Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Make a Difference not a Statement

The Tiny American and I visit our neighborhood Starbucks almost daily.  For me it is familiar, consistent (for Taiwan) and has just become part of our day.  A few weeks ago when my Facebook feed starting blowing up with Pumpkin Spice posts I noticed that our Starbucks had no sign of anything Pumpkin Spice related. No pumpkin spice latte, no pumpkin spice frappuccino and much to my dismay no pumpkin bread. I don't care for the pumpkin drinks, but oh how I love their pumpkin bread and pumpkin scones! BUT I do remember thinking that this would be cause to boycott in most U.S. suburban neighborhoods.  Soccer Moms do like their pumpkin spice! I do not believe that the alternative, purple sweet potato infused drinks, would be a big hit!

I will not even pretend I understand what people are up in arms about in regards to Starbucks choice of cup design, or non design, for the Christmas season.  I would understand if people wanted to boycott based on something that the owner had said or done, that at least makes sense to me....but the choice to go Red instead of iconic seasonal symbols does not make sense, but to each their own.  Taking a snowman off the cup does not represent a "war on Christmas" or an anti christian sentiment to me.

My last thought on the subject is this....if people want to get upset and boycott Starbucks over the lack of design on their cup and have the time and energy to create a whole social media campaign against it, make it count.  Take the money that you would have spent at Starbucks for the Months of November and December and donate it to charity, make this your campaign.  Post on your wall the charity that you are supporting and encourage your friends and family to make a difference. Having your barista add your name as Merry Christmas is going to have no impact on what the Starbucks cup looks like next year, nor does it really matter in the long run, does it? There are lots of families who will go without this holiday season and who the last thing on their mind is what Starbucks is doing or not doing, these families could benefit from your outrage.  I would hope that as christians we are doing what we can for others anyway, but I urge you to make a difference instead of joining the masses and making a statement.


Monday, November 09, 2015

Hong Kong Disneyland

We recently took a trip to Hong Kong Disney land.  It's an  easy 2 hour (slightly less) flight from Taiwan.  This was the  first time we have flown since the Tiny American turned 2, so his first trip in his own seat.  A friend recommended a Kidsflysafe harness and we got one. It worked great!  Z thought he was being strapped in for a flight to the moon.  It easily slips over the seat back and attaches to the airplane seatbelt effectively creating  a snug harness.

After landing in Hong Kong we collected our luggage and easily made our way to the taxi stand and took a short 20 minute ride to the Disney Resort.  We did try and arrange transport through the hotel ahead of time and were told they did not offer any.  For us it was no big deal the taxi worked fine.
There are two hotels to choose from at the Disney Resort and we chose the Hollywood Hotel.

Check in was easy and they had our passes for the park as well as all our dinner reservations ready for us.  The lobby was bright and cheerful, the staff was helpful and friendly handing out character stickers to the little guests when they arrived.  There was a little T.V. with classic Mickey Mouse cartoons playing and a small couch for the kiddos to sit on to watch them.  Our room was ready even though we were a little early.

The room was on the small side but big enough to meet our needs. The amenities were all accented with the iconic Mickey Ears.  Z loved the Mickey picture above our bed.  The room was stocked with bottled water that was replaced each day.  My only complaint about the hotel was that they did not offer room service, our first night we were pretty worn out and room service would have been a nice option.

Our trip was planned around the Tiny American's birthday and the hotel had a cute little fair birthday cake for him in the room when we arrived along with a special birthday button.

Our first evening we ate the buffet at Chef Mickey's restaurant in our hotel.   The food was really good.  They had lots of western as well as Asian selections.  The desserts we AWESOME, all the little touches of Mickey and Halloween were great.

We were pleased to discover that we could see the fireworks display ,that happens every night at the park, from the large window in our room.

We had been told that this particular Disneyland was small enough that it could easily be done in one day.  We know our limits and those of the Tiny American so we planned 2 days.  The first day we woke up to cloudy skies, but no rain.  We planned to eat breakfast at Chef Mickey and then head to the park in time to be there at opening, 10 am.

Breakfast was as good as dinner and the selections were plenty and fresh.  The highlight of breakfast is that Mickey makes an appearance and each child gets the opportunity to have one on one time with him and take pictures.  This was the first time Z had seen Mickey in real life and I was a little nervous how he would was so fun to see the magic in his eyes when he first saw him and then when he got to actually touch him it was so sweet.

After breakfast we headed to the park.  We chose to walk.  It is an easy walk and hardly anyone else was walking so it was peaceful.  They do offer a shuttle from the hotel to the park.  It drizzled rain on us a little as we walked and it did rain off and on during the time we were in the park but never enough to bother us much.  We got the park just as they were opening and headed right in, no lines.  before you actually enter the park you are greeted by a large fountain of Mickey surfing on a Whale's spray...Z loved it.

As soon as we arrived on Mainstreet we noticed that it was all decorated for fall and Halloween, it was so pretty!  Right away we saw Mickey and Minnie....and the line to meet them!  The line to meet Daisy and Donald was slightly less so we got into that line.  Z was thrilled to get to see his "friends" up close and personal.  This is probably the one thing I was most disappointed with about our visit.  Actually being able to meet the characters required standing in long lines.  I thought there would be opportunities to meet the characters at random throughout the park, but we only saw them if it was a designated meet time and then there was a line involved.

The park is laid out nicely and easy to navigate.  You can without much effort walk from one side to the the other in a short time which makes it nice when doing this with a 2 year old who might want to go back to a previous ride and then to the other side of the park.

The first day we tried to focus on one side of the park.  Spent time in Adventureland riding the Jungle River Cruise and seeing the Lion King live production.  The Jungle Cruise is one of the rides that warns parents may be a little scary.  I thought we would be fine, very little scares The Tiny American, I was right until the very end.  There is a slightly scary part, I think for us it was the music and loud noise in conjunction with the water explosion.  It was short lived and he recovered quickly, but it did scare him a little.  The live production of the Lion King was fantastic.  The music was great, the dancers were great, it was fast paced and bright and it only lasted about 25 minutes, perfect for the attention span of our little companion.

The first day we also focused on Toy Story Land.  Z had watched Toy Story before we went and was familiar with the characters but now after seeing them full size he is in LOVE with Toy Story.  This was a really fun part of the park.  Z loved the Slinky Dog ride.

Our plan all along had been to head back to the hotel around 2:00 so that Z could have a nap before our dinner reservation at 5:30.  We left the park for our walk back shortly before 3 which gave us plenty of time for a short nap before  we needed to head to our Dinner with the Characters at the Disneyland Resort Hotel.

Dinner with the Characters had another great buffet meal.  We were seated quickly and promptly and as we ate dinner the Mickey and Minnie as well as the bears that are exclusive to Hong Kong Disney started filtering through the restaurant and visiting the tables.  They took time with each table to take pictures and meet the little people.  We had arranged ahead of time for a cake to be delivered to our table during this meal for The Tiny American's birthday.  He was not especially patient as Mickey visited all the tables around us but his....but he was VERY excited when Mickey brought his cake!

We got back to our room in time to watch the fireworks before we went to bed.  Our second morning we woke up to blue skies!  The rain didn't slow us down but sunny skies were a welcome sight.  We planned our second day to spend some time hanging out before heading to the park around 3:00.  We had breakfast with Chef Mickey again, you can't have too many Mickey shaped waffles and hugs from Mickey.

One of the reasons I chose this hotel over the other was the swimming pool so I was very glad we got to use it on our second morning.  Z fights me all the time about wearing his swim cap in Taiwan, required almost everywhere, and not needed here but he grabbed it out of the bag and wore it the whole time we were at the pool.

After the pool we had a Dim Sum lunch and a nap before heading to the park.

As soon as we hit Mainstreet we saw Goofy and Pluto and a very SHORT line!  Goofy is one of his favorites and he had been asking to see him...I was so glad we got there when we did!

We ventured into Fantasy Land and rode it's a Small World, Dumbo Flying Elephants and the Teacups. Z liked it's a small world SO much.  Since there were no lines, literally NO lines we rode this twice back to back and came back later in the day and rode it again.  He also enjoyed the teacups and we rode it multiple times.  The elephants were the only ride we actually had to wait to ride.

Tomorrow Land is where Buzz Lightyear was and it was a big hit for Z as well.  I rode it once with him and Daddy and he went back and rode it again.  We had heard that the lines for this ride would be crazy...nope not while we were there. There was also a fun flying saucer ride in this area that he liked.

We planned our day around being in the park for the Light the Night Parade and Fireworks and I am so glad we did.  The parade exceeded my expectations a and the Tiny American was captivated.  The fireworks were beautiful from our room but so much better in person.

I would highly recommend Hong Kong Disneyland.  I would especially recommend it to those who have children under the age of 5.  It was so easy to navigate, there are lots of rides available to accommodate their size.  It is not as crowded as some of the other parks.  We were there on a Wednesday and Thursday intentionally avoiding the weekend and Chinese Holidays.  I would not hesitate to make another trip there when Z is just a little older.

Seychelles Mama