The second of two Wizard World Comic Cons that Gary and I attended last year was held in Richmond, Virginia. Even though Virginia is our friendly neighbor to the east, our visits there aren’t very frequent. It was also the first time either of us had been to the Richmond area. I was excited to plan a 3-day weekend to the area to attend the convention, and also to see the WWE Pay-Per-View show called Backlash, which was being held at the Richmond Coliseum.
Since we’re coming upon Halloween season, and Walt Disney World has already had their first Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party of the year (yes, in August), I thought I would share some photos from our Halloween-time trip to Disneyland last year.
This was not only our very first time to Disneyland, but also our first trip to California. We loved it, and I’m already planning to get us back there in a couple of years.
My favorites? Well since Space Mountain is my absolute most favorite ride, I loved the new spin on it with Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy. But really, the Haunted Mansion Holiday (the Nightmare Before Christmas version of the Haunted Mansion) has to win top honors. Pretty amazing. A must-do for any Walt Disney World fan who has yet to make it to Disneyland.
Here are a few photos with Halloween decorations from Disneyland.
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While I don’t consider myself a super-collector when it comes to autographs, I have started obtain a nice little collection of celebrity signatures. I’ll write more in-depth later about chasing wrestlers and other minor celebrities at various conventions. That’s definitely a blog post in itself. But, this post is going to be a little bit different…..
When my wife and I first started going to Walt Disney World on a regular basis, one of our favorite things to do, as mentioned in a previous post, became getting our photograph with the glut of Disney characters on hand. Nobody should leave Disney without at least ONE character photo and interaction (if only one, it has to be Mickey Mouse, right?), but it has become a bit of an obsession to meet as many different characters (in as many different outfits) as we can.
Last fall we decided not to go to Florida for vacation (blasphemy!). Instead we flew to California and had an amazing time. We traipsed all over Hollywood, witnessed a star ceremony on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, saw where the rich and famous lived, ate at In-N-Out Burger, visited cemeteries, and of course, for two die-hard Disney parks fans, we went to our mecca, Disneyland.
One thing that wasn’t on our list, but was near our hotel so it was a what the heck let’s do it, was visit Madame Tussauds Hollywood, aka the wax museum. A Madame Tussauds has recently opened in Orlando so I assumed we would go there eventually. But since we were staying at the Hollywood Orchid Suites, which was a few minutes’ walk away, and the museum I had originally wanted to go to was already closed, Madame Tussauds became plan B.
Pittsburgh is the biggest city near us, and even that is a two hour drive away. This year we’ve gone up to the ‘Burgh to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Benedum Center, a U2 concert at Heinz Field, a day at IKEA and Dave and Busters with my niece and her boyfriend, and most recently, a day at the pickle festival known as Picklesburgh with an added visit to the Andy Warhol Museum.
Have you ever done a split stay? A split stay is when you stay at two or more resorts/hotels during your single vacation. We did this at Disneyland last year (the Candy Cane Inn and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel) and most recently at Walt Disney World, where we stayed at Disney’s Pop Century and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas Kidani Village.
The big draw to staying at Kidani Village or Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (the next resort over) is having a view of the animals on the savanna from your balcony. We didn’t splurge on this however. Our view was the front of the resort, near the bus stop. Doesn’t sound too great huh?
Disney vacations are completely doable for most budgets. If you are new to Disney vacations though, the sticker shock for some things could surprise you. (For example, alcoholic drinks are usually never under $10; the same with a burger and fries meal at a quick service restaurant. Buffet dinners and meals with characters are usually in the $40 range for adults.) There are many tips and tricks to getting stuff cheaper at Disney – I’m a bargain shopper myself and I love a good deal. But how about getting stuff for free?
So today I’m going to blog about things you can get at a Disney park for absolutely free. When Gary and I were brainstorming this list we realized there was actually quite a few things that you can get or do for free. Surprising huh? If the free stuff is inside a park, you still have to pay admission. Unless you’re a kid under the age of 3. You get in for free. 😉
Check us out with those “winner” lanyards with our Castaway Cay 5K finisher medals!
I am not a runner. I hated, hated participating in the President’s Physical Fitness Test in elementary school where I was forced to run a timed mile. Actually, I pretty much did a casual stroll until my gym teacher gave me credit for doing it. I knew I wasn’t athletic and it was embarrassing for 11-year old me to even try in front of my classmates, who in my mind were all Olympic marathoners.
And then many, many years later I learned about runDisney races. runDisney races are friendly to walkers and slower runners. The basic requirement is a 16-minute mile pace. I listened to Disney podcasts where everyone just went on and on about how wonderful runDisney races were. Mega Disney fan? Check. Runner? Hmm…
Turns out you have to register for a runDisney race months in advance, and we had no trips to a Disney park scheduled during a race weekend any time soon. But… we did have our first ever Disney cruise booked. And Disney Cruise Line happens to offer a free 5K race on their private island of Castaway Cay, Bahamas.
Despite the fact that I am well into (further than I’d care to admit) adulthood, one of my favorite things about the Disney experience is meeting the costumed characters representing our favorite Disney “stars”. That’s the point, right? We all want to dive into the Disney bubble and feel like a kid again, and this is one of the best ways to achieve that goal. My wife and I, throughout our many trips to Disney World, have become pretty serious “character collectors”, so to speak.
“How does one collect characters?”, you may ask. Well, please don’t jump to any weird conclusions, you will not see us stuffing Mickey and friends into the back seat of our car. Our Disney obsession does not extend to mouse-napping!
“Character collecting” is simply a figure of speech, which means we will go out of our way to meet any characters we haven’t previously met, or to get a photo op with classic characters in a new outfit.
While finding new characters for photo ops can become increasingly difficult when you’ve made as many trips to Disney as we have (poor us, huh?), there are some that we have to meet every single time.
So, without further ado, here is my list of my personal “Top 5 Character Meets” at Disney”