Thursday, May 28, 2015

triumphant return to the land

because we weren't sure of exactly when we were going to be able to activate them, we didn't tell the bean that we'd renewed our disneyland annual passes.  i mean, come on - while she's a good girl for the most part, she's still 7.  i wasn't really all about the idea of having to hear "but mommy, when are we going to goooooo?" every hour.

and while the notion of going to disneyland on a holiday weekend sounds like insanity, i think the old lady and i were kind of just done waiting.  out of the 3 days, we decided that sunday would be the best option, and although she had to work till 1 that afternoon, we figured it would be okay since the bean didn't have school the next day and we could stay late.  plus, they just unveiled the new "paint the night" parade and a new fireworks show for their 60th anniversary, so we wanted to be there at night anyway.

while we waited for the old lady to get home, the bean and i spent our morning hanging out and relaxing.  and how grown up does she look with her hair down?

when her sister finally got home, she was more than ready to get out of the house.  we still hadn't told her what we were going to do, but she figured it out because she's a smart cookie like that.  and there's the fact that we're just not very good liars.  heh.  so we piled into the car and chattered excitedly about all the things we wanted to do all the way down to anaheim.

the first order of business was activating our new passes.  because disneyland decided that they're no longer going to offer the option of adding parking, the hub sprung for the premium passes for the old lady and me.  the bean got our usual deluxe-level pass, which has a handful of blockout dates throughout the year.  sunday was one of them, but when you're activating a new annual pass, you're allowed to do so on a blockout date.

seriously, you guys, it was like coming home.

and because it's still her birthday month and these passes were part of her birthday gift, the old lady stopped and got herself her traditional birthday button.  she'd been so sad at the thought of not being able to get one this year, so this made her extra happy.

meanwhile, the bean eyed cruella de vil warily from a distance.

first ride of the day:

don't let that scared face (nor that wait time on the sign) fool you.  this is her most favorite ride in the whole park, and we were on it in just over half that amount of time.

oh, yeah, and i'd busted out my runDisney cinderella shoes for the special occasion.

we found a fun photo op when we exited the ride, and of course we had to stop.  duh.

haunted mansion was next.  i think this may be my next runDisney race costume.

maybe for the bean, too.

for a crowded, busy holiday weekend, we were able to get on a pretty good number of rides.

this was amusing.  they're banned from all rides and attractions because people just can't have nice things, apparently.

dinner was here:

and with time to kill before our fastpass time for indiana jones, we headed over to autopia, where the bean was happy to chauffeur me around.

we'd timed things so that we could hopefully watch the fireworks that started at 9:30 and then slide right in and see the new parade.  unfortunately, it didn't quite work out that way.  those holiday crowds that we'd thought weren't so bad...were.  the entire main street area was so clogged with people that our only view of the new show was at the very last 5 minutes, and we didn't even get to see fireworks - just the projections they were doing onto the buildings.

it sure looked like a great show, and we'll have to go back when it's not as insane.  although with summer coming and the plethora of folks coming in to see all of the 60th celebration brouhaha, it'll probably be packed from now till september.  and trying to make our way back up the street to find a spot for the parade?  fuhgeddaboutit.  didn't happen.  we were stuck in a crush of people and strollers that didn't move and was incredibly frustrating.  i couldn't help but wonder how the cast members would handle it if a fire broke out or something.  we'd all be dead, for real.

we finally just gave up and headed over to take the bean for her first time on the indiana jones ride.

and then star tours.

i gotta hand it to her - she rode a lot of things she'd been scared of before, and she hung in there like a trooper till midnight.  yup, we closed the joint.  and then she fell asleep standing up as we waited for the tram to take us back to the parking structure.

that's what i call a successful day at the land.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

sticking to tradition

celebrating the old lady's entrance into her 20s continued on after the bean and the hub got home from their daily activities.  when we got home, she found a fun surprise waiting on the doorstep from her special friend:

speaking of her special friend, he'd also had a lovely little blue box delivered to her a few days prior.

on our way out to the valley to have dinner at her favorite place, she opened the other presents that were waiting for her.  one of the things she'd asked for was a pair of these hideous things:

and the bean had picked something out for her sister that she'd been planning for ages - a cat.  alas, not a real one as mollydog would definitely not allow such a thing in the house.

having birthday dinner here has become quite a tradition.  despite the hour-long drive, the old lady always wants to have pasta at good ol' chi-chi's.

i'm not gonna lie - i won't ever fight her on this one.  it's an old favorite, and i'll pretty much never turn down a chance to grub down on fresh rolls and some house made shells and meat sauce.

the hub decided to go the healthier route and tried the whole wheat rigatoni instead.  while we teased him about how turd-like his entreĆ© looked, it actually didn't taste much different from the regular pasta.

everyone's happy at chi-chi's.

also a birthday tradition is dessert afterwards - hawaiian-style shave ice from this place that started out as a food truck:

i suppose it doesn't matter how old you get - a full day of birthday shenanigans will always put you to
sleep, especially when you're comfy in the backseat of a moving car.  and cuddling a stuffed animal.

seems like just yesterday, huh?


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

VIP, bitches (with or without that comma)

back on that day when the teen transitioned into the old lady, she and i celebrated by going somewhere super fun - on a tour of the warner bros. studio lot.  a warning - there are a LOT of photos coming your way.  because duh.  you've been warned.

we dropped her sister off at school, headed out to burbank, and pulled in here:

apparently, not everyone is as enthusiastic about this as we were.

never mind that.  we were in full-on tourist mode and took all the silly photos, because we could.

after going through security, we checked in and picked up our tickets.

then we browsed around the studio store and checked out some of the fun merchandise.

while i'm no harry potter fan, even i thought this was cool.  you waved this wand at your tv in different ways and it would change the channel, adjust the volume, power on and off.  but for $60 - well, we passed.

but right around the corner was this very welcome sight:

as we sipped on that magical elixir, we headed into the small theater where we were shown a short film about the history of the warner bros. studios and a reel that highlighted a bunch of the hit movies and shows that have been produced there.  we were then split up into several groups and met norman, our tour guide for the morning.

the beginning of the tour was much like the one at universal studios, only much less cheesy.  here you have your typical big-city/NYC setting:

this was the front of the hospital set for the show "ER."  i never watched it, but john stamos was in it, so i took a picture of it anyway.

just around the corner from NYC, we came upon your typical "midwestern city square" set.  i perked up when i recognized it from "hart of dixie," while the old lady squee'd a little when she realized that it doubled as the set for "pretty little liars."  "gilmore girls" was also filmed here.  if you watched "hart of dixie" like i did, you'll be picturing a gazebo that's usually in the middle there.

there was a lot of construction here, as they were rebuilding the set that had been destroyed in a previous episode of "pretty little liars."  studio heads had apparently decided that the set needed to go, and so they instructed the show's writers to add it into the storyline.

more familiar sights to fans of "pretty little liars."

two of my favorite shows have used this particular house - this is lemon's house on "hart of dixie," and it's also the home of ross and monica's parents on "friends."

remember the episode where ross was supposed to take rachel to the prom?  this is the very staircase that he was heading down only to find that rachel's date had arrived to take her after all.  awwwww.

and this is the kitchen where monica accidentally chopped off one of chandler's toes during thanksgiving.

this little strip of grass and trees doubled as central park, when rachel took phoebe jogging, only to be embarrassed by her ridiculous arm flailing.  so...i had to.

i mean, come on.  of course i had to!  and even norman got a chuckle out of my antics.

i had to do this, too.

it was really interesting to see what movies and shows were filmed at the various soundstages.  most of them had plaques like this one:

we love the ellen show!  alas, she was not there that morning.

john stamos was here, too.

the old lady silently freaked out a little when we passed this soundstage where "pretty little liars" was currently filming and recognized one of the cast members on her phone.  don't ask me which one, because i have no idea.

our next stop had my name allllllll over it.  i'm sure you can guess what was behind that door:

oh, you know, just a little indie coffee house you may have seen before.

 smelly cat, smelly cat...come on, everybody!

yes.  oh yes, i was super excited.  i'm a dork, i know it.  and i'm okay with that.

when they finally dragged me out of central perk, we checked out the batman exhibit.

 hey, conan!  alas, he wasn't there either.

the museum was featuring a 75 years of batman exhibit on the lower level and a plethora of harry potter props upstairs.  again, i'm no big fan of either of these, but it was fun to look at everything anyway.

 back in the tram, we got a nice view of the famous water tower.

can i give you just one more bit of "friends"?  this is the alleyway where rachel tried to talk monica into introducing herself to jean claude van damme and ended up going out on a date with him herself.

that's the fire escape where annie and the rest of the orphans sang "it's a hard knock life" - in the original movie, of course.  you know, the one that counts.

back in the studio store, the old lady and i giggled over the super cheesetastic green screen photo we'd taken back in the batmobile exhibit.

we checked out the merchandise from the ellen show, but ultimately decided against any of it because it seemed wrong to have any of it and not have actually been in the studio audience.

instead, i chose a central perk t-shirt while she opted for a "pretty little liars" one, and then we were all done.

and since we were in the area, we stopped for some delicious cuban sandwiches, potato balls, and cheese rolls.

we even had time to go home and eat before heading back out to pick up the bean from school.  and later that evening, we found out that the hub has a friend who works for WB and can comp us tickets for another visit to the lot.  heh.  maybe we'll go back again in the fall, after most of the shows are off hiatus and come back to film new episodes.

i mean, you know.  when have you ever known me to pass up a chance to possibly do some celeb spotting?  um, like never.
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