Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ten Disneyland Tips!

Radiator Springs At Night - Stunning!

Our family just returned from a fantastic four day/night trip to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure in Southern California. Even though this is a seriously non-budget trip, I am going to blog about it, because I think I have some tips worth sharing. Here they are:

1.  Read the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland. It provides tour plans for both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure (DCA) that will save you hours of time. We followed their plans fairly closely and were able to see all the rides and shows we wanted without wasting time waiting in line. Our average wait was probably 10 - 15 minutes - in the busy month of June!  Our longest wait (which only occurred once) was 50 minutes for Toy Story Mania at DCA. The Unofficial Guide also provides a description of each ride in the park and evaluates nearby restaurants and hotels. It is an invaluable resource.

2.  If possible, stay more than one day at the park. We stayed four full days and nights, allowing us to go back to the hotel every afternoon for a much needed nap and/or swim, then returning refreshed in the evening. Staying multiple days allows you to run around experiencing many of the rides, followed by a day or two of relaxing and enjoying the sights and sounds.

3.   Get a hotel with a refrigerator or bring a cooler so you can bring breakfast foods and snacks. This saves precious time in the morning and money. Unfortunately grocery stores are not easy to access among the local hotels, which is why I recommend bringing your own food.

4.  Taking another tip from the Unofficial Guide, I had matching t-shirts made for our family. It's much easier to keep track of everyone that way; it's fun; and makes a great memento for your family vacation.

Matching T-shirts - may be corny but so much fun!

5.  Watch the Steve Martin film inside City Hall on Disney's Main Street. It's short and amusing and shows interviews with Walt Disney on the making of the park, plus footage of the park's opening day on July 17, 1955.

6.  In DCA make time to see Muppet's 3D and Turtle Talk with Crush. The Muppet's theater experience was truly magical. Not only do you see the Muppets on screen, they also make appearances in the theater! And though Crush (Finding Nemo) is on screen, he also interacts with people in the audience. Have your child sit on the floor in front of the screen for a better chance at conversing with Crush.

7.  If you get a fast pass and wait in line to see World of Color at DCA, don't stand in the front row! Not only will you get really wet, you'll also experience the full force of the flaming fire effects that occur during the pirates sequence. The flames were hot and  scary and we weren't even standing in the front row! It almost ruined the show for me. So unless you love high heat and fire - stand back!

8.  Don't drag your young children - ages 6 and under - with you onto the scary rides. I'm talking Indiana Jones, The Haunted Mansion, California Screamin', Tower of Terror, Star Tours, etc. It's painful to see those kids screaming in terror, not out of fun. There's plenty of time for them to experience the rides when they're older. Besides, parents can do a switch off where everyone waits in line but only one parent actually gets on the ride. After that parent completes the ride, the other one gets a turn. It's explained fully in the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland. We heard of one poor little boy who rode California Screamin' (scariest roller coaster in the park) with his parents and when they suggested going a second time, he threw up just thinking about it!

9.  Take advantage of the Disney photographers stationed around the park. They will give you a Photo Pass that you can take to a photography station in the park, or better yet, take home so you can peruse the photos on-line. I was able to take advantage of a 3 for $30 deal on digital downloads that allowed me to post process the photos the way I wanted them to be.

10.  It's hot in the afternoon and crowded, so try your best to arrive as early as you can at the parks and take advantage of the short lines and mild temperature. Also it's a good idea to get in walking shape for this vacation. You will walk several miles each day and your feet will get very tired!

Here's hoping you have as much fun as we did on your magical adventure.

Do you have any Disney tips you'd like to share? Please comment below.

Friday, June 6, 2014

For the Love of the Game - Vintage Baseball!

Our family just discovered Vintage Baseball and are we glad we did! There are currently six teams in the Bay Area Vintage Baseball League (BAVBB) who have been playing by the rules of 1886 for the last ten years. What does this mean? I'll show you in words and pictures . .

Reproduction uniforms from the 1880s . .

Note the painter's cap, knickers, colored stockings and high tops.

Reproduction Equipment:

The vintage style bat weighs around 44 ounces!
Bases are 15" square bags filled with sawdust or similar material.

The full fingered leather glove. Fingerless gloves also allowed.

Due to the extremely light padding, broken fingers are common in these games!

The ball is similar to today's but less dense. It gets softer as the game progresses.
A padded catcher's mitt, lightly padded chest protector and fencing style mask.

1886 Rules -

For instance - seven balls not four; a foul ball is not counted as a strike; no time outs (only the club captain can ask the umpire for a time out);  no intentional walks; no spitting or swearing (esp. when a lady is present); and the umpire (addressed as Sir) is "given unquestionable respect and full authority." There are many other rules which can be found here.

For the Love of the Game -

These guys are not getting paid; they play because they love it. What a refreshing concept! They're good too! And as a spectator, I can say that for me, it was much more enjoyable to watch than a professional game. These guys played straight through. There were no annoying conferences at the pitchers mound, no endless time outs, no referee disputes, no unruly crowd . . just a great ball game under the California sun.

The game we watched took place at the baseball field in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. We watched the San Francisco Pelicans beat the Fremont Aces (no one was quite sure of the score, but it was close). Spectators were few but committed. There was even an enterprising boy selling bags of peanuts and sunflower seeds! We bought one of each.

The baseball field in GG Park SF,  not far from Stow Lake.

There's plenty more games to watch this summer and they are free! Here is the BAVBB summer schedule.

Now let's step back in time and play ball!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Oak Meadows Park - Children Love This Place!

The Gazebo is popular for weddings and other events.

If you want to picnic in an area that children will love, you couldn't choose a better place than Oak Meadow Park in Los Gatos, CA. It has a huge grass field, a great playground, an antique carousel, two small passenger trains, and access to the Los Gatos Creek!

Our family spent a relaxing afternoon there during Memorial Day Weekend. We were actually on our way to the Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk and thought we'd experiment with a late afternoon start. Eerrrnnnttt! (apply loud buzzer sound here), traffic was backed up before the on ramp to 17, so we took the Blossom Hill Road exit (off of 17), turned right on University, parked on the side of the road and walked to Oak Meadow Park. Then we made our way to the Los Gatos Creek - a short walk on the other side of the park railroad tracks - set up our chairs, and enjoyed a nice picnic with the resident waterfowl.

A hot day but nice in the shade.

I'd just told my daughter that he only wanted food and wouldn't bite, then he nipped my toe!

Look but don't approach - parent geese will hiss and charge!

Napping Dad
The 1/3 scale trains, one steam and one diesel, of the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad are a big hit with young kids and train aficionados. The one mile route takes passengers from a corner of Oak Meadow Park, on a bridge across the Los Gatos Creek and over to neighboring Vasona Park.

Crossing the Creek on Diesel #3502

Tickets can be bought by the train station in Oak Meadow Park
Next to the train station is a restored antique carousel with wooden horses that were originally made in England and Germany! Tickets are also sold near the train station.

The Carousel was made in England for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition.
Parents of young children may want to picnic on the green next to the playground. Your children will love climbing on the restored air force jet and fire trucks.

The T-33A "Shooting Star" originally served as a trainer in the Korean War.

 I highly recommend Oak Meadow Park for a relaxing and inexpensive outing. It's a friendly place - my husband and I once brought our banjo and fiddle and no one seemed to mind. ;-)

If you go: Directions
Tickets to the train and carousel are $2.00 each. The schedule can be found here.

Coming up: June 14th - Flapjacks and Railroad Tracks!