Staycation at Grand Californian

IMG_2975Well we are officially moved out of our one bedroom apartment. It’s amazing what an extra 200 square feet & a more useful layout can do to your organizational skills. Well last week we picked up our new keys on Wednesday after work, moved all night Friday night, & by Saturday afternoon we were drinking margaritas at Disney’s California Adventure before riding Soarin’ Over California.

What, didn’t see that coming? Let me explain.

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What’s in my Disneyland Bag?

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Having a Disneyland Annual Pass really taught me how to do Disneyland right. One year that I had the pass I went 24 times! That’s once every other week! That’s a lot of the mouse. I’ve been super prepared at Disneyland & then there have been days where I show up & I need everything under the sun it’s like I’ve never been here at all.

Now there are a few things I make sure I never leave home without if I am heading to the park. Here is my list:

Phone and charger
I mean, let’s be real… of coarse this is a necessity. Honestly, I am all for a technology free day, but those lines are long! You need to have Heads Up ready to play. And of coarse, you need to document & post your day. (Otherwise it didn’t happen right?) I make sure to bring my external battery. You can’t always find a plug to charge your phone & this one from Monoprice is an amazing price. Best thing, it will charge any device as long as you have the cord for it. #lifesaver

Snacks
There are plenty of options to eat while at Disneyland. For that you can check out my post about my favorite eateries, but snacks, sometimes there just isn’t time. I love stopping for a popcorn, or a Mickey ice cream on a hot day but sometimes you are running from ride to ride, or stuck in an hour long ride & you need a little bite to eat. Before you head out, grab a granola bar or fruit to stick in your bag. Its small enough that if you don’t need it, it’s not taking up too much room but filling enough to hold you over until you can eat. Trust me, no one wants a cranky Disney date.

Advil
And speaking of cranky, have you heard about the 3pm slump? You think it’s bad at work? At Disneyland it is just as bad. The head ache kicks in, no one is talking anymore, & you, for some reason, got in the longest line in the park. Suddenly a caffeine head ache kicks in & you’d rather go home then get on the newest version of Space Mountain that you’ve been waiting 80 minutes to go on. Always have some meds with you. I have yet to find one place in the park that actually sells medicine. Don’t rely on buying it while you are there. Kick that headache down.

Sunglasses
No matter what time of year, you’re going to need those sunnies. It’s California. The sun is out 360 days a year here. Most of Disneyland is outside so keeping your eyes protected is super important… & of coarse stylish.

Sun Tan Lotion
Again, it’s that sun thing. Even without sun, I have gotten some of my worst sun burns during overcast. Throw on a little layer & you should be good to go. I keep mien with me though because a little reapplication after lunch never hurt anyone.

Sweatshirt
I don’t know what it is about Anaheim but it is way colder than Los Angeles, especially at night. I still have a hard time with this one. When it’s 86 degrees & sunny at 10 am you forget that the sun will go down eventually & drop to a chilly 65 by 9pm. Just in time for you to be sitting in front of World of Color where everyone gets a little splash from the water. Just bring it. Stick it at the bottom of your bag & be prepared.

A Book
Yes I said it, a book. I don’t bring it always but one of my favorite Disney buddies always has a book on her so when I am going to spend the day with her, I know to come prepared. She will whip that out in any line & start reading. A book is perfect for when you are waiting for a parade to start & you want the perfect seat. Someone in your group has to camp out for a few hours before, so being prepared with a book is always great.

Mickey Ears
I don’t think I need to say much more. My Mickey Ears are always nearby when spending the day at the park. It’s the best way to get into the Disney spirit.

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My Favorite Food at Disneyland

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When most people think of Disneyland they think rides, shows, and their favorite characters. Oh and standing in lines. My friends and I, however, we think about food. The Disney Resorts have some of the best food for hotels and definitely the best food for amusement parks. I am here today to tell you some of my favorite foods at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif.

1. Clam Chowder Bowl at Royal Street Veranda at New Orleans Square in Disneyland

This is my go to snack while waiting to watch Fantasmic! at night. We usually stay to watch the show & everyone is ready for a snack. So if it isn’t a churro or popcorn, we usually end up splitting a bread bowl & they are amazing. You can get gumbo also if you are adventurous but I like to stick with hearty clam chowder.

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2. Corn Dog at Corn Dog Castle at Paradise Pier in Disney’s California Adventure

I literally die. I am not a big fan of greasy foods but the Disneyland Corn Dogs are no joke. Up until a few years ago there was only one spot you can grab these beauties… at the end of Main St. but now they have expanded to California Adventure also. Nothing is better than a Corn Dog & a Disneyland Margarita at the happiest place on earth!

3. Mac and Cheese at La Brea Bakery in Downtown Disney

If you are just looking for a snack I suggest grabbing a Mac and Cheese off of the kids menu, but if you are ready for a full blown, cheesey meal of deliciousness… get the big one. So good!

4. Holiday Turkey at Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney

Now that we live just 20 minutes from Downtown Disney there are days where I just run over to grab a sandwich at Earl. Now I am sure if you have been to Las Vegas’s Planet Hollywood you have tried it there too but these are way better than Subway!

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5. Lobster Nachos at The Cove Bar on Paradise Pier in Disney’s California Adventure

Recently the Cove Bar in DCA underwent a little bit of a remodel & expanded their seating but that doesn’t mean you won’t have to wait for a table. Get there early enough because if you try to get seats around World of Color show times, you will be waiting in a long line. But if you do get in… you need to have the Lobster Nachos… Amazing!!

6. Fried Chicken and Mashed Potatoes at the Plaza Inn on Main Street in Disneyland

Always a good go to, the fried chicken with mashed potatoes at the Plaza Inn is the perfect dinner date. And if you time it right, you can even catch a glimpse of the fireworks from your seats.

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Why I Gave Up My Disneyland Annual Pass

A big perk for me moving out to Los Angeles was the proximity to Disneyland. No, no, it wasn’t a reason I moved but yes it was an amazing plus. The friends I had when I moved out here all had Disneyland Annual Passports, or APs, and we took the hour drive regularly. Whether it was to spend the entire day or just catch a show or grab dinner, it always seemed worth the drive.

A pass holder is definitely one of a kind. We are Disney fanatics, from loving the movies, rides and shows, to knowing exactly how to time getting from one end of the park to the other, right in the middle of a parade. More often than not, we end up driving for hours (LA traffic), to go on a ride or two and turn around and come back.

Three and a half years ago when I first moved to LA I decided it was worth it to drop just under $200 to go to the park 170 company-selected days out of the year. Okay, okay, I think in that first year I went 18 times, not 170, but that still means each trip only cost $11.11 for admission. Then in 2012, just when they opened the 12-acre Car’s Land (based on the Pixar movie with the same name) AP holders around Southern California were up in arms. They were raising our ticket prices at an average of 30%.

At this point I had upgraded a time or two and was paying for the Deluxe Pass with only 50 blackout days a year and 10% off a certain retailers and restaurants on the property. The new cost of my ticket would be $469.

Currently APs range from $279 a year all the way to $669 for no blackout dates after the second price hike in June of this year.

Yeah, you heard… err, read me right. $669 a year to go to Disneyland. Now if I was a teenager, with no job, who was home schooled, and did my schooling on the drive to Disney, then yeah I can see paying close to $700 a year on admission alone. But as a 20-something, with a job (or three) and a social life that doesn’t always consist of the mouse, I just can’t do it.

Chris and I both did not renew our passes this year, along with a couple other friends. It’s nothing against the company, I get it, they need to keep their lights on too… umm yeah, but I need to keep my lights on as well and a $34 payment (with a $92 initial deposit) is not something I am looking to pay each month.

Instead this money has been redirected toward paying off my debt and living just a little more comfortably. Yeah I know, $34 a month isn’t outrageous to pay but when I am so far in debt to begin with, I have no right spending money on such an unnecessary expense.

This article sites prices from the Orange County Register and the Disneyland Annual Passport Web site.