Category Archives: I Will Always Love…

Disney California Adventure

Long have I had a love affair with California. The air, the sun, the beautiful hills. As the summer nears I am having a serious case of California dreaming. One thing fueling my love of the Golden State is the fact that the Disney properties originated there. Nothing like a trip to Disney California Adventure to satiate your desire for all things the state has to offer! Let me show you why I will always love this park and give you some tips for your time there! 

Disney's California Adventure

California Adventure has some of the most beautiful picture spots of any of the parks. Mickey’s’ Fun Wheel provides one of them. If at all possible get to the park early and stay late. All of the Disney parks take on a different look at night and it is truly worth seeing them both ways.

Disney's California Adventure

Seeing Mickey’s face reflected in Paradise Bay below is stunning! This view sets the background for the nighttime spectacular World of Color. 

Disney's California Adventure

When visiting Disney California Adventure you are doing yourself a disservice if you leave without watching World of Color. Putting the Bellagio fountains to shame, Disney outdid themselves with this show. Pieces of our favorite Disney films are projected onto the water as the fountains change colors to set the mood. 

Disney's California Adventure

Another thing that Disney outdid themselves with at this park was the addition of Cars Land. It is truly one of the best-themed areas in any of the Disney parks.  Guests are instantly transported from Southern California to Route 66. 

Disney's California Adventure

Disney's California Adventure

Both the young and the young at heart will adore Radiator Springs Racers. The ride vehicles are identical to those in the Cars movie. All of the characters from the Disney favorite make an appearance as the ride takes guests on a high-speed race! 

Disney's California Adventure

Disney's California Adventure

Disney's California Adventure

Grizzly River Run gives guests the feeling of being on a rafting adventure in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The grizzly mountain can be seen peeking out amongst the trees from various parts of the park. Disney's California Adventure

Warning! Almost everyone gets wet on this ride. Many get soaked!  This ride has a drop much larger than most of the raft rides which means a very big splash at the end. Make sure to store all electronics in the lockers outside the ride while walking up to board. It is not worth the risk of ruining your phones or cameras on your vacation. 

Disney's California Adventure Now that you have seen a little of what the park has to offer allow me to give you a few tips for your visit.

  • To make the most of your day check out the schedule for the day you will be visiting. Aim to get there an hour before the park opens in order to park and be early to the entrance.
  • Ladies wear a backpack or crossbody bag. It is so much easier to have your hands free. Not to mention carrying a purse on your shoulder at Disney all day literally is a pain in the neck. 
  • Don’t forget the essentials. Sunscreen, Dramamine for those with motion sickness, bandaids, memory cards for the cameras. All of these things can be purchased on property, but why pay a premium when you can purchase them before entering the land of Disney? Add poncho to your list if you wish to ride Grizzly River Run without walking around waterlogged the rest of the day. 
  • Pack some battery chargers for your phones so that you can charge them throughout the day. You may need them charged should your group decide to split up. 
  • Dress in layers. Southern California temperatures can change drastically throughout the day. One minute it is sweater weather and the next it is sweltering. Be prepared for both. 
  • Have a chicken in the family who has to be coaxed onto rides? No judgment here as I am the same way. One way to ease that anxiety is to watch the rides beforehand on YouTube. There are so many great videos from a rider’s perspective that have helped me feel secure about hopping on certain rides.
  • Finally just make sure to have a great time! It is so easy to get frustrated if the lines are long, or the kids need a nap or a plethora of other reasons. Above all strive to remember the memories you build at a Disney park will be with you for years to come. Don’t let the little things stand in your way of the happiest place on earth!

Surely you are ready to book your trip now! To do so head over to:

Disney California Adventure. 


Tips to Spend Less So You Can Travel More!

Tips to Spend Less So You Can Travel More!

Traveling is such a wonderful way to see the world, destress and spend time with your family. It is a way to leave your troubles at home and find your peace. However,  it can be so expensive that the cost associated with being the carefree version of yourself begins to be a stressor! Never bother with that! After traveling for many years and seeking out the best ways to save I would like to share with you all my tips to spend less so you can travel more! Continue reading Tips to Spend Less So You Can Travel More!

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Be Our Guest

be our guest
First of all, I challenge you to say Be Our Guest twice and not immediately go into the full show tune from Beauty and the Beast.  How many of you out there are excited about the new version of the classic movie coming out March 17th? To say I am ecstatic is an understatement, though secretly I am praying that they do justice to my favorite animated film! If you need your fix of Belle and the Beast until the spring though you can get it by visiting Disney’s Be Our Guest Restaurant at the Magic Kingdom!  Continue reading Be Our Guest

New Orleans French Quarter’s Christmas Style

New Orleans, Louisiana has a style all its’ own. Walking through the streets of the city’s famed French Quarter can immediately transport one back to the 1800’s which many of the buildings date back to.  While the city is synonymous with Mardi Gras it should not be overlooked as a wonderful destination to celebrate the Christmas season. Allow me to take you on a photographic journey to show you why everyone should celebrate New Orleans French Quarter’s Christmas style. 

New Orleans French Quarter's Christmas Style  The French Quarter is the oldest neighborhood in the city. A place where residents have come to worship since the 1700’s is St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square. This cathedral is stunning on any given day, but during the holidays it has an added sparkle. Lights twinkle in the square. Red bows make your family photos more festive and on certain nights there is even caroling by candlelight. 
New Orleans French Quarter's Christmas Style New Orleans French Quarter's Christmas Style The best way to see all of the holiday decorations the French Quarter has to offer is to take to the streets. Walking the neighborhood is a great way to burn off those holiday treats and check out all of the lights. New Orleans French Quarter's Christmas Style Continue reading New Orleans French Quarter’s Christmas Style

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Just steps away from the Seattle Space Needle lies the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum.  The space includes an indoor gallery, outdoor garden and the Glasshouse.  Many people have been exposed to Chihuly’s work by seeing his ceiling installation of over 2000 glass flowers in the lobby of the Bellagio in Las Vegas. The Bellagio installation is beautiful, but to see an entire gallery of Chihuly is worth taking a trip to Seattle. 

Chihuly Garden and Glass Continue reading Chihuly Garden and Glass

Haunted Austin

Haunted Austin
Photo courtesy of J Dimas via Flickr

*Years ago I originally wrote the post below as part of my past blog Joy DeVivre Design. In the spirit of the season, I thought it fun to include it here for a new audience to discover! 

 For a city whose slogan is “Keep Austin Weird” you would expect that Austin, TX would be a place with some very interesting stories. If that is your expectation then this is not a city that will disappoint you. Austin is a city with live music venues around every corner, plenty of outdoor space to get your green on and people that live with the attitude of live and let live. I suppose that a place like that would be somewhere you would never want to leave….and as you will see in some of these tales, some people never do!

Driskill Hotel

Haunted Austin
Photo Courtesy of Steve via Flickr

Built in 1886 by cattle baron Jesse Lincoln Driskill, the Driskill Hotel is everything you would think a grand Texas hotel would be. The scale is large, leather furniture, the Texas star featured prominently. The hotel was the dream of Mr Driskill. I must say, what a dream it was! The Driskill Hotel, built in the Romanesque style is the type of hotel that makes you want to wear your Sunday finest, just so you can fit in with the beautiful surroundings. The Driskill has a way of getting people to come back, some even after they pass away.

The Driskill is believed to be haunted by several people. One of these people is none other than the creator of the hotel, Jesse Lincoln Driskill. He has made himself known with the smell of cigars at random times. Perhaps he doesn’t approve of the ban being placed upon his hotel. Mr Driskill has been seen in many areas of the hotel as if he is still roaming the halls making sure all is running smoothly.


Another of the Driskill Hotel ghosts is a four-year-old girl. She was the daughter of a US Senator who met her untimely death while playing ball on the stairs. The innocent little girl fell and died. It is said that she still haunts the grand staircase leading down to the lobby.

The Driskill Hotel is located at 604 Brazos Street. From what I hear, they do not enjoy people coming in off the street and asking questions about their ghosts.  I would recommend just taking a look around on your own. If you ever decide to stay there, just do not stay in Room 29. That room is known to be haunted by a woman who shot herself in the bathtub there.

Governor’s Mansion

Haunted Austin
Photo courtesy of Matt Howry via Flickr

Built in 1856, the Governor’s Mansion is a stately Greek Revival home across the street from the Texas State Capitol. For the governor’s of Texas, this has been their home since it was built. However, they do have to share it with others.

One of those other people taking up residence in the Governor’s Mansion is believed to be none other than Texas hero Sam Houston. Sam Houston was the man who led the army to finally capture Santa Anna, who had defeated the Texans so badly at the Alamo. He is also the namesake of  Houston. I suppose since he is such prominent figure in Texas he figures that he deserves to live in style at the head of the state. He is believed to mostly haunt one of the bedrooms that includes the bed that he bought for the mansion.

A death at the mansion in 1864 is behind one of the other haunts at the home. Governor Pendelton Murrah was in office and his family was living in the home. Unfortunately, tragedy struck when his nephew took his own life there after being turned down for a marriage proposal. Reports of footsteps pacing, moaning and doorknobs turning have been attributed to the nephew who apparently still pines for his lost love.

University of Texas Tower


Haunted Austin

On August 1, 1966, a horrific crime was committed in Austin. After all was said and done that afternoon, fourteen people were dead for doing nothing more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The story went like this: Charles Whitman, an ex-Marine and a University of Texas student decided to barricade himself in the bell tower and act as a sniper. Most of the victims were on Guadalupe Street, also known as ‘The Drag’, below the tower. Whitman first killed his mother and wife before he went to the tower. He ascended the stairs to the top that would be his final destination.

Whitman perched himself in the highest spot in the city. He must have thought he was invincible in the tower and that no one would apprehend him. Attempts at getting up to his location proved to be deadly for several who first tried. Fortunately, the rampage, which lasted from 11:35 AM to 1:24 PM was ended when a police officer, Ramiro Martinez shot Whitman to death.

After his death, it was discovered that Charles Whitman had a cancerous brain tumor.  The tumor may have caused him to commit this crime. Is Whitman now, in his afterlife, sorry for the pain that he caused ? Was this man, just like those he killed, just a victim of his mental condition? One will never know the answers, but it is believed that Whitman still visits the tower. Lights coming on by themselves, doors being locked and unlocked with no one around are just a few of the happenings at the bell tower after that fateful day in 1966. Whatever the reason, when I am visiting Austin and see the UT orange glow lighting up the top of the tower, I can’t help but think that building has something unexplainable going on.


Haunted Austin

Don’t let these stories scare you away! If you have ever been to Austin then you know how truly awesome it is. If you have never been there, what are you waiting for!? For any first time visitors you must see the Texas State Capitol, stroll down South Congress, see a live band and check out the bats flying out from the Congress Avenue bridge every night. A city that celebrates bats, ghosts and very eccentric people, the motto ‘Keep Austin Weird’ makes perfect sense there!




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Haunted San Antonio

*Years ago I originally wrote the post below as part of my past blog Joy DeVivre Design. In the spirit of the season, I thought it fun to include Haunted San Antonio here for a new audience to discover! 

San Antonio, TX is one of those towns that never forgets it’s past. The new buildings and skyscrapers exist. However, in the midst of the new are the historical sites that have made the city what it is. Second in population only to Houston in the state of Texas, San Antonio has emerged as a popular place to vacation as well as to live. The people who live and visit here have a great respect for the history of this city. Long gone days include when native Indians were educated in the missions, when Texas was fighting for its Independence and especially when they were defeated at the Alamo.

It would be impossible to think that a city with such history, a city that does not tear down its architecture of days gone by, a city with such respect for its past would not have a few of its residents that want to stay around even after they have physically past. In fact, it would really be impossible to think that when so many see the paranormal on a regular basis.

Haunted San Antonio
Photo courtesy of Pedro Szekely via flickr

The Alamo is probably the most well known of the San Antonio historical sites. It sits in what is now the downtown area. Steps away from the famous landmark is another huge tourist draw, the Riverwalk. Lined with shops, hotels and any type of food establishment you could want, the Riverwalk winds through the downtown area and is the route you can take to most of the places we will discuss here. San Antonio has many areas said to be haunted, but we will be focusing on the downtown/Riverwalk area for the majority of these tales.

The Alamo

Continue reading Haunted San Antonio

Haunted Hollywood-Part Two

*Years ago I originally wrote the post below as part of my past blog Joy DeVivre Design. In the spirit of the season, I thought it fun to include it here for a new audience to discover! 

In the spirit of Halloween I love a good ghost story…or several. Hollywood is a place in which there is never a shortage of ghostly tales. You can spend hours just visiting the infamous and haunted sites. In fact, that is what I do each time I make a visit there. I originally wrote a post on Haunted Hollywood where you can read about many of the famous spooky landmarks, but I wanted to do an update so as to add some new info.


The Los Feliz Murder Mansion

Haunted Halloween
2475 Glendower Place, Los Angeles

 Seeing what could be a gorgeous Spanish revival style home falling into disrepair is odd in the Los Feliz area, where you are more likely to see a random starlet’s multimillion dollar mansion. But with what is known as the Los Feliz Murder Mansion odd isn’t the half of it.

Continue reading Haunted Hollywood-Part Two

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Haunted Hollywood-Part One

*Years ago I originally wrote the post below as part of my past blog Joy DeVivre Design. In the spirit of the season, I thought it fun to include it here for a new audience to discover! 

Hollywood is the land where dreams are made and stars are born. That is what they always say, right? Unfortunately, it is also the land of those who didn’t reach the stars. The land of drug overdoses, murders, and unsolved mysteries. Some of the people who did make it, though, seem to love it so much that they choose to stick around. Here are some of their stories.


Continue reading Haunted Hollywood-Part One

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