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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Disney! Here we come.....

USA and Disney, two words that are kind of synonymous to each other. That is, when you are from overseas. And so the time has come to take our two to Disneyland.
We were invited to join three other families on this trip. That is a fantastic opportunity for out two to share the experience with friends and will make it a whole different kind of experience for them.
And so the planning began...
Where to stay?
Everyone did their own bookings, kind of finding what was a good fit for them. Well I looked and looked, compared prices and what did I discover? This was going to be a rather expensive exercise. So then I looked a little further out, what caught my eye was the Embassy Suites. We have stayed at the Embassy Suites once before, and loved it. The value for money was great for us. First of all it was less expensive than closer to Disneyland, we were able to get two double/queen sized beds in one room AND a fold out couch.

Our two are boy and girl, they are at an age where they don't actually want to share a bed, unless necessary. The thought of having a bed each made the stay a whole lot easier. No fights, just a great sleep. The initial thought was that our teenage son would have the fold out bed.

The next great thing for us, was the breakfast. Made to order eggs and omelets, plus a huge variety of other breakfast items that started the day off perfectly. Then there was the shuttle to Disney, which took the pain out of driving there yourself. $5 each per day and you were able to go back and forwards as often as you like. Then there was the managers happy hour, free drinks and nibbles from 5.30pm until 7pm, that is something nice to wind down with, and since you aren't driving to Disney, it leaves you free to have a glass of something nice.

Planning our itinerary
Combining with three other families can be a lot like making a decision in Parliament or Senate. Lots of different ideas all going at once.  It all came together quite nicely. We were all arriving on Sunday and leaving on Friday.
Monday and Tuesday were dedicated to Disneyland and California Adventure.
Wednesday was a day out by ourselves to explore, I had plenty I wanted to cover;
* Venice Beach - checking out Muscle Beach, the surf and sand, the stores, just one of those things you have to see at least once.
* UCLA - I love taking the family to explore the local university. If it inspires them that's great.
* Rodeo Drive - just another one of those places you have to see at least once.
* Sunset Boulevard
* Hollywood walk of fame
* Hollywood sign
* Hollywood Forever Cemetary
* Star Gaze at Griffith Observatory
According to google maps, the round trip would be driven in two hours, sounded good to me.
* Medieval Times Dinner that evening
Thursday Universal studios and then back to Disneyland in the evening.
Friday Drive to Monterey Bay and walk along the waterfront

Saturday Monterey Bay Aquarium then home

Now, when we plan a trip, I also plan our meals. The other families were aware that this is just how we do it, although we were also happy to eat out, just not all the time. Cooking your own meals saves money and because all the preparation is done at home (I go through each dish and put the ingredients into sealed bags for example, the rice, herbs, seasongings into one bag, the wine vinegar into a small screw top jar. Then all I do when it is time to make the mango chicken is put them in the crock pot and turn it on) it is super quick and easy and tastes great! Staying at the Embassy Suites made meals a lot easier, well it meant I didn't have to even think about breakfast, which is a good thing.

We have a plug in car fridge which is fantastic when you head into warm weather. Plus I took an electric frypan and small crockpot, both are worth their weight in gold and you can cook anything in them.

So our meal planner went as follows;
Breakfast At the hotel - yeah, can't wait!

Lunch Each person was responsible for preparing their own lunch consisting of a sandwich and then a choice of fruit, fruit cup, cookie or biscuit, bottle of water, a couple of mini sized chocolates, snack sized chips etc. The children were also given $5 a day for an icecream (which is how much they cost at Disneyland) or to spend as they saw fit, if they chose not to spend that was fine.

Main meals;
Saturday Tortilla wraps and beef stew that I made the previous day, accompanied by salad. We took two days to drive down, it was a 15 hour drive in total. The others chose to drive it in one go, we wanted to be feeling good when we got there so broke the drive up.

Sunday This is the night that all four families met up, so we ate dinner out together.

Monday Spaghetti bolognaise and salad - I made this a couple of days before we left and froze it. Just had to cook the spaghetti and heat the Spag Bog.

Tuesday Chicken cooked in our electric frypan, with potatoes, sweet potato and carrots, plus salad. Once again I froze the chicken and it defrosted in the fridge during our stay.

Wednesday Dinner at Medieval Times

Thursday Toasted Sandwiches and salmon slices, yum!

Friday Chicken, mango rice (I was going to buy fresh chicken breasts for this recipe)

Saturday Corned beef (I froze the corned beef so that it would travel well, then it defrosted in the fridge during out stay) with beetroot and salad.

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