Forever Memories

Bob’s parents are here this week and while our schedule is hectic, we have had some time to talk, laugh and stroll down memory lane. Tonight over a quick and early dinner they told stories of the times they would ski with their young kids and how those were some of the happiest family times they had. They had some great stories to tell of kids skiing off into tree areas, lift ‘incidents’ and a hysterical one about someone (who shall remain nameless) tried to stop someone else from losing control by sticking a poll between their skis. Think on that one for a minute…

That conversation left me thinking about our family trips and how I have always held them as sacred. We have had some real ups and downs on family trips, from panic attacks on the plane (me! Stupid stewardess burned the pilots dinner and I was SURE the plane was on fire) to memories that will, hopefully, last a life time (Carter taking his first steps right down the middle of Main Street, USA). Family trips have bonded us all with common experiences that we have all learned from.

Will my kids someday sit around the dinner table and laugh about when Dad fell off the ski lift, or commiserate over the day I drug them through NASA instead of taking them to Disneyworld????

I hope so….

*Sony’s Open Season 3 will be released on DVD Jan. 25. I able to review the movie early for this TravelingMom.com-sponsored post. We’ll be talking about sweet family travel memories and giving away prizes during our Jan. 24 TravelingMom Monday Twitter party. If you’d like a chance to win, please click here to get the details on how to enter. And, if you’ve still got little ones, they can get a taste of the Open Season characters Boog and his friends with online games Cannonball and Jamboree.

Disney’s Club 33

Club 33 sign outside the doorAh, the mystery, the allure, the exclusivity, the food I sent back. WHAT? OK, yes, I did not like my order of monk fish and they noticed, took it back and brought me mac&cheese. Does it make me sound classier if I say it was “Truffle Mac&Cheese”?

Disney’s Club 33 is a private club inside the original part of Disneyland. There are many stories about the who, what, when, where and why’s behind Walt’s creation of Club 33. It is a legendary place among Disney fans and it is rare to get the opportunity to visit. The general consensus is that Club 33 was opened by Walt as a place to entertain the original 33 investors of Disneyland. However, it says on the menus that is named simply because of its address. Believe what you will. It is the only place within the main (old) park that serves alcohol to this day. It is said the waitlist for membership is about 15 years long. The fee’s are quite steep. Most families that I know who have had the chance to visit work for one of the companies that have a corporate membership.

So, what is a visit to Club 33 really like and what is the hype all about?

You start your day by going to guest services outside of the park. You pick up day passes for your family to the park. These don’t have your name on it and since we had park hopper tickets that came with our package, we walked up to a family that was in line to give them away. If I had known they wouldn’t have our names on them I would have totally had my friend Laura come visit. SORRY LAURA! The attendant at the ticket area saw me trying to give the tickets away and was all “you can’t sell tickets” and I told him I was “not selling, just giving them away”. He said “well, you can’t do that either”. Bob went the other way and found a family. They were so surprised. We felt all warm and gooey inside.

So, you have a reservation for Club33 that is a specific time. DO NOT attempt to get in 5 mins early. Trust me. I know. I was informed of this by the lady inside. There is a little speak easy type box inside the door frame of 33. You push it and tell them your name. Just don’t do it before your appointed time or you will get swallowed up by a big rabbit hole that transports you to Small World and makes you ride it over and over again.

If you don’t fall down the rabbit hole the lady lets you in. You have the choice to go up to this lift that they make a big deal about. It was pretty.  I am not really into stuff like that. But if you are, they say this is an amazing example. If you are in a wheelchair you get to go in a special entrance. You get the privilege of going through the Cafe kitchen across the way. You get to experience all the sights, sounds and smells of the dishwashing area of a cafeteria. Needless to say, I think access for wheelchair users needs to be improved.

Anywho, once your family gets to the second floor you are seated. We went for a late lunch. They ask you to order the entree and you get to go to the buffet for both appetizers and dessert. With the exception of the crab, shrimp and rock lobster tails all the food on the buffet we had already seen at the Paradise Pier concierge room. It is the same stuff.

At first we were all really nervous because you hear so much about how fabulous this place is. I warned the kids not to breathe wrong! Being nervous was unnecessary though. Our waitress was very sweet and very accommodating. She saw that I didn’t eat the monk fish I ordered and offered me something else. I asked for the same mac and cheese the kids had. It was yummy. I don’t know why I didn’t like the meal. There was nothing wrong with it. I just did not like it.

Bob and ordered a bottle of wine. I LOVED the balcony. It was the best part. It was a beautiful day and the views are really pretty from out there through the trees. It was a very relaxing oasis on a crazy Sat. at Disney.

Your bill has to be equal to what the tickets for the day would have cost you. So it is a pretty pricey meal ~ $404 for our family to be exact.

There is a small cabinet that sells souvenirs. Apparently the merchandise in the cabinet changes frequently. It is stuff like golf shirts, pens and rings. We didn’t get anything but now I kind of regret that.

You leave the sanctuary of Disney’s Club 33 and join the masses. The craziness is a little disorienting (or was that the wine?) of becoming one of the ‘regular people’ visiting Disney that day.

I was really glad we finally went. We have talked about going since the kids were little and we knew we had the option. But I am really glad we waited til the boys were older and had more experience eating in ‘fancier’ restaurants. I don’t think the food was any more impressive than your run of the mill upscale restaurant. There are a ton of antiques that were completely lost on the boys. If we could just order a bottle of wine and sit out on the patio I would consider going back but barring that I doubt we would. It is nice to say you have been but not necessarily something you need to do twice.

Here are some insider photos for all of you still curious :)

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5 Nights, 5 States Road Trip

OK, the title is a little more dramatic than it actually was but we did have a hoot and hollarin time as we circled most of the great Southwest.

roadtrip map

The trip started with some VERY d(icey) road conditions through the Rocky Mountains. From the Foothills to Vail we were on ice a good part of the way. A family in a suburban in front of us figure-eighted off the road first, they w056ere fine but shaken up. Next came the flipped over semi truck, and then two big Ford trucks went into each other. I have never seen Bob so white knuckled. For him to actually want to get out of the car to shake it off in Vail, you know he was nervous. After Vail the ice disappeared but we were met with one more obstacle before Grand Junction: a fallen boulder smashing a concrete pillar. I swear, it was just like being in a video game from hell! From Utah on it was easy sailing though. 14 hours later we pulled into Green Valley Ranch by our old home in Vegas. PHHHHEEEWWWW! We headed straight for the bar and buffet! GVR’s buffet has really changed. $80 is soooo not worth it!

I enjoyed some yummy breakfast the next morning with Cindy at the Original Pancake House and we were off to play with the Luna’s shortly after. Connor had an absolute ball running around the old neighborhood. It felt so good to see him so happy with his friends again. We were able to go to a halloween party with our old homeschool group and I had a ball talking with Elizabeth, Tara, Darlene, Stephanie and Paula again! It was so nice to reconnect. We brought some cool science stuff from Steve Spangler to share with our friends at the party.

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But, after some really fun times with friends it was time to hit the road again. We had to re-route home because of the crazy storm that hit Colorado that week. So, we left Vegas and headed to the Grand Canyon. Once there, Bob pulled a Clark Griswold and we left ASAP. Even though it was three hours out of the way, I am glad we went. Connor was really interested in the canyon statistics and the boys willing bought and watched a documentary about it during the trip home.

We crawled into Albequerqe at 9:45, with just 15 minutes to spare to get some take out from Sadies Mexican food. Next morning we were back on the road and headed home early to get some trick or treating in.

Even though it was way too short, I am so glad we went. I realized on this trip that what I have been really missing about Vegas is the sense of community we had there. The feeling of having a ‘village’ to raise our kids in. Good friends that would do anything for you at the drop of a hat. People who bought me a 12 pack of diet coke for the hotel room and people who loved my kids whole heartedly. It comes down to people who truly knew us and cared about us. But what I realized is that I am going to have to try to find that here. As much as our friends there will always be special to us, and I hope to remain friends for years, I have to try to recreate that feeling here. I think we may be on the right path, when we drove up on Sat. our driveway and walk had been shoveled for us. I went over to thank the people across the street but they told me there was no need, the whole neighborhood had pitched in because they were worried Carter wouldn’t be able to get in.