Mammoth Mountain has always been a favorite of mine, but the costs of going there has started to get ridiculous. I’ve heard of good things about Brian Head Utah and teamed up with CJ’s family to take a trip out there for President’s weekend. We also convinced Joy’s friends, and Ben and Tiff to go up the same weekend as well.
Thursday night we took off after work and headed to Vegas to sleep for the night before driving Friday night up to the Mountains which is 3 hours north of Las Vegas. We got a super cheap rate at the Rio hotel fro $14 (+40$ resort fee). First stop before checking into our hotel was to get some dinner at Izakaya Go since the kids wanted udon and Joy and I wanted some drinks.
Saturday was the most calm day of the trip as we only had one thing on the agenda and that was to do some shopping at the Nike Corporate store. We went to breakfast back in downtown at Tasty n Alder for a delicious breakfast biscuit sandwich and a bloody mary.
Jeremy had worked his magic the months leading up to the trip to get us entrance tickets to the Nike Corporate store where you need to know someone who works there. Obviously it isn’t totally exclusive if you can’t tell by the huge line just to get in, but a 40% discount off new releases is something to worth getting. We probably spent two hours shopping for all our families and that was still a bit rushed. I walked out of there with a couple of pairs of shoes for myself, one for Joy and some clothes for the kids.
After shopping we went back to Portland to walk around the Saturday Morning Farmers Market and get a picture in front of the Keep Portland Weird sign.
Our last meal of the trip was to get some sandwiches at Lardo where we split a porchetta sandwich and a Nashville (not so) hot chicken sandwich. The porchetta sandwich is one of the better ones i’ve had.
With a single bag full of new Nike gear we headed back to the airport to close out our Dad’s trip out.
Friday morning we woke up early and headed across state lines to Washington to do some white water rafting on the White Salmon River. We actually got a raft to ourselves along with two other rafts filled with a church group and planned a half day trip down the river that would end with a 12′ water fall drop at Husum Falls.
Our guide gave us the basics about getting in, tucking in, and holding on as we go over the falls. It was fun but a little anti-climatic since we could really see anything as we went over but at least we got the pictures to see it from above. At the half way point we stopped at a flat landing where we were suppose to be taken back to our car, but our guide offered to have us continue down the river to the end and we decided to just go since we were having so much fun.
For dinner we had worked up a huge appetite so we feasted at Ox with lots of meats.
After dinner we went to downtown Portland to do some bar hopping ending up at Deschutes Brewery to finish the night.
I had been joking for years with some of Joy’s friends that the dads should go somewhere since the wives always go to Vegas every winter. After much debate between Vegas and other places we actually got around to planning a trip out to Portland.
Tony being the youthful one in the group took the 5am flight out while Jeremy and I took the more casual noon flight out to Portland where Tony picked up the rental car and our AirBNB for the trip. Our first stop for a late lunch was at a Thai place called Hat Yai who serves a really good fried chicken along with sticky rice, roti and curry which really hit the spot before we headed to bars for some beers.
After dropping off our things at the house we headed to Culmination Brewing Company where we sampled lots of sour beers.
For dinner we went to Screen Door for some BBQ and southern-ish food.
For the finale of the night we hopped on some scooters and had our own little tour of the Hawthorne area.
For the last day our Disney World we saved the least for last. We had a 6pm flight to catch and only had a half day to spend in a park so we spent it at Hollywood Studios which is currently going through renovations and getting their own Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge later in the year. The newly opened Toy Story Land was the only important thing to visit for the day since the rest of the park is filled with rides and attractions that Disneyland offers so we only had a few things to hit up before leaving the park. Originally built to compete with Universal Studios as a representation of a working Hollywood backlot, it has evolved to lose that moniker and is becoming more of a traditional IP park.
We started off the day filling up our autograph books with our favorite chipmunks Chip ‘n Dale.
We proceeded to explore the park to find Toy Story land which is hidden behind some buildings and while we had a fastpass for Slinky Dog Coaster at 2pm we just couldn’t risk missing our bus to the airport and had to skip it. We did end up having lunch at Woody’s lunch box and enjoyed the BBQ Brisket Melt with Potato Barrels.
After lunch we went to take turns on Star Tours with Alice while Leela took a nap in the stroller. Leela did wake up in time to catch a showing of Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple in front of the Giant AT-AT.
To finish the day we went to ride on The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™, and i was interested to see how Alice would react to it since she loves Guardians of Galaxy back at DCA. I thought it would be the same as it was at DCA and was pleasantly surprised on how it had a different ride mechanic to start the ride and i think Alice got a kick out of it too.
While not much of a park in its current iteration it was the perfect way to end our trip on a short day. I’m happy that we decided to go bite the bullet and go to Disney World before Alice got much older even if it meant that Leela wouldn’t enjoy it if we waited a few more years just because Alice is already starting to phase out of the princesses and we know we’ll go again in the future.
Day 4 had us visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom which as you can guess is part zoo part amusement park. The day started off rough as i happen to lose my magic band which killed the first hour in the park as i had to backtrack and head to guest services to get a temporary pass so that we could use all fast passes for the day.
Leela enterained herself while i was gone with the old pay phones around the park.
Our first ride was the Kilimanjaro Safaris which was a good 30 minute truck ride around the back area of the park where we got to see some giraffes, elephants, and rhinos.
After lunch it was time to visit the world of Avatar, and go on Avatar Flight of Passage which is still a super popular ride two years after opening. This was the ride that i was really hoping that Alice would reach the 44″ since we got fast passes for it. The wait time was over 2 hours without a fast pass and we felt like celebrities just zooming by everyone. After we got into the preloading area i was worried that Alice wouldn’t be able to do it since she had to sit in her own individual ride system and i just kept encouraging her that it was going to be fun. The ride was super intense and fun that i can describe as an extreme version soarin’ over the world, and it ended up being Alice’s favorite ride of Disney World.
After Avatar we headed to Asia to go on Expedition Everest which is a cross between Thunder Mountain and the Matterhorn, and this ended up being my favorite ride since i still prefer traditional ride motions versus motion simulators.
We enjoyed a late afternoon break of ice cream sandwiches and a Khumbu Icefall at Thirsty River Bar & Trek Snacks.
We ended the day back in Avatar to catch a showing of Pandora Drummers – Swotu Wayä which was fun since they had some audience participation.
Today was our 10 year wedding anniversary and the main reason we came to Disney World this week. We work up with the rain gone, and the sun out again the crowds were out in full force. We had a 10:30am breakfast inside Cinderella’s Castle which meant we needed to get on the bus for the 20 minute ride, through security and to the castle in time for our reservation. The problem was that there was an Extra Magic Hours at the Magic Kingdom so everyone was going and we had to wait for 3/4 busses to fill up before we could get on.
Dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table is another hot reservation and originally we planned to skip it, but since we were sure when we were going to come back, and that the kids still like seeing the princesses we bit the bullet, and made breakfast reservation which also required paying up front the $58 adults, and $36 for children. That said it was a pretty cool experience from entering the castle to take pictures with Cinderella then being brought up stairs to the dining room which was surprisingly cozy. We all got either a sword or wand when we sat down and got a basket of pastries to start. The meal was a prix fixe so we just ordered what ever we wanted so Joy got the Steak and Eggs (really good), I got the Caramel Apple-stuffed French Toast (meh), and Alice got the Mickey waffles. Throughout the meal different Princesses would get an entrance music and make their way around all the tables. We got visits from Snow White, Aurora, Jasmine, and Ariel who chatted with us, signed autographs and of course took pictures.
After breakfast we explored the west side of the park which we didn’t see the first day, and got to see their version of Adventureland and Frontierland. We rode on Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean.
In the afternoon we went back to Fantasyland to ride on Dumbo, and 7 dwarves mine train again. We caught a showing of Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire while eating lunch at Casey’s Corner.
In the evening I booked a reservation at Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen for some pan asian food served in a restaurant themed after the Jungle Cruise. I thought it was a very well designed space and each room had their own theme to some sort of exploration.
In the evening we skipped the first round of fireworks and rode more rides finishing off on it’s a small world, and visiting Mickey and Minnie where we got some fun shots with. I even had Mickey sign my hat. Too bad Mickey broke our autograph pen which will always be a story to tell, since he honestly felt bad afterwards.
My memories of Epcot were that it was hot, big, and boring. There were just a lot of movies and not many rides to go on. After this trip its one of my favorite parks after growing up a bit and after they’ve increased the amount of rides in the park now.
After a rough day before it was nice to get a good night’s sleep and have enough time to prepare for the full day in the park ahead of us. You have to be prepared for every type of weather when you visit Florida and day two proved it to be true as we work up to rain, and not even hot humid rain but actual cold rain. We were prepared with a a stroller cover for the kids and umbrellas for us. The rain also made the majority of people to take their time in the morning because once we arrived to the park it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. It also happened to be the day before the opening of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival so the whole park was in full bloom and decorated with topiaries throughout the park.
Our first stop in the morning was to grab some breakfast in the France pavilion. What surprised us most was that everyone working there was actually from France with a full on French accent. We ordered an assortment of pastries, quiche, and of course coffee from Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie which were all delicious.
Once our bellies were full we started exploring and found out most of the countries had their princesses roaming around so it was time to break out the autograph book and start finding them all and with the low crowds we could take our time to interact with the characters. We found Belle in France, Jasmin in Morocco, Mulan in China, Anna & Elsa in Norway and Alice in United Kingdom.
We were lucky enough to score Fast Passes for the Frozen Ever After which is still the hardest fast pass to get and i understand why as its Frozen and its a pretty fun boat ride. Without a fast pass you can find yourself waiting for two hours for a five minute ride.
Towards later in the afternoon we had already rushed through all the different countries and started back around again taking our time exploring, eating and more importantly drinking. We got some great maple popcorn from Canada and purchased a wine password so we could get multiple pours from France, Italy and Germany.
For dinner we had reservation at Via Napoli which is another super popular place to eat. There was a line out the door and they were turning away walk-ins who were looking for a last minute place to eat. For us it was the perfect time to sit down, relax and enjoy some pretty good pizza, and pasta. The place is huge with lots of tables inside and out, and the wait stuff does an admirable job keeping everything running smoothly. We started off the meal with the arancini, got the kids some spaghetti and pizza, the Branzino for our main course, and the Ruota di Carretto for dessert.
To finish off the night we were trying to watch IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, but Alice didn’t like the pyrotechnics used in the show so left and went on Frozen Ever After again since everyone was at the lake watching the show. We finished off the night by going on Spaceship Earth which is the iconic silver geodesic polyhedron in the front of the park. I don’t remember much from the ride back in ’88 but it definitely hasn’t changed if any since then.
Our start of our vacation got off to a bad start months before we actually left when previous booked flight times changed which made me find new ones that i thought would work but ended up being just as bad. I had originally planned for us to leave at midnight and arrive to Disney World around 8am, but what after all the rebookings we left LA at 9:00pm and landed in Orlando at 4:30am and arrived at our hotel just after 5:00am. We now had hours to kill before the parks opened up and with little to no sleep for everyone it wasn’t a very pleasant start to our day.
We made the most of it by exploring Pop Century and the neighboring Art of Animation Hotel, and grabbing some breakfast at the on property dining location. Pop Century is broken up into multiple three story motel style buildings with a large pool in the middle and smaller pools at either end. There’s a lake surrounding the property, with a bridge that will soon have a skyliner to take people to the parks.
Around 8am we all got changed for the day and caught a bus to the Magic Kingdom that took somewhere around 20 minutes to get there. The weather was warm and balmy with a slight breeze to keep the humidity to a comfortable level. The crowds at the security and front gate made it hard to appreciate the moment but finally once we were through and out of the train tunnel i think we were able to take a second to appreciate where we were at.
If you didn’t know Magic Kingdom is Disney’s World Disneyland representation. It shares the majority of the same rides but with slight twists on ride dynamics and ride layout, but also lacks the Matterhorn. Also instead of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle they have a larger Cinderella’s Castle that has a restaurant inside of it which we were dining in later in the week.
We spent the morning a some of the afternoon mainly exploring Fantasyland, riding on Seven Dwarves Mine train and taking pictures with Daisy and Pluto. Most if not all the characters are all hidden away in their own photo location which can come with hour wait times. We were lucky enough to only wait 20 minutes or to see both.
Again bad planning on my part as i thought we would still be on West Coast time and planned lunch at 2pm but by noon the kids were hungry and so we had to feed them, but at the same time it worked out because i wasn’t really a fan of the food at Be Our Guest. Breakfast and Lunch are more of a casual affair with you ordering at the counter (or on the app ahead of time) and finding a seat where ever you can which made it much more like a cafeteria setting. The food was ok, but nothing to rave over, and the different rooms were interesting to look at but not really worth the wait or the reservation to dine in. Lunch was the end of our first day in the parks and we were finally able to get into our hotel room.
I knew i was going to have some biases being a long time Disneyland goer but after the first day at the park i couldn’t quite put my finger on why Magic Kingdom irked me.
Last summer while planning for our 10 Year Wedding anniversary we were deciding between going back to Hawaii or finally going to Disney World. After much debate and planning we decided to take our first trip to Disney World, and i was off to the races. I’ve been listening to the Mouse Chat Podcast for a few years now and knew the basic ins and outs of what to do and not to do but actually putting everything into motion was still exciting.