Where Mickey lives!

Last month we celebrated Cam’s birthday in Disneyland! We drove south on a Wednesday afternoon and somehow the estimated 6-hour drive took us 9 hours. Which, I guess actually isn’t too much of a surprise considering the multiple pitstops we made, one including a long runaround at a park for Cam to burn some energy…

We stayed at the Clementine Hotel, which was only .7 miles away from the parks, and at least half the price of staying at a Disney hotel. The Clementine was clean and still monetized Mickey, with little splashes of Disney throughout, so it felt good enough to us. We opted to stay in a 2 bedroom suite because my mom, stepdad, and little bro were excitedly joining, too.

After a takeout dinner and some HGTV (mine and Mike’s favorite hotel TV), we all went to sleep dreaming of Disney…


On Thursday, we woke up early to get there for the “rope drop” (or when the park opens, as we learned through watching Disneyland Influencers on youtube). Instead of lining up for the classic picture with Mickey’s face behind us in the grass, we went straight to the RIDES, saying we would come back for the picture later (we didn’t).

Cam hasn’t had much experience with rides, so we were a little apprehensive about how it would go. First up, we went on the Astro Orbiter, and Cam loved circling around in the little rockets. Good sign!

Next, we, unfortunately, misstepped with Astro Blasters (yes, I am googling the names of these rides…) and Pirates of the Caribbean. Both of which were “too dark and scary.” A fair assessment of both of those rides as an almost 3-year-old, in my opinion! Sorry, Cam!

We took a break after Pirates and grabbed lunch at Bengal Barbecue. The best food place in Disney if you’re asking me! We all got skewers with rice, hummus, and veg plates which felt pretty elite for amusement park food.

Jungle Cruise was after, which Cam enjoyed, and veered us back in the “rides are fun” lane. We got pineapple ice cream in the tiki room after and Cam LOVED both the ice cream and the tiki room. All the electronic birds singing and dancing were the biggest hit. We have the cutest video of him just going crazy during the performance. The best!


The highlight of the day came next, though, when Cam was able to DRIVE at Autopia (still googling ride names). Ah, it was so sweet to see Cam excited to “drive dada” while on this ride. His smile was ear-to-ear the whole time.

We adventured to Fantasyland next, intending to ride only Dumbo but being derailed by both boys requesting to “ride the ponies” (merry-go-round) when they saw them. After finally riding both, we were all ready for some pizza; an appetizer for Mike and me before our special date night dinner (foreshadow!). Then we ended the day on a high note, riding the Casey Jr. Circus Train. This was especially exciting for Cam, who is enthralled by all things trains right now. I think I will always remember the feeling of his tiny body snuggled into me on that ride, pointing and delighting at all of the sights.

We walked back to the hotel after to bathe Cam and then left him with my mom so Mike and I could go back to the park! Once back in the action, we used our Genie Pass to check out the new Star Wars ride; Smugglers Run. Overall I was NOT impressed but I’m sure there are plenty of people – who are bigger Disney and Star Wars fans – that disagree…

What I was a fan of that night was DINNER. Since I was little, I’ve always wanted to eat at the Blue Bayou, the restaurant inside the Pirates Ride, and I was finally able to do it. Mike and I ordered glasses of sparkling wine and cheers’d a successful first day in Disney! The ride was actually closed while we waited and I can’t decide if that is disappointing or lucky…

We rounded out the night with some rides that Cam was too small to go on and then walked our tired selves home to catch some rest before Day Two.


On our second day, we went to Califonia Adventure. Quick Pro Tip for potty training parents: you can’t bring the potty training bags for mini toilets into the parks with you. (We had to give up a basically brand-new bag of those expensive little liners. Sob.) Anyways. We knew CA Adventure would be exciting because Cam LOVES the movie Cars and Lighting McQueen.

We kicked off with a triple whamming on the same ride, Luigi’s Rockin’ Roasters. Then it was time to meet Lightening and Mater IRL. Cam still talks about this.


We grabbed tacos and margs for lunch before slowing things down with the Ariel ride a few times (you can’t beat short lines with kids!). Cam had a successful Stroller Nap (as he did the day before in Disney – major wins), and Mike and I were able to tuck ourselves in a quiet corner and enjoy a beer. We tried to do the single rider line for Radiator Springs Racers but the line was barely moving and we knew our window was small with Cam sleeping.


Even though it wasn’t the weekend yet, the park felt way more crowded than the day before. It was also the first weekend of the Food & Wine Festival, which I’m sure didn’t help with crowd control. We ended up leaving earlier than I thought we would but spent most of our day there fully immersed in Carsland, which was exactly right for celebrating Cam’s birthday!

Mike and I were able to go back again for some late-night park action that night, where we went on Radiator Springs Racers and the Incredicoaster, both so fun and thrilling!

Overall we walked close to 70,000 steps split between the 2 days (what!), rode a total of 19 (unique) rides, and took (seemingly) hundreds of pictures. One amazing vacation with our best little dude.

Oh, and we met Iron Man. Mama’s favorite superhero. 😉


Want more? Read about mine and Mike’s first trip to Disneyland here, and our honeymoon is Disneyworld here.

The Happiest Place on Earth

Mike and I recently headed to southern California for a long weekend visiting friends and exploring Disneyland! We left around 2pm on Wednesday and drove to Chatsworth, where our friends Gary and April moved a few years ago. It was so good to see them again, even if it was only for one night. We were able to see their new house, have a few beers, and entertain ourselves with the face swap feature on snapchat… literally so scary.

On Thursday morning we woke up early to beat the infamous LA traffic and get to Disneyland on time. I snagged a cup of coffee before we left Gary and April’s but we didn’t get a chance to eat breakfast. Instead of overpaying for food in the park, we stopped a few miles before our hotel and got breakfast croissants at a little one-off coffee shop.

We stayed at the Carousel Beach Inn  right across from the park entrance. The hotel wasn’t anything special but it was about a 10 minute walk to Disneyland. The lack of amenities (no WiFi or breakfast!) was doable given the great location. Besides, when you’re at Disneyland, you’re really only in the hotel to sleep and, believe me, sleep comes hard and fast after 12+ hours of walking.

Mike and I got the 2 day park hopper tickets and started our adventure in Disneyland. Growing up, I went to Disneyland often with my mom, grandma, and grandpa but we only went to California Adventure once; so Disneyland is really the beating heart for my childhood memories and nostalgia.

The main entrance!
The photographer wanted us to “stare into each other’s eyes” and I was barely able to keep  it together…
Secretly giggling at the awkwardness

I was pretty stoked to be starting the day in the happiest place on earth. (If only it wasn’t so crowded…) We walked to Space Mountain first to grab a fast pass and were completely overwhelmed with how insane Tomorrowland was. Star Wars has taken over. We made an agreement to spend as little time as possible there.

Waiting for our first ride!

Luckily the rest of the park wasn’t as crowded. We were able to ride Pirate’s, The Haunted House, the Matterhorn, and a few others before going back to use our fast pass on Space Mountain. Space Mountain was my favorite ride when I was little and it didn’t disappoint now being 26 years old!

Outside Club 33!
Star Tours

After riding rides all morning, we were ready for lunch. We made our way to Harbour Galley and shared a shrimp salad, a lobster roll and a giant iced tea. Theme park food is often unhealthy and caloric but I’m always starving! A salad would not hold me over (plus, most of the time, the salads aren’t actually even that healthy…) so I love that  Mike is willing to split things with me! This way we are able to at least get some vegetables but also splurge a bit. Win-win.

Next we went to explore California Adventure and I was pleasantly surprised with how enjoyable it was! I thought I was going to want to stay in Disneyland the whole trip (possibly clinging a little too hard to some childhood memories!) but it was well worth it to pay the money and go back and forth between the two parks.

Added bonus: California Adventure has wine and beer. Cheers!

Beer sampler
Making sure all is well with work!
Mike and his brew

For dinner we went to Downtown Disney and sat outdoors at a place called UVA Bar. We split an order of the calamari to start. I ordered the mushroom flat bread pizza and Mike order the lamb burger with spicy Greek fries. The food was so good but we needed to eat quickly in order to ride the Tower of Terror one more time before closing.

Leaving CA Adventure (hair a mess after a long day)

After a day of a lot of walking, riding, screaming, eating, drinking, and plain ol’ Disney magic, it was time to go back to the hotel and sleep.

On Friday we were at the park before opening, deciding to start the day in California Adventure to capitalize on the Starbucks there. Armed with my iced coffee and spinach and feta egg white wrap (a go-to breakfast for me when I’m traveling), I was ready for another round of  Tower of Terror.

We are in the front row on the left. I look like I’m going to puke and Mike is playing a prank.

We went to Cars Land after and rode Radiator Springs Racers, which was definitely my favorite ride in California Adventure.


After a few other rides we grabbed a beer and sat down for a while. Mike had his step tracker on his phone and it calculated we had walked ~29,000 steps on Thursday and ~36,000 by the end of Friday.

Another round for us!


By chance, while we were there, the Food & Wine festival was going on so we were able to try some really good beers and small plates. We snacked on chicken and 4 cheese mac n’ cheese and some fried artichokes while people watching.


After our light snacks, we went back to Disneyland (a lot of park hopping comes with the park hopper tickets!) for more rides and lunch. Having eaten (mostly) vegetarian throughout the day, I was ready for some meat during lunch! (Weekatarianism isn’t really a thing on vacations…) We stopped at Bengal Barbecue for chicken and bacon wrapped asparagus skewers and split a jalapeno stuffed pretzel.

Towards the end of the day, we had our fast passes lined up perfectly and spent a fun 2 hours running through the parks to make all of our rides on time.


After our last ride on our fast pass binge, we went to downtown Disney again for dinner. This time opting for a little fancier eatery and dining at House of Jazz. I ordered the Gulf Shrimp Pan Roast, which came with (more) artichoke hearts, andouille sausage, tomato veloute and Cajun rice. SO GOOD! I love New Orleans inspired food.

And of course we couldn’t resist the Beignets for dessert!

Look at all of that powered sugar!

After dinner we went back to Disneyland to finish out the evening. We rode Big Thunder Mountain (one of my favorites!) one last time before the park closed and we went back to the hotel for another deep, deep sleep.

The castle. (And all of the people.)

On Saturday we woke up early and drove to Orange County to visit some very good friends of mine. I met my friend Sam in college, who was living with her aunt Robin and uncle Tony. Robin was expecting her first baby and I was looking for a job! Having experience with kids, I started watching Robin and Tony’s son (and a few years later, their daughter) every week for over 2 years.

I spent basically every day with Sam and her family and love them like they are my own. Sadly in 2009 they all moved down to southern California and now I don’t see them nearly as much as I would like to.

Sam had a precious, pretty, perfect little baby girl in March and I finally got to meet her sweet little self. It was so good to end our weekend with such close friends.

Beautiful like her mama!

Overall, we had a great vacation – a perfect couple of days spent away before I start my new job next week!

Stay tuned and eat your greens.

** Note this blog went through a rebrand and is now veg vibes; which aligns better with the direction I organically gravitated towards. It’s all about your vibe **