Tag Archives: travel

New Toy Story Ride at Disney’s California Adventure is a Blast — and David Beckham is For Real

We went to Disney’s California Adventure today to ride the newest attraction — “Toy Story Midway Mania!”

We had won an annual pass-holder contest and we got to test the ride before it officially opens for the public on June 17.

The ride is gracefully charming and fantastically fun. You’re given 3-D glasses, then seated in a double-facing car that takes you through a nostalgic world of old children’s games (including Candy Land, Barrel of Monkeys, Chinese Checkers, Old Maid, and Disney’s own old Adventureland game) and then to a series of virtual midway style “shooting galleries” hosted by 3-D characters — including Woody and Buzz Lightyear — from the Toy Story movies.

You score points by hitting virtual 3-D targets with various virtual 3-D projectiles – including darts, baseballs, and eggs – from a cannon.  Targets explode, rockets take off, balloons burst, and china plates are blasted into hundreds of flying pieces – all in stunningly realistic 3-D.

Our family rode the ride at least seven times (maybe eight) and it was great fun each time.  I think we grown-ups enjoyed it at least as much as our nine year old son.

We saw something else noteworthy at California Adventure today – soccer great and Los Angeles Galaxy captain David Beckham and his wife Victoria (“Posh Spice”) and their children.

They looked like the moms and dads that sit next to us on the T-Ball field.  Nice to see celebs dressed down and kickin’ it with the kids.  We did do a double take on Posh’s tattoo on the back of her neck just to be able to check and make sure it was her (yes it was). 

What was especially noteworthy about the Beckhams was their complete lack of pretentiousness, affectation or self-importance – no entourage, no bodyguards, no (visible) security, and no nannies. Just the Beckhams and another couple enjoying the park with their children on a beautiful Southern California day.


Someone sent us a picture of the Beckhams at Disneyland later in the day, looking a bit tuckered out.


Las Vegas’ The Palazzo Hotel is the Largest “Green” Building in the World

We recently stayed at The Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas, just shortly after it opened. 

We were pleasantly surprised to find that, despite its size, The Palazzo has an intimate feeling, and the staff is warm and helpful. 

The hotel itself is magnificent.

Now we’ve learned that The Palazzo is the largest “green” building in the world.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) presented a Silver LEED Certificate (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) to The Palazzo at an award ceremony on April 10.

LEED certification is an independent, third-party verification that a building project is environmentally responsible, energy-efficient, and is a healthy place to live and work.

Not only is the Palazzo the largest green building in the world; in fact, the $1.9-billion, 3,000-room, 50-story resort is more than four times bigger  than any other than any LEED-certified building.

Key features that contribute to The Palazzo’sconservation and environmental design include:

  • Artificial turf, drip irrigation and moisture sensors in planted areas result in over a 75 percent reduction in irrigation needs. 
  • Swimming pools are heated with an expansive solar pool heating system. In the summer, the excess solar energy not needed for the pools is directed to the hotel’s hot water system, reducing the need to heat water for guest suites. 
  • Air conditioning controls in guest suites that automatically setback by several degrees when guests are not present and reset to the desired temperature upon return. 
  • Team member service areas equipped with lighting occupancy sensors that shut off lights when no one is in the area. 
  • Interior plumbing fixtures use 37 percent less water than conventional buildings as a result of water-efficient showerheads, high efficiency toilets and low-flow lavatory faucet aerators. 
  • Moisture sensors monitor real time, site specific air temperature, humidity, rainfall and other factors to provide daily watering cycle adjustment. 
  • A waste recycling program implemented from demolition through completion diverted over 70 percent of waste from the landfill. 
  • The building’s structural steel averaged 95 percent recycled content, while the concrete averaged a 26 percent recycled content rate.

We’re strong advocates for green and environmentally conscious building. 

But we had no idea that The Palazzo was so green. 

We just thought it was a beautiful hotel.

The USGBC publishes a guide to building green homes online at greenhomeguide.org.

The site features a guide to green homes, green home programs, regreening exisiting homes, living green, resources, and green building news and events.

If The Palazzo can do it, and do it so beautifully, we can do it, too.