10 Tips for California Adventure Alone

I recently spent the day at Disneyland’s Resort California Adventure and Downtown Disney. As mentioned in a previous post on this blog, I grew up in the Midwest and watched Disney’s Sunday night program faithfully, watching Tinkerbell light the fireworks or color splashing over Cinderella’s castle, wondering if I’d ever get to visit Disneyland. It seemed so far away. I never thought I’d end up living about 45-minutes away as an adult. I think about that every time I visit, and it makes me smile.

Here are my ten tips for doing a solo day trip to the Disneyland Resort, specifically for a visit to the California Adventure theme park.

Disney CA Adventure Entrance - 2018-2

Entrance to California Adventure on a February morning.

On this particular visit, I chose to go alone. I got to decide what to do and when. No compromise. Pure entitlement. Feeding my selfish dark side. Yes! This was the day!  The night before, I made my list of what I wanted to do there. Making lists makes me happy. Perhaps you are a list maker, too. I went prepared to check things off that list. As an introvert, doing things alone is often fun for me.

Image - Disney Lamp Post Scene - 2018-2

Alone in the crowd, but not lonely.

If you ever go to such a great place by yourself, these ten tips may be of interest to you.

Tip #1: Take a book or your Kindle and plan to do some reading.

My first attraction for day was Soaring Around the World, one of my most favorite things to do at Disney’s California Adventure, formerly Soaring Over California, also a favorite. I chose the stand-by line with a 45-minute wait. Standing in line can be especially tedious when you are alone with no one to chat with, so I came prepared and brought a book.

I passed the time reading and standing and reading and standing for a while, when the cast member made an announcement. One of the two theaters was having technical difficulties. The guests in that line were moved into the other theater. That would add a five to seven minute delay. OK. Whatever. I was reading.

I love to read. For some of us, extra free time to read is a luxury, so that was my perspective. The long time of reading was great. But the standing time, and standing still, became tiring. Finally, I got seated on the ride, loved it as always, and was relieved to be sitting down for a few minutes.

Tip #2: Choose to do those things you want to do that those who love you and normally go with you might not care about missing.

For me, that included going to see Frozen. The park information states “The dazzling theatrical interpretation of Disney’s global film phenomenon Frozen…at the Hyperion Theater at Disney California Adventure Park!” My husband would not typically agree to do this, unless he could tell I really wanted to go or it was my birthday. I’ve wanted to see this for a while. I was looking forward to the 2:00 performance, according to my carefully crafted plans for my day.

I walked over to the theater at about 1:15, casually early, anticipating a line. I rounded the corner and what did I see? No line. I could only assume something was wrong. In spite of the obvious, I still asked the cast member the same question, “What?” Sadly for me, the 2:00pm performance had been cancelled. I’ll have to wait to another day.

I also went to the the Animation Academy, and learned how to sketch Piglet. (Photo below with ice cream) [Note: Glen actually would do this one.]

Disney Animation Studio 2018-2

Tip #3: Take advantage of the “single rider line” at Radiator Springs Racers, and get on the ride with less waiting time.

“Zoom through the desert landscape of Cars Land, inspired by the Disney•Pixar movie Cars,” the online information proclaimed.  I do like this ride, so I made the hike over to Cars Land to take a ride through the Disney Pixar desert.

Disney Cars Land Scenery - 2018-2

I got to the single riders line and approached with a spring in my step, all smug that I’d avoid a long wait. The cast member greeted me with “It’s a one hour wait.”

“What? Really? For single riders?,” I gasped in disbelief, all pride in my brilliant strategy fleeing.

She nodded yes. I crossed that ride off my list, walked away, and decided that was not going to happen that day either.

Tip #4: Enjoy having the whole side of a ride vehicle to yourself.

Mid-morning, I picked up a “fast pass,” a ticket for a shorter wait in line if you return later in the day, for Toy Story Midway Mania. The park information describes this as, “Ride and take aim at moving objects during this midway-inspired, 4D game starring popular Disney·Pixar Toy Story characters,” and it is another favorite of mine. No skill required.

I went over to the ride at the designated time, about 4:15. I got the whole side of the car to myself, of course. So fun! But that car tosses and spins you around a bit. It is much more fun to sit next to some one you love to bounce off of in the competition. I definitely have room for improvement, and maybe some competition (a.k.a. Glen) would help motivate me.

Tip #5: Choose when and where to stop to eat your favorite foods, because you are in charge. And all alone.

I stopped for coffee and something with cinnamon in the morning. I ate a not-on-any-health-food-list corn dog for lunch and completely enjoyed it. A little birdy sat nearby (see photo) watching for crumbs to drop. I took an afternoon break for ice cream and people watching. It was fun to pace the day my way and choose foods that I don’t usually include in my day-to-day meals.

Disney Corn Dog & Bird 2018-2

From the Corn Dog Castle — bird not included

Disney Animation Art & Ice Cream Break - 2018-2

Mint chip ice cream & my Piglet sketch

Tip #6: If you like to take photos, take all the time you want to stop, observe, find, and photograph anything that catches your interest and your eye.

You will not be slowing anyone down. If you like to take photos, you will know what I mean. It’s bliss. I was fascinated by clouds, pines, and lamps on this day for some reason. No need to explain. No need to apologize to the group for taking yet another photo and dragging out time.

Image - Pines & Lamp - CA Adventure 2018-2

Image - Disney Lamp Post & Clouds 2018-2

I also photographed some of the humor I noticed in Bugs’ Land. Now I know what lightning bugs do for a living and where candy corn grows.

Disney Lightning Bug 2018-2

Disney Candy Corn Patch - 2018-2

Tip #7: Beware of people who do not understand how to properly stand in crowded lines.

I experienced two different groups that missed that day of Disney Park Etiquette orientation. There is really no such thing, but evidently we are not all born with an understanding of cooperating in lines. Both groups violated these unspoken rules of crowd behavior in line:

a. Always stand as close as possible to the person in front of you to prevent people from crowding in and cutting, seeing a gap. And to give a better sense of how long the line truly is.

b. Do not stand single file with your group, one behind the other, making the line extend back another six or seven feet unnecessarily. Come on, people. Clump together. Move as a pod, like an advancing amoeba. We are not waiting in the drinking fountain line in kindergarten.


c. Don’t all freeze in place in line to watch the baby being cute, bringing forward progression to a halt of the rest of us. Baby stare and maintain a shuffle toward the front. It can be done.

Tip #8: Don’t go in the off-season like February thinking the parks will for sure be low in attendance without checking what conventions and big activities are happening in Anaheim.

Check online to make sure Anaheim is not in the midst of hosting a national high school cheer competition. Or else be prepared to spend the day surrounded by multiple small mobs of enthused teen girls on the move all. Day. Long. The park will be crowded. However, on a positive note, you will leave the park with new fashion and make-up insights. And can possibly photo bomb all sorts of selfies to entertain yourself.

Tip #9: Dress warmly.

A sunny California day is not necessarily always warm. This is a whole different version of California cool!

Anaheim Temp - 2018-2

Tip #10: Need a quiet moment? Stop and rest in the Disney Grand Lobby.

Located next to Downtown Disney and California Adventure is the Disney Grand Hotel. I love drifting through the Disney Grand Hotel – the decor, the ambience, the charm, the fireplace, and the beautiful piano music of Disney classics.

I have a secret place in the small lobby on floor three. I stop at a little desk, open to the lobby. I catch my breath, charge my phone, read, plan, journal, while listening to the wonderful background music wafting up from the main floor. The arts & crafts decor is perfect for the historic time period style of this hotel.

Disney Grand - 3rd Floor Desk 2018-2

Disney Grand Hotel -3rd Floor Desk - 2018-2

Glen met me for dinner at Downtown Disney. We enjoyed dining at La Brea Bakery Cafe restaurant, which got us validated parking and made parking free. We ended the day sharing a bag of beignets from Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen Express. Glen had dropped me off in the morning on the way to work, so I hitched a ride home with him, tired but happy. And I had over 11,000 steps on my pedometer.

Disney Beignet Bag - 2018-2

Beignets come with enough powdered sugar to fairy dust a small forest!

I do enjoy living so close to the Disney Resort. It comes in handy any time I’m feeling like I need to wish upon a star. By myself or with family or friends. Would you ever go alone? What are your best tips for the day?

Stay charming, my friends!




The Noise That Annoys: Smart Phone Stupidity and Social Manners

In our smart phone world, is it just me? Or does it bug you, too, when people seem totally clueless that other people around them do not want to hear whatever is happening on the phone? Recently, I had several experiences with people unaware, and I was ready to scream. Instead, I just shook my head and took notes for a blog post. Each day brought a new annoying phone behavior by someone located near me, mostly noise related, mostly involving a smart phone. So I’ve reviewed some phone etiquette guidelines for the uninformed, though they are not reading this post.

Guideline #1: Use discernment when putting a call on speaker in a public setting.

Or, to put it another way, never put your phone call on speaker in a public setting.

What is it with people? Really? You (not really you, but the general you) take a personal call using your speaker feature in a public setting. Did you miss that day in smart phone etiquette school? Come on, people. We don’t find your phone call in the coffee shop, or anywhere, of value or interest. In fact, it is annoying. One does not need to use a speaker phone in public settings, unless it is a meeting or group call.

Guideline #2: Resist taking a call in the public restroom.

I’m sure the following situation has happened to others. I was in the women’s restroom, in a stall, taking care of business, so to speak. Someone in the next stall took a call (we call that a stall call) using the speaker. Maybe I flushed during the call on purpose. Maybe I didn’t. I don’t recall. Speaker phone features pick up a lot of background sounds, though. Be aware.

Guideline #3: Bring your headphones, and use them.

I was at the doctor’s office, waiting in the waiting room where we have to wait. And wait. Waiting to be called back to see the doctor. Another person in the waiting room decided to watch a video. Of course, the sound was on. There she sat, watching the video, and all of us could hear the dialog and soundtrack. How did she not know how annoying that was? So I went and got popcorn, came back, sat down right next to her, and said, “Hey, friend, what are we watching?” That last part did not happen, but it was tempting. Just then, I got called in to see the doctor. As I passed, I turned to her and said, “You know that character dies in the end, don’t you.” Again, I didn’t, but I felt like spoiling the plot. Silly me. I need to work on an appropriate response for next time that happens. Or maybe I’ll just start watching a video, too, only louder. Passive aggressive much?

Image result for waiting room

Use your headphones when listening to a video on your phone in public. Don’t add to the suffering of others at the doctor’s office.


Guideline #4: If you are disrupting others from the main activity, stop it.

Then Sunday came along. I was seated in the worship service. A young man was seated behind me and a few seats toward the outside aisle. He, too, was watching something on his phone during the service. A lecture or a stand-up comedian or something with one male voice. Maybe he was streaming the exact same sermon, but had a time delay. Maybe he was watching another pastor. Who knows? Did that matter? Did the content of his viewing matter? Not really. It was totally disruptive to me. I did not say anything, though. I just focused more intently on the service. After the service, I was going to say something to him, but I changed my mind.

Guideline #5: Remember, when watching a movie in the theater, different behavior is preferred to when watching a movie at home.

This has nothing to do with a smart phone, except for the woman’s last comment to me. But since I’m on a roll, crying out against noisy behavior in public settings in general, and courtesy on the planet overall, let me to add this one.

We walked into the theater and chose our seats, partway up, center. Two seats. Side by side. The theater was practically empty. I set my purse down on the theater chair to my right. Soon, a grandmother and two girls came up the steps. You’ve probably just guessed what happened next. With plenty of empty seats throughout the theater, they decided to sit in our row. Of course, the grandmother asked me if anyone was sitting “here,” in the seat right next to me, my purse’s seat. Naturally, I said no, and moved my purse to my lap, thinking to myself, “What’s wrong with all the other rows around us?”

Eventually, the mother joined them with the popcorn and drinks. And the movie began. They were quite chatty before the movie started. They continued to process every plot twist and share every thought in response all the way through the movie. I was exhausted after blocking it out for two hours. It was the movie Coco, which is loud and fun, so that helped drown out their conversations.

After the movie ended, they were looking around their seats. The grandmother turns to me and says, “She [the mom] thought she lost her cell phone.” I hadn’t asked. I hadn’t even looked their way. But I managed to say, “That’s great she found it.” What can you do? Be grateful it doesn’t happen more often! Maybe you are more patient and understanding than me.

For more on good manners with using the speaker phone feature, here is another article: Speakerphone Etiquette

Stay charming, my friends!

It’s About the Food, Not the Patriots

Super Bowl 2018

If you are a pro football fan, I hope your team made it into the Super Bowl. Now that the playoffs are over, we have two teams recently suffering defeat and disappointment, and two teams watching game films to prepare for the big game on Sunday, February 4. The New England Patriots and super hero, Tom Brady, will be facing the Philadelphia Eagles. For me, since I don’t have a favorite team in the mix, it is all about the food while watching the game. But more on that later.

My Team

I’m the football fan in our house. In fact, I applied to work in organizational management with the NFL after college, but got nowhere on that career path. My husband enjoys the social aspect of watching the sport with friends. I am a mild fan of the Los Angeles Rams. Here’s the history on that. If history bores you, move on to the food section of this post. I grew up in northeast Ohio. I began my interest in football in tenth grade, and became a Dallas Cowboys fan, as did most of America. I am not sure why. It was the Tom Landry/Roger Staubach era. Legends in my mind to this day. I never did attach to the Cleveland Browns, my local team at the time.

One negative thing about being a young football fan in the Eastern Standard Time zone is Monday Night Football continued late into the evening. I never got to see who won the game. I had a bedtime that came about the middle of the game. So I selected a college in the Central Standard Time zone to remedy that dilemma. Just kidding. That was not part of how I selected a college.

I spent many years living outside Chicago and took the Bears as my favorite team during that time. I had become disillusioned with the Cowboys once the Jimmy Johnson era came along. The greater Chicago area seemed to all be Bears fans, which added to the momentum. If you went to work on Monday and did not know how the Bears did over the weekend, you would be isolated from many conversations. The hype was especially extreme during the 1985 season, with the Super Bowl XX win in 1986. And this little video beauty, which is so dated now, brought such joy. We all knew it by heart at the time!


This brings back great memories of the days of feeling like we were a part of something magnificent! As a fan, my friend and I managed to get tickets to endure freezing winter weather, bundled in multiple layers of warm clothing, to watch a Monday Night Football game outdoors at Soldier Field. Dedicated, but crazy, really. Great memories.

And then I moved to Southern California. I left the Chicago area in 1990, and lost interest in the Bears. I was an NFL orphan without a favorite team for about 23 years. Now that the Rams are in town, I’m giving that a go. This is my second year as a Rams fan, and I was pleased with their decent season.

However, it is the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl. I have no friends as far as I’m aware that are Eagles fans. Of course, I have many friends that are Patriot fans. So I might root for the Patriots on their behalf. But I still wish new teams would get to the Super Bowl instead of the Patriots again!

Now on to the food….

The Food Fun

For the Super Bowl in recent years, my husband and I select food to enjoy featuring typical things the team cities are famous for when it comes to food. It makes the game more interesting. This year is no different. We are considering the following menu items just for fun:

New England Clam Chowder

Image result for progresso new england clam chowder

I will heat this up from the can and not try to make it myself.

Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches

Philly Cheesecake

The link above the picture includes the history of this famous sandwich.

Boston Baked Beans

We may make the sandwiches and the beans at home, if we are feeling ambitious.

And for dessert, perhaps cheesecake made with Philadelphia Cream Cheese, which actually originated in New York, or so I read. So does that really count for a Philadelphia dessert?

Or should we bring home a Marie Callendar’s Boston Creme Pie, if they still offer it?


Martha Stewart has a recipe for individual Boston Cream Pies. Of course she does, right?

Or maybe we should just take off and go to the Cheesecake Factory for dessert and skip the second half of the game! There may be no line to wait in, since millions will be watching the game!

Image result for cheesecake factory original cheesecake

I guess it is a good thing we have two weeks to decide. Do you have a favorite team? Or a favorite Super Bowl snack or food idea?

And stay charming, my friends!