The Great Movie Ride

A few weeks ago, the Walt Disney Company announced the closure of a beloved attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – The Great Movie Ride. While I understand the need to retire the attraction, I am saddened as it holds a special place in my heart.

In October of 2004, I’d been working at ‘The Great Movie Ride’ for a few weeks when I met a new person in the break room – Damon. He’d just transfer from ‘The Tower of Tower’ and was finishing his training for the ride. I remember this meeting because of how we clicked. I’d never felt an instant connection with anyone before. From then on, I constantly looked for him in the break room. Unfortunately, he kept getting assigned to ‘The Tower of Tower’, so I never saw him. 

Then in June 2005, we were both selected for be character trained for the ride (which means doing the gangster/bandit scenes). At this point, we were seeing more of each other each weekend and definitely had a crush on each other.

During training, Damon tried to help the trainer by grabbing a box of pens for our class. The next thing we know, Damon tripped and pens went flying across the room. He turned beet red and I thought he was the cutest thing ever!

After work, Damon invited me to his house to watch a movie. I don’t remember much about the movie. What I do remember is how comfortable I felt with him. While we were talking, he asked if I’d like to go out with him sometime. I said that sounded like fun (girl code for yes). Unfortunately, Damon didn’t speak girl code and asked me again. I explained that my answer ment yes and thus began our journey of being honest with each other.

So, as you can imagine, ‘The Great Movie Ride’ means a great deal to us. Which is why I was thrilled to get to go back one more time. Last night, the Disney Parks Blog hosted a meet-up at the ride and allowed us to walk the track! Not only did I get to relive some very fond memories but I got to take all the pictures I’d neglected to take while I worked there (lesson learnes + always take pictures).

What a wonderful way to close such a meaningful chapter of my life. I only hope it’s replacement will live up to ‘The Great Movie Ride’

Monday Motivation: Six Years of Marriage

Six years ago, my best friend and I made it official. However, I felt married to him long before our wedding day. For me, our wedding day was just making our relationship legally binding. 

Damon and I had met five years prior, at Disney right after a hurricane hit. We were friends immediately. 

Soon after we were selected for a special training class. During this class Damon got up to get some pens for the class. He tripped, and the pens went flying. He turned beet red and I thought he was the cutest thing ever. He asked me out later that afternoon. 

I knew he was special immediately. However, there was a point where I wondered if he was too old for me. Fortunately, some part of my brain yelled at me, telling me it was dumb to stop seeing someone fantastic just because of age.

Soon after that, we traveled to Disneyland together and I knew this guy was special. I wasn’t 100% positive that I would marry him but I knew that he would be an important person in my life. 

So as you can imagine, by the time our wedding day rolled around it was just another day of adventure with Damon. We were already an awesome partnership, which continues to this day. 

I love our life and adventures together. It hasn’t been easy but nothing valuable in life is every easy. And I can’t wait to see what this road ahead has in store for us.

California Adventures: Disneyland

As a self-proclaimed Disney geek (and proud of it) I couldn’t come to California and not visit Disneyland. Since mini-man was little we decided to just visit a couple of times.

Our first trip was when mini-man was six-months old. Looking back, he might have been a bit too young – but we still had fun. He really enjoyed the outdoor rides – the carousel and Casey Jr. He didn’t quite understand the dark rides – Winnie the Pooh.

However, it was a stressful visit – it was hot, crowded, and we didn’t really have goals to accomplish anything.

After this visit we waited a year to go back. The main reason we went back was so I could see Paint the Night before it left. But this time, I was more prepared.

After the first visit, I realized I couldn’t power through the park and try to do everything – kids just can’t do that.

This time I researched everything and made a loose goals for the day. I wanted everyone to have fun.

In the end, the goals worked really well and everyone had fun. What worked best was taking lots of breaks to let mini-man walk and explore in his own.

And I got to see Paint the Night (which was incredible!). Best of all, mini-man loved seeing it too. 

I am so happy that we got to go to Disneyland and create some great memories. 

Theme Park – SeaWorld Orlando

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I am a huge theme park freak. Growing up in San Diego, my family and I would often visit SeaWorld, Disneyland, and the zoo. Damon and I even met while working at Walt Disney World – so you could say theme parks are in my blood. I was so excited to take Mini-man to visit these same places.

After taking mini-man to a few theme parks I learned some very valuable lessons and applied them to this trip. Damon and I agreed ahead of time to only go for a few hours, see a show, see some animals, and leave. Keeping expectations simple is becoming the key to our success. (every time I spell success – the 1980’s song S-U-C-C-E-S-S from the ‘Secret of my Sucess’ with Michael J. Fox plays in my head)

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Anyways, we got to the park around 10am just in time to see my favorite show ‘Blue Horizons’ – an amazing performance showcasing the beauty and power of the Atlantic Bottlenose dolphin. We sat up high to stay out of the sun (in Florida, always seek out cover for shade or protection from rain). Mini-man loved watching the dolphins jumping through the air and was completely mesmerized during the show.

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One of the great things about visiting SeaWorld Orlando in October is their Halloween Spooktacular – included with park admission! We headed to the Bayside Pathway to partake in the festivities. The celebration offers trick-or-treating, a dance party, face painting, character meet-n-greets, and much more! Since Mini-man was under one, we decided to just walk the pathway slowly and do some trick-or-treating. This was fascinating to mini-man – he loved reaching into the bag and pulling out the candy to play with it. (don’t worry – Damon valiantly stepped and ate the candy on Mini-mans behalf). 

Since the pathway ends in Shamu’s Happy Harbor we decided to try some of the attractions in this area. Much to our suprise, there was nothing that mini-man could do! All of the rides required a child to sit in their own. And while Mini-man could sit on his own he couldn’t quite stay seated on his own. It really amazed me that a park that markets itself to kids, wouldn’t have anything for those who are under two.

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Afterwards, we were getting hungry and decided it was time to leave. SeaWorld has some amazing food, but it can be pricey and a little hectic. Little tip – there is a Wendy’s, Panera, Taco Bell, and Mellow Mushroom just outside of the park (no more than a 10 minute drive).

Thanks to our ‘keep things simple’ strategy, we managed to have a fun day with each other and create lots of amazing memories.  

Lessons learned – Disneyland

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As a life-long theme park addict (seriously – I have pictures of me at Disneyland when I’m only a few months old), I thought I knew it all when it came to navigating theme parks. I. Was. Wrong! Here are some great lessons I learned from our first trip to Disneyland with kids:

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  • Plan Ahead of Time: Before kids I had no limits to what I wanted to do and when. Now that I have Mini-man with me, it became very important to pay attention to height requirements and ride appropriateness. Some things might be too loud or scary for little ones, even if they meet the minimum ride requirements.                                                                                                                                                 All of this information is available on-line. I suggest noting which attractions you think would be best before you arrive.
  • Be Prepared: admit it – you sang those words 😁. Going to a theme park takes some preparation. I recommend lots of water, sunscreen, and really comfortable shoes. Also, Disney can be expensive so bringing some snacks for all to enjoy will go a long way.
  • Take Your Time: The phrase ‘Stop and Smell a Rose’ is pretty apt here. Pre-kids, I would charge through the park to hit as much as possible. With kids, I’ve learned it’s important to take my time and enjoy the journey. Mini-man didn’t care how many, if any, rides we did. He was more interested in taking in his surroundings than riding a lot of rides.
  • Pay Attention: Pre-kids, I would get the park at opening and stay until the park closed. With kids, I’ve learned we need to go at their pace. Its more important for Mini-man to sleep than for me to get to the park early. During the day, if you see the kids getting tired it’s ok to leave the park for some quiet/nap time. If you stay all day, everyone ends up tired and miserable – which is not great memories for anyone. Its more important to have a fun, relaxing day.

I hope these tips help make your visit to a theme park more enjoyable. We Love to know – what tips do you have for enjoying a theme park with your kids?

Theme Parks – Taking Mini-man to Disneyland!

Disneyland – the happiest place on earth. I have a lot of happy memories visiting this park as a child. Now that I am a mom I couldn’t wait to take mini-man to visit these special places.

We started the day slow by checking into our hotel and dropping off our things. It was a very hot day in Anaheim so we took extra time to make sure we all had our sunscreen on and water bottles were filled. Once we were ready we walked over to Disneyland! (I purposely got a hotel within walking distance to the park – it was closer than the Disney hotels and was waaaaaay cheaper).

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We went for a classic start of the day – a grand circle tour of the magic kingdom aboard the Disneyland Railroad. Mini-man was confounded at first but started to enjoy it – until the dinosaur scene, which he really didn’t like.

 

 

imageAfter the train, we got off and headed toward the castle. It was a pretty crowded day. Damon and I got frustrated pretty quickly as we were all starting to over heat. Instead of for`aging ahead, like we might have done pre-kids, we stopped at the Hungry Bear Restaurant for food and to cool down. Mini-man got in a quick nap which gave Damon and me time to talk and figure out our next steps. We realized we couldn’t tackle the park like we used to. We needed to slow down and take things ride by ride.

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When mini-man woke up we headed to the Winnie the Pooh ride. I thought mini-man would like it since kids like Winnie the Pooh. Judging by mini-mans face at the end of the ride he didn’t quite get it. I then realized that indoor rides might be a bit advanced for a six-month old, so we headed Fantasyland for some of the open-aired rides.

 

 

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Success! We rode the carousel and Casey Jr. and mini-man loved them both! He couldn’t get enough of looking at all of the scenery happening around him.

 

 

 

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Now, normally, on a pre-kid trip three rides would not have taken that long. However this took several hours. This combined with the heat and moving extra weight equal three exhausted individuals. We headed back to the hotel to rest up for an evening trip.

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After wonderful naps we headed back to the park. I really wanted to see the new parade, Paint the Night, and the fireworks show. What I wasn’t expecting were the massive crowds.

 

Mini-man became very overwhelmed by all the people around him. I hoped if we found a quiet spot we could enjoy the parade. What I didn’t take into account was how loud the parade was. I really never realized how loud the parade was. Maybe I’m old now but it was really loud and it freaked out mini-man. We decided it was better all around to leave the park. What made matters worse was as we left the fireworks started and the banging freaked mini-man out even more. This was the final nail in the coffin. I walked as fast as I could toward the exit cuddling a crying mini-man on the way. By the time we made it out of the park mini-man was fast asleep.

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All-in-all it was a good day. I have some good memories and learned some great lessons. Check out my next post to see my lessons learned.