Disneyland Resort First Impressions


Instead of another comprehensive trip report from me on my recent Disneyland visit, I thought I’d do something different and interview my mom, Pam, on her first visit.


What was your overall first impression of Disneyland Resort?

It is a more detailed version of Walt Disney World. It is more compact. I liked it and think their Downtown Disney has a more homey feel. Disneyland has better places to eat than the Magic Kingdom.

What was your favorite show?

World of Color was reminiscent of a show called Dancing Waters from back in the 1950s that I enjoyed as a child. Aladdin in Disney California Adventure was great. My favorite characters were the Genie and the carpet. How a character without any lines can portray so much emotion in playing a carpet was amazing. I also really liked Mickey and the Magical Map in Disneyland. I loved the swing dancers on Saturday night at Disneyland too!

World of Color
World of Color

What was your favorite ride in each park?

In Disneyland, I liked Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. I thought it was a nice themed ride with attention to detail. It was a long, relaxing ride. At California Adventure I liked Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, Golden Zephyr and the non-swinging cars on Mickey’s Fun Wheel.

Which did you like better, Haunted Mansion Holiday or It’s A Small World Holiday?

Haunted Mansion Holiday
Haunted Mansion Holiday

That’s a tough one. I liked them both. The Haunted Mansion Holiday was really nice with the theming, but this brought such a change to the ride from the regular Haunted Mansion. The queues are also both so different from Walt Disney World. I enjoy the exteriors both, but really like the southern mansion style of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. I think the theming at Haunted Mansion more immersive and complete than It’s A Small World.

What were some of your favorite food items or meals?

At California Adventure, definitely Carthay Circle. The Cozy Cone breakfast cone was good and a little different for a breakfast item. Churros were excellent. Those were always our go to snack. Bengal BBQ in Disneyland and Jolly Holiday Bakery were both places we visited twice. Flavored cokes from Coke Corner were great and brought back memories of working at a soda fountain in high school.

What were your favorite holiday decorations at Disneyland Resort?

World of Color Winter Dreams, It’s A Small World Holiday and the lights in Cars Land

What did you think about the Grand Californian?

It reminded me a lot of one of our favorite resorts at Walt Disney World, the Wilderness Lodge. It was bigger than I expected. We had a great meal at Napa Rose. It was a great location and nice that we could walk directly into the park from our resort.

What do you takeaway from the trip?

I was delightfully surprised. I thought it was just going to be a smaller version of Walt Disney World and thought I was going to be disappointed. The Cast Members really went out of their way to say Happy Birthday and your name. The theming was wonderful. I liked the more friendly village feeling to Downtown Disney. Also enjoyed Trader Sam’s theming and the holiday drinks at Disneyland Hotel.

Cars Land decorations
Cars Land decorations
Grand Californian lobby
Grand Californian lobby
Trader Sams
Trader Sams
Mickey, Minnie, Mom & me
Mickey, Minnie, Mom & me
Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwitteryoutubetumblrinstagram

Wordless Wednesday: Germany Glass Ornament Artist

Wordless Wednesday:

December 11, 2013

Wordless Wednesday
Wordless Wednesday
Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwitteryoutubetumblrinstagram

Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops

Are you lucky enough to have a Bass Pro Shops nearby? We are, right in Festival Bay Mall in Orlando! Now through Christmas Eve, Santa has set up his Wonderland right in the middle of Bass Pro!!

                     Santa’s Wonderland
They have several game & activity stations set up in the store. Most of them are right in the immediate area of Santa, but the ornament decorating is in front of the big fish tank (at least it is in the Orlando location).
The first thing we saw walking into our Bass Pro was the AMAZING Christmas tree! I loved the rustic simplicity of it!!!
                         The big tree!
Then you smell popcorn, fudge, and cinnamon nuts! The first activity you come upon is Little Man’s favorite, the carousel! Lots of outdoorsy animals – bears, deer, polar bear, reindeer, moose!  We rode it twice, and he wanted to go again! (We went again for week two and he went crazy when he saw the carousel! Of course we had to ride it on this trip too!)
                      The carousel!
There was a slot car race track set up, along with RC trucks, a laser shooting arcade, a duck shooting gallery & a model train! There are even tables to color holiday pictures and write letters to Santa! These are all available store open to close.
Other fun things include free weekly crafts (while supplies last)!! They do them by the big fish tank Monday-Friday 5-7 pm, Saturday-Sunday noon -5 pm, and Thanksgiving & Christmas Eve from 3-5 pm. We’ve done the first two, a wooden ornament & a felt penguin ornament. Other crafts are Popsicle stick reindeer ornament (November 25-December 1), stuffed Santa ornament (December 2-8), candy cane owl ornament (December 9-15), reindeer gift bag (December 16-22) & cookie decorating (December 23-24).
                                      Making ornaments
After you finish your craft, head over to Santa’s Wonderland, where you can get a free backpack clip (while supplies last) for the first 125 kids to visit each weekday, 5-7 pm. The first two were a Christmas tree & a candy cane, then comes a gingerbread man (November 25-29), Santa’s sleigh (December 2-6), a stocking (December 9-13), a snowman (December 16-20) & Santa in a chimney (December 23-24, 24th is 3-5 pm). They are MUCH bigger than I thought they’d be, I was pleasantly surprised! Little Man likes playing with them too!
                                    Backpack clips
The highlight of Santa’s Wonderland is, of course, the big man himself Santa! He’s got a nice set up with reindeer this year! Santa’s times are different than the crafts so be sure to check before you go. You get a free 4×6 picture, with the option of a photo package. Packages start at just $15. Both times we’ve gone, there hasn’t been a wait; but later in the season Santa should get very popular! If Santa’a line gets longer than a 30 min wait, the Bass Pass will allow you to go check out the rest of Santa’s Wonderland and Bass Pro and when your time is up, come back to see Santa!
                                   Santa and Little Man
Have you visited Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops? Let us know what you think!
Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwitteryoutubetumblrinstagram

Chanukah Events Around Orlando for 2013

This year is very eventful if you are Jewish because Chanukah falls on Thanksgiving, but if you don’t have family in town there are plenty of events you can attend.
Jewish Heritage Night with the Orlando Magicorlandomagic
Wednesday, November 27th, 2013
First night of Chanukah
Amway Center in downtown Orlando 
400 W Church St #200, Orlando, FL 32801
Pregame and Menorah lighting at 6:30 PM in the Vista Room
Tip-off at 7:00 PM
To Purchase Tickets Click Here                                              
Chanukah Extravaganza at Orlando Torah Academy
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
05:00 PM to 07:00 PM
Orlando Torah Academy will be hosting a Community Chanukah Extravaganza with food, fun, raffles and prizes.
Chanukah on the Park
Join Chabad of Orlando Saturday November 30th, 7:00 PM at Central Park on Park Ave.
  • Grand Menorah Lighting
  • JAO and JCC – Kids Sing A Long
  • Chassidic Dancers
  • Chocolate Chanukah Gelt
  • Live Concert by Dr. Laz
  • Sufganiot – Donuts
  • Grand $1000 Drawing
  • Hot dogs, chips and drinks will be available
Orlando Torah Center
Chanukah Celebration
Join the Rosen Plaza and Chabad of South Orlando for their Chanukah Family Festival
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Event Includes:
  • 6:00pm Grand Menorah Ceremony Lighting & Family Celebration, Latke Cook-Off
  • Chanukah Arts and Crafts, Raffles, Prizes, Gelt
  • Helicopter Rides, Teen Club with Games & Music
  • Fine Food Concessions Offered by Kosher Gourmet Food Court
  • Kosher Cotton Candy, Delicious Sufganiyot (Donuts), Food & Hot Dog Concessions
  • Live Music & Theater Acts, World Record Breaking Dreidel Spinning
  • 20 Carnival Games, Miniature Train, Skeeball, Bounce Houses, Football & Basketball Toss
For More Information, please call 407-996-0256
Chanukah On Ice With The Orlando Solar BearsAlt Solar Bears Logo
Wednesday, December 4th the last night of Chanukah
Doors open at 6:00 PM
Puck-drop at 7:00 PM
Grand Ice Menorah Lighting during the first intermission 
Purchase tickets at www.orlandosolarbearshockey.com/lights
Use Special Offer Code: LIGHTS










Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwitteryoutubetumblrinstagram

Synagogues Close to Walt Disney World

Since I’m Jewish, and live in Orlando I wanted to share your closest options if you want to attend Synagogue Services on Shabbat or other holy days.

Please note there are no synagogues within walking distance of Disney World.  Lynx offers bus service, but it can take a long time to get to your destination.  I recommend renting a car or taking a cab.  I don’t have recommendations for those that are Shomer Shabbos other than staying walking distance from the synagogue you are interested in.

Most of the larger synagogues are located north of downtown Orlando. Also, not all synagogues are listed, just those closest to Disney are listed.

Our local Jewish Federation has a Synagogue list here

Our local Jewish Newspaper has a Synagogue list

Rabbi Skolnik of SOJC

For Conservative:

The closest Synagogue is SOJC (Temple Ohalei Rivka) located next to the South JCC which is 10 minutes away from Disney World.  This Synagogue features services for young children and weekly shabbat services.

Congregation Ohev Shalom, was just built within the last few years. They offer weekly shabbat services.

For Chabad:  Chabad of South Orlando is located near Universal. Their website provides hotel info, kosher information and they offer a daily minyan and weekly shabbat services.

For Egalitarian: Congregation Sinai in Minneola

For Orthodox:  Shul – Bait Ha’Kneset Cong. Ohel Rachel-Leah is Located next to the Lower East Side Restaurant

For Reconstructionist: Contact Celebration Jewish Congregation, they don’t have Shabbat Services listed, but may be able to give you a recommendation.

Inside of Congregation Shalom Aleicheim Synagogue
Inside of Congregation Shalom Aleicheim

For Reform:

Rabbi Engel
Rabbi Engel of CRJ

Congregation Shalom Aleichem is a small synagogue in Kissimmee
Congregation of Reform Judaism is a large synagogue in Orlando
Temple Beth Shalom is a small synagogue in Winter Haven



Orlando community weekday minyan: There is also a fully-egalitarian and traditional daily morning minyan at 7:45 am in the Chapel at the Jewish Academy of Orlando. The Chapel can be accessed through the Jewish Federation main entrance; the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando is located at 851 N. Maitland Avenue in Maitland.

Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwitteryoutubetumblrinstagram

Wordless Wednesday – Epcot For The Fourth

Wordless Wednesday: July 3, 2013

Wordless Wednesday 4th of July
This week’s Wordless Wednesday takes us to Epcot for the Fourth of July last year. While Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky at the Magic Kingdom is great, there is nothing like the special tag they add to Illuminations!



Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky

Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwitteryoutubetumblrinstagram

Celebrate Independence Day at SeaWorld Orlando

Celebrate Independence Day at SeaWorld Orlando with a special Fourth of July extravaganza and even more Summer Nights fun next Thursday, July 4!

SeaWorld Orlando Summer Nights Fourth of July

During Summer Nights, SeaWorld Orlando is open from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. so there’s plenty of time to explore the sea’s mysteries, learn about amazing animals, challenge thrilling rides and watch incredible shows.

What better way to celebrate the holiday than with traditional American fare? From July 3-6, a variety of all-American food will be served along Bayside Pathway, including bacon cheeseburgers, foot-long hot dogs, BBQ pulled pork sandwiches and kid meals, too.

And guests can enjoy the park even later on the Fourth of July. SeaWorld Orlando will be open until 11 p.m. giving families more time to experience the all-new Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, ride the coasters under the stars and enjoy the amazing Summer Nights shows, Sea Lions Tonite and Shamu Rocks.

There’s no other place to get your fireworks fix than at SeaWorld’s Fourth of July celebration during Summer Nights!

Beginning at 9:30 p.m., there will be an extraordinary performance at SeaWorld’s Bayside Stadium by SeaWorld Celebration Singers, an ensemble group of singers and a nine-piece band, who will perform a variety of popular music ranging from traditional marches and patriotic tunes to classical favorites. The Fourth of July celebration culminates with awe-inspiring fireworks at 10 p.m.

 Summer Nights

Additional details:

Headlining Summer Nights is the all-new Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, where guests can experience the epic world of Antarctica through the eyes of a special hero penguin named Puck; and Sea Lions Tonite, a hilarious, satirical show featuring Clyde and Seamore spoofing the other daytime SeaWorld shows that will have everyone in stitches.

New this year! Join the Party with Shamu & Friends as they dance the night away at the front of the park’s Village Square. The Party features an emcee on stilts who fills the square with music that the whole family can dance to, including popular line dancing songs and party favorites. With countless bubbles floating overhead and music wafting through the air, this celebration of summer is sure to provide non-stop fun for all ages!  The Party begins every night one hour prior to park close and continues 30 minutes after park closing.

Rock the night away with Shamu during a spectacular killer whale show with more flash – and certainly more splash – than a rock concert! Shamu Rocks is a high-energy celebration of unprecedented proportions, combining awe-inspiring killer whales with a stunning light show, water fountain display and music from some of the hottest rock stars in the industry. And new this year is an electrifying twist on this classic favorite!  The final Shamu Rocks show of the night includes a rockin’ fireworks finale will light up the night sky.

For more information go to SeaWorldOrlando.com.



Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwitteryoutubetumblrinstagram