Archive for month: November, 2011

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Sitting at the Feet of Greatness

29 Nov
November 29, 2011

With this week’s Wordless Wednesday theme focusing on the Muppets, I knew exactly which picture I wanted to use. The quality of the picture is horrible but I still love it, because I’m sitting at the feet of Greatness! :)

The park formerly known as MGM Studios - June 2008

Click on the image below to see some other great Disney pictures in this week’s Wordless Wednesday blog hop!

Focused on the Magic

Giving Thanks!

24 Nov
November 24, 2011

  • My family (the ones I live with):This is probably pretty obvious, but it is so true. We just spent a few days up at my parents’ house in the mountains as a mini “staycation” and while there were a few grumpy moments, we shared a LOT of laughs, some good relaxation and a little bit of healthy competition (I won Phase 10 AND pinball. HA! :) ) Thank you for helping me enjoy this life to the fullest!
  • My family (the ones I don’t live with): From my mother-in-law who watched our dog while we went to the mountains, to my mom who came over to check on our house while we were gone, to my sister who encouraged me to start blogging, to those relatives that live in North Carolina and Georgia that I don’t see enough, I have a great extended family and I am truly blessed for all the help and support I get from them throughout the year. Thank you!
  • My coworkers: I know you probably don’t hear this very often, but honestly, my company kicks a**. While there are occasional bad days, I can always count on my coworkers to make me smile, and I honestly count them all as “family”. We laugh, cry, fight and celebrate just like any other family I know. Thank you to all of you for getting me through the day with a laugh or a smile.
  • My home:

    Rocky Mountain National Park, outside of Estes Park, CO

    I take it for granted a lot, I think, but we really live in a beautiful state. Although we don’t have an ocean nearby (something Colorado Dad reminds me of EVERY DAY), we have the mountains. And they ARE beautiful. I hope to always have Colorado in my life.

And finally:

  • My friends: Whether I have known you since kindergarten or have just met you virtually for the first time, I am so grateful to all of you. No matter how well I know you, you are part of a group that actually knows me the best and give me encouragement and support, no matter what –  for that I am so thankful. I’m looking forward to expanding all my friendships in 2012!

So, to all that I am thankful for in my life, Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that your celebrations are full of love, thanks, good food and great friends!

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Thanks for the Memories

23 Nov
November 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday theme: Thanks for the Memories!

I am so thankful for all my trips to Disney parks and cruise ships. Each trip provides us with great memories that we will always look back on very fondly. Click through the slideshow below to see some of our favorite Disney memories.

Click on the image below to see some other great Disney pictures in this week’s Wordless Wednesday blog hop!

Focused on the Magic

A look back to 1991: Beauty and the Beast released 20 years ago this week

22 Nov
November 22, 2011

Wow, has it REALLY been 20 years since Beauty and the Beast was first released? In November 1991, I was about to turn 16 and, if you ask my parents, I was probably pretty far from acting like a “princess” at that point (I WAS a teenager after all!) :)

I don’t remember exactly what day I went to see Beauty and the Beast or even who I went with, but I do remember that from the opening song, I was pretty much taken with it all. Belle was different than the princesses I grew up with – dark-haired, booksmart, a bit of an outcast and not willing to put up with crap from the first cute guy she saw. For the first time ever, I related to a Disney character and could see myself in her place. I had loved the Disney princess characters before her, but it was hard for me to visualize myself in their shoes when I had never been a princess shunned by her step-mother, a well-to-do girl who has lost her father, or even, a mermaid (no, I have NEVER had fins…that I know of :) ). Sure, all of those characters have something that I could relate to, but Belle was just a normal girl like me.

The music was also a big part of what drew me into the movie and I listened to the soundtrack over and over and over again. A few years later, I went off to college and started working in a restaurant. One night I had to close the store with a couple other employees and an assistant manager. We always listened to music while we were working and normally it was rap or heavy metal, but that particular night, the asst. manager turned on the music and I heard “Little town, it’s a quiet village. Every day like the day before. Little town, full of little people waking up to say…” Needless to say, I was a little surprised and I went over to the mgr. and asked him about it. Come to find out, Beauty and the Beast was one of his favorite movies and the music it was some of his favorite. Well, I didn’t know it then, but I had found my “beast”, and 3 years later we were married :)

Now that I have a daughter, princesses are a part of our every day lives. While Colorado Princess pretty much likes all the princesses, she has decided her very favorite is Belle. Why, you might ask? Her answer, “Belle has brown hair and is just like me!” It’s great to see that even 20 years after it was first released, Beauty and the Beast is winning over little girls because she is so relatable!

Top 5 picks for a “kid-free” dinner at the Disneyland Resort

16 Nov
November 16, 2011

The other day I was looking through the pictures from our Disney trips this year and I realized that of the 4 Disney trips I took this year, all three of my trips to Disneyland were without kids (although one was a work trip, so probably shouldn’t count). While I love spending family vacations at Disney, going on “kid-free” trips or even getting a babysitter for the evening allows us to spend some quality time together while experiencing some of the things we don’t usually get to when the kids are with us. It helps us connect as a couple so that, quite honestly, we can be better parents! :)

To help you plan your own evening out, I thought I would share my top 5 favorite places to have a “kid-free” dinner. All of these places are still “kid-friendly” (this is Disney after all!) so you can certainly feel comfortable taking the kids along if you need to and many of these restaurants provide great kid dining experiences too.

With that, in no real order other than how they came into my head, here are my top 5 picks for a “kid-free” dinner at the Disneyland Resort.

1. Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen in the Downtown Disney district – This is our absolute “must-do” stop on every trip to Anaheim, regardless of if we’re with the kids or not. Both Colorado Dad and I are rather enamored with New Orleans, but since we don’t get to visit nearly as much as we’d like, the Jazz Kitchen is a pretty decent way to get a little bit of that N’Awlins flavor. I honestly don’t think I’ve had a bad meal here, but my favorites are the Gumbo, Jambalaya and the very rich, very decadent “must try it at least once” Double Chocolate Bread Pudding, which takes 25 minutes to prepare, so make sure to order it early! Other than the food though, there is live jazz most evenings and on Thursday nights they have dueling pianos, which is always fun. We’ve spent many a night listening to jazz and enjoying a Mint Julep long after we’ve eaten our last bites! We’ve also done the Sunday Jazz Brunch, which is great brunch food along with live jazz, although I prefer dinner.

2. Napa Rose at the Grand Californian Hotel – Another one of my favorite restaurants, not just at Disneyland, but anywhere. This truly is a fine dining experience and is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, so we usually save this for special occasions. The waitstaff is always very attentive and are perfectly happy to pace your meal as slowly as you’d like, so you can relax and enjoy your meal. Their wine selection is excellent and their seasonal menus offer delicious choices for pretty much everyone. Don’t miss their famous “best hot chocolate ever” served with mini donuts. They aren’t lying - it really IS the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had. If you can, make a reservation for the Chef’s Counter – providing you with a front row seat to watch all the action in the open kitchen. If you sit here, you also have the option of having Chef Andrew Sutton prepare dinner specially for you, based on your specific likes and dislikes. Definitely a special event treat!

3. Uva Bar at the Downtown Disney district – The Uva Bar is the outdoor bar adjacent to Catal, a Mediterranean restaurant, which I’ve heard is very good but have never actually experienced because we always just head straight to Uva Bar. This is our favorite happy hour/light dinner location, partially because we’re kind of beer snobs and this is one of the few places in Anaheim where we can get beer we like, but also because it’s a great location to sit, relax, have a bite to eat and people watch. Their olives with sea salt and peppers and trio of mediterranean dips are relatively simple, but delicious. Oh, and the bartender wears big gold “Elvis” sunglasses that always crack me up :)

4. Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel – The lure of a good steak is what brought us here the first time, but I particularly enjoy the decor, with all the dark wood and black and white photos of celebrities from the 50s adorning the walls, I feel like I’ve stepped back into the golden age of Hollywood and almost expect to see Marilyn Monroe sitting at one of the tables. The wine list is good and the steaks are very good, although not the best I’ve ever had. In my opinion, this is probably the least kid-friendly restaurant on my list, just because there is quite an upscale feel to it – even more so than at Napa Rose, but with the high-backed booths, it’s definitely a good place for a “date night”.

5. Gandhi Palace at the Ramada Plaza Hotel on the corner of W. Katella and Harbor Blvd - I just recently found this restaurant during a convention trip with a group of coworkers who didn’t want to spend all their time in Disneyland/Downtown Disney. I’m including this restaurant on my list only because my kids are crazy and don’t like Indian food, so this will ONLY be a “kid-free” meal for us, but normally, this seems to be a pretty family-friendly place. We went for dinner (lunch is a buffet, but dinner is not) and although it was a bit of a rocky start when they looked at us like we were crazy when we ordered a BOTTLE of wine, I was pleasantly surprised with our meal. The naan, both plain and garlic, was hot, plentiful and delicious and the chicken korma was some of the best I’ve ever had.

So, that’s my list, at least so far. Club 33 is on my “wish list” right now and I’m hoping to get an opportunity to eat their next year. Who knows if it will end up on my list or not, but I’ll keep you all updated! And now, I’d love to hear what your favorites are. Do you visit the same restaurants we do? Am I missing your absolute favorite? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

Wordless Wednesday: “Steamboat Willie” Mickey

16 Nov
November 16, 2011

Today’s Wordless Wednesday theme: Mickey

Here’s Colorado Boy with the “original” Mickey :)

Click on the image below to see some other great Disney pictures in this week’s Wordless Wednesday blog hop!

Fun Fact Friday: Disney’s connection to Colorado

11 Nov
November 11, 2011

While many of you may already know that Harper Goff used his childhood hometown of Ft. Collins, CO as inspiration for some of the building designs on Main Street in Disneyland, did you know that Colorado has another connection to Walt Disney and the Disney Company?

I didn’t either, until I had the pleasure of attending D23′s Destination D at Walt Disney World this year. Coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the opening of Walt Disney World, Destination D explored the history of “Project Florida” and how Walt Disney World was championed by Roy O. Disney after Walt’s passing.

My newfound trivia was discovered during a session by Walt Disney Archives founder, Dave Smith. As Dave walked through some of the early discussions about the park, he put this image up on the screen and it made me sit up a little straighter and take notice.Celebrity Sports Center

For anyone who grew up in Denver and the surrounding areas during the 70s and 80s (like me!) this was an instantly recognizable icon of awesomeness. This was Celebrity Sports Center. The indoor “theme park” in Denver where every little kid begged to have their birthday party. A mix of bowling alley, arcade and water park all rolled into one, it was one of my favorite places to visit when I was young. But, what did it have to do with Walt Disney World?

Turns out that Walt Disney was one of the original group of “Hollywood celebrity” investors who started the project in the late 1950s. This group not only included Walt and his brother Roy, but also famous folks like Jack Benny, Art Linkletter, George Burns and Burl Ives, hence the “Celebrity” part of the name. The project was very successful, and Roy continued to invest in the center even after Walt’s passing in 1966. According to Dave, it appears that Celebrity was even used as a training ground for some of the management team that eventually went to work at Walt Disney World during the early years.

The Disney connection to Celebrity Sports Center ended in the late 1970s as the company moved on to other projects but the center stayed open and remained quite popular through the 1980s. Unfortunately, it finally closed in 1994 and shortly thereafter was bulldozed to make way for a shopping center.

I have very, very fond memories of my visits to Celebrity Sports Center – from my first experience on a “scary” water slide to my killer streak at the Skee-Ball machine. Now knowing the history behind it, I guess it doesn’t surprise me at all that I loved it so much – it was my very own Colorado-based version of a Disney theme park!

During my research for this post, I came across a fabulous article about Celebrity and the Disney connection on BuckFifty.org, a site that’s chock full of interesting Denver history and trivia, that’s well worth a visit. Check it out when you have some time to spend! :)

Wordless Wednesday: First Kiss

09 Nov
November 9, 2011

Colorado Princess meeting Mickey for the first time

Why do you love Disney so much?

08 Nov
November 8, 2011

Why do you love Disney SO much?

We’re all Disney fans, so I’m sure each one of you have gotten that question from someone at least once, right? I’ve gotten it more times than I can count, so you would think I would have my answer down pat by now. But, this year, I was lucky enough to go on 6 Disney-related trips – some with my family, a few with just Colorado Dad and one on my own – so I spent a lot of time thinking about my answer.

The answer I used to give people was that a Disney vacation is my way of relaxing. While I am responsible for making sure that my family is taken care of on any given day, when I’m at Disney – whether it’s a theme park, a resort or on a cruise – I know that I am the one that will be taken care of. Granted, I always make sure I plan our vacations and have everything set before we arrive, but once I’m there, I know there are people there who want to make sure I have a fabulous time, and for the most part, I don’t have to worry about anything.

While that is absolutely true, this year, I realized it’s more than that.

I work a lot. Colorado Dad calls me a workaholic, which I don’t totally disagree with. Working at home makes it very difficult to “turn off” at the end of the day and I have been known to continue working right on into the night after the kids have gone to bed. Because of that, it’s very hard for me to just leave my “real world” behind and TRULY relax during a vacation. I love lying on a beach, listening to the waves crash on the shore as much as anyone, but inevitably, my mind begins to wander right back to the “real world” and it’s just not as relaxing as I’d like it to be. On the other hand, Disney is SO good at storytelling, SO good at submersing you into their worlds that I often go for days without thinking about work and am able to truly relax and enjoy the time spent with my family to the very fullest.

Of course, the “real world” is still very important (how else will we pay for those Disney vacations?!?!), but it’s nice to have some place where I know I can go and get away from it all and just have a good time.

So, that’s why I love Disney so much. Now, what about you? Why do YOU love Disney so much?