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Where Have We Been?

I Wouldn't Have Nothin' If I Didn't Have You! {Disneyland California Pixar Fest}


Casually scrolling through Facebook, as one does now a days, Mike and I came across a video of the house from the movie "Up" flying through the air over the Disneyland castle during the fireworks for Pixar Fest, and we immediately turned to one another stating "we have to go". For those of you that don't understand why we love Up so much, the bullet points are that Mike was a Wilderness Explorer at Disney World just like Russell in the movie, Mike and I both love to adventure just like Carl & Ellie, & Mike proposed with an Up theme (check out the video here!) to celebrate our love and love of adventure. 

Our first trip to Disneyland in California was over 2 years ago at this point, and Spring Break for Mike's school was coming up, so we figured a little pre-wedding honeymoon would be perfectly timed. We had also done a lot of research about the different types of food that Pixar Fest would be offering, and we carefully began structuring out our trip.





UP House flying during "Together Forever" fireworks

We spent the first half of Mike's school break in Brockport, getting some items for the wedding together, lots of organizing, and some family time (and with one of the family members new puppy!).




The 4 days flew by, and before we knew it, it was time to drive back to NYC for a whole 10 hours, before flying out for California. The flight from NYC was very early, around 7am (meaning we were up at 3am), but allowed for us to arrive to LAX before noon. We took the super shuttle for less than $35 round-trip per person (recommend as opposed to the $50 one way Uber cost) to our hotel, The Dessert Inn, Anaheim

We chose the Dessert Inn because it was walking distance, directly across the street from the Disneyland entrance, it had a continental breakfast included, there was a balcony to watch the fireworks from (when you weren't in the park watching), it had a hot tub (which was actually hot!), and, most importantly, it was within our tight budget for this quick trip. Overall the hotel was a great budget hotel, and we had little complaints (other than the elevator always somehow being on the wrong floor when we needed it, ha). 



For other hotels in the Disneyland California area, check out my favorite Disney planning toolbox, The Disney Tourist Guide, and read the reviews and information here



Upon arrival, we promptly headed to Downtown Disney across the street for some lunch (Earl of Sandwich, of course), and a bit of Disney magic. 




gotta get that hot sandwich!


We were very excited to see all the Pixar Fest merchandise at Downtown Disney, getting us geared up for our Disney day the following Thursday. We even wore our Up shirts and socks to celebrate!


Up socks

Up Shirts

Coco Ears & UP bows

Although I am not big on the whole matching shirt concept, it's true

instagram vs reality

instagram vs reality (Pixar Luxo Ball Cake Pop)

After some chill time at the hotel (aka hot tub time and a nap), we set back out to Downtown Disney for some quick dinner at the Jazz Kitchen Express (I recommend the Pork Po Boy & Cajun french fries).

spot the hidden Mickey...
Feeling pretty tired after being awake for about 19 hours, we decided to try and stay up one more hour to watch the fireworks from the hotel rooftop, just in case they were cancelled due to wind like the last time we went to Disneyland. We had a great view of the show, and immediately passed out in our room following to get ready for our long Disney day ahead of us.




We chose Thursday, May 17, 2018 to go to both Disneyland & California Adventure because it was one of the days Grad Nights would not be happening, it was a regular school day and not a holiday or Summer yet, & there was early magic hours at Disneyland and not California Adventure (where we wanted to rope drop Cars as soon as it opened). 

{Pro Tip: If you are planning a Disneyland trip, be sure to check the event calendar here before scheduling your day.} 

One of the highlights of the day was seeing an old college friend, Michelle before going into the park for the morning rush! We are so appreciative of her and loved the chance to catch up for a minute.


With California Adventure opening at 10am, we arrive at 9:15am, and were allowed to slowly start trickling into the park around 9:45am, with official opening (aka the running of the bulls) at 9:57am. The temperature fluctuated so much while we were there, so although it looks like we change clothes about 50 times in the next series of photos, I just had many, many layers on and packed.

9:15am waiting at the entrance gate

9:59am after "running" (don't run in the park, it's not safe) to the Cars Line
When the gate officially opened, we safely "walk/ran" to Radiator Springs Racers, where we got right on to the ride. What an amazing ride this is, and a great way to start the morning! With the morning being the prime time to get in as many attractions as possible before lines grow, we were pretty busy until the 12:00pm Frozen show.

One of my new favorite rides was what was formally Tower of Terror, and is now the Guardians of the Galaxy; Mission Breakout. Tower of Terror is more of a single large drop and a few smaller ones, mostly in the dark. What I loved about Guardians first and foremost is the fun music playing, the storyline that goes on even amongst the drops, and the bouncy ball feel of going up and down quite a few times. Mike was literally giddy the entire time, it really was executed so well.
Another favorite ride highlight is Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters, where the cars dance to the music playing. It is just some really good nature fun, with no other ride like it, and it will leave you smiling the whole time.




With most of Paradise Pier closed to transform into Pixar Pier (the whole reason for this celebration in the first place), most of the ride lines were pretty-long pretty-quickly, allowing us to grab our first (and second) snack of the trip! Starting off your morning with mac and cheese in a bread cone from the Cozy Cone Cafe may not seem like the best choice, but with the jet lag, in my head it was about 3pm anyways ...so that counts for something, right?

I literally dream about these bread cones, and they did not disappoint. We had the Mac and Cheese Cone, but we also tried the Pixar Fest flavor, Habanero Meatball (tip: they were actually even better tasting together!). These are do not miss item on my California Adventure snack list, and my #1 snack choice in this park overall. 



Needing something sweet to munch on while waiting for Frozen at the Hyperion to begin, we also munched on some Fruity Pebble Funnel Cake Fries with whipped topping from the Award Weiners Stand. 



Mike liked these a lot more than I did. I enjoyed the sweet condensed milk on top of them, but they were very messy, and nothing too different from sweets I have had in the past. I did enjoy them, but I recommend eating them while they are warm. 




The Frozen show at the Hyperion theater absolutely blew my mind! As someone who has worked in theme park entertainment, my jaw was literally on the floor every time Elsa opened her mouth to sing. She was wonderful, as was the rest of the cast. Some of the magic in the show is also absolutely spectacular, and although I haven't seen it on Broadway (yet), I am honestly not sure how they could top it. 

Finishing up our time at California Adventure with a small walk through of the shops, we said our goodbyes and headed to Disneyland, where we would spend the rest of our time, since it was open til midnight. 





Hello Disneyland!




As we walked into the entrance of the park, Ariel, Snow White, & Cinderella made their way to their meet and greet locations, so of course we stopped to chat with Ariel for a minute, and show her my shirt since there was no line yet!


{Pro Tip: If you are looking for some tips on how to experience a little extra magic in your meet and greets with any character, be sure to click Here! }


One of Mike and I's most cherished memories from the last time we went to Disneyland was enjoying lunch at Cafe Orleans in New Orleans Square, and with it now being about 2:30pm and the busiest part of the day, we leisurely walked toward the back of the park to enjoy some down time in New Orleans Square. Somehow we managed to only eat one churro while we were in Disneyland, but the Carrot Cake Churro near Haunted Mansion I absolutely recommend, mostly because the raisin carrot cream cheese frosting meant for dipping was good enough to drink!

full disclosure: I did not actually drink this... but I would have... if it came out of the cup.

Since there is still no people mover like the Tomorrowland Transit Authority at Disney World in Disneyland, we opted to ride the train around the park to put our feet up and enjoy some down time. Little did we know Sherri Saum (Lena from "The Fosters") was riding behind us with her twins til other guests asked her for photos. 



After we got off the train, we needed some food with actual substance to sit and eat while we waited for the 6pm Pixar Play Parade to begin, so a corn dog from the Little Red Wagon seemed like the best option, especially since it is the #1 snack recommendation at Disneyland in my book!





We had to stake out our spot for the parade about an hour before it started so we could get out of the traffic in time to use our Indiana Jones fast pass before the time was up. 


{Pro Tip: Disneyland still uses the older, actual ticket-style fast pass system. 

Once you redeem a Fast Pass, you are NOT entitled to redeem another FP until:
a. 2 hours AFTER the time you redeemed that FP or
b. 30 minutes before the current FP return time or
c. AFTER the current FP time itself (whichever comes first)}

Our spot on Main Street, out of the sun, in front of the Emporium was perfect, but what we did not realize was some of the parade floats sprayed you with water! Luckily, my knight in shining armor was there to place himself in the line of fire (or water), allowing me to stay dry (other than my eyes which was wet with tears from the Up float).











Up Float!

KEIVN! Literally my favorite part of the whole day!




Running to Indiana Jones after the parade, we missed most of the crowds, and were able to walk right on the ride. I have loved this ride ever since I rode it for the first time in Tokyo Disney, and I still love it, however, I did not love it when we were stuck on the ride where you are in complete and total darkness, and constantly feel like something is going to grab you.


There was only one thing that would calm me down after the scare, a Peanut Butter & Jelly Up Eclair from the Jolly Holiday Bakery.

 I have to be honest and say we actually took this back to the hotel with us and ate it the next day. My body was screaming for vegetables at this point in the day and was struggling to eat so much sugar and fried deliciousness in one day, so we had a salad for dinner instead. We also needed to go back to the hotel at this point and get some warmer clothes because it was cooling down so much that we were afraid we weren't going to be able to make it through the fireworks without a blanket.  

After a change of clothes and small hotel break, we snagged some fast passes for Buzz Lightyear, as well as some delicious Pixar Fest treats that were out of this world!

 The Cheeseburger Pizza from Pizza Planet is absolutely my top Pixar Fest food treat I would recommend! If you are a pizza fan, and a burger fan, this one is for you. We were even treated to a little show while eating, watching the Storm Troopers play with the guests while we ate in Tomorrowland. 


For our final Pixar Fest dessert, the blueberry-lemon alien macaroon also from Pizza Planet was Mike's top choice.


I am not a big fan of macaroons, but how could you not try this thing, it is so cute! The lemon and blueberry flavors inside were yummy, but my favorite part was the white chocolate used to decorate the eyes and antenna.



With one final stroll through Fantasyland (and a special appearance from Belle and the Beast!), it was an hour and a half til the fireworks were due to start, and so began the stakeout. 



We were in front of the Plaza Inn restaurant, at the front of the roped off walkway, waiting patiently for the reason we had come all the way to Pixar Fest in the first place for. The firework display was stunning, per usual, but when that Up house flew through the air, you can bet there were tears. What a magical place you are Disney!




Fireworks ended around 9:30pm, but the park was open until midnight, and the jet lag was slowly seeping in. We rushed to Buzz Lightyear to use our fast pass right after the fireworks ended to avoid the swarm of people.

{this is becoming my new favorite Pro Tip: Grab a fast pass earlier in the day right around the time of a larger event, then choose a spot on the same side of the street as that ride to watch the event from so you have an easier exit to get to your fast pass and get out of the crowds immediately following the conclusion of the event.}

 Mike destroyed me on Buzz, per usual, and we concluded the night with a Finding Nemo submarine ride, where I may or may not have nodded off for a few minutes (good ride, just super jet lagged). With one final Mickey pretzel for the road, we said goodnight to the castle, goodbye to Disneyland and headed back to the hotel where we immediately fell asleep (or least I did because for whatever reason, jet lag does not effect Mike!).



Our final day in California, we checked out of our hotel, spent an additional hour at Downtown Disney getting our last minute souvenirs and goodies before the Super Shuttle picked us up and headed back to the airport. Our flight back to JFK was smooth, getting us in around midnight, however, the NYC subway MTA provided us with the warmest welcome, and what usually takes an hour to get home, took 3 hours. It was a rough welcome back to the city, but we celebrated the whole way that we will not be here much longer!


Big announcement time (or well, sort of at least). Mike and I will be relocating at the end of June out of NYC, but where we are heading is still a bit up in the air. We will be in Brockport for the month before the wedding getting things ready and doing a little camping, but we are currently waiting to hear on a few different opportunities. More information to come once we actually know, but for now, we are excited for what the future may hold and are enjoying dreaming about all the possibilities! Stay Tuned!



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