A Cars Inspired Road Trip, Part 3: Blue Swallow Hotel

There is an item on my bucket list that my family and I have partially completed, a drive from Chicago to Santa Monica along the famous Mother Road, Route 66.  Last Spring we drove half of the route on our Cars inspired trip to Disneyland…

Part 3: Overnight in Tucumcari, New Mexico

I know that it sounds really crazy that when you have a 16 hour drive in front of you to stop for the night only 2 hours down the road, but that is exactly what we did!  

Our first night was spent at the Blue Swallow Hotel in Tucumari, New Mexico…  

“The Blue Swallow has been serving travelers along the Mother Road since 1939, and today, our guests enjoy a pleasant reminder of what it was like to travel across the USA in the “good old days. From the beautifully restored rooms, to the distinctive attached garages, to the fabulous neon display each night, a stay at the Blue Swallow is a unique experience that will leave you rested, refreshed, and with wonderful new memories. Come take a step back to a simpler time, meet your neighbors from around the world, and relax under the glow of the neon lights in the historic courtyard of the Blue Swallow Motel.”

https://www.blueswallowmotel.com/history-2/

And like all stops on this road trip the Blue Swallow has a Cars connection…

The office for Sally’s Cozy Cone Hotel is modeled after the Blue Swallow Office.  And all of the neon used in both the movie and in Carland..look no further than inspiration from the Blue Swallow and Tucumcari.

So how was our stay?

Each of the 12 rooms at the Blue Swallow has been restored to represent a room at a motor court as it would have been in the 1940s and 50s.   We stayed in Room 14 and could not have been more pleased.

The room was comfortable and clean,but best of all was the room decor.  Every room at the Blue Swallow is different and features vintage lightning, period furniture and artwork. Don’t let the decor fool you…the bedding is 600 count thread, the mattresses are premium and the towels fluffy, and yes there is a modern flat screen television and free internet.

The bathroom featured original bath fixtures and tile work, which was beautiful. I am amazed how it has withstood the last almost 80 years.  

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There was even a working 1940s rotary dial telephone, that the #manchild was amazed with.

It was a beautiful night when we arrived, so we spent some time exploring the Blue Swallow courtyard and grounds, before finding a place to eat.  And of course being on the Mother Road we wanted to find someplace that fit the theme of our trip.

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Since 1956, Del’s Restaurant has been a destination break on Historic Route 66. The menu has a little bit of something for everyone including New Mexican favorites and Cowboy Grub. With it being Lent and a Friday, we had some great catfish!

Afterwards, we spent a little time driving down Route 66 through Tucumcari and trying to imagine what Route 66 was like in the 40s and 50s.  

Then it was sweet dreams and an early morning…

Next Stop:  Tucumcari, New Mexico to Williams, Arizona (504 miles)

Friday Five: 5 Disney Things for 2018

The calendar page is turned so…

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I am excited for the new year, which has not been the case the last few years.  There are so many new adventures that I am working on that hopefully will impact my life (both In and out of ears) for many years to come in a good way.  Plus, there are so many Disney things that I can’t wait to experience in 2018.

http://video.disney.com/watch/every-disney-thing-happening-in-2018-oh-my-disney-560e17a19be5c80766ffcd1e

things” for 2018…

1. Toy Story Land at Walt Disney World, Disney Hollywood Studios

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I am so excited that Disney Hollywood Studios is finally getting that much needed make over that it desperately has needed.  Don’t get me wrong some of my favorite attractions are located within this park, but even those attractions have been enough to get me to the park each trip. If you have walked through the stand by line of Toy Story Mania, this is what I imagine Toy Story Land to be like.  Surrounded by larger than life toys, games and other things from my childhood…Even Mr. Grumpy can’t help but smile and be drawn back into memories.  The tinker toys get me every time.

 

2. Incredibles 2

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Seriously, Disney what has taken so long with this sequel?  If movie time was real time, Jack would be learning to drive!

3. Avengers:  Infinity War

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I admit it that I have a thing for smart alec, egocentric super heroes…I also seem to be drawn to conflicted comic villains like Loki.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would become a comic book hero fan, but thanks to Disney I can’t get enough these guys!  And once again Disney has created experience that my whole family can enjoy together.

4. Pixar Pier at Disneyland Resort, Disney California Adventure

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I am not sure when I am going to make my way back to the happiest place on earth, Disneyland but I hope it is soon because changes are also happening on the west coast with Disney.  Paradise Pier is getting rethemed Disney-style.

5. Pixar Fest at Disneyland Resort, Disnyland

But the experience I would love to be part of this summer is, Pixar Fest.

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https://disneyland.disney.go.com/events-tours/pixar-fest/

Disney’s Nighttime Spectaculars are one of my favorite experiences, as the night comes alive with magic.  Combining music, fireworks, beloved movie scenes together along with friends & family just stirs up those emotions of warm and fuzzy that are certain to bring a tear down my cheek.

I am not certain that I will make it home to the happiest or most magical places on earth in 2018, but I know I will be at the movie theater and stalking friends & family’s trips because 2018 appears to be a great Disney year.

What Disney things are you most excited for?  Drop me a comment and tell me…

Remember that I can help you plan that vacation so that you can be part of the Pixar coast to coast fun this summer!  Disney has just released Summer 2018 package & room promotions…

Tammie’s Take Thursday: Flight of Passage (FOP)

Be warned there will be a few spoilers in this post…

It’s been no secret that I am not a huge fan of the movie, Avatar.  It’s a beautiful movie from a scenery aspect but has a very predictable story line that at times is long and slow.  I have also felt like Disney missed the mark by making it an entire land in Animal Kingdom.  To me the area could have been better served by adding North American story lines like Brother Bear, Bambi, and Pocahontas; but I am not the Imaginear.  I must say that though in terms of rides/attractions Disney certainly hit MOST of the marks I look for in a great attraction with Avatar:  Flight of Passage (FOP) and technology wise finally come close to what the “dark side” (aka Universal Studios) of Orlando has been offering now for over 7 years with the Forbidden Journey. But before I tell you more about the ride itself, let’s discuss the journey to get on this attraction which starts WAY before ROPE DROP.

There are 3 things that you need to know about Flight of Passage before you arrive, motion sickness is REAL, wait times are UNREAL and getting a FastPass is DIFFICULT.

Motion Sickness is REAL

Guests need to beware and respect the “Motion Sick” warning to this ride.  Flight of Passage last 4 minutes and you no not want to feel sick for 4 minutes (and probably the rest of the day). So if you are prone to motion sickness, like Mr. Grumpy, you might want to take precautions or skip FOP because the combination of the movement of the vehicle and the action on the screen might be too much for you. But what is worse than motion sickness…

Wait Time in UNREAL

The worst thing about Flight of Passage is the wait time, I have seen it posted 15 minutes after park opening at 3 hours and later in the day at 5 hours.  Let me assure you from talking to people in that line and experiencing it that guests WILL wait 5 hours to ride Flight of Passage so that line will not go down until park closing, but what makes this wait really frustrating is that obtaining a….

FastPass is DIFFCULT

A FastPass is hard to get for FOP, even if you are able to book at the 60 days.  If you are waiting until the 30 day mark, a FastPass is pretty much not going to happen.  Animal Kingdom is on a tiered system FastPass system and both the attractions, Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey, in Pandora are Tier 1, so you are going to have to stand in line for one of the rides in Pandora.

Honestly, until the opening of Toy Story Land in 2018 and Star Wars in 2019 I do not see wait times coming down anytime soon nor the availability of a FastPass.  So how do you combat the wait time and no FastPass?  Book your vacation through me and I will be happy to share my tips on how you can to ride both Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey BEFORE the park officially opens and NOT use a FastPass in what I am calling the Na’vi Shuffle. I have spent months stalking trip reports for tips on how it can be done, and I HAVE DONE IT.  Now you have used my vacation planning expertise and have made  relatively in one piece to Flight of Passage…

You can expect stunning views of the floating mountains as you venture through a bioluminescent rainforest that is taking over the ruins of the abandoned RDA building.  I will say that Imaginears have done an amazing job bringing Pandora to life.  It is beautiful to the eye and you will feel like you have entered another world.  Don’t be afraid to stop and take pictures while you are in line, there are lots of beautiful selfie spots (or maybe you have made great friends with the people with you in line for the last 5 hours since you did not use my complimentary traveling planning services).  Once have made your way through the rainforest the line will then enter a cave adorned with Na’Vi paintings and then into the abandoned RDA building and now research laboratory of the humans who’ve settled on Pandora.  Here you will fine various experiments showing how the study of Pandora wildlife is progressing, including a suspended animation of a Na’vi avatar inside a giant, water-filled tube. Most disappointing for me during my whole journey through the queue was that I was constantly moving and not being able to focus on the small details built into every Disney attraction that brings the experience to life.  Disney does an amazing job keeping you stimulated as you spend 5 hours in line.

Once you are though the queue, you are lead into a 16 person chamber to prepare for your flight. There are actually 2 chambers, with 2 different videos and interactions.  Although I experienced both chambers my first 2 flights on FOP, but the 3rd flight I only was in the first chamber and walked through the second.  I am not sure why other than I am guessing it is a crowd manage technique. 

When you are done preparing for your flight you are lead into a room with what looks like 16 stationary bicycles without pedals and handed a pair of 3-D googles and to board the “bike.”  Once all preparations are done for your the room goes dark, there’s a flash of light, and you become “linked” to the Na’vi surfing a banshee and flying through Pandora.  The ride is beautiful, similar to what you would experience on Soarin’ but more intense.

Disney technology has caught up to Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter in terms of motion simulator, but Universal will always have the edge with Forbidden Journey and Escape from Gringott’s in my opinion.  Why?  There is no storytelling with Flight of Passage, nor with Na’Vi River Journey which for Disney is a huge let down and disappointment because to me Disney is stories and beloved characters.  Again, I reference back to why Disney should have gone with the beloved stories of the Americas.  None of the scenes from the screen playing in front of me could I relate back to the movie, Avatar which makes me not vested in a story line with the banshees.

Will I ride Flight of Passage again? Of course I will, it was beautiful and FUN to feel like I was flying but only if I can get a FastPass and not have to get up so early.  There are other rides in Animal Kingdom that I would prefer to wait for or use a FastPass for, because they don’t leave me emotionally empty wanting more.

Remember that when you book your Walt Disney World  Vacation with me, I will give you my honest opinions as well as help you successfully do the Na’Vi Shuffle without waiting in 2-5 hour lines!

 

 

#(almost)wordlesswednesday: Looking Back

It’s #(almost)wordlesswednesday, that means linking up with Focused on the Magic to share my #DisneySide through pictures and a few words, since nothing for me is ever wordless with me!2017

It seems fitting with 2018 right around the corner, that the theme for this week is “Looking Back.”

I have to say that 2017 was a great Disney year for me!  I was able to go “Coast to Coast”…

Visiting the Happiest Place on Earth with my “boys” this past spring on an epic CARS themed road trip!  We had so much fun stopping at all the real life locations that inspired the movie CARS as well as seeing the movie come to life before our eyes in CARSland, part of Disney California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort.

and going back “home” to the most Magical Place on Earth on my first solo “working” vacation in November. I loved all of the new adventures that I sought out and challenged myself to experience.  

So as the calendar page turns to 2018, I can’t wait to see what it will bring.  

Do you have any 2017 Disney memories to share?  Please drop them in the comments!  I love hearing from you!

#(almost)wordlesswednesday: The Shirt Says it All

It’s Wednesday again, so that means #(almost)wordlesswednesday and joining Focused on the Magic’s Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop where we get to share our Disney vacation photos.  This week we are sharing our Disney Style in Tees…

I love wearing a Disney themed t-shirt each day during my trips (although Mr. Grumpy and the family are not always fans).  

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To me t-shirts tell a story and make a general statement about what my park plans are for the day. See if you can figure out my plan for the day based on some of my shirts…

Looking for some great shirts for you next vacation, check out Etsy!

I am going “Home” tonight…

I am going home tonight…

 “Ummm Tammie…. Most people do go home after work on a Friday.”

Let me be a little more specific.  Tonight I am going home to the most magical place on earth, Walt Disney World.

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I love being greeted by Cast Members with the phrase “Welcome Home” when I return to my Walt Disney World Resort either after an extended period of time away or just after a day in the park.  It is one of those special touches when you stay at a Walt Disney Resort that leaves you with that warm fuzzy feeling.

When I tell people that I am going back to Walt Disney World I am often met with that “look” and I know they are thinking “Why does she keep going back there?”  Make sure you check out yesterday’s blog “Tammie’s Take Thursday:  Going Home” for some of the reasons why I keep going “Home.”  This trip “Home” is a little different for a couple of reasons, mainly who is going along and why I am going.

This is my first SOLO trip to Walt Disney World.  That’s right there is no husband, no kids, no girlfriends, or even runDisneyBFFs. This trip did not start out that way, in fact it was going to be our first couple’s trip but due to circumstances, i.e. a senior in high school playing his last Friday Night Lights that our plans had to change.  To be honest, I am pretty giddy about (for the most part) doing what I want to do for an entire week at Walt Disney World.

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Heigh-ho Heigh-ho it’s a “working vacation” for me.  It’s a hard job I know, but I will take one for the team.  I will be attending Academy Travel’s Agent Education Program (or AEP) onsite training for Walt Disney World.  I am looking forward to connecting with fellow affiliates of Academy Travel, members of the home office staff as well as Cast Members from the Disney Travel Agency, but more importantly working together to make your next vacation even more magical.

There will be some down time from the conference for a little personal fun time and looking back at my last couple of trips, I have in a Disney vacation rut…doing the same things, eating the same things, riding the same rides, visiting the same experiences, etc. My plan is also to make my down time an “informal working vacation.”  Each day I have created a NEW EXPERIENCES BUCKET LIST where I am challenging myself to expand my Walt Disney World knowledge, again to be able to give you honest advice, feedback and planning ideas to make your trip even more magical.  Look for my bucket list to be posted each morning across my social media platforms as well as here in Life in Ears blog!

While I cannot take you physically on vacation with me, I can take you along virtually through my social media platforms. I am planning a full out social media blitz this week to make you part of my “working vacation.” Content will be different on each site to make it fresh, so you will want to follow me on…

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I am also going to be giving everyone* following along and interacting, a chance to win up to a $200 in a Disney Vacation Credit* as well as a few daily giveaways as a thank you for being a part of my “working vacation.”  

For complete rules and details…

Heigh Ho Heigh Ho Contest
Get ready by following me and then be on the lookout starting about 4 pm CST as we begin this “working vacation HOME” to Walt Disney Word.

I will C U real soon and remember that life is always better when you are wearing ears!

Tammie’s Take Thursday: Why I Keep Going “Home”

Disney-Arches-Sign

When I was planning my family’s first vacation to Walt Disney World, I planned like it was a “Once in a Lifetime Trip,” never expecting to return.  Now with my 7th trip about to take place I am met with “that look”…

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You know the one that often includes eye rolls and a moment of sure disgust or maybe confusion and is often followed by a heavy sigh and some opinion or comment that I fail to acknowledge, because after all I am going “Home” to that happy/magical place. 

Sometimes, however, I do feel the need to reply…

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Disney is the happiest/most magical place on Earth because when on vacation everyday life and troubles often melt away and disappear for the time being.  I love being in the “Disney Bubble,” that mysterious invisible barrier that surrounds Disney and prevents the not so fun parts of real life to pass through (cooking, paying bills, running from here to there, you know just being an adult/parent in general).  Inside of that “bubble” Disney magic takes ahold of me and I escape.

Being able to spend time with family at Disney was Walt Disney’s inspiration for Disneyland.  A Disney vacation is time for us to make happy memories from all the smiles and laughter that is taking place.  While we might not all agree that a Dole Whip is the best treat ever, we can agree to just have fun and enjoy ourselves.  Girl’s trips to Disney are amazing, especially with a few of closest friends who just happen to love Disney as much as I do come along.  We get to be girl’s instead of mom’s…being silly, pampering ourselves, doing what we want so that when we return home we are recharged and ready to tackle being a mom again.  It’s also a place that I look forward to taking a couples only trip to with my non-Disney loving Mr. Grumpy, a chance for us to reconnect via Disney magic.  

There is absolutely no one way to experience Disney.  It’s not all about the character and rides, don’t get me wrong I love them, but for me it is about the TOTAL experience that Disney has to offer in a vacation.  For me I love the runDisney events, Mickey’s parties, the ever changing dining that allows me bring out my foodie side, and the immersive atmosphere that draws me into the story that is being told.  For others it’s the shopping or great live stage shows.  With the sheer size of Disney along with seasonal events, continuous updating of beloved attractions and new additions I never feel like I’ve done or see everything.  There is always something more I want do experience that justifies another trip.   

So when people make the comment, “Oh, you’re going to Disney…again?” I say “Yep, I sure am and I can’t wait.”

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