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The only time a balloon means “I don’t want to have fun”

So I was at a little place called the Disneyland Resort this Labor Day Weekend.  Feel free to get jealous.  Perfect weather, surprisingly manageable crowds, and since I was staying on property, I got one of the coolest perks ever: a Fastpass Special Exchange Card, which granted me two immediate Fastpasses on any ride, even if the Fastpasses ran out for the day.  For the uninitiated, a Fastpass lets you get to the front of attraction lines, and you usually have to wait at least an hour to use one.  Not this guy.  Thanks to that summer promotion, I got right on the new Star Tours, sans 70 minute wait.  I felt a lot cooler than I should have.

But this post isn’t about the wonders of Fastpass.  It’s about the joyless people living among us.  Early one Sunday morning, my group and I put our names down for breakfast at the Storytellers Cafe in the Grand Californian Hotel.  I’m a fan of the Arts and Crafts architectural movement, and the restaurant matches the rest of the hotel’s Arts and Crafts stylings, so it seemed like a good choice.  Also, being a sit down restaurant, it has more of a hearty breakfast to really get you ready for a day at the parks.  Anyway, they eventually called our name, and we approached the hostess.  And then I saw them: the cartoon chipmunks Chip and Dale walking table to table in the restaurant and interacting with the diners.  I turned to the hostess and unenthusiastically asked, “This is a character breakfast?”  I already knew the answer.

You see, a character breakfast for many–especially kids–is great.  Different Disney characters greet you as you eat!  And you can take pictures with them!  I like Disney characters.  I’ve taken many a picture with them in my lifetime.  But when it comes to eating, leave me be, Rafiki.  I want to focus on eating my Denver omelet and talking to the people I’m with.  But I don’t want to be a total jerk to these creatures.  I have to at least acknowledge them when they come over.  You know, wave to them or something.  Maybe smile and say hello.  But they always seem to come over mid-bite, so then I have to chew really fast so I can talk to them.  The whole thing’s an ordeal.

The hostess at Storytellers Cafe looked at my face and knew I wasn’t excited about what was about to transpire.  She then said the saddest phrase I’ve ever heard at Disneyland: “We could put a balloon on your table, and the characters won’t bother you.”  Can you believe that?  They actually will put a balloon–a delightful, simple pleasure of life–on your table so that exuberant, childlike animals will avoid you.  “Stay away from that table, Dale.  He’s got The Balloon.”  For her to even provide this to me as an option made me feel like the Grinch, before that day his heart grew three sizes.  I sure hope “The Balloon” isn’t filled with helium, because that’d be too happy a symbol for the message, “Don’t bother me.”  It needs to be one of those oxygen-filled balloons that’s maybe three, four days old and kind of wrinkly.  There’s still a little air in it but so little that you can’t even pop it anymore.  You have to cut it with scissors.  But you don’t, you just kind of let it wither away, until finally you toss it with the dried out birthday cake.  That’s the balloon they need to put on your table.

I immediately saw the error of my ways and told the hostess no to “The Balloon.”  I could handle the characters, at least more than I could handle looking at myself in the mirror after agreeing to her proposal.  And you know what?  The characters weren’t so bad.  Chip and I shared a laugh about Dale, and I got to talk with a bear about how hungry he was.  And really, if you can’t talk hibernation tactics with a six foot grizzly while sipping your morning coffee, you shouldn’t be at Disneyland.  And if you’re close enough to talk with a grizzly outside of Disneyland, run!  Bears are dangerous!

06
Sep 2011
POSTED BY travelbugrobert
POSTED IN

California, Food, LA, USA, West Coast

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Video

My Rejected “Travel the World in 80 Days” Video

Well, you can’t win them all.  Cathay Pacific Airlines recently had a competition where you could submit a 30-60 second video explaining why you would be the best candidate for winning unlimited travel on their airline for 80 days.  I gave it my best shot.  Here’s the video.

16
Mar 2011
POSTED BY travelbugrobert
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Video

Rodeo Drive–lots of polo shirts


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Rodeo Drive is known the world over.  I’ll tell you why in less than a minute.

30
Nov 2010
POSTED BY travelbugrobert
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Video

Pink’s Hot Dog Stand: it’s worth the heartburn


Watch more Los Angeles videos at tripfilms.com

One place in LA is synonymous with hot dogs: Pink’s.  Since the 1930’s, this place has been serving up their greasy goodness to Angelenos and travelers alike.  It stays open late for those who need a little food after a night on the town, but I would not suggest going then.  The line can go down the block at night.  For a faster wait, go in the afternoon, between lunch and dinner.  They have more options than hot dogs, but why get a burger or Italian beef when this restaurant is known for hot dogs?  If you feel really adventurous, you can order one of their celebrity-named dogs, like the Rosie O’Donnell dog.  Los Angeles is all about the rich and famous, so of course they would name food products after them.  No matter what you get, it will taste pretty good.  Just don’t plan on running a marathon right after eating here.  In fact, plan on having a nap post-Pink’s.

10
Nov 2010
POSTED BY travelbugrobert
DISCUSSION 1 Comment
Video

Hollywood & Highland: so much to see!


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The intersection of Hollywood & Highland gives you a lot of bang for your tourist buck.  Not in prices–everything here is way overpriced because of all the tourists–but in things to see.  In one city block, you can see the Hollywood sign, Mann’s Chinese Theater, the Kodak Theater where the Oscars are held, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  It’s exhausting just listing them.  Don’t expect to see any celebrities walking around, though.  The only celebrities who frequent this area on a non-Oscar night are celebrity impersonators.  But hey, your friends don’t have to know you only saw Jack Sparrow and not Johnny Depp.

03
Nov 2010
POSTED BY travelbugrobert
DISCUSSION No Comments