Monday, January 2, 2012

2011: A year filled with pixie dust!

When 2011 began, we were still working off the high from our wonderful honeymoon trip to Walt Disney World in October 2010.  We didn't set out with any major plans or expectations for the year.  All we knew is that we'd try to make it to Disneyland a couple of times a month (as usual), spend a few days with our friends at the D23 Expo in August, and my mom & I were tossing around ideas about the possibility of planning a trip to WDW during the holidays. 

As time went on, opportunities seemed to pop up again & again....and again.  Some smaller in scale, like shopping days at Mickey's of Glendale, and some bigger, like a whirlwind 5 night anniversary extravaganza!  In the end, we were left with some pretty amazing memories and unforgettable experiences.  I am thankful for every single moment. Here are some highlights of our magical year! 

We stayed at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa for the first time ever!  A Disney friend & DVC member posted on FB that they had a 2 night reservation for a studio they were looking to rent out for $250. Surely they meant $250/night, which is a very good deal.  Nope! They were looking for $250 TOTAL!!  I couldn't believe our luck!  Since we're local, we rarely book a stay at DL, let alone ON property.  The cherry on top was our fabulous view. Standing on our balcony we could see the fireworks over DL to the left, and to the right we could see (most of) World of Color!   

View of DCA from our studio at the Grand Californian
1) D23 Shopping Day at Mickey's of Glendale - while we don't really get to go behind the scenes when D23 opens up this Imagineer exclusive store to it's members, there's something exciting about just being on the campus. Plus, I get to play personal shopper for some out-of-state friends & family, and who doesn't love shopping with other people's money? ;)
 2) Visit to Walt Disney's Barn in Griffith Park.  We don't venture out to L.A. very often, but we happened to be staying in the area during a weekend the barn was open - it's only open one Sunday a month for 4 hours.
3)  Tour of the Walt Disney Studios & the Disney Archives in Burbank.  When D23 launched in 2009, they were offering free tours of the Studios & Archives to it's members. Needless to say, the tours were full just as soon as they were released.  In 2010, they opened up more dates, but added a $50/person charge.  Hefty in comparison to 2009, but still a deal for a Disney fan, especially considering that they don't offer tours to the general public.  We were finally able to book a tour for April 2011.  I was over the moon!

Walt Disney's Barn
Obligatory photo at the street sign, that actually leads to nowhere in particular.

Walt & Roy's offices, each on the top floor.
Disney Legend Dave Smith guiding us through the Archives
1) We took a trip to Florida to attend D23's Destination D: Walt Disney World 40th with a few friends. Daniel, my dad & I stayed at the always lovely Animal Kingdom Lodge - one of our favorite resorts. In addition to the D23 event, we also enjoyed the Flower & Garden Festival at Epcot, took the Behind the Seeds tour, and won an opportunity from the Disney Parks Blog to join an after hours Star Tours Re-Launch Party!
2) As Annual Passholders, we won an opportunity to preview the new Little Mermaid attraction at DCA before it opened to the public

Our favorite presentation at Destination D, hosted by Imagineers Jason Surrell, Alex Wright & Jason Grandt
The ACTUAL Dreamfinder, Figment and Richard Sherman sing "One Little Spark" at the event's finale.
Cinderella & Prince Charming at Epcot's annual Flower & Garden Festival
The Papa enjoying some fresh cucumber during the Behind the Seeds Tour at Epcot's Living with the Land attraction

The hubby and Chewy discuss the trials & tribulations of being taller than everyone else.
"There, you see her....."
My 33rd birthday, Father's Day & our first viewing (of many) of the new Soundsational Parade

The Papa on Father's Day

The Mary Poppins finale float in the the Soundsational Parade

The D23 Expo was full of highs & lows.  The best part was connecting with friends as we made our way through the different presentations & events. During this weekend trip, we also took a (free!) tour of the Lilly Belle. This was something I didn't know was available to the general public, my dad actually turned us on to it!

Kermit & Rowlf singing "Rainbow Connection" during the Disney Legends ceremony where Jim Henson was honored. There wasn't a dry eye in the house.
Our favorite place to hide fromt the lines at the Expo - the Parks & Resorts pavilion

Our good friend Rob on the Lilly Belle
1) During our May trip, we had a really bad flight experience and in an effort to make it right, our air carrier gave us vouchers to fly with them again.  Since our Premier Annual Passes were burning a hole in our pocket, we decided to use the vouchers for a quick 5 night trip back to celebrate our 1st wedding anniversary.  We got lucky again in that we found someone looking to rent a DVC reservation at Animal Kingdom Lodge that covered our dates!  This was a much better option than the Pop reservation we were going to make with our AP rate! Plus, we would get to stay at Kidani Village for the first time, which we really enjoyed!
 2) During our February trip, we learned that DL was discontinuing the sale of bricks in the esplanade, so we jumped on the opportunity.  When we came back from the World, we found that the brick had been placed right in front of Disneyland! Just in time for our anniversary. :)
3) Through the Disney Parks blog, we won an opportunity to attend an after hours party at Disneyland exclusively for Annual Passholders showcasing a nighttime version of the Soundsational Parade.  This was a fabulous event, I hope they continue to hold more like them in the future.

Enjoying some Canadian goodness at Epcot's annual Food & Wine festival
Our brick makes its debut at Disneyland, just in time for our 1st wedding anniversary!
Artist & Show Designer Kevin Kidney shows off some amazing paper maquettes used in the concept layouts for the Soundsational Parade
Daniel & I had never experienced the World all dressed up in it's holiday finest.  We ended up meeting my mom, step-dad & brother at WDW for an unforgettable trip. I'm actually planning to write up a trip report on this one, so I'll just post a couple of teaser pics here.

Spreading our holiday cheer. :)
Our first visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter during DISapalooza!
Tour of the Cinderella Castle Suite during D23's Magic & Merriment event

2011, you were VERY good to us. Thanks for all of the memories!

2012, I can't wait to meet you!


  1. What a great blog and I am looking forward to your trip report! You took some great photos, too!

    HAPPY NEW YEAR! Love you Bean xoxoxo

  2. Thank you so much!
    Love you, too! xoxo