Final Push Home

Yesterday was the last leg of our journey to return home from Disneyland. We woke up and had breakfast by 7am as we were all eager to get under way. Home was only a short 5 hour journey if traffic was good. Otherwise it could take about 6 1/2 hours. We needed to get through Tacoma and Seattle.

Of course, the teenagers were out cold AGAIN almost instantly. Yup, I kept taking pictures of this. My wife and I talked and listened to music up front and enjoyed the peace and quiet coming from the back.

I mentioned about having road nuggies the previous day. This time my son wanted to bring “racon” aka “road bacon”. He grabbed a to-go coffee cup and filled it packed tight with bacon from the hotel breakfast. A couple hours after leaving and our car smelled like the heavenly aroma of bacon.

The journey only took us a little over 5 hours to complete. Once we got home, our oldest was in the process of tidying up. They had opted to staycation at our home and look after the pets and house while we were out of town. They even made my wife and I a painting and left it in our bedroom for us.

Being home is a great feeling. I was surprised that it was far hotter than Disneyland. But I got to work quickly and had the pool cleaned and open for us to relax in after our two day drive home. I love the memories that we have made over the years doing these road trips. Maybe more will happen, but I have a feeling this may have been our last one for quite some time.

Next summer I do not plan on going anywhere as our home is pretty gosh darn awesome. For now, I’ll enjoy the next few days alone as my wife is taking our two youngest on yet another road trip to Calgary for a few day. Practically feels as though she is living in her car. But this sacrifice she is doing is for our son’s speed skating. He has a competition this weekend and it was imperative that he attends.

A bit of “me time” is on the agenda the next couple of days as my vacation time winds down. I’m sure I’ll be able to keep busy. Or at least catch up on some naps like the teens did.

Disneyland 2022: Day 4- Another California Adventure Day

For our final day at the theme parks, we hit California Adventure. This is our favorite park of the two overall. We love the Pixar Pier and the old school amusement park feel.

Of course, we made it to be first in line at rope drop in order to ride Radiator Racers. After that was the same plan as we had a couple days prior- Incredicoaster and Toy Story Mania.

My wife and I split from the kids for a bit throughout the day and hand a good time together. It was a bittersweet series of moments as we realized that our kids are no longer the youngsters they once were. As well, this is our last trip like this with them.

We did meet up with them periodically and had a great time. A few more rides and meals together. We made the coaster a couple times as it got dark. That’s always more fun when you see the lights of the park everywhere as darkness falls.

We ended our day at The Avengers Campus with some dinner followed by one final ride on Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout. Probably one of the best rides in the park. Full of high energy, great music and visuals.

Saying goodbye to the trip was tough. But it was a ton of fun!

Disneyland 2022: Day 3- Another Disney Day

We just finished our third day in a row at the Disneyland Park. We were there bright and early again. In fact, we were able to get to rope drop and be first in line.

Once the rope dropped, we hustled to Galaxy’s Edge and got onto Rise of the Resistance without stopping. That walk took us six minutes and was worth the rush.

Most of our day was casually hitting a few rides, meeting some characters and eating. Theory got a set of ears and had them embroidered. We got lucky and we arrived in Tomorrowland just after Space Mountain had broken down. As our son walked up to ask if they knew how long it would be down for- the ride reopened. Again, we walked right on to the ride. Once it was over, three of us walked right back on before the line grew once more.

The rest of the afternoon was shopping, followed by hours at Galaxy’s Edge. Our two kids decided that they wanted to build their own Lighsabers. Which was a pretty cool experience.

For day three, we had a pretty good time. Now onto our fourth and final day!

Disneyland 2022: Day 2 In The Park

We just had day 2 in Disneyland (Technically we finished California Adventure 2022: Day 1 In The Park). It was again started with getting there early. This allowed for us to be first in line and first at the rope drop. Big hustle to get to our first ride.

We hit up Radiator Racers first, then onto the Incredicoaster twice, followed by Toy Story Mania twice. We walked on each ride without lines. That was all done within the first hour of arriving. After that, the crowds caught up.

That wasn’t an issue as we still hit every ride in the park. Including waiting twice for Guardians of the Galaxy and an hour wait for a second ride on Radiator Racers. We also got plenty of shopping done and ended the day in the “Splash Zone” of World of Color.

We have one more day at Disneyland and the following day at California Adventure. Now that we hit every ride that was important to us- we are going to hit a couple of the big ones, but not try and rush as much.

Oh, and our feet are sore. Just sayin’

Disneyland 2022: Day 1 In The Park

We arrived early at the park and were second in line to have our tickets scanned. Then it was off to rope drop on Main Street. Once that occurred- it was a mad rush to our first ride: Rise Of The Resistance.

Afterwards was some fun wandering Galaxies Edge and getting onto Smuggler’s Run twice without much wait. Along the way, a Wookiee joined us. That was magical.

Then it was off to the other rides. Loads of smiles as we waited in the stand-by lines. Surprisingly the wait times were not as bad as the app was telling us. We did have a couple longer waits, but nothing exceeded 40 minutes.

Even with one ride crapping out- only lasting five minutes. But we were ready to wait for Space Mountain. Mostly because of the air conditioning. It was mid-afternoon and hot!

The end of our evening was spent in Fantasyland. Followed by a picnic dinner as we sat waiting for the Main Street Electrical Parade. It’s a neat experience to watch as the lights begin to turn on throughout the park from a central location.

After the evening ended, we snuck in another couple of rides followed by some gift shop wandering. A short nap (aka sleep) and we are off to Day 2: California Adventure.

Last Leg Of The Journey

Our road trip today was a little over six hours. We stopped at In-N-Out again. I was told by the cashier that I was number 1. So I totally did a dad moment and said, “You know it.” Afterwards we were stuck in traffic heading through Los Angeles and spotted a couple billboards for Disneyland.

We made it to the hotel without issue. My wife and I went out to get a few snacks for the parks and the kids were too excited to remain at the hotel. So they took off to Downtown Disney and wandered the stores. We met up with them at the first store and the played around getting some photos and grabbed a cheap dinner. My wife wanted a re-created photo of the kids at the gate waiting to enter. (Albeit we do have a substitute teenager in place of our oldest.)

Our evening ended back at the hotel. We stood on the balcony and watched the fireworks that exploded from the park. Our energy levels and dopamine was kicking in and getting to sleep was tough. But we did it.

The excitement of our first day is about to commence. Now onto a post- Covid lockdown adventure in Disneyland. Did I mention that I’m super excited about Galaxy’s Edge? Yeah. I kinda love Star Wars…. Squeee!!! I’m the biggest kid of them all right now.

More adventures to follow over the next few days.

Road Trip Time

Today is starting with an early morning wake up for all of us. Of course, we are all energized and ready… seriously.

So Early

This is the kind of road trip that can get a person excited. Even the teenagers are awake without grumbling. Albeit quiet and subdued. But ready to go nonetheless. No photos of them quite yet as that kind of energy isn’t powered up.

I know I have been talking about this trip to numerous friends and coworkers, so many people already know where we are going. The picture of my watch is a dead giveaway. If you haven’t figured it out- here’s another angle of the picture.

Hidden Mickey

Disneyland! We are so excited! This early start to our twenty two hour drive is going to get us revved up for our four whirlwind days in the parks. At least we are breaking up the journey down into two days. Only once have we pushed through in one stretch- never again.

I’m excited to share our adventures over the next few days. I hope you enjoy them as well!

Disneyland- HERE WE COME!

Weather Seems Nice

Normally we don’t do a big vacation in the summertime to a nice warm place. Living in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia- we have really nice summers. So there is never a need to travel to a sunny destination.

As you can see, this upcoming week has some high temperatures and mostly sun. A good way to enjoy August. Why should we go anywhere?

You see, our goal is to be in Disneyland for the first time during summer. Similar highs, but the lows are far warmer. We won’t get much of a chance to cool off each day. But that will be just fine with me!

We have been waiting for this trip to Disneyland for over two years. We bought tickets hoping to travel in July of 2020 to see what the summer season (and July 4th) would be like in the parks. But, you know, Covid had other plans for everyone.

Soon we will be south of our home and enjoying the Warm California Sun. I’m excited about our family vacation and look forward to the weather being on our side!

Excited For Disneyland

Even though we don’t head to Disneyland for a few more months, I’m getting very excited for it. It seems as though everything is pointing to a wonderful vacation.

Yesterday I was driving home from dropping the kids off at school- the sun was starting to come out. As it did, my watch reflected onto my visor; creating an all too familiar image. The iconic Mickey Mouse ears.

Naturally it made me feel jovial and happy. The previous trips were a blast. Each one was slightly different- creating new memories and unique experiences for all of us. Our future trip is looking almost like a whole new experience as well.

We will get to travel to the Star Wars inspired portion of the park: Galaxy’s Edge– finally after three years of anticipation and excitement. Plus there’s a whole new Marvel inspired land that will be a fun experience for all of us.

But there’s also the normal fun we love to have every trip. Turkey legs, Dole Whip, parades,shopping, rides, meeting characters… the list goes on and on. It’s just such a magical experience each and every time. This next time around, we are bringing a person who has never been to Disneyland. So we will get to see the joy and wonderment through their eyes as we hit up all the fun spots and secrets we have learned over the years.

Do you ever get signs of things to come? Does it make you excited? Let me know in the comments.

Hyped For Disneyland

Yesterday I booked the dates for using our Disneyland tickets that were purchased back in February 2020. I was only able to book them 120 days in advance. So when the dates opened, I jumped on them.

At this point the availability was good, but I didn’t want to chance it since we are doing a whirlwind trip. We are driving down, splitting it into a two day drive. Followed by four days in the park and a two day drive home. No resting or relaxation day in there.

From our first trip to Disneyland

Once I booked the tickets, our son began to really get invested in the trip. Discussing favorite lands/rides/food from previous trips. He also began to get new plans made for a possible itinerary for us. Plus he was sharing so trivia facts about the parks.

His excitement is contagious. It’s getting us all into the spirit of the road trip. I’m glad that our previous trips there were so joyous and memorable. I have a feeling this will be another memorable experience. Plenty of new things to see and do since our last visit in 2018.

Are you planning any vacations once more? Isn’t it nice to have a sense of freedom returning?

Disneyland 2020? Finally Going 2022.

We booked Disneyland tickets in February 2020 about a week before the world shut down. We had been planning to go for July 4th in order to see the military fly over and fireworks for that day. However, our trip has been in a state of hiatus ever since.

Memories of our 1st Disneyland trip

We are now on the verge of finalizing a trip to the most magical place on earth! The tickets we had bought were extended, but only until December 15th of this year. My original plan was to go at Christmas this year. Sadly that is unable to be accomplished. The other unfortunate part is our oldest will most likely not be joining us. This will be our the first Disneyland trip without them.

Of course I am discouraged by all of this. However, I know that the remaining four of us can still have a good time together no matter when we book our trip. As travel to other countries has been returning, I find it encouraging for our future vacation plans. I know that Disneyland won’t be the same as it was in years prior. But the familiarity is something we can look forward to.

Have you begun traveling again? Has it felt different or just another step to be taken in order to experience the world? let me know your thoughts on travel in the comments.

Clam Chowder In A Bread Bowl

My wife thinks that she must be missing Disneyland. Mostly the memories that the food brings back. She made churro cookies the other day- which are delicious! Last night for dinner we had clam chowder in bread bowls. Just like the ones we ate from Harbour Galley at New Orleans Square in Disneyland.

My wife has been playing with bread recipes for a few weeks now. These bread bowls were perfect. We have a “Proofing” option in our new oven, so the bread is rising nicely each and every time. The clam chowder was also made from scratch. My wife is superb when it comes to chowders and goulashes.

I just wonder what our next Disneyland themed treat will be. Perhaps beignets like the ones we at in Downtown Disneyland from Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen. She could find us some smoked Turkey legs. Or maybe a Dole Whip or even a Margarita like we had at Rita’s Baja Blenders. Who knows what my wife’s tastes will bring for for the rest of us.

But my tastebuds have been pleasantly surprised thus far.

Disneyland Is Back- And We Can’t Wait To Visit

Back in 2009, we went on our first trip to Disneyland. We have retuned to the The Happiest Place on Earth numerous times. That first trip was by far the most memorable. And probably our most joyous.

The photos from our first trip are filled with fun. Those smiles from our children are still contagious. Each trip since has been equally as magical in different ways. We have loved every visit.

Last February we bought tickets for Disneyland. Our plan was to visit in the July of 2020. Alas, the world shutdown. Now there is a glimmer of hope as the Disneyland park opens once more. Only to California residents and in a limited capacity- but from what I’ve seen today, my heart yearns for a trip back there.

The tickets we bought will be honored at a later date. So we will hold onto the thought of traveling once more. Only the next time, there will be at least four adult Havelkas entering the park. They may not be children, but we will be young at heart once more.

Is a visit to Disneyland on your wish list once travel restrictions are lifted?

Summer Graffiti

As the sun continues to shine, my work days have gotten a bit brighter. Even the rail cars are getting into the spirit.

I spotted a “Lilo and Stitch” graffiti painted car outside the window today. It made me smile at the abilities of some vandals. The recognition of a cartoon character on either side of a tag is becoming commonplace.

Seeing “Lilo and Stitch” reminded me of our trip to Hawaii seven years ago. As well as our trip to Tokyo three years ago. Which got me thinking about all of our vacations to Disneyland. I really do enjoy my time with my family as we make memories.

So if a graffiti vandal can make me happy, then I really don’t mind seeing their crimes. Especially on rolling art canvases that travel the continent.

The Death of Darth Vader

In honor of the passing of Dave Prowse- the actor who wore the Darth Vader costume in the original trilogy of Star Wars films- I wanted to re-share some lighthearted images. Originally I had shared these over the years on my social media. They are of Darth Vader being not so Darth.

As a Star Wars fan I always wanted to dress up as Darth Vader. I figured I would be a perfect fit since I have the height. Previously I was Obi-Wan Kenobi, maybe it’s time to join the Dark Side.

I’ve also had my kids grow up on Star Wars. On our trips to Disneyland- they each got to enjoy a lightsaber battle against a evil foe- Darth Vader included. Here’s a video from 11 years ago: Darwin vs Darth Vader.

Reflecting on the impact that a character has had on my life is important to me. The actor behind the mask (both literal and figurative in this case) is also part of the remembrance.

Thank you Dave Prowse for your actions as an iconic sci-fi character. You will be missed.

A Decade of Disneyland at Halloween

Looking back at my memories, I saw that we spent a majority of our kids’ Halloweens in Disneyland. Since 2010 we have been enjoying haunting up the theme park.

To say I miss visiting Disneyland is an understatement. Once this pandemic clears up and travel opens again- I’d love to hit up Disneyland. No matter what time of year it is. The family and I always had a good time goofing around as we immersed ourselves in the joy of the parks.

Disneyland California Adventure 2010

We would push for full days at the parks. Lining up before the gates opened and being some of the last guests to leave at night. We made every minute count.

Honestly, some of the best parts of the trips was also the drive. We would be hyped going down the coast, then excitedly talk the drive back about all the fun we had. As cheesy as all this sounds, I am sad that we didn’t get to do it this year. Some of the biggest connections I created with my children was on these vacations. Those memories however will last me a lifetime. As is obvious by today’s blog.

In order to bring forth those good feels, I decided that tonight we are watching Disney’s Hocus Pocus as a family. I haven’t seen this film since the mid-90’s. I also have no idea of my family has seen it. I hope it holds up.

Even if traditions change and we need to adapt. We shall continue to make scary memories together as a family in a variety of ways.

Vacation Feels

It’s nearing the end of summer. It’s the final push to enjoy ourselves. I am also starting eleven days of vacation. That means time away from work, which is great to recharge the mental batteries. Even though we may not be traveling to a favorite destination.

We are still planning on having a good time as a family. Tonight we made smoked turkey legs and watched some “Disney Park Blogs” YouTube videos during dinner.

Of course we all wore our Mouse Ears! Because who knows when the next time we will be attending a Disney Park again… But the feels needed to come out. The ears brought forth joy, laughter and memories.

I’m ready to have a great time with my family during staycation. British Columbia is the next best place to be next to Disneyland! Especially if you get to share moments with loved ones.

July 4th 2020

This year, we were planning on changing up our July 4th festivities. Back in February (before the pandemic took over) we bought tickets to Disneyland and booked our favorite hotel. Up until about a month ago, we were having a tough emotional time canceling the hotel. We really wanted to experience Disneyland in the summer since we’ve had the chance to enjoy springtime and numerous times at Halloween.

We really wanted to see the Disneyland 4th of July Fireworks. I assume that Americans can put on quite the show. Tonight, we shall watch those fireworks from the comfort of our home.

As well, instead of a road trip along the West Coast of the USA, I plan on taking some of the family camping during my vacation. As our kids get older, it seems there’s a bit of freedom expected. So our oldest is choosing to stay home. As uneventful as camping is, we are still happy and healthy and ready to enjoy the world.

But tonight, we shall resort to our July 4th Tradition. A viewing of ID4: Independence Day. I love this film. I also love the fact that our kids believed me (when they were much, much younger) that this film is historically accurate. Thank you Hollywood!

Happy July 4th to our American Neighbours!

I Hadn’t Planned a Recovery

This COVID thing has finally ticked me off. Our road trip to Disneyland at the end of the month is cancelled. I really didn’t want to admit that it was a possibility. But here we are, no Disneyland trip.

And no recovery plan either. It’s not like we can drive across the border and take a break someplace else in California. We can barely travel between provinces here in Canada as it is…

I am at a loss for what to do in order to get some “Rest and Relaxation” away from the daily grind. Seems like camping is about it. But being so late to the game, I have no idea if we can even book a site at the last minute.

I’m not used to this. Last minute travel is not my thing. I like plans! Itineraries! Goals! Gosh dingit! I feel lost. I need some guidance as to what to do or where to go.

Beignets

We’ve been making lots of desserts lately. I was never a big sweets fan, but add my deep fryer- man I’m going to get fat! And the food is amazing!

We made Donuts three weeks ago. And again about a week after once we got better yeast. Two weeks ago we made Disneyland Churros. Which we made again a few days later because they turned out perfect.

Disney Blogs shared another recipe. Classic Disney Beignets. Naturally, I had to make them. They turned out fantastic! These are so mmmmmmmmm good. Definitely a repeatable treat.

These foods help us emotionally because we are missing Disneyland. We have been singing Disney songs and watching Disney films quite a bit lately. Last night we ended our evening watching Fireworks from Disneyworld. We know that our trip is getting cancelled this summer and it sucks. But at least we are trying to keep our spirits up. Mostly through all the other senses.

Are you trying new foods lately? How are you keeping your sanity?

Disneyland Churros

Disney released the greatest thing ever this week. They released their churro recipe for those of us at home who miss attending the parks. The recipe is extremely easy. Find it at Disney Parks Blog Churros.

Of course, we HAD TO MAKE THEM!

My kids had a great time helping make the churros, deep fry the churros, sugar the churros and of course- eat the churros!

It was a fun bonding time with the kids and surprisingly easy to make. (Especially with a deep fryer). I highly suggest those who love churros and miss the most magical place on earth- try this recipe. It’s a great way to bring the magic home.

And don’t forget to listen to your favorite Disney music while making them!

Mug Shots

Like most folks, we have an assortment of coffee mugs in our cupboard. They often appear as gifts based on whatever the recipients fancy. From Owls to Lego, to mugs that come free with a bottle of booze- these become personalized favorites of us all. But my wife and I are cheesy. We have a collection of matching mugs.

It started years ago with a couple of horoscope ones from the dollar store. But it soon branched off into ones that defined who we really were.

My wife dominated over me by absconding the “Player 1” mug leaving me to be the Luigi to her Mario. Always second to none, but she’s my number one.

I am particularly fond of our first set of Disneyland mugs. Simple art of the classic characters that defined cartoons My wife is the Minnie to my Mickey.

Soon after we picked up another set of mugs. She is the elegant Eve to my clunky love struck Wall-E. But wait, there’s more…

A couple of years later she became my Belle. That’s right, we really are that cheesy. Even our kids began to get in on the fun.

Of course Disneyland plays on the memories and heartstrings of everyone who enters their gates. The store shelves are lined with trinkets and mugs that need to be brought home. Every one of our morning coffees is in matching mugs. And no one else is permitted to use them.

Do you have a favorite coffee cup?

Are you as cheesy as we are?

Let me know in the comments.

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.