More Pictures from Asia

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The Penguin COcktail and Tea I had at Chimelong Ocean Kingdom. It was YUMMM!!

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There were so many penguins in this hotel. It was uber cute.

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Like, dang yo!

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PENGUIN! We got a view of the penguins from our table at lunch and it was SOOO CUTE! 

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Penguin selfie!

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If you’re wondering whether I wore the same outfit my entire time in China, the answer is a proud YASSSSS!

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Noodle Shop in Guangzhou!

 

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Ophie’s Travels: Asia – Summary

 

I had a fantastic time traveling shortly after graduation and before studying for my CPA exam. As of this moment, I am studying full-time for my CPA exam and anticipate taking FAR in April, AUD in May and REG and BEC in August and September. My start-date will be in early-mid September or October, so I’ll pretty much be starting just a little after taking my last section. I’ve also been helping clients with writing and that’s been really nice. I am helping one client edit his novel which is a Western thriller.

My family has started to deal with health problems, so my mom and I have been busy helping them as well. I’ve decided to keep my head high as much as I can, not let my emotions overwhelm me and trust in God. So… Lord, I’m putting all my hope in You.

On a happier note, the trip to Asia was really fun.

Guangzhou: I spent the first few days in Guangzhou and stayed in 7 Days Inn. It wasn’t bad for the price. The room was small and pretty run-down – but housekeeping was fine and the bathrooms had a nice design. I walked around Guangzhou with my family and had frequent family dinners.

The family dinners were alright. I apparently am called ‘Princess’ by my dad’s side of the family. It was hurtful to know that at first because ‘Princess’ means ‘princess sickness’ which is used to refer to people who are spoiled. I was definitely spoiled as a kid but I feel like I’ve matured a little bit more since then. What made it really hurt though was that they didn’t call me princess to my face but only behind my back.

At the same time, they apparently call me Princess more because of how my parents and other people in my family treat me.

I got to reconnect with my Australian cousins though. They’re hilarious and so fun to be around. I really missed them and I felt like I could be myself around them. They are pretty easy to talk to.

My grandmother in China just turned 90! It was nice to visit her and get to know her more. Women in my family tend to be strong and live pretty long. My great-aunt is 90-something and she still takes walks regularly and rides the bus. She used to walk at least a mile a day back in the day apparently and was very adamant about it.

The food in China was just incomparable to restaurants here in SGV. Even a bowl of lo mein in a small stall where a bowl goes for less than $3 tasted really good.

Macau: 

Macau was fun. We stayed there for two nights at the Holiday Inn at Rue De Pequim. There was a brief episode where I got my family lost (I was the one in charge of reserving the room and getting us to the hotel). I use TMobile and I actually had signal the entire time overseas for both unlimited data and for phone-calls. Google Maps deceived me. It took us to the other side of the city, basically.

I managed to meet a friendly pedestrian, a nice woman who looked to be in her 40s. She was very helpful and actually helped us walk all the way to the right location. She was so sweet!

When we got to the hotel, the girl at the front desk, Lordes, was really nice though and she ended up upgrading all four of our rooms to business class! For the next two days we were there, she would recognize me by sight and by voice. I’d call the front desk and she’d recognize my voice and be like, “Hello Ophelia, this is Lordes.”

The business class rooms were very comfortable and designed well. The rooms came with a Smartphone that you could use for free and actually take out of the room.

We saw House of Dancing Water in Macao and went shopping. The show was pretty much Cirque Du Soleil quality (made by the same creator)! There’s not a bad seat in the house. The show was amazing!

We also got cookies and peanut candy from the famous Koi Kei Bakery. I’ve never tasted anything like those peanut candies.

In the two days we were there, I’d get dim-sum with my father. Even the dim-sum tastes better. It was really, really good.

Zhu Hei:

After Macau, we made our way to Pearl River where we stayed at Chimelong Ocean Kingdom’s Penguin Hotel and spent some time at the amusement park. I was blown away by how close the mountains were. The park itself is really close up to the mountains and has all these beautiful animals.

The weather was very windy though with a lot of rain. It somehow made the evening seem more surreal. Although we didn’t get to go on the rides, we saw a bunch of cool animals like arctic foxes, polar bears and sharks!

We had lunch at a restaurant with a direct view of the penguin exhibit. We got a table right next to the penguin exhibit so I’d look up from my ramen and see some penguins skittering about nearby. It was cute!

The penguins were very interactive with the guests. A kid and I were pressed up against the glass at one point and a penguin marched over and did a little twirl for us in the water. It was uber cute.

In the morning before we were going to leave, I had a Penguin Cocktail and some tea. It was a good morning.

I did have a weird experience though when a bunch of angry Mandarin-speaking visitors knocked on my room at night. They were shouting, “THERE’S NO ONE IN HERE!” outside in the hallway and then started knocking loudly on my door.

Too lazy to put on pants (lol, I’m awful), I went over to the door and opened it just a little. “Err, hello?”

The visitors looked at me blankly before quickly stepping away.

Dai Leung:

This was my grandmother’s birthplace and where she spent most of her childhood. We stayed in the New World Hotel for two nights. The hotel had a nice gym and it actually looked very beautiful. I had a direct view of the garden and pool from my room, and at night the garden lights up with these gorgeous fairylights.

The downside is that the walls are so thin. I could hear the guy in the next room talking loudly on his phone all throughout the night.

Other than that, I went shopping with my aunt and a family friend. Then we had a dinner with more extended relatives where one relative passed out rare coins for everyone. I met one of my super extended cousins who’s trying to get work in an investment firm. When she asked me about my incoming full-time job with #thebestfirmintheworld, I felt like she was being a bit insulting and trying to insinuate that anyone can get a job in America.

I tried my best to be polite, but it was an awkward experience in line with when my aunt said that accounting is a good job for a woman at another dinner. Overall though, it was nice to see family. The language barrier was undeniable though. I try my best to keep up to date on my Cantonese but it was hard to contribute to the conversation.

 

 

Ophie’s Travels: Asia (Part I)

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From: Pexels

After graduating and before studying for my exams, I went on a trip to Asia with my father. During this time, I visited Guangzhou, Macao, Dai Leung (which is where my grandmother was born and raised) and Pearl River. All-in-all, it was a great experience and I was so glad that we went.

I was so busy soaking up the experience that I forgot to take pictures (outside of Snapchat).

The flight to Guangzhou was 14 hours, which was two hours shorter than the last time I went in 2010. It was as fun as flights usually are. (The upside is that I got to play a lot of Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. I finished the game when I got home and I must say it, it’s everything that I like in video games. The story is nice and funny, the characters are very likeable and the gameplay is simple and exciting. On a tangent, I’ve never been a fan of the Final Fantasy series except for Final Fantasy 12 which was definitely not like its predecessors in terms of its combat systems. I’ve never finished a JPRG game and it’s probably because I don’t like to grind or use a turn-based combat system.)

All nerdiness aside, I was relieved to get out of my seat once we landed. My father and I, along with my cousins and their family, spent the first few nights in 7 Days Inn in Guangzhou. I was really excited to see my cousins because it had been over six years since we last saw each other, and I remembered us getting along pretty well together the last time.

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From agoda.com

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From booking.com

The room at 7 Days Inn at Fangcun was alright considering the price. It’s a low-budget hotel. I didn’t have high expectations coming in, so it didn’t surprise me when I was laying in bed and turned to see a bunch of scratches on the wall or the paint peeling. What did surprise me was that housekeeping was actually well-maintained. The rooms were clean.

The first night, we had dinner as a family at a restaurant a few blocks away from the hotel and from where my grandmother (who turned 90 during my trip) lives. On the second day, we went to visit more relatives and also went to the cemetery to pay respect to our ancestors.

For breakfast most of the time, I would head to this little bakery a few blocks away where they would have these really good pastries for about $1 or $2 USD at most. Back in California, the same pastries would probably cost a few dollars more. I’m actually on an 80/20 gluten-free diet because of intolerance issues, but going GF in China seems like it would be almost impossible and plus I just needed something to fill my stomach in the mornings.

I also went to a supermarket with my dad and it was cool buying stuff that I didn’t see much in the US, like Kinder Eggs – or the Chinese version of them. I also bought these sausages that I used to love when I was a little kid. I don’t remember what they’re called, but they’re ready to eat and have red wrapping that you have to peel off from the top. I ate like five of those in sitting because I missed them that much, but then I got a stomach ache hehe.

In Guangzhou, people usually take the metro or the subway. Although chasing after the bus tends to be a stressful experience, it was the only way to really get around.

I visited my cousins and my grandmother at their apartment buildings. Can I just take a moment to say how awkward it is deciding when to Snapchat and when to take a photo? How do people manage to do that without losing full appreciation for the moment?

Here is a good blog post on what Guangzhou looks like:

http://www.cookiesound.com/2013/01/the-old-quarters-within-the-new-city-of-guangzhou/

Most people live in towering apartments that look a little bit run-down on the outside.

Christmas in The City of Lights (Las Vegas): Michael Jackson ONE, Bellagio Conservatory, Nobu Hotel, and The High Roller

We flew Virgin America from LAX to LAS. The flight was only 45 minutes, but was delayed on both trips by at least 15 minutes. But I can’t complain, it only cost $180 total for 2 people after all the fees and taxes were added in (got the tickets during Black Friday). Definitely beats driving.

Bellagio Conservatory

The conservatory was beautiful. I wish that we had went earlier because it got crowded around 9am and it was hard to really see everything. Regardless, Bellagio went all-out for Christmas.

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Cute elves made of flowers

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Polar bears with a lady standing in front of it wearing blue gloves and posing awkwardly

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A tree with lights

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A Christmas globe

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There was this cute little train under the snow globe

The High Roller 

A show we bumped into on the way to the High Roller in Linq:

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The High Roller cost about $30 per person at full-price and lasted half an hour. It was a nice experience and one to check off the list of things to do in Vegas. It’s not something I would pay for again, definitely, but the view was nice at the top and it can be a romantic experience if you’re going with your s.o. I went with my mom, so while it wasn’t romantic, it was cool!

We paid full price at a stall a few feet away from the Higher Roller. Doing this, we got to skip a huge line (at least 20 mins wait) waiting in the lobby. Before climbing onto the little pod they have, you get to buy some drinks in the lobby.

They also have a happy hour option where apparently you can have as many drinks as you want while in the pod. I think that’s such a cool idea and would have opted for it if I weren’t on vacation with my mom, haha (no shame, no shame).

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There were about ~15 people in our pod

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Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque Du Soleil

Michael Jackson ONE was an incredible experience. Although it only lasted about one and a half hours at most, it was a phenomenal show and I’d say worth the ticket price. For 2, we paid a total of ~ $265.

There was a slight interruption in the middle due to technical difficulties, which was disappointing, but the show kept me and my mom on edge the whole time. I chose this show over a comedy show due to the language barrier for my mom, who loved the music in this show and was able to follow along the entire way.

We only saw one other Cirque Du Soleil show, Mystere. Michael Jackson ONE has more of a focus on dancing and hip-hop than acrobatics.

We sat in row LL, which gave us a good view of all the action. It was a little distant from the stage but we didn’t have to crane our necks to see anything. I also splurged on a whopping $14 frozen marguerita for the show and it was worth it, because like my great great great aunt always stressed the importance of a good cocktail.

SPOILERS BELOW.

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SPOILERS:

SPOILERS:

SPOILERS:

 

Before the show, there were cast members outside with cameras taking pictures of guests coming in. These pictures would be posted up on the sides of the theater as shown above.

Guests sitting near the front would, similar to Mystere, have more interaction with the cast members. This time, the cast members were also in red trenchcoats and would swarm around one or two audience members and take pictures in allude to Michael Jackson’s “Privacy”.

There’s a hologram of Michael Jackson near the end which is really cool.

OTHER:

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We also stayed at Nobu Hotel, a boutique and luxury hotel located inside of Caesars Palace and right next to the Nobu restaurant. You can read the review HERE.

 

A Review of Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

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Room 7415: Super comfy beds. There was no view of the strip but I did get to see the Eiffel tower from my room! 

ophelia_finishedThis week, my mother and I stayed in Vegas for two nights at the Nobu Hotel. My mom had enough Total Rewards points for us to stay for free except for the resort fee which came out to about $78 total. We stayed from December 19th to December 21st, a slower and more quiet period for the city that never sleeps.

While the Nobu resort is known for its exclusivity factor, is it worth paying extra for? This review will help you answer that question.

Booking:

My mom booked the hotel online through Total Rewards. It was a simple process. We received our confirmation shortly after with no trouble or hiccups.

Check-In, Tea Welcoming and Chocolate-Gate: 

Checking in was easy. The taxi driver told us to check in at the Caesers palace desk. We decided to try checking in at the Nobu desk first. The taxi driver’s advice was incorrect. You should check in at Nobu directly and skip that huge line of guests waiting to get to their room.

The Nobu lobby is small, exquisitely decorated and took us about five minutes to find. There were two staff waiting at the desk who got us checked in in less than ten minutes. Nice, easy and simple.

To get to your floor, you will need to use your key card. The staff, Ella, showed us how. After handing us our key cards, she smiled and said, “If you need anything, my name is Ella!”

It was easy getting to our room. After putting your key card under the card reader, you select which floor you want and it’s as easy as that. The elevator was nicely decorated with modern art. Getting to the 74th floor took less than two minutes.

I asked Ella about the tea welcoming. She looked confused and said that there was a tea bar on the 72nd floor where you could get tea from 8am to 11am. Correction: the lounge is available well beyond 11am and the tea bar is VERY different from the tea welcoming that apparently only some of the guests receive.

A Renee told us that we would receive a traditional tea welcoming when I called to confirm our reservation the day before. Ella had no idea what I was talking about. What traditional tea welcoming that other reviewers have written about? I could have fought it, but I decided not to due to the jet lag and just not really caring. I could see why some people would be upset though, and I am not the only one who’s written about not receiving a traditional tea welcoming.

My aunt and uncle have stayed here on multiple occasions and said that they received chocolate on their bed as a welcoming. Hm, we did not receive any chocolate. We did get two bottles of water (that you can easily get in the lounge) as part of turndown service, as well as a little card that had a forecast for next day’s weather.  Well, the bottled water was a nice gesture regardless and I’m grateful we got to stay here on such a big discount.

The thing is, it wouldn’t be out of the question for us to pay to stay here. And if we did pay full price and didn’t receive the chocolate or tea welcoming, I would be upset. So consider that before booking. Ask them about it when you call in.

Room:

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Nice sectional with some cool art by the window

Nobu advertises itself as a quiet place of solace hidden from the loudness and brashness of Vegas. I can confidently say that we never heard a peep from any of the other guests. However, since it’s a slower period the other rooms might not even have been booked. We only saw two other guests during this time, but I’m sure it will get more busy soon as New Years approaches.

I did pass by a suite in the hallway though and heard children audibly screaming, crying and banging on the door while their parents shouted at them.

 I read a review on TravelAdvisor about how there was a gap underneath the door and people in the other room could crouch down and look in. In this room, I did not see any cracks underneath the connecting door as there was a doorstopper.

Although the room is small, the beds are very comfortable and it’s well-designed.

The walls feature a soothing wave-like design. As you enter the restroom, you’re greeted with a  wide basin sink, a large shower and a makeup table behind the door. The shower is one of my favorite features of the room. Showering was a very relaxing experience because the shower is very well-designed and the sound it makes when the water hits the floor is very nice.

The bathroom was stocked with thoughtful amenities including shower caps, scrunches, toothpastes, q-tips and more. The rose-scented gel scrub and lotion smelled delicious.

The closet had two Nobu robes in black and white, and two pairs of slippers in black and white (wrapped in plastic).

There are a few outlets by the window and the sectional, next to the beds and in the bathroom. There is no desk but the lounge provides a nice place to work.

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We had two queen beds that were very large, very fluffy and very comfortable. My aunt and uncle stayed here before and helped us book a room here. They raved about how comfortable the beds are… now I can see what they mean!

Wifi: 

Wifi is available using Caesers’ internet connection and includes two devices per room at no additional charge. The internet was fast enough for me to stream movies and youtube videos. I was able to connect my Iphone within 10 minutes.

Lounge:

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Sleek lounge and very quiet that morning

The lounge is very tastefully decorated and comes loaded with a tea bar and a mini-fridge with water bottles. As we entered, we were greeted with a glittering Christmas tree, a mute television playing a sitcom and a long wooden table with two Apple laptops available for guest use. There was also a nice sectional in the back. Plenty of place to sit.

The lounge is connected to a gym, which was empty this morning.

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Complimentary tea and coffee bar. Tea selection included English breakfast teas and green teas. 

We passed by several staff that were either cleaning up the restrooms or restocking the fridge and hot water.

Service:

On the service, I would say that I’m neutral because while it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t great either. Since this is a smaller hotel, we passed by the front desk a lot on our way back. While some of the staff at the front were nice, there were some who were a little snooty. By snooty, I mean looking up, giving a half-smile and looking away. Or even not looking up at all. In summary, Nobu Hotel boasts great customer service but some of the staff were rude or dismissive.

They have a 24/7 concierge service available as well as a virtual assistant called Ivy, with whom you can communicate by text.

Housekeeping and room service was exceptional. Rooms are clean and immaculate.

Regarding the service, I forgot my makeup remover so I called the front desk to see where I could purchase some. The woman helping me said that I could make a run to CVS or some of the forum shops. Instead of heading downstairs, I decided to make do with lotion. The next day, I came back to find that housekeeping had placed a packet of Nobu makeup remover on the counter.

I was quite impressed that they remembered such a small detail like this. The weird thing is that the woman at the desk didn’t seem to know they had makeup remover. It’s not like she’ll have a list of all amenities available, but I do believe she should have checked first.

Would I Pay for a Room Here?

With a going rate of $200-$300 per night, the Nobu hotel would be a nice place to stay. From my experience, it is very quiet here. I am not sure how it would be in a busy season though. While the rooms are small, the beds are comfortable and the design really is very nice.

Nobu is also very easy to find in Caesars hotel, which is located in the heart of the strip.

In conclusion, I would pay to stay here again. This is honestly the nicest hotel that I’ve ever stayed at. I will probably try one of the other nice hotels on the strip like the Bellagio or Aria before coming back, but if I travel for business in the future, the Nobu would be a place I’d like to stay at.

 

Mickey’s Halloween Party 2016 @ Disneyland

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Me and my mom in matching Minnie Mouse hats, Nike sneakers and black-and-white tees. Totally not intentional. 

I treated my mom to a night out at Disneyland on Wednesday and it was fun! Tickets were $89/ea and I’d say very much worth it.

Tips:

– Reserve tickets early! I bought tickets in September and some of the dates were already sold out. Tickets sell out pretty easily since it’s a reserved event.

– Download the Disneyland app when you come because it will show you everything you need on the map from attractions, dining, trick or treat trails and restrooms. SUPER helpful especially because the attraction wait times are also show on the app and will track your location to help you find your way through Disneyland.

– Repeat visits to trick or treat trails! My mom and I walked away with a lot of candy. Some of the stalls were kinda stingy, so we went to all of the trick or treat trails at least twice.

– Bring your own bag for candy cause they’ll just give you these small trick or treat bags. If you’re giving away candy, ask for extra treat bags.

– Bring your own water! I brought this big Nalgene water bottle and it was empty by the end of the night. That was money saved on expensive bottled water.

– Bring a camera

– Come 3 hours before the event starts (you’ll see it on your ticket) so you can have time to explore and map out what rides you want to go on first and everything.

– Eat, get your shopping done and etc before the party starts to save time so you can go on the really popular rides once the party starts and the wait times are halved. Get the less popular ones like Snow White’s Scary Adventures out of the way before the party starts.

– Arrive early to the parade for good seats.  

– If you’re getting dropped off and picked up, arrange to do so in the IHOP parking lot at 1560 S. Harbor Blvd. It’s right next to Disneyland and is about ten minutes or less from the actual entrance.

Experience:

I enjoyed my night at Mickey’s Halloween Party! By 6pm, all the non wrist-band wearers were ushered out.

The wait times were a lot shorter. Haunted Mansion was about 25 minutes max, the Buzz Lightyear one was literally five minutes and some of the rides had no wait time. Space Mountain’s wait time was reduced to 10 minutes at one point.

They had good candy this year. I even found a YooHoo bar! They had Sour Patch Kids, Snickers, Kit-Kats, Milk Duds and Hersheys. For the healthier options, they had these delicious dried apple slices, carrots and apples… and cliff bars?

Parade was nice! Lots of villains.

However, the bad –

A disturbingly large amount of the cast members were grumpy. I mean, I know it’s not the easiest working in customer service but some of them were just really rude. My mom went to a gift shop in Tomorrowland and the guy at the counter was like “T_T”. There was also another rude cast member who just rolled her eyes and looked away when we were like, “Happy Halloween ^__^!” She was like “-_-” and just mildly threw one measly candy bar in our bag and didn’t say anything. WOMAN, I SAID HAPPY HALLOWEEN.  Even at the food places on Main Street, I noticed the workers giving attitude.

They did a horrible job of managing traffic around 9pm. It was the worst I had EVER seen. It was like LA traffic at 5pm on a weekday but with people. Literally, I had to take small geisha steps and getting through that humongous crowd packed with people took about 25 minutes – 25 precious minutes I could have spent exploring more rides. Da fuq, Disneyland?

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YOU CAN WEAR COSTUMES AT MICKEY’S HALLOWEEN PARTY! Saw some great costumes here. I, however, didn’t want to wear black leggings and booties in 90 degree heat so I opted for shorts instead. One of the characters smiled and said, “Ooo! Girl, I love your outfit!” I was like “^.^ thanks!” Then he said, “Girl, are you Minnie Mouse goes to jail? Naughty Minnie Mouse XD?”

 

 

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Pretty decorations!

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This is my favorite picture that I took that night! Apparently, a lot of the Haunted Mansion  had new material for Halloween. The wait for the Haunted Mansion was only 20 to 25 minutes! It was a lovely ride!

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The outside of the Haunted Mansion… more pumpkins!

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It’s a Small World had these interesting animations on the building…

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Bonus Pic: This blurry and sinister picture of a Panda. I call it, The Sinister Panda.

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I love Tomorrowland! We went on the Buzz Lightyear Ride which had NO wait time and my mom beat me by 40,000 points. I let her off easy, guys. u_u That’s what a good daughter does, right? Hahaha

Then we went on this older ride called Star Wars Tours! It’s one of my mom’s favorite rides. I really liked it.

THE PARADE: IT’S HALLOWEEEN! 

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By 8pm, there were these  cool animations playing on Main Street.

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The Headless Horseman came out to mark the beginning of the parade. He’s a new addition this year.

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Creepy vampire things and people wearing stripes… like me!

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I didn’t know his face expressions changed until I reviewed the photos on my camera later

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Jack Skellington and Sally!

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The Jack O Lanterns were really pretty!

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I loved this! These were the dancing zombies!

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The Haunted Mansion Float

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My face in Audit sometimes

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Creepy giant stilt-walking things

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Loved how all the villains got to come out and have their moment! Again, I need to work on my motion and night photography.