Saturday, December 17, 2011

Disney = Done

Disney Photos

Click the link above to see photos from our Disney World Vacation 2011.
It has been three years since we were last in Disney World (October 2008), and prior to that we were last there in December 2005.  We seem to be on a three-year rotation with Disney for some reason.  (Although Angie and I made a pit stop in Disneyland, California a few years back because I was attending a convention out in Hollywood at the time.)

We drove down in 2005 and stayed in a house rental with Angie's family (and we only had the twins, who were two), flew down in 2008 with my parents (along with the twins, 5, and Adrian, 1 1/2), and drove down again two weeks ago (with the twins, now 8, and Adrian, now 4 1/2).  Cameron, 1, stayed behind with Mom Mom and Pop Pop and had a great time.

We left on Friday morning, Dec. 2nd, around 9am from Maple Shade, stopped in Virginia for lunch at the Virginia Welcome Center, and then stopped in Darien, Georgia around 10:30pm at a Hampton Inn to stay the night.  We left the hotel Saturday morning around 9am, stopped at the Florida Welcome Center for free juice and information booklets, and continued on our way to Downtown Disney.  We had lunch reservations at T. Rex's at 1:35pm.  We ended up pulling into the Disney Marketplace parking lot around 1pm, so I felt like we made pretty good time.  Lunch at T. Rex's was a little on the expensive side, but the food was very good.  We all enjoyed it very much, and the kids loved the dinosaur decor.

We checked into Disney's All Star Music Resort around 4-ish, and hung out at the hotel mostly.  Sunday was Hollywood Studios, Monday was Animal Kingdom, Tuesday was breakfast with the characters at Chef Mickey's (at 7:30am!) and Mickey's Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom from 7pm to midnight (free hot cocoa and sugar cookies all night!), Wednesday was out Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure day, Thursday was back to the Magic Kingdom, and Friday was Epcot Center.  Angie had planned out each day so that we got the "extra magic hours" at each park.  Most nights we didn't get back to the room until after 10pm (Tuesday night it was 1am).  By Friday we were all pretty exhausted.

And we had a long drive ahead of us on Saturday.

We left the hotel around 9am and decided that we'd drive straight home with no stop at a hotel.  According to the GPS, if we had driven straight home with no stops at all we could have pulled in the driveway around 11:15pm.  But of course, that wouldn't include bathroom breaks, gas stops, food, etc.  We ended up pulling in the driveway at 1:10am.  16 hours later, including stops.  Not bad.

We all had a blast, of course.  The kids even got to spend some time in the All Star Music pool on Tuesday.  Temperatures were usually above 70 degrees.  We had one day (Thursday) that was pretty chilly (when we left the room at 8:30am, it was about 40 degrees outside).  But we really couldn't complain about the weather.  And the only time we saw rain was on Wednesday at Universal Studios, but it didn't last long and may have even helped chase people out of the parks.

Wait times for the rides weren't bad either.  We never waited more than 15-20 minutes for a ride and only used Fast Pass2 or 3 times (and not until late in the week at Magic Kingdom and Epcot).  If you want to do "Soarin'" you pretty much need to grab a Fast Pass unless you like standing for more than 60 minutes.  Oh, we skipped exactly ONE ride: Toy Story Mania at Hollywood Studios.  I never saw the wait time posted at less than 50 minutes.  At one point late in the day it was posted at 90 minutes.  it's not even that great a ride!  We didn't use Fast Pass on it because this was on Sunday and I had never used Fast Pass for anything before (ever).  So the thought never crossed my mind; otherwise I might have done it just so the kids could do it again.  They probably don't remember riding it in 2008.

It was strange to me that we were able to ride "Star Tours" four times (which was awesome, btw; some nice improvements over the old version), Tower of Terror three times, etc., but Toy Story Mania was always the longest wait time.  What is it about that ride exactly?  We even got on Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom three or four times and never had to use a Fast Pass.  The kids did Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure four times (I rode it twice) because it was not crowded there at all.

We'll probably head back in another three years...  Can't wait.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

2005 Chrysler Town & Country Sliding Door Fix

Our driver's side power sliding door has been acting up over the past year or so.  When you press the button inside the van or use the remote key chain fob to open the door, it will usually only open a few inches and then quit.  When it first started happening it would open pretty far and then quit, so I squirted some WD-40 inside the tracks thinking that something was blocking it.  That actually seemed to buy us some time because it started working again after that.  Over the past few months, though, the door was basically not powered anymore.  It would occasionally open about 2 inches and then stop.  Once open, it wouldn't even attempt to close when you pressed the button.  And if you manually closed the door, you really had to slam it because the motor wasn't taking over to close it all the way (you'll know what I'm talking about if you have one of these).

A side effect of this problem was that our power door locks also stopped working within the past two days or so.  This meant that the only way to lock up the car was to manually depress all the door lock switches in the car.  And the only way to open it up was to use the key in the driver's side door, get in, and manually unlock the rest of the doors.  I know... Boo hoo, right?  Well, once you're used to the power locks, it sucks having to manually lock and unlock all the doors.  It also wasn't locking the doors when you put the car in gear.

I did some internet searching and found the solution to the power door locks issue.  You can either disconnect your positive battery cable for about 5 minutes, or you can remove the 20-amp fuse for "Internal accessories" (I think it's labeled IOD on the fuse panel under the hood) for about a minute.  Once the system resets, the locks should work again (mine did).

I also found some instructional videos on how to fix the power sliding door problem.  This guy has a nice video showing you where to look.  My power cable was frayed in the same exact spot.  As a matter of fact, once I pulled the wire out to look at it, it split in two; so it was pretty bad.  Not taking any chances, I disconnected the positive terminal on my battery so that there was no chance the wire was hot when I was working with it.  I simply uncovered the wire, exposing more of it on either side using wire strippers, twisted the wires together, taped them up with electrical tape, and put everything back inside the door track.  Here's a picture of the wire before the repair:

If you're having the same problem, it's worth it to give this a shot.  I've seen estimates online that say that most dealerships will charge you for a new wiring harness and at least one hour of labor to replace the whole thing.  Probably a $300 job, I'd guess; and you'd be without your vehicle for a while. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Loyalty Card mobile app

If you're the kind of person that keeps 4 or 5 (or more) customer loyalty cards on your keychain, or if you've got the keychain overloaded along with credit card-sized loyalty cards in your wallet, you might want to check out this cool mobile app.  It's called Key Ring and I'm sure it's been around for a while, but I only just found out about it today.  You can check it out here:

You'll be able to ditch the cards altogether because the app keeps your member number in your phone and it will even display a full screen image of the UPC bar code so you can have your phone act as the card itself! 

For me, it means no longer having to make sure I grab the "right" set of keys before I go to a specific store, or realizing too late that I don't have my Best Buy Reward Zone card in my wallet when I decide to take a look at some electronics.  My wife and I have lost cards over the years and the bar codes have worn off quite a few of them, too.  So the app allows you to "share" your card with others.  Once you've scanned the bar code into the app and verified the member number, you can "share" it with your spouse.  Instant backup.

If you sign up for a free web account, they'll even back up your cards for you, so if you change phones or if your phone gets wiped, you can simply reinstall the app and download your cards back to your phone.

I know that most stores can look up your card number by using your phone number, which is great, but this is a way to keep all of your cards with you and you'll never have to use the phone lookup method again.  Plus, some of our cards go back a few years and are probably listed under old house or cell phone numbers.

It's not earth-shattering or anything, but I think it's pretty cool.  Check it out.  It's available for iPhone, Blackberry, Android, and Windows.  Just browse your phone's app store for Key Ring Reward Cards" and you'll find it.  Of course, it's FREE.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Past Blast

I know I posted theses links on my Facebook page already, but I wanted to add them to my blog as well, so here they are:

Girl Upstairs "Half as Good" -

Girl Upstairs "Detour" -

These are "videos" for songs on which I played drums and recorded back in 2003 with my brother (Ryan), and my friends, Don, Cyndi and Pat.  We had a blast recording and a lot of fun playing shows.  We had to, really, because it doesn't pay very well.  ;-)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Heading to Philly on Mother's Day?

Hey!  This Sunday is Mother's Day, and if you're even thinking about taking mom into Philadelphia (for a show, a breakfast, a brunch, a lunch, a dinner, or what have you), it would behoove you to take advantage of $5 "All day" parking at four Parkway locations in Center City Philadelphia with this coupon:

Yes, I work for Parkway, but this is a good deal.  I mean, if you're going into Philly anyway, why not pay only $5 and park in a nice garage like the one at 12th & Filbert?  The regular Sunday rate at Filbert could set you back $28, but this coupon would save you 82%!  The 12th & Filbert and Liberty Place garages are located near great restaurants and shops like Maggiano's, The 19, the Shops at Liberty, The Melting Pot, etc.  The 12th & Walnut and Walnut Towers garages are located near the Forrest Theater, the Walnut Street Theater, jewelers' row, LaBuca Restaurant, Washington Square, etc.

(OK, I feel a little dirty turning into a corporate shill, but it's worth it if it saves someone some cash and increases the use of this coupon.  It's Win-Win, folks!)

Oh, and you can follow Parkway Corporation on facebook now!  Parkway plans to utilize the facebook account to get the word out on various promotions, coupons, events, etc.  But in order to make it worthwhile, we need "followers" or "likers," so "Like" the page if you can.

End of corporate promotion!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

SNL Clip

Pretty funny bit from SNL a while back:

Crisis of Conformity

For some reason, I think this will be me in about 15-20 years at my kids' weddings.  It would be cool to rock out the classics for the kids...  Heh heh.