Disneyland, my favorite road trip then and now

Hi. My name is Donna, aka Shotgun Rider,  and I’m a Disney addict. Disneyland is my go to favorite vacation spot. 

I went when I was a little girl. This was a time when you bought ticket books and each ride or attraction required a specific ticket. A-B-C-D-E. see below for a whole book. My mom still has some old tickets somewhere. I’d love to frame them up one day. I remember wearing my Mickey ears and my Donald Duck squeaking duck bill cap. My sister and I  had matching hats. I’m 47 now and have witnessed lots of changes to Dusneyland but the magic has always been there. 

The best rides were “E” tickets. We always ran out of “E” tickets. It was all about the “E” ticket. 

That left the other tickets for the not as fun stuff like the Swiss family Robinson tree house. The tree house is now Tarzans tree house. 

You even needed a ticket for the shooting gallery.These other tickets were ok. They just were not “E” tickets. “A”tickets were the worst and we always came home with leftovers since you purchased the tickets in books. 

The competing amusement parks policy of general admission for the entire park and all rides forced Disney to fade out the tickets in 1981. Most kids today don’t have any knowledge of the old carnival ticket style of getting on rides. The times you just could not go on a ride because you were out of tickets. Thankfully with the general admission fee I have visited Disneyland a lot without the worries of running out of tickets. 
It’s my happy place. I went to celebrate my first year together with my boyfriend in 1989. I went for my honeymoon with the same man in 1991. I go for so many reasons now but mainly because of the magic that surrounds me the instant I see the sign above the archway to enter main street. My breathing changes and I feel the stress release from my shoulders. My smile grows, my eyes sparkle and at times tears sneak out. It’s a feeling I cannot duplicate. 

Fast forward to the present and how I keep the magic new and fun. My family travels to Disneyland at least 3 times a year. We’ve purchased annual passes the past 3 years for the whole family. I am in Disney heaven. This makes each trip relaxing since we are not rushing to get in every ride or having to stand in the long lines. Plus after so many years we’ve developed a fool proof plan to get on the rides we want without the crowded lines. 

In 2006 Hubby bought me a permanent memorial brick which is installed between the entrance gates of Disneyland and California Adventure. We visit it at least once each trip. It makes for a great meeting spot when we separate. “Meet at my brick st 1:30 and we will grab lunch”. It’s a place that’s never crowded and never has a line. 

Even after all of these Disneyland trips we find things to do that are new to us. Rides to go on, sites to see and adventures to take. Disney does update rides and brings in new rides very often. These are not the new parts I am talking about. I’m talking about rides like the canoes, the Mark  Twain steam ship, the Columbia ship. And most recent in California Adventure, the ferris wheel. I was always in a rush to go on other  big rides. I did not want to waste my precious minutes riding in a slow moving boat or paddling a canoe. Our annual passes have made me slow down and experience these classic attractions for the first time. I’m still working my way through all the things I’ve never done. Have you ever taken one of the tours? I haven’t, but I will eventually. 

I won’t go through all the “secret” tips because you can find them on other sites. I will tell you I’ve experienced almost all of them. Still waiting to get a ride inside the Lilly Belle car on the Disneyland Railroad. If you can visit during Halloween and Christmas you will see another side of Disney magic. 

There is also a long of foods I’ve never tried. The Monte Cristo sandwhich in New Orleans Square.  A Bloody Mary from Cathay Circle. A chili mac cone from Carsland. I’m sure there is more and I’ll keep looking and eating my way through all that Disney has to offer. 

You can be sure I will be posting more about Disneyland while I ride my favorite attraction and try some new ones to. My will continue adventures with Mikey Mouse. Next trip planned for October 2017. 

1 potato 2 potato

Last year Hubby and I ran across a candy called an Idaho Spud. Heres the face I made when I took a bite back then. 

It was the nastiest candy I’ve ever eaten.  It was very deceptive too as it tasted nothing like a potato. I guess that would be good for a chocolate candy but at least potatoes taste good. 
Fast forward to this year. We stopped to get gas and I bought another one because I feel like my kids should try it too. I need a second opinion and I’ve always heard you have to try it twice before you decided you don’t like it. I asked the cashier if she’d ever tried one and she smirked. She told me it was her grandpa’s favorite candy. I added “it’s the grossest candy I’ve ever eaten” and laughed.  She said “yeah she thought it was pretty bad too”. 

Not only did they have an Idaho Spud but they had a Huckleberry Gem. Had to buy one of those too. It’s by the same candy maker. They can’t make two nasty candies can they? 

Now the kids can’t say I didn’t bring them anything from this trip.

Number 3 son was the only brace sole willing to try the Idaho Spud. He ate a small piece. Chewed slowly and said it wasn’t bad. When I asked he wanted more he politely said “No thanks”.  

Now for the Huckleberry Gem. 

Not bad. Not something I need to buy again but the company can be proud that at least one of these candies is palatable. I’ve discovered I really like Huckleberry flavored jam and candy. 

This chocolate bar was my favorite. Think I’ll stick with this

Coney dog and Rootbeer Float times two

Ok so I broke my rule about no chain restaurants. Well in my defense it was an old style A&W Drive-in. On a hot day. It really love coney dogs and rootbeer floats. I caved ok! So we stopped at a place in Montana before getting to Glacier National Park. 

It brought back some tasty memories. Hubby got an Oreo ice cream. He doesn’t eat fast food. Thankfully he will still stop for me. 

This location had the old drive in order speakers and a few other details that made it special. I even met a few fellow Warriors fans. They saw my 2017 NBA Finals hat. Turns out, Tatiana was from the Bay Area too. She was showing her live of the team with her Strength in Numbers tee. 

On to my coney dog and rootbeer float, take 2. After leaving Glacier and driving a few hours away, hubby found me another A&W. 

This time I added onion rings. Unfortunately this coney dog did not even come close to the first one. Maybe it was because I was so hungry the first time, but it just did not hit the spot. In fact I only took two bites. The float was ok but they put it in a paper cup. Having it in a chilled glass mug is the only way to have it. 

It was good, just not great. Breaking “my no chain restaurant” rule was necessary. Don’t judge me. 

What is your favorite road trip food stop? The one that you’ll instantly take the exit for when you see it. 

Sharing feedback and comment cards

I spent a few hours after we returned answering emails and completing feedback requests frim hotels, camping sites, restaurants and sightseeing locations from our trip. When you’re staying away from home for 17 days that’s a lot of places to rate. 

Most places were rated as excellent. Some were just ok. A few were completely bad. There is no way I could recommend them. I will go into more details about the individual locations another time. 

Like I said most stays were excellent. I try to complete all of my opinions and experiences. Not just the negative ones. Plus within a negative experience there may have been a bright side. An employee who did everything right but wasn’t able to correct the problem. That employee deserves the recognition for their positive effort. 

I’m pretty easy to please when it comes to an overnight stay. A hotel needs to be clean with clean bedding and have a working toilet, shower and mainly bathtub. I enjoy soaking in a tub after sitting in the truck for so long and especially after hiking around hills or downtown for hours. One day we walked over 15 miles. Yep, I was looking forward to a bubble bath that night. Unfortunately that was the night in Victoria at the lighthouse, no shower or tub available until the following day. 
If I’m camping out then I want flushable,  non-smelly toilets, a clean shower and hopefully quiet time. It’s camping after all so you can’t expect too much. I do my best to not camp near killer beasts like bears. The less bugs the better but that ines hard to control. The location dictates the bug problem. I never needs my Shoo-Fly device so I have no idea if it works or not. I’ll have to try it on our next trip. 

I filled out a few from restaurants after completing our meal as well. 

In my other part time job, these surveys are highly coveted by the corporate offices. Proudly I will say I have a very large number of highly satisfied customers who have completed the feedback email. My employer does offer a discount on the customers next purchase if they complete the survey, but still they are completing it with a positive experience and those positives ones are hard to get. Most customers only write about the negative parts. 

So I ask you:

  • Do you fill out feedback forms? 
  • Do you only fill them out if you get a freebie or discount by providing your experience?
  • Do you only fill them out for negative experiences? 
  • How important do you think these feedback requests are and do you think they make a difference? 

Ironically while writing this blog I just received another hotel Etsy feedback request. Off to complete that one while it’s fresh in my mind. Incidentally it was a positive experience. 

I’ll let you know if I get any responses from my recent road trip. 

    Disneyland Fastpass and the new Maxpass

    On our recent trip to Disneyland snd California Adventure we were introduced to a new feature called Maxpass. It’s an option available for purchase which allows you to use your smart phone to book your ride fastpass from anywhere on the property. Actually I found out the app worked even when I was at my hotel over a mile away from the park. I’m curious now what the limitations really are? I do know that if you do not use your ticket to enter Disneyland or California Adventure you will not be able to use this feature. Since you don’t use your ticket to leave this allows you to still book fastpasses, like I did from my hotel. 

    I’ll start at the basics for those readers who aren’t as current on the Disney ins and outs. When the lines for favorite tides were becoming too long, Disney introduced a ticketed reservation type system to save you some time. Rather than wait in line for 2 hours or more for rides like Space Mountain or Radiator Springs Racers, you use your admission ticket to come back to the line at a later time. The fastpass line is considerably shorter than the standby line. I always wonder why everyone does not use the fastpass system. I guess some people don’t know how it works or just don’t mind waiting, I loathe waiting in long lines. The fastpass was ingenious. You just walk to the ride you wish to get a fastpass for, insert your ticket and a fastpass would be issued with a time to return. 

    Pictured a fastpass kiosk from Ca Adv park

    Pictured- old fastpass ticket with return time and barcode 

    Rules for the fastpass system and some downsides:

    • Each person needs a fastpass and you have to have each persons admission tickets to get all of your passes. Each person must be in the park you are trying to get the fastpass for. Example. You can’t be in Ca Adv and have a friend run to get your tickets in Disneyland for Space Mt. 
    • you can get a new fastpass every 2 hours or after your fastpass is used. 
    • You cannot have more than one active fastpass for a specific ride at s time
    • Sometimes the fastpasses for the most sought after rides run out. In other words they have a set number of passes and once they are gone they stop issuing anymore that day. (A little hint- late at night the lines tend to be much shorter for those rides, be patient)

    The worst part was running around both parks, back and forth to get the fastpasses. It created a lot more walking. Also since the fastpass is a ticket with a barcode you give to the cast member, these passes were transferable. I’ve given tickets to strangers if I was leaving the park. I’ve been given tickets as well. Well you can’t do that anymore. Fastpasses are now directly linked to your admission ticket or annual pass. The paper ticket that comes out at the fastpass kiosk is only a reminder of your return time. No bar code any longer. Keep your ticket or annual pass handy when you get to the fastpass line. 

    New fastpass return time reminder, no barcode

    When returning during your fastpass reservation time (1 hour window) you will scan your annual pass/park admission ticket. Sometimes st the beginning of the line and then closer to the ride to keep line jumpers from doing the wrong thing I’m guessing. The fastpass is loaded onto your admission ticket. See, no more passing off your fastpasses. I observed people trying to get in line without scanning,  or scanned wrong ride, no pass at all, wrong return time etc, but the cast members are on top of their game. This new process seemed to work really well. Now onto the next phase and advancement in the fastpass world. 


    This option is part of the Disneyland App download here, The app allows you to basically manage your entire trip. You must pay to activate it before you can use it. 

    The Disneyland app and the MAXPASS option require cellular connection and a smartphone. Hubby refuses to upgrade from his flip phone so he’ll be at my mercy for this time saving convenience. For others who don’t have smartphones or who do not wish to use their cellular data they still can use the kiosk fastpass system which is free. 

    MAXPASS is not free. 

    MAXPASS requires each ticket holder to pay an additional fee. It is new and at the time of this post it was an additional $10 per person per day. The MAXPASS feature allows you to get your fastpass easily without running around to each kiosk. The same fastpass restrictions apply like the 2 hour wait etc. everything else is exactly the same as using the walk up kiosk. It’s purely the convenience of using your phone to get your fastpass instead of running around between the 2 amusement parks. A time and feet saver. Worth the $20 bucks I spent without question. I’ll forgo the churro and Mickey pretzel to pay for this treat. 

    Holy shmoly! This is the greatest advancement since the fastpass itself. I was on the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride, in California Adventure, and reserved my fastpass for The Haunted Mansion without leaving the line. Do you get it? I did not have to walk all the way across the property just to find out I’m going to have to wait 3 more hours before I can get on anyway. This was huge! 

     The MAXPASS also tells you how long the current standby wait is and what time the next fastpass is for. If you are really savy you can plan your day out in a very efficient way. 

    We were able to go on 14 rides within 11 hours that day. Granted it was a Tuesday which was a bit lower attendance. However we did not wait longer than 20 minutes per ride. Those 11 hours included ordering our food and eating, riding the train around the park twice, bathroom breaks, and some people watching. We did not rush at all. If you’ve attended Disneyland before you know 14 rides in 11 hours is an amazing feat. 

    An additional advantage is all photopass pictures are free to download with your MAXPASS. 

    I am certain the fees and the structure of the MAXPASS will change since this is advertised right now as introductory. It will be very interesting to see how Disney rolls the MAXPASS option out completely. 

    I can highly recommend making the extra purchase assuming it stays reasonably priced. Experienced Disney addicts like myself will really work it to their advantage but even the novice will benefit greatly. 

    Well that just my opinion. I don’t get anything out of sharing my thoughts from Disney or any of their affiliates. 

    Again, I’ll be clear that I am not opposed to any offerings which may be available to me. Blogging is fun and all, but if I can get a little something to help with my Disney and travel addiction I will gladly discuss those options with you. Any incentives are greatly welcome. See my contact page if you would like to get in touch. You have to start somewhere and this is my beginning. 

    Come join me on my adventure! 

    Kellogg, Idaho…. I’m hungry

    Traveling through Idaho my stomach was rumbley. I was starving. Not a whole lot of choices that were not fast food restaurants. Seeing the signs for a small town up ahead with a sign for Sam’s, we took the next exit. 

    It looks like an old drive-in. Covered parking where you can imagine roller skating waitresses carrying burgers and fries to waiting customers. Walking in the doors I saw a hometown dinner filled with locals. As new customers came in they were greeted by their first name. I think the tables and booths could handle about 60 customers. I loved the atmosphere. 

    Hubby and I first noticed the table had 4 types of Tabasco sauce. 

    They search breakfast, lunch and dinner. Searching the menu I decided on an omelet and hubby ordered a burger and tots. 

    Do you see that pile of tots? My omlete was huge. I saved 2/3 of it for dinner. Hubby ate his whole burger and the tots with his new favorite Tabasco sauce, Sweet & Spicey. I felt guilty because he used half a bottle. I’ve never seen that sauce locally. It almost rd tasted like a spicy BBQ sauce. I’ll have to search the internet for some. 

    The servers were friendly and provided fast, attentive service. The decor is fun andreminded  me of a country style kitchen. In fact it reminded me of my grandmas kitchen. The windows surrounding the booths and tables, let in the bright sunshine. Everyone was smiling, 

    The prices are very reasonable and the food was great.  

    Check them out on Facebook ~

    If you’re driving through be sure to stop in for a delicious and filling meal. Tell them you heard about them from me. Be sure to let me know about your experience too!