Thursday, July 12, 2018

An Adult Day at Disneyland

There are those who are obsessed with all things Disney. They decorate their house with Disney items, vacation at all of the Disney parks and wear Disney clothes. There are travel bloggers who get yearly passes and visit Disney every week. Or sometimes every day. They instagram all things Disney. They basically live, breathe and eat Disney. I'm not one of those people. Though, I do love to visit Disney parks - I've been to Walt Disney World in Florida many times over, I visited Tokyo Disney Sea for a day and I've now been to Disneyland in California twice - the most recent for a day on the Mystery Trip that we took our adult daughter on after her graduation from grad school (and the first being some 30 years ago when we visited Mr. UR's sister when she lived in California), I would never consider myself obsessed.

Of our three kids, our oldest daughter loves Disney the most so when I was planning her Mystery Trip to Southern California, I knew that the main event - other than visiting family - would be to take her to her first visit to Disneyland. It would be the cherry on top of a fun 10 days in the Los Angeles area and I was hoping she would be excited for it. She was. I checked several Disney Crowd Calenders and picked the Monday of the week we would be there to visit - other days were more crowded with Grad Nite's and Memorial Day Visitors. We bought One Day Park Hopper Passes so we could visit Disneyland and California Adventure - it's super easy to go between parks as they are right across from each other. Our daughter downloaded the app - we purchased our tickets through the app and also downloaded the controversial MaxPass which allows you all the photos taken in the park and Fastpasses. This app costs $10 per person so many people are opposed to paying for fast passes - though you receive all your photos also - but we found it to be extremely wonderful. We took advantage of our hotel's shuttle bus for transportation to and from the park and it picked us up right out front with no worries about parking. We took the first shuttle of the day and were in line to get in by 8:30 am for a 9 am opening - but they opened early, at 8:45, so we were in by 9am.

 And we were off and running down Main Street - well, we didn't actually run - to get photos in front of the castle. We even got photos of the castle with no one in front of it! We visited Disneyland and California Adventure for the rest of the day with a visit to Trader Sam's in Downtown Disney for dinner. We used our Fast Passes to go on various rides - including Space Mountain twice - and I don't think anything that we wanted to do was left undone. We had planned on staying for the full day until closing but by the time the fireworks rolled around, we decided to beat the crowds and call it a day. A very successful and fun grown-up day at Disneyland! 

Know before you go:
- You can purchase any type of pass from one day to 7 day including park hopper passes which means that you can go from one park to another. With our Park Hopper pass we were able to go from Disneyland to California Adventure seamlessly all day long.
- MaxPass is the controversial Photo/FastPass app that costs $10 per person. You download the app to your phone and you then receive access to all photos taken by the park photographers and -what we wanted it for - you can access Fast Passes on your phone (Disneyland still uses paper fast passes as opposed to the Magic Bands of Walt Disney World in Florida) By using the app, we were able to sign up for Fast Passes while in either park to use at either park. (An example: We could sign up for a Fast Pass for Space Mountain while in California Adventure without running through the park and into Disneyland to the Space Mountain ride) I give this a two thumbs up! We went on every ride that we wanted to without a wait - and even on Space Mountain twice with no wait while the regular wait was 90 minutes. 
-We chose a nearby hotel - Holiday Inn Express - and didn't use a package. But Disney offer discounts on their hotels along with Park tickets as a bundle. 
- Our hotel had a shuttle available for park guests which cost $5 round trip. Pick-up was directly in front of the hotel. Parking at the park cost $17 per day so we didn't save much money but had ease and convenience going for us. 
- There is no alcohol served at Disneyland but there is at California Adventure. The Wine Country Trattoria offers wine tastings, a bistro and wine by the glass. If the downstairs patio is crowded, head upstairs for table service on the balcony. Located in the Pacific Wharf section of the park. 
- If eating all things Disney is your objective you can get Mickey shaped beignets at the Mint Julep Cafe in New Orleans in Disneyland and the Plaza Inn has mickey shaped snacks. You can also visit to feed your disney food needs.
- If your visit coincides with a special event, you can obtain a special events button - catered to your own event - at Guest Services at City Hall in Disneyland or the Chamber of Commerce in California Adventure. Our daughter got a Just Graduated button to wear.
- There are many, many websites to visit with lots of information pertaining to your visit to help with your planning process. A few that I used  are:,,,, and the excellent, 
- Downtown Disney containing stores, restaurants and even a bowling alley, is walkable from both Disneyland and California Adventure. We walked to Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar, located outside of the Disneyland Hotel, for an early dinner. The interior of the bar is small and was quite crowded so we opted for patio seating. It's geared towards adults - it is a bar/restaurant after all - and serves tropical drinks and food.

How about you? Are you a Disney nut? Have you been?

Linking up with: Women Around the World at Communal Global, The Weekend Wanderlust Travel Blog Party and The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Postcards from 35,000 feet - 2.0

The United States celebrates it's Independence Day this week so I'm highlighting some photos I've taken from flights I've been on over the last year showing it's beauty from the air. Hope you enjoy them!

The snow-capped Rockies

Cloud cover just before landing in Los Angeles

The sprawl of Los Angeles once we made it through the clouds

Lake Powell

Love the pop of blue against the desert of this reservoir (?) in Utah or Arizona

Not sure but possibly the Colorado River - or maybe the Green River

The sun in the clouds

An early morning view of San Diego

The black line is a road going through the middle of nowhere

Bryce Canyon National Park from above

When you fly into San Diego, you fly very close to the city

A sunrise view on the way into Dallas

It looks like the clouds are dancing on the water between San Juan and Ft. Lauderdale

A boat cruising down the brackish water off the coast of Charleston

Just below the red dot is Zion National Park in Utah

The aqua and navy water off the coast of Florida

And one more of that stunning water

Windmills just outside of LA

How about you? Do you choose an aisle or window seat? Do you take photos of the scenery on flights?

Linking up with: WATW at Communal Global, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond and The Weekend Wanderlust Weekend Travel Blog!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

June Beach of the Month: Lake Travis, Texas

When Mr. UR hatched the Beach of the Month plan way back at the end of last year, I knew some months it would be tough to get my toes in the sand due to time constraints or already made travel plans.  So I'm stretching it this month - because I make the rules - to a beach on a lake. That's right, a lake. When you think of sand by a body of water, lakes don't usually come to mind. But they do have sand by water.  I visited Lake Travis - about 45 minutes northwest of Austin, Texas - and it  has a beach. Well, actually more than one beach.

Lake Travis is a reservoir on the Colorado River that was established to contain floodwaters in the flood prone region. A year round playground, Lake Travis suffered severe drought in 2008 and has only recently come back to full capacity, though there is much of the lake that still looks dried up - particularly in the coves - and the water level still fluctuates. But I think you can still enjoy this large lake and find what you're looking for.

There are deer everywhere at the lake

Texas or Italy?

A popular spot in Texas Hill Country, Lake Travis is a short drive from Austin, Temple, Waco or even San Antonio. One of the most famous spots on the lake is The Oasis Restaurant which is the 5th largest restaurant in the US. If you've been on Instagram or Pinterest, you've probably seen the images from here.  It is a 5 level complex including a restaurant on multi-levels, a brewing company, shops and a live music venue. Known as "The Sunset Capital of Texas", you can't beat this restaurant with it's terraced views of the sunset sitting some 450 feet above the lake. Be prepared for crowds - especially on weekends - because everyone wants to see this view. We went on an extremely hot weeknight, though, and there were no crowds and no wait.

The Lakeway Resort and Spa is another popular spot on Lake Travis. Sitting right on a point on the lake, Lakeway includes 4 pools, fine dining, a spa, a marina and is surrounded by golf courses. It didn't work for us this time but I'd love to stay here sometime.

You can also rent a boat and enjoy swimming, skiing or wake boarding, try ziplining over the lake on the longest and fastest zipline in Texas or enjoy Volente Resort and Waterpark.

If you can't get to the shore, and you feel the need for water then a lake may be just what you need. And if you're in Texas, then Lake Travis may be that lake.Like everything in Texas, it's  big - 18,000 acres and 270 miles of shoreline - so I'm sure you could find what you want here. Even just a few hours of peace and water. Or maybe you'd just like to see one of those famous sunsets in person. 

How about you? Have you been to Lake Travis?

Linking up with: The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond, The Weekend Wanderlust Weekend Travel Blog Party and WATW at Communal Global!