Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Summer is just around the corner...

And you know what that means!? The kids are home. They are all mine. Well, mostly, they still kinda like to hag out with their friends. But, no more homework, no more rehearsals, no more early mornings when all we want to do is sleep in! Yay!

Instead, we will spend time together in the garden, in the kitchen, and out in the big wide world that school seems to believe isn't as important as a classroom. Road trips, camping, the beach, days at the pool, and the library are all on the horizon.

I get to concentrate on being with them while they still want me around. So, I won't be around as much. I'll still post when I have something...

But Summer Vacation is in the house!

Enjoy your summer!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Disneyland Tips, Tricks and Secrets #4

Welcome back to the fourth part of our series

As many of you know, we will be visiting the original home of the Mouse this week. I thought it might be insightful to see our plans outlined. Maybe it will help make the tips, tricks and secrets a bit more real as we continue on our journey through the labyrinth that has become a Disney Vacation. I have to remind everybody, this itinerary is for Disneyland Resort in California. Florida is a different beast and I am certainly no expert there!

Okey dokey. Here we go.

*Wed AM: Pack the roomiest, most comfortable vehicle we have access to. In our case, my in laws' mini van with dual recliners in the back and built in DVD screens. No children arguing over who is getting the best seat or Heaven Forbid being forced to share and complaining over who is taking up most of the room! They might be nearing 13 and 15 but they still argue like they are 2 and 4. Pack that vehicle with the following:.
Cooler - Both alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages, breakfast, lunch and snack items. Ours will certainly have a bottle of wine, a six pack of beer, an assortment of juices and sodas, cheese, cold cuts, sliced chicken breast, cream cheese, and salsa. And whatever else looks good at the time. 
Grocery box - Dry goods and paper products. Crackers, bagels, beef jerky, popcorn, assorted candies, granola, coffee, hot chocolate, tea, and paper picnic items. And a case of water bottles. You get the idea. 
Luggage - For a spring, almost summer trip, we will have an assortment of shorts (or skirts), short sleeve Tshirts and blouses, a pair of jeans, a sweat shirt, a set of night clothes, a swim suit, a pair of comfy tennis shoes, a comfy pair of sandals and maybe a comfy pair of nicer shoes, plus the assorted necessity clothing. We pack for one day longer than our trip adding 3 more pair of socks and underwear than you think you will need. Sometimes fresh is nice after your nap! LOL We always include one nicer going out outfit for every member of the family. We don't always use it but its nice to have just in case. 
Bathroom bag  - with shower necessities (if your family can share it makes it easier), grooming supplies (again share as much as possible), and individual personal items. We keep makeup and jewelry to minimum. Don't forget the sunscreen! 
Day use back pack - with bandaids, medications, sunscreen, New Skin and your important papers like medical cards, AAA card, Disney Tickets, hotel reservation info and your itinerary. I also put a phone charger in here along with my ID, one small limit credit card (that you are not using for your hotel and tickets), and some cash.  
Electronics bag - I always bring a charger for each device including the laptop/ipad and a surge protector strip that they all can be plugged into. There are never enough outlets and its nice to know you items will be protected like they are at home form electrical surges. If you are bringing the camera, this is a good spot for it and its extras including spare batteries. 
The Travel Box- Assorted DVDs to watch during the trip, snacks, drinks, pain meds, a couple of magazines, little book lights, maybe a joke book, or anything else that can be a fun time eater. The older the kids get the less I put in this box. They sleep or entertain themselves well enough. Get creative with little ones.
The Glove Box- Gets a copy of pretty much everything in the Day Use Pack, plus Hubby's wallet with the credit card we use for gas and misc purchases on the road. It also gets a map, a flashlight and some cash.

*Wednesday Afternoon- Pick up the kids from school and hit the road. I recommend wearing the most comfortable clothing you can be seen in public in if your drive is longer than 3 hours. 

*Wednesday Evening- We are coming from Reno and usually stop for dinner in Sacramento before getting on I-5. Casual sit down or drive thru depends on everyone's mood. 

*Wednesday Night - We've traveled along I-5 all evening, stopping for gas and bathroom breaks as needed but only at the large travel centers for safety reasons. Its now probably 11pm and we have arrived at our destination for the night an hour or so away from Disneyland. Off to bed!

*Thursday - DL open 9am to 10pm CA open 10am to 8pm. 
Rise and shine early. Dress for your first day in Disney! Hit the road in time to be at Disneyland about two hours before the park officially opens. Its now 7am. Disneyland opens at 9am. Enjoy breakfast at Mimi's Cafe on Harbor Blvd next to our hotel.Its 8. Breakfast is done. Check in at hotel (we won't get our room keys until later in the day), park the car, secure valuable items in the hotel safe, lock the car, grab you day pack and walk to the parks. First up Star Tours! Grab a Fast Pass and then get in line to ride. Next, Space Mtn. We usually do the same. Fast Pass and Ride. Now you are holding two high priority Fast Passes for the evening. Maybe sneak a ride on Finding Nemo here. We will spend the morning collecting other Fast Passes and riding attractions that will likely have long lines later in the day that don't have the Fast Pass option. Because we had a big breakfast, we will probably grab a snack around 10:30 and continue to play, throwing in a show or two along the way. Around 2 we will leave the parks and eat lunch from Subway or some other quick serve place outside the parks.Then go back to the hotel to get our keys and settle in. Swim a little, maybe nap, grab a snack from the cooler and go back to the parks by 6pm. We will use those Fast Passes all evening long. We have reservations in DTD at The Jazz Kitchen at 9 with the rest of our party (nearly 20 of us!) to watch the Thursday Night live entertainment, The Dueling Pianos. Here we will have light appetizers and a night cap. Then off to the hotel for a good night's sleep.

*Friday - DL open 8am to 11pm CA open 10 am to 10pm
Have breakfast in the room and walk to Disneyland by 7:30. This morning we will concentrate on getting Fast Passes for the evening and riding more rides that gather long lines later in the day that don't have Fast Passes. Probably Fast Pass Indiana Jones and ride it, then get a Splash Mtn Fast Pass and ride Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean and Jungle Cruise. We are saving Fantasyland for Saturday morning. At 9:45 walk to CA for its opening. First ride is Toy Story Midway Mania. Then begin gathering Fast Passes and riding other attractions. Because we had a light breakfast, we will want lunch early, around 11 am, from one of the in park counter service options. Maybe the wharf soups in bread bowls? Yummy. After lunch, we will continue with CA and use some of those Fast Passes up before going back to the hotel for a break around 3. After a swim/nap break and a light dinner poolside from the cooler, we will go back to DL by 7. Use the Fast Passes we gathered earlier in the day and watch the Fireworks and the second showing of Fantasmic. I will explain how we do this in my post next week. I promise. After Fantasmic we could either go back to the room and go to bed or close down the park riding rides. That will depend on everyone's energy level.

*Saturday - DL open 8am to 12 midnight CA open 10 am to 10pm MAGIC MORNING HOUR
We are choosing to use our Magic Morning on what should be the busiest day of our trip. So we want to be at the park by 6:30. This will probably keep us from staying out too late the night before. Breakfast is from the cooler again today. Fantasyland is first up. You will notice when you enter Fantasyland thru the Castle that there are 4 rides that are in the cute little buildings surrounding the space in front of you. You definitely want to do Peter Pan first, then Mr Toad's Wild Ride that way you can avoid the longest lines. Then you will want to do Dumbo, if you want to do it at all. The lines here get long quick too! Remember, there are no Fast Passes in this part of the park. Then back to Snow White and Pinocchio, followed by Alice in Wonderland and the Tea Cups and the Storybook Canal Boats. Round it out with Casey's Train and you've done Fantasyland. Probably before the park opens to regular guests. Now the rest of the park is open. Send a Fast Pass runner to get your highest priority Fast Pass. The off to ride Big Thunder Mtn RR. Toon Town will open at 9, so that would be next on our list. Get a Fast Pass for Roger Rabbit (its off the grid, so times of last Fast Pass don't matter) and then get in line to see Mickey. Its a long line but it winds thru Mickey's house and studio. There is lots to do and see while you wait to see Mickey in one of the best spots in the Parks. Finish touring Toon Town, there are lots of fun interactive things back here, grabbing a snack somewhere along the way. At 11:15 we need to check in at the Blue Bayou for our lunch reservations. Again, 20 of us crazy peeps! After a large (and pricey) lunch we are off to play some more. We will probably hop over to CA and gather Fast Passes for the evening as well as draw at Animation Academy and visit the people tank over at Turtle Talk with Crush. Both are must dos! Back to the hotel for a break around 2 or 3. Another dinner out of the cooler or order pizza to the room and back to the parks around 6 or 7. Play in CA until 8, when its time to line up for World Of Color. I will also discuss how best to strategize for this show in next week's post. After WOC we will hop over to DL and use our Fast Passes there until we can't go no more!

*Sunday - DL open 8am to 12 midnight CA open 10 am to 10pm Happy Mother's Day!
This is our last day to play and its only a half day. Boo! 
We will probably sleep in this morning. It is a vacation after all. Breakfast in the room again, but at a slower pace. A leisurely morning to pack up the car and check out. Then head to the parks to revisit some of our favorite attractions or see a show we haven't seen yet this trip. Today is the day we usually buy any gifts for people back home and maybe a keepsake we have been coveting the entire trip. Back to the show thing. We have made it a tradition to go see Aladdin as our last thing each trip. Its a nice way to say goodbye. So, we will pick the last show before we want to leave and see Aladdin and Jasmine fall in love and let the Genie tell us his new one liners. What a wonderful way to say goodbye to The Happiest Place on Earth!

 Time to get in the car and head home exhausted but happy. Wouldn't want it any other way!
 See you all on the other side! 

I'm Going to Disneyland!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Master Closet Plan

I really don't need a super fancy closet, just something that is neat and tidy, and remains that way because its functional. Is that so much to ask? Here's what we are starting with at Sagebrush Ridge. 

You can read more about it here. And my frustration with it all here.
Its sad really. Its sorry state of affairs that I have such a large space at my disposal and it looks, and functions, so horribly.

This is the basic layout as it currently exists, if it were empty of everything but the music equipment.

And here is the basic plan I want to implement. 

After purging some stuff, finding new homes for others, and generally cleaning up I want to add a long dresser with a ton of drawers for folded clothing and a dressing table, again with more drawers. Something like on the back wall of the pic above, but instead of the mirror it would be hanging space for shorter length clothing.

I can't say I will sit at the dressing table to do my hair or makeup, since there isn't a lick of natural light in here, nor a single electrical outlet. We have to deal with the two woefully under powered over head light fixtures. I'd like to replace the one on the pretty side of the closet, but we shall see. Either way, makeup isn't gonna happen in this space.

Then why a dressing table and chair, you ask? Well, its always nice to have a spot to sit and put your shoes on and the extra storage in the dressing table will be appreciated. Plus, a mirror will add a little much needed sparkle. I want to create a feeling of pampering in here to match our master bath. Make it feel like its all part of the suite. You know what I mean?

The drape partition will go a long way in helping hide the ugly side of the room. The music equipment and various household storage that we couldn't relocate will all be hidden back here. I may even add a full length mirror suspended from the ceiling along here. Something like shown above, without the sofa, of coarse.And full length. Something to give this wall a little punch. I have the sneaking suspicion that setting up getting everything to fit in that side of the room may feel a bit like playing Tetris.

How have you guys made your closets work hard for you?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Disneyland Tips, Tricks and Secrets #3

Welcome back for another week of tips, tricks and secrets for a successful Disneyland vacation.

Last week we discussed the all important fast pass system, how to use it, and a few tricks that aren't published Disney policy, but work none the less...for now of coarse. We also talked about how precious the morning hours are in the parks. I can't stress this enough. Showing up in the late morning will make the rest of your day much more hectic, especially if your primary goal is to ride attractions. 

Remember the early bird gets the worm!

In the first week's post we talked about when to visit, where to stay, and how long your trip should be. You can revisit all of that here.

Now we are at that all important part of the day when everybody is hungry. There are so many dining choices within the Disney Parks, plus the hotels, Downtown Disney, and the surrounding areas. Before we dive into each of these and their pros and cons, I want to back up and discuss what you should have in your hotel room and what you should pack into the parks.

I always recommend stopping by a local grocery store on your way or during your first day for snacks, breakfast items, a bottle or two of wine, a case of water, and maybe some lunch type items. If you can't go to the store and didn't bring groceries with you, then you'll want to utilize one of the grocery stores that deliver. Its all worth the effort. One, you'll save a ton of money. Two, you'll save time. Three, you will save yourself from hearing the endless complaints of hunger from your own belly and those of your family.

Remember, you will be walking A LOT. And Disney is very good at entices all of your senses, including those that make you hungry. You will also find that at peak times (like when you want a dessert type snack) everyone wants to eat at the same time and the lines can be ridiculous. We have returned to the hotel many a nights looking for a short line, having never found one and raided the hotel pantry we set up. It saved us from going to bed hungry. In the morning, ideally you will eat breakfast in your room or carry it into the parks. And you will want to pack snacks into a back pack. I like to allow the kids to get one in park treat each day, but their other snacks must come from the pack. This way I know they are getting an array of healthy (or if not healthy at least cheap) options. I include things like sliced apples, snack sized candies, beef jerky, granola bars and water. Lots and lots of water, especially during the warmer months. 

Ok, back to lunch and your choices. 

We usually plan one sit down meal a day in order to take a load off. Lunch is a great choice because the same menu items tend to be a couple dollars cheaper at lunch time in Disney. During the summer we tend to eat lunch later at like 2 or 3 to avoid crowds and get a break from the heat. In cooler months we try to plan lunch for around 11 or 11:30, skipping the mid morning snack that we would have eaten in the summer to get us through. Either way we are avoiding eating at peak times when the restaurants are the busiest. If you want to have a full service sit down meal too, you should check out the menus here. This web site also has the menus for counter service, but we will get to that in a second...

Full service restaurants within the Disney Parks, at the hotels and in DTD tend to get busy and usually require reservations. Sometimes you can get lucky and make ressies that day, but usually you want to do it before you leave home. Some, like the famous Blue Bayou Restaurant in Pirates of the Caribbean Attraction, require ressies to be made a month or more in advance during the busiest times of the year. For ressies, call  Disneyland Dining at 714-781-DINE (3463). 

Ok, back to your options. Next up is counter service. These quick service restaurants' menus can be seen at the link above too. They are throughout the parks and DTD (Downtown Disney). This is certainly a less expensive option, but not necessarily a time saver, unless you plan on eating at off times. The lines can get loooong. Finding a spot to sit can be tough too. If you choose one of the restaurants that are kind of cafeteria style, then you will have seating dedicated to the facility. If you choose a snack cart or walk up window, you'll have to find a table, bench or other spot to enjoy your meal. New Orleans Square is a great place to do this as is the area along Rivers of America, although here it may be more picnic style. Which is fun and leads me to another thing you should pack into your back pack...a plastic sheet that you can use to sit on the ground paving or the grass. Handy for night time shows and waiting for parades too.

If you want out of Disney for a can eat at any of the many restaurants on Harbor Blvd. They are mixed in with all of those off property motels. There is everything from McDonalds to Subway to Quiznos to Tony Romas. Keep in mind these restaurants tend to be more expensive than they are at home and they get busy. I recommend this option for late lunches. I don't recommend the Quiznos or the CaptainKidds on Harbor Blvd. Trust me :).  There is also the Gardenwalk Shopping Center within walking distance, although a bit of a long walk, that offers a ton of sit down restaurants that are good bets. PF Changs, The Cheesecake Factory and Bubba Gumps are all here. 

The final option is to go back to the hotel. You can make lunch in the room or order delivery. Every hotel seems to have a bunch of delivery menus in the information folder. This is by far the most frugal option and great if you plan on taking a nap and/or swim break until later in the day. Which I highly recommend if you got to the parks early and plan to return for night time entertainment! Especially when you want to stay until park closes at midnight. 

One other option is something special and a must do once, in my humble opinion. Character Meals are offered in each of the Disney Hotels and in both parks. We will discuss these next week along with the tips, tricks and secrets of the best spots to snag for evening entertainment!

See you next week! 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dream Come True Master Closet

Source unknown...forgive me

I thought the sign above the door was appropriate. The question is...can I make this dream come true? Can I make lemonade from this batch of lemons?

The sight that greet me every morning as I leave the master bath. This door marks the center of the walk in closet.

The drums are on the right.
Yes, I have to accommodate the drums. Its the side effect of having a musician husband without a studio of his own. At least he does most of his creating on his ipad now. The Garage Band app has been the best $5 we have ever spent. If you have a musician in the family I highly recommend it!

Our clothes and general storage are on the left. 
The general disorder is at its worst in these photos.

Extra artwork and closet doors from the girls' rooms...

More music paraphernalia...

As you can see, the mess has spilled over into our master bedroom too.

The guest bed that never quite got put away was unceremoniously dumped in our room by Miss K when I told her to clean up her room. Do your kids do this too? Make their problem yours?

And the leftovers from reworking the Lighter and Brighter (and much more used I might add) Den.

I need a plan of attack. That plan needs to include Craigslist and Goodwill, stat! That much I get. But the rest? Well, I'm at a loss. How do you make it all work? The doors have to be stored somewhere, I can't get rid of those. The drums have to stay. There are boxes of docs that can't just be tossed. The IRS would then decide to audit me, its Murphy's Law. Not gonna tempt that fate. The ski jackets have to live somewhere and I don't think the hall closet that houses the cat box is the best place. Do you? 

I wish I had a better solution to keep the "Boys" out of the litter box, but the hall closet with the door in a fixed, partially open position has been a stroke of genius. I mean, I don't like scooping the box any more than the next person, but I prefer my dogs to not get to the kitty treats! That makes the little hall closet only useful for storing hard goods. Maybe my boxes of paperwork should go in there? 

I wonder if the closet doors might fit in the attic? I know they can't go under the house, its just too damp. Would the crawl space above the house be dry enough?

And how to hide the drums? A curtain partition across that side of the closet?

First things first. Its time to purge. I have the rest of the house fairly well paired down to the essentials and some pretties. Time for the closet to get it too! How do you store all of your extras?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Girls' Bathroom Redo

This was one of the rooms that still lived in boring builder beige after living here for nearly 5 years. I have no excuse, except that the room had never spoken to me. Do you wait for your rooms to tell their story? Reveal their personalities? Well, I do. Wait, more like, I try to. Sometimes I force things just because I'm tired of looking at the same old thing. This room was probably left basically untouched because I'm rarely in the space. Unfortunately I didn't take any before photos. Bad girl!

 This bathroom belongs to Miss K and Miss H. Its a great design, a Jack and Jill bath that opens into both of their rooms. You can see a slice of Miss H's room in the mirror. Her bed is even made. Small wonders! 

Back to the layout... the shared space is nice when you have two teen aged girls that really don't care if somebody sees them running around in a towel. Daddy cares! Poor guy. Fortunately the shared bath pretty much keeps them corralled in their part of the house. 

Anyway. The bathroom is split into two parts. The section I am sharing today is the sink area. There's a little alcove behind the door leading to the bedroom that we finally found a use for.  Behind here, to the right, is the shower and toilet room. It has the added bonus of a small window. That is still a work in progress and requires Mr Shawn's attention. Carpentry...

Speaking of carpentry, this alcove area features a piece of his handy work. A little pallet upcycle work that you might recognize from here.

Our advent calendar has a new purpose.

Much needed jewelry storage. The buckets hold small items...earrings, small bracelets, chains and charms. A few or the dowels were kept free for larger beaded pieces, hoop earrings, and other items that won't fit in the buckets. The shabby pressed tin container holds bangle bracelets. I've had it for years and its served many purposes. Now it gets to keep the girls' 80's sparkle in order. The tea pot with matching cup and saucer was a gift from their grandmother from a little tea shop that is no longer in business in Auburn, CA. They have another one too. They make great little storage pieces. Pretty and functional. Perfect!

Below are more storage pieces, towels, a couple of photos from when they were little and the all important garbage can. Can't have enough of those in a girl's bath. This guy is a clearance buy at TJ Maxx and has a twin in the shower/toilet space. The white canisters are recycled Wally World candle holders. They are now the proud home of hair ties, head bands and plastic clips. Much better than the former unorganized drawer storage method.

I'd still like to paint the shelves out in white. Maybe a chalk paint finish? And I want to add some quote art work, highlighting some of the saying relating to sisters. A room is never finished, is it?

Partying At:


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Disneyland Tips, Tricks and Secrets #2

Last week we discussed planning a Disneyland vacation, the pros and cons of busy season vs slow season, the multitude of hotel choices, and how long one should go . For most people I highly recommend going when Disneyland is operating with everything open and all shows running, in other words when its busy (summer, Thanksgiving thru New Years or Spring Break weeks). And I highly recommend staying on property if your budget allows. If not, choose a Good Neighbor Hotel along Harbor Blvd that is within easy walking distance of Disneyland (like Howard Johnson Anahaim or Candy Cane Inn or Anaheim Plaza Inn if you are on a tighter budget). Unless you like sitting in stop and go traffic and having your first line that you wait in for the day be at the entrance to the parking garage. If that is the route you choose, I'm gonna apologize now. Just know that other families will already be in the park riding rides, taking pictures with Mickey, or eating breakfast while you are still attempting to find a parking spot and then waiting for the shuttle from the parking lot to the park. I also recommend going for more days rather than less. Its cheaper per day the longer you stay. You will get to see and do more, and you will feel more immersed in the Disney experience with all of its glorious details that are so easy to overlook. 

Can Anybody tell me where this hidden Mickey is located?

Mornings are precious in Disneyland. They offer the quietest times in the park. Do everything you can during the planning stages of your vacation to insure you can get to Disneyland when it opens. Seriously, the early bird gets the worm!

Now that we have the dates, the hotel and the tickets taken care of, we can discuss your actual touring plan. This is when we talk about things like rope drop, fast passes, dining reservations, how to navigate the park, and when to go see shows. Not to mention where to sit and how to get those good seats.

Sounds a little over whelming, huh? That's why we're doing this. To make it easier and give you the knowledge that you need for a successful trip.

We are now in Disneyland nice and early. Technically you are in the park before its officially open.

Wow! Wait! Huh?

I recommend that you arrive at the gates to Disneyland with your tickets in hand (did I mention its cheaper to purchase your tickets online before you arrive?) 30 minutes before the published opening time on the Disneyland Calendar. They usually open the turnstiles (where you get your tickets scanned for entrance) about 15  minutes before the park opens and let us all line up at the end of Main Street.

See where the blue stars meet the yellow stars above? That is where the rope will be. When its time to open the park there will be a fun countdown and the rope will be dropped allowing you to enter the rest of the park. If you have people in your group that don't like crowds, but do like characters, this is an awesome opportunity to visit with select characters in the circle that is labeled Main Street USA. Then you can enter the park a touch later. This is all about a pleasant trip. If you like the excitement of those anxiously awaiting a fun filled day in Disneyland then do the rope drop. If you don't like crowds, visit characters with minimal lines. Its a win win either way.

Why are mornings not busier? Remember me mentioning that Disneyland is different from Disney World? The type of visitors in Disneyland are a little different too. Most people who visit Disneyland on any given day live fairly close, within a couple of hours drive. They don't tend to get to the parks early. They aren't on vacation, its their day off from work so they sleep in. Add to that dynamic, the people who are on vacation, but choose to sleep in any way. (Don't do it, seriously, its worth it) or they go to a sit down breakfast before going to the park. Again, don't do it! Eat in your room, or as you walk to the park or in the park itself. Mornings are the best time in the park. I can't stress this enough.

So, you are in the park, what next?

Grab a fast pass! A what?

Ok, Fastpass. Select rides in Disneyland offer a special ticketing system. Anybody can use this system. All you need is the ticket you use to get into the park. It doesn't cost anything and it works with all tickets, one day, multi day and Annual Passes. 

Disclaimer: The following info is valid as of April 2012. The Disneyland Resort Fast Pass system is ever changing. 

Disneyland rides with Fast Pass(FP):
Space Mountain (SM)
Star Tours (ST)
Splash Mountain (Splash)
Indiana Jones (Indy)
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (BTMRR)
Roger Rabbit (RR) -- This is disconnected from the network. I will explain in a minute...

Disney's California Adventure(DCA) rides with FP:
Soarin' Over California (Soarin')
Tower of Terror (ToT)
Grizzly River Run (GRR) 

California Screamin' (Screamn')

These rides all have Fast Pass machines nearby (they are well marked) that you put your entrance ticket into  (you get it back) and it gives you an appointment card for the ride. Only so many appointments are available for each time slot, so the later in the day you get a FP, the later the appointment will be for. To make life easier, send one person with the tickets from everybody in your group to go get the FP for everybody. We call this our FP Runner. Sounds important huh? Saves time and unnecessary walking. Its allowed, don't worry.

Keep in mind that you can get another FP for the same ride or a different one when the appointment is up or two hours later, whichever comes first.
This is an Indiana Jones Past Pass. See how it says your next FP is available at 9:40? In the morning it will almost always match the appointment time on the FP. Later in the day, it is likely to give you a time two hours after you get the FP. 

Another neat thing with FP is that you don't have to return during that appointment window. This is a unique little loop hole that Disneyland currently allows. Its a silent policy, so to speak. But it may change as we head into the summer. Email me before your trip and I will let you know what the current policy is at that time. For now though, you can save that FP for after dinner when its busy, lines are long and you want to enjoy the park with less hassle. This is totally legit! For now...Keep in mind that the Disney employee(CM) in charge of checking these could technically turn you away after the end time of the appointment window, but I have never had it happen. NEVER.

So, with the knowledge that Disney doesn't enforce the end of the appointment window, you can now have your FP runner join you in line at the ride you are going to ride. 

In Disneyland I recommend getting FP in this order...
 Star Tours, Space Mountain, Indiana Jones, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mtn RR, and Autopia.  Autopia is the slowest FP line in the park and only worth getting a FP for if you are doing  Disneyland in one day. Otherwise use the regular line during one of your mornings that you were smart enough to show up for rope drop for! Yeah early morning benefits!!!! You can get Roger Rabbit anytime since it isn't connected to the other rides and isn't effected by times relating to other FPs. Its also not a super busy ride most days, so it does not tend to run out of FPs during the day.

While we are discussing FPs , we need to touch on DCA too. The two parks' FP systems are not connected to each other. They don't talk. So you can hold FP from both parks at the same time. You can send a FP Runner to DCA to with everyone's tickets to begin collecting FP there. 

In DCA I recommend this order...
Soarin' Over California, Screamin', Grizzly River Run, and Tower of Terror

Most day DCA opens at 10am. 

This will all change when Carsland opens in June. More rides will have FP, Disney is likely to make changes to the silent rules of FP, DCA will open earlier, and it will generally be busier. I will do an update when we find out what they are going to do. Until then, we are gonna go with the above info!

Ok, you have your first FP, or sent a runner...what ride am I going to do?

This is a very personal choice. Each morning is different for us. One morning we dedicate to Fantasyland and the Matterhorn. Its just too busy (and no FP) during the day. One morning would go to Tomorrowland and Autopia. Yet another morning would be Finding Nemo (again no FP) and then over to DCA for their rope drop. If you have a Mickey fan I recommend using one morning to go to Toon Town when it opens (an hour after the rest of the park) and get in line for Mickey's House and pics with him in his studio. 

As you put together your touring plan for your trip, try to keep in mind how the majority of visitors move through the park. Fantasyland always gets busy quickly. Families with small children descend in droves fairly early in the day. By lunch you want to be out of there unless you have little ones that will want to spend a huge part of their day there. Tomorrowland also gets busy fast. Two of the park's biggest attractions are here...Space Mtn and Star Tours. Plus its bordered by the Matterhorn and Finding Nemo, both of which get busy fairly early. These are also generally the first rides to run out of FPs. Next would be Adventureland with Indiana Jones. Then The New Orleans Square rides of Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion, followed by Splash Mtn in Critter Country and BTMRR in Frontierland.

This true EXCEPT when Haunted Mansion has its Nightmare Before Christmas clothes on from the end of September until after New Years. During that time HM offers FP and you will want to get to it early. That ride has a cult following amongst Disney fans and gets insane. Its worth the effort though!

Are you seeing why its so important to get there early in the morning. On a good day, when we are all up for it, we can ride all the major Fantasyland rides, the Matterhorn, Star Tours, Space Mtn, Indiana Jones, Pirates and Haunted Mansion before lunch. Plus have FPs for Star Tours, Space, and Indy for later in the day.

Ok, so now its lunch time. You weren't quite as gung ho as we are, but you did manage to ride a few rides and get a couple of FPs. Its okay, its not a competition. We are only crazy on one morning of each trip, usually we are much more laid back. 

Next up? Lunch!

See you next week!