Friday, October 30, 2009

The Winner of the VIP Disneyland Trip Is...



Congratulations to the Gonzalez family - looking forward to meeting all of you! I'll be contacting you soon with details. Thanks to everyone who entered!

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Disneyland VIP Trip Finalists!

Thanks to everyone for your entries! Here are the five finalists - I will now leave it up to the all-powerful random.org to pick a winner tonight, and will announce the winner on my blog tomorrow morning. (Seriously, you all deserve to win so I'm glad it's not up to me!)


1) Scott, Christine and Malia Goldman
"Together we can show the world (well at the least the world within the Disneyland Resort gates) that half-Asian kids and their parents can do wholesome activities together that do not involve being launched in a Helium balloon."


2) Allegra, Casiana, Natalie, and Emma Gonzalez
"We have never been to Disneyland as a family...A day free from cares and being together having fun would do us a world of good. We could really use a day at the “Happiest Place on Earth.”


3) Elise Crane Derby & Family
I have just completed a week locked in the house with a sick kid, with what may or may not be swine flu. All I have to look forward to is sleeping through the night...So please please please pick us. World hunger be damned!"


4) Kimberly Kauer & Family
"If lucky enough to be picked, we'll laugh at your jokes and won't embarrass you by walking around while eating those giant turkey legs (unless you are into those, then we'll tell you that the turkey leg look works for you)"


5) Benjamin Chory and his mom and dad
"I really want to win the tickets to Disneyland. I really love Disneyland so much. I will be really good at the party."

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Get Out Your Cameras: I'm Giving Away 4 VIP Passes To Disneyland.

DEADLINE EXTENDED! You now have until 11:59pm on Wednesday, October 28 to submit your entries!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a cool VIP trip I took to Disneyland where my family and I got to check out all of the Halloween attractions and activities going on at the park. Well, I must have made a really good impression because the people at Disneyland have invited me to another event on Saturday, November 21 to preview their Holiday Celebration.

And the best part? I get to invite one of my readers and their family (or friends) to come along.

What you'll win: Four passes to Disneyland plus a special holiday party and VIP activities. Also, you'll be hanging out with me and my family all day but don't let that dissuade you - just try and concentrate on the good things.

Here's four easy steps to enter:

1) Take a holiday picture of your family. If you don't have one, use an old one. If you don't have an old one, ask some strangers that look like you if you can use theirs (JUST KIDDING.) Make it creative! (However - be safe. This isn't Jackass, so no shots of your kids in red pajamas running through the snow with their hair on fire.)

And remember - it doesn't have to be Santa and candy canes. I'm an equal opportunity blog open to all sorts of holidays - Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah - I think there's even one where the plushie fetishists celebrate the birth of Elmo.

Also - maybe you don't want to bring your family. Maybe you want to bring along three friends, or three co-workers, or three strangers you've just met in line at Costco. If so, include them in your photo. Just remember - you have to spend the entire day with them, so at least make sure they aren't going to steal your wallet. Or your boyfriend.

2) Write a brief paragraph (300 words or less) why you should be chosen to win the Disneyland giveaway. Again, get creative! But stay real. Alluding to Nostradamus predicting your win or stories of crazy mole people stealing all your Christmas gifts will get you disqualified immediately, as will any entry containing the sentence, "...and that's how winning the trip to Disneyland will help me end world hunger."

3) Join the Sweatpantsmom Fan Page on Facebook. It's easy! Just click here and click on 'Become a Fan.'

OR

If you're not on Facebook, don't panic - just subscribe to my blog instead.
Also, easy! Enter your email address in that little window to the left and hit 'Subscribe.'

OR..do both if you'd like. Who am I to stop compulsion?

4) Send me your photo and your paragraph. Email it, along with your full name, email address and blog url (if you have one) to sweatpantsmom.holiday@yahoo.com by 11:59pm PST on Wednesday, October 28, 2009. Please put your full name in the subject line. No 'anonymous' entries will be accepted.

(Yes, I know this doesn't give you much time to enter but I kept putting this off and forgot that the nice people at Disneyland needed the winner's name by October 27. So shoot me. But remember - if you shoot me, no one wins. In fact, if you shoot me, the terrorists might win.)

Here's the nitty gritty:

1) You don't have to be a Southern California resident to enter, but the winner and their guests must provide their own transportation to and from the park, plus arrange their own accommodations. You will receive a one-day parking pass as part of your prize package.

2) The winner and their guests must attend the actual event and be willing to remain with the group for the day/evening of November 21.

3) Entrants must consent to having their photos posted on Views From The Pants blog. The winner and their guests must give their consent to be photographed and/or filmed at the event by Disneyland Press Relations and/or me, and I don't carry any elaborate lighting or 'youth' gels with me.

4) This giveaway is non-transferable and may not be given, sold or donated to another party. In other words, don't try and give your tickets to the Heene family.

5) Leaving a comment on this blog does not count as an entry. You must complete all four steps above in order to be entered in the contest.

Once I have all your entries, I'm going to sit down with my kids, my husband and my cat and pick five finalists. Then I'm going to leave it up to random.org to pick the final winner. I'll post the winner on Tuesday, October 27.

If you have any questions, you can ask it in comments here or email me prior to sending in your entry at sweatpantsmom.holiday@yahoo.com.

Good luck! And hurry up and enter!

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Got Halloween?

Last week I was invited to am AMAZING party on the Paramount Studios lot put on by the people at Got Milk? Everyone knows how I'm not a big fan of Halloween, but this party may have turned me around. That is, if I could just get one of these on our street to set the mood:

Okay, I admit - at first I thought it was real and started to get out my giant can of Raid, but then my daughters pointed out that it had no web, so I was like, "Whew."

The party took place on the lot that looks like a New York City street and they had trick-or-treating along a row of houses, each of which was decorated differently. My girls and their friends loved it - the props were amazing and each 'house' featured a different treat. One of them gave out some delicious cookies shaped like milk bottles (made by Flour Pot) and if I had known they were going to be that good I would have grabbed one (or five) (okay, a dozen) for myself.


They also had carnival games and an old-fashioned photo booth where you could take a picture of yourself with a stuck-on milk mustache. I didn't do it because I told the guy there was no reason to put on a fake mustache when I had a real one I was trying to get rid of.


The event was to introduce Angie Harmon as the new Got Milk? spokesperson. (Here she is being interviewed, and I'm not sure whose arm got into the picture there but I like to call this The Photo Of Crooked Elbows.) Angie was beautiful in person, and I have to say her husband Jason Sehorn was not so bad looking, not bad looking at all if you know what I mean. I don't have a picture of him because it's hard to shoot when you're eyes are glazing over and you're panting.


Of course, not only do those Got Milk? people know how to party, they know how to eat. They had these crazy good chocolate-covered-brownies-on-a-stick that I couldn't stop nibbling on, and also some chocolate pudding in a cup that you dipped into with a pretzel. I ate so much chocolate that I had a dream that night where I was being chased by an Oompa Loompah who caught me, wrapped me in cellophane and put me in an Easter basket.


Thanks, to the Got Milk? people for making it such a fun and fabulous day for me and my kids. Oh, and for cheering me up a bit about the whole Halloween thing.

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tags: got milk | | | got milk halloween party

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Disneyland's Paradise Pier Hotel: Nice n' Easy

As part of our awesome Halloween Time event at Disneyland last month, a few of us bloggers were treated to a one-night stay at the Paradise Pier Hotel. This was my family's first time staying at any of the Disney properties, and we had a great stay; a nice room, and easy access to both parks. Hence my title, Nice n' Easy. Hey, you think it's easy being this clever?

Our room was very spacious, and we had a great view of California Adventure. Sure adults love looking out over a moonlit ocean or a spectacular lake, but there's nothing kids like more than peering out their window and seeing a huge Mickey ferris wheel! Or watching the cars on Mulholland Madness! My only complaint is that this makes it extremely difficult for the adults to sleep in, though, because how can you just lay there when there are rides to be ridden! And shows to see! And churros to eat!

We had a great breakfast at the hotel's Hawaiian-themed restaurant, and they had a whole Lilo & Stitch thing going on the whole time. At 11 and 13 my daughters work very hard to pretend they're not into that sort of thing, but for younger kids (and less jaded tweens and teens) it would be a fun treat with character greetings, sing alongs and games.

My girls however, were not above ooh-ing and ahh-ing when this arrived at our table. Just sayin'.



They have a great breakfast buffet which we didn't take advantage of since we weren't that hungry, and besides eating takes a long time and how can you sit there drinking your coffee when there are rides to be ridden! And shows to see! And churros to eat!

Another great feature is the arcade located in the lobby. Since we were there for only one night my girls didn't have time to hang out and blast asteroids or drive the grand prix, but we'll make sure and bring lots of quarters for our next visit. That may even buy us a couple hours of sleep in the morning next time, or some time alone in our room when we want to do something other than watch Gossip Girl. Oh, the plans we have!

Also, another great feature for the little ones: This adorable video-watching room located just off the lobby. Not sure if it's allowed, but next time I think I'll grab a Mai Tai from the bar and hang out there myself.



Okay, but here's THE BEST TIP EVER, if you already have your park tickets. This came to us courtesy of one of the workers who happened to be driving by us in one of their service carts and we asked him for the easiest route to the park. (We had just exited the hotel through their back entrance.) Earlier we had walked through the Grand Californian and through Downtown Disney, which proved to be a slightly longer walk than my city girls could handle without complaining. But this guy told us to follow the signs to Downtown Disney and it was a very short walk to the Monorail terminal. There you can use your ticket to go through security (a much shorter line than we encountered at the main entrance) hop on the Monorail and head into Tomorrowland. Easy! and nice! I'm getting a lot of mileage out of that title of mine.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Disney Interactive Party: I Came, I Saw, I Brought Home Gift Bags (Including One to Giveaway!)

Update: 10/21 - The winner has been picked! See below.

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to a party thrown by Disney Interactive Studios to introduce some of their new games for Wii, Nintendo DS and PlayStation. I took my girls and a couple of their friends, since they're the real gamers and the ones whose opinions count - no one wants to hear me complain about how the game's going too fast! And hey - I swear I got a gazillion points so why is the score telling me I'm a loser? Better for everyone if I just kick back on one of the comfy couches, sample the food and shout encouragement.

No slouchers, these Disney people - they had their party at the über hip Coco de Ville, where David and Victoria Beckham and Kim Kardashian have been known to party. They weren't there that night, but I'm sure if they were they would have hung out with me on the couches. Except for Posh - she looks like she might be able to kick ass on Toy Story Mania.

And speaking of one of our favorite games, Toy Story Mania for Wii is based on the ride of the same name at Disney's California Adventure. This is a really fun, fast-paced carnival-style game and one of the few that I can actually play without looking like a complete idiot. I played this at the party with one of the people from Disney Interactive who helped develop the game, though, and not surprisingly she beat me pretty badly. In fact, I think she may have had her eyes closed the whole time. And one of her hands tied behind her back. Okay, both hands.

I finally talked my girls into giving the new Sing It: Pop Hits a try, but only because I threatened to get up there and sing a Coldplay song by myself. Nothing gets kids motivated like the threat of being horribly embarrassed and they couldn't wait to get the microphone out of my hand. Once they started singing this ended up being their favorite game, and they loved that the song selection included some current artists like Duffy, OneRepublic, Maroon 5, Colbie Caillat and Taylor Swift. And they're going to die if any of their friends see this, but they even sang along (very well, I might say) to Miley Cyrus' The Climb.

I have to add that the food, provided by the adjacent restaurant STK, was amazing. There was fare for the kids (corn dogs, chicken fingers) and a cotton candy machine that was the highlight of the evening for my 11-year-old. For the adults there was tuna tartare, beef kebobs and salad sticks and what may be the best cheeseburger slider and fries I think I've ever had. Just to make sure I had three of them.

As is tradition whenever I take this group of girls out, we stopped at Starbucks on the way home, and as the gaggle enjoyed their mochas and lattes I overheard what passes for an enthusiastic endorsement from this jaded crowd. "Dude, I totally don't like karaoke but I'm going to have to buy that Disney Sing It." So thanks, Disney - I might get to warble along to that Coldplay song after all.

And leave it to Disney Interactive to send all of us home with not one, but two great swag bags - one to give away to one of my readers.

Here's what's in the bag: Toy Story Mania for Wii, Spectrobes Origins for Wii, a Tinkerbell Light-Up Projector flashlight, a Spectrobes Excavation Kit, a Jonas Brothers mouse pad and a set of Princess and the Frog measuring spoons.

Oh, and also? In keeping with my tradition, I'm personally throwing in a $5 Starbucks card so that you can get yourself a coffee after you've worn yourself out gaming.

So, if you'd like a chance to win here's how you can enter:

1) Leave a comment on this post, below. Or,
2) Leave a comment on my Facebook fan page (Sweatpantsmom)

You can enter once in either location (meaning two entries per person)

I'll be picking a winner from all the combined entries on Tuesday, October 20 using random.org, which is, as the title suggests - random.

*Sorry - entries from the Continental U.S. only.

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Update: 10/21: WINNER PICKED

I put all the entries into the random list generator and let it do its thing.

AND THE WINNER IS...



Kirsten Pekrul Dominguez! Kirsten, send email me your address so I can ship you your swag bag! Congratulations!

And thanks to everyone who entered - I have lots more giveaways coming up!

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Halloween Time at Disneyland Made Me Less Cranky and I'll Tell You Why

A few days ago I updated my Facebook status with, "I hate Halloween" and with the responses I got you would have thought I'd just stepped on a kitten. But in my defense, it's not Halloween I hate - it's the preparation leading up to the day. Years of having to scrounge for pieces to put together girl ninja and evil fairy costumes have really taken their toll. Oh, and then there was that time I had to go to five different Disney stores to find a Jessie costume, or the time I stayed up until 4am making pumpkin-shaped PBJ sandwiches. Not to mention stringing up all that fake spider web - I'm getting cranky just thinking about it.

But what I do like about Halloween is seeing how excited my girls are about it, and luckily there is a way to get into the spirit of Halloween without feeling like I want to gouge my eyes out. Last week we were guests of Disneyland at a special preview of their Halloween Time, an event to showcase all that they've got going on at Disneyland and California Adventure for the season. My family and I got all the benefits of Halloween, and I didn't have to spend two hours scrounging around in the costume department of Target or make a single sandwich. I might just have to change my Facebook status after all.

Here's what we saw:

Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy

This is Space Mountain revamped for Halloween and let me just say THIS SCARED THE CRAP OUT OF ME. But really, in a good way. Space Mountain is one of my favorite rides (besides the parking tram) and when I heard they were spicing it up I figured they'd insert a ghost or two, add in some howling noises and then end the whole thing with a big whirling candy corn. WRONG. Let's just say it's Alien meets Disney, and it's a blast.




Haunted Mansion

If you've been to Disneyland around this time of year, you've probably seen the Mansion decked out with the Nightmare Before Christmas characters. I've seen it before, but I never get tired of it and neither do my kids. In fact, I feel like I see something different everytime I ride through. Is it an evil spirit at work? Or just too much Diet Coke and churros?



(We also did something we'd never done before, and that was have dinner at the Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue. Our hosts treated us to an all-you-can-eat family style dinner with chicken, ribs, sausage and all the fixins, which I highly recommend. I say there's no way you can have a bad time when there's unlimited buckets of meat coming across your table. Also note: My 13yr old is a vegetarian, and they offer a grilled tofu and vegetable kebab.)

Fantasmic

You've probably seen Fantasmic, the crazy incredible show that takes place over the Rivers of America. But have you seen THE DRAGON? I didn't think so. It's an impressive, towering creature that seemingly appears out of nowhere and will scare the bejesus out of you if you happen to be checking email on your iPhone at the time. Not that I was doing that. But go see it - you won't be disappointed. Your email can wait.

Halloween Screams Fireworks Show

video

Disneyland has, hands down, the best fireworks show I've ever seen. And everytime I think they can't top themselves (what could be cooler than Dumbo flying around the castle?) they do. This time it's with a giant Jack Skellington that appears above the castle and Jack's dog Zero flying around. This is the best fireworks show I think I've seen there yet. I dare you to top this one, Disneyland!

So, thanks to Disneyland for making me a little less cranky as Halloween approaches. But Christmas is on its way...

Halloween Time runs at Disneyland through November 1.

Also, don't miss Mickey's Trick-or-Treat party at California Adventure. We've done this the past couple of years, and it's become a tradition.

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Compensation: No; Product Received: Four park passes, hotel accommodations for one night. Opinions and remarks contained in this review are the author’s. The content of the review is determined by the author, and there is no agreement between parties that a review, if written, will be a positive one.
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Monday, October 5, 2009

Travel Savvy Mom: Can’t We All Just Get Along? Yes, If We Have Our Own Beds

This past summer I did a review for Travel Savvy Mom about a local hotel I was invited to review, the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn at Universal Studios Hollywood. I'm posting a link to it here because I frequently get requests from people looking for accommodations that are close to attractions such as Universal Studios and Hollywood, and this would be a perfect solution so that they don't have to stay with us that is both comfortable and reasonable.

For my husband and me, staying in a hotel with our two daughters has become a little tricky. At 11 and 13, they can barely breathe the same air without arguing, so getting them to share a bed in a traditional room with two double or queen beds is next to impossible. Suites are always ideal since they will often come with a sofa-bed that one of them can sleep on, but it’s hard to justify the extra cost when traveling on a budget, especially since on family vacations we spend so little time in the room and most of the time sightseeing. Well, that and arguing. Did I mention sisters like to argue?

We were recently invited to stay at the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn at Universal Studios Hollywood and became fans of the KidSuites that are being offered at many Holiday Inns – a room with a partitioned area that’s furnished with bunk beds, a set of drawers, a flat screen TV and a game system. Our two girls loved having their own area and most of all their own beds. And while it doesn’t offer total privacy since there’s no door and the top of the partitioned area is open, we found that it provided just the right amount of separation to keep peace in a family of four. Not having to share a TV? Awesome. Not having to listen to your kids accuse each other of hogging the covers? Priceless...Read More...

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tags: beverly garland holiday inn | | | hotel reviews hollywood

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