Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sunset Point Rest Area - I17 252mm

Date of Visit: June 25, 2011

The Sunset Point Rest Area is a great scenic view rest area. It is shared by both directions of traffic. There are a good amount of handicap parking spots including 3 regular and 2 long motorhome style spots next to the main restrooms and another set of spots further down by the South facilities. The South facilities only have two single toilet restrooms and they are specifically for handicap, however they were closed and seem to be long term closed.

The main restroom building has handicap stalls in the Men's and Women's restrooms as well as one Family/Companion restroom. I noticed in the Women's restroom they had the large handicap stall as well as the style slightly larger than regular stall with grab bars on bath sides.

The Sunset Point Rest Area has several picnic areas. However, most is in stepped down areas with only one table being level with sidewalk, but this one table has an opening for a wheelchair roll up to it, although the tables seemed rather high.

There is a sun dial memorial down a ramp as part of the view area.

Overall Sunset Point Rest Area is a great rest stop, especially since there really is not much to stop at along most of the I17. It is a good picnic area and a place to stretch you legs or roll about as a break from the car. It is especially nice that it has a Family/Companion restroom.


Destination Info:
Sunset Point Rest Area
I17 252mm
Arizona

Detour: Navajo National Monument

Our first stamp in our National Park Passports for our 2011 Road Trip ended up being at the Navajo National Monument. Dad saw a sign for it coming up and we decided to detour the 9 miles to it before continuing back on our way to the planned sightseeing of Four Corners Monument.

Mik and I are trying to collect as many 2011 National Park stamps in our 25th Anniversary National Park Passports, so it was a very worthwhile detour. Bonus was they did have a 25th Anniversary stamp along with the regular one.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Disneyland: Fantasmic Dessert Seating

Fantasmic Dessert SeatingDate of Visit: June 3, 2011

Mik has never wanted to see the Fantasmic show, but he is a foodie, so when I told him we could get reserved seats and a dessert platter to watch the show he decided to give it a try.  It certainly is not cheap at $60 a person, but you do get a chair and even if you do end up in the second or third row there is adequate room to shuffle chairs a little so you can see in between heads in the front row if they happen to be tall.

We got in line about 15 minutes before they started letting you choose seats.  It is kind of annoying that for the first showing you have to then go and wait for them to let in the area, especially with the area so congested and not much room for hanging around the ~15 minutes.

Fantasmic Dessert Seating
Mik sat in the front row (they took away the chair) and we sat behind him in the second row.  The view was not bad, but there was a pole in the way.  You would think if you are paying $60 for seating they would line the seating up so there was not such an obstructed view.  Not too big a deal, as you could still see pretty much everything.

Fantasmic Dessert Seating
The dessert tray is great.  Each person gets a box filled with various desserts along with cheese and crackers.  There were some little truffles, a little cheesecake with a Mickey chocolate, a cool cookie with a purple starry chocolate bottom, a brownie, grapes, Babybel cheese, crackers, and probably a few other things.  The lid is cool with the Fantasmic logo, but it does not stay on very well (the CMs are nice and told us this when handing them out to best avoid spills).

Fantasmic Dessert SeatingYou also get drinks as part of the seating.  We all had hot chocolate, but they also had soda and coffee options.


I loved seeing the show and having a seat instead of having to stake out a spot early or standing long before and during the show.  It is also nice that it is not crowded with people smooshed together like the other areas can be.

Fantasmic Dessert SeatingWe all enjoyed the show and even Mik said he would see it again, but only if we did the Dessert seating.  Certainly, not something we are going to splurge on for every Disneyland trip (i.e. not happening the other two trips planned this year), but it was totally worth it and I will definitely try to budget it in again sometime.  Mik just wished they had something like this for World of Color, although maybe before we do this again we will give the Ariel's Grotto package for that, although that still is not really anywhere near the same from what I have read.

We also ended up watching the fireworks from here.  The view is not that great, but you do still at least see Dumbo and Tinkerbell flying.  The trees around the seating blocked seeing much of the actual fireworks, but it was better than trying to get out of the park during the fireworks.

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

Destination Info:
Disneyland
1313 South Harbor Boulevard
Anaheim, CA 92802

Disneyland: Soundsational Parade

Soundsational ParadeDate of Visit: June 3, 2011

Mik is not a fan of parades and I have never successfully gotten him to let us stake out a spot to see one until this last trip.  We had ended up leaving the park on the 2nd during the parade and he was surprised it was not all that loud.  Apparently, the main reason he does not like the parades is the noise.

Soundsational Parade
On the 2nd we noticed the wheelchair viewing area on Main Street (outside shop near where the parade starts) was pretty much empty 20 minutes before the parade, so we got there about 30 minutes before parade time and had no problem getting a spot.  In fact, the area barely ended up filling the first row even with companions standing in front row.  That seems rather surprising, especially when it was the prime spot to be with the parade starting on the Main Street end that time.

Soundsational Parade
I really enjoyed the parade, especially since Mary Poppins and the penguins from that movie were featured as the final part of the parade.  Mik has no real opinion of the parade other than it is surprisingly not that loud, as he ended up falling asleep before the parade and slept through it.

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

Destination Info:
Disneyland
1313 South Harbor Boulevard
Anaheim, CA 92802

Hyatt Regency Orange County - Accessible Room

Hyatt Regency Orange CountyDate of Visit: June 2-5, 2011

This trip was the 2nd time we have stayed at the Hyatt Regency Orange County.  Last time we stayed here was back in 2005 for my 18th birthday.  That time we had a 2 bedroom suite, although I think we booked lower and got upgraded due to Mom's Hyatt Passport status.  This time we used Hyatt Points for a regular room and at check in ended up upgraded to a one bedroom accessible suite because they noticed Mik was in a wheelchair when we checked in.  We do not usually bother about getting an accessible room, except on Disney Cruises, but it certainly was nice to have a roll in shower.
Hyatt Regency Orange County
Mik was hesitant to use the roll in shower.  He is a creature of habit and hates bathing anywhere, but his own tub and bench.  However, the fold on bench in the roll in shower was way better than the set up he has at home.
Hyatt Regency Orange County
Mik does not like handicap toilets, which of course this room has.  They are too tall for him, but he did appreciate having a bar at least on one side of the toilet, although not too helpful with it being on his right side and him being such a lefty and it still not being all that close to the toilet.  However, still better than a regular room, especially since overall it has more space for us to help him.
Hyatt Regency Orange County

Mik enjoyed the couch because he could sit in the corner with his leg in front of him and be facing the television.  He also liked that you could pull down the blinds between the couch area and bedroom to block out the light from the other room.

Hyatt Regency Orange County
My favorite feature of the hotel room was that they actually have a split trash can with a can for trash and one for recycling.  Totally love that you can recycle, especially since we often ended up with soda bottles we started at Disneyland and then finish after we got back to the hotel.  It is also nice that the rooms actually have mini fridges.


This is definitely one of our favorite Disneyland area hotels, although partly because we use Mom's points to stay free.  We already booked another trip to go for my birthday and stay there this October.  It works out good when we drive to Disneyland and we have our Premier Passes to park free at Disneyland, but if we had to pay to park at Disneyland (still have to pay to park every day at Hyatt) or fly it is not a good choice because it is just a tad too far to walk with all the walking you do in the parks and the shuttle can be inconvenient waiting around for and having to request the wheelchair one.

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

Destination Info:
Hyatt Regency Orange County
11999 Harbor Blvd
Garden Grove, CA 92840

Monday, June 20, 2011

Disney's California Adventure: Toy Story Midway Mania

Toy Story ManiaDate of Visit: June 5, 2011

We were not planning of doing another review of Toy Story Midway Mania, but we ended up with some new insight on the wheelchair accessibility this time.  The one thing we noticed for the first time was Cast Members trying to load us load at the regular loading area and having to tell them we wanted the wheelchair vehicle.  In the past they always just had us go down the hall, but now they seem more proactive about loading those that can transfer at the regular loading area.

The other reason we decided to do another review is related to the lap bar.  In the past they always removed the lap bar along with the seat when Mik rode in the wheelchair vehicle.  This time, though, they left the lap bar on.  Mik hated that time we went around because he always freaks out when something presses against his stomach due to his baclofen pump.  The bigger issue though is the blaster is stuck a certain distance from the lap bar, which meant despite almost totally being squished against him he still had trouble controlling it easily.

The lap bar incident happened on Friday, June 3.  On Sunday (our last day of this trip) they asked if the lap bar was okay and we told them that did not work for him.  It then took them at least 15 minutes to get the the metal piece they put on when the lap bar is off on so that we could ride.  The piece goes on top of the metal bar the lap bar attaches to and it took 4 CMs before one finally got the pins into the holes that holds the metal piece in.  Later that week I heard online that the wheelchair vehicle was down for service not only in California, but also Florida for this ride.

Our main review of Toy Story Mania can be found here.

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

Destination Info:
Disney's California Adventure 
1313 South Harbor Boulevard
Anaheim, CA 92802

Friday, June 17, 2011

Disney's California Adventure: World of Color Picnic

World of Color PicnicDate of Visit: June 4, 2011


I did not want to have to worry about getting FastPasses to World of Color and the $16 for a meal and FastPasses did not seem too bad for Disney.  Besides I willingly spent $60 per person for the Fantasmic Dessert Seating for the same trip, so really $16 per person did not seem bad at all.  Of course, it is much different and in the end it turned out not worth the $16.

Our main problem with the World of Color Picnic was the food.  It was not that bad amount, but of the three different meals we have (we each had something different) the only good thing was the apple pie that came with Mik's chicken.  The food was not exactly bad, but you can spend the same amount (or less!!!) and get something really tasty just across the bridge in Pacific Wharf (i.e. Mik's favorite of clam chowder in a bread bowl).  I am glad we did it once, though, because the World of Color picnic bag that came with our meals is fun for reusing for grocery shopping.

World of Color PicnicWorld of Color PicnicWorld of Color Picnic

It was convenient that it came with World of Color FastPasses and we did not have to go over to California Adventure when it opened to make sure we got to see first showing.  However, they are just the same levels as you can get for free if you do the FastPass line thing.  Thus when it comes time to return before the show you still have to stake out a spot early and wait around for the show.

We ended up with Yellow FastPasses, although I hear some get Blue.  It is the same section we had FastPasses for back in March for the D23 2nd Anniversary Party.  This time the CM was not helpful at all.  We got there early and he said here go into this section right here (at the top) or you can go down lower, but he did not explain we had to leave section to do that and Dad was going to go down the steps with Mik in the wheelchair.  I would not let him do that, as Mik is not a fan of that kind of thing.  I also did not feel like trying to get our FastPasses back and do the through the Red area backtrack to the yellow route that we ended up doing last time, so we just took the handicap section at the top, especially since Mik wanted to try to avoid getting wet.

I was wary of what the view would be like from the top, as there are water level effects, but actually I was surprised and it really was not much different.  Since we got there early we were able to roll Mik up to the front of the section between two benches and sat on the bench next to him.  Mik thought the section was good and he would not get wet like up closer, but boy was he wrong!

We did not get wet from the spray like when we were closer, but Mik ended up even more wet because near the end they have a fountain that sprays straight up right in front of the handicap section.  We happened to even be quite perfectly line up with one right in front of us.  Sadly, we had even brought a blanket, but we left it in backpack because we were not sitting close.

Mik only agreed to see the show if he did not have to end up with wet pants like last time and boy did we mess that up.  Basically we have learned our lesson, no matter what part of the section you are in you could get wet.  Not exactly soaked everywhere, but definitely a possibility in certain spots really close to the show or near the fountains depending on how the wind is blowing that night.

Mik still likes the World of Color and I enjoyed it again as well, but sadly the TRON part is gone and the replacement Pirates is not quite as good.  Cool that it is changes somewhat regularly, but the TRON part was so cool because the lighting and effects involved so much of the scenery.  Of course, we probably will sometime see the show again, we will probably never do the picnics again.

Photos by Kjersti
Text by Kjersti with Mik's input

Destination Info:
Disney's California Adventure 
1313 South Harbor Boulevard
Anaheim, CA 92802

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Disneyland: Star Tours - The Adventure Continues

Date of Visit: June 4, 2011

The new Star Tours ride was the main reason we went to Disneyland the first weekend of June.  The lines were crazy long on Friday, June 3 when it opened, but first thing Saturday the lines were surprisingly short.  Also, we were able to snag some Fast Passes before getting in line for only an hour wait to ride the first time.

Disneyland: Star Tours - The Adventure Continues
The wheelchair entrance remains a side door and elevator ride to the loading area, but now the queue wraps around more outside and you get to go in a small room with some cool Star Wars decor as part of the queue before you get to the actual ride building and the CM directs you to a side door to the elevator.  Note that it seems that they also load some disabilities from the exit.  It seems some get to the side doorway and are told to go to the exit, but we have never been told that.  I think it is because larger power chairs and scooter cannot get through the ride vehicle very well and those type load from exit, while manual chairs like Mik load from the regular side.

Disneyland: Star Tours - The Adventure ContinuesDisneyland: Star Tours - The Adventure ContinuesDisneyland: Star Tours - The Adventure Continues
The path to the elevator is pretty much the same, although there is a new electronic screen that shows information about the ride.  The elevator is rather boring.  If you going to have to skip the regular queue, it would be nice if the elevator was at least Star Wars themed or something like the awesome elevators that you go on for the Indiana Jones accessible queue route.

Disneyland: Star Tours - The Adventure Continues
Mik was sad he still did not get to see whatever might be cool about the inside the building queue (I have heard they added some cool stuff), but at least we get the full ride experience loading from the same side as most everyone else.  However, we always have to sit in the front row and I really wonder how the experience differs by row.

This is a transfer ride, but one of the easiest because it really is just a chair to chair transfer, especially since the armrest on the end of the front row swings back out of the way to make a transfer easier.  However, it does seem it would be a tight squeeze if you tried to put the chair right next to the seat to transfer over, but we did not even try because that does not work best for Mik anyways.

After you transfer, the CM takes the chair back out and then brings it back to you after the ride.  You then go out and exit the way down the ramp into the Star Wars store.  I really wish the exit was not the store, though, as it gets quite crowded and there, but that is how it has always been.

Star Tours - The Adventure Continues is similar to the old ride, but now it is 3D and the adventures are different.  This includes there being 54 different variations on the ride.  That makes it more interesting to ride multiple times every visit.  My favorite of the three times we rode was when we ended up in a pod race.  That was totally awesome, as that has always been my favorite aspect of the Star Wars universe.

Disneyland: Star Tours - The Adventure Continues
The 3D aspect is a cool addition, but it really is not that great.  I found that it was like with my 3DS that you have to look just right at the screen.  However, the ride also requires the glasses to sit just right on your head, which is really hard for me when they have to go over my glasses.  The 3D glasses did not mesh well with my glasses coverage, so half the time the movie looked funky.  Mik nor Dad understood what I was talking about, but Mik amazingly has awesome eyesight and Dad's is not that bad.  Also, the fact my glasses are crooked and actually work better when crooked might play into the problem, but I never have that problem with 3D movies in theaters.  It might have to do with the ride moving and the glasses not being that snug on small heads like mine.

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

Destination Info:
Disneyland
1313 South Harbor Boulevard
Anaheim, CA 92802

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Disney's California Adventure: The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventure

Date of Visit: June 3, 2011

Disney's California Adventure: The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea AdventureYesterday, the line for The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventure was consistently 100 to 120 minutes.  We were not thinking of doing it because we wanted to see the parade and Fantasmic over in Disneyland, so we were going to save the wait for today.  However, when we went on Toy Story Mania we waited 45 minutes in the regular line and then had to wait extra for the wheelchair vehicle while two groups that had GACs to skip line went around.  We did not mind waiting, but the Cast Member gave us a special Fast Pass that could be used on any Disney California Adventure or Disneyland ride except Star Tours.

Disney's California Adventure: The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea AdventureThere are not any rides we like going on that had lines longer than 15 mins or different wheelchair access other than Toy Story Mania, which we had just gone on, so we decided to use it to bypass the 2 hour Little Mermaid line.  We got on the ride in less than 5 minutes, as even the timing of the wheelchair vehicle coming around worked out with it almost around.

Disney's California Adventure: The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea AdventureThe Little Mermaid's wheelchair vehicle is awesome.  It is not a clam shell like the rest of the vehicles, but rather it is like King Triton's chariot.  It is designed to have the back fold out to a ramp and roll in with one person riding next to the wheelchair on small seat.  It can be loaded with only slowing the ride, although the Cast Members were not quite efficient yet and had to stop it for a few seconds.

Disney's California Adventure: The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea AdventureThe ride itself is pretty good in my opinion.  I liked the scene with the sea creatures doing the Under the Sea song.  It is interesting how the lighting effects make it like you are going underwater at the beginning and then coming out of the water when Ariel gets her legs.  Some may not think it as good as some of the classic dark rides, but it is certainly brighter and it does still tell the story of the movie quite well and Ursula looks rather realistic.

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

Destination Info:
Disney's California Adventure

1313 South Harbor Boulevard
Anaheim, CA 92802

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Got our Premier Disney Passes!!!

Mik and I just got our Premier Disney Passes at Disneyland. We are excited to be using them this weekend, for Disney World in July, and Disneyland again in August. Also, probably will plan some more trips before they expire next June.

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