Thursday, 20 August 2015

Final week of our holiday in USA

So out time had come to leave Harrahs and move to Los Angeles for the final stage of our holiday. This was the part of the holiday that Maisie was able to enjoy as she had no worries about dance. 

Monday 10th August, we packed the car (just) and headed off. On route we were going to visit the outlet centre in Carlsbad. The weather was still hot so to be honest we were grateful of the car ride and air con. We stopped at Carlsbad and to say that I felt I was on cloud 9 was an understatement, Michael Kors, CK, Converse, Vans and many more. Apparently according to the hubster, I was in MK for nearly 2 hrs! I'm not sure on that one so won't argue it lol. Fantastic bargins and amazing Christmas presents were in fact purchased on this day!!

We found our hotel which was basic but comfortable which we were going to need after planning on doing all the theme parks. We grabbed a meal at the resturant next door (burger theory). 100% Beef burgers, cooked to your preference with a constant refil of drinks and great service. 

Tuesday 11th August was the first day of our theme parks and we had chosen Universal Studios. This was a park that I wasn't expecting much from but considering we had us adults, teenagers and a 6 year old we all had fun. Again not may rides were done but we watched as many shows as we could which have a great insight to a few things and answered a few questions you get from the kids whilst watching films. 

The kids met many of the characters and had their pictures done. We did the Simpsons ride which was a simulator and  didn't go down very well with Amelia as scared her a little bit. It sure was different. We were expecting a roller coaster. 

We were at the studios till around 6pm then set off to find the Walk of Fame and the Hollywood sign. It was getting dark and we were all tired, but we kept going and drove to the Hollywood sign first. 

After taking a few pictures, we drove to the walk of fame. On our arrival of it we were all very disappointed. It wasn't anything like you see on tv. The streets were not very clean and there were no lights to be able to clearly see the stars. There wasn't much parking and not knowing the area, we decided to keep on driving and if we had time to go back later in the week,during the day we would. So we headed go back to the hotel and get some sleep. 

Wednesday 12th August. I opened the curtains to be greeted with bright hot sunshine which was great as I was still trying to top my tan whilst doing the parks! Today was Disneyland. We walked to Disney as it was only a 30 min walk along the palm tree footpaths. This was a day that we were all looking forward too. Never too old for Disney! 
We saw some princesses, mickey, Goofey, the transformers and many more. It sure was a hot day, and there didn't seem to be much in the way of shade but we did find some to take a short break and drink a frozen fruit juice. Today was another day that the rides had ques over an hours wait and in the heat wasn't a good idea so both Alfie and Maisie decided not to do the rides but just the sights and characters. 

We were exchusted from the heat but kept going. There were lots of people sat on the sides of the road which went through the park and we gathered it was for the Disney parade so joined the crowded and waited. Wow!!! What a parade!' Disney really know how to put on a show. No expenses were spared. I was like a five year old in total aura of the whole Disney parade. 
What I did find with the street dancers was that they had so much time for kids and those with additional needs. One performer stopped playing his drum and gave his sticks to a lad who loved banging on the drum. His whole face lit up! If Amelia or Maisie were taking any pictures and the dancers saw them, they would stop, pose and either wave or high five them. It truely was magical. 

Whilst sat waiting for the parade we got talking to a couple of local teenage girls, who were telling us about the night time parade and how it was a show not to be missed, as well as the fireworks!! After the parade we went off to do more of the park in Mickeys land where we met Mickey and walked around his house. 

Around 7pm we debated about leaving the park as we were all tired and had, had enough heat and to be honest, just wanted our bed so we headed towards the entrance of the park. We got to the entrance and spoke about just chilling on the path for the next 45 mins for the night parade. It was while we waited for the parade that we saw Goofey. 

We are all so glad we waited, as the whole experience was just was amazing!! 

It was safe to say after two busy days we were begining to flag and even the kids were asking for a day by the pool just chilling. However we had just one more park planned, which was for the next day in Disney Adventure Land. 

Thursday 13th August we all woke between 9am and 10am so didn't rush to get down to the park. We just chilled and took another casual walk once we were all ready. Disney Adventure reminded me of an old time pier. It had a big wheel and rollercoaster over the far side of the lake and generally have the old fashioned impression. We enjoyed it as it wasn't as crowed, the ques for the rides weren't too long (20 mins), it was a little cooler and plenty of shade. We did the Little Mermaid ride. The little mermaid appears to be one of Amelia's new favourite princesses. Then Maisie took Amelia on a ride which went up above the park. Apparently it was nice a cool up in the air!! We got a frozen juice drink and continued our walk round. Going on the toy story shooting ride. We all became very competitive on this ride! However the hubster won! Amelia loved it. 

The parade was about to start so we headed back round the other side of the lake to find a place to sit and wait for it. We didn't wait long before the parade came by. 

After the parade we headed towards Cars Land and continued to do the parts we hadn't. What we did find in these parks was that there were many photo opportunities for us which obviously we up took meaning we have so many fantastic memories to print! 

Well after a full action packed day we headed back to the hotel stopping off in Subway for a snack and got ready for a chilled day by the pool the following day. 

Thursday 14th August, was another hot day which I was pleased about as I wanted to top my tan up before heading back to the wet uk! 
The kids got up, washed, brushed their teeth and went straight down to the pool for lots of fun together. 

  I wasn't planning on moving from this spot! 

                   The kids playing

             Time for a game of ball

  Very rare opportunity, getting a picture of the hubster hehe 

After we had all showered, changed and packed the cases, we headed back to the restuarant next door to the hotel for our last meal in California! 

We can officially say that this was a fantastic family holiday just a shame our Abbie wasn't able to join us!! 

Have you had a holiday of a lifetime?? Where was your most favourite holiday? 

Monday, 10 August 2015

Harrah's Resort

So we arrived 3rd August, at Harrah's Resort, set in the middle of mountains in Rincon all ready for the Hip Hop International Competition. The first impressions of the hotel were in fact rather impressive, however it was very much a party hotel with a casino, events hall and lazy river! 

At check in we had to wait in the que whilst the Diamond customers were given priority and seen to first regardless. Anyway we were given our room on the 7th floor. Off we went with our bags to our room to find that the room only accommodated 3 people which obviously wasn't helpful when we had 5 people. I went back to check in, ques and explained my position to be told, that's all we have as we are sold out. Well you can imagine my response! I went to look for one of the organisers of the group booking by the pool, I explained all and was told that Maisie had a bed in a room with a couple of friends and then Alfie would have a roller bed which we sneaked down the hall from a friends room hehe. Well that was that stress sorted. Apparently thou, we wasn't the only ones to receive such a cold customer service from Harrah's. 

That evening we decided to eat in one of the hotels Restaurants called 'Buffet' it provided many different foods from Chinese, Indian, English and Italian. Then the dessert section was just to die for, with chocolate strawberries, cakes, I've-cream and much more!! The price for this meal wasn't too bad. 

The following morning Maisie and her squad were called for training!! To be honest we hardly saw anything of her for the time we were there, so shows just how much time, effort and hard work each of them kids put in to their training to get the results they wanted. Wednesday 5th was the start of the competition with the Junior Crews starting first. ShakeThat Legion were on 17th, they totally smashed their routine which proved so when they got ranked in the top 13th and qualified for the semi finals.  

Thursday was competition day for IMD Phoenix (girl varsity), IMD Legacy (boys varsity) both of these crews made it through to the semi finals. IMD Megacrew opened the mega crew category which isn't an easy position but they did it by setting the bar high for the others to follow. It was a tough category and they did extremely well, however unfortunately didn't make it to the semi finals! 

                     IMD Phoenix

                       IMD Legacy

                    IMD Megacrew

Each and everyone of these kids went back in to training where changes were made and they just got on with it and worked their back sides off to make sure it was done and to the best of their ability!!  Semi finals day arrived and all 3 crews danced, performed their set with pure aggression. They were blinking amazing. The juniors had many of us parents and their teachers in years with pride and others were left with goose bumps however they didn't make the finals and were ranked 14th in the world!!! Totally amazing result!!! 

Phoenix and Legacy also performed their set and did amazing and again unfortunately didn't make the finals. This ment that all uk dancers were now out of the finals. 

So it was now down time for these kids after a soils 5 weeks of training and hard training of that, however do not be fooled as these kids have learnt alot and are ready to come back next year twice as fierce and take both the stage and title!

Harrahs have a lazy river which sounds lovely, well it is but this is the only pool area that the kids could use. It wasn't great for small babies or young children as the shallowest part of the river was 3ft deep. The other 2 pools, one is a swim up bar were for only 21s only and many of the sun bed areas around these pools were also 21s and over meaning that our kids were not allowed to stop in these areas, so meant that parents had to get sun beds a in the busy area of the pool. 

Sunday was the last full day at this hotel before moving on to another in Los Angeles, and no one under 21years of age was allowed to use the pool as it was a all day pool party!! I found this bery bad organisation due to the fact that most of the hotel was booked out due to it hosting the Hi Hop International Competition which meant most of the customers were children who obviously are under 21years of age. Those who were old enough and staying in the hotel were then faced with paying another $35 to be able to go into the pool party. Those that wanted to go back to their room and re entre the pool party were told that they would have to pay again. This is disgusting I feel considering that we had already paid to be in the hotel and use it's facilities!! 

Well it was Monday morning, which meant it was the last 5 days of our holiday and we as a family were going to go to Los Angeles and do Disneyland, Disney California, Hollywood and universal studios before heading home to our eldest princess who we have missed immensely whilst being on this holiday!! 

Our story contines soon .....

Have you ever been to Southern California? What were your experiences??

Sea world

Monday 3rd August, we moved from our first hotel and headed out towards Harrahs Resort. As we were passing Sea World we had previously decided that we would go along and see what it is all about. 

Know I have mixed views on Sea World, but coming all this way to America, I felt it was something we had to do. The kids loved it and yes it did make me think a little more and realise a few more things also. 

On arrival we had a family picture, the staff were really helpful, friendly and so happy to help take a pic on your mobile or camera also. 

We made our way around to the left, going along to the touch pools where they had fish which nibbled the dead skin on your hands. Maisie loved the feeling, Alfie was amazed and Amelia, well she wasn't going anywhere near haha.

We next walked to the killer whales where they were being fed and the trainers were giving out information about them. 
Then there was a show, so we headed towards the arena and found a seat. Without the hubster being aware I sat us in the 'soak zone' hehe I am mean at times. The sun was burning down so I made sure that we all had cream on so not to burn as it was hot!! The show was amazing. These animals were very clever and defiantly kept the crowd entertained. The kids were in total amazement and love the parts where the whales soaked everyone! 
We continued to walk around the park then found a ride called Shipwreck Rapids. I thought I was being clever by bringing our waterproof jackets, but even they didn't keep us dry. We were soaked to the skin!!! Fun ride thou. We continued to walk around the park, seeing the stingrays, baby dolphins, penguins etc. we did go into the shark aquarium and walked through a tube, seeing the sharks swimming above you was great too. 

After Walking around for a while looking at all the attractions we had lunch and visited a few other aquariums then headed towards the dolphin display. This display was fantastic. It was a story being told including the dolphins, parrots, people and a black eagle. Using music they all put on an amazing show. 

We had by now been in the park for 7 hrs, with the blistering heat and we all had, had enough. The only two places left to go had huge ques so we all decided that we would leave them for today. 

Overall I found the park to be great. Plenty of places to eat, plenty of clean toilets, all staff were more than happy to help and generally have it's customers a great day out! 

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Comfort inn, San Diego

We landed 1st August 2015 a little ahead of Maisie's Hip Hop International competition. The first appearance of the hotel was that, it was ok! 

Reception staff were very polite and helpful. Ensuring that everything was ok and nothing was a problem for them. We went up to our room and found that we had a bedroom with two double beds in and a sitting room with a sofa/pull out bed. Both rooms had a 28 inch tv, there were tea/coffe facilities, a fridge and a microwave. The bathroom had both a mini bath and a shower, hairdryer, mini bottles of shower gel, shampoo/conditioner and soap. There was also an iron and ironing board which if you are very OCD like me with ironing then you will understand my excitement! 

We went to bed as we had  all been up 24 hrs and were totally shattered. On getting up the next morning we went to the breakfast room which was incredibly small in comparison to the hotel. There were ques for everything and no matter where you stood, you was in someone's way, so we grabbed our food and went back to our room. After breakfast we went to collect our hire car (issues with that are another story!!! Will sort that out when we get back to the UK) then we went back to the hotel to enjoy the pool. The kids loved it. It was very basic but that didn't matter. 

That night we thought we would go along the road to the steak house and see what that was like. On our arrival we were greeted by very friendly and helpful staff however the smell was really off putting. It was a smell that was coming from the male restrooms but once out of the lobby area the smell went. Thankfully!! Alfie, Maisie and I all ordered steak while Dave ordered baby BBQ ribs and Amelia ordered chicken tenders. All was lovely, a little different but lovely. Dave wasn't too impressed with his rack of ribs. We didn't stay for desserts as we were going off to have a family day the following morning at Sea World on route to Harrahs hotel for the competition.