Cars Land

John Lasseter, I'm sorry. I'm not a fan of the movie Cars. I know it makes you a crap-load of money due to all the merchandise, but the movie is dull. You have to like cars to like Cars. I don't like that there is a prerequisite to a Disney Pixar film.

However, I was excited for Cars Land at Disney's California Adventure to open. No, I was. I like the direction you (John Lasseter) have taken with the park. It was really lame before. Why would I go to a theme park in California mimicking real locations in California. I'm already here. But now, there's a lot more Pixar/old school Disney stuff going on.

I think Cars Land was the last phase of the big remodel of the park. The idea is really neat. Disney built the town of Radiator Springs (from the movie) in DCA (Disney's California Adventure). I can't think of another part of the park that is literally the setting of the movie come to life. That's really neat.

Walking down the street in Radiator Springs is magical. It's like being in the film. All the buildings are exactly like they are in the movie, and at night, everything lights up in neon. It's beautiful. I was disappointed, however, to discover that most of the buildings are shops or food. I was hoping for more attractions. Sad face.

The Cozy Cone Motel is NOT a motel. WHAT? How cool would that be? "Well, that was a fun ride. I'm going to bed now." Seconds later, BED. Might be noisy since it's in the middle of DCA. BUT COOL. Anyway, it's food. ...it's always food. Each cone has a different food. This is neat/annoying. I can imagine if you're a mom with 3 kids and they each want a different snack you would have to stand in three lines to obtain said sugary/salty treats. "I want popcorn!" "I want churros!" "I want purple drink!" "NO. You stupid kids! We're all getting ice cream cones (get it, cones) and you're going to love them. WHY DID I BRING ALL THREE KIDS TO DLAND AND ACT AS THE ONLY CHAPERONE? WHY!!!"

There are three new rides in Cars Land. Luigi's Flying Tires, Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, and the main event: Radiator Springs Racers. 

Luigi's Flying Tires is a two person ride in which your tire is hovering off the ground because of fans blowing upward from the ground. One is meant to lean in the direction one would like to move (though that is barely accurate and coordinating with your fellow rider is a trick). It's kinda like hover-bumper cars. There are a bunch of beach balls floating around for some reason, too.

 Mater's Junkyard Jamboree is a kiddy ride. Guests are in tractors that go around in circles.

Radiator Springs Racers is amazing/disappointing. One rides in a 6-person car. The first half is full of incredible technology depicting animated cars and another Radiator Springs. The animatronics are so impressive. The second half is when one's car races another car full of guests. One doesn't travel as fast as I would like and this part is really short. 

Over all, the body of cars land is beautiful, but the engine is an electric.


Gift Card Spree

You know how twice a year you get a crap-ton of gift cards to places you don't ever go? What do you usually do with them? Add them to the already bursting section of your wallet that you never venture into, of course!

Last week I celebrated my 26th birthday. A few friends/family gave me some very nice gift cards. I went to put them in my wallet in the "gift card section" but they wouldn't fit! So, I did something I've ALWAYS wanted to do (my dreams are simple, people). I had a gift card spree.

First I got all of my gift cards, then I got all of my fiance's gift cards (yes, with his permission) then I called every single one to get the balances. I wrote the balances on the cards with a sharpee.

The next day, we went shopping.

Here's something important to keep in mind. In California, it's the law that a merchant must give a customer the balance of a gift card in cash if that balance is less than $10. So, our goal was to spend enough of each card that it would have less that $10 and we could get the cash.

First we had $15 to Subway. We each got a 6" sub and got $7.21 in return.

Next we went to Jamba Juice with $15. We each got a 16oz smoothie and got $6.75 in return.

Then we went to Fresh and Easy with a $25 gift card and used it to purchase another $25 gift card, but to Best Buy.

After that we headed up to Fry's to check the balance of a card that was in Kc's wallet and didn't have a number to call. It was empty.

Then we went to the wine exchange where we had 3 cards that we had filled with money for wine tasting at different times and got all the money off. That was $24.75.

Down the street was a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf that we had $5 to. Got ourselves $5.

Then we went to Best Buy with our new $25 gift card and an old one with $7 on it. Kc bought two new video games and paid an additional $10.

After that we went to Bath and Body Works where I had $25. I can't use their products because I have sensitive skin and strong flowery smells give me migraines. But, my future mother-in-law's birthday is this weekend and she likes their products (hi, Kathy!). They were having a sale so I got 3 things but had to pitch in $2.

I got a really nice Margarita set for my birthday from Target, but it was one of 2! So, I returned it and got a... gift card. Kc and I got household necessities and $2.18 back.

This was my favorite part. I had two $15 Coldstone cards. So, Kc and I each got something and $10 back. Total of $19.42.

Then we went to Macy's where I had a $37 exchange card. I got some unmentionables and asked for the remaining $6 in cash. Because it was an exchange card, not a gift card, they couldn't do it. So Kc found a t-shirt for $10 on sale. It was on sale again so he ended up spending $1.50 for the shirt.

Next was the movie theater. We saw Paranorman with our $30 to AMC and got $5 back.

After that we walked over to TGI Friday's at the Block in Orange. Yikes. We had $25 and figured we'd go to the bar and have a drink. When we were finished we paid with the card and asked for the remaining balance in cash. The bartender did not understand. So, another bartender came over and explained that they can't do that. I told him that it was the law (I was waiting all day for someone to not know that they had to give us the cash (I even had the wording of the law pulled up on my phone just in case)). We asked to see the manager. The 2nd bartender said they were busy and it would by 15 - 20 minutes. We said that was fine. Then, a moment later we saw what looked like a manager come talk to them and take our gift card. He did not come talk to us. Bartender #2 came back over and said that for future reference this is something that is dealt with on the corporate side, not directly with bartenders and said, "I'm giving you this out of my own pocket to avoid conflict." Then he gave us the $9. We left a $4 tip to bartender #1 and went on our way with (apparently) bartender #2's $5. Not ever going there again - gift card or not (also, Kc recorded the whole thing and is sending it to their corporate offices).

We finished the night with dinner at California Pizza Kitchen. We got two starters and two entrees with our $50. We left a nice tip and still exited with $4.

At the end of the day we only have 2 cards we did not get to use: $50 to Olive Garden and $25 to Hillstone Restaurant Group (who, by the way, will give you all the cash off a gift card the first time you use it. Even if you only spend $3). There are only so many meals in a day, People!

Including what we spent we made almost $60 off our cards and had an awesome day for free!


Reagan Library

"So, Grandma, was it worth it?"


My grandma wanted to go to the Reagan Library for her birthday this year (she's a little wild, I know). Why the Reagan Library? Because Airforce One is there, duh!

Well, it's not ACTUALLY Airforce One because technically that's the term used for ANY plane the current president is on. Really, it's a plane that presidents used to ride around in. And WE got to go inside it! SQUEEE.

The library is located in the beautiful Simi Valley. You should definitely plan a day around visiting because it is not close. But maybe don't plan on eating nearby... because there's nothing - just houses. I mean, I guess you could knock on some people's houses and ask for lunch. Maybe it happens a lot since they live right by the library. Maybe they go to the library every saturday and advertise their home as "Reagan's favorite place he didn't know about" or something. But if you get kidnapped, this was not my idea.

Anyway, the library is a whole lot of Reagan (I'm not sure what I was expecting). There are clips of the films he was in, all kinds of plaques, and an immersive experience of the time he was shot (because we love Reagan SO much we want to feel everything he felt). The whole place is a Reagan love-fest. Did you know he liked jelly beans? I do now. There's a huge picture of the ex president made out of his beloved jelly beans.

We kind of booked it through the museum stuff to get to the plane. That was what Grandma was jonesing for. Did you know there is a class system for the plane? I thought we were a freaking democracy! The very front of the plane is the 'presidents only' section, then the body guards, then other fancy pants types, then more body guards, then less fancy types, then entertainers, then press, then POWs, then anyone French. I figured if you get invited to ride on Airforce One, you basically get to chill and eat Jelly Bellies with the Commander in Chief. Nope, to the back of the plane with you!

Is it weird that I felt sorry for the retired plane?
A happy Reagan birthday for Grandma...


Lego Store

If you had a childhood, you have a fondness for Legos. Downtown Disney recently re-imagineered their Lego Store.

It used to be pretty average - nothing worth visiting unless you needed to buy legos. Now it's more of an experience.

See the 'children' building Lego cars
Fist of all, their are giant Disney figures made completely from Legos all over the place. There's even a dragon battling a knight on the roof. WHOA!

Out front your kids (or grown-ass friends) can build cars to race down a tiny incline (be warned that said friends will spend a very long time discussing wind resistance and weight capacity while trying to kick each others' butts at tiny-Lego-car racing).

This nerd expects you to be fooled
Against the back wall is a thousand pods full of the colorful plastic bricks. One can choose between two sizes (both very expensive) of plastic cups and then fill them to the brim with Legos out of the pods on the wall. I was disappointed to discover, however, that the pods are not full of different Legos all the way to the ceiling, but most have a picture that looks like a bunch of Legos in them! LIARS!

All around the shop are different stations for one to play with and build things. Hurray! Germs! 

Guys, there are way too many themed Lego sets. Every fantasy movie ever has thirty different collections. Was I tempted by the Harry Potter sets... yes (I'm not ashamed). I just wanted to play make-believe with the kids from Hogwarts! But, alas, I know that the child inside me dies more and more every day (I stopped feeding him) and so $50 on a Harry Potter toy would be a complete waste.

She's into it
Holograms! Some of the boxes are rigged to interact with a camera and screen in the store. You hold the box in front of the camera and the set appears above the box on the screen. Then you can rotate the box to get different angles of the completed toy inside. Pretty nifty.

I've decided that when I have a child, I will be able to buy a Harry Potter set for "him/her." I just have to be patient (and maybe be a little 'absent minded' for few days).