Hollywood sign (among other things).

For lunch, we stopped at Cafe Hyperion. I believe this was the Dark Vador burger. I couldn’t resist it. That’s also how I learned that Darth Vader is Dark Vador in French.

After riding Pirates of the Caribbean, we rode Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril. Unlike its California counterpart, this is more of a traditional rollercoaster. It’s also the first Disney rollercoaster to feature an inversion! While I enjoy our more story-driven rollercoaster, this was an awesome ride!

Frozen had a little section in the park with a photo-op and some sort of performance. We didn’t stay for the performance, but we did get our photo taken before we had to rush to the second park, which we didn’t realize was closing soon.

Walt Disney Studios is Disneyland Paris’ second park, and it’s based on a movie studio.

There were a number of neat things to see in the park, especially walking through the Toy Story section that was built to a scale as if you were a toy.

The park had an excellent rollercoaster based on Finding Nemo – Crush’s Coaster. Two seats face one direction and two face the other direction, leading to awesome drops in which you’re falling backwards!

While we were inside Disneyland Park, we were wondering where the statue of Walt and Mickey was and just assumed they didn’t use it in Paris. We were wrong! It’s in Walt Disney Studios!

My notes also mention salsa, rock, and line dancing in Disney Village, which is like Paris’ Downtown Disney. I don’t remember that. Did we do it? Did we just see it?

I wanted to stop for a photo with the magic broom on the way out.

And we got one of gem as well!

Next it was back to Disneyland Park to talk to ticketing about our tickets. We had purchased tickets online in advance, which means we had printouts and not physical tickets. She was hoping for physical tickets as souvenirs. At first they said they couldn’t do it, but when gem got sad, the man got creative. He printed out one of each ticket variation and voided them before giving them to her. How nice of him!

Back inside Disneyland Park, I took a photo of gem with the greeter at Phantom Manor, which is their version of the Haunted Mansion. How spooky and cool! We actually went through Phantom Manor twice.

gem also had an encounter with Abu, who ran up to her and surprised her!

We did some shopping while in the park too. I picked up some gifts for people, but there was one gift that was just too big – a blue Buzz Lightyear figure. I have no idea why he was blue, but I wanted it for Henley. Eventually, I knew I had a solution. I purchased a big Disneyland Paris duffel bag and the toy. Now I could definitely bring it home!

We ended our Disney evening with a fireworks and light show. It seemed like a combination of Disneyland fireworks and a show like Fantasmic or World of Color. There were fireworks, but there were also plenty of lasers and projects. It was awesome!

When the park closed, we walked through Disney Village to the train, where we waited at least an hour or so for the train to leave. We were really packed in there. Then it was hard to find our way home because of construction causing street closures. We eventually found a McDonald’s with Wi-Fi that allowed us to contact Antonio and Anela. We had a key to get into the apartment, but we forgot the code to the front gate! I told Antonio what time I thought we’d be back, but we ended up taking much longer. This could have been problematic, because without Wi-Fi, my phone wouldn’t work. Luckily he happened to see my message way late – just when we got to the gate. Great timing 🙂

The next day we headed to the Eiffel Tower. The base was much bigger than I expected.

Here’s a shot looking up through the tower.

Unfortunately, we could only reach the second story that day because the rest was closed.

That didn’t stop us from enjoying the view anyways.

After we came back down from the Eiffel Tower, we met Anela, Andrew, and Jessica at the FRAME Truck where we purchased some tasty tacos. Jessica did a lot of planning for us so we could squeeze as much in as we can. Her help was invaluable!

gem looks quite thug. I don’t know what she was doing here, but it’s great.

They also brought us these delicious macarons!

After lunch, it was time to jump in front of the Eiffel Tower! Here’s Antonio, Anela, me, and gem.

And here’s Jessica, Anela, me, and Andrew. Andrew looks a little derpy.

Lots of people seem to lounge near the Eiffel Tower.

Either Jessica or Andrew took this photo of the four of us.

Here’s all six of us in front of the Eiffel Tower!

What do you do after appreciating the Eiffel Tower? Explore some creepy catacombs, of course. We played some Heads Up on our phones and variations of charades while waiting in line, but then it was time to enter.

The descent! Jessica looks too happy.

gem looks scary in the catacombs.

Jessica, don’t be mean! Don’t worry; she didn’t touch.

Lots and lots of bones.

After emerging once more, Andrew took us to She’s Cake. They use She’s cakes at Frame Brasserie.

We split a few different delicious desserts.

After eating, we visited the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris at Montmarte, which was beautiful.

Even the drinking fountains are beautiful in Paris!

When it was time for dinner, we stopped at Le Consulat.

We shared an order of escargot, which tasted very similar to typical shellfish. I enjoyed it a lot!

I did, however, have to figure out how to eat it.

After dinner, we walked past the Moulin Rouge.

We finished our day with a visit to L’arc de Triomphe.

The next day, we visited the Eiffel Tower so we could climb all the way.

It was a foggy day, but I had fun.

Here I am enjoying that view, but I felt I needed a closer look.

That’s much better!

Just look at that amazing view! Okay, the view was nothing but fog, but it was still cool.

I forget if it was this day or the previous Eiffel Tower visit, but we talked to some of the soldiers at the base. Side note, it’s still very weird to me to see soldiers with huge guns just walking around. Anyways, we asked for Anela to get a photo with them. Their reaction was strange. Some seemed to say no, some to say yes, and one walked away. After a moment, I realized what was happening. They were smoking when they weren’t allowed to be smoking. Some of them put out their cigarettes and one just walked out of view of the camera. We got our photo!

We went to a market to get some lunch. This pastry was super good.

We also sampled some pink cheese. That doesn’t look like my hand though. Whose hand is that? Anela’s? Oh well.

I managed to purchase cherries in French! It was terrible French I’m sure, but a bit of Rosetta Stone helped. Here’s our haul that we ate in Jessica and Andrew’s apartment. Not shown was the McDonald’s that we bought as well, including the Le Croque McDo. How French! Man, I’m getting hungry.

Just look at this pastry! We stopped at Le Moulin de la Croix Nivert for tarte aux pommes et Paris Brest, two amazing desserts.

With full stomachs, we visited Notre-Dame.

Next we quickly saw the Fontaine Saint Michel.

By that time, we definitely some crepes, so we stopped at Creperie de Arts.

The best part of Creperie de Arts? Le chat! This cat was just chilling.

We also stopped at Amoroso Gelato because apparently we just can’t eat enough.

Of course we visited the Louvre, but we were unable to go inside. Due to the flooding happening in Paris at the time, they were moving all the works to higher floors in case the water got into the Louvre.

That didn’t stop us from having fun and goofing around!

Look at these two lovebirds. <3

Here’s a closer shot of the building.

Speaking of the flood, here’s a look at the water. You might not be able to tell just how much water there is from this photo.

I wouldn’t want to go sit on one of those benches.

Those are cars. The Seine rose so much, cars parked along the river were now under water.

May gem present to you… the Statue of Liberty!

Here’s a shot she took of me in front of it too!

According to the journal I kept, which was just a list of things we did, we also visited L’arc de triomphe du Carrousel, but I can’t find any photos of it. I can’t believe I wouldn’t take photos, so maybe I just got them mixed up. Oops.

Edit: I did just get them mixed up! I added a photo 🙂

For dinner, we went to Frame Brasserie a second time. On this visit, Andrew ate with us rather than being in the kitchen. He had his staff keep bringing us additional dishes until we were full. Amazing. As I’d expect, everything was so good. Here’s a collage of everything we managed to eat. Keep in mind there were six of us please :0

Look, FRAME has a foosball table! I don’t know who won, but I know we had fun – probably because gem and I were both terrible.

Sadly, this is where we said our goodbyes to Jessica and Andrew.

Before heading to our apartment for the final time, we walked around the Centre Georges Pompidou, which was near where we were staying.

It looks like it’s inside-out! It’s definitely an interesting piece of architecture.

While we didn’t go inside, we were able to appreciate it from here.

I’ll end this post with a final shot of the Eiffel Tower. The next morning we left our little apartment and traveled to the airport to fly to Rome. Thanks so much to Jessica and Andrew for spending time with us, showing us around Paris, sharing delicious food, and everything else. I wish I could see you regularly, but Paris is just a bit too far to visit for a weekend!

Looking back on 2016, and looking forward to 2017

I keep hearing about how awful 2016 was and how 2017 should hopefully be better. There were a lot of celebrity deaths in 2016, and I was devastated by the presidential election. More personally, I was laid off from Toshiba in a huge reduction-in-force, and my roommate had to put our two dogs to sleep. Yeah, there were negatives. And yet I’ll be lucky if 2017 lives up to 2016.

I traveled to Europe and saw eight countries with three of my closest friends, gem, Antonio, and Anela, and visited two great friends, Jessica and Andrew, who had recently moved to Paris. I saw Denmark, the UK (including England and Northern Ireland), the Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, and Sweden. It was amazing, and I swear I’ll get to sorting photos and blogging eventually.

I saw Disneyland Paris and our hometown Disneyland’s Season of the Force. I attended Devin and Lorena’s 30th wedding anniversary party that included a face-painted bar crawl and a 1920s speakeasy party. I saw Kristine’s first exhibit that she curated in LA – Firsts, Seconds and Thirds: African American Leaders in Los Angeles During the 1960s & 70s.

I watched Anela dance a few times, including Shimmy Shakedown featuring her and Melissa. I saw the Wet Silk art exhibit, met Jon Klassen at the LA Times Festival of Books, and watched an LA KISS Arena football game.

The Holi Festival was a colorful blast of fun. Here I am with gem, Tory, Sean, and Nicole. I also went to the Huntington Beach Cherry Blossom Festival!

I went to a number of photoshoots with Anela, including this Fourth of July shoot that I really enjoyed, a fairy photoshoot, cherry blossoms, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall and train tracks in LA where I also got to shoot gem!

I took a bunch of friends to the Alpaca Hacienda for Anela’s birthday, and we got to see feed and pet alpacas and a llama!

I watched Sherlock Holmes and the Time Portal as well as Sweeney Todd, and gem surprised me with tickets to see Patton Oswalt. I’d been wanting to see his stand-up for a long time, and he didn’t disappoint. I had the three most amazing meals of my life – two at Frame in Paris and one for Edward’s birthday at Alexander’s Steakhouse in Pasadena.

I participated in a high-altitude sleep and cognitive ability sleep study at Barcroft Station, White Mountain Research Center where I witnessed some of the most beautiful views of nature I’ve ever seen. I saw the B-52s and Flight of the Conchords live as well as a number of local ska bands that I see regularly. I went to Allison’s awesome gaybut party and finally made it to one of Bryan’s parties where I participated in some of the most stimulating conversation I’ve had in a while.

I cosplayed Luke while gem cosplayed Professor Layton at San Diego Comic-Con. I also cosplayed Fix-It Felix Jr., and a Pokemon Go trainer. I got to dress as a zombie later in the year as well! I attended the Sonic the Hedgehog 25th anniversary party and saw some improv such as Spectacles, ImprovCity, and more.

Two great friends, Gracie and Jon, got married, and I got to watch.

I worked for three months doing server and other hardware installation for California DMVs. While I was traveling across the state, I got to visit my friends Matt, Katie, and Marc. I also had the chance to have lunch with Chuck Sommerville, a game designer whom I’ve admired for a very long time. He’s incredibly fascinating and has done many interesting things, and he was every bit as nice as I could have hoped.

And I even got to meet Alex and Darnell’s beautiful new daughter, Meredith.

Now I’m sure I’m missing many awesome things about 2016, but that just proves my point. If 2017 is half as good to me as 2016 was, I’ll be very grateful. Happy New Year.

Hipster Ariel

gem's Ariel

Here’s a few photos of gem’s Ariel from SDCC 2016 that I didn’t post. We thought it’d be fun to take a few photos by the pool. When we got there, we found these two mermaids already swimming there. It was a nice coincidence; I’m glad I got to snap a photo of the three mermaids together!

gem's Ariel

Hipster Ariel judges all these convention fans! Ugh!

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Walt Disney Concert Hall is a beautiful building in Downtown LA. I’ve never had the chance to go inside, but I have taken photos in front of it. Here’s gem with her ukulele!

Los Angeles

This was actually taken while we were lost. I don’t remember what park it was, but it was really pretty.

Walt Disney Concert Hall

She looks like she’s enjoying that ukulele of hers.

Walt Disney Concert Hall

I think it was cold by this point, but don’t they look lovely anyways?

Walt Disney Concert Hall

After this, we were done with the front of the building.

Walt Disney Concert Hall

This is a rose fountain in a little garden above and behind the concert hall proper. It’s very beautiful!

Walt Disney Concert Hall

gem took a photo of me at the Concert Hall too. Thank you, gem!

We took some photos on the train tracks that same day. You’ll see them soon.

Thanksgiving weekend

TommyThis might not have been a Thanksgiving spent in Hawaii, but it was still nice and fairly packed full of action. I spent most of Wednesday evening attempting to create pumpkin pie blondies. While I’ll still eat them, I’d say they didn’t work out. Oh well! Thanksgiving morning I woke up at 4 to get an early start and to drive Anela to LAX. On the way home, I stopped by my dad’s to say hello and then headed home for a nap. In the afternoon, I went to my aunt’s in Redondo Beach for Thanksgiving. That’s her dog, Tommy, at the top. Tommy

He was pretty freakin’ adorable. I spent the evening with my aunt, uncle, and two cousins. It’s been great getting to know my cousins as young adults. Usually my mom, stepdad, and sometimes brother come too, but this year they didn’t come. I found out that Mom and Pete were painting the house this weekend instead. Oh well. We had a delicious meal, watching Jurassic World and Shark Tank, and played Bananagrams, Rummikub, and Triominos. My cousin Haley left fairly late in the evening to do Black Friday shopping. I didn’t even realize that stores were open at midnight. It seemed crazy to me. More on this very soon…

Ferris WheelI left a little after 11 for Irvine. After getting home, I met with gem. For Black Friday from midnight to 8 AM, Spectrum was going to have free carousel and Ferris wheel rides. Now that I knew stores were open at midnight, it made much more sense. Carousel

We started with the carousel ride, which was right next to a live DJ. Fun!

Ferris WheelNext up was the Ferris wheel. It was freezing, but it was fun! There was free ice skating as well, but we decided it was too cold for that. We went to Macy’s to look for a bathroom, and next thing I knew, we were shopping. I had to send a Snapchat to Haley. Just a few hours earlier, I thought Black Friday shopping at night was silly, yet here I was, 3 in the morning, sucked into stores. I didn’t buy anything though. Selah Laughing

After a short night of sleep, I went with gem to her parents’ for a large Thanksgiving meal. Here’s gem’s niece, Selah, laughing. She’s beautiful! I’d seen photos of her, but this was my first time meeting her. How lucky I was!

Selah Eats Ice CreamSelah liked gem’s homemade ice cream. Was that the Earl Grey or the apple pie? No idea. Selah Eats Ice Cream

She got a little on her face! 🙂

Selah SelfieShe likes playing with phones and seemed to like the camera. We took this selfie! I was careful to ensure she didn’t call 911. She did that recently at their house. Selah

Here’s Selah playing with gem’s ukulele. She hit it like a drum, but when she held it up to smash it down, gem took it away. She’s so adorable!

Musical FamilyI played two games of chess with gem’s nephew, Caleb. He kicked my butt. gem and her brothers had a family jam session too! I thought that was really cool. South Coast Plaza

After that? Black Friday shopping again somehow. There’s nothing I really want in particular, and nothing jumped out at me, but it was still fun.

Vegan ChiliOn Saturday, I visited my mom, Pete, and James. I had offered to help paint the house, but they actually had finished. We played Scrabble and ate chili. Yum! Mrs. Cronk We also came across some old school photos. Can you find me? This is from kindergarten. Mrs. Thorness And this one is from first grade. Later Saturday night I read some of Aeneid, finished Iphigenia at Aulis, and watched Big Hero 6. Exciting evening! Original Pancake House

Sunday morning I awoke early to pick up Anela from LAX. I actually drove over 350 miles this weekend, which is impressive considering I didn’t actually go out of town. On the way home, we stopped at Original Pancake House for breakfast! We had blueberry pancakes and Swedish pancakes. Tasty tasty.

Pumpkin pie blondies (with dark chocolate)

In the evening, I finished the weekend by eating leftovers and watching Frozen with gem. We also had these treats! I baked pumpkin pie blondies recently. They tasted decent though they were too strong and too soft and mushy. I considered them failures. gem thought to cover them in dark chocolate. It was a nice improvement; they were much tastier!

Henley’s second birthday party

Henley's second birthday party

This weekend was Henley’s second birthday party! He’s getting so big!

Henley's second birthday party

It was at Tortilla Jo’s in Downtown Disney. I was very full by the end! It was great catching up with Alex, Darnell, Gracie, Jon, Daniel, and Mike. Mike even gave me lots of useful vacation information!

Henley's second birthday party

Henley seemed to like his cupcake from Hapa Cupcakes. He has a much better understanding of desserts than he did last year.

Henley's second birthday party

Grandpa got him a matching shirt.

IMG_359Henley's second birthday party0

Dad seemed to like opening gifts as much as Henley did.

Henley's second birthday party

I bought Henley this Disney train with mat, and he seemed to have a lot of fun with it. Watching him made my heart melt.

Here’s a short video of the day. If I have a child have as awesome as Henley, I’ll be a lucky man.

Atomic Ballroom Student Showcase: Celebrate the Magic

Atomic Ballroom Student Showcase: Celebrate the Magic

Atomic Ballroom’s Student Showcase was this weekend. Because gem’s loud and quick to yell when told that the loudest person wins tickets, she won tickets to the show. The theme was “Celebrate the Magic” featuring Disney music. It was pretty awesome! I particularly liked watching the shadows dance when these two were in the right position on stage. Besides this, I didn’t take many photos.

Atomic Ballroom Student Showcase: Celebrate the Magic

The performers were really good. It was nice to see people of so many different levels dance. I’m sure it took a lot of guts for some of them to get up there. I really enjoyed pieces such as “Kiss the GIrl” from The Little Mermaid, featuring a shimmery, mermaid-tail-like dress, “Strangers Like Me” from Tarzan, “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from Mulan, and “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin with an awesome dance (that suddenly made me really sad when I thought of Robin Williams and then the closing of Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular. I just noticed while looking at the program that one of the dancers in that Aladdin piece, Jeff Glass, is a psychiatrist at the Long Beach VA. How cool! For all I know, he could have helped my father.

Oh, and I have to add that there was an adorable little girl doing some of the transitions. One time she was a mermaid, one time she ran across the stage dressed as Indiana Jones and running from a “boulder,” and one time she was Rapunzel.

After the showcase, there were complimentary refreshments. I ate too much, but the food was delicious. It was a lovely evening!

Folly at Dapper Day

Folly at Dapper Day

Dapper Day was here this weekend! I was the expo for about 15 minutes right before it closed due to traffic. Ugh! On the bright side, I won a free bow tie from xoelle through an Instragram repost contest and got to pick it up!

There was some stress as I waited in line to see if we could get tickets to Folly, the after party, while gem spent a good hour trying to park. Luckily, we did get inside the party. Folly had drinks, a live swing band, a keyboardist and bassist in another room, and lots of dancing upstairs at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen.

gem captured me enjoying my White Russian.

Folly at Dapper Day

Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, because I still wanted to share this photo of us in line.

Folly at Dapper Day

Here’s another shot of us while we waited in line.

Folly at Dapper Day

gem enjoyed the fireworks while wearing xoelle’s business card in her hair.

We were hoping to meet some other friends there, but no one came. However, we made some new friends. It was an awesome night anyways with drinks, lots of dancing, and great music. Super fun!

It’s a Ska World After all! The 4th Annual Ska Day at Disneyland

It's a Ska World After All

It’s a Ska World After All! Sunday was the 4th annual Ska Day at Disneyland! I’m pretty glad I found this flier at The Skatalites’ concert at Slidebar last week.

The festivities actually started Saturday night. There was a pre-party at Las Palomas Mexican Restaurant in Anaheim. I went with Edward and gem. I guess there was a call-out, because there was some staffing and service problems. It was fun anyways! I noticed that we were sitting next to members of the ska band Half Past Two!

It's a Ska World After All

There was a hat dance, musical chairs, dance competition thingy! Basically, there was a circle of people, and one person had to wear a hat. As music plays, the person wearing the hat has to dance across the circle and put the hat on someone else. If you’re wearing the hat when the music stops, you’re out, and it continues to another round. gem made it to the last round!

It's a Ska World After All

The person with whom she’s dancing in the photos was the guitar or bass player (I couldn’t see) for The Pocketeers I think!

It's a Ska World After All

She technically came in second, but they gave her a prize anyways. She got this sweet 45 of David Hillyard & The Rocksteady 7’s cover of “Evil” by Moondust Records. Pretty cool!

I found this article about it:

New Single: David Hillyard & The Rocksteady 7 “Evil” : Moondust Records.

It's a Ska World After All

On Sunday, we started the day by trying on some hats.It's a Ska World After All

Next we went on Space Mountain. We didn’t even realize it was already Ghost Galaxy!It's a Ska World After AllWe had lunch at the Hungry Bear Restaurant for the meet and greet. After we sat down, we noticed we were sitting next to some of the members of Half Past Two again. Cool coincidence or destiny? We chatted for a bit with out new friends and took this photo!It's a Ska World After All

While in line for Splash Mountain, we met two women from Sacramento here on vacation. We had fun talking to them, and then I got soaked on the ride. We also gave them our fast passes to Indiana Jones because we were running late for the group photo.

It's a Ska World After All

This is as good as a group photo as we were going to get, because we were a little late. Oh well.

It's a Ska World After All

Look how many security guards it takes to deal with ska fans! There were actually a few more here at one time. Let’s skip over the negative part of the day.

It's a Ska World After All

After the group photo, we all went on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad together! We had a rather large group. The plan was to ride It’s a Small World together as well, but gem and I decided to go on Indiana Jones instead.

It's a Ska World After All

This is not a good place to leave a diaper.

We also managed to go on some rides that didn’t involve photographs. For example, we had to go on Star Tours of course (twice!) as well as the Haunted Mansion to see its Nightmare Before Christmas version. We played a lot of Heads Up, a game gem introduced to me, on our phones while in line. It seemed to be a popular game with other people as well, and we even told others about it. There was a woman in line with us for the Haunted Mansion who downloaded it after we told her about it, and then we played with her and her son too!It's a Ska World After All

I also battled the Evil Empereror Zurg!It's a Ska World After All

Pew pew pew!

It's a Ska World After All

And another Toy Story shot.It's a Ska World After All

Before the concert, I just had to play some Fix It Felix Jr.It's a Ska World After All

While we were waiting for the show to begin, we saw that the latest It’s a Ska World SKAvenger Hunt goal was near us. We headed there and got there first, winning some Dulce Cookies by Melo! Oh my goodness, they were so amazing. We gave two to Remy, the host, for him and girlfriend as well as one to a woman who got there after us. Then I ate some more of them. They were really tasty!

It's a Ska World After All

Next it was time for the highlight of the evening, Suburban Legends! They’re so amazing. Their sound is great, their choreography is stunning, their ability to engage the audience is always superb, and their sets consist of covers and awesome originals.

It's a Ska World After All

There’s gem with the band!

Here’s a clip of them playing DuckTales. Very awesome.

I danced a lot, and boy was I exhausted. I even got to be a firework. The crowd all crouched down. They began to count to eight, using “cicero” to switch to a “Cell Block Tango” reference, and then went back to counting normally. When they reached eight, we all jumped up, threw our arms in the air, and yelled, “boom!” It was fun!

Also, you know how gang fights always involve singing, dancing, and hand snapping? Yeah, the audience split in two for one of those fights. Super rad.It's a Ska World After All

After the concert I wanted to try on this helmet even if I looked dumb.

It's a Ska World After All

After a break, The Suffragettes, an all-girl cover band, played at the Tomorrowland Terrace. They were pretty good, but they just didn’t do enough for us. We listened to a few songs before heading back to Main Street, U.S.A. We had some delicious ice cream before calling it a night.

It’s too bad that this was the fourth annual Ska Day at Disneyland and that I missed three of them. I’ll be going in the future!

Dapper Day Fall 2014 at Disneyland

Dapper DaySaturday I went to the Fall 2014 Dapper Day Expo at Disneyland! I didn’t actually go into the park, but I went to the expo in the Grand Californian Hotel and hunt out at Downtown Disney.Dapper Day

gem went with me. High five!Dapper Day

Besides gathering together many dapper people, the expo mostly consisted of retro and vintage clothing for sale.

Tie haul

One woman was selling ties for a dollar each. There were a few ties I was considering, and when I learned they were a dollar, I had to grab a few. I ended up with three ties and a bow tie.

Look, I'm Woody! Howdy, howdy, howdy!

Once I was done with the expo, I spent time wandering Downtown Disney. I even got to pretend to be Woody! Wearing the hat makes me think of the line from Toy Story when Mr. Shark wears Woody’s hat in the toy box and says, “Look, I’m Woody! Howdy, howdy, howdy!”Dapper Day

Roar! Who wouldn’t want to be Sulley from Monsters, Inc.? I know I would!

And that’s pretty much Dapper Day.

Fun day for Labor Day

Labor Day 2014!

Homies help homies. Always.

Okay, I’ll get to that in a minute. This Labor Day I hung out with gem and Anela. We met at gem’s house and went to the Starplex Cinemas in Woodbridge for Maleficent. It was a fun movie with a different spin on Sleeping Beauty. I also really like to see the backstory of villains; it’s interesting to see how they became bad.

Because Anela forgot her swimwear and gem wanted exchange something at the Outlets at Orange, we headed that way to take care of those things. That’s where gem and I saw this sweet Adventure Time billboard and had to take a photo!

Labor Day 2014!

When we got back to gem’s, we started working on lunch. I made more of my salami roll snacks and made more salad. It was sort of like yesterday’s picnic part 2. While the main course was cooking, the three of us headed to the pool. It was busy with lots of people, but that didn’t make swimming any less fun.

Labor Day 2014!

We came home to take the ribs out of the oven. They were looking pretty delicious.

Labor Day 2014!

No, Anela! Don’t eat all the ribs!

Labor Day 2014!

So very much food. I ate about 3000 calories. Whoops.Labor Day 2014

We look good surrounded by food.

While we ate dinner, we also watched Scott Pilgrim vs the World.

Labor Day 2014!

Sumo and Angel will be in for a treat too. We had a nice pile of bones to bring home to them.

Labor Day 2014!

After dinner we watched an episode of Too Cute about adorable kittens. For dessert, we had pastries and homemade ice cream. It was really good! Anela took the rest of my salami rolls with cream cheese and cucumber, and I left a bunch of the salami rolls with cream cheese and pepperoncinis with gem. I’m happy they like them!

Labor Day was celebrated successfully! Now I just need to eat less the rest of the week.

World of Color

After having talked about Disneyland earlier today, I realized that I never mentioned World of Color! Obviously I’ve seen them preparing it a long time ago. Having a big, empty, concrete reservoir in the middle of Disney’s California Adventure was quite obvious. However, I never went to see it. I’m not really sure why.

A week ago we finally got around to watching it. It was amazing, although that shouldn’t surprise me. We were right in the front but a bit to the right, giving us a great view. The only problem was the temperature. It was freezing. It was freezing in the car with the heat. It was freezing at home. I sort of felt like I couldn’t even heat up the next day!

Rather than showing a cohesive story like Fantasmic, World of Color shows various scenes from different Disney properties. It’s a water show featuring fountains, lights, lasers, fire, screens of mist, and video projections. It’s very well done, but I felt like it was missing the classic Disney characters. I love Mickey, and I love seeing him dressed as various personas. I like Goofy, Pluto, and Donald. I want to see more of them, Disney!

I’m glad I got to see it before my pass expired!

No more Disneyland

disneyland valentine's day

Our Disneyland Annual Passports are expiring, and thanks to the holiday weekend, Friday was the last day we could go that wasn’t a blockout day. We managed to go the Matterhorn Bobsleds for the first time since it reopened, which was a relief. gem really wanted to go on it last time we were at Disneyland, but they kept closing it temporarily.

We also went on Star Tours a number of times. Since it reopened as Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, we always get the same second scene, Naboo. We’d seen both introductions, two of the three first scenes (never having seen Kashyyyk, two of three transmissions (never having seen Yoda), and only Naboo for the final scene. We decided to spend our final time at Disneyland going on Star Tours again and again in an attempt to see the rest. We got to see Kashyyyk, which was cool, and finally, on our last ride, we saw the Death Star in the final scene. No, we never did manage to travel to Coruscant, but this will give me something to do in the future!

The fireworks show was cancelled, so we didn’t get to watch that unfortunately. We did, however, get an apple pie caramel apple. Then, on our way out of the park, we stopped at the front to get our picture in front of the “True Love” sign!

I miss my annual passport already. I don’t want to spend the money on it right now, but I doubt I can stay away for too long.

My fun Sunday: Aladdin, Social Distortion, and more

Last night was the rescheduled Social Distortion concert at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney, so we decided to spend the day at the parks. We went to California Adventure, checking out some of the shows between a few rides.

First, we caught the Red Car News Boys, a little song-dance show set in the 20s about Mickey wanting to move to Hollywood to make it big. These mini-shoes that Disney does really helps set the mood and magic, I think. Next we headed to Paradise Bay to watch Instant Concert! …Just Add Water. This was a show featuring recorded music, the fountains, and Goofy conducting. It was fun but nothing too special. We caught Operation: Playtime! – Featuring the Green Army Men as well, which is a percussion show (for the most part) featuring the green army men from Toy Story. It was mostly for kids, but it was enough.

The last show we saw was the most amazing. Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular was a incredibly entertaining, albeit short, musical of Aladdin. The effects were great with clever use of smoke, trap doors, lighting, and character doubles. I also really enjoyed the genie’s use of current events in jokes. When Aladdin lamented that Princess Jasmine didn’t love him, Genie replied something like, “there are plenty of other princesses out there. I heard Disney just bought Star Wars. Maybe you could try Princess Leia!” If you haven’t seen it, I’d really recommend it. I’ll make sure to watch it again in the future.

Toy Story Mania

Among the attractions we rode, of course we had to hit up Toy Story Mania. I love this ride! I was wearing my new Evil Dr. Porkchop shirt that day, so I pretty much had to go on the ride. The game seems screwed up to me! If I beat gem, why do I get the stupid cat while she gets that super awesome beaver? I know, I know. It’s because she’s super awesome,  I suppose.

The concert itself was a lot of fun. The first opening band was The Interrupters, from LA. They’re a ska/punk band comprised of a singer, guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, and drummer. The three instrument-players are brothers, and they actually brought their dad on stage for one song during which he played trombone. I love brass, so it wasn’t unexpected that that song became my favorite. I’ll definitely need to keep my ears alert for them in the future.

The second opening band was Eddie Spaghetti on guitar and vocals with an accompanying guitar player. Eddie’s one member of the Supersuckers. Make note of this so you can avoid them, because I thought Eddie Spaghetti was pretty terrible. Wikipedia describes the Supersuckers as garage punk, grunge, cowpunk, and southern rock. I had to look up cowpunk, but I could guess at what it meant. Cowpunk is a genre fusing punk and country, and that pretty accurately summed him up. At first it just seemed okay. He wasn’t much of a live entertainer, and the music was only so-so, but so-so can be okay sometimes. When all his songs became about drugs (and not just marijuana), I started to lose interest. I realize this was a punk concert, but trying to use as many cuss words as possible isn’t cool, and getting the crowd to all flip you off at the same time isn’t some amazing feat. When he was done, the woman behind me said, “well, that was painful,” and I heard a lot of agreement. Some people clearly clapped and cheered just to be respectful, but I don’t believe it was warranted. Half way through his act, I pulled out my phone to continue reading my novel.

Eventually Social Distortion came on the stage. I don’t actually know many of their songs – maybe three, and of those, they only played one song. The lead singer did bring his adult son out to play with them for a little bit. I think one of the best parts of live music is having guests play with the band, so I always enjoy that. Social D was a lot of fun, but there was more than just music; watching the mosh pit was entertainment itself. From the large dude with the huge beard who seemed very friendly while slamming people, even offering onlookers the chance to shove him, to the absolutely crazy girl who would go nuts for thirty seconds before disappearing for five minutes again, it was very entertaining.

At 11:30, four and a half hours after the doors open, I left. I don’t know how much longer they played, but it was time for bed for me.

Day 2 – Black Friday

We started the day with an interesting twist; the Hurst fridge died, so we had to wait for it to be replaced. During that time, I shopped on the Toshiba site, taking advantage of a Black Friday sale to purchase TVs! That made me happy. After the fridge was installed, we decided to do some hiking.

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We headed to Manana trail after picking up some new board shorts for me that actually fit this time. The trail was great – very scenic with some challenging parts. We eventually hiked to Waimano Falls, which was a great little waterhole for some refreshing swimming and a sweet rope to swing out over the water. We had to climb up some rocks with the help of a rope to reach a place from which we could jump. Surprisingly, I found that my week doing in-door rock climbing at Rockreation helped prepare me for climbing this rock! Anyways, jumping in was a lot of fun, and the swimming itself was invigorating.

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While we were swimming, a full thunderstorm rolled into the area. It was really sweet honestly, and I guess we were technically hiking in a rainforest. There was a rock overhang, so we moved our stuff out of the rainfall, sat down on the rocks, and enjoyed our lunch. We had packed leftover Thanksgiving dinner sandwiches, which were quite delicious. The whole afternoon was pretty magical in my opinion!

Hiking in Hawaii

After the storm subsided, we hiked for a bit more before heading to Aulani to see Darnell. I’m glad we got to see her at work! We walked around a bit, taking into the sights, and even swam in an infinity jacuzzi and saw a music and dance performance! Aulani had great architecture and design. The Disney magic can be found here as well. I enjoyed seeing the Menehune sculptures, the legendary people of Hawaii who are craftsman and build many things when no one is looking. We had some fruity drinks before heading to Just Tacos for Mexican food. It was a fun evening.

Wreck-It Ralph

Disney did it again with Wreck-It Ralph. I watched it this morning and was thoroughly impressed.  Parts of it were definitely predictable, but even if I knew where it would lead, the journey is what’s important after being infused with the Disney magic. And that’s not to say I saw every twist.

There were more to the game references than just character cameos. Seeing gaming culture in the movie was fun as it followed the change in popular games and the culture as a whole; although, it was odd that people were even in an arcade. That seems a little old-fashioned, but I do wish I had an arcade like that near me.

In addition to the main feature, there was an animated short at the beginning called the Paperman. While Wreck-It Ralph was great because I’m a gamer, the Paperman is a true masterpiece. You should definitely watch both!