Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Do you believe in MAGIC? Disney Tips for parents with kids.

If you know my husband and myself, you know there are two vacations we are good at: Las Vegas and Disneyland.  The usual response when people find out we are going to either of these places are "AGAIN?"  If you find something you love, like we have- then you don't mess with it.  The last few days since I have been back have been filled with questions from friends and family looking for tips.  I decided to give you a few general tips, but if you are looking for more info on hotels and what not, I recommend checking out www.getawaytoday.com.  Since we booked with Getaway, each day we received a magic morning which means you get into the park an hour before they opened.  They are great to work with so check them out!

Hotel Info

I'm going to talk strictly Disney Resort.  Last Trip we did stay at the Embassy Suites about 20 minutes from the park and rode the shuttle.  It was about half of what the cost of the Pier was.  Know that there are so many options for hotels in the area to fit every budget.  
Tim's mom recently discovered the benefits to staying at the Paradise Pier Disneyland Resort Hotel.  This was by far my favorite Disney trip I've been on. 
The cute entrance to our hotel.  Ava was a lover of this statue!
  • It's the least expensive Disneyland Resort Hotel you can stay in and it sleeps 5 comfortably.  
  • You have a private entrance to California Adventure Park through the Grand California Hotel located across the street from Paradise Pier.  This is helpful since you can bypass using the front gates and it lets you in at Grizzly River Rapids.  
  • It's minutes from the Downtown Disney Monorail and this is another quick way into the park to avoid the front gates.  The monorail drops you off inside the park in Tomorrowland. 
  • You also have access to the other DL Resort Hotel pools.  Sadly, I never made it to the pool.
  • Lastly, I loved the quick walk back for nap time.  

 The view from our room. 

Park Tips
  • Take a cooler- drinks run $3+ each in the park.  Taking a cooler in your stroller means cold drinks whenever you need them.  We stopped at Food For Less around the corner from Disneyland and picked up capri suns and bottles of water.  We were so glad to have them since the temp was in the 90's each day.  Just remember NO GLASS bottles!  They won't let you into the park with them.
  • Take snacks to nibble on during the day.  Tim and I tend to share any food we get since Disney portions are rather large.  We had chips and crackers for us and Ava to eat while we were running ride to ride. 
  • If you want to eat at a fancy restaurant in the park, make reservations first thing in the morning.  They fill up quick.  Our personal fave was Cafe Orleans where we ate a Monte Cristo.  Let me just tell you one thing: Share! Disney portions can be enough for 2 people at most places.  I was so excited about the sandwich, I forgot to get a picture.  This picture is courtesy of www.themacandcheesechronicles.com
We also ate at Mickey's PCH Grill in our hotel Paradise Pier.  This is one of a few places that offers "Character Meals" where different Disney Characters go table to table and guarantee a meet and greet with photos and autographs for patrons.  This can be a little spendy, I believe it was around $40 for adults.  Again, the food was really tasty and drinks were included.

Another great character option is Ariel's Grotto in California Adventure.  This place is darling and it's the best way to see a few princesses all at once.  Ariel greets everyone for a personal photo session and then 4 other princesses came table to table to meet the kids (and some very excited adults).  Depending on the meal, this can run $30-$60 per adult. 

Now that we have food out of the other way.  Here are a couple other tips.
  •  The best time to enjoy Fantasyland- (that area in Disneyland with Dumbo, Teacups, and the Peterpan ride) wait until the evening parade starts.  I noticed most wait times aside from the parade were as long as an hour.  About a half hour before the parade, most rides went down to 15 minutes and some you could just walk on.  So my friends, wait for the parade if you want to ride multiple rides in Fantasyland quickly.  Don't forget that your littles can also ride other things around the park like Pirates of the Caribbean, Buzz Lightyear, Winnie the Pooh, and Haunted Mansion.  Fantasyland isn't your only option.  
The parade was a hit with our girl!
  • When Disneyland seemed to get more crowded, we made our way back to California Adventure.  Bugs Life Land is another great option for the littles.  I love Carsland, but Ava wasn't tall enough for any of the rides.  If you want to ride the "Cars Ride" you have a couple options.  You can grab a fast pass for it as soon as the park opens since these do go quick.  You can grab a stroller pass if you take your stroller to the gate and have one rider wait in line.  Lastly, you can do single rider and this seemed to be the most effective way to ride it quickly.  
Ava loved the "Heimlich Ride"
Character lines always seemed silly to me until I had my girl.  They ended up being the best part of our day.  She was so excited to see the cute characters in person.  We lucked out each time we saw a character pop up and didn't wait in a line longer than 15 minutes.   Have you camera ready!
  • If there is a certain character you are looking for and want to know the exact time they will be available, you can stop by Town Hall in the Main Disneyland Entrance and they can find out for you.  Last trip I wanted to get photos with Alice for Ava and they were helpful so I didn't have to wait around for hours. 


If you have any questions or great Disney tips- email us at individualrivalry@gmail.com.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Miles Apart, Loved from the Start

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of throwing my sister an adoption baby shower.  
You can read all about their adoption journey 
Make sure to watch their incredibly sweet video of my sister telling her husband that they were matched. *Grab the tissues*
I have always loved the pictures all over etsy that have the hearts on the maps for long distance love. I knew I wanted to play off of that and incorporate maps. THEN my sister sent me this adorable picture she had taken at Flash Photo in Roy, Utah and my brain threw a beautiful image together. 

I had so much fun making her little headbands for this shoot! You can see the rest of her photo sesh on their blog.
Ahhh isn't she beautiful! Look at all that baby fur!

Can the world please invent something that projects what our mind is seeing when we get those burning ideas? It sure would make justifying these crazy ideas to our husbands a heck of a lot easier! Or moms. I was excitedly trying to explain to my Mom this awesome idea I had and she was all sorts of confused. I needed a visual!
I hopped on photoshop and came up with this shower invitation. 

You guys this shower turned out so dang adorable and inexpensive! The decorations were close to free! 

 My parents are members of AAA, so I had my mom go grab some maps of Utah and California. (AAA members get maps for free!)
I wrapped mason jars with the maps and we used fresh flowers from my parents yard. 
 My super awesome washer and dryer arrived on pallets (Thank you crafting Gods) I used them for a vintage looking backdrop for our focus table. 
I made her bunting banner from the AAA maps as well.
We had these heart state necklaces made for my sister and the Birth Mother. They have an open adoption so it is a sweet keepsake for them to cherish. California is where she was born and Utah is where she is now. 
We had family sign this matted picture for them to frame and I used an easel for the Sharpie holder. 
I've been in love with these long distance love printables for a while now. They really are pretty easy to make if you have a program.

This is the chorus line of "Top of the World" by Imagine Dragons. It held a special meaning for my Sister and BIL as they heard it many times on the drive to pick up their babe.

I had so much fun helping with this shower. It was an honor supporting our family in adoption. The whole experience was equally heart wrenching and spiritually gratifying. We are so blessed and thankful to this Birth Mother. Welcome to the family Oakley, you are so loved. 


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Salt Lake Comic Con 2014

I (Jamie) feel like I'm still recovering from one of the most incredible weekends of my life.  Where do I even begin?  

Imagine somebody called you up for your dream job and somehow all aspects of your life worked out so you could do it.   That is exactly what happened to me.  

I was asked by the Producer/Owner of Salt Lake Comic Con, Dan Farr, to help be his assistant during Comic Con the other weekend.  

What?  That was my reaction to the message I received from his office a few days before CC. 

If Batman asked you to be his sidekick, you don't say no!  I had no idea what I was about to walk into, but I knew it would be awesome.   The other crazy part is that I only have about 3 pictures from the entire weekend (yes, unusual for this photographer) but it really made me take in all the memories first hand.  
Ron Perlman (below) was so awesome to take a minute with me and snap a quick selfie. 

Sheena was great and took all the pictures (below) at the panels.  If you haven't experienced Salt Lake Comic Con, you should.  I'm not sure where else you can meet 40+ celebs first hand, but SLCC brings all the best right to you.

When going to Con, you have a couple different ways you can get a celeb experience.  
Panels- most of the panels are no cost other than your ticket price.  You will want to get in line early, even if you have a VIP pass.  Almost every celeb that comes to CC will sit down with a moderator and answer questions, talk about previous or upcoming work, and often share behind the scenes stories.   
Eliza Dushku (pictured below) talks about growing up in Utah. 

Alan Tudyk (below) answers audience questions and hands out signed memorabilia. 

Patrick Warburton (below) does impressions of all his most famous characters including Cronk, The Tick, Putty, and Family Guy's Joe. 

Simon Helburg (below) talks about his work on 
The Big Bang Theory.

Stephen Amell (below) answers questions about being the leading man on "Arrow."

John Barrowman (below) talks politics, Arrow, and all things funny with the panel.

The legendary cast of "I dream of Jeannie" paid a visit to Salt Lake.  Barbara Eden and Bill Daily.

At the age of 91, Stan Lee still draws the biggest crowd and declares Salt Lake "The Best Comic Con in the World!"

Meet and Greets are another fantastic way to get close to your favorite star.  Salt Lake CC lines all the celebs up on "Celeb Row."  
Celeb Row Tips
  • Know the schedule for the person you want to meet (varies per person and some celebs are only there for 1 of the 3 days
  • Get in line early: if you want to get time with him or her you might have to wait up to 2 hours before the signing begins.  Lines form quick
  • Prices may vary- each celeb has their own price for autographs and photos.  Some will not let you take a photo.  I've seen pricing as much as $80+ for a selfie and autograph.  
  • BRING CASH!!  Very few offer the credit card option. 
The dashing Manu Bennett (pictured below) was dashing and sweet with each fan he met. 

Lou Ferrigno gives his fierce "Hulk" look!

Celeb Photo Op is the other great option for a meet and greet.  Again, there is a fee and the photo literally takes 5 seconds.  Totally worth it if you want the perfect pic!  My sis-in-law, Missy snuggled up to Steven Amell!

The other amazing part of Comic Con is the Cosplay or Costume Play.  Many Cosplayers spend weeks, months, or years putting their perfect costumes together.  
Check out some of the stellar looks and other CC highlights below.  Maybe one day Sheena and I will actually dress up!

Well folks, we hope you enjoyed the photos and tips!  Until next year!

Jamie & Sheena