WDW 2021 & Disneyland 2022 – Misc. Info & Lessons Learned

This post has turned into a combined post of misc. information from the Walt Disney World trip my mom and I did in October 2021 (Part 1 and Part 2) and my recent Disneyland trip.

Everything below didn’t have a logical home in any of the 3 above linked posts, and includes some FAQ I get from folks in my life – enjoy!

Trip Stats From Walt Disney World:

  • Miles Walked: 8 per park day
  • Pins Purchased: 17
  • Puzzles Purchased: 2 boxes, 5 individual puzzles
  • Mugs Purchased: Shockingly 0
  • Churros Eaten: Somehow only 1

How did we book our Walt Disney World trip?

We went through our dear friend Traci Taylor who is a travel agent specializing in Disney and lives near WDW. The only thing we did not coordinate through her was booking our flights and that was due to using credit card points.

What did we do well in planning our Walt Disney World trip?

We were fortunate enough to be able to add one buffer day after flying to Orlando and before we started our park days, and after our park days before our travel day back to California. Both my mom and I felt like that made a huge impact on our trip as far as avoiding burnout and avoiding impulse / now-or-never buying.

We also did a lot prep work before the trip and went into each park only having 1-2 required rides / attractions and 1-2 food items we prioritized, in a couple of cases having reservations. Again, this removed impulsive choices and buying or spending time debating a bunch of food we weren’t sure if we wanted. It also made sure that rather than rushing from ride to ride we had our “must-do” items and could just experience the rest of the day without pressure to hit XX rides in order for the day or trip to feel “worth it.”

For me, what worked best was to create a Google Sheet so we could filter & prioritize. I had one page for food and one page for rides / attractions. Filters included park, land, and “details” about why we wanted to go to a specific restaurant / stand. I had the app downloaded to my phone so we could filter each day and mark what we completed.

What do we wish we would have done differently for Disney World?

I have two regrets from the trip. One was buying a margarita in Pandora. It sounds silly, but I forgot how Disney proportions their adult beverages and if I were a regular tequila consumer I would have been happy. The other was not preparing better for Epcot. We opted for being more opportunistic and had the intent to sample a bunch of things, however that led to far too many options and lots of indecision (which is funny given the spreadsheet mentioned above), coupled with a very hot day. The Epcot one is more of a lesson learned.

How expensive are your trips?

It depends, and I’m going to start the breakdown with what they look like with my partner. Back in 2017 / 2018, Levi & I were both Annual Passholders paying ~$60/month each for our tickets with our only blockout dates being around Christmas / New Year. We stayed at the same Marriott a little further away from the parks every time, and with our AP tiers we had free parking in the garage. Approx. 2017 was also when I got my Disney Visa.

My birthday in 2018 I bought a Dooney using rewards money and we had some left over for incidentals, too. Back then I was making about 30% of what I do now, and had very little as far as expenses go. Our trips back then were the cost of hotel, gas, and food in the park – incredibly minimal, and why we went as often as we did.

When we went for our anniversary this year, we did splurge on hotel – in part because of that massive bathtub – as well as dinner and a few of the souvenir items we got. We did also have to pay for park tickets out of pocket, and plane tickets for Levi. I also had boarding for the dog. We had budgeted for this, and ended up spending about what we had anticipated.

With my family, it’s very different. My family started going regularly after my dad retired for the first time in 2009 as we didn’t have a ton of family trip time like that prior. We did have annual passes back then, and the cost per person with no blockout dates was <$650 if I remember correctly. With my dad’s mobility being what it was (pre-knee replacement) and having the income, it was worth it on many of our trips to stay at Grand Californian, order room service, and do what was needed. We did eventually start staying off property but still in the same block, and it was a choice contingent on there being a shuttle for my dad. I do want to note that was all occurring from 2010 – 2012 when the cost of Disney was much less than it is now. When my mom & I took my grandma in 2018 for her 80th birthday, we made a similar decision to those we had for my dad and stayed at Grand Californian for mobility purposes.

When my mom & I went to Disney World, we spent a very long time discussing what we wanted in a trip and what our non-negotiable features were. For this trip, exploring the parks and Disney Springs were the most important to us, so we were cognizant of modes of transportation available at each resort area. Food and souvenirs were also a priority. My mom did also make the decision that class when flying was a non-negotiable. Where that landed us was flying first class, making reservations at the nice restaurants we decided we wanted to try, mapping out what mobile order food we wanted outside of that, and choosing a hotel that was near the Skyliner and would be comfortable which ended up being Pop Century. We heavily debated Animal Kingdom Lodge and Riviera, but every time we came back to the fact that our goal was to spend time absorbing the parks. As a result, spending all that money on a room we planned on using as a landing point to sleep, store items, shower, and get ready in did not make sense, and we were very happy with that decision in the end.

When we went to Disney World, I had nearly $800 in rewards money which covered most of our pricy meals and souvenirs, and had nearly $200 left over with how I broke things up. I had just under $400 built up by the time Levi and I went to Disneyland and that paid for our 3 reservations. Having credit cards that earn points for things that matter to you are important, and I’m happy with my choices in cards.

In both cases, I did have cash for tip.

Are you planning on getting back to your previous Disney trip frequency?

Honestly, no. Part of it is location, part of it is money, and part of it is time spent. Disney still holds the same weight it has, and I’m at a point where I would rather have one trip of the exorbitant quality I want it to be per year than to go for quantity of trips.

How do you think the parks compared?

I am thankful that I didn’t compare them nearly as much as I thought I would and I do treat them as separate entities.

Things I did notice:

  • PhotoPass people are EVERYWHERE in WDW.
    • PhotoPass was still pretty sporadic in comparison at Disneyland outside of the Sweetheart’s Night event. I’m interested to see how this shifts with character meets coming back.
  • The ride queues are prettier at WDW – there is a lot more covered queue area and I’m sure there’s a weather related reason.
  • The churros at Disneyland are better – this is not up for debate.
  • The castle in FL is massive. You can look at height comparisons and pictures all you want, seeing it in person is different.
  • Expedition Everest > Disneyland Big Thunder Mountain, and Thunder is one of my favorites so that says a lot
  • Mine Train > Disney World Big Thunder Mountain
  • Facade of Disneyland Haunted Mansion > Facade of Disney World Haunted Mansion
  • Interior of Disney World Haunted Mansion > Interior of Disneyland Haunted Mansion

Disneyland Anniversary & Valentine’s Day

February 2022 was the first trip I was able to make back to Disneyland since September 2018. If you would have told me back then that my next trip to Disneyland would be under this collective of circumstances, I would not have believed it. Despite that, I’m grateful for what brought me back, and that is what this post is about.

Going into this trip, both Levi & I knew it would be emotional. The last time we were at the parks together was July 2018, and that trip was emotional for other reasons. There may come a day where we discuss that topic further as I do think there are important lessons from that story, as well as how & when we got back in contact, but for now we are going to refrain – if you need a refresher on my boundaries, click the link to Disclaimers Moving Forward.

Disney Day 1

Levi flew in to Phoenix on the 11th. The next morning, we took miss girl to boarding, picked up the food we had called in ahead of time from Snooze, and arrived back at my place to finish packing and pack the car (successfully keeping the little miss in the dark that we were going somewhere without her). We drove the ~5 hours westbound and made it to our hotel around 3p.

Once we had a quick dinner via room service & got our bags unpacked, we changed to head into the park for the evening before our dinner reservations for our Anniversary.

We made it to the park, I changed my shoes from flats to my heels in the esplanade, and then we walked through park gates. It felt very surreal.

The first PhotoPass person we encountered had us do a prom-esque pose and it turned out really cute, so I’m here for it.

Once we got pictures in front of the train station, we walked hand-in-hand down Main Street, USA, which was an experience that had its own set of deep emotions tied to it.

After getting pictures and doing a couple of rides, we made our way to Grand Californian for our 8:30 reservation at Napa Rose. Dinner was absolutely amazing and we got everything our hearts desired to eat (note from the link – they do rotate the menu options).

We each got a Central Park West to open the adventure & accompany our starters – he ordered the butternut squash ravioli and I got the diver scallop. With the main course, we got glasses of wine to go with the filet he ordered and my pot roast. To close out the meal he got the up-side down pear cake and I got the creme brûlée.

To answer the inevitable question by this point of the post, yes, dinner was expensive. Disney Rewards were key here. If you read my Walt Disney World – Part 1 and Walt Disney World – Part 2 posts, you already know we had a lot of pricey restaurants & merch on that trip, Rewards are to thank & there will be a post coming on that part of the adventure coming.

After dinner we debated going back into the park, but it was already after 10 and we knew we wanted to rope drop California Adventure the next morning, so we walked back to the hotel.

Disney Day 2

We started our morning by making it to California Adventure in time for rope drop. As one does, our first order of business was Radiator Springs Racers & a picture with the Cars Land sign.

As it was Sunday, I had planned – clearly not well enough – to get Cars themed waffles from Flo’s because waffle Sunday must continue even if I’m not home. Unfortunately, through the reopen, waffles had not made it back and I was actually very sad about this. Internet is free and I did not use my resources. Whoops.

We decided to pivot breakfast plans and instead mobile ordered from Pym Test Kitchen. Mobile ordering food easily became my favorite post-closure park adjustment when my mom & I went to Disney World and that continued with Disneyland. I got the Impossible Quantum Garden Breakfast and Levi got the Ever-expanding Cinna-Pym Toast which weirded me out because it had blue flakes. Both items were delicious and had amazing presentation.

We continued our day going on rides & looking through shops. Midday we went by the hotel to change because it was H O T before heading to Downtown Disney for a late lunch at Ballast Point on our way to our later afternoon Trader Sam’s reservation.

Like the hooligans we are, we split an Uh-oa, and for our second round I got a Krakatoa Punch and he got a Zombie. On our way back through Downtown Disney we stopped in a lot of stores and my one rule at the start of the day was that my credit card does NOT make an appearance after Trader Sam’s, which I held to.

After drinks we went back into the park and I absolutely crushed Web Slingers (scored 240,000). We also did the Silly Symphony Swings. We ended up back in Cars Land for a Bacon Mac & Cheese cone, a ride, and souvenirs before wandering back to Avengers Campus to close the day with Guardians.

That night as we left the park, we got a Pirates of the Caribbean Thomas Kinkade puzzle in Cars Land, and we purchased a Tangled canvas painting by Thomas Kinkade that we had seen earlier in the day at Off the Page. It was the last one they had & we did not see it anywhere else in the parks, so naturally it had to come with us. It now lives on a wall in my apartment that will be featuring pin boards & my ear headbands in the coming weeks.

Disney Day 3

Valentine’s Day in the park was an experience in and of itself. I had managed to get us 8:30a reservations at Carnation Cafe, which was a huge accomplishment and made that the first stop in our day.

This morning was very calm as we had already processed the initial emotions of being back in Disneyland together on Saturday evening. After breakfast we got pictures in front of the partners statue before making our way to rides & churros.

Following a morning of rides and browsing shops, we made our way to Jolly Holiday to collect a mobile order for lunch before taking a midday break back at the hotel – also avoiding the cavalcade for the Super Bowl MVPs. Later in the afternoon we made our way back to the park for more rides, food, and to get checked in for Sweetheart’s Night.

Neither of us had done an after-hours event before and were really excited to share this experience. Leading up to the event we had seen a couple sneak peeks of some of the photo-ops and character sightings and knew it would be perfect.

The first order of business when we got back into the park was our Lightning Lane return for Rise of Resistance. We ended up being held in the room with the Storm Troopers for about 15 minutes, and I personally think this is one of the coolest places to get ‘stuck.’

Following that ride we picked up our mobile ordered lobster rolls from Harbour Galley and sat on the patio that is wrapped around by the river to eat. With food on board we made our way to Tomorrowland to get checked in for the Disneyland After Dark event.

After getting checked in, we made our way over towards Adventureland to ride Pirates and Jungle Cruise. After Jungle Cruise we made our way to the Tropical Hideaway for Dole Whip and the PB&J Mochi (which was surprisingly good). I am a big fan of the adjustments they made on Jungle Cruise & the use of the space for the Tropical Hideaway.

Following the food stop, we decided to go on Matterhorn and in my opinion that was a mistake. That ride is not the same ride I remember taking my 80 year old grandmother on in 2018 and that unfortunately became the last ride of the night – we had planned to also do Space Mountain.

As we got off Matterhorn and the park was cleared of everyone who was not there for the event, we sought out the site for our most important photo-op – the Tangled lantern scene.

Back in 2017 is when the Rapunzel & Flynn comparison started, so hearing that there was a photo staged for one of the most significant scenes in the movie was a part of the event we were most looking forward to.

The above photo is CLEARLY pre-COVID because we’re up close & personal / not masked with face characters. Also note my same shirt from Disney Day 2 of this trip & how early in the Loki-look-alike hair growth journey Levi was.

We absolutely resonate with the characters in individual personality and in their relationship having an outward appearance of being between people who are opposites. I have also said to him many a time that I always knew the ‘Eugene’ side whereas his public presentation is more like that of Flynn.

ANYWAY, enough with the mushy explanation. Have some mushy pictures & then we will close out this post.

After we got those adorable pictures, we did another ride, went to the photo spot by Haunted Mansion, and then closed out our must-do events in the shops of New Orleans Square.

The prompt here went from smiling to deadpan and we actually startled the Cast Member with how quickly we adjusted.

When we got back to the hotel, my back was screaming at me from the not-very-arch-supportive shoes I wore all day long. Comfy? Yes. Supportive? No.

Overall, the After Hours event was great and I’m so glad we decided to follow the impulse & buy tickets.

Post-Disney

Tuesday, Feb 15 we took our time checking out of the hotel and then went to Downtown Disney for final purchases, lunch at Naples, and to snag coffee for the drive back to Phoenix. The rest of the week was incredibly busy with Trujillo wedding prep and general life things. The following Waffle Sunday at home was really nice and featured Levi before he flew back and my parents before they started their drive.

Fun Facts & Little Accomplishments:

  • Both full days in park we walked over 10 miles each day
  • We had many churros on this trip. Disneyland Churros > Disney World Churros. No contest
  • My red anniversary shoes are the same brand as the ones I wore for Dapper Day Spring 2017 at Disneyland but not the same shoes
  • Levi made it all day long on Valentine’s Day in a white shirt and didn’t spill anything on it
  • Pre-planned – we splurged on small, complimentary, everyday wear jewelry pieces on this trip
  • I finally bought one of those damn Mickey-shaped foam soap dispensers

Walt Disney World – Part 2

…. continued from Disney World Part 1:

Wednesday, October 6

In-park day 3 of our trip was for Epcot and I chose a dress and sandals. I had done Disneyland twice in a dress and sandals, though I don’t believe either of those times were as walking intensive as our Epcot day was.

I got this dress for $10 at the Dillard’s Clearance Center earlier this year and not only does it have pockets, it also makes me feel like I should be sitting on a beach singing “By the Sea” to whoever is begrudgingly with me.

Around 7 that morning I got on the app and got mom & I a boarding group for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure with an ETA on return time working out to about 2p. Since the park opened at 9, we were slow getting to breakfast and then getting on the Skyliner to make our connection out to Epcot.

We arrived at the Skyliner Station on the west side of the World Showcase near France. Our first order of business in the park was coffee. From there, we continued working our way clockwise around the World Showcase towards the Norway Pavilion.

We got in line for the Frozen ride and clearly did not do our research or read the ride notes because we were confused about why there was a warning about drops and getting wet. That did not stop us, though.

After Frozen we made our way towards the Epcot ball and went on Spaceship Earth. Since I was a kid and had the Walt Disney World Explorer on CD, I wanted to go inside the Epcot ball, and I got to mark that off my list.

After we got pictures in front of the Epcot ball, we made our way around the path and went to Living with the Land.

After our boat ride we continued down the path back to the World Showcase as it was time for lunch. We stopped in the Mexico Pavilion and got tacos.

After we ate we continued our walk clockwise around the World Showcase looking at the Pavilions. By the time we made it all the way around the lake it was our turn to go to the queue for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. We ended up waiting a little over an hour before we loaded into a car, and it was well worth the wait!

After Remy’s we decided we wanted to go on the boat ride through the Mexico Pavilion so we made our way back over.

Once we completed that ride (which has one of the most spatially tight queues I have ever experienced), we knew it was time to figure out dinner. As weird as it sounds, we ended up opting for a sit-down dinner at Le Cellier in Canada. 

Following dinner we took one more round trip of the pavilions making sure to go into each one that we hadn’t gotten to yet.  

After our last lap around the World Showcase, we headed back to the Skyliner station and went back to the hotel for the night.

Thursday, October 7

Thursday morning we got up, got breakfast, and made our way to the Skyliner. Once boarded, we made our connection, and found ourselves at park entrance for Hollywood Studios.

First order of business once inside was making a beeline for the line for Rise. We made it through the line and to interrogation when the ride shut down, which was unfortunate because we had waited a couple of hours, but we did get the equivalent of a FastPass to return later.

Once we got our passes set up, we made our way back to the park entrance for coffee. With our coffee, I also grabbed a carrot cake. As we wrapped up coffee and what we wanted of the carrot cake, my mom decided to take it to the trash and on her way fell off the curb and I barely caught what happened as it happened.

As soon as she was down, 4 moms from other groups swooped on her. One grabbed a cast member, one pulled ice out of her stroller, one pulled bandaids, and one was doing a preliminary check on her. Mom was adamant she didn’t want to go to first aid when the cast member arrived, and I helped her set the bandages we did get from all of the wonderful people who stopped. She then sat for a little bit with the ice on her knee (which was the biggest casualty).

Once she stood up again, I immediately recognized that the bandage job would not hold and told her that we were going to first aid. She tried to protest saying it was too far away and I did not allow that for a moment – for context, we were sitting in front of the Pandora store and first aid is at the front of the park. The stars on the below picture show how far we were (Galaxy’s Edge got cut off on my screenshot).

First aid was just as much of a hands off adventure as it was the few days prior. Mom signed in, they asked us what we wanted for her injury, and the passed the supplies to us through the gap in the divider. We moved over to the little bench in the lobby and I got to work cleaning and replacing the bandage on her knee.

We joked about all the practice we have with odd bandaging because of dad and the nurses asked a few questions that led to us giving them a brief history of his injuries over the last 35 years. Once mom’s knee was situated, we made our way out of first aid and started walking the shops on Hollywood Boulevard before moving towards Tower of Terror.

After losing The Tower in DCA, this was probably my most highly anticipated ride of the whole trip. Though it was a little different from what we had in California, I was very, very happy with the differences (and honestly a little shocked to find I still remembered most of the video scripting).

Once we finished our stay, we made our way through the park to Toy Story Land as we knew we wanted to have lunch and go on rides out there.

We decided to get in line for Slinky Dog Dash – which was by far the hottest queue we waited in – and while we waited we put in a mobile order for a BBQ Brisket Melt at Woody’s Lunch Box.

After the ride we made our way over to the Alien Saucers since we still had some time before our mobile order return.

Following our ride on the saucers we crossed the pathway to collect our mobile ordered food. The day was another warm one and we were lucky to find a table in the shade. We split the BBQ Brisket Melt and were very happy that we did. It was so good, but with it being a hot sandwich and a hot day we could only really consume half each before we were full.  

We walked around Toy Story Land a little more once we wrapped with lunch, and then followed the path on the far side of the land around to Galaxy’s Edge.

We did stop for a few photo spots, and made our way over to Rise. With our return pass we basically walked on the ride, which was great, and we are very happy we got to go back and experience it. Following the ride we spent a little more time walking through that section of the park before heading back towards the center.

We are both fans of the museum/history type things at the parks, and next on our list of things to do was walk through the exhibit and watch the short film at Walt Disney Presents.

After the show, we exited the theater and made our way back down Sunset Boulevard to get in line for a second round at Tower.

Around that time we were able to check in for our dinner reservation for the Hollywood Brown Derby. The food was exactly as I was expecting, and I was surprised by how loud it was in there (especially after how quiet Le Cellier was the day before). We did get a booth on the edge of the main dining room, and overall had a great experience!

Once we left the restaurant we wandered the shops on Hollywood Boulevard and I snagged the last of the souvenirs I wanted from this park.

As far as attractions, we decided to end our night with one more round on Rise of Resistance. Since it was so late in the night, we stopped in the Storm Trooper room and took a picture.

While we were in line for Rise, mom discussed wanting ice cream, so we decided to go to the stand just outside of Tower.

After our ice cream, we wandered back down Sunset Boulevard and then up Hollywood Boulevard to the park exit. We boarded the Skyliner and made our return trip back to our hotel for the night, and along the way got to see the Epcot ball lit up.

Friday, October 8

Friday we had planned to be a slow day of packing and going out to Disney Springs to get final souvenirs. We got up as we woke up (which if you know my mom and I, you know that means we still woke up at the crack of dawn).

After getting ready we made our way over to get breakfast and then got on a bus to be at Disney Springs as early as we could. We started our morning by going to the Lego Store since the mini castles had been released the day before. We managed to get one for each of us and then made our way to Starbucks, the Disney Store, and wandered over to check out Uniqlo (which I got a bunch of new clothes at).

We finished up our shopping for the day and went back to Polite Pig for lunch – again opting for a collection of sides to make up a meal. After lunch we took the bus back to the hotel and started packing for the travel day that was to follow.

Saturday, October 9th

With our flight time being a little later in the morning and a confirmed Magical Express Shuttle time of 8:00a, we got up, finished packing, and got breakfast before making our way to the front of the hotel where the shuttle pickup was.

You may find yourself wondering why our return trip get it’s own day marker at this point in the storytelling and you’re about to find out why.

We arrived at airport around 8:30, gathered our luggage, and made our way to the ticket counter to check our bags. When we got to the counters, it was immediately apparent that the mass flight cancellations of the day before had not been handled by any of the carriers. It was to the fault of exactly 0 of the humans we saw or interacted with, and that also does not make it any less stressful. I am thankful that everyone involved in the ticketing area seemed to uniformly understand that the situation was not in anyone standing in that room’s control and treated people as such, which was nice.

We had opted for first class and the Sky Priority line was essentially just as long as the standard queue. The line we were in did not move for nearly 45 minutes and it took us an hour and a half to get our bags just dropped off. I had not had a true anxiety attack in a public place in nearly a decade and that situation was enough to do it.

Once we got through that line we made it to TSA and thankfully made it through in less than 10 minutes. We got to the gate around the same time they started boarding, so it all worked out (it would have either way), and that was appreciated. However, we did sit on the plane door closed for 40 min and that made our connection that was originally had an hour and a half window have a boarding time window.

We did end up making our next flight, as did our luggage, and made it home safely that afternoon.

to be continued with misc. information & thoughts….

Walt Disney World – Part 1

This year has been beyond full of unexpected twists and turns, and far busier than I had anticipated. I am happy to be back to writing and excited about the topic that sparked it! Without much more of an introduction, let’s get to it:

Levi flew out to Phoenix the weekend before my mom and I were set to go to Disney World to help me pack and prep the house to be gone for 17 days.

As per usual operating rhythm with trips, we had a couple of date things set up. One of these was getting up and going to the Phoenix Zoo with coffee during the member’s only hour and walking the park looking at animals (as is becoming a standard part of our Phoenix trip routine). Another was getting reservations at Undertow – an effort to get our tiki themed bar fix in the interim while Trader Sam’s is not an option.

On Wednesday, Sept 29th we drove from Phoenix to Fresno with Shay in tow. She was the neediest baby alternating who’s shoulder she was resting her head on between naps.

I used the next few days to knock out a few appointments, visit with family, and do both my mom’s nails and my own (since COVID I have been doing dip gel myself at home).

Saturday, October 2nd

My dad and brother dropped my mom and me off at the airport in Fresno first thing in the morning. We had a layover in Salt Lake City and then were on our way to Orlando. Prior to our trip I had finally caved and bought a Kindle, and I must say that is one of the best decisions I have made.

When we arrived in Orlando, we gathered our luggage and moved to the Magical Express. We had a great time and appreciated this service, and with Disney discontinuing it at the end of the year, I’m interested to see how the paid options pan out.

We opted to stay at Disney’s Pop Century Resort which was the perfect choice for us. We did not want a rental car and knew we would need to rely on Disney Parks transportation. We also wanted to be centrally located. Pop Century has buses and access to the Skyliner, and both were perfect.

When we got to our hotel, I had our room number on the app and our Magic Bands were already set up as our room keys, so we got our luggage off the bus and got to go straight to our room. We got semi unpacked and went to the main building of the hotel to get food.

We also took a little time that evening to wander around the hotel property.

Sunday, October 3rd

We got up and went to the main building food court so I could snag my Mickey Waffles. Once we wrapped up breakfast, we gathered what we needed for the first part of the morning and started exploring.

We started by going over to Art of Animation – accessed by crossing the bridge over Hourglass Lake and passing the Loading Dock for the Skyliner – to explore that hotel. The way that hotel was set up brought me so much joy.

Once we walked the property of Art of Animation we went to the Skyliner and boarded. We ended up taking a trip to Hollywood Studios and then back to the hotel.

After doing a little more exploring that way, we decided to go to Disney Springs to preview what was there.

We ate lunch at Polite Pig which was AH-mazing.

In the afternoon, we returned to our room and got ready to take the Skyliner to the Riviera Resort to see the mosaics.

Monday, October 4th

Monday was our first in-park day and one of two park days where we would need to rely on the bus system for transportation.

We arrived at Animal Kingdom during the early entry hours for folks staying at the resorts. We stopped at a couple of photo spots and got some good pictures in, and then made our way to Pandora.

The first ride we did for the day was Flight of Passage knowing full well it was 3D and that we both ran the risk of having motion sickness. We only had to wait a little over an hour and it was so worth they hype and the wait, however we definitely needed something a little calmer after that.

We worked our way back through Pandora and went to the Na’vi River ride. Once we made it through that ride we made our way over to the Starbucks near Discovery Island before moving towards Dino Land USA for Dinosaur.

Once we rode Dinosaur, I wanted to trek to Expedition Everest. My mom was such a trooper and on this ride came one of the best quotes of the trip.

We made it to the point of the track where the whole train is angled up and comes to a stop where the track looks like it has been pulled up by the Yeti. There was a child in front of us that said “oh, this is the part where it goes backwards!” and my poor, sweet mom who did not know what she had gotten herself into started yelling “What!? NO NO NO NO” as we switched and flew backwards. Clearly it didn’t scar her too much because we ended up doing the ride again later in the day.

After Expedition Everest it was time for food, and we decided to mobile order from the Satu’li Canteen. Mom got the Cheeseburger Steamed Pods and I got Combination Bowl.

After lunch we wandered over and got in line for the Kilimanjaro Safari. Once we got off of the Safari truck we took the Rafiki Train on a full loop before deciding it was high time for Dole Whip.

After Dole Whip we wandered back over to Pandora so I could buy a puzzle. We also got alcoholic beverages and found a place to sit where we could talk through the game-plan for the next day. After we sat for awhile we wandered towards Expedition Everest for it’s 2nd run, and took our time walking through Discovery Island as we did so.

We had a dinner reservation for 4p at Tiffins Restaurant, and when it was our time we made our way over.

Yes, I am being that person and uploading a picture of food. I would eat there and order this again in a heartbeat.

Overall, we could have started our day a little later in Animal Kingdom and still gotten to everything we wanted to. As it was, we left the park early and the only thing we did not do that we had on our list of potentials was see the Tree of Life lit up at night, though we don’t regret missing that.

Tuesday, October 5th

In-Park Day 2 of our trip showed us that mindset is everything. Our day started off with us in a broken-down bus on the side of the highway. The bad news: it was hot in the bus. The good news: we were in the ‘fun’ part of the bus, in true Disney fashion we had replacements in ~5 min, and we still made it to the park in time for park open (not rope drop).

First order of business once we were in Magic Kingdom was to knock out the key 3 pictures:

I cannot get over how long my mom’s hair is or how dang happy she is.

With our pictures at the Park Gates, on Main Street, & in front of the Castle out of the way, we made our way to the Seven Dwarves Mine Train.

Between our morning bus delays, pictures, and the wait for Mine Train, it was time for the first coffee of the day around 10:30a. I have never been so grumpy to wait for coffee in my life and I regret not stopping at a coffee cart prior to that adventure.

Once I had coffee in hand and refilled our waters, it was time to see The Mansion.

I personally like the style of the exterior of the mansion in Disneyland more, however the ride portion of the WDW rendition holds the new spot to beat in my heart. I don’t know if I loved the library or the staircase room more, and can say they are both reasons why Magic Kingdom is my favorite of the two. Once we got off the ride, I got pictures in front of the building, and mom and I wandered through the shop just outside the queue.

Following that, it was time for lunch, and we once again opted to mobile order. We ordered Lobster Rolls from Columbia Harbor House and sat upstairs in that building. I must say, Disneyland can hide some people, but Walt Disney World can make them disappear into buildings you don’t even think are able to be the size they are.

Once we finished eating, we went on The Little Mermaid ride (which is identical to the one in DCA). On my “required rides” list I had the PeopleMover, so once we were done with Ariel we wandered toward Tomorrowland. It moved faster and had a much longer track than I was anticipating, and none of that is a complaint!

After the PeopleMover we wandered over to Carousel of Progress and then went to the Monsters Inc. Comedy Show. From there, we crossed to the other side of the park and went on Pirates. While on that side of the park we also went to Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain.

After Big Thunder we made our way to First Aid near the park entrance as I had not properly bandaged the burn I got on my wrist Sunday afternoon curling my hair – to add to the fun, the burn was where my Apple Watch band sits.

While there we poked on over to City Hall to pester our favorite Guest Relations cast member:

Next up, I got a Churro and my mom and I headed back to Haunted Mansion for our 2nd round on the ride.

Around the time we got off of Haunted Mansion, the Taylor family was getting off of the Mine Train, so we met them behind the castle. That day it was Traci’s birthday, and we had planned to see them that day anyway. The last time we had seen Traci was when she and Tyler were in Disneyland at the same time we were back in June 2018. To add to the fun, Tyler and his fiancée Katelynn flew out from Alaska to surprise Traci!

Once we had spent a little time catching up with them, my mom and I went to the Mine Train for the 2nd time that day. It was once again time for food and we mobile ordered Mac & Cheese w/ Bacon Hot Dogs and I have 0 shame about that.

After we ate, we decided to go for one more round on Haunted Mansion and since it was now dusk, we wandered over to see Rapunzel’s Tower with the lanterns lit up.

We decided to close out our night by riding Mine Train one more time because my mom and I are absolutely the people who like to “experience it at night, too.”

On our way out of the park, we stopped at the Emporium for final purchases of the day before finding our bus and going back to the hotel for the night.

Days 3 & 4 in park and our trip home to be continued in Part 2…

Relationships with Alcohol

**This post was inspired by a text I sent to one of my best friends on 6.8.21**

Tonight I’m thankful I took control of my alcohol consumption patterns in college and basically cut it out for a while early on in my 20’s. Not only did it make me feel physically ill (not drunk or hungover, legitimate adverse impacts on my health), but the behaviors associated were enough to raise an eyebrow for me internally.

Part of my homework from my therapist the past two weeks has been to be deliberate about self care, and I took it a step further by setting the expectation that I keep a daily self care journal of sorts to go with it. Friendly reminder to the reader that self care is about the intent, not the activity.

Today felt like some next level bullsh*t. Even though it was very non-catastrophic it was still very emotionally taxing, and I knew exactly what would feed my soul and give me the level of self care I needed. I opted to eat a sizable homemade burrito and sip on Jameson.

Whiskey has always been my happy beverage. I genuinely enjoy sipping on it (also Bourbon and Scotch). However, I fully recognize that if I didn’t check my levels of consumption and intent behind consumption in college, I would probably be in a present day situation where I am forced to live completely dry. I am thankful I paid attention to my own patterns early on. I am thankful I have been very aware of all of my pattern based behavioral tendencies for a long time. I am even more thankful to be aware of what patterns can lead to. I fully recognize that I have a degree of OCD that heavily manifests in patterned behavior, and that could quickly lead to an addiction.

I am thankful for the self-awareness I had years ago, and I am thankful for the relationship I’m able to hold with alcohol today. I’m thankful that I’m able to truly drink whiskey (yes, straight whiskey) with my partner and not worry about patterned consumption. I’m thankful that I’m able to keep shelves fully stocked with various alcohols and have the distinct thought of “I wonder how long it will take me to get through that all?” that lands on the side of “hopefully before it goes bad.” I’m thankful I know and respect my limits. I’m thankful to be able to enjoy specific types of alcohol because I genuinely enjoy specific types of alcohol.

I know that I’m not alone in a potential struggle.

I know that I am human.

I know I am thankful.

Disclaimers Moving Forward

When I started this blog I intended it to be a longer form of sharing my sewing projects, fun events and trips, as well as what might now be considered “hot takes.” It has taken a few different forms since 2016 when I posted for the first time, and after all that time, I finally feel comfortable in my direction for this personal project. I will continue to share my life, my trips, and what makes me happy. Along the way, that will also include some informative pieces. 

I will be writing a bit on relationships, though this will mostly be on relationship structure, rather than my actual interpersonal relationships. I will be writing about trips as I slowly start to go places again (spoiler, one will be on a trip to Disney World this year). I will write as I move into a home and develop that aesthetic for myself. I will be sharing my truths and, as necessary, about events that have shaped me hoping someone who might be going through something similar silently finds peace knowing they aren’t alone. An example of that is when I posted Boudoir & Boob-iversary – I met my exact goal with that post and I’m so proud of that.

If I choose to post about a more personal topic, please know that I am not doing so seeking advice. I have a therapist, as do almost all of the people closest to me. My therapist is a trained and experienced professional in the type of life I am living. I am also not interested in advice if you are not privy to the deeper details of my life and have no experience (or at least attempted education) in the topics that relate to me.

I have spent too much time concerning myself with the opinions of others and living my life in fear of being on the receiving end of backlash for not fitting in someone else’s box. I refuse to live the rest of my life in fear of someone else’s parameters for their own life. I will be filtering blog comments for that and tightening my social media platforms because of it. 

Please do not misunderstand – if you have a differing opinion, I welcome that. It is the unsolicited advice, bigotry, and willfully ignorant commentary that I am referring to. If the way I relate to the people & world around me does not *directly* impact your life or the ability to live your life the way you want to, I do not need criticisms on how I’m living mine. If it does directly impact your life, then I’m all ears.

If you have a question, ask respectfully and I will give you a respectful answer in return. If you want to ask something but don’t know how, please preface your question with that and we will work through fleshing out what you’re wanting to know more about together. I am more than happy to do that, and welcome it because it also helps strengthen our communication.

That being said, if you do know me personally and don’t feel comfortable asking me about aspects of my life, I ask that you take a moment to reflect on why that might be. If your lack of comfort stems from it being a new or uncomfortable topic for you, I would hope I have created an open enough dialogue with you in other places that you would feel comfortable expressing discomfort that is not for a lack of compassion. If your lack of comfort is because we aren’t close anymore and the thoughts behind it tie back to a variation of “do I even know her?” in response to something you’re reading, please contemplate conversations we have had that may have resulted in my withholding personal information. This is meant in no malicious way, it is something I evaluate myself with different relationships in my life and I feel it’s something too many people don’t take time to consider. If that is something you wish to change, that is another conversation I’m more than willing to have – all I ask is that you keep in mind why I might not have been comfortable initiating it myself.

All I want in this life is to be happy and fulfilled, and see the people around me experiencing happiness and fulfillment in whatever way best fits them and does not infringe on some else’s ability to pursue the same for themself. What works for me does not work for everyone, but it’s also important to note that what works for many of my friends does not work for me. To be transparent, what works for most of my friends is outright unhealthy for me. My goal here is to share positivity, reality, happiness, and in some cases to share different ways to achieve that happiness, while also hearing and respecting others.

I have fought for myself, my happiness, and my life as I currently know it. It has been hard, but it has been worth it. Happiness is not worth sacrificing.

The White Picket Fence

**This is a re-post, updated to better articulate my feelings in some areas. Original post date 8/2/17**

**re-post to the re-post date is 1/2/2021, updates are either a strikethrough or written in this lovely shade of navy. I love the original premise of this, but it needs some updating**

Normally I don’t do “rant” posts, but this is one. I don’t know if there will be enough of these to technically have a “series” of rants, and they will only appear when I see fit. In this and all cases of rant posts by me, they are not meant to be political, there will be generalizations made for the sake of the underlying frustration fueling the post, and I’m not writing these as any kind of attack on anyone in particular. This (and any rant post that may come in the future) is a topic that has been weighing heavily on me and that I felt compelled to share my honest opinions about. Now that I’ve gotten through the disclaimer, it’s time for the rant..

Society as we know it is ever-changing and has come a long way (relatively) from where it was even 100 years ago. Among other things, women can vote, LGBTQ (and others I’m missing) persons are increasingly free to live their lives openly, and self expression via tattoos, piercings, and unnatural hair colors is becoming more commonplace. Despite that, there is still this expectation of what I call the “white picket fence.”

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been put in boxes by strangers and those that know me alike because of my natural blonde hair, demeanor that seems to exude “sunshine,” and God given intelligence. I grew up going to church, and from an early age it was instilled (*not* at the fault of my parents) in me that my future would look something like the following scenario: I would get a college education of at least a Bachelor’s degree, meet a good Christian man, likely a business man or engineer, have a wedding featuring a Pinterest worthy church ceremony, and have a few kids. It’s likely I could work part time, so long as I was able to be a “good little wife” and I would spend most of my time keeping up our house with the “white picket fence.”

For some people, that works. For them, that’s great. Where my issue lies is with the expectation for myself and other girls like me to have ambition and be educated, free-thinkers, but that we’re also expected to “fall in line.” To me, it’s all too Stepford-y (yes, that’s a link to a Wikipedia page).

I’ll go ahead and start with religion. Religion can be great, but it can also be the cause of literal war. I believe what I believe, and I choose to carry out my faith/beliefs in a way that make sense to me. Through the course of my dating life, I have learned that religion is not something I need in a relationship. I know that some of my readers will need a moment to digest that, but it’s my truth and I have want to be honest about it. I have been in religiously based relationships that have been severely dysfunctional, not to mention very awkward and forced. I have been in relationships lacking religion entirely that have been very open and rational. I prefer my romantic relationships not be based in religion, and I even encourage they lack religion. I like knowing where the other person stands, and how they got to that point. That tells me more about their character, personality, and integrity than how many Sundays they attend a year. The only common ground I require in this topic is respect in each other’s views and respect for the journey to that place.

Revered occupations come next. I’m all for educating yourself, following through with school, and doing what you can do to move up. However, education, schooling, and progress can be seen in any field (albeit to differing degrees), and I would much rather my partner be successful while doing something that makes them happy and feel fulfilled than have some high paying desk job that literally sucks their soul. Yes, high paying desk job and fulfillment can come together, but that is not the norm.

Pinterest worthy wedding time – I’m all for pretty and photo worthy, but there are a few issues with this. Marriage should first and foremost be about the commitment, not the aesthetic. In reality, I’m pretty close to sold on the idea of a courthouse wedding. Despite how many I’ve attended or been in, weddings are strange to me. I support marriage between two people who wholly care for and are committed to one another, but large weddings make me uncomfortable because of how intimate and significant a marriage is; in this day and age, I feel we invite far too many people to witness this intimacy and almost expect inappropriate comments to be sprinkled throughout in regards to “wifely duties.” No thank you. Not for me.

Marriage is about respect and partnership, and I feel that many weddings tend to gloss over that in favor of highlighting the “shackling” commitment being made and the newfound expectations of sex to please the husband.

Through the last few years, I have realized a lot about myself, and that includes extreme codependence that is exacerbated in cohabitation situations, and toxicity around money/co-mingling of funds specifically. I do not see myself cohabitating with anyone for more than a few weeks (so vacationing) or remarrying. That’s not to say I will not have significant partnerships, but they absolutely will not be “traditional” in the sense society praises. In the coming months, I am going to do a whole separate blog post about my personal realizations on marriage & relationships as they apply to me. 

Children. As long as I can remember, I felt like I was expected to have kids (after getting married, of course). I cannot wait for my friends to start having kids, but I am in no rush to do so myself, and am certain that my life is not hinging on whether or not I’m a biological mother to other humans. Never say never, but kids don’t make my short list (unless they’re goats) of things to do.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time explaining what I don’t want, so I think it’s only fair that I share what I do want. My idea of a fulfilling life more closely resembles the following: owning a bunch of land with a modest house, having a husband who works hard for what he wants partners who work hard for what they want and support me working towards my goals, spending nearly all my free time traveling, and caring for a small zoo’s worth of animals. I’m sure a fence will be involved, but that’s to corral the animals.

My life goals include seeing and doing as many things as I can in my life, and none of them are conducive to coming second to someone else’s whims or being reliant on someone else for financial allowances.

The world is filled with different ideas and expectations for the “right” way to live your life, and I’ve only covered one niche (middle-class, cis-, heterosexual, Christian, in America). At the end of the day, if you’re happy, not infringing on someone else’s ability to live their life the way they want to, and you’re being a generally good person, does it really matter what “right” looks like?

Disneyland for Grandma’s 80th Birthday

When I moved back to California, I wanted to have more time for Disney trips, so I made it. The more I shared my adventures with my grandma, supplemented by my mom’s experiences in the park, the more vocal grandma got about wanting to go to Disneyland herself. In 2017 we decided that we would take her for her 80th birthday that was in August of that year.

Unfortunately, that fall stayed too hot, and by the time it cooled down enough for us to be comfortable taking her, the holiday madness in the parks started. With that, we decided to make the trip in the spring. We opted for the period of time after spring breaks ended and before Grad Nite season started. This meant our trip would have to take place in the last two weeks of April.

In planning this trip, we decided that we would dedicate Monday to driving down, Tuesday and Wednesday to being in the parks, and that Thursday would be for driving home. We also went into the trip with a list of pictures we knew we wanted, food we wanted to try, and rides that were important. We are proud to say we accomplished everything on our lists!

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Everybody loaded in the Subaru ready to go to Disneyland

My mom and I picked up grandma at her house just before 10 a.m. on Monday, April 23rd. From there, we made our trek down to Anaheim. Quite a few stops were made along the way, and we finally made it down to the hotel just before 3 p.m.

For this trip with grandma, we decided to really splurge and stay at the Grand Californian – proximity to the parks, bell/valet services, room service, and amenities played a big role in our decision here. Of the Disneyland Resort hotels, this one truly is my favorite.. since the room renovations, the showers are to die for!

Once we got settled in the room, the three of us went into Downtown Disney for dinner. We made our own “family style” experience at La Brea Bakery, and it was just the right amount for each of us.

From dinner, we made our way through Downtown, pausing to go into some of the shops. We made it to the other end and found our next destination: Trader Sam’s.

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Despite it being around 6:30 or so, we lucked into a table inside! This meant grandma got to experience the activities that accompany some of the drinks (for those who are unfamiliar, this includes brief changes in lighting, yelling by the bartenders, and other special effects).

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Teacup chair by registration for the Disneyland Hotel.

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When we left Trader Sam’s, my mom wanted to go into the lobby of the Disneyland Hotel to see their teacup chairs. This was a brief detour because by this point we were all very tired from the traveling of the day. We made it to the room and called it a night shortly after.

In the Parks – Day 1:

The next morning we all got up early and started getting ready while we waited for room service to arrive. During our trip the parks closed a little earlier and opened a little later – this kept us from having to rush ourselves and grandma first thing in the morning, and kept us from staying in the parks too late.

We were at the entrance to Disneyland about a half an hour before the park officially opened. After getting through the gates, we took advantage of the fact that the park wasn’t technically open yet and wandered through the Emporium that sits on the corner near the City Hall at the start of Main Street.

After stopping to look in the shop, we made our way down Main Street to get castle pictures before it got crowded.

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We crossed the bridge into Fantasyland and went to Snow White’s Scary Adventures. When we finished there, we decided to move on to the Mad Tea Party, which grandma got a kick out of!

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When we finished our spin on the teacups, grandma expressed interest in the Matterhorn, and after mom and I weighed the pros and cons (i.e. how jerky it is, the lack of real padding, etc.) we decided to get in line.

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She ended up liking that one too!

When we were done there, mom wanted one of the chocolate churros that are a limited feature for Pixar Fest inspired by Coco (which I still haven’t seen), so we stopped at the churro cart in Frontierland. Once the churros were consumed, we went to Adventureland to do the Jungle Cruise.

Following the cruise, we made our way through New Orleans Square. While walking through the square, we witnessed a proposal at one of the caricature stands, which was adorable! Once we had passed through, grandma and I made our way to Haunted Mansion while mom waited elsewhere. When the ride was done, we met with mom where I waited in line for one of those Toy Story Alien popcorn buckets.

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I kept referring to him as my child, since he is about the size of an infant

That day we had reservations at Carnation Cafe for lunch, which was phenomenal! From there, we headed across Main Street to the silhouette shop.

The silhouettes at Disneyland have to be one of my favorite souvenirs, and I’m so glad my mom brought up wanting to do one while we were in the parks with grandma.

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Left to right: me, mom, grandma

It had been a long day already, so we started our trek to the hotel so that at the very least, grandma could have some down time. On our way back to our hotel, we stopped in World of Disney, followed by the Starbucks Reserve in Downtown.

Once we got grandma back into the hotel room, I decided to look at ride wait times for some of the more intense rides that were not a particularly great idea to try and take grandma on. At that point in time, the wait time for Guardians of the Galaxy was allegedly only 45 minutes. I decided I was going to go, and I knew mom wanted to as well, so we left grandma to rest and wandered into the park (which was particularly convenient coming from the Grand Californian).

Turns out the wait time was closer to 90 minutes, which was okay overall because grandma got to really rest. When we finally got through the ride, we made our way back to the hotel room to pick up grandma so we could head back into California Adventure with her.

Our first ride stop when we were back into the park was the Little Mermaid ride. After that, we decided to take grandma on the Silly Symphony Swings. She LOVED those – they would end up being the only repeat ride with grandma the whole trip.

From the swings, we moved on to Cars Land as it was nearing dusk. The only ride we did in Cars Land that day was Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters. After our ride, mom wanted a Neapolitan shake from Flo’s V8 Cafe. We walked through Cars Land with the lights on, and I made sure we walked around the back side of Flo’s toward the wharf so that grandma could see they way that the Cadillac Range gets lit up at night (a personal favorite of mine).

We got back to the hotel relatively early that night, which was good because it was a long day. According to my phone, we had walked just over 5 miles that day.

In the Parks – Day 2

Day 2 of fun in the parks started similarly to day 1 in that we got room service and went to Disneyland first. We only had one objective for that park when they opened at 9 a.m. – get a picture with the Mickey flowers in front of the train station.

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After we got our picture, we hit California Adventure. Once through the park gates, I took our park tickets and got FastPasses for Radiator Springs Racers while mom and grandma took their time walking up Buena Vista Street. From there, they met me at the entrance to Cars Land so we could get a picture with the Buzz and Woody cars by the “Welcome” sign.

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With our picture taken care of we made our way to Toy Story Midway Mania, which only had a 5 minute wait time. Once that ride was marked off the list, we made our way back around the pier the long way (construction is still heavily underway) to the swings so grandma could ride them again.

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Mom and grandma went on their way to do Soarin’ and I made my way to the Starbucks location in the park. When we met back up, we headed towards Hollywood Land. On our way to our next destination, we took a little detour to take a picture by a mosaic wall near Schmoozies, ride Mike and Sulley to the Rescue (a ride mom and I had never been on) because grandma likes Monsters Inc, and to grab a hot dog.

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Around that time was our return time for our Radiator Springs Racers FastPasses, so we made our way there through Bug’s Land so that grandma could experience that. Mom and I also paused to get FastPasses for a second round of Guardians later that afternoon. Following our race, I wandered to the Cozy Cone for a bacon mac & cheese cone and my mom went back to Flo’s for another Neapolitan shake which grandma had a little bit of.

At that point, we had finished most of what we wanted to do in California Adventure, so we headed back across the plaza to Disneyland. Our first order of business in the park was to take the railroad on a round trip. Once we made it back, we walked up main street and got pictures in our Minnie ears with the “Partners” statue.

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That day was particularly warm, so we made our way towards Adventureland to get some Dole Whip and sit through a Tiki Room show. After the show we walked across the park to the Monorail. We rode the Monorail to Downtown Disney, and made a stop in the new Disney Home Store as we made our way from the station to the hotel.

With grandma at the hotel to rest once more, mom and I made our way back to California Adventure for our Guardians FastPass return. After the ride we got back to the hotel (much faster than the day before) and gathered grandma to get dinner.

We walked back to the park entrance of Disneyland and jumped on the train for a 3/4 trip to Tomorrowland. Dinner was at Pizza Planet (which is fantastic rebranding in my opinion) where mom got pasta and grandma and I got slices of pizza. Mom also got one of the Alien macaroons. After dinner, we got back on the train to go to Main Street and head back to the hotel.

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Based on my phone’s tracker, we walked just over 6 miles the second in-park day of our trip.

We had room service delivered Thursday morning before we left and were thankful for bell services to help us get our stuff back down to the car. As might be anticipated with typical LA traffic, it took us an hour and a half to get the 30 miles from Anaheim to Downtown LA. We ended up making it home in just about 5 hours.

We all had a great trip to Disneyland, and I’m so grateful that I have those memories with my mom and grandma!

My Revolt Story

Ink Master has been among my favorite competition shows since it’s inception, and in 2014 it introduced me to a few tattoo artists I have dreamed of being tattooed by. One of these artists is Season 4’s runner-up Walter “Sausage” Frank. Since Ink Master, he relocated to Las Vegas and opened a shop, Revolt Tattoos, with Season 3 winner Joey Hamilton (another truly gifted artist). I have driven through the area numerous times since the shop opened, but I had yet to find a design nor actually set foot in the shop. His tattoos are striking, bold, and legible photorealistic designs, and I knew someday I would find myself wanting something sizable, detailed, and meaningful enough to contact him. I also knew my Revolt story would happen organically, when it should, but I never could have guessed what the price of that inspiration would be.

After Colin died, I knew I was going to get something tattooed on my body in remembrance of him, and initially I was decided on red roman numerals on my side of his date of death. Later, after his mom found a zoo worth of owls in his room, my plan changed. I started my artist search around Fresno, but realized that anyone who could accomplish the photorealism that I wanted would be expensive and I would have to wait. It then dawned on me that if I was going to be paying as much as I was and waiting as long as I would be, I might as well go to one of my “dream” artists.

I first contacted the shop in December 2016. I filled out the basic contact form, explaining my flexibility in timeline and in design so long as there was a photorealistic owl. Additionally, I was open to color so long as it was mostly neutral toned. For how much I like to be in control, I was pretty open about what the tattoo would look like.

Through our communication, an appointment was booked for me to come in on October 3, 2017 at 10 a.m.

From the inception of the idea, I decided I was going to make a small trip out of this appointment. I chose to not fly for a number of reasons, but fortunately for me, I have made the drive between Fresno and Vegas half a dozen times and find it relatively easy.

As it turned out, Emily’s bridal shower was the Saturday before near Pasadena, so it made sense for me to go down then, stay in the LA area, and then head to Las Vegas from there (my last post, “SoCal Adventures,” details that part of the trip). As it turned out, I made my way to Las Vegas on October 2nd.

October 2nd in Las Vegas turned out to be a dramatically different day than I had planned. The original itinerary I had included going to the Luxor to see the Bodies Exhibit, and possibly walking The Strip. With the shooting the night before, everything was closed and eerie, so I loitered in LA a little while longer than intended. I took myself to breakfast at Twisted Sage, a place my darling Sarynna had showed me on my trip with her to Azusa nearly a month before. From there, I headed into Vegas, drove past the Strip on I-15 before getting off the freeway, after which I checked into and sat in my hotel room for awhile before heading to a Yard House that was south of The Strip right off the freeway.

The following day, I had my appointment which was far and away the most well documented tattooing experience I have ever had.

My mom and aunt drove into Vegas that morning from Fresno, arriving at the hotel around 9 a.m. They ate breakfast, took their stuff to the room, and then we made our way to Revolt.

I met Walter Frank for the first time just after 10 a.m. as we discussed in more detail what I was looking for. Through our talks and looking at pictures, we decided moving the image to my hip from my side would be a better decision as far as fit, size, and longevity were concerned. This move required me to change out of the yoga pants and athletic shirt I had originally worn to the shop and into a dress which would allow easier access to my hip.

Almost 2 hours later, we had a sketch, he prepped his station, and we were ready to apply the stencil.

Checking fit/size vs. my body

Walter’s Station

The shop offers live streams of their tattoos, so I took this opportunity to share the link to Walter’s station so that friends and family not present could watch the process unfold.

The course of the next 5 1/2 hours consisted of lots of tattooing, lots of jokes about ass, and walking breaks. I’ve included the “progression” pictures below:

**BLOOD WARNING**

I wanted the owl’s eyes to be Colin’s eyes. For those of you who are unfamiliar, his eyes were a dark brown that became a vibrant green in direct light. The group present acted as voting committee of how to best do them in the likeness of his eyes as to not get too muddy with the black of the outline and the pupils. We opted for a green color toward the center, becoming brown at the edges.

Applying the wrap that would cover it for the next 4 days

Walter was such a great artist to sit for. He humored our questions, sass, and the emotions associated with what we were there for for nearly 6 hours that day.

Whole gang post-tattoo

We ended up leaving the shop around 6 p.m., heading to Yard House for dinner. That evening was highly emotional, and we were all spent by the time we got to dinner. We all were asleep by 9 p.m.

The day following my appointment, we all made the drive back to Fresno.

I am so happy with my experience and the end result. This trip helped create a small light in an otherwise grim situation. As much as I don’t like the fact that my reason for going to Walter was to memorialize Colin, there is no one I would have rather had as my artist.

3 1/2 weeks later