Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I have been asked if I can share some info about Disneyland from my many years of experience with the park :)
I found out yesterday that another benefit of my new job is that I get 50% off admission into Disneyland (among other theme parks around the world)... I am loving my job more and more!! So here are some secrets, tips, and tidbits about one of my very favorite places in the entire world :)

First off, my first trip to Disneyland almost 25 years ago is one of my first memories of my entire life. I was 2.5 years old and I remember meeting Cinderella. I don't remember a ton, but what I do recall is the incredible embarrassment and frustration over the fact that my mom had dressed me in overalls. I actually remember thinking that I wanted Cinderella to know that I had so many pretty dresses at home and I couldn't believe she had to meet me like this. Hahaha! It is hilarious to think that I was only 2 and felt and thought all of that.
 Luckily, I have seen her a couple times since then and although I have not yet worn a dress, I have felt much better about myself as a person and therefore don't have to prove anything to her.
But as you can see Disneyland is a huge part of my life and something I get very excited about.

So from my years of knowledge and from my time roaming around the streets of the most magical place of earth, here is what I have learned...

  It is very important to have a strategic route around the park in order to maximize your time in the park. I am speaking as someone who usually only goes for two days at a time, so I want to get as much done as I can the first day in Disneyland, so the second day can be all about California Adventures and riding the favorite Disneyland rides over again.
  I start my day getting to the gate as the park opens or soon after. I then immediately head to Adventureland! This is for two reasons - the kids are going to Fantasyland, and other people usually head towards Space Mountain to start the day. In Adventureland, I pretty much walk on to Indiana Jones and The Haunted Mansion in New Orleans Square (Pirates opens later than other rides, so I'll come back after Haunted Mansion). Then it's Big Thunder Mt Railroad and maybe a fast pass to Splash Mountain (although I skip this cause I don't really like the ride or getting wet). With that I am done with the big rides on that half of the park and I move on to Fantasyland. Peter Pan (the line is always longest), Mr. Toads, Alice in Wonderland... and if the lines are short - Snow White and Pinnochio. Done with Fantasyland. Tomorrowland - Buzz Lightyear, Star Tours, and Space Mountain, and then I am done with all the good rides!!
  The rest of the day is all about finishing up the rides I missed - Jungle Cruise, Winnie the Pooh (although I don't much care for this ride), Matterhorn (if the line isn't too long), It's a Small World, and then back to riding the rest of the rides I have already done.
  This route has been proven to maximize park time and cuts down on zig-zagging your way around the park!

  Adventureland is pretty small, but pretty awesome!

   Jungle Cruise - it is fit or miss if you get a good tour guide. I like annoyingly laughing at the cheesy jokes the tour guide says. It is amusing to me at least and as long as I am entertained, I am good.

   Indiana Jones - The line for this is never super long if you get to it at the beginning of the day. That is why I ride it first. But as you wander through the halls and caves that the Disney Imagineers have put together, it isn't a terrible wait. The most fun seat on this ride, is in the drivers seat.
   Tarzan's Treehouse - This use to be the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse and is now changed. I hardly ever go up it except if I'm with little kids. If you haven't gone through it yet, you should check it out at least once

   Bengal BBQ - I just discovered this place a couple of years ago. It is a food stand in the center of adventureland. They sell bacon-wrapped-asparagus, which is a MUST HAVE! They also have different meat skewers in yummy sauces. A great afternoon snack for someone with a big appetite and a great meal if your appetite is small.

New Orleans Square!

   Haunted Mansion - One of my very favorite rides! This ride changes for the last 3 months of the year to become Nightmare Before Christmas. I definitely am a bigger fan of regular Haunted mansion. It is dark and creepy and I remember being legitimately creeped out when I was little. Nightmare Before Christmas Haunted Mansion is more colorful, but gets a little annoying. I do however want the skull wrapping paper on the presents in the ride.
** check out the Hidden mickey in the dining room where the ghosts are dancing. In the center of the table, three plates form Mickey's head.

   Pirates of the Caribbean -Another very favorite! I love everything about it! The ride opens later than most rides, so don't expect to ride this first.
** The hidden Mickey on this ride is on one of the breast plates banging on the wall at the very end of the ride on your left.

   Pirates Lair/ Tom Saywer's Island - This use to be Tom Sawyer's Island, but I they have redone it to be all about Pirates. They have Pirate shows on the edge of the island that you can watch. This is also great for kids who enjoy exploring the caves and tunnels of a "Pirate's Lair." There are also some picnic benches along the Rivers of America where you can sit while the kids play... and bathrooms!

French Market - This is the home of the delicious Disneyland Clam Chowder in a Bread Bowl. One of the greatest places to eat in the park. They have a ton of other stuff to eat on the menu here. I like their Mac & Cheese kid menu. It comes with some veggies and grapes and a drink! They also have some awesome desserts. But one of the best things about the restaurant is the music. They have a Dixi Land Jazz band that plays around meal times

Finer Dining -
   Orleans Restaurant - This restaurant is right next to the French Market, but is a sit down table service style. I ate here once with my friend Teresa. The salmon sandwich I got was dry... and the jambalaya gave Teresa food poisoning... but I am not opposed to eating there again.
   Blue Bayou - I have never eaten here and always wanted to. It is inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. You are surrounded by candle light and the waters of the "Bayou. My family tried to eat there once, but the wait list was 3 days long. If you are going for several days, think about making a reservation on your first day. It is expensive, but I think it would be still very fun!

To be continued...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Arizona at 100!!

The amazing Arizona sunset!
Ever since coming back from a abroad, I have been dying to become a tourist of my own state. I kept hearing from all my friends in London about how they were amazed that I saw more of their country then they had after living there their whole lives!
I was determined when I came back to become more aquainted with my own state!! I think it would be so fun to be a tourist of AZ.

TODAY marks the beginning of the celebration of Arizona's 100th birthday!!! Next year, February 14th, AZ will be a century old! YAY!!! So I think it is a perfect time to travel around my own state!!

I have formed a list of all the Arizona attractions I NEED to see and some I want to see... everything that makes AZ worth visiting. I need people who will be willing to go with me... especially on the road trips. So let me know if there is something particular you'd wish to see with me :)

- Phoenix
- Glendale
- Mesa
- Chandler
- Tempe
- Gilbert
- Scotsdale
- Arizona State Museum
- El Presidio Historic District
- Mission San Xavier del Bac
- Pima Air and Space Museum
- Saguaro National Park
- Tucson Mountain Park
- OK Corral
Slot Canyon
Oak Creek
- Havesu - London Bridge
- Mead
- Powell
Montezuma's Castle
Meteor Crater
Colorado River
- Winery
National Parks:
- Grand Canyon
- Organ Pipe Cactus
- Petrified Forest
- Canyon de Chelly
Wupatki National Monument
Sunset Crater
Havasupai Indian Reservation
Hoover Dam
Kitt Peak National Observatory
Monument Valley
Mt Lemmon
- Arizona Science Center
- Desert Botanical Garden
- Heard Museum
- Heritage Square
- Pueblo Grande Museum
- South Mountain Park
- Phoenix Art Museum
Sabino Canyon
Tumacacori National Historical Park

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Film Photography...

I am so excited about a new little hobby I have picked up! I am dabbling in the world of photography... but don't worry, I admit I have no natural eye and minimal talent. This is entirely for my own enjoyment and I don't expect anyone to enjoy it as much as me.

In 1981 my parents bought their first camera as a married couple - a Canon AE-1 Program. It is a really great camera with manual settings where you can adjust the apeture and shutter speeds.

When I was in high school I took a photography class and learned all about how to work my parents' camera, but have since lost the complete knowledge. It has been fun playing around and refreshing myself.

These picture were on the first rolls of film I used up in the learning process. Note the film is probably about 10 years old, so that might be why they aren't great... but its also because I didn't really know what I'm doing yet.

romantic lighting

The texture of the wood is pretty cool!
This one is overly exposed... I just really like this building

messing around with the focus

again... over exposed


Anya with a jumping cactus!

Lense flare

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Puritan prayers...

Meeting God

Great God,
In public and private, in sanctuary and home,
 may my life be steeped in prayer,
 filled with the spirit of grace and supplication,
 each prayer perfumed with the incense
  of atoning blood.
Help me, defend me, until from praying ground
I pass to the realm of unceasing praise.
Urge by my need,
 invited by thy promise,
 called by thy Spirit,
 I enter they presence,
  worshipping the with godly fear,
  awed by thy majesty, greatness, glory,
  but encouraged by thy love.
I am all poverty as well as all guilt,
 having nothing of my own with which
  to repay thee,
But I bring Jesus to thee in the arms of faith,
 pleading his righteousness to offset my iniquities,
 rejoicing that he will weigh down the scales
  for me,
 and satisfy thy justice.
I bless thee that great sin draws out great grace,
 that, although the least sin
  deserves infinite punishment
  because done against an infinite God,
 yet there is mercy for me,
 for where guilt is most terrible,
 there thy mercy in Christ is most free and deep.
Bless me by revealing to me more of his saving merits
 by causing thy goodness to pass before me,
 by speaking peace to my contrite heart;
Strengthening me to give thee no rest until Christ
  shall reign supreme within me,
 in every though, word, and deed,
 in faith that purifies the heart,
    overcomes the world,
    works by love,
    fastens me to thee,
    and ever clings to the cross.

- The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions