18 Years

Today I celebrate 18 years of marriage to my wife. It has been an amazing journey. With far more ups than downs.

I have loved every moment. Even that time when she stabbed me in the face with her finger nails and tried to apologize acting all sweet and cute.

Or the time she thought I was taking a selfie and wanted to show that she brushes her teeth- so I took a selfie with her.

I love that ten years ago, we went on our first family trip to Disneyland. I never knew that an inner child was a real thing until I saw my wife gushing with pleasure and excitement as we wandered the parks. This also started a continuous desire to return as often as possible to Disneyland. Whenever we are having rough emotional patches- we talk about previous trips and future plans of traveling to those Magical Lands.

Through 18 years of marriage, we have created and cultivated a beautiful family. Our three kids have been a source of pride for us both. We love to joke and laugh with them. Our kids have become extensions of our personalities- sharing love into this world the same way my wife and I do.

Our love for one another has grown tremendously strong over the years. I’m lucky to have such a great partner. She is as crazy as I am. She even lets the crazy loose more when I’m around.

May our journey together not be restricted to just these first 18 years of marriage. We have a bond that I feel will last a lifetime.

Happy 18th Anniversary Lee-Anne! I love you with all my heart.

Sincerely,

Josef

Galaxy’s Edge Excitement

I am such a nerd when it comes to all things Disneyland or Star Wars related. I read blogs, follow Instagrams, I even open my Twitter feed just to find the hints and rumors. I share what I find with others who are of like mindsets. The term “Fandom” doesn’t quite express my feelings or emotions dedicated to Disneyland or Star Wars.

Last night was no exception to my love of both of these. Disneyland did a live stream of their Dedication Ceremony for the new land “Galaxy’s Edge“. No- it’s not called “Star Wars Land“. I’ll always call it by it’s true name- “Galaxy’s Edge” because- die hard fan here. That being said, my excitement level seeing the footage of this new park expansion grew last night.

But…

With our commitments to our son’s Speed Skating future and our children’s education- visiting Disneyland during the first openings of Galaxy’s Edge isn’t feasible. I’m looking on the bright side, give it a few months to a year and the crowds should slim out and the kinks worked out. So when is a good time to visit Disneyland?

We usually go in October to experience Halloween time. But over the years- it has gotten tremendously busy. Again, mentioning our children’s education being important, I don’t want to take them out of school for extended periods. Our oldest is entering grade 12 in September and our youngest is entering grade 8 and starting his high school journey. The long weekend at Canadian Thanksgiving would alleviate much of a loss. But- crowds will be higher. Dilemma!

I like to plan and book vacations well in advance. 5 months ahead of time doesn’t feel like I’ve planned properly. Planning 9-12 months ahead feels more comfortable- financially as well. As much as I’m looking at hotels and deals in autumn, I’m going to postpone a Family Disney Vacation for about a year.

I think it’s about time we hit up Disney World. It’ll have Galaxy’s Edge opened and ready when we get there next August. First stop- Discover The Magic to get some personalized service from a travel agent that specializes in these sorts of things. I’m starting to get excited!

More Than Just Rides

Disneyland is great fun. Over the course of three days, we hit probably 90% of the rides. Which is a big portion of our trip usually. We utilize the FastPass option frequently. Disneyland has a MaxPass option for an additional $10/day per person. We didn’t feel that was of any value to our trip. A few extra steps to go get a pass won’t hurt me.

Besides the rides, we love meeting the characters. Our first trip, the girls met all the princesses as they dressed as princesses. We’ve also met numerous Disney characters over the years as well.

This year is no different. We took the time to meet a few characters (not including the cockroach from Wall-E). Each and every moment so far has been filled with jokes and laughs.

Another great aspect of Disneyland and California Adventure is the shows. We stop pretty often for the short side shows on the streets.

We also like taking in some stage shows. Disneyland goes all out and is a leader in how to create these entertainment experiences. This year we enjoyed “Frozen.”

Of course fireworks, parades and other nighttime shows are wonderful to watch.

We find some great moments by trying to experience everything. We have become a true “Disney Family” and love each and every moment in the parks.

Magical Day…?

Finding joy in some of the silliest things is what I love about life. Even in Disneyland when things aren’t always as magical as you think.

We had a few “Not-So-Magical” moments Saturday. But we had fun nonetheless.

My son’s car in Autotopia died before he could even get in. When I got to the end of the ride, they stopped us all in a row to insert a new car. No big deal, but it made the ride last longer.

On our walk to the train station, I met a celebrity from Wall-E.

The cockroach.

Ya, it’s just a bug. But I had to have some fun with the idea of it.

Later in the evening while we were in line for Pirates of the Caribbean, it broke down.

Twice.

People cheered both times as the ride started up again. The Disneyland App was pretty fast at posting rides going down.

None of this made our trip any less enjoyable. In fact it made it just as memorable as previous visits to Disneyland. We are still having a great time despite these flaws behind the magic.

Portofino Aneheim

Back at the end of January/ beginning of February 2009, I was getting laid off. So we took that opportunity to go to Disneyland for the first time. I was told on the Wednesday that on the Friday I’d be laid off. So we went onto the Disneyland website and booked tickets and a hotel starting the Sunday.

That Saturday morning, Mickey and his friends called our house and the kids answered the call. Their ages were 2,4 and 6. They lit up! Immediately after the call, we packed our minivan and hit the road. We drove straight through for 26 hours taking turns driving.

We arrived at the Portifino Inn and Suites. It was perfect. Separate bedroom for the kids and only a short walk to the park. This our third time returning to stay at the hotel.

The rooms are spacious and moderately priced. Like most hotels near Disneyland, this one boasts a parking lot pool. It’s the perfect size for a quick dip to relax.

There’s only two things that would make this place one of my favorite hotels.

First, breakfast.

Unfortunately there is no breakfast offered. Nothing more than the in-room coffee is available. I’d worry that if there was breakfast offered- it’d be subpar. So maybe no breakfast is a good thing, especially for the price we pay.

Secondly, better WiFi.

Just like German WiFi- it’s the wurst. It drops constantly and has trouble connecting. Walking up to the hotel or at the pool- it works great. In the rooms, it sketches out. Having teens- (and myself) this is life ending! But we are trudging through.

We like staying at this hotel. Even with a couple of flaws. For a place to rest my head and enjoy some downtime- this place is perfect.

Tokyo DisneySea

The day before we went to Tokyo Disneyland and it was great. Like a mini version of California’s original Disneyland (Minus The Matterhorn). Today we went to DisneySea.

We didn’t expect much after the day in Disneyland. Maybe just a few different rides or variations on the classics. But nope. That’s not what we encountered. We walked into DisneySea-

It blew my freakin’ mind, man!

As you can tell by these few panoramas- the place was HUGE! Every time you entered a new “land” you couldn’t even tell that you had left the previous one. Like switching a channel on TV. It was amazing to say the very least.

Our first ride was Journey to the Center of the Earth followed by 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on Mysterious Island. Afterwards we wandered through Mermaid Lagoon and Arabian Coast. If we spent a second day in DisneySea- we would’ve seen the shows in the theaters and still not hit every ride.

After that, we made our way to Lost River Delta and got a FastPass for the Raging Spirits Ride. Well, Ok- everyone else got a FastPass but me. I was too damn tall. But the family had fun when we returned.

We hopped onto a Steamship and headed back to Mediterranean Harbor where we grabbed lunch and another ride on the water. This time on the Venetian Gondolas. It was a lot of fun- like the Jungle Cruise.

After the Gondolas- we wandered back to the other side to use our FastPasses on Raging Spirits and Journey to the Center of the Earth (for a second ride). Once the rides were over, we decided to walk around the Fortress Exploration where we ended up watching an Easter Show on the water.

As the evening started to settle in, we headed through Port Discovery and rode the Aquatopia ride. After that, we wandered through a mock-up of a Cape Cod town as we made our way towards American Waterfront.

It was starting to get late, so we ended up going for dinner in an old steamship in a place called The Teddy Roosevelt Lounge. It was decked out with T.R. memorabilia. It was set up like an old smoking lounge with booth tables and large leather chairs. We were placed in the center of the lounge at the large fireplace and treated like American Royalty. It was a great experience.

We ended our day with a walk towards Toy Story Mania and bought some “Little Green Dumplings” as dessert. Wandering through the shops on our way to the exit was absolute chaos. It seems that “Duffy” the bear is HUGE in Japan and everyone wants some of the merchandise that the employees were having a tough time keeping the shelves full.

All-in-all it was one of the greatest Disney Resort trips we have ever experienced. I already want to return- so does my family!

Tokyo Disneyland

Tuesday was spent exploring a crowded Tokyo Disneyland.

We awoke early to catch a couple of trains in order to arrive 30 mins prior to the park opening. As we shuffled through the gates, a sea of people were everywhere. I was amazed at the initial entry and how amazing the structure was.

Our first ride was Star Tours- with an already 20 minute wait. Just before it- I had zipped out to get a Fastpass for the Monsters: Ride and Go Seek (which was surprisingly a good ride!) Even though it was shortly after we entered the park- the second ride we tried to get on already had a 3hr stand-by line.

But that ride was Space Mountain. A ride we have been on in California numerous times. As we were about to get in line, a lady took my daughter and I aside to see if we would even fit in the ride. (We did!-but 3hrs is too long to wait.) So we wandered over to Tom Sawyers Island for a little walk around.

Of course we tried different rides and shows that aren’t in California. Lee-Anne made us go on the Beaver Brother Canoes. So I made her go see Stitch in the Tiki Room. They gave us translation devices to enjoy the lyrics in English.We also enjoyed the PhilharMagic this time in Japanese.

Of course no trip to Disneyland would be complete without a train ride, turkey leg, and a bunch of pictures in front of the castle. It made for a busy and fun adventure!

Next stop- DisneySea!

Trick or Treat! 2017 Halloween.

When I was younger, the costumes at Halloween were either store bought plastic sheets and masks or “mom-made”. Now our children go hardcore and have gone off the beaten path of traditional costumes. They have created their own designs and poses- giving their character’s life. They also received numerous questions and compliments about their designs. It seems that years of attending Comic-Cons has paid off.

For during the day at school, my daughters did “Steampunk Alice & Mad Hatter”. They worked together to create a look that worked for both of them. For trick or treating- they changed outfits to be a bit more scary.


Our youngest daughter did her take on Freddy Krueger. And our eldest did Professor Stein.  Creating costumes are becoming second nature for us. We’ve always loved Halloween and have made it special every year.


In the past we’ve hit Disneyland three times to Trick or Treat. We also attended Stan Lee’s Comikaze for a couple Halloweens. Always plenty of costumes and tons of candy!


Any time we didn’t travel, we would hit a residential neighborhood with crowded homes lining the streets. It was great for when the kids were younger. This year to trick or treat, my wife drove around our neighborhood (since the homes are spread out between 1-10 acre lots). Less houses but still a good haul. With quite a few full size chocolate bars and cans of soda.


I joined up with them at the end of their evening because I was at work all day. But in the spirit of Halloween- I still got dressed up! My coworkers were rather impressed by my outfit.(Tomorrow I’ll be sharing about making my costume.) I’ll always love Halloween and dressing up. I’m just a big kid at heart. I’ll leave you tonight with a phrase I love to say- that I even put on a t-shirt for my kids:

Many years ago with my son.

“When I grow up I wanna be like me.”

Vacation Planning Pt.3

Here is the planning stages thus far for our trip that we are planning for 2018.

1st Stage: Decide To Go On a Vacation.

This was easy.  Everyone loves vacations.

2nd Stage: Decide Where To Go.

This was a bit more challenging.  The family wanted to go somewhere warm or exotic.  We did Hawaii the one time and I realized that swimming in the ocean can be relaxing.  As I mentioned previously in Vacation Planning– we haven’t done much more than a few road trips up and down the West Coast.  I also pointed out our love of Disneyland and how it’s our “go-to” location.

3rd Stage:  Laying Out a Plan


I love the idea of visiting Disneyland.  It’s always the first place that comes to mind when my family talks about vacations or traveling.  I offhandedly mentioned to my wife the idea of Walt Disney World next year with a possible Disney Cruise as well.  We had some friends who have done similar trips and it seemed like a great idea.  So I began searching up Disney Cruises.

But then it dawned on me:  Why not visit a Disneyland in another country?  So I began researching every Disneyland on the planet.  Each one is fairly similar in the basic rides and visual look.  There is also rides and attractions unique to every location.  Plus they are located in beautiful cities that I have wanted to travel to.  Paris, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong… all of them with much more to see than just Disneyland.  There are entire cultural differences to experience.  It has made it very difficult to decide which Disneyland to go to…

Next, I did what any father would do.  I sat my kids down and asked their opinions.  They were no help.  They couldn’t decide which one they would want to go to if given a choice.  So I made the decision for them.

We are going to travel to see every single Disneyland on the planet.  I can’t find anyone online who has done a single trip traveling from city to city visiting each and every Disneyland.  There are people who have been to all of the parks over the years.  I found one person who planned on visiting all of the parks in one year: Disney Around the World 2016: My Quest to Visit Every Disney Park in 1 Year.  

I figure it’s about time someone does it in one non-stop circular journey in under a month.  We are that family.

4th Stage:  Getting There


I mentioned in Vacation Planning Pt.2 that my wife figured out we can buy an “Around the World” airfare for about half the cost instead of individually buying tickets for city to city.  So now she is on board with the idea.

Because of my height, I haven’t ever really enjoyed plane rides.  I figure why not get as many flights over and done with in a short amount of time.  By flying westward first, it will keep the jet lag down to a minimum.  That way we can also end in California at the original Disneyland.

5th Stage:  The Details

We need to figure this part out still…

6th Stage: Enjoy Our Trip

Even Princesses need a break.


This will be a once in a lifetime trip.  A trip that most people would think is crazy.  But we aren’t like most people.  We are excited to see “The Happiest Place On Earth” in all of the many locations.

Now to come up with a title for our trip…

Disneyland World Hopper

Around the World in Disney Days

A Month of Disneylands

Planet Disneyland 

I need to find something that expresses the joy and the absurdity as well as the Disney-ness of it.

We’re going to Disneyland! 

All of ’em!

Vacation Planning Pt.2

Yesterday, I mentioned trying to expand our travels to be more World Wide.  Here is the link in case you missed it: Vacation Planning.  Over the past few days, I have been looking into traveling to Asia and Europe within the next two years. I started by looking on Expedia and pricing tickets from one location to another. Then my wife asked if I had looked into”Around the World” air tickets. Flying this way cuts our cost in half. Bonus

However, we are still going to need to figure out some other costs such as hotels and food. We aren’t going to be road tripping with a cooler this time. My initial estimate for the five of us hovers around $30,000 to travel for about a month.


This is a huge jump from the first trip my wife and I ever took. It is something that the two of us have talked about doing with the kids since before our first child was born. When we originally began talking about this idea, we wanted to take the kids out of school for a year of traveling the world- similar to this family: Quit Your Job and Travel the World for a Year.   However since our children now attend a Choice School, they’d  lose their spots and the advantage we have struggled so hard for them to have. So we will have to resort to a summer trip and hit the destinations filled with crowds (unfortunately).  Not really a big deal.

I am really lucky with the new position I have at my work. Because of the years of service I have already put in, I am now given five weeks vacation every year. As well when I was working on the union side, I had to work the year prior to put into the following year for vacation. This means my work owes me four weeks vacation time that I need to take over the next couple of years. For those doing the math- that’s fourteen weeks off over two years. I must take five this year. I will still have nine weeks remaining. A little over two months. That’s a lot of time off.


When I married my wife- I was at $12/hr working about 30hrs/week when we first traveled on our honeymoon. Our first vacation reflected the tight income.  It’s time that our biggest vacation reflects the salary change and growth of our family.  Our children are older and more competent than when we first traveled to Disneyland back in 2009.  Those memories are what we as a family have enjoyed the most.  


So why not incorporate a trip to Disney World along the way?  The kids would love that.  I would as well.  Pretty sure my wife wouldn’t put up too much of a fight. This is now in the works for our future big trip.