Saturday, April 30, 2011

D23 Day at Walt Disney Studios and Archives

Walt Disney Studios
Date of Visit: April 30, 2011

This afternoon we enjoy a 2.5 hour tour at the Walt Disney Studios.  I have been wanting to tour the studios for years.  I even was saving Disney Movie Reward points for the private tour for 4.  Last year as a charter D23 Member I never got any of the tickets or the dates just would not work.  This year the tickets cost money, so the demand was slightly less and I was able to snatch ones for me and a guest.

Mik and I loved the tour.  It was interesting to learn see where so many of the Disney movies were filmed and animated.  The whole tour was so good it is too hard to choose a favorite part.

For about half the buildings we went in we had to go in a different way with the wheelchair than the rest of the group, but the tour guides were great and mostly waited for us to catch up before talking about the specific area.  We did miss some information, but at least we saw everything and it was mostly seemed we missed Q&A done to stall for time.

Stage where Mary Poppins, etc. was filmed

One of the coolest parts was Stage 2, which is where Mary Poppins was filmed.  It was also used for building some of the early Disneyland rides like the Mark Twain and Jungle Cruise.  Of course, it does not look like much all empty right now, but just being there and imagining all that has gone on in there was pretty cool.

Narnia Wardrobe
Mary Poppins Snow Globe1st Disneyland TicketMik Holding OscarDisneyland Preview Passes

Another one of my favorite parts of the tour was the Archives.  It is just a small room, but has several different themed display cases.  It had the wardrobe used in the Narnia movie.  The whole wall of bookcases full of Disney books was interesting to read the spines of.  I loved seeing the snowglobe from Mary Poppins.  They also had a few special items out just for the D23 Day including an Oscar, which we even got to hold and take pictures with.  We also got to see the 1st Disneyland ticket and Press Preview tickets.

Bob Gurr Legends PlazaLegends PlazaMik w/ GrumpyJulie Andrews Legends Plaza

The Disney Legends Plaza with the building with the Dwarves behind it was also fun to see.  We found our favorite Disney Legend, Julie Andrews, handprints.  We also found the hand prints of the Disney Legend we actually met at the D23 2nd Anniversary Party, Bob Gurr.

Walt Disney Productions Patch

At the event Mik got himself a D23 membership, which included a free bonus pin.  It is the 1st Anniversary Party pin, which I have 2 of from going to it with Dad, but it is an extra bonus than if he bought it online.  Now he will also have access to all the special D23 member specific access at the D23 Expo in August. We both each also got a cool orange Walt Disney Productions replica patch as the free collectible for this D23 event.

Photos by Kjersti and Mik
Text by Kjersti with Mik's input

Destination Info:
Walt Disney Studios
500 S. Buena Vista St
Burbank, CA 91521

National Mall and Memorial Parks: World War II Memorial

World War II Memorial
Date of Visit: March 19, 2011

The World War II Memorial was the final memorial we visited as part of our day exploring the National Mall. By the time we got to it Mik was tired of sightseeing. Plus, we have been to it many times before and it just is not among his favorites. He did let me take one picture of him at it, but we pretty much just quickly rolled around it and headed to the Metro.

The World War II Memorial is one of my favorites, as I like the pillars with the states and US territories. The path around the pillars is ramped, but it can easily get crowded. We walked around the outside at one point to try to avoid the crowd inside the memorial, but the path is much smaller and is not really worth it. Sometimes, though, this is the better way to get pictures with specific pillars without other people getting in the way.

Photo by Kjersti
Text by Kjersti with Mik's wheelchair accessibility input

Destination Info:
World War II Memorial
East Side of Reflecting Pool, West of Washington Monument
Washington, DC

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Summer 2011: Disney, National Parks, and of course some Baseball!!!

Today after finally officially committing to the D23 Expo in August I am declaring our Summer 2011 travel plans finalized.  It is not quite All the Ballparks 2009, but it shaped up to be a lot of fun stuff and best of all Mik got his wish of being involved, so it is all things we together agreed on doing.

The themes of Summer 2011 travel plans turned out to be mostly Disney and National Parks, but I could not resist throwing in some baseball stuff.  Sadly, yet again the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame could not get worked in.  However, we did at least work in Rickwood Field, which is one of the things we did not work into the baseball road trip.  Of course, best of all is that we are going to a game at Target Field and we will once again be able to say we have seen a game at every current MLB ballpark.

Disney Theme
  • Premier Pass: I have been wanting one of these, but it never made sense until this summer shaped up to be very Disney.  Mik and I are both getting one, so we will have access to all Disney parks in California and Florida for a year after we get it early June 2011.
  • June - Disneyland: The D23 2nd Anniversary in March was supposed to be our Disneyland fix for 2011, but Mik loves Star Tours and we both love Disneyland, so we just could not resist going to Disneyland for the first weekend the new Star Tours ride is going to be open.  Plus, we want to check out the new Little Mermaid ride in California Adventure that also opens that weekend.  To make the trip even sweeter, Dad is coming along, so he can transfer Mik and we can go on more rides.  Thanks to Mom generously not only paying for most of our adventures, she also let us use some of her Hyatt points to stay at a nice hotel.  Plus, with the Premier Pass we get free parking, so no need to stay too near the parks.
  • July - Alaska Disney Cruise:  This is the one part of the summer Mom actually gets to enjoy with us.  Alaska is the only state we have not been to, so it is exciting we will have been to all 50 states after the cruise.  The cooler part, though, is we are going to our 50th state for Mom's 50th birthday, which she will celebrate during the cruise.
  • July - Disney World: The end of July Mik and I are going to spend 4 days (possibly an extra half day as well since we will have Premier passes and might get there early on check in day or leave late on check out day).  Dad is taking us/staying with us, but he is going to Orlando for a Math Teacher's conference, so it will just be Mik and I exploring the parks.  We are not much into Disney World because Disneyland has much of what we like at Disney World, but we do like Epcot and Mik plans to eat his way through the countries.
  • August - D23 Expo: I wanted to do this back in 2009 and could not and Mik has wanted to do this ever since the D23 2nd Anniversary event.  Mik is even going to buy the lower D23 membership at this weekend's D23 Studio Tour event (comes with a few extra pin at event!), so we will both have access to the special D23 only parts of the expo.  Of course, we will also hit Disneyland as part of this trip and get some more use out of our Premier Passes.  We are doing this all on our own.  This will be our first trip all by ourselves.  I have flown with him alone and of course just by myself, but this will be a first entire trip of just the two of us.  Good prep for Summer 2012 and our Disney Cruise from New York to Canada that we currently have booked as just the two of us, although it might include some vacation time with Mom in New York before or after.
National Parks
  • June  - Mesa Verde National Park, Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, Homestead National Monument, Pipestone National Monument, Effigy Mounds National Monument: These are the things we are going to visit on the way from Tucson to Chicago via Minneapolis at the end of June.  Mostly going to stay at KOAs like we did in 2009, but going to try out the Mesa Verde National Park campground, too.  Originally was only going to be Mesa Verde, but I had to add some extras because the June 29 Twins game only had single tickets left and thus we ended up with two extra days to get to Minneapolis to go to July 1 game instead.
  • July - Klondike Gold Rush National Park, Skagway, Alaska: We visited the Seattle part of this National Park back in 2009, so it will be fun to finally see the other part of the park.
  • July - Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park and Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site: Again, things that I did not originally plan, but we needed to waste some time between Detroit and getting to Disney World and what better way to do it than visit National Parks for free (with Access Pass for some) and fill up our National Parks Passports some more.  Also, doing KOAs this part of the trip, although we have learned from 2009 tent camping in Florida and reserved a Kabin for the one Florida night.
Baseball
  • July 1 - Target Field: Seeing a game in the new Twins ballpark.  Also, enjoying Mom's Hyatt points and staying on the Regency Club floor (actually cost surprisingly few points).  We get free breakfast, free appetizers in the evening, and best of all we can walk to the ballpark and we do not have to worry about parking at the game.
  • Rickwood Field: This is the oldest ballpark.  Just going to do a quick photo stop like we did at the one where the longest ballgame ever was played.
  • National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame: Not definitely on the plan, but it is in Chicago and we will be in the Chicago area for at least 7 days in July, so probably will do.
Other
  • U.S. Olympic Training Center, Colorado Springs: We have been to the one in Chula Vista, CA and Mik did not like that, so he was hesitant about me adding this to the itinerary.  However, he liked the idea of probably being able to get a London 2012 Olympic pin and was reassured it would not be total empty and boring because they actually have guided tours.
  • Abilities Expo, Chicago: Mik is really excited about the Abilities Expo and seeing cool adaptive gadgets and the demonstrations.  I also think it will be a fun experience.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

National Mall and Memorial Parks: George Mason Memorial

George Mason MemorialDate of Visit: March 19, 2011


The George Mason Memorial is an easy one to accidentally skip.  It is just across the street from the Jefferson Memorial (i.e. south, Potomac side).  It is not all that fancy, but it is a nice memorial.  It is can be an especially fun one for pictures, as you can actually sit by the George Mason statue.  Although getting right up to the statue is not accessible, you can still roll up close enough to touch George Mason's foot.  Other than the step up to sit next to the statue the memorial is entirely flat, so you do not even have to deal with ramps at this one.

Photos by Kjersti
Text by Kjersti with Mik's wheelchair accessibility input

Destination Info:
George Mason Memorial
South of Tidal Basin near bridge over Potomac
Washington, DC

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

National Mall and Memorial Parks: Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

Date of Visit: March 19, 2011

FDR Memorial
As one would expect from the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, it is very wheelchair accessible.  It is a decent size memorial, but this is footprint wise, as it is not a big large monument that stands out among its surroundings like the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and Jefferson Memorial.  It is organized into different "rooms" to represent FDR's four terms.  Depending on how you approach the memorial, you will go backwards or forwards through it chronologically.  We came from the Jefferson Memorial, so we ended up going backwards through it.

FDR Memorial
Mik does not care about the FDR Memorial for what one might expect (FDR being a wheelchair user).  He loves the water fall aspects.  He also found it fun to find the terms on the ground as you passed between the rooms, although somehow we missed the 4th term one.  Of course, he also likes it being an entirely open air memorial and no need for elevators or those pesky doors to get to the elevators.

The FDR is among my favorites on the National Mall, too.  I like that there is plenty of spaces where you can sit down and just take in the memorial.  The columns with the different images is also cool.

On the north side (i.e. beginning) of the memorial there is a building with a small exhibit and decent sized gift shop.  I am not sure what exactly was in the exhibit, as Mik did not want to stop and look at it, but I am sure it was somehow about FDR!  The gift shop was a decent size and laid out well wheelchair accessibility wise.  Here we got National Park Passport stamps for the FDR Memorial as well as the World War II Memorial.  We even got the District of Columbia World War Memorial stamp, as we walked by it and only did not explore it because it is under renovation.

Photos by Kjersti
Text by Kjersti with Mik's wheelchair accessibility input

Destination Info:
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
1850 West Basin Dr SW
Washington, DC 20242

Sunday, April 3, 2011

National Mall and Memorial Parks: Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Date of Visit: March 19, 2011

Jefferson MemorialJefferson Memorial

Visiting the Thomas Jefferson Memorial is kind of confusing with all the construction in the Tidal Basin area.  For one, the new Martin Luther King Jr Memorial construction means you have to cross earlier than normal to go to the Tidal Basin area from the Lincoln Memorial and there is no signage that tells you that.  In fact, it is right by the old signage that tells you to keep going and cross later to go to the Jefferson Memorial.

Jefferson Memorial
The other problem is that around the Jefferson Memorial there is construction partially on the memorial and partially on the tidal basin levee.  You can still visit the memorial, but you have to go the long way around the construction with a wheelchair because there are a bunch of concrete barriers that are too close together to get a wheelchair between.
Jefferson Memorial

Once you get to the memorial from the non-Tidal Basin side, there is a ramp to by pass the few steps.  Then you walk around the memorial and there is an almost hidden entrance to under the memorial, but there is signage pointing to it.  However, it has the same issue as the Lincoln Memorial in not having automatic doors.  This is more problematic, though, because right inside the door is the ramp down to under the memorial.  Down there is an exhibit area, some shops, and the elevator up to the statue.

Jefferson Memorial
There is a touristy gift shop and a National Parks gift shop in the lower area.  The touristy one was a little hard with the wheelchair, but not impossible like the Lincoln Memorial.  The National Park one is decently laid out and not too bad to maneuver through, so it was easy to go in and get the National Park Passport stamps for the Jefferson Memorial and George Mason Memorial.

The elevator conveniently takes you up to the statue chamber level and you follow a hallway to go into the chamber.

Photos by Mik and Kjersti
Text by Kjersti with Mik's wheelchair accessibility input

Destination Info:
Thomas Jefferson Memorial
South of Tidal Basin
Washington, DC

Friday, April 1, 2011

National Mall and Memorial Parks: Korean War Veterans Memorial

Date of Visit: March 19, 2011

Korean Memorial
The Korean Memorial is an interesting one with the soldiers reflecting in the wall and the etchings in the wall.  I remember taking Mik to it back when Dad and him visited me when I was in the American University Washington Semester Program back in Spring 2006.  It was the day he got his first camera and he would not stop taking pictures to pose and be in photos.  Thus I ended up taking pictures of him taking pictures.  I should dig that photo up off my external harddrive, but for now I just have the one of him taking photos this trip.  It is pretty much the same pose, so it would be fun to compare the two.  This time he was busy taking pictures in drawing mode with his still sort of new camera.

Korean Memorial
The Korean War Veterans Memorial is totally accessible with there being no steps.  It is is a little bit of an incline, but not as much as typical ramps.  It does not matter which side you go up, as it is a dead end at the top and you can go back down on the other side.   That way you can see the etchings up close one way and then the reflection of the statues in the wall better from farther away when you go on the other side.

Photos by Mik and Kjersti
Text by Kjersti with Mik's wheelchair accessibility input

Destination Info:
Korean War Veterans Memorial
South of Reflecting Pool
Washington, DC

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