06
Nov

8 Year Old Me Loses His Mind (So Does 40-Something Me)

By: muttler

Tuesday (5/11/2019):

I didn’t really say that this trip really came about because of my work trip landing me in the US, and that Kate had not had a chance for a holiday all year. After all the work with our renovations, Kate deserved a trip to her happy place so a few days at Disneyland were in order!

It also worked out well, as what new addition was there to Disneyland? Galaxy’s Edge (i.e Star Wars Land)! I was SO excited for this. I had probably done a little too much reading about it, but that was OK… I had to be prepared. And what were the main orders of the day? Well, a trip on to the Millennium Falcon ride “Smugglers Run”, enjoying some Blue Milk, dropping in to Oga’s Cantina (full of scum and villainy), and… BUILDING A FREAKIN’ LIGHTSABER!! Indeed.

I’m not go into all the details for the Disney adventures. I have written about the parks a bunch. So it will be mostly photos (plus that gets me doing these entries quicker!). I will also go a little light on the build a lightsaber experience as I think the less you know the better the experience for that one. Needless to say I was a grinning idiot the whole time 🙂

We also did ride on some of our favourites, especially Haunted Mansion. But today was about taking it easy and exploring the new land.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

06
Nov

Mid Century Modern

By: muttler

And now the holidays begin! I had flown back from Pittsburgh to LA and spent the night there ready to begin more adventures…

 

Saturday (2/11/2019):

Kate arrived on her overnight flight from Melbourne tired. But that was OK… I had fairly much adjusted to the time zone and was doing OK. So I met her at LAX, and we went and grabbed a car ready for a few days of driving into the California Desert. First destination was Palm Springs! We had always wanted to go and finally we were going to make it.

After some stops to freshen up and eat and outlet shop, we made it to Cabazon, just out of Palm Springs. It is home to a fairly dodgy looking Dinosaur tourist park. We didn’t go in, but stopped to see the dinosaurs out front like everyone else.

Mid arvo we arrived in Palm Springs and checked in to our hotel, the suitably 50’s Orbit-In. It was great. The owner was a fantastic guy who made us feel very much at home. The hotel was a time capsule to 50s vibe and was a blast. We even had “Orbitini Hour” at 5pm… drinks on the house by the pool. Ah, this is the life.

We didn’t know before we booked but it was actually Pride Weekend in Palm Springs! It meant the main street was going crazy with all kinds of pride events and festivities. It was great fun seeing everyone out for a good time.

We had good times of our own planned. As luck would have it, one of our absolute favourite artists, Shag, was having a print launch at his downtown gallery space! YES!!! So after some tasty Mexican food, we went to have cocktails and chat with the great man himself. We even treated ourselves to a couple of prints.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday:

It was Pride parade day, but sadly we had already planned our day to check a bucket list item off… visiting Joshua Tree National Park. So we disappeared out of town before it got too crazy and made it to the National Park. It was a glorious day, not too hot, so we began our drive from South to North West.

First we weaved through the Colorado Desert, which is quite barren and mostly very furry cactii. Highlight is the Cactus garden where you can explore amongst hundreds/thousands of medium sized cactus plants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

From there you go over a ridge and into the Mojave Desert where the landscape instantly changes. We saw lots of rock and boulder formations, and the Joshua Trees start. Skull Rock is a stopping point and I couldn’t help but climb into the eyeball. Getting down was the hard part 🙂

 

 

 

 

We also went to the top of the main ridge and looked down on Palm Springs. It was quite hazy but still spectacular.

 

 

But it is the Joshua trees that take the cake. People say they are Seussian in their appearance and they definitely are. They are a sight to behold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunset was very early so around 5pm the colours changed a little and the sun set on what is an absolutely gorgeous place.

We were given the tip for place to visit for dinner, a place called Pappy and Harriett’s. We had no idea what it was but went anyway! It turned out to be a cowboy bar of sorts in a place called Pioneertown, not far from Joshua Tree. Turns out it was a movie set in the 40s! The place was packed and a buzz. We had some great burgers and drinks and made our way back to Palm Springs.

 

 

Monday:

Alas it was time to say goodbye to Palm Springs already. We definitely did not have enough time there and both vowed to go back.

On the way out of town we visited the Aerial Tramway, to go to the biggest ridge above Palm Springs (not back in Joshua Tree). It is close to 3000m altitude and often has snow on it! We caught the tramway up and looked out over the area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also had time for some sneaky “Welcome To Palm Springs” type pics 🙂

 

 

When we entered Palm Springs a few days earlier, a couple of billboards caught my eye which I revisited. They had the legacy of some early Shepard Fairey (i.e. Obey) pasters on them that I had to stop and get pics of.

 

 

 

We fought the traffic back toward LA and arrived at our home for the coming days in Anaheim. After dropping the car off, we rested for a little bit and then decided it was time for a drink to wind down. Where did we go? Trader Sams of course!

 

 

 

 

 

 

We couldn’t resist getting a few tiki mugs and drinks to cap off the day and get ready for some Disney action.

21
Sep

This Is Halloween

By: muttler

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Probably the main reason for coming back to Disneyland was to experience Halloween in the parks. And not just Halloween in general, but to come to one of the special Halloween parties that they throw in the park. Sure, it is an excuse to sell more tickets. But they also do know how to put on a show. So we spent the first part of the day in the parks, and then got into costume for the nighttime…

 

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19
Sep

Back In The Mousecage

By: muttler

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So one of the main reasons to come to LA this time of year was to visit Disneyland. In particular it was to visit during Halloween. The park is done up in a spooky manner here and there and many of the rides have a bit of a spooky theme to them. Importantly there is also Halloween parties, but more on them later in the week.

Rather than go into the detail of all our running around Disneyland and California Adventures, which you have read before on this blog, I’ll just post some random photos each day. Enjoy!

 

haunted mansion, halloween style

haunted mansion, halloween style

 

haunted mansion, halloween style

haunted mansion, halloween style

 

matt beats kate at astro blasters

matt beats kate at astro blasters

 

folk you find in critter country part one

folk you find in critter country part one

 

folk you find in critter country part two

folk you find in critter country part two

 

splashdown!

splashdown!

 

the almighty dole whip float

the almighty dole whip float

 

parade anticipation

parade anticipation

 

parade time

parade time

 

parade time

parade time

 

parade time

parade time

 

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bug’s land getting a facelift from stark industries

 

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tower of terror is now guardians of the galaxy: breakout!

 

parade time 2

parade time 2

 

parade time 2

parade time 2

 

parade time 2

parade time 2

 

04
Jun

Eight Days in Florida (Summary Post with Links)

By: muttler

NASA!!!

 

Hello everyone!

Now that I have posted all about our recent holidays, here is a summary post with links to all the posts, first for Florida. Happy Disney (and astronauts and wizards)!

Day One: Into the Disney Bubble (Magic Kingdom)

Day Two: Fly Me To The Moon (NASA Kennedy Space Centre)

Day Three: STAR WARS!! (Hollywood Studios)

Day Four: The Big Ball (Epcot)

Day Five: The Wand Chooses The Wizard (and Springfield, Springfield!)

Day Six: The Tree of Life (Animal Kingdom)

Day Seven: Bouncing Around (Epcot – Hollywood Studios – Disney Springs)

Day Eight: A Final Day in the Kingdom (Magic Kingdom)

 

04
Jun

A Final Day In The Kingdom

By: muttler
one last look at the castle

one last look at the castle

06/05/2017

How times flies. A week ago we had arrived after a fairly long journey and were at the gates of Magic Kingdom at 8am. Now, 7 days later, it was the same situation, however in the past week we had done all 4 Disney parks, Universal Studios, and the Kennedy Space Centre. One last day to act like kids (well, some would argue I do this most days and you are probably right).

 

into the beast's lair

into the beast’s lair

 

Of course it was another early morning to do a Disney breakfast, this time in the Beast’s Castle. There were no character meet and greets, but it was just to have a good brekkie in elaborate surrounds, and be in the park nice and early. The castle was pretty cool, with all kinds of Beauty and the Beast ephemera about.

From there it was all about filling some gaps of things we hadn’t done (and getting on some of our favourites again). We were right next to Peter Pan’s flight so jumped on. For reasons unbeknownst to both of us, the line is always huge for this ride. I mean, it is fine, but it is just an elevated boat type ride through the Peter Pan story. We went on since we were literally first in line, but neither of us think it is worth the typical 90 minute wait.

From there we went to our first fast pass ride, Splash Mountain. Lucky we sorted fast passes as the line was… non existent. Nope, a 5 minute wait. That was OK… on we went and got nice and wet as we hoped… and then went straight back on. Why not?! It was already warm, and we may as well get doubly wet now than wet again later! So back on started our day nice and soaked. Oh yeah.

We jumped back on to some of our other favourites. Big Thunder got a run (still better than 7 Dwarves Mine Cart) and also onto Jungle Cruise (sorry driver this time… you weren’t as good as our first one last week).

 

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In our travels through Adventureland, I finally got myself one of my Disney must-gets. Dole Whip Float! That super sweet Dole pineapple whip with pineapple juice is so delicious and perfect in the Florida heat. So much better than the Beer Float from a few days ago.

 

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It was then into Tomorrowland to jump on a couple of rides. We popped on to one of our usual favourites, Buzz Lightyear Astra Blasters, which was actually named something slightly different. Once on the ride we found out why. It must have been the first version of the ride as it was very lacking compared with the usual. Everything about it (the guns, the targets) just seemed off. Oh well, now we knew.

Space Mountain also seemed a bit different. Neither of us could remember it being more of a sled that you rode in (single file, just like a bobsled). The ride itself seemed the same… rollercoaster in the dark with things flying about… but again it just seemed a little different. This must have been how they tried to differentiate Disneyland and Magic Kingdom a bit decades ago when this was built.

 

doing his best to cut me out of the photo

doing his best to cut me out of the photo

 

While in Tomorrowland we bumped into another character… Mr Incredible! We met the big guy and he was hilarious. He was “busting moves” onto Kate so I had some banter, and then in our photos he proceeded to block me out of all of them. Gold! It is great when the characters have some fun like this. I imagine it must be a tough gig being in these suits for hours, so I am grateful when they have fun with it.

We got one last ride on Haunted Mansion. It seemed a number of the rides were suffering technical difficulties at the park, meaning longish lines at most rides. We got our final fastness sorted for our favourite ride, so back on to Haunted Mansion for one last time. It was nice to get the buzz of our spooky hitchhiker mentioning Australia again.

 

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It was getting dark and in our last hour or two we did some of the shows, like Country Bears and the Tiki House, as well as go around Pirates of the Caribbean again. Fitting since tomorrow we would be on our way to a country on the Caribbean. Maybe we would run into a pirate or two on our travels.

And so with that we were done at Disney World. I have to say, it was a super fun week. I like my Disney, but having the 4 parks, all quite different experiences, and staying in the resort with magic bands and easy fast passes and the systems that worked a treat, it was great fun. Kate did a great job of organising things which, while I was worried was going to mean we were TOO planned, actually meant we had a smooth and line-free Disney, which is the best type of Disney.

We got back to the room and did a pack, ready to embark on a new adventure… to Costa Rica!

04
Jun

Bouncing Around

By: muttler
speeding through hollywood studios

speeding through hollywood studios

 

05/05/2017

Having done the parks, we had the luxury of picking and choosing what to do for our final couple of days at Disney. We knew we were going to do one more full day at Magic Kingdom, but today we thought we would bounce around a bit between a couple of parks and Disney Springs. So with a relatively lazy start (leaving the room at 9am), we made our way back to Epcot to start the day.

 

good ole figment

good ole figment

 

Why Epcot? We were pretty content with our day at Animal Kingdom, that we got everything done we wanted to. We planned to go back to Hollywood Studios to go on our favourite rides again, but we rushed through a bit of Epcot and also were frustrated by the wait (and non-ride) of Frozen Ever After, so we headed back to fill that gap.

Frozen Ever After, as I alluded to earlier, is the most popular ride at Epcot. In part because it is Frozen, and mainly because it is the newest ride. As such, Fastpasses are very difficult to get. So first thing we headed there and had the luxury of only having to wait 15 minutes or so to get on.

 

back in norway

back in norway

 

thankfully they were not singing let it go

thankfully they were not singing let it go

 

And how was it? It was alright for one of the slow boat-type rides. Given it is a few decades newer than most of its type (i.e Pirates), the animatronics were a lot better, with animated faces rather than the weird puppet like figures that is the norm. There wasn’t too much “Let It Go” either which made even more pleasant. As we docked to end the ride, there was basically no queue, so around we went again! Why not given we were going to head off from Epcot soon.

We wandered the international part of Epcot for a bit, which we had some trouble doing last visit due to the rain. In many respects if I had an annual pass to Disney here, I would end up spending a bit of time in the International Showcase at Epcot. Mostly because it is not about waiting for rides, rather than chilling out eating and drinking, so I could imagine it would be fun with a bunch of people to pick a country and hang out there for a few hours.

So after a couple of hours of wandering, we decided to head off to Hollywood Studios. Conveniently, a boat connected the two, so on to the boat we jumped and 20 minutes later we were at the doorstep of our second park.

 

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We didn’t really have much of a plan here… we just knew that we were more likely to jump on random rides we liked here more so than Epcot. I went straight for Star Tours to see where I could end up. Sadly another pod race, but I did get to zoom around the Wookie planet which was fun. No Endor unfortunately. Kate took the opportunity to have some Darth Vader waffles from the nearby eatery. Why not hey?

 

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With our magic bands and the app we scored some fast passes for Toy Story Mania which is always ace fun. We even bumped into some Army Men out front and joined in with their drill.

I had neglected one main ride here, mostly as it was a Kate no-go-zone, but also because, well, it seemed a bit kitschy. Rockin’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith. Yep, Aerosmith. That immediately dated the ride a bit, but it was a full on rollercoaster, so the opportunity arose and I jumped. The ride was just as I thought. After a VERY dated kitschy opening (apparently we had to rush to the gig!), it was onto the rollercoaster and off on what is probably the most adrenaline filled ride in the Disney Parks. Imagine Space Mountain but way faster and amped up and that is Rockin’ Rollercoaster. Good fun once it got underway… they probably just need to think about replacing Aerosmith.

 

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As you may notice too, it was May 5th. May 4th is a BIG day in the Star Wars universe, but sadly the parks don’t seem to do too much. We had checked, and there was nothing worth coming to Hollywood Studios yesterday that was special, outside of a chance to buy a limited t-shirt. So we kept our Animal Kingdom plans. But being there on May 5th (which is also the lesser known celebration day… i.e Revenge of the 5ith) gave me a chance to pick up to limited pins that are only sold on these two days, one for each day. I nice specific memento for our trip.

We rode some rides some more (I hit up Tower of Terror again) and then at dinner time decided we should head to Disney Springs for an opportunity for some better food and drink. Kate had found a bar to try out, so on to the bus and in no time we were there.

 

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The destination was Jock Lindsay’s Hanger Bar. Who is Jock Lindsay? He is the water-plane pilot at the start of Raiders of the Lost Ark, and it was his bar apparently. It was pretty cool, done up with all kinds of ephemera, including the gold idol hiding up on a shelf. Here they also had special cocktails and mugs, so of course we opted to try the one that came in the monkey head. We also had some good food to go along with our strong drinks which made a nice end to the day.

A bit of a wander around the rest of Disney Springs, and we drew a close to the penultimate Disney day.

03
Jun

The Tree of Life

By: muttler
the tree of life

the tree of life

 

04/05/2017

Our last Disney park! Not our last Disney visit, but our final park to visit, and my last park to see to get the set (i’m not counting Disneyland China yet). Animal Kingdom! This was the one park I really didn’t have much idea what to expect. Magic Kingdom I had basically visited in a bunch of other countries, Hollywood Studios there had been variations in Japan and California, and Epcot has been in the pop culture consciousness for a while. but Animal Kingdom was a bit of an enigma for me.

 

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We arrived early for a planned breakfast. Another brekkie with characters and one that would get us into the fairly new Rivers of Light show in the evening. Animal Kingdom obviously has a strong African theme, and breakfast setting was no exception. Kinda funny given almost a year to the day I was in actual Africa. Breakfast was a pretty extensive buffet and I made sure to have lots of granola and yoghurt… as well as my fill of bacon. Mmmm.

 

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With a hearty brekkie to kick start our day we went to our first “ride”, Kilimanjaro Safaris. I say “ride” as it is actually much more like a zoo experience, where we loaded into big jeep like trucks and made our way through their african animal enclosure. It was a mini Ngorogoro Crater (well, kind of). They actually had quite a collection of animals… zebras, lions, elephants, rhinos… all the big ones. It was not quite as a big a deal for me as many others in the jeep, but it is still always fun to see those animals.

 

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The day was much like our other Disney park days. We made our way to all the rides thanks to our well planned fast passes and Kate having a good idea of what we needed to visit. The centrepiece of the park is the massive Tree of Life… a statue of sorts that represents all the animal kingdom and it was a sight to behold actually. We would keep coming back to the tree as we moved from area to area of the park.

 

expedition everest!

expedition everest!

 

There was a bunch of fun rides here at the park. Given it was a nice warm day we decided to get on to Kali River Rapids nice and early. It was a classic water rapids ride. There were warnings about getting wet and we indeed did get wet. So nice! Very refreshing in the warm Florida morning. I also had fun on Expedition Everest, a rollercoaster type ride around and through a mountain, getting chased by the elusive yeti. Love some backwards roller coaster action.

 

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We also had a chance to meet a bunch of characters. Mickey and Minnie were hanging out there as expected, but we also ran into Russell from Up (yay!) and even the cheeky Rafiki. We also went to a few musical shows. The Lion King show was pretty good, and the Nemo show not too bad either.

As the sun began to set we decided to jump on to Kilimanjaro Safaris again. At dusk the animals start to get a bit more active, and while it wasn’t too much different to the morning, it was fun to get out there again.

 

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It was dark and time to head to our seats for the Rivers of Light show. On the way, the Tree of Life was starting its “awakening”… a series of projections on to the tree at different times that would make some of the animals carved into the tree spring to life. We saw the opening one as we headed to the show and it was quite stunning. The tree was teeming with life as animals got up to all kinds of things all around the tree. There are a series of different awakenings meaning we would need to get back to see some more.

 

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We got to our seats ready for the Rivers of Light show. As mentioned, this was a fairly new show and quite hard to get in to. Unlike many other evening shows and parades, there was set seating so we were quite lucky to get a spot. It was a pretty cool show, a fairly straightforward boat-float-water projection type show. Being new gave it novelty for most, but for me I thought it was pretty good without being stellar.

With that it was time to head back to the hotel. We caught another tree “awakening” on the way out, and like most nights it was approaching midnight before we got the chance to jump into bed. Phew.