First, I want to apologize for how long it has taken me to get these blog posts up! I’ve been actively trying to unpack my apartment, which I moved into right before our trip. On top of that, Christmas has made life a little crazy! I also was home sick for two days before Christmas, and thought I’d get the blog stuff done then. Boy, oh boy was I wrong!
Now that I’m done with my lame excuses, let’s get on to all the Disneyland fun!!! We landed pretty early on Thursday, and got to our hotel around 10:30 or so. Our room wasn’t ready, but the front desk took our bags and told us they’d be in our room when we got back.
We grabbed water bottles from our luggage and headed towards Downtown Disney! We hadn’t eaten since way too early that morning, so we were on the hunt for food. As we walked by all of the restaurants at Downtown Disney, we looked at their menus. I really appreciate that they’ve all got menus outside their doors, so you can see if you’d be interested before you actually take a seat. I’m a super picky eater, and typically search menus online before dining out, so I really liked being able to look at a menu with no pressure to eat there.
After looking at every menu, we ultimately decided to head over to Trader Sam’s. They don’t open until 11:30, and we were there around 11:15. There was a group waiting at the door, so we decided to wander the lobbies of the towers at the Disneyland Hotel while we waited for the place to open. Little did we know, the line was down the stairs when we came back at 11:30! There were about five groups ahead of us, and one was relatively large.
The good news is that we were able to snag some seats at the bar, although the place was completely full by 11:45. I’d highly suggest getting there at 11:30 if you’re wanting to make sure you grab a spot. Our bartender said that pretty much any time before 4:30 isn’t slammed. We came back another night and the place was super busy.
We each ordered a drink, as well as the Pupu Platter. The food came out a lot faster than I was expecting, which I was thankful for. The last thing we wanted to do was drink alcoholic beverages on completely empty stomachs. We both ordered seasonal Christmas themed drinks, which came out shortly after our food.
The Pupu Platter has Sweet and Spicy Asian Wings, Fried Spring Rolls, Panko-crusted Chinese Long Beans, Lettuce Mix, and Sriracha Aïoli. It was only $17, which I thought was a great price. It was the perfect amount of food for us to share, and it didn’t overly fill us up. The wings were spicier than I had expected, and may be too spicy for some people. We loved them, but I know that my mom (who can’t handle spicy food), would have downed a glass of water after a single bite. I wasn’t sure about the salad at first, but ultimately I was the one that ate it, and I thought it was delicious. The long beans were delicious, especially with the sauce that they served. The spring rolls were good, but also could have used a sauce to go with them that wasn’t creamy.
For drinks, we got Under the Swizzletoe (Chartreuse Liqueur, Pineapple Juice, Lime Juice, and Falernum Syrup, dusted with Cinnamon and Nutmeg and garnished with a Mint sprig) and Rum Around the Christmas Tree (Spiced Rum, Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, Apple Juice, with Ginger Syrup garnished with an Apple Slice and dusted with Cinnamon). We both loved our drinks, and thought they were wonderfully festive. I had the rum drink, and loved that it tasted like boozy apple cider. I thought it was funny that my garnish ended up being a lemon slice, since it was supposed to come with an apple. That’s OK though! I’m guessing they hadn’t prepped any yet for the day. Overall, we had a great time at Trader Sam’s, and ended up coming back a few nights later with a friend of mine!
After we were done at Trader Sam’s, we walked through Paradise Pier, and I loved their Christmas tree! We also found a Fuel Rod machine, which I think is an awesome concept. Since people are using their phones so much with MaxPass, Disney has introduced Fuel Rods. They’re portable chargers for micro-USB and lightning (iPhone) devices. The cool thing about them though is that you can swap them out as often as you’d like, and there are machines all across the Disneyland Resort. We spotted one at Paradise Pier, one at Grand Californian, and a few throughout the parks. Their cost is right around $30, and you can take them home and recharge them, too. We personally bring our own portable chargers, but I may invest in one of these! They’re a lot smaller (and I’m assuming lighter) than our chargers, which would be a huge convenience. The biggest problem we had is that Brian’s phone is a USB-C, which the chargers don’t support.
There’s not a ton to see at Paradise Pier, so we headed back to Downtown Disney, so we could check out all the shops and restaurants. We ended up at Marceline's Confectionery, where we got a special gingerbread rice crispy Mickey. It was adorable, and had a really interesting taste! I think Brian liked it more than I did, but he’s also a bigger fan of gingerbread than I am. The sugar topping on it had an interesting spice blend, which definitely grew on me as we ate it. I really didn’t like the first bite. Eventually, he had to finish it, because it was too sweet for me.
We strolled into the Grand Californian, mainly to check out their gingerbread house. It was gorgeous, as was their tree. I absolutely love that resort, but I think it’s because it reminds me so much of Wilderness Lodge at WDW, which was my home for six months in 2010.
After walking through the Grand Californian, we were starting to drag. Our day had started at 3:30, since we had to get to the airport for our 6:00 flight. We went to the Starbucks at Downtown Disney and got ourselves some iced coffee. I love that this location has the Clover machines, because it makes the coffee taste that much better. Of course, I’m a former Starbucks barista, so I’m a total coffee snob. That being said, I think every iced coffee fan should try one of their Reserve coffees from a Clover at least once!
After finishing our coffees, we walked around World of Disney, but decided not to buy anything at that moment. While WOD has a lot of merchandise, they definitely don’t carry everything you can find in the parks. We ended up buying things from a few different stores in the parks, but ultimately came back to WOD on our last day to buy everything we had seen on our first day (like Brian’s Utini shirt).
When we were done browsing, we headed over to Tortilla Joe’s for their happy hour. We sat out on the patio and watched the construction at Splitsville, which I’m super excited about! They weren’t super busy, and our server was really great. I had sangria and Brian got a mojito. We were hungry, so we got an order of tater tot nachos to share and ate some chips are salsa. For us, the salsa was a little bland. However, those chips are delicious! Our meal there was filling enough for us, so we decided to move on!
Our next stop was UVA Bar, which I thought had a happy hour. However, there was nothing about it anywhere, and our server seemed pretty busy, so we each just got a drink and then headed out. Not too exciting.
After UVA Bar, we decided to start heading back towards the hotel, since we were getting pretty tired from our long day of travel. On our way, we made a detour to Garden Walk, because I knew they had a few restaurants and that our small bites throughout the day were not going to be enough for us for the night. Much to my surprise, we stumbled upon the new location for House of Blues! And even better, it was still happy hour time! I personally love the food at HOB, so I was really excited that they only relocated, versus closing.
When we got to HOB, there were people standing in line to be seated, and the host was telling them that they were completely packed with reservations, due to a sold out Pennywise show that night Lucky for us, we just wanted to go to the bar! We grab seats at the bar, and had a great conversation with our bartender about the new location and how well they were doing. I LOVED the new location, especially because the lighting was so much better than every other HOB I’ve ever been to. They had more theater space, which is great for them, and the restaurant was bigger too!
We ordered the jalapeño cheese cornbread, because I knew Brian would devour it (and I was right) and I ordered myself another sangria, while Brian has a Moscow Mule. After we finished the cornbread, we realized we were still hungry, so we got the happy hour popcorn shrimp, which was absolutely delicious!
Once we were done at HOB, we decided it was finally time to head back to the hotel. When we got there, we checked back in at the front desk. Lucky for us, the same girl that originally checked us in that morning was working, so she recognized us. We got our room keys and headed to our first floor room. Our bags were all in the room when we got there, which I was appreciative of.
I did my quick FB live tour and then we pretty much crashed for the night, since we knew we were going to be up early the next day!