Disneyland

10 Things I’ll Miss Most About SoCal

Here are 10 things I’ll miss most about SoCal…

1. Our SeaCoast Grace Church Family – Our decision to move back to Sacramento was a difficult one, because we love our church family! There are so many who have welcomed us into their lives, blessed our family and who we will truly miss.

2. Grace Christian School – The staff and faculty at GCS rock! They love their jobs, love their kids and excel at their profession! Having Zach at GCS these past four years has been one of the biggest blessings!

3. Disneyland – Being annual pass holders at Disneyland for three straight years was an amazing experience. Even as locals, whenever we went to Disneyland, we always thought we were on vacation. And every night we were reminded that we lived 8 miles from the Happiest Place on Earth as we heard their fireworks echo through the valley.

4. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Watching Mike Trout play this year has been crazy fun! And I will miss watching Baseball America’s 2012 Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year play! This guy is a future Hall of Famer and it was so fun to watch him do his thing and Jared Weaver pitch!

5. SoCal Beaches – We loved hiking Crystal Cove in Newport and kicking it in Seal Beach. This past summer was probably our best summer at the beach.

6. SoCal Weather – Where else could it be 80 degrees in December? With typical 70-80 weather year around, we will miss the weather big time. Although, I won’t miss the May grey and June gloom! They never mention those months in the SoCal marketing brochures.

7. OC Small Group Pastors Cohort – I’ve had the privilege of rubbing shoulders with the who’s who of Small Group pastoral leadership and I will greatly miss the creativity and ideas that these men bring to the table.

8. Spiritual Mentors – Wow! It has been a blast to reconnect with some of my former spiritual mentors since living in SoCal! In addition, I have been privileged to meet some other wise men who have spoken into my life over the last few years! Thanks Tom, JP, Lyle, Rob, Mark, Michael, Dennis, Ed and Roger. You are amazing men of faith. And I have been blessed by your investment in my life.

9. Amazing Friends – I have met some amazing people since living in SoCal! And I’ve been able to reconnect with some old friends from college that has been such a blessing! In addition, we’ve so enjoyed our visits from NorCal friends and hosting them at our home. Fun times.

10. Proximity to Fun Getaways – We’ll miss our proximity to Palm Springs and San Diego. They’ve been fun places to escape to for a few days.

Disneyland Tips

As Northern California transplants, Jennifer and I have enjoyed hosting our friends and family in Southern California while they visit Disneyland, colleges, the beach or whatever. And being that we live just 8 miles away from the Happiest Place on Earth, we often get asked lots of questions about discount deals to dining preferences. So having just recently visited, I thought I would share some of my tips to make your visit to Disneyland even more enjoyable.

Best Practices: With the opening of Carsland, it’s best to visit California Adventure first and secure your FASTPASS for Radiator Springs Racers, the best ride in the resort! The FASTPASS line cues up around the Carthay Circle Restaurant. In addition, you can secure a FASTPASS for the World of Color near the Grizzly River Run. Once you secure both, head over to Disneyland or visit other parts of the park, as everyone is heading to Carsland first. In fact, I think Carsland is best experienced at night, when everything is all lit up! Remember, your FASTPASS is good for anytime that day, as long as it’s after your designated start time. I am also told, although I have never tested it out, that the FASTPASS rules applies to each park separately. So, if your plans take you to Disneyland first and then over to California Adventure, you’ll be able to get a second FASTPASS ticket there.

Affordable Dining Options: There are lots of places to grab a burger throughout the park, but if you’re in the mood for something more, we recommend Rancho del Zocalo in Adventureland. Entrees include citrus fire-grilled chicken, 4 cheese enchiladas, soft tacos, burritos and even a tostada salad. In addition, there is a fresh water fountain that you can use to refill your water bottles! We also enjoy dining in Cafe Orleans, where we often share a Monte Cristo sandwich and garlic fries. Also new to Carsland, is Flo’s V8 Cafe, which is good if you enjoy comfort food.

Fine Dining Options: It’s best to make reservations in advance through Disney Dining. Reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance at (714) 781-DINE. Some of our favorite dining options include the Blue Bayou, Napa Rose in the Grand Californian, and Wine Country Trattoria. To save money, we recommend going to the Blue Bayou for lunch. In addition, there is full-service prix fixe dinner options at Wine Country Trattoria that include tickets to a reserved viewing section of the World of Color! Overall, the best value for the money, is the Wine Country Trattoria!

Other Notable Food/Snack Options: An Ice Cream Sundae at Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop in California Adventure; Mickey-shaped Beignets at Cafe Orleans; and the Churro Bites in Carsland are the best we’ve ever tasted!

I would love to hear your tips and favorites as well, so take a minute to post some below…

Lessons I’ve Learned from Disneyland

For the last three years I have had the privilege of being an annual pass holder at Disneyland! Being that we only live eight miles from the Happiest Place on Earth, we have enjoyed countless days laughing, riding roller coasters, making memories, and visiting with friends.

This year we’re going to let our passes lapse and probably won’t renew for a while. So with our passes expiring, I did something I’ve never done before, I went to Disneyland by myself for one last visit before they did. I went to pray, dream and recount the incredible memories I have of this place. And in the process, I wrote down some of the things I learned from Disneyland that relate to church and leadership.

So, in no specific order, here are some of the lessons I’ve learned from Disneyland…

  1. Pay attention to the details – Disneyland is in the details! From hidden Mickey’s to trimmed trees in unique shapes and sizes, Disneyland pays attention to the little things, which serve to enhance the overall experience of their guests. Scripture tells us that God even knows the very number of hairs on our head (Matthew 10:30) and throughout the Bible, God is concerned about the details. The details communicate care, creativity, and create memorable experiences for people.
  2. Create a hospitable environment – Disneyland is all about hospitality! They’re genuinely happy to have you as their guest and go out of their way to make you feel welcomed and valued. They make your experience fun and engage their guests in a variety of creative ways. They truly live out the Golden Rule of Matthew 7:12, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.”
  3. Never stop innovating – Disneyland was way before it’s time when it first opened in 1955. However, they have never stopped imagineering. In my three years as a season pass holder, Disney has done a variety of big projects to improve their parks. From adding a whole new land in California Adventure, to introducing the World of Color and 3-D to Star Tours, they live out their motto of, “moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…..And curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
  4. Listen to your guests – You think by this point Disney knows all they need to know about running a theme park, but they are constantly seeking to gather information from their guests, seeking to discover more about their interests, needs and preferences. In addition, cast members are also very careful to listen to casual conversations. Over the years, a server or guest services member might catch that we’re celebrating an anniversary or birthday and I can’t tell you how many times they have done something special for us without any solicitation or mention. These little touches go a long way to create special memories for families and guests alike.
  5. Creatively tell the story – Disney tells amazing stories and their stories take you places you can’t otherwise go while engaging the senses of sight, sound, taste, smell and touch! Their stories capture our hearts and imagination and I think the church can learn a lot from them about telling the story of God to a whole new generation.

There truly is something special about Disneyland! And while our passes may be expiring, I know there are still many memories to be made and lessons to be learned from this incredible land of adventure, fantasy and dreams.

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